Financial Planners 101

Over the past few months, Ive noticed a growing trend in my mailboxreaders in search of financial planners or advisors. Or assistants. When taken in the messages context itpretty clear that not everyone means the same thing when they refer to a financial planneradvisorcoachassistanthelper!  

One reader wanted to know where to find a financial planner who would just take her paycheck, pay all of her bills, invest for her retirement, give her an allowance, balance her checkbook, and not charge her very much. (Wed all like one of those, right?)

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19 Clever Ways to Use Bread Bags that Have Nothing To Do with Bread

As you know—and only because I write about it so much—I may as well be president of the Artisan-In-Five fan club for how the book and method of making homemade bread have rocked my world.

2 loaves fresh homemade artisan bread

Back when I was first learning to make homemade artisan bread (it is so easy), I decided I needed bread bags not only to store partial loaves, but also for presentation. Let’s just say that when you bake bread, you have a lot of friends.

Turns out bread bags are quite inexpensive, purchased in bulk. And when I say bulk, I mean a case of 1,000 bread bags. I did. I bought a case of 15-inch, gusseted bread bags.

As I look back, I’m not sure what I was thinking. Apparently, the idea of 1,000 loaves of bread ever coming out of my kitchen was overshadowed by a (then) bargain-basement price of large bread and bakery poly bags when purchased in bulk. These slightly smaller bags are equally useful, for about half the price.

While I continue to bake bread as needed by my household of two people, I use one, maybe two, bread bags a week for bread. But for dozens of other uses around the house? These bags are the best thing since, well, sliced bread! Read more

5 Easy Steps to an Organized Closet

Want to make your life easier? Clean out, clean up, and get your clothes closet organized. With an organized closetou can see what you have, what fits, and the clothes you love to wear. Even better—everything is easier to find!

modern closet with clothes hanging on rail, white wooden wardrobe, interior design concept

What’s behind your closet door? Orderly rows of shoes, stacks of folded t-shirts, and hanging clothes arranged by color and season? Or do you have a situation that could be declared a national disaster?

If the latter, you might ask the President for federal disaster relief funds or you could get organized.

closet mess with piles of clothes on the floor

Knowing you would feel guilty taking funds from disaster victims, here are simple steps to find calm in all that chaos. By the way, these same principles for organizing a clothes closet apply to linen closets, utility closets, and your food pantry, too.

Here’s the best part: You can do this without spending a dime—using items and tools you have already.

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7 Common Clutter Problems and How to Solve Them

I have a theory that most of us would be more than willing to let go of the stuff that’s cluttering our homes if we knew these things would serve a worthwhile cause or help someone else—the good things, kitchen things, the highly useful possessions that we just don’t use. Check out these worthwhile solutions for most households’ seven biggest clutter problems.

Ceramic Bakeware, Ovenware. Bakery Kit. Ruffled Pie Dish


Common Clutter

1. Vases, baskets, containers

And anything else that held flowers and gifts you have received. If they’re cracked or broken, no one wants them. Toss them.

For the rest, take those which are in “like-new” condition to the closest flower shop to be recycled. You’ll be gratefully received.

Keep this in mind: As you have possession of these things, they may appear to be more valuable and desirable than they really are. Once out of sight, they will become quickly out of mind. Within hours you’ll completely forget what it was you thew out.


2. Excess dishes and bakewareCeramic Bakeware, Ovenware. Bakery Kit. Ruffled Pie Dish


No matter how pretty or potentially useful, if you do not use those items at least once each year, sell them to an antique dealer. Or give them to a local thrift shop or the church’s annual rummage sale.

If you’re fairly certain your items are generally desirable by your neighbors and local community, offer them on your community’s site.

Knowing someone else will love and use these things should ease the pain of separation.

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These 26 Well-Designed Organizers Will Simplify Your Life!

Getting organized isn’t easy. But staying organized can be even harder. A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s the mark of an organized home.


collage of fabulous home and life organizers


As a natural-born messie with a bent toward hoarding, I know the struggle. But I’ve learned the joy of decluttering and gaining control over my disorganized self—one drawer, cupboard, closet, and room at a time.

Today I want to update 25 of my best organizational helpers that can help organize your bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, handbag, and car, too. These organizers can quickly turn chaos to calm.

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How to Store Important Documents and How Long To Keep Them

If the paper monster has you buried under an avalanche of receipts, bank statements, ATM slips, investment records, paycheck stubs, and bills—the good news is you can probably throw most of it away without worry when you have a simple record keeping routine.

But before you fire up the shredder, you need to know what to keep and for how long.

Image and Paper

Toss all you can


Once you have recorded the amounts and reconciled your bank and credit card statements, you can shred ATM receipts, bank deposit slips, credit card receipts, and sales receipts at the end of each month.

Exception: Keep receipts for purchases that may be tax-deductible, those that involve a warranty, and any item whose replacement cost exceeds the deductible on your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance.

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9 Secrets of a Successful Garage Sale

Whether your goal is to purge your home of stuff you no longer need or you want to raise some cash—or both—you have options.

You can sell your items on an auction website like, list them in classifieds in a local newspaper, on, or give the stuff away. Or, you can create a killer garage sale that turns your cast-offs into cold, hard cash.


garage sale

Plan ahead

Give yourself more than a few weeks to get ready. Make sure the date you select is not conflicting with a holiday or community event. Check local laws regarding signage, restrictions, and a requirement, if any, to get a permit.

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Best Ideas for Organizing a Refrigerator

Lately, have you cleaned out your fridge? Once the expired condiments and forgotten take-out containers hit the trash, and the shelves and walls get scrubbed clean, you might as well go ahead and organize the refrigerator. The way you do that matters.

Refrigerator full of food close up

Refrigerator full of food close up

How to organize a refrigerator

Here is a general strategy followed in professional kitchens based on the temperature the foods need to be for food safety:

Upper shelves

Leftovers, drinks, and ready-to-eat items like yogurt, cottage cheese, and so forth. This area of the refrigerator is slightly warmer than the lower areas, so keep that in mind as you decide what should go here.

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27 Things Never to Put in the Refrigerator

If you’ve outgrown your refrigerator, you may assume it’s time to start thinking about replacing it with a larger model. Before you do that, take inventory to see just how much stuff you have in there that really does not need to be refrigerated. You just might discover that suddenly, your current fridge is a lot roomier!

While some items always need refrigeration, others should firmly stay outside the fridge or else risk being ruined and inedible. Then there are items that will do just fine in either place Do you know which items that really should not be in the refrigerator?

A bunch of different types of food, with Refrigerator


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7 Tips to Keep Your Inner Hoarder in Time-Out

I don’t know why some of us have such a strong propensity to accumulate, collect, and otherwise hold onto stuff beyond a reasonable limit. Maybe we’re born that way. Or more likely, we’ve picked up an understandable yet unfounded fear of not having enough of what we might need someday.

Whatever the reason, it starts with clutter that can quickly lead to hoarding—something that is expensive in terms of time, money, relationships, health, and peace of mind.

It didn’t happen overnight, but one step at a time, by applying these seven simple tips, I can say with confidence that my inner hoarder has been put in permanent time-out.

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Quick and Easy Outdoor Cleaning and Storage Tips You Can Use

Many outdoor cleaning and storage solutions can be rather expensive, especially when compared to do-it-yourself or homemade alternatives. Here some of my favorite cleaning tips and storage solutions for the garage and patio that will give you the results you need without the costs you don’t.

Charcoal Starter

After the food has been cooked on the barbecue, don’t leave coals to burn out. With a shovel, scoop them up into an empty can and smother them by placing a non-flammable lid over the can. They can be used again.

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14 Simple Organization and Storage Tips

“Sorry, my place is such a mess!” If you have to pull out that one every time you welcome friends or family into your house, it might be time to get organized. Marla Cilley, know as The Flylady, calls that C.H.A.O.S—can’t have anyone over syndrome!

before and after picture of getting clothes organized

Organization is an important aspect of any home. And we’re quite familiar with the rule: A place for everything and everything in its place. Right? The challenge is finding that place and then actually following through by making sure that place is regularly occupied!

What follows is a random selection of tips and tricks I’ve received over the years from my dear readers. Undoubtedly, some will have a ring of familiarity, while others will have you smacking palm to forehead wondering “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Reading all the way to the end just might give you an uncontrollable urge to get started. Should come up with your own organization and storage tips and tricks, which we hope you’ll share!

Cord Corral

Computer cords and charging cables make homes and offices unsightly. Camouflage the cords by threading them through a length of 1/2-inch PVC pipe you’ve attached to the wall.

Drainer Do-Over

Take a forgotten dish drainer that’s most likely stashed under your kitchen sink and give it a new life in the office. Use it for organizing paper, pencils, pads, cards, and envelopes. It works great and will save you a few bucks from buy buying a desk organizer.

Earring Screen

Earring organizers are all the rage in stores and boutiques. You can make your own by removing the glass and cardboard backing from a picture frame and replacing it with a piece of vinyl window screen purchased at a home improvement center like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Cut it to the same size as the glass. Tack it in place in the same manner that the screen was secured. Now you can hang your earrings through the screening so they stay organized and easy to find.

Earring Holder

The next time you come across a piece of thin foam wrap (not bubble wrap) used to package fragile items, cut a strip that will fit nicely into a drawer or a compartment of your jewelry box. It makes a handy and convenient earring holder. Simply push the shank through the foam wrap and attach the earring back to the other side. The convenience of having all of your earrings secured and in the same place is well worth the few seconds it takes to attach them to a foam strip.

Earring Organization

Clearly, there is no single way to accomplish the matter of keeping earrings organized and not hopelessly orphaned! Here’s one more:

Are you always rummaging through your jewelry box in the morning to find a matching pair of earrings? Purchase a 28-day pill organizer from a dollar store to organize your earrings. The box is clear plastic so you can easily see all of your earrings at a glance. Now they’re all organized. No more rummaging.

Donate to Drama

If Halloween costumes (old prom and bridesmaids dresses) end up in boxes in your attic or garage, never to see the dark of night again, get all of them out and donate them to a theatrical group, school, or church drama department. You’ll get a tax recipe and free up some much-needed storage space, too.

Cabinet Storage Guide

Once you have your kitchen cabinets organized, take photos of every item that goes into each of our kitchen cabinets and drawers. Then print them in thumbnail view, one page per cabinet. Tape each handy reference guide to the inside of the cabinet door and now your family is perfectly clear about what goes where. It’s a quick guide to finding what you have stored in deep or low cabinets as well.

Golf Bag Revival

An old golf bag makes a great caddy for all of those long-handled tools in your garage or garden storage shed. It looks cool, too.

Safe Keeping

For things you would hate to lose in a fire or tornado but won’t fit into a safety deposit box, do this: Put them in freezer bags and store them in the freezer. Chances are they will survive a disaster quite nicely.

Storage Space Solution

If your storage space is limited and you have to stack several boxes on top of each other, make a diagram on an index card and keep it in a handy place. When you look for something, you’ll know exactly where it is. Store items that you’re more likely to use often toward the front with less frequently used items at the back.

Stored Cords

Tangled, unorganized cords can quickly clutter your space. But when you need to use that item, you need its specific cord, too. Use empty paper towel and tissue rolls to store appliance cords, It keeps them neat and you can write on the roll the appliance or item it belongs to.

The Law

To keep your possessions from overtaking your life and your space, declare a new personal dictum: For every new thing that comes in, something old must go out. You must obey The Law. It’ll work. In fact, there will be times that you’ll really want to bring home something new but the thought of getting rid of something of equal size or value will help you distinguish between a true need and a passing desire.

Flower Power

Use a terra-cotta flowerpot (super inexpensive in the garden department) to hold all your kitchen-cleaning tools under the sink. The terra cotta absorbs moisture, which will help to keep your tools dry and rust-free.

The Perfect Box

Buy milk from Costco, two gallons to a carton, and recycle the box they come in, which is perfect for storing 8-by-11 sized documents and magazines. These sturdy boxes are easy to manage because they are smaller and hold less than typical storage boxes.





25 Fantastic Items That Will Simplify and Organize Your Life!

Getting organized isn’t easy. But staying organized can be even harder. A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s the mark of an organized home.

woman buried in closet clutter

As a natural-born messie with a bent toward hoarding, I know the struggle. But I’ve learned the joy of decluttering and gaining control over my disorganized self—one drawer, cupboard, closet, and room at a time.

Today I want to update 25 of my best organizational helpers that can help organize your bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, handbag, and car, too. These organizers can quickly turn chaos to calm.

1. Makeup Organizer

organize itemsThis professional vanity makeup organizer is clear acrylic so you can see exactly what you have and exactly where everything is because it is large enough for everything to be assigned a place!

Holds makeup brushes, skin care products with lots of room for lipsticks, eyeliners, shadows, powders, and more. Easy to assemble. Adjustable shelves.

Brush and Beauty


2. Classic Shower Dispenser

This Classic Shower Dispenser is perfect for eliminating shower bottle clutter. Fill the chambers with your shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Pumps pre-measure just the right amount, eliminating waste and saving money. Installs in minutes without tools, using silicone.

A close up of a device

3. Hair Styling Tools Organizer

This compact Style Station holds a hairdryer plus two more tools such as a flat iron and curling iron—or brushes and other tools.

Designed for safely cooling down and storing styling tools. Can hang on a towel bar, sit on the countertop or store in a cabinet or drawer.

Brush and Hair

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