Detox Bath

Soothing Sundays are back! 

I've been busy practicing some radical self care. One part of that has been taking detox baths.  I'd heard of these awhile ago and thought they were just snake oil, but my health coach gave me a simple recipe that seems to work.  

Simple Detox Bath

1 lb Baking Soda

1 lb Sea Salt

1 lb Epsom Salts

This works out to roughly 2 cups each per ingredient.  Steer clear of adding essential oils or fragrances.  Use bath water as hot as you can stand and try to stay in it for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better.*

I find I feel energized when I complete one of these.  Leave me a note in the comments if you like and let me know how it goes for you.  

<3

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*As always, consult your doctor before trying any new snake oil. ;-)

Donation Deductions

A great article from Watson CPA Group landed in my inbox this morning and I thought I would share it with you.

The IRS is quick to disqualify your non-cash charitable contributions if you do not have adequate records to support your donation. Here are five quick tips to ensure this does not happen to you.

  1. Get a receipt. Whenever you donate items of value please get a receipt from the charitable organization. It should include the name of the organization, the date of the gift, a general description of the item, and that you received nothing in return for your gift.
  2. Break out the items donated. Create a detailed list that includes when you acquired the donated item, the estimated value of the item when acquired, and how it was acquired.
  3. Take a picture of the donation. When itemizing the items to be donated, don’t forget to take a quick photo of the item. Title the photo and place the photo title on the list of items to be donated for cross-reference.
  4. Create a reasonable value of the donation. Use thrift shop values and online resale values for similar items from sites like e-bay to support your claim of value. Do not forget to provide a statement of condition. Your donated items should be in good or better condition.
  5. Know when special rules apply. If you donate an item of high value, you may need to obtain an appraisal. Donated vehicles and boats valued over $500 may require an approved Form 1098-C statement from the charity when they sell the vehicle. If they use the vehicle, you will want a print out of value from an approved vendor like Kelly Blue Book or NADA. If the value is over $5,000, you will want to get an independent appraisal of donated items. Donated stocks and mutual funds will need a statement of value from your investment company and from the charity receiving the goods.*

*Special caution: When donating appreciated stocks and mutual funds owned by you for over one year, do not sell the asset. Conduct a direct transfer of the certificates and have the charity sell the investment. This will maximize the value of your donation and avoid potential capital gain taxes.

 

 They are a fabulous CPA group based in Colorado that works remotely with clients all across the US.  If you'd like to read more of their advice on charitable contributions, they have an entire "knowledge base" on their website

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Decluttering vs. Organizing

If you're curious as to why this home organizer is always talking about decluttering, not organizing, it's because there are 2 ways to get organized:  Own less stuff or buy more shelving and bins.  

I'll let you decide which is more attractive.

It's just physics. There is only so much storage space in our home and only so much attention we can give to our stuff.  We all flow between numerous roles everyday:  Employee, employer, parent, child, sibling, friend.  All of those roles take energy and at the end of the day, there isn't much bandwidth left to deal with stuff. 

Stuff is organized if it has a specific home.  A place on the shelf, a spot in your drawer.  A place that it returns to after each and every use.  Everything else is clutter. The thing is, as new stuff come into the home, new homes for those items have to be created.  If an old item doesn't leave when a new item comes in, at a certain point, shelves, closets and garages became overstuffed.  

I've only worked with 2 people who really, truly did not know how to organize.  They had tons of empty storage space and not much stuff.  The other 300+ people I've worked with knew how to organize.  They were just overwhelmed by the volume of stuff in their homes and needed a helping hand to dig through it, find the treasures and let go of the rest.

To be clear, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "stuff".  It's a problem when it's causing you problems.  When you're frustrated, embarrassed and angry.  When you can't find something even though you "know it's here somewhere".  This is why I harp on decluttering before organizing.  No number of shiny bins from the container store will fix your physics problem.  If there's too much stuff, there's just too much.  Once we have the space to give everything you love a home, THEN we can get a few shiny, pretty bins to house the stuff.  

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Debt & Decluttering

Oopsie...it's been a while!  I hope you are enjoying your summer!  We sure are.  However, we just finished up our taxes (we have to file an extension every year...long story) and as I was hunting down write offs, I began thinking about debt. 

While JT and I are finally debt-free (other than a mortgage on a rental house), I've managed to rack up credit card debt numerous times over the years. Retail therapy and all.  Turns out actual therapy is cheaper and more effective in the long run, but I digress. I LOVE shiny things.  Beautiful things.  Decorating and redecorating our home. But if I'm down, or anxious, I buy out of habit.  Suddenly I NEED to have something that quite frankly is nowhere near a need.  Or better yet, I "deserve" it, after my long, hard day in the trenches.  

I think a lot of us fall into this category.  I can't think of a single home I've worked in where not only were there beautiful things, there were far too many beautiful things. 

So how do we break this cycle?  How do we decide we're done with the excess purchases?  

I'm far from perfect, Amazon just said my 1 gallon jar for brewing kombucha was just delivered, but I've learned a few tricks over the years.  

Tracking: Using Mint to track our purchases using monthly budgets.  Rather than putting my head in the sand and ignoring the mounting credit card bills, I now look closely at my spending throughout the month.  June was a success, but we failed miserably in July after having a bit too much fun in San Diego and San Francisco.  Those restaurant bills sure do add up.  So do "have to have it" mindless purchases.  I used to spend a few hundred dollars a month on dumb crap.  I could never figure out why I was always broke, even though I hadn't gone out and bought a new Louis Vuitton purse.  In hindsight, it was because all the small stuff added up in a big way. 

Watching: I look through my belongings weekly - if I don't, they seem to multiply.  This doesn't mean you need to set aside a whole day to look at all of your stuff.  When I get dressed in the morning, I make a point to really look at the clothes in there.  2 years ago, I'd find something that didn't fit or that I didn't like on a weekly basis.  Now it's more like a monthly basis, and I have a greater appreciation for the few clothes I do have because they fit and I love them. Same with the kitchen, just start noticing your stuff when you cook. As you reach toward your utensil holder to grab a spatula, maybe you notice a wooden spoon that's all splintery that you can toss.  By really looking at your belongings, you'll both know what you have and appreciate what you have. No new stuff needed.

Avoiding: As we continue to pare down our belongings I find that avoiding stores helps to keep costs down.  Because, trust me, I can always find something pretty that I just "have to have".  Looking at you, yellow throw pillow that perfectly matches the color scheme of our canned ham trailer.  Recently though, I find myself getting more and more anxious when I go into stores. Like, almost on a cellular level my psyche is saying "Don't do it!".  This actually happened a few days ago. I was near Home Goods and it was like my car parked itself and I was suddenly browsing the aisles.  After 20 minutes of browsing, I could feel my chest tightening up and it was hard to catch my breath.  Stuff overload.  I had to flee the store.  

For this reason, I try to use Amazon Prime or Google Express to deliver the things I need to me.  Need, not want.  But I find that if I absolutely can't avoid going into a store, and while grabbing the necessities something cute and decorative winds up in my shopping cart, I "own" it for a while as I go through the store, all while asking it "where will you go in my house?".  Usually the answer is nowhere, it's just going to be clutter, there isn't room for another tchotchke.  Back on the shelf it goes.

 

I'm not perfect, I love stuff, but I love my sanity more.  I love the deep breath walking into a clean, clear room feels like. Hopefully these tips will help you rein in the stuff and enjoy what you have more.  

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The Why of Less

The More of Less.

The Joy of Less. 

What about The Why of Less?

You're 1/3 of the way through the 30 day challenge.  It's getting a little harder to find things to toss, but you're still stubbing your toe on boxes or silently swearing when you can't find your keys in the morning.  You want to get rid of more, but you just...can't. 

Not to brag, but if I'm home, I can always find my keys.  However, if I'm anywhere else - parents', friends', hotels - I lose them. It's embarrassing. 

So why can I always find them at home?  

Because they have a home within my home.  I open the door, I hang them on the hook on the wall inside the door.  Period.  

So that's one of my "whys".  I'm a ditz.  I lose things.  

What are your Whys?  Why do you want to declutter? Write them down.  Glance at this paper often.  

 

Some ideas:

Less hassle

Less debt

More time

More energy

Fewer fights