Weekend Weightlifter – cull some paperwork

This weekend we’re going to attack some old paperwork. You don’t need to spend all weekend on it – you can spend as little as 15 minutes and make a difference!

Find some old filing in the home and take a handful of it out of the files.  Assess each piece of paperwork one at a time and ask yourself if you need to keep it or not.

Reasons to keep papers include:

  • It was used as supporting documentation on one of your last five (seven in the US) tax returns (invoices, receipts, superannuation)
  • It has historical significance (your grandfather’s migration documents)
  • You need to keep it for legal reasons (your car registration papers or your Will)
  • You need to keep it for warranty reasons (the receipt for your vacuum cleaner)
  • It’s useful when something goes wrong (your dishwasher user manual)
  • It’s a hand-print of your daughter when she was a baby
  • It proves something (residency, that you paid for something, that you did a certain qualification, medical records etc)
  • You’re going to use it soon (a gift voucher)
  • It makes you very happy. VERY.

Reasons to ditch papers include:

  • It’s a document you can obtain online whenever you need it
  • It’s a user manual for an item you don’t have anymore
  • It’s a bill that was paid 2 years ago and you didn’t claim it as a tax deduction
  • It’s one of 3,000 drawing of stars your daughter drew (a handful of the same drawing from the same age is sufficient)
  • It’s one of 50 payslips from 1987 (again, keep one for nostalgia, sure – but you don’t need them all)
  • You took it out of a magazine several years ago because you thought you might make that stool/soft toy/cake/party decoration one day (you can get SO MUCH online these days)
  • It’s memorabilia that makes you sad/angry/guilty

You can spend as little or as long as you want, as long as you ditch as much as you can in that time!

 

The 2012 Christmas Countdown Planner

Source: http://www.design-decor-staging.com

Back due to popular request is the Clear Space Christmas Countdown Planner. Download it here: Clear Space 2012 Christmas countdown calendar

It’s a simple “one task a day” planner that isn’t fancy or complicated. It doesn’t promote perfectionism, nor does it have unrealistic expectations of you.

It’s just a no-frills, get-it-done kind of thing!

Enjoy!

A modest life is a life to be proud of

Everyone has different ideas of what a modest life entails, but for me it’s not being dragged into the whole consumerism, materialistic way of life to a point that it has you living outside your means or being extravagant.

It means you don’t go into debt for a big-screen TV or a luxury car, you don’t spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery and shoes each year. You don’t buy designer clothes, or borrow money for extravagant holidays.

It means you live within your means, disregarding what this does to the way people see you.

So many people complain about not having enough money, yet they drink excessive amounts of alcohol, have Foxtel and a big-screen TV and drive a brand new car that they have borrowed money for, and spend a fortune on takeaway and junk food.  They sell their house and upgrade to a bigger home with a bigger mortgage so they can fit all their stuff in that they found one sale somewhere sometime but never use. They put their immediate comfort and their ‘facade’ in front of long-term benefits such as being debt-free.

People have forgotten what a real need is. They have forgotten that in the 1960s a family of five quite happily fit into a house with 3 bedrooms and one living area. They forget that a car that is over 10 years old can still drive them from A to B.  They forget that they live a quite privileged life compared to many and that they are so much luckier than they think they are.

They still look around them and want what everyone else has whether or not they can afford it, need it, or have room for it.

I get really frustrated when I hear how “tough” people are doing it, when I know very well many of these people are in debt because they lived beyond their means.  They did it because they couldn’t tell the difference between a need and a want. They didn’t ‘save for a rainy day’ and instead told themselves “I deserve this”.

People who lead modest lives are happier than those that don’t. They are more financially stable. They are self-sufficient and live within their means. They are leaders, not followers. They accept their life as it is and don’t strive for excess. They give freely of themselves. They aren’t overly concerned with what others think of them, and are therefore more uninhibited and self-assured.

How does one live a modest life?

  • Don’t buy things just because everyone else has one, unless you can afford to buy 3 of them without debt (and then still only buy 1!)
  • Recognise that at the end of your life, you will not be remembered for your designer shoes
  • Understand that you are still a valuable person without all the ‘stuff’
  • Learn to be content with what you have, and enjoy what you have instead of wanting more all the time
  • Don’t go into debt for anything other than the necessities (food and shelter, essentially – and that doesn’t count luxury resorts!)
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s, and be proud of not buying into the hype
  • Remember to look long-term and not just for the short-term ‘hit’ that buying something new gives you

There is nothing to be ashamed of in living a modest life, but so very much to be proud of.


On a personal note:

I am not infallible nor am I a monk – sometimes I don’t live a modest life, despite generally trying to. When I bought myself an iPad (I tried to tell myself I ‘needed’ it for work but to be honest, I mostly play and read on it), I was being more extravagant than I normally would, even though I could afford it and did pay cash, because I didn’t really need it.  Sometimes I yearn for a bigger wardrobe, more shoes or a guest room in my house(or a bigger house), or a flash new sofa because I’m tired of the old one. And I was very keen to upgrade our car earlier this year – to the point of nagging!

But  most of all, I live within my means and without extravagance, as does the rest of my family. We’re not overly frugal but we’re not careless either.

Our family is debt-free (and we worked hard to get that way – it wasn’t handed to us on a platter) and we save as much as we can, whilst still enjoying our life.  Our home is not large or fancy, but it’s nice and we all fit just fine and we resist the urge to spend our savings on upgrading. When we last bought a new car (we had had our other one for almost 12 years) we spent around 10% of what we could actually afford to spend in cash and it was still a nice, shiny new (less than one year old) car and I still love it to pieces. The rest of the money is earning interest for us while the small investment is driving me around!

New Year, new … somethingorother …

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It’s New Year’s Day, a time that many of us decide we will make some resolutions to change for the better, and that 2012 is going to be better than 2011.

More money, more friends, less stress, less fat, more fat, more joy, more holidays, less travelling, more clothes, less clothes, more stuff, less stuff, new car, new house, new partner …*takes deep breath*… new friends, no more new friends, more muscles, less crying, better parenting, better job, no job, see family more, see family less, help more people, get help more often, quit smoking, drink less, eat more meat, eat less meat … the list goes on!

Most people want to improve themselves or their lives to some degree; we’re all alike in that way.

Most New Year’s Resolutions fail (I won’t go into detail, but there are stats supporting that sweeping statement!). So I recommend that you just don’t make any. But no, you cry, how will I improve if I don’t make a resolution to? Easy – you take action. A resolution is just a decision to do something, and decisions don’t get you anywhere.  To change, you need a goal, some determination and action. Action is what gets you over the line!

Here’s a few tips:

  1. Choose a theme (“financial freedom” “healthy living” “learning journey”). You can’t change everything - it just doesn’t work. Pick a theme for 2012 and base your goals around it. Don’t stress, though; if you want to lose weight AND learn French this year, that’s fine!
  2. Restrict your goals to only a few (maybe 3?). Brainstorm a list then trim it down to the most important ones to you. Keep the rest to review next year.
  3. Write your goals so they are as specific as possible, and preferably measurable (eg – fit back into size 10 jeans, or get debt down to $50,000, or finish a graphic design course)
  4. Once you have a few specific, large goals, break them down into some smaller goals so that you have a plan of action to follow and not just a vague notion (ie, visit dietitian, decide on exercise routine, start routine, change diet, lose 5 kgs, lose 10 kgs, fit a size 12, fit a size 11 … )
  5. DON’T give up altogether if you stumble. Just start again! Perseverance is the key.

Share your theme for the year with us – what are you focusing on? (In case you were wondering, mine is “Acceptance” – rolling with the punches, flowing with the current and being grateful for all I have).

 

Getting organised for tax time

Are you scared of doing your tax? Overwhelmed by the enormity of the task? Wouldn’t you feel wonderful if this year you had it all wrapped up by the end of July?

The end of the financial year may not be looming large quite yet, but those that like to have their tax all sorted by the 1st of July are already getting organised for it.

If you’re completely overwhelmed by how you’re going to get this year’s tax organised, these simple steps can help.

  1. Make a 2010/2011 file – it can be a box, a manila folder or a binder. It doesn’t matter what you put it in really, so long as you have one.
  2. Write a list of paperwork that needs to be included so you can check them off when they go in the file. Include: receipts, charity donations, utility bills, group certificates, health insurance paperwork and dividend statements, among others. If you can get a list from your accountant that would be ideal.
  3. Go through your piles of paperwork (or filing cabinet, if you have it all organised) and collect up what you’re missing. Do it in small bursts (15 minutes or so a day) if your piles are largely unsorted.
  4. Add to the file for the next month or so, then at the end of June sort it all into groups (income, expenditure) and it’s all ready to do that return on time!

Don’t strive for a ‘perfect’ file. All it needs to be is all together. It’s as simple as that!

(note: this advice is for those in the Australian tax system. If you’re in another country use it as a guide, but be aware you’ll need to customise it to suit your nation’s terminology and tax laws).

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