WHAT TO DO WITH OUTDATED FRAMED PHOTOS
Do you have old framed photos of various sizes sitting on a shelf someplace in your storage area and don’t know what to do with them? If so, then you’re not alone, I have found it to be a common occurrence when working with clients to come across these forgotten photos of yesterday. They once merited a place on a wall or side table in a living room but now they are collecting dust in a dark place somewhere. They usually hold the photos of children or other family members who have long since grown up. These old photos are trapped inside outdated and chipped frames that once sparked joy but have since been replaced by updated photos and frames.
There are several reasons these old photos are often left in frames; the first is simply due to the fact that most of us do not take the time to remove them, and once they get put in a closet or storage area somewhere, they are out of sight and out of mind and several years may pass before we see them again. Another reason old photographs stay in frames is that we somehow feel obligated keep them there because it took time and care to assemble them in the first place. Finally, these photos often stay framed because it is mistakenly believed that this is the best way to protect them long term.
Unfortunately, it is actually dangerous to leave photos in frames, because over the years, the photo can adhere to the glass, especially if they are exposed to any moisture or heat. Once this happens, the photo becomes impossible to remove without causing severe damage and ends up stuck in that frame forever. The other obvious problem with leaving photos framed long term, is that they take up a large amount space in your home, especially if you happen to be a photo person and have a lot of large photos. Your family’s photos deserve better than to be stuck inside ugly outdated frames for eternity, so take the time to remove them and use the following steps to preserve them:
You can visit: https://www.archivalmethods.com/blog/preserving-family-photographs/ to get more tips for preserving your family’s valuable photos. It is well worth the small amount of time it takes to remove old photos from their frames and get them all safely inserted into one photo safe box or envelope. As an added bonus, it will be liberating to be able to finally get rid of all those outdated frames taking up space in your storage room or closet.
Before you make a major life move, such as buying a smaller home or entering assisted living, you have to decide what, exactly, to do with your current estate. There are many options, and the one you choose can have a significant impact on your finances. Keep reading as we answer a few common questions seniors often ask about the buying and selling process and how to keep a property in the family.
I want to sell my current home, but I cannot afford expensive upgrades. What can I do to get the most money at closing?
If you’ve lived in a house for any length of time, there are many small issues that you’ve learned to ignore. Little things like cracked tiles and dried-up caulk are quick fixes that won’t cost more than a few dollars to repair. However, if your home has not been updated since the early 2000s (or before), you might have to sell as-is, possibly for thousands less than you would if it was brought up to modern standards. The good news here is that some dated aesthetics can be rectified without a huge investment. For example, wood paneling is easily paintable, old light fixtures take only moments to swap out, and vertical blinds can be removed.
How can I afford to move if I don’t want to sell?
That depends entirely on your personal situation. If you do not have any savings and are on a limited income, you may not qualify for mortgage. But, if you do have financial padding, a bit of planning can allow you to keep your home in the family and purchase something more senior-friendly. Start by looking at your expenses and income. Redfin asserts that the type of loan along with property taxes and other expenses also factor into how much you can afford. Know what your bank account can handle before you begin your search. This will lessen the chances of looking at and falling in love with something you can’t pay for.
My spouse always handled money. How do I make (and stick to) a budget when I will have a house payment?
Many seniors choose to move out of their longtime home after the death of their spouse. When your spouse was the one that paid bills and earned the majority of your income, learning how to budget can be a challenge. Tiller Money, a budget-tracking app that works with Google Docs, notes that keeping an updated spreadsheet with your financial transactions is a great way to understand your incoming and outgoing funds. Write down how much you spend on housing, transportation, food, and other necessary expenses. Try to find information on these expenses for the last three to six months so that you know exactly what you can expect to spend. Your local bank branch should be able to pull all your transactions and help you sort them into categories.
What do renters want in a house?
If you’re thinking about renting your home for added income, you likely will have to make some repairs and updates. Most people in the market for a rental want a place that is clean and that shows minimum signs of wear and tear. Safety is also a priority, so make sure that all the windows and doors lock and that there is plenty of exterior lighting. You can look online for homes similar to yours to get a better idea of how much you can charge. Keep in mind that there are expenses that you, as the homeowner, must incur, including maintenance and, in some cases, utilities and lawn care.
Remember, what you do now affects both your quality of life and what you leave behind to your heirs when you pass. If you sell your home, you will have the equity to spend on housing, travel, or other interest/needs. On the other hand, you may not have real property to leave behind. If you keep your home and use it as a rental, you’ll have money coming in each month but will also run the risk of having bad tenants that damage the property. Before you make a decision, take the time to evaluate your financial state, and talk it over with your family. They may have other ideas about how you can afford and enjoy retirement without making any drastic changes to your life.
Today, families are busier than ever, and its easy to get overwhelmed with keeping up with it all. The following is a list of helpful routines that can make all the difference in maintaining order and reducing stress at home as the weeks roll by.
1. Daily & Weekly Routines
We all function better once a system is in place. Routines are especially important for children, so forming habits that take place daily or weekly, like having set times for homework, and chores and having consistent bath and bedtimes can be soothing for both parent and child. Parents having set weekly routines for getting things done, like paying bills, filling the dishwasher and doing laundry are also helpful. Routines not only help keep families organized, they reduce stress and enable us to feel more in control.
2. The 15 Minute Family Huddle
Every week, have a short family meeting to discuss the weeks upcoming appointments, activities and other details. Use this planning session to go over all of the upcoming weeks to-dos, this is when details can be added to the calendar, like errands, deadlines or phone calls that need to be made. These meetings help families feel more in control as the week progresses and forgotten details are less likely, ensuring that stress levels stay low and last-minute emergencies are avoided.
3. 10 Minutes Each Night
Have each family member take 10 minutes before bedtime to get ready for the next day. Choose outfits, prepare lunches, pack everything that needs to go to school and set it by the door. Also, gather together after school supplies for activities. Doing this will make the mornings run smoother and will prevent items from being forgotten.
4. Delegated Household Tasks
This should never be a one-man job even for a stay at home parent. Each family member should be engaged in this process and can be assigned age appropriate household tasks. Even if your kids are busy, making them responsible for completing scheduled chores, will teach them valuable skills that transfer to adulthood. It takes teamwork to Keeping a family running smoothly, reinforcing this fact when kids are young will solidify this attitude as they grow older.
5. A Place for Everything
Having permanent homes for everything ensures that clutter is kept at bay and time is not wasted looking for things. Assign homes to everything you own and make sure other family members know where things go. Reinforce the rule that things need to be returned to their permanent homes when they are not being used.
6. Clutter Cutting Habits
By teaching kids helpful tidying habits like making their bed each morning, hanging up their back packs every day, cleaning up one toy or project before bring out another, etc. they learn valuable skills that will carry over in to adulthood. Reinforcing these important habits will go a long way not only in keeping the home organized now, but in helping kids develop automated organizing skills that will last a lifetime.
7. Twice a Year Purge
Families today have a substantial amount of stuff coming into the home on a regular basis. For this reason, it is important to take time twice a year to de-clutter and purge items that are no longer being used. By moving unwanted items out of the house on a regular basis, you balance what is coming in with what’s going out. Establish a box labeled DONATE and communicate with each family member so that everyone knows where to put their unwanted items. Then make it a priority to move it all out twice a year.
8. Practice Saying No
Today, many families overbook their days, not wanting to miss out on activities and opportunities. We also struggle with saying “no” to our kids and to requests for commitments because we feel pressured. But learning to say no when we have reached a limit is the best thing that we can do for ourselves and for our kids. Limit the number of activities you and your children participate in. This will ensure that your family has time to get important tasks done and stay organized on a daily basis. It also it will allow you to build in “down” time into each day. Scheduling “down” time where nothing is going on will ensure that every family member including yourself has time to unwind and refuel.
9. One Family Calendar
It is helpful to have one central family calendar that everyone uses, whether that be a paper calendar or a digital one that everyone’s phones are synced to. Having everything on the calendar and having only one that everyone uses will ensure that nothing is forgotten.
10. Don’t Put Off the Predictable
Just as it is much less stressful not to wait until the last minute to do a homework assignment, it promotes peace to get predictable, scheduled activities out of the way ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute. For Example: Shopping for Saturday nights’ dinner party well in advance rather than waiting until Saturday morning allows extra time for any unexpected surprises that might pop up.
There are some things you can’t change about your house. Its location, the school zone, and the size of the yard are a few features that come to mind. Chances are, you aren’t willing to change the layout or add a new bedroom if you’re moving either. The good news is that buyers already know this information about your home before they walk through the front door, so if they are there, they’re not looking at the floorplan.
So what are they looking at? Buyers are there to see the condition of the home. And the very first thing they will notice is if it is clean, since this is a good indication of how well the home has been cared for. But you’ve got kids, and clean has taken on a whole new definition, and it’s time to take a new look at what clean means. Your sale just might depend on it.
Here’s how to get things in shape when you barely have time to get yourself ready each morning.
Start with “the great purge”
The most challenging aspect of cleaning when you have kids in the house is getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need. Kids tend to form an emotional attachment to everything. But, now is not the time to provide asylum to stuffed animals and armless Lego men. Talk to your kids about the move, and let them know they can’t take everything with them. If they are resistant, it might help to decorate a few moving boxes with “Toy Retreat” signs and let the kids know their stuff is ready for a permanent vacation. Set a good example by cleaning out your own closet, craft room, and garage. Set limits on what you can keep and don’t hold on to multiples. If you do not have time to host a yard sale, contact the Salvation Army, Goodwill, AMVETS National Service Foundation, the ARC, or Habitat for Humanity, which Moving.com explains are all charities that pickup.
Plan to bring in extra hands
When you are getting ready for showings, it needs to be all hands on deck, but sometimes that's easier said than done. First things first, hire a maid service to come in and give your home a deep cleaning, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Next, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to hire a housekeeper to come in once a week to help you keep your clean home maintained. The right person will help you keep toys and clothes put away, beds made with fresh linens and the yard tidied, all ensuring your home is ready for those last-minute showings. This does not mean that the members of your family can sit back and relax – create a chore chart for the daily must-dos so you're housekeeper isn't doing all the heavy lifting.
Provide visual aids
One simple way to ensure your home stays clean is to give your family a clear idea of what you expect. But telling them is not always enough. Plan to take photos of the interior once it’s clean. Print these out and stick them where they are visible within each room -- or each section of room. You may also want to color code the toy bins to facilitate organization. Yellow might be set aside for dolls while green is sanctioned for Nerf guns. You don’t have to stop in the kids’ bedrooms, this colorful cleaning and organization hack can easily apply throughout the house.
While cleanliness is not the only thing your buyers will look for, it’s the first thing they will notice. A clean home looks – and smells – like it’s ready for its new owners, and keeping it that way may put them in place sooner than you can say, “home for sale.”
Guest Blog Written By:
Create A Family Giggle Log
In 2013, coincidentally, the same year that I started Clean & Clutter Free, Family Fun Magazine published our family’s idea to create what we call a "Family Giggle Log" (August Issue). It was so mind blowing, and a tad bit unsettling that we could to go to Walmart and find our family’s photo in the latest Family Fun magazine.
If you have young ones, I want to past this idea along to you. I know these years are busy, but it is during these all too fleeting years, starting around age 2 or 3 that our little charmers say and do things that capture our hearts and make us smile and laugh. I would give anything to live just one day with my children at age 3 again. Nature’s ingenious way of ensuring that we don’t leave our troublesome, tantrum throwing toddlers on someone else’s doorstep, is that they are adorably sweet and funny all the while messing up a whole house faster than a tornado can roll through it. It is during these years that our young ones see things with fresh eyes and ears, so innocent and genuine. They never sugar coat the truth before it comes out of their mouths so what we hear is often interesting and sometimes embarrassing. This stage does not last long though, by about age 5 or 6, it starts to dissolve as their more mature intellect begins to develop.
When our girls were young, my husband and I got into the habit of jotting down things that our girls would say that would make us laugh. We correctly predicted that neither of us would have a keen enough memory to remember every funny or sweet thing they did or said, so we managed to form a habit of getting something down on paper when these moments occurred. We had a notebook that we called our “Family Giggle Log”. The entries were messy and short because we did not have a lot of time, but thanks to this little notebook, we captured memories that would have been long forgotten. Now that our girls are well into their teenage years, they still enjoy our occasional recaps of the past as much as we do. As predicted, out not only did I forget half the things my girls did when they were young but I can’t even keep straight which one did the things I do remember! For this reason, I am ever grateful for the memories that we did catch before they slipped through our fingers like sand. The following are a few of our favorite inserts from our Family Giggle Log hopefully they will make you smile too:
“Mommy what is an earthquake?” Me – “That is when the earth shakes around for a little while.”
Maddie - “Do you go upside down?”
Dad was at the park with the girls, and Maddie was hanging from the monkey bars...
Dad - "Be careful Maddie"
Maddie - “Dad! You’re bothering my attitude!”
“Mommy, Why do women where bras?”
Me – “Oh just to give some extra support.” (I know this was a lame explanation but I couldn’t think of a better answer at the time).
Cassie - “Is it because bras help make men’s love you more?”
Cassie shared a story she wrote at school with her dad....
Dad – Wow, good job, you really like to learn don’t you?
Cassie – “Actually, I just like to impress people”.
"Mommy, if I throw my booger into the fire will it explode?”
“If I put on a whole bunch of clothes, to you think I could live inside the refrigerator?"
And one more from Emily because she was extra inquisitive...
“If everyone in the world blew on my finger at the same time would it fall off?”
I have already managed to copy many of Maddie’s Giggle Log entries into a scrapbook that I created for her when she graduated, and I plan to do the same for the younger two when I get around to making their scrapbooks...hopefully before they graduate. For me, capturing our young children’s special moments in photos and in written form, through journaling, letters and stories, holds greater power to take our family back to this precious time than other kinds physical keepsakes, so I limit keeping larger keepsakes like art work and projects. Words and photos take up much less room in our home and I just take photos of the rest.
Having lived through raising my own children, the best advice I can give to young parents is this; The most special memories made are the ones that they hold in their hearts as the years go by. For us, surprisingly they were not the times that we went to Chuckie Cheeses, instead it was the times that we did seemingly silly things together like having a picnic in the basement on a cold winter day that they seem to remember and cherish the most. So while it is good to try to capture some your child's memories when you can, ideally through photos, videos and written words, don't get so caught up in taking photos and such, that you miss out on being fully present during those precious moments as they rapidly roll by.
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services
I was talking with an acquaintance the other day; she asked me how my organizing business was going and then asked “So are you one of those people who like to have everything just so?” I told her that I am not a perfectionist if that is what you are asking. But I do like to be able to find things when I need them.” So if having everything “just so” means having a specific place for everything I own, and being able to find things easily when I need them, than yes I am one of "those people". But if you are asking me if I am particular about having everything perfect, this is definitely not me. I like things to be simple, not perfect.
I actually have become an organized person out of necessity, due to my ADHD and the fact that I have a low tolerance for juggling tasks and remembering things. I get flustered easily, and my short attention span makes me forgetful and flighty. I need to keep things really simple for myself in order to keep all my ducks in a row, lest I forget a duck. When I was in college and living with several roommates they found it quite amusing to tease me about the fact that I could not leave our dorm room without returning at least once to grab whatever I forgot. My car keys, purse, books, sometimes I had to return twice...it was embarrassing.
I learned early on that everything in my life needs to have a permanent home in order for me to keep track of things. Though my home is not perfectly organized all of the time, we can keep it looking fairly presentable without much effort simply because we have less stuff and everything has a home. In addition to having a home for everything, like items are stored together. That’s pretty much it, it is a simple system; Less stuff, everything has a place, like items together. Since everyone in my family knows where everything belongs, things are usually put back when we are done using them. Nobody does this perfectly either, and as you might guess, some family members are better at it than others. But we have established the habit of doing it most of the time, which goes a long way in maintaining order overall.
I like to get things done with the least amount of effort possible, so when complicated tasks are presented to me, my mind automatically starts figuring out how to simplify the job at hand. This comes in handy when getting things done. I'm always looking for ways to consolidate errands, or save a step when cleaning. I much prefer simple organizational systems to complicated ones because they are easier to maintain and use. When it comes to my schedule, I keep that as simple as possible too. This may mean having to say no when I am asked to take on too much, but it is important that I do this for the sake of my sanity since I get overwhelmed so easily. I limit my involvement to the things that are most important to me, keeping my priorities in check, like family time.
I don’t spend a lot of energy fussing over and making sure everything is in perfect order at home. I do make a strong effort to frequently get rid of things that we are no longer using, and this is really the biggest secret to staying on top of keeping order in our house. Being organized has less to do with trying to achieve perfection, and more to do with keeping things simple, lightening the load, and establishing and sticking to helpful habits and routines. We should always ask ourselves the same question when we are overwhelmed with household tasks, with staying organized or with adding things to our calendar; How can I make this easier for myself so that I can minimize my stress and feel more peaceful at home?
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services
When you think about decluttering, does it suck the wind out of your sails? All too often, the task of tidying up can feel overwhelming, and turn even the most resilient homeowner into a deer in headlights. Sometimes it can make you want to throw in the towel, or at least call for professional reinforcements. However, a few clever strategies can be just the ticket. Here’s how to ensure the task of paring down is not only simple, it could even be called “fun.”
Formulate a plan
How do you plan to tackle your “stuff”? Everyone has their own best methods for decluttering, and to ensure you stick with your project, think about what works best for you. For instance, some people do well with selecting a certain number of objects every day and parting ways with them. Other people do best sorting a section at a time. For some people, the key to beating clutter is scheduling a particular time for the project, even 15 minutes per day, and committing to it. You can even print a helpful calendar from Home Storage Solutions to help you stay on track. The important thing is to find your method, and embrace it wholeheartedly!
Putting things in order
As you go through your home, keep in mind it’s important to develop a system that will help you avoid becoming cluttered again. This can be especially challenging if your home doesn’t feature an excess of square footage. If space is tight, be creative, and consider some unconventional, yet oh-so-clever storage hacks. For example, furniture can multitask, such as using an attractive vintage trunk that is both your coffee table and a storage solution. Wasted wall spaces can hold floating shelves. Baskets can house unsightly items on your shelving, turning an eyesore into an accent. In the bedroom, the space under your mattress can hold under-the-bed storage bins. Look for ways to put idle space to work!
Focus on feel-goods
As you declutter, there will likely be plenty of things you no longer want or need. Instead of tossing them into the trash, think of ways they can benefit other people. You can donate items to a charity, offer them on a swap website, or even have a yard sale. If you make a little money, consider donating it to a nonprofit, or invest the funds into furthering your decluttering project. Another idea is to check into local nonprofit events. Silent auctions are popular fundraisers, and you could piece together themed gift baskets to donate to a worthy cause. It’s a great way to amp up your motivation, and the warm fuzzies double the fun!
Put on some tunes
Even if you find a great decluttering method, are making wonderful progress, and enjoying seeing the fruits of your efforts, there will probably be days when you struggle with your motivation. One of the best ways to overcome those lackluster moments is with an upbeat cleaning playlist. In fact, you might want to put on your favorite tunes every time, since Huffington Post notes just listening to music can potentially cut your work time in half!
Reward your fine efforts
You’re doing a really good thing. Decluttering can be provide life-changing benefits, helping you to be more productive and healthy. On top of that, you might have donations to charities and a little spending money. However, there is nothing like a little pat on the back to really make you feel great. Some experts suggest picking out a thoughtful reward that compliments your project nicely. In other words, avoid something that will clutter up your house again, or that is unrelated to the task. For example, invest in some attractive storage baskets to outfit your space, or take a day off to stay home, savoring your uncluttered space. Think of the perfect gift to give hardworking you!
Decluttering can be overwhelming, but with a good plan you can do it! Choose a method that works for you, stay motivated, and enjoy a special reward. It’s a challenging project, but you’re worth it!
Written By Guest Blogger
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.