By Gina Noe
The beginning of a new year offers the opportunity to refresh and reset ourselves in a variety of different ways. Planning ahead now to get organized in the New Year can help you feel more prepared for daily life and unexpected situations which may arise over the next few months.
One of the first steps to getting organized is reducing clutter. After the holidays, our houses tend to have extra “stuff.” As you put away holiday gifts or those items that you purchased at after holiday sales, consider donating older items that you do not use often. A one-to-one exchange helps prevent your home from becoming cluttered. For each new item you bring in, donate an older item. This is a great exercise and a teachable moment for children; toys often create a lot of household clutter.
Families in the United States purchase 40 percent of the world’s toys, but only 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in the United States. Consider asking your child for each new toy received, to select an older toy to donate. Not only does this help reduce toy clutter, but it also helps children understand the concept of giving to others.
Organizing your household paperwork can often seem like a daunting task, because you are continually receiving new documents. It can be difficult to determine what to keep and what to shred.
To get started, develop a plan for household paperwork. Find a place to store important paperwork. You may have an empty file drawer or may consider purchasing a storage box. Label folders so that you can easily identify where each document should go.
Start with today’s paperwork. You may have months or years of old documents to sort through at some point, but get started by moving forward instead of wading through old papers.
Establish a system to manage new paperwork as it comes into the household. If it is a bill, establish a specific spot for all unpaid bills. After the bills are paid and properly recorded, file them appropriately.
Reducing junk mail can help you eliminate clutter at your house. Often junk mail will pile up until someone has the time to sort through it to make certain it does not include anything important. You can request your name be removed from mailing lists by contacting the Direct Marketing Association, the cost is $1. More information regarding the Direct Marketing Association may be found at www.DMAchoice.org.
In addition to direct mailers received from companies, many people often find their mailboxes full of unsolicited credit offers and insurance policies. You may request your name be removed from these lists by visiting the official Consumer Credit Report Industry Website at www.optoutpresecreen.com. This website allows you to choose to stop receiving prescreened credit offers for a 5 year period.
A recent research study linked over-accumulation of stuff with higher levels of stress. As you prepare for the New Year, consider steps you can take to help you feel more organized at home.
(Source: Jennifer L. Hunter, Extension Specialist for Family Financial Management, University of Kentucky; College of Agriculture, Food and Environment)
Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.