Disorganization = Money Wasted

By Barbara Ricketts a.k.a. “The Mess Doctor”
Certified Professional Organizer®

With the cost of just about everything (gas, food, etc.) going up daily, we are all looking for ways to save and/or more efficiently use our money. One expense that you might not have thought about is the “Cost of Disorganization”. If you have a lot of clutter and disorganization in your home, office and your life, then you are wasting money in some form.

Here are a few examples of the cost of a disorganized home, office and/or life:

“Late Fee Charges” because your bills aren’t organized and easy to pay on time.
– Have a system for bill paying.
– Make a date in your calendar: Pay bills twice a month
– For Paper bills, Keep a single file folder along with your stamps, return address labels and envelopes.

Impulse shopping without a list.
– Make a shopping list before you shop… Planning = Savings
– Purchase only what you need.
– Stick to the list.
– Don’t shop while hungry!

Avoid Duplicate Purchases.
– Gather all similar items together; inventory what you have!

Uncoordinated Errands
– Take time to plan your errand “Circuit”
– Minimize unnecessary travel
– Combine tasks to fall into one longer trip rather than several smaller ones.

Interest lost on checks before you deposit them (or you lose them all together).
– Use direct deposit or Schedule weekly (if not daily) paper check deposits.

Fees for “overnight expressing” late items.
– Don’t procrastinate!

Faulty or Inadequate Project Planning.
– What is the cost of your or your employee’s time… probably the biggest $ expense you have.
– Inefficiency = Money and Opportunity lost

Overtime pay for support staff staying late to do a “Rush” job because:
– It was given to them at the last moment, or
– It was not properly planned in the first place

The cost of replacing and retraining burned out employees who quit.

These are just a few examples of how disorganization can equal money wasted. At this time we all need to be as efficient as possible in all areas of our lives so we maximize our return for every dollar spent.

If you have questions for “The Mess Doctor” or if you need professional assistance to get organized contact Barbara Ricketts at MessDoctor@Mac.com or call 661-263-0124.

We Form Habits Then They Form Us

We all have developed bad habits over the course of our lives. Habits that are destructive forces and keep us from reaching our goals. Bad habits practiced over time form behaviors that can become extremely difficult to break.

Examine the following behavior pattern. Statistics show that most people who join a gym stop going within the first three months even though they continue to pay the fees. The study assumed that the guilt associated with canceling the membership was too great and that we believe as long as we have the membership some day we will return to the fitness lifestyle. As spring and summer approach we tend to look forward to the goals we have set for ourselves once again. But, if we do not address our old behaviors, change can be very temporary and quite difficult to sustain. So difficult for some that not even the fact that they’re paying for a monthly gym membership is enough incentive to motivate them to practice health and wellness.

In regards to smoking, a recent statistic shows that three out of four people who smoke actually want to quit. In other words, 75% of the people who are smoking don’t even want to be doing it! They desire to break the cycle of this bad habit but they can’t because they are stuck in their old behaviors. The most intense hardship for these want-to-be-nonsmokers is establishing any kind of permanence.

So how can we break bad habits and the cyclical pattern of old behaviors and make it last? Most of our habits and behaviors are governed by the subconscious part of our minds. The subconscious is extremely powerful and it comprises almost 90% of our mind. It is the reason that our conscious desire and willpower alone is often not enough to battle and overcome old behavior patterns.

Hypnotherapy has been successful in helping people because it has been scientifically proven to be the most effective way to affect and re-program your subconscious. Once your subconscious mind is in alignment with your conscious desires you can begin to overcome bad habits and old behavior patterns more easily and with lasting effect!

Virgil F. Vasquez, C.Ht. is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Counselor, and Life Coach working with adults and kids in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at 661-607-8355.

Got Clutter?

You may have clutter and not even know it!

Almost everyone has clutter, and most of us DO know it because our closets, garages and drawers are stuffed to over flowing; there may be papers all over the desk and on the floor around the desk. But did you ever think that you might also have clutter that you can’t see?

So what is clutter? Clutter can be physical, mental, energetic or spiritual. We are all familiar with the physical clutter, those “things” we don’t use, clothes that don’t fit, things we don’t repair and projects we don’t finish, anything we don’t love or use is clutter.

Mental clutter consists of negative thoughts, stories we tell ourselves, and the “I should do these” list of things we never get around to completing. Mental clutter is also the inability to think clearly when sitting in a space full of physical clutter.

Energetic clutter is noticed when one is in a room that is overflowing with items that don’t have a home. Instead of flowing uninterrupted, the energy is caught as if in a cobweb and becomes stagnant. One may even feel physically ill or confused in this environment.

Spiritual clutter is anything that gets in the way of your “true purpose”.

There is a lot more to clutter than meets the eye and there are many reasons why we have clutter. There are many resources available to help deal with this challenge. If you are feeling embarrassed, overwhelmed, out of control, frustrated or even physically ill, you just may have clutter!
Remember, Buddha said, “Learn to let go, that is the Key to Happiness.”

Barbara Ricketts is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO). If you need assistance to simplify & organize, contact her at MessDoctor@Mac.com or call 661-263-0124

See more of Barbara’s ideas

SCV Condo Prices Up in April 2009

According to the Southland Regional Association of Realtors, SCV single family homes (SFH) sales closing escrow increased 20% year over year for the month of April 2009 while condo sales decreased about 12%.

There were only 1,119 active listings (single family and condos combined) at month end, down 44% year over year. Based upon the current rate of sales, this inventory is equivalent to only a 4.1 month supply vs 8.2 months as of April 2008.

While the median price of SFH’s decreased 14.6% year over year it was actually up 2.5% over the previous month. Condominium median prices decreased 10.4% year over year but managed a whopping 25% increase over the previous month of March 2009. This figure may not be statistically meaningful as only 59 condos closed escrow in April 2009 and 58 in March 2009.

The low level of listings in the multiple listing service combined with record high affordability and availability of financing appears to be creating a bottoming of the market – pricewise. Sellers are slow to move as evidenced by the above-mentioned low supply of inventory which is bumping up prices month over month. It remains to be seen how an unlisted backlog of foreclosures and bank owned properties will affect the market as these inventories start getting released.

This report was compiled from data provided by the SoCal Multiple Listing Service and the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. The Santa Clarita Valley is comprised of the following localities; Castaic, Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus Stevenson Ranch and Valencia.

Phil Levy, http://www.jpscvrealty.com/
Read more

Yet Another E-mail Scam Claiming to be IRS

One of our clients received an e-mail supposedly from the IRS — and it included two attachments; one a letter purporting to be from the IRS, and the other a form to be filled out and faxed back.

The letter reads, under a pretty silly looking IRS masthead:

Sir/Madam,

Our records indicate that you are a non-resident alien. As a result, you are exempted from United States of America Tax reporting and withholdings, on interest paid you on your account and other financial dealing to protect your exemption from tax on your account and other financial benefit in rectifying your exemption status.

Therefore, you are to authenticate the following by completing form W-4100B2, and return to us as soon as possible through the fax number: +1-646-731-6884.

If you are a USA Citizen and resident, please complete form W-4100B2 and fax it to us, please indicate “USA Citizen/Resident” on the form and return it to us.

When completing form W-4100B2, please follow the steps below

1. We need you to provide your permanent address if different from the current mailing address on your Form W-4100B2 , you must indicate if a non-USA resident, your country of origin to support your non-resident status (if your bank account or other financial dealing has a USA address for mailing purpose).

2. If any joint account holder are now USA residents or Citizen, or in any way subject to USA tax reporting laws, Please check the box in this section.

3. Please complete 1 through 19 and have all account holders, sign and date the form separately and fax it to the above-mentioned number.

Please, complete Form W-4100B2 ‘attached” and return to us within 1 (one) week from the receipt of this letter by faxing it, to enable us update your records immediately if your account or any other financial benefits are not rectified in a timely manner, it will be subject to USA tax reporting and back up withholding (if back up withholding applies, we are required to withhold 30% of the interest paid to you).

We appreciate your cooperation in helping us protect your exempt status and also update our records.

Sincerely,

Laura Stevens
IRS .Public Relations.

The thing I love about this letter is that it’s not written in American English. Americans don’t refer to USA taxes, ever — they are Federal taxes. They also don’t “rectify” situations, they correct them. The other attachment is the form, “W-4100B2″, is nothing more than an elaborate phishing exercise including asking for your mother’s maiden name, and a list of all bank accounts, account numbers, and a copy of your passport. They would then use this information to drain your bank accounts.

The IRS.gov web site recommends the following actions when you receive e-mail purporting to be from the Service:

How to Report and Identify Phishing, E-mail Scams and Bogus IRS Web Sites

The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail.

  • The IRS does not request detailed personal information through e-mail.
  • The IRS does not send e-mail requesting your PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site,

  • Do not reply.
  • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing Web site and entered confidential information, visit our Identity Theft page.

How to report phishing, e-mail scams and bogus IRS Web sites
If you receive an e-mail or find a Web site you think is pretending to be the IRS,

  • Forward the e-mail or Web site URL to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
  • You can forward the message as received or provide the Internet header of the e-mail. The Internet header has additional information to help us locate the sender.
  • After you forward the e-mail or header information to us, delete the message.

How to identify phishing e-mail scams and bogus IRS Web sites

You may also report misuse of the IRS name, logo, forms or other IRS property to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration toll-free at 1-800-366-4484.

Additional resources

Tax Deadlines for 2008

Gleaned (and enhanced) from taxes.about.com

January 15, 2008

4th quarter estimated tax payments due for 2007 tax year.

January 31, 2008

Deadline for employers to mail out Form W-2 and for payers to furnish Form 1099 statements to payees.
Deadline for self-employed individuals to file and to pay their tax and avoid a penalty for not making 4th quarter estimated tax payment.

February 15, 2008

Deadline for employees who claim exemption from withholding to file a new Form W-4 with their employers.

February 28, 2008

Deadline for employers to file Form W-2 and Form 1099 statements with the Social Security Administration if filing on paper or magnetic media.

March 2, 2008

Deadline to file FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for initial award consideration.

March 17, 2008

Deadline for corporate tax returns (Forms 1120, 1120A, and 1120S), or to request automatic 6-month extension of time to file (Form 7004).
Final deadline to file an amended corporate tax return (Form 1120X) for tax year 2004 and still claim a tax refund.

March 31, 2008

Deadline for employers to file Form W-2 and Form 1099 Statements with the Social Security Administration if filing electronically.

April 15, 2008

Deadline to file individual tax returns (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) or to request an Automatic Extension (Form 4868).
Last day to make contribution to traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP-IRA for the 2007 tax year.
1st quarter estimated tax payments due for 2008 tax year.
Final deadline to file an original tax return (Form 1040) for tax year 2004 and still claim a tax refund. (I provide an easy, step-by-step approach to filing back taxes.)
Final deadline to file amended tax return (Form 1040X) for tax year 2004 and still claim a tax refund. (Be sure to mail the amended return well before April 16th to make sure your tax refund will be processed in a timely manner.)
Deadline to file estate or trust tax returns (Form 1041) or to request an automatic 6-month extension of time to file (Form 7004).
Deadline to file partnership tax returns (Form 1065) or to request an automatic 6-month extension of time to file (Form 7004).
Final deadline for estates, trusts, or partnerships to file an amended tax return and still claim a tax refund for the year 2004.

May 15, 2008

Deadline for non-profit organizations to file information returns (Form 990), or request an extension (Form 8868).

June 16, 2008

2nd quarter estimated tax payments due for 2008 tax year.
Deadline for US citizens living abroad to file individual tax returns or to request an additional 4-month extension (Form 4868). (Tip: request an automatic extension by April 15th, 2008, instead.) I provide useful information for claiming the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and the Foreign Tax Credit, two tax breaks essential for Americans working abroad.

June 30, 2008

Deadline to file TD F 90-22.1 Report of Foreign Bank Accounts if you have over $10,000 held in foreign bank accounts.

September 15, 2008

3rd quarter estimated tax payments due for 2008 tax year.
Final deadline to file corporate tax returns (Forms 1120, 1120A, 1120S).

October 15, 2008

Final deadline to file individual tax returns (with extension). Final day for e-file.
Final deadline to file trust tax returns (Form 1041) if an extension was requested.
Final deadline to file partnership tax returns (Form 1065) if an extension was requested.
Final deadline to fund a SEP-IRA for tax year 2007 if you requested an automatic extension of time to file.

November 2008

Start planning any year-end tax moves.

December 31, 2008

Last day to make any 2008 tax year moves, including marriage or divorce: Your marital status on this day determines your status for tax return purposes.

IRS E-mail scam warning

From WebCPA.com:

IRS Warns of E-mail Survey Scam

Washington, D.C. (Aug. 30, 2007)

The Internal Revenue Service issued a warning about a new e-mail scam that has been hitting people’s inboxes, offering unwary recipients $80 to participate in an online customer satisfaction survey that falsely purports to come from the IRS.

The e-mail contains From and Subject lines that appear to originate from the IRS, as well as a copyright statement that also claims to be from the agency. The message includes a hyperlink that takes the unsuspecting recipient to an online survey that asks for the taxpayer’s name, phone number and credit card account.

The IRS warns that the scammers may try to use the information to run up charges on the victim’s credit card account. There is even the possibility that the scammers might call the victim and try to obtain further financial information so they can get access to a bank account.

The IRS said, however, that it never sends unsolicited e-mail messages, and it never requests taxpayers to divulge their PIN codes, credit card numbers or similar information.

Well here we go!

Welcome to The Family Money, a website designed to help you, your family, and your friends to save money, avoid financial traps, and basically make your “Money Life” easier and more productive and stress-free.

We will have much more content very very soon, so stop back by!

– Matt

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