my early resolution: controlling financial clutter

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When it comes to financial documents, I’m a certified hoarder. I love the look of a streamlined file box and like to think that I’m an accountant’s dream come tax time: ready and willing to produce any document one could possibly request from the last six years. In the information age, keeping everything I’ve been filing is unnecessary and has resulted in an overworked file box and lots of paper clutter. So, as an early start to my “declutter my apartment” New Year’s resolution, I put on a movie after the feasting and family time was over last weekend and went through my files. Suze Orman has some handy guidelines detailing how long to keep personal and financial documents before sentencing them to the shredder and a full garbage bag of paper shreds later, I’ve cut the clutter and trimmed my file box down to a svelte, wholly-contained operation, all while taking in a holiday flick on the couch!

Next on my list: managing money online with mint.com. How about you readers? Any organizational New Year’s resolutions to share? –Sarah C.

From our partners

container store treasure: amac boxes

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amac boxes 2

Much akin to Ikea, the Container Store is a rabbit hole of a place that seemingly offers a million ingenious things you could use right at that moment. We’ve found our share of stocking stuffers there, but my most helpful discovery of late, their line of petite Amac Boxes, may include the smallest item they sell. Made of crystal clear, BPA-free plastic, the tiny containers are perfect for storing myriad items from crafting supplies to jewelry, but are easy to miss in the store. My roommate uses a few of the smaller, clear versions to store her rings, earring and other small jewels, and like many happy reviewers on the site, loves the ease with which she can see her collection and keep it all clean and safe. Starting at just $0.39, they’re an inexpensive way to bring order to an unruly jewelry box. Incidentally, the bamboo drawer organizers you see above come just as highly recommended from the same place! – Sarah C.

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my home was broken into! don’t let yours be next

valuables

A few months ago I had the unfortunate luck of being the victim of a break-in, and it was heartbreaking. After taking care of the police and renter’s insurance report (aside – renter’s insurance is cheap, and well worth it!), I started to investigate how I could minimize the chances of this happening to me again, or at the very least, make it more difficult for someone to help themselves to my things. I know many of us will be traveling this upcoming season, so we should safeguard our homes while we’re away. The following is what I learned thieves look for:

• Are you home? It might seem obvious, but I didn’t consider making it look like I was home, even when I was gone for a very short time. Buy timers! Timers are inexpensive and can be found at your local hardware or drug stores. Put them on your radio, lights, and tv, and set them to go off once during the day and evening.

• Evidence of new valuables. If you get a fancy new TV or electronics, don’t leave the packaging visible in your garbage. Break down the box and put inside a dumpster away from home. Would-be thieves watch for these things in your alleys and garbage.

• Obvious hiding places. Under mattresses, jewelry boxes, and desks are all easy targets. The officer who investigated my case said thieves hardly ever look in books, so consider putting smaller valuables in hollowed-out books like these. Hide larger valuables, like laptops, in your food pantry or kitchen.

• Is anyone watching? Get to know your neighbors and let them know you will be gone. It’s important for communities to recognize strangers, and be curious if they see someone who is unfamiliar hanging around your home.

Lastly, keep a running list of valuables – include serial/model numbers, value, or any other specific information about them – and e-mail it to yourself. This will help lessen your legwork if you ever do have to report missing items or those damaged from fires or storms.

Anyone else have recommendations on how to keep our homes safe and secure this holiday season –Rebecca F.

From our partners

kinda genius: black+ blum’s box appetit

lunchbox

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If you’re bringing lunch to work or are a leftovers lover, Tupperware is a must. We’ve covered the fancy stuff, and in our house we have a color-coded set much like the Snapware varieties that we absolutely adore, but I may be making more room soon for the Box Appetit. The Cadillac of lunch organization containers, the Box Appetit has it all: a removable inner dish that allows the separation of hot and cold foods, a locking lid, a fork/knife that snaps into the lid, and my personal favorite, a small receptacle for your favorite sauce or dressing. Goodbye, soggy salads, hello intelligent food storage! Designed by Black + Blum, the container is also dishwasher and microwave safe and BPA free. At $22 it’s pricier than your average Tupperware, but it would be an ingenious solution to some of my lunch hour woes. The Lunchbox Revolution cookbook, $8, is a nifty compliment specially designed to make filling the thing even easier. Now the question is, will it fit in my stocking? – Sarah C.

From our partners

a very woodland office: sentimental squirrel pin holder

squirrel pin holder

On my quest for adorable office supplies, I’ve found that one rule rings true every time: Woodland creature make everything cuter! Remember the chirping bird and hedgehog paper clip holders we featured awhile back? Adorable overload! Take push pins for example, is there anything more boring than push pins? The banal cork board staples get a makeover with Mod Cloth’s Sentimental Squirrel Pin Holder, $12. The adorable squirrel sits sentry over his handful of acorn push pins. The best part is, his pedestal is magnetic so you’ll never have to worry about losing the rest of his nuts. –Katie D.

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