Paying all Bills

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Tanya

SC - MailBox or InBox?

So we all get mail whether it comes in our mail box outside or our email box inside. As a military kid, I LOVED mail day! Living overseas in the ’80s meant the best communication was every two weeks when our Dad would come home from work and have a stack of mail. It took at least one week for a letter to get from our home in England to a friend’s home in the U.S.A. That was impressive and we just never thought twice about having to wait for a letter or card.

Now that I am an adult with a house, husband, children, cars, and dogs I am not always so excited to get the mail (either version of it) because it is either junk mail or bills. Either way, the experience does not hold the same allure it did when I was a kid.

Recently I received an email from the online account I have been using to schedule all my bill paying, Manilla. At this site, I could log in and see all of my bills that are paid electronically, the balances, when the next bill is due (they send me email reminders before a bill is paid), any documents/notices the companies have sent to me, and a link to go directly to that site to amend any bills. Well, Manilla is closing this summer and they suggest their users download documents and delete the account.

This got me to thinking about all the digital tools I recommend to my readers. How secure are these electronic records? Why not just keep using the paper bills? Well, just like with paper, you must keep your own records in a format that you are comfortable with, makes sense to you, and will allow for any tax implications you may need to address.

As I went through my account, I realized that I was using Manilla as a staging ground, or gathering place to see most of my bills in one place. The reality is that I am already signed up for paperless billing with all the companies and therefore will be just fine without Manilla. Plus, I have reduced the number of accounts we have as a means to better manage our finances. This helped as well.

Now, I can go back to looking forward to getting the mail and know that most of what comes to my house will be something other than bills and maybe, just maybe someone will send me a card!

Videos (Barbara Hemphill and Tanya) are Live!

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Tanya

On April 29th Barbara Hemphill joined Tanya in New Bern to hold a seminar about home organizing and more. You can now see the videos here to learn more:

Barbara Hemphill Barbara Hemphill – talks about basic organizing and how a Productive Environment Specialist can help you through the process of implementing a system that will work for you! We use proven methods to implement simple yet effective systems you are then able to manage. This allows you to accomplish your work and enjoy your life.

BQ4A0244-LowRez Tanya Roberts – shares her new book, The HAINES System™,  as co-written with her sister, Julie. Together they have researched and pulled together resources and then put them all in one simple yet comprehensive format that guides you through the process of gathering all your important documents in one place. What a gift for your loved ones!

How productive are you? Are you interested in seeing what your productivity score is? Click for a link to both:

Scorecard for Individuals – allows you to see what is enhancing or impeding your personal productivity.

Scorecard for Organizations – measure your satisfaction with your current work environment.

If you have any questions, please just let me know! Thanks for watching and reading!

Tuesday Tip – Unsubscribe

Posted on March 4, 2014 by Tanya

Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe from lists – mail or email!

Often people sign up for something they are interested in at the time but later realize they always just delete the emails when they arrive. Go ahead and hit that “Unsubscribe” button and free your In Box of unnecessary email that takes up your time.

Use Paper Karma to be removed from mailing lists for junk mail and to keep all those catalogs from coming to you. This is good for you and for the earth.

So be brave and reduce what is coming to you unnecessarily. It is quite freeing! Wouldn’t you rather have your mail box look like this:

Puppy in Mailbox

Money Management – for Elderly & Disabled

Posted on February 18, 2014 by Tanya

I don’t know about you, but I simply LOVE working with elderly folks! They are charming, engaging, insightful, knowledgeable and generally quite fun. And, because of my background in mental health, I also really like working with and being around people with intellectual disabilities and/or mental health issues.

These two groups of neighbors have one thing in common – the likelihood of being taken advantage of. And that hurts my heart and makes me really mad. So, through Structured Chaos I am continuing my help in this way: I provide money management services to the elderly and people who have intellectual disabilities and/or mental illness. My goal is quite simple – prevent loss.

What happens is that people see these folks as easy targets and manipulate or outright take advantage of them and their access to money. With my services, I assist them with sorting through their mail, talking about what mail they receive, explain what is junk mail and needs to be shredded or recycled, what are legitimate bills that need to be paid, and set them up with a personal banker at their financial institution. This way they are learning and retaining control over their life and have someone else they can trust to go to.

If you know of someone who does not have family around to ensure their financial safety, or someone who is independent but needs some basic help with finances, let me know. I work with others in our community who can assist with taxes, financial planning and other more complicated financial issues.

As a social worker by training, it is so important to me that people have access to supports and services that keep them as independent and self-reliant as possible. That is after all what we all want!

Why Virtual Assistance?

Posted on April 2, 2013 by Tanya

We are fortunate that not everyone is good at the same things. We need each other to perform duties, share skills and otherwise provide services that we are either not capable of doing or simply not interested in doing.

If you are really good at your job but realize that there are a lot of other things that challenge you, maybe  you need a virtual assistant.

If you are a loving, engaged parent but cannot keep track of appointments, meetings and more than one schedule, maybe you need a virtual assistant.

If you are older and find that tending to every day paperwork is overwhelming, maybe you need a virtual assistant.

If you have missed deadlines or struggled with creating or editing documents, maybe you need a virtual assistant.

Hands on Appointment Book.jpgWith a virtual assistant, a lot of these seemingly “little” things can be handled for you. This allows you to focus on the things you need to while knowing that the other things are handled and in a professional and efficient manner.

Some of the needs you may be interested in “outsourcing locally” are: scheduling appointments; document drafting, editing and review; errands and courier services; setting up and managing online accounts; organize and file recipes;and more.

See the new page Virtual Assistant for more details and if any of these services might help you!

Organizing Your Mail — Snail and Digital

Posted on February 11, 2012 by Tanya

Here is a simple way to make sure you handle your mail as it comes in. In other words, this is how you can stay organized with all that paper that comes into your house every day.

Snail Mail

  • Keep a plastic grocery bag on a door handle where it is easy to fill with recyclables
  • As you come in the house immediately put all junk mail in the recycle bag
  • Open all bills and recycle the envelopes and any inserts
  • Shred any inserts with personal information
  • Put only the bill with the envelope in one stack
  • Put a return address label and stamp on each envelope
  • Write the due date on the envelope next to the stamp

 

Digital Mail

  • As emails come in, immediately delete any junk emails or chain emails
  • If you know you don’t want to receive any, go ahead and unsubscribe
  • Create mail box folders to store emails you want to keep for reference later
  • Create folders for incoming mail so it is automatically “filed”
  • Answer any emails you can do so quickly and delete from your In box

 

These processes are easy to do and a must if you are going to get and remain organized. The habit of sorting this way will come in time; soon you will realize how much simpler your bill paying becomes and how much cleaner your counter becomes.

Opt out of mail by registering with:

Direct Marketing Association at dmachoice.org or Consumer Credit Report Industry at optoutprescreen.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call your card issuers and ask to stop sending junk mail and inserts.

One more step to…

Get your ducks in a row with Structured Chaos

 

 

 

 

 

Structured Chaos serves eastern NC and the Raleigh area by appointment. Call 252-665-3424 or send us a message today to schedule your time!

Tanya

Keep Papers Organized — Really??

Posted on January 6, 2012 by Tanya

Thanks to Balaoing Ventures, LLC for asking what products work best for keeping home/business papers organized. So my answer is easy — it depends!

  • First you must look at what you have:
  1. Do you have a ton of papers or just a few?
  2. Do you want them on your computer or in a paper file?
  3. Do you have a special place to house your files or limited space?
  4. Do you have a method to sorting the trash from the shreds from the keeps?

Once you know what you have, then you need to decide what kind of system works for you. Just because it works for me, does not mean it will work for you.

  • You have to devise and USE a sorting system. For example, when your mail arrives immediately sort through it. With a very quick glance you can decide if it is:
  1. A keeper – bills, letters, appointment reminder cards…   OR
  2. A goner – junk mail, solicitations
  • Then, open up all the envelopes and put the empty envelopes and other junk inserts in a bag to go in your recycle bin. The rest will either be put in a shred basket/box or on your desk to pay or respond to later. This keeps the extra paper and junk away from your desk and allows you to handle something rather efficiently!
  • If you have a small file cabinet, you can use simple file folders with labels. Nothing beats the tried and true manila file folders – plus they come in many different styles (box bottom, folder or sleeve style, and just plain ole regular file style).

You can write on the tabs and if you need to change the label, you can fold the file folder in reverse and have a clean tab. I prefer using the simple and inexpensive Brother P-touch label maker. Using these labels keeps the files much neater and easier to locate when you need them. Plus, you will look and feel more organized!

 

If you need help getting started, call Structured Chaos at 252-665-3424 or visit on Facebook.

Tanya