Posts Tagged ‘moving’

How to let go of books with less tears

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You would think that with the range of digital devices available from tablets to e-readers to smart phones, most of us would have less books. On the contrary a significant majority of Americans, about 65%, still opt for a print book over other platforms, according to a 2016 Pew Research Study.

So why is it so hard to part with them?  Like photographs, books hold memories of important events or people in our lives or ideas we once had. To let go of a book is akin to letting go of a piece of ourselves.

Add to this, people generally don’t let go of their books unless forced to by circumstance, such as when they need to sell their home to move to a smaller home.  The anxiety that comes along with moving can further exacerbate the stress of having to decide what to keep and what to let go of and this is especially true of books.

So what do you do if faced with the hard reality of having to part with your beloved book collection? Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make the loss a little less painful. Consider these questions:

  1. Is it a classic or commonly available elsewhere either in a bookstore or online? One of the great advantages of the digital age is that many libraries now offer you a way to borrow digital copies of books through an app called Overdrive.  All you need is a library card and some type of digital device such as a computer, e-reader, tablet or smart phone. Once signed up, it takes just a matter of seconds to download your favorite book. If you are not especially tech savvy, you still will probably be able to find the book again at a used book store or at the library.
  2. Are you really going to read it?  You’ve had that novel on your shelf for ten years with every intention of reading it but have never gotten around to it. Consider letting it go.
  3. Is there someone you know who would like it? Gift specific books to specific people. As soon as you decide to let go of a book, assign it to someone you know or donate it to an organization, group or charity such as Books for SoldiersBooks Through Bars or your local library. You can also donate books to hospitals, the Salvation Army, Goodwill or a local thrift store. Always check with the charity before you donate and if the books are damaged, consider recycling them as an alternative.
  4. Do you have duplicates? Perhaps you have both the hard copy and paperback editions. Choose which one you prefer and donate the other.
  5. Is it a collectible? Some books such as first editions, antique books or signed books may have secondary value to another collector.  If you are not sure whether or not your collectible book has value, you can do a little research online but avoid doing online appraisals. Take your book to an experienced bookseller you trust. Note that you will have to pay for face to face appraisals for high value books.  You can also check out the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America for a list of member stores near you.

Letting go of meaningful possessions is difficult, especially when combined with the stress of having to move or downsize. Doing good for someone else is one antidote for the loss of control many, especially seniors feel, when moving. Knowing that something in your home now has a new home, can help ease the pain of downsizing.

If you or a member of your family needs reassurance or help packing, distributing, donating or selling your books, contact a professional organizer or senior move manager in your area. You still may shed some tears, but you’ll know you also did good.

 

Ten Reasons to Declutter Before You Sell Your Home

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Most Real Estate professionals will tell you to declutter your home before selling it. But why? Here are 10 reasons why removing clutter will make your home more attractive and thus more valuable to prospective buyers.

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Woman Tossing Clothes from Closet

  1. An uncluttered home looks more spacious and space is what most home buyers are looking for.
  2. A prospective buyer wants to imagine themselves in your home, not feel like an intruder. That’s why removing all personal items such as family photos, knickknacks, religious items, art work with a political theme, and excess furniture is so important.
  3. A cluttered home gives an impression that the house has not been well maintained, raising a prospective buyers suspicions of “unseen” damage.
  4. Clutter is a potential liability. If someone trips on your clutter, falls and injures themselves, you could be liable.
  5. Storage space, such as cabinets and closets that are partially empty convey the impression that the house has good storage available – a big selling point for most people.
  6. Older or worn furniture items, even if they may be important to you, can make a house seem dated and old.
  7. Clutter conveys a dirty home, even if you’re a tidy person.  If you’re not, by all means get it professionally cleaned!
  8. Too much stuff, makes it difficult to focus on a home’s best features.

  9. Don’t assume buyers will want to use your home the same way you do.  If you have a room set up as an office, take the advice of your Real Estate agent if they suggest staging it differently.
  10. Less clutter means less stuff for you to pack up and move, which will lower your cost of moving, and less stuff to unpack or clutter up your new home.

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10 Hidden Costs of Moving

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Benjamin Franklin hiding in grassDo you know what it will cost you to move your home? If you call a mover for a quote, don’t be surprised when the final cost far exceeds what you were quoted over the phone.

The cost of moving, especially if you are moving out-of-state and even just across town, can easily add up. Moving is stressful enough. Don’t be sticker-shocked.  Here’s what you need to know when hiring a professional mover:

  1. Get an onsite estimate – not just a quote over the phone.  Most established movers will provide a one-hour window of time during which you can expect to meet with their estimator.  Even if you are just moving across town it is worth your time to schedule an onsite estimate.  Quotes over the phone are typically under-estimated because they don’t include other hidden costs such as “long carries” – an extra charge for when a mover has to walk a long way between their truck and your front door. They also don’t include extra charges for stairs or fuel surcharges.
  2. Review and compare the estimates carefully. Long Distance moves are estimated based on weight. Local moves are estimated based on time.  Tariff’s for long distance moves are set by law but estimates can still vary if a company over-estimates the weight of your items. Get at least two estimates but three are ideal. I recently had a client who received two estimates that were roughly the same but a third was significantly higher. Compare extra fees such as the cost of boxes, labor time, fuel surcharges and even sales tax. Other fees for disconnection of appliances and crating are generally extra.   Since some of these extra fees are often based as a percentage of the weight – having an accurate weight is important.StarStickyNote
  3. Decide what you are moving ahead of time. Take the time before you meet with movers to decide  what furniture you are moving.  Don’t schedule the estimate until you’ve done this because the estimate will depend on either the quantity of items you are moving (for local moves) or the weight (for long distance moves).  Go through your house room-by-room and don’t forget your storage areas – garage, basement, attic, shed – as well as your patio or terrace. Place a bright colored label or sticky-note on every piece of furniture and large item you are moving. Don’t worry about deciding what you want to do with the things you are not taking. Just focus on the things you want. Don’t forget large lamps, speakers, artwork, fixtures, shelving units or exercise equipment.  Here’s another reason to do an onsite estimate:  A couple I know relied on a phone estimate but because they had so much stuff, as a result the movers had to return for another run since they estimated the move (by phone) for a smaller truck size. It ended up costing them almost double what they were quoted.
  4. Opt for added insurance. This is the most frequently overlooked cost of moving and yet for a relatively small amount it can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, particularly if you are moving a long distance.  By law all professional movers must offer “Basic Coverage” which currently only insures your possessions at a rate of .60 per pound. This means that from an insurance standpoint, your valuable crystal china bowl will be valued at the same rate as your frying pan if they weigh roughly the same amount.  Insurance is especially important if you are moving high value items such as original artwork, expensive electronics, fragile fixtures, antiques or valuable china.  Make sure your movers provide “actual value” or “full replacement value” insurance options to you before hiring them. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars extra for insurance and compare quotes across movers. Even if your furniture is not high value, consider the cost of replacing it. You’ll still need furniture in your new home even if it’s furniture you’ve owned for years.  Moving trucks have been known to break down. If your household goods need to be moved from one truck to another, mid-stream, during a rain storm, you’ll want to know your possessions are insured. (This is what happened to me on one of my three, cross country moves. Fortunately I had full replacement value insurance that covered my losses completely).
  5. Decide whether you will pack or whether you want the movers to pack for you. The cost of having professional movers pack is roughly the same as what they charge for labor time which can add to the cost but it may make sense if you are pressed for time, need to work or be at your new home or are physically unable (or unwilling) to pack your whole house.  It also makes sense from a liability standpoint. If you pack a box and one of the movers accidentally drops it, they are not liable for the damage to the contents if it’s determined by the insurance adjustor that it was packed inadequately.  If you can afford it, take advantage of your mover’s professional packing services , especially for your high value or fragile items.  You can always save money on labor time if you pack your non-fragile items such as books, office supplies, kitchen items, linens, nicknacks yourself.
  6. Don’t pack your clothes. Most professional movers will move your dresser or wardrobes, clothes and all, if you just leave them there. Be sure to remove any fragile items however as these could be damaged during transport. Also, you don’t need to pack your hanging clothing as most professional movers will pack these for you, typically at no extra charge.
  7. Ask for discounts. Several professional movers will offer a variety of discounts. One company I worked with recently offered a senior discount which covered the cost of the “fuel surcharge.”  Others have discount arrangements with real estate companies or other businesses.  Ask your employer or real estate agent for a recommendation.
  8. Be ready to move! In general, local movers charge by the hour. Don’t wait till moving day to finish your packing or to defrost your refrigerator if you were planning on taking it with you. This will cost you!  If you are moving long distance,  this will add to the stress of your move day if you are not ready when the movers arrive or if you schedule something else to occur on moving day.  Don’t water your plants on move day or pack wet laundry – movers wont take them.
  9. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you get two estimates and one is higher from your preferred mover, let them know you want to work with them. If they want your business, they will try to work with you. Know who the local agent/represen
    Moving Crew from Shamrock Movers

    My favorite moving crew

    tative is for your moving company and keep their number handy in case of any problems.  The estimator is the sales person but it’s the local agent/owner that has the authority to correct any problems.

  10. Tips are permitted. While it’s not expected, the move experience you have often comes down to the driver and the moving crew.  Generally these people operate on a thin margin. They are not getting the money you pay the moving company but they work the hardest. Set aside some extra cash to tip your movers and drivers for good service. I recommend tipping movers $3-$4 for each hour they worked and tip the driver/lead a little bit more.

If you would like other tips on how to have a stress-free move, call us! We’re not movers but we can manage every step of your move, including unpacking and home-setup,  so you can step back into your new home like you’ve been there forever.

 

 

 

 

 

13 lucky tips to know before you move

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How many times have you moved in your adult life? Five times? Ten times? More? Moving

Since moving into my first apartment at age 20,  I’ve moved eight times including three times across the country, and each of those three with a cat. I’ve also helped many clients move; across town, across country and even across the ocean.
Each time I moved, I learned the hard way about how to better plan for the next move.  I whittled this knowledge down to a list of 12 things you should know before you move and hopefully these tips will save you from learning the hard way too.

  1. Create a move timetable or check list:  Brainstorm a list of everything you need to do. Work backwards from your move date to the present breaking down tasks from week to week. If you are moving with others ask them what you may have forgotten in your moving schedule and add it to the list.
  2. Pay to move what you want; not what you don’t: Sort and purge what you no longer want. Remember most long distance moving companies charge by the pound. Do you really want to pay to move your college text books… again?!
  3. Get a minimum of two in-home estimates: Not all movers are created equal. Although fees for long distance moves are based on weight, other fees for things like supplies, packing, extra stops and insurance vary from company to company. Look carefully at the estimate and always request a “not to exceed price.”  For local moves, ask the company to do an onsite estimate based on whether you are packing yourself or paying them to pack. Don’t just go with the quoted hourly rate.
  4. Have professionals pack high value, fragile items: If you pack them yourself – you take the risk. If your movers pack it – they do.  To save money, have them pack just your most fragile items such as heirloom China, vases, antiques and chandeliers.
  5. Insure your items at the highest rate you can afford: Long distance moving companies are required to charge a minimum insurance rate of .60 per pound. This means your heavy files are valued at the same rate as your fine crystal. Don’t take a chance! Insure for the full replacement value of your most valuable items (or check with your homeowner’s insurance provider to see what they cover).
  6. Move in the morning: Summertime is peak moving season. For this reason most moving companies book two, three and even four moves in a day. Don’t be sitting waiting for the movers at midnight. Request a first appointment or if possible delay your move until after the Summer ends.
  7. Invest in gently used boxes: Scrounging around for moving boxes at the supermarket is fine if you are moving a few items but inconvenient and time-consuming if you are moving an entire home. Search the web for used moving boxes and save a bundle on your supplies.
  8. Ask your real estate agent’s advice: If you are working with a real estate agent who is helping you sell your home or buy a new one, ask them for tips about moving. They are very often a wealth of knowledge and resources.
  9. Make a plan for your pets: Are you driving? Flying? Transporting your pets to another country?  Consult with your vet first. Call the airline to inquire about restrictions for carrying pets on-board and find out about quarantine requirements for your pets traveling overseas.
  10. Get a floor plan of your new home if possible: Think ahead about where you want to place your furniture. Take pictures of the furniture in your old house so you can plan for where you want it in your new house. This will help save you time and money when you move into your new home. It may also keep you from over-stuffing your garage with all those pieces of furniture that won’t fit.
  11. Do a walk-through before you leave your old home: This is one of those tips I learned the hard way. Before moving, I forgot to remove a box of favorite books from my old home and was never able to get them back. Walk through your empty house and check all your storage areas before you leave to make sure you don’t leave anything you want behind.
  12. Take a little time every day to prepare, sort and pack: Moving is on the list of life’s top 10 stresses. Don’t add to your stress by leaving the planning, sorting and packing to the last minute. As a general rule and depending upon how much stuff you have, for each room in your home – excluding bathrooms – allow a week’s preparation time. Add another week for each year you’ve lived there over 10 years if you live in a house (half that if you live in an apartment). For example if your home has 8 rooms and you’ve lived there for 12 years, allow for 10 weeks or about two months to get ready for your move, more time if you have a lot of stuff.
  13. Get help from a professional move manager if it all feels too overwhelming, need help planning or unpacking or if you simply don’t have the time or the availability to do it yourself.

Till next time!

Lis

 

Confronting our monsters

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At 8:00 this morning, I had my own private celebration. It took place in my head.

An hour earlier I was driving and thinking about how terrifying it must be for some of my clients to do the one thing that scares them the most; To finally confront what’s kept them from moving forward in their lives because they feel overwhelmed and stuck and it’s showing up as piles of papers, boxes and who knows what else, on their desks, on the floor, in their drawers, everywhere.

I was thinking about what it means to do the one thing that scares you the most and to have the courage to do it anyway because you know you have to. Because you know not doing so will have far greater consequences.

For people who are chronically disorganized, the consequence of not facing their fears can be enormous.  For some it’s a loss of control over their lives. For others, it’s isolation. I know people who have lost their children, their spouses and their very security because of their inability to face their fears head on.  I also know people who have shown great courage and have discovered the meaning of making room in their lives.

My fears are about public speaking. And yet, as a small business person I know the value it brings to others in the form of information and sometimes even inspiration. But I do it quite frankly because I have to. Working with people in their homes and in their offices or helping them move is tactical but it’s also very personal. I know that if people see me and feel I am someone they can trust, and recognize I  have the expertise to help them, then they often will remember me when it comes time to organize their offices, or their bedrooms or help them plan and oversee their move to a new home.

The Paper MonsterThis is what I was thinking at seven o’clock this morning, on my way to speak to a group of fifty small business owners and entrepreneurs about how to face their fears, specifically about how to confront their own Paper Monsters.  I did this presentation a few weeks earlier and it had not lived up to my expectations  – perfectionism, my monster, rearing it’s ugly head, yet again –  and now I was getting ready to face him again.  Was I scared? Petrified, which is why at that moment I started thinking about my clients.

“If  they can have the courage to hire me, then I can damn well find the courage to face my fears as well, ” I thought.  And so I did. And it went fine. It wasn’t perfect but it was good enough. And that’s good enough. But to be honest, I’m glad it’s over. At least for today I can celebrate.

Tomorrow, I do it again.

7 Strategies for Downsizing Your Home

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DownsizingIf you’ve lived in the same home for 10, 20, 30 or more years, and decided to move into a smaller space, there is a term professional organizers and others such as realtors have adopted from the business world. It’s called downsizing.

In business, downsizing has a negative connotation as it generally means that people will lose their jobs. In the world of organizing, however, downsizing refers to a conscious and deliberate process of reducing the contents of one’s home prior to a move to a smaller space. Although the use of the term in this context is thought of as neutral, people who undergo the process of downsizing may feel otherwise. This is particularly true if you are older, retired or living alone as you will probably need to make decisions about whether or not to keep literally hundreds of items before your actual move day.

Complicating this fact, is that as we get older the part of our brain that helps us with mental tasks such as organizing and prioritizing, otherwise known as the “executive function,” does not work as well as it used to. This isn’t our fault. It’s just a normal process of aging.

When preparing to downsize in preparation for a move, here are a few strategies I recommend to help minimize the stress and uncertainty you may experience.

1. Plan ahead. Start thinking about and planning for your move at least 6 months before you put your house on the market. This could include talking to family members about your plans, determining your needs and goals for your next home and perhaps even researching or visiting other communities you are potentially interested in moving to.

2. Take the time to survey your belongings. Make a point of sharing memories and stories they evoke with those who have offered to help you get ready to move. You may even wish to record those stories in writing or with the use of a tape recorder well before you start packing.

3. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Delegate physical tasks such as sorting, categorizing, packing, transporting and moving to professionals or trusted friends. Elicit ideas and suggestions so you can benefit from the expertise and experience of others who do this professionally or who are knowledgeable about the process.

4. Keep only what you need, love or can’t replace. Don’t become a hoarder. Hoarding is distinguished from collecting in that collecting generally involves objects considered by others to be both interesting and valuable. Hoarding, on the other hand, involves keeping large quantities of things that appear to be useless or of limited value so much so that it compromises your ability to use your home as it was intended. The decision about what to keep and what to sell, donate, or dispose of is yours but only keep what you truly love, will use again or can’t easily replace.

5. Make your wishes clear from the start. If you prefer to be consulted with on certain decisions let others know that in the beginning. Talk openly about how you appreciate help and be willing to accept it when offered. However if you are feeling anxious, say so and take a break. The less anxious you feel, the easier it will be to make decisions you can live with.

6. Conserve your energy. While you think you may be able to work for four or five hours at a time, in reality you may only be effective for two. Commit to doing a specific number of tasks such as packing three boxes, instead of a whole room. If you enjoy it, do so while watching your favorite TV show or listening to music.

7. Don’t hold back (or apologize for) your emotions. Moving is stressful for everyone at any age. As you prepare for your move, you may experience everything from the joy of remembering a happy event to the sadness of grieving the loss of a loved one. Give yourself permission to feel these emotions and recognize that they are a normal response to the circumstances. Your emotions won’t hurt you but suppressing them may. If possible, talk to someone you know and trust who can listen and empathize.

Lis Golden McKinley, M.A., is CEO of LET’S MAKE ROOM, a professional organizing company serving clients in all five counties of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. For more information, visit their website at http://www.letsmakeroom.com or call them at 510-846-1976 to schedule a complimentary phone consultation.

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