To Shred or Not To Shred?

November 16, 2014
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about-us2I took over 25 large bags of my clients’ documents to shred at a free shredding event in John’s Creek, GA yesterday. Many of my clients wonder what they should shred and what can be thrown away. This is a great article that answers those questions from The Washington State Office of the Attorney General:

Why shred?

“Dumpster diving,” or rifling through trash cans for personal information, is a tactic used by identity thieves. You are taking a terrible risk if you don’t shred sensitive material.

Invest in a shredder for your home or office, preferably one that “cross cuts” (slices in two directions), and destroy all sensitive information including bank and credit card statements you no longer need, carbon-copy charge receipts with your account information, insurance forms, physician bills, etc. If your shredder can’t handle plastic, use scissors to cut up expired credit and identification cards before discarding them.

For larger jobs, consider hiring a commercial shredding company.

What should I shred?

In short, destroy all sensitive information including junk mail and paperwork that includes:
Account numbers
Birth dates
Passwords and PINs
Social Security numbers

To protect your privacy, you should also consider shredding items that include:
Phone numbers
E-mail addresses

How long should I keep sensitive documents?

When sorting through dusty file boxes or the pile of papers on your desk, it’s easy to become confused as to which records you need to keep and those you should shred. Here are some guidelines to help you determine how long to keep records:
Tax Records: Seven years, to be safe. The IRS has three years to audit your return if the agency suspects you made a mistake and up to six years if you likely underreported your gross income by 25 percent or more. If you failed to file a return for any year, keep records indefinitely.
Pay Stubs: One year. Match them up to your W2 form, then shred.
Bank Statements: One year. But hold onto records related to your taxes, business expenses, home improvements, mortgage payments and major purchases for as long as you need them. Many financial institutions now provide the option to receive your bank and credit statements online instead of by mail.
Credit Card Statements: At least 45 days. The rules here are similar to those for bank statements; hang on to those you may need for your taxes or as proof of purchase. Shred the rest after you’ve confirmed payment.
Medical Records: At least a year, but often longer. Keep medical bills for at least a year in case of a dispute over a reimbursement. Some experts suggest keeping other records for five years from the time treatment for the symptoms ended. Hang on to information about prescription information, specific medical histories, health insurance information and contact information for your physician.
Insurance Records: Keep policy information for the life of the policy plus an additional five years.

Additional records such as statements, hospital bills, car repair bills, copies of prescriptions, etc. should be kept up to five years from the date the service was provided.
Utility and phone bills: Shred them after you’ve paid them, unless they contain tax-deductible expenses.
IRA Contributions: Until you withdraw the money. You can shred quarterly statements as soon as you match them with your yearly statement.
Home Purchase/Sale/Improvements: Until six years after you sell. Improvements you make and expenses such as your real estate agent’s commission are factored in when you sell your home, lowering your capital gains tax.
Warranties: As long as they are current. Expired warranties can be recycled, unless they contain personal information.

Can I recycle shredded paper?

That depends. According to the City of Seattle’s Web site, confetti-like pieces from cross-cut shredders have no retrievable fibers for recycling. Cross-cut shredded paper can be added to yard waste carts or garbage. Other sources indicate that shredded paper can be recycled if its bundled, so check with your waste service provider.

Here are some suggesting for re-using shredded paper: Substitute for tissue paper in gift bags or baskets, ship fragile items, line your hamster’s cage, add it to a worm composting bin, kids’ art projects, such as stuffing pillows or bean bags.

Some commercial shredders pulverize paper. Others cross-shred. Many commercial shredders transport the destroyed documents to a recycling center to be used as paper or other products. Check with individual companies per their procedures.

Below is a list of specific items to consider shredding for your safety and privacy:
Address labels from junk mail and magazines
ATM receipts
Bank statements
Birth certificate copies
Canceled and voided checks
Credit and charge card bills, carbon copies, summaries and receipts
Credit reports and histories
Employee pay stubs
Employment records
Expired credit and identification cards including driver’s licenses, college IDs, military IDs, employee badges, medical insurance cards, etc. (If your shredder can’t handle plastic, cut up cards with a scissors before discarding them.)
Expired passports and visas
Legal documents
Insurance documents
Investment, stock and property transactions
Luggage tags
Medical and dental records
Papers with a Social Security number
Pre-approved credit card applications
Receipts with checking account numbers
Report cards
Resumés or curriculum vitae
Signatures (such as those found on leases, contracts, letters)
Tax forms
Travel itineraries
Used airline tickets
Utility bills (telephone, gas, electric, water, cable TV, Internet)

If you would like some help sorting through your papers, please contact us at 404-825-2105 or

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Angie’s List Review

October 6, 2014
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I don’t have a section on my website for customer reviews because I never want to brag. Most of my reviews are on Google Plus or Angie’s List (and I’m proud to be highly rated on both – BRAG).
I want to share this review with you not only because it is a good one but because it shows why I love my career. I really do feel like I get to help people and feel a sense of accomplishment at the same time. Elizabeth was very motivated and a joy to work with. This is the review she wrote on Angie’s List:

Member Comments:
If there were a rating higher than an A, Heather is certainly worthy of that grade. I would give her a 5-star. I have had 3 surgeries in 2 years, my son moved back in with me for 2 years when he completed his military tour and my house had gotten out of hand. I wasn’t able to do very much due to health issues and was in dire need of organization and clutter clearing.

Heather’s initial visit was to assess the project and determine the amount of time needed and then developed a plan to tackle all of my various needs. She is incredibly organized, very high energy, extremely positive/can-do attitude and has a sincere passion for what she does. She is definitely like the Energizer Bunny!!!!!!

She started first by moving the furniture in the two rooms, worked on de-cluttering, arranged the furniture: desk/filing cabinet and bed in such a way as to make the room very pleasing and more functional. She set up stations for donations/shredding/trash/filing/decorative items, etc. and then set about clearing 2 closets and the office of 7 years of paperwork, clothing, bedding, decorative items. The 3 closets where so full you were unable to get into the closets. The two unused bathrooms had turned into storage as well and Heather cleared them out and now they are beautiful and functional!!!!

I had put off this project for so long because it was completely overwhelming to me. Heather tackled each area and made the tasks doable and believe it or not, fun!!!!!! As part of her service I was so grateful that she took everything to a donation center, recycle center and shredding center. Within a day or two I got an email from her with a receipt and a list of donation items for my taxes. She is incredible!!!!!

This past week I just walked around the rooms in amazement and wonder and have opened the closets to just stare inside because everything looks so amazing. I would highly recommend Heather for any job large or small and can’t wait for her to come back in a few weeks to tackle my garage.
Share on Band of Neighbors:
Overall A
Price A
Quality A
Responsiveness A
Punctuality A

If you need my help, please contact me at or 404-825-2105
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September 5, 2014
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Would you like your pantry, kid’s toys, bathroom cabinets, closets, garage, home office, and every other space in your house to look neat and organized? CONTAIN IT!

My father always says that the difference between his “junk” and my mom’s “junk” is that hers is in a pretty box so it’s ok. Well in many ways, he is right. The first way it’s ok is that it is contained in a pretty box so it doesn’t look like there is stuff spread all over a desk or counter top. The second thing she’s doing is containing all “like” items so she can easily find what she’s looking for when she needs it.

Containing and labeling the items in each room will help you not only find what you need but make your home cleaner and neater looking.  Unfortunately,  just buying a bunch of containers will not get you organized. You need to go through your items and only contain what you are using.  Anything you haven’t used in a year or anything broken can be donated to a charity or discarded.

Today, I used these really cool containers I found at Target to organize a client’s pantry.


All the seasoning packets went into a small container, all the bread went into a larger container and so on. When you contain like items, they are easy to find, odd sized items don’t fall off shelves or spill and when the container is getting empty, it’s easier to identify what you need to buy more of.

They make all different sizes, shapes and colored containers. If you need to contain tiny toy pieces like Legos try these:


Larger toys can go into a storage ottoman like this:



Electrical cords, office supplies or even accessories would look great in these:


Hang one of these shoe holders on the back of any door in your home to store vitamins, charger cords, bathroom toiletries, arts and crafts, cleaning supplies, socks and gloves – any small item in any room.


If you’re trying to contain large items like tools in a garage or holiday decorations, go with a large plastic bin. I prefer clear but they come in lots of colors.

Please call me if you need help containing. Simply Organized 404-825-2105 or

*** All pictured items came from ***

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Back To School Organization

August 11, 2014
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Back To School Organization

booksThis has to be my favorite time of year. Memories of going back to school still make me giddy. Shopping for school supplies and clothes, a fresh start with new teachers, friends, football and let’s not forget the crisper cooler weather we should expect in the next month or so.  Hopefully, you had a fun summer and the kids enjoyed not having home work.  Now it’s time to get everyone ready for a successful school year.  Getting organized now is the key to less stress later.  Here are a few tips to help get you started:


1. Have your kids try on their clothes from last year to see what still fits and what needs to be donated.

2. Make a list of what you need to buy with sizes and quantities (ex. 2 pairs of size 5 tennis shoes, 3 pairs of size 7 jeans, etc.). This will save you money and time when you take the kids shopping. Make sure to include any clothes they will need for sports and after-school activities.


1. See of you have anything left over from last year like unused paper, pencils, etc.

2. Make a list of everything you need and make sure you include special classes like art, music, P.E., etc.


1. Have a grocery list and menu planner on or near your refrigerator (MEAD makes a magnetic one you can get at Target)

2. Make a weekly menu of meals so you can shop and cook ahead

3. I recommend cooking several meals at once on a weeknight or weekend and freezing them so you don’t have to think about it each night when you get home. I’m also a huge fan of the Crockpot.

4. Let your kids help you pack their snacks and lunches the night before. The less you have to do in the morning the better.


1. Set up a weekly routine for yourself and your family.

2. Try to keep a set meal time, homework time, bath time, bed time and play time. Even if it doesn’t happen every night, if you try to keep to a schedule, it makes your evenings and your mornings easier.


1. Have a family calendar (monthly or quarterly) displayed somewhere so everyone can see it easily.

2. Color code it for each family member and put everyone’s activities on it each day (try to pick one day per month for the family to sit down and fill out the calendar for the next month). Make sure the bus schedule, school activities, permission deadlines and all after school appointments are on the calendar.

3. If you prefer electronic, use a system that can sync with your spouse or kids and update it regularly.

Drop Zone:

1. Create a space near the entry of your home for your family calendar, keys, hooks for backpacks, charging station for cell phones and ipads (, baskets for shoes and a mail center.

2. Every night before bed, make sure all homework is in backpacks and all items in drop zone for the next morning.

3. This alleviates all the running around searching for stuff in the hectic morning hours.

 Organizing your kids homework:

1. Every school subject should have a color coded folder.
2. All “to-do” work should be kept on left side of folder and when it’s completed it gets moved to the right side.
3. Once a week, clean out the backpack and make sure all folders are cleaned out. (Sunday evenings are a good time for this)

 Organizing your kids room and toys:

1. Provide a place for everything: a box for school supplies, a shelf for books, a bulletin board for upcoming projects or new artwork, bins or baskets for toys and an under-bed box for old artwork and papers.

2. Each day have them do a 5 minute quick clean to put all toys and other items away.

3. All clothes should be in a hamper (if dirty) or hung in closet/ folded in dresser each day.

4. In the bathroom, they should hang up their wet towels after each shower or bath.

I hope this information helps. If you have any questions, or would like some one-on-one help, please contact Simply Organized at 404-825-2105.

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Guest Blog from HOCOA about “solving the wet basement issue”

July 15, 2014
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Simply Organized is taking a break from blogging this month so we can bring you some valuable information about basement water issues from our trusted resource Mark Madans at HOCOA. Mark is a member of our NAPO – Georgia group and has helped dozens of my clients with trusted contractors, handy man services, painters and more.

Spring Showers bring…a Wet Basement

It is every homeowner’s nightmare, you go downstairs to your basement and the floor is wet or worse the entire area has flooded. Well, you are not alone, the American Society of Home Inspectors, based in Des Plaines, IL, estimates 60 percent of U.S. homes have wet basements, and 38 percent run the risk of basement mold. But a wet floor is not the only indication that you may have a problem. Other signs to look for include: musty odors, rusty metal, dampness on walls, white powder on walls or floor, and bowing or buckling of doors. So now what do you do?

First – Get the Water Out

The first thing you need to do is get the basement dried out. Moisture will not only will cause damage to your home, such as wood rot, warped flooring, termites (they need the moisture), and foul odors, but it can also cause serious health problems due to mold build up. Depending on the amount of water to be removed, you can try to dry the area yourself using wet-vacs, fans, de-humidifiers, and opening doors and windows. Most often the most expedient method is to use a professional to remove the moisture. Many of these companies have high powered equipment that will remove water faster and potentially prevent mold from forming at all. Water removal is not only going to be just from the floors, walls especially at the base will need to be checked and dried as well. As an added step many of the companies are EPA certified to check for and remove mold.

One caveat to consider if you do not know the cause of the leak, bringing in a contractor that can remove the water and determine the cause maybe beneficial.

Find the Cause

Wetness can be the result of a number of different issues. The causes can range from a leaky pipe to poor drainage to foundation settling.
•A leaking or busted pipe is usually a simple repair and can be handled by a plumber, although to prevent further water damage turn off the water supply as soon as possible.
•Drainage issues can be the result of poorly placed downspouts, landscape grading, and blocked or clogged drains. Roofers, Landscapers and Foundation Repair contractors are best suited to handle these issues. It is usually best to start with a Foundation Repair expert determine the cause (if it is not obvious).
•The most concerning source of water damage deals with foundation settling. Foundation settlement and movement can be caused by building on expansive clay, compressible or improperly compacted fill soils, or improper maintenance around foundations.

Fixing these problems, often requires work be completed both inside and outside of the structure to provide a complete solution that will last. Filling in cracks related to foundation settlement provides a temporary solution, but the combination of moisture with normal expansion and contraction, usually causes these fixes to fail.

Selecting a Contractor

As with most home repair jobs, if a contractor sits down with you and cannot logically explain the problem and the solution to you, they either do not understand it themselves or they are just trying sell you on their solution. Fixing your home foundation is not brain surgery, most problems you encounter will not be new to an experienced contractor. It may seem confusing at first but anyone who has a good understanding of foundations, the building envelope, and the soil should be able to explain it in a logical and understandable fashion.

Mark Madans is the owner of HOCOA – Your Home Repair Network. HOCOA takes the “Who Do I Call” out of home repair projects, so he can help you find a contractor. He can be reached at (770) 971-7714 or you can check him out on the web at: or

I hope this information helps any of you who have experienced water issues. Please contact Simply Organized for all of your organizing and moving needs at 404-825-2105 or

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Packing and Unpacking Your Home

July 1, 2014
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Tis the season to move! I have packed and unpacked more homes this month than I can count (ok – that’s an exaggeration but there have been dozens)

In my opinion, there are few things more stressful than moving.  A few tips on how to pack and unpack will hopefully help make your move easier.  Of course, if you really want to take the easy route, call Simply Organized at 404-825-2105 and let us do all the work for you!


#1 You have options: I recommend hiring a professional moving company.  They can do just the move for you or the packing too. Get quotes from at least 2-3 companies and ask them if you can “rent” items like wardrobe boxes from them (this will save you money and storage space after you unpack).

#2 I recommend Atlanta Peach Movers 770-447-5121 and McGregor Movers 404-630-9042

#3 Don’t Wait! Contact moving companies as soon as you know you are moving to get quotes and schedule a date. If you are packing yourself or hiring Simply Organized, start ASAP!

When it comes to DIY packing, time and preparation are key. Start as soon as you know you are moving. Do not wait until the last minute – it always takes longer than you think it will!

BOXES:  Either go to the free section on Craigslist for boxes or buy them at Home Depot or Lowes (they usually have the best quality for the lowest price).  You can get packing paper and bubble wrap at Walmart to save some money too.  Get plenty of small and medium boxes and a few large and wardrobe.

Pack all the items you know you won’t need for the next six months first (ex. winter clothes, holiday decorations, etc.).

Label all of your boxes by ROOM and ITEMS IN BOX plus FRAGILE if their are breakables inside. This will help your movers know where to put your boxes in your new home and help you find your stuff easily.

Have the movers put the items you don’t need in the truck first and your bathroom, kitchen and bedroom items in the truck last so they will get unpacked first.

VIP: Take your most important papers and valuable in the car or on the plane with you! This should include: passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses, wills, medical documents,  etc.  It should also include prescription medication, toiletries and anything else you need daily.


Congratulations! You are in your new home and now it’s time to get settled.

Start with your bedrooms you are sleeping in that night.  Make sure you have a mattress with sheets on it. Put your toiletries in your bathroom and unpack any important kitchen items you have to have (for some this is a coffee pot or kid’s formula).

If you are working all day or don’t have lots of time to unpack, just tackle one box per day. You know what your needs are.  Most people want their clothes, bathroom and kitchen unpacked first. Your books, DVDs, decorations, garage items, etc. can usually wait a few weeks.

Break down the boxes as you go. If your trash company will not take them, list them on Craigslist under the FREE section and put them on your curb, they will be gone in a day.

I wish you years of happiness in your new home.  Please contact us if you need any help with this process 404-825-2105 or


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To Sell or Not To Sell

May 31, 2014
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So many of my clients want to sell their unwanted items.  Everything from clothes, china, furniture and collectibles is “very valuable” to the people who spent a lot of their hard-earned money on it or received it from a loved one.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but these days nothing is selling for as much as you would hope.  Instead of discouraging you from trying to sell your belongings, I’m going to give you some advice I’ve received from professional re-sellers and estate sale experts: If it’s not worth more than $50, think twice! It will cost you hours of time in posting, screening buyers and or shipping your items.

Here’s some advice if you want to sell or consign:

If your thinking about consigning clothes, plan on getting $2 per piece of clothing no matter what you paid for it and how good condition it’s in. I spent an entire day this week contacting numerous children’s clothing consignment stores. Many of them weren’t taking any new clothes right now and the ones that were required an appointment and only accepted 20 items per day. I found a lovely place called Once Upon a Child who was very easy to work with and bought over 100 items of clothing from my client. We were able to get on average $2 per item.

If your considering a garage sale, have an estate sale instead or neighborhood-wide sale. With a garage sale, you can’t control the weather on the day of your sale or the buyers who come so you may wind up spending lots of time and not making very much money. However, neighborhood- wide sales and estate sales are advertised to a larger group of people so they bring in more buyers and hopefully more money.

If your time is more valuable than money, consider donating.

If you would like to hire someone to sell or donate your items for you, see my blog:

Happy selling and or donating!

Call or e-mail me for questions or help: 404-825-2105


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Home Improvement

April 28, 2014
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website housesLove Where You Live – Home Improvement at any stage

Last week I had the privilege of being part of an expert panel on home improvement.  We wanted to give our audience information they could use regardless of whether they were planning on selling soon, downsizing in 5-10 years or making changes so they can enjoy their home indefinitely.  What we have all seen our clients doing is making great improvements to their home in order to sell it, and then wishing they had done so years earlier so they could have enjoyed it themselves.

Our group included Heather Rogers from Simply Organized 404-825-2105, Pattie Jackson from Keller Williams Realty, 404.202.6440,  Tim Piendel from Great House Contracting  678.352.1035 , Brian Kramer from Assure Exteriors (roofing)  678.460.6410 , Diann Averett from Five Star Painting  404.418.4858 , Mike Buechner from Exquisite Outdoor Lighting   770.401.4140 and Daniel Klueter and Stephanie Rodriguez from PNC Bank  770.579.0199.

There was so much useful information given in the seminar. In order to save you a little time, I am going to share the highlights with you.

Pattie from Keller Williams put the seminar together for us and shared some valuable realtor information such as making sure the outside looks nice and using neutral paint colors.

I spoke about getting your home de-cluttered and ready to sell by de-personalizing and making sure all floors and closets are cleaned out so buyers can see the maximum amount of space in your home.

Tim from Great House spoke about getting the most bang for your buck and shared an unknown statistic: insulation will give you a greater return on your investment than new windows. He also gave us great information on how to hire a contractor so you will not get taken advantage of.

Brian from Assure Exteriors focused most of his presentation on metal roofing versus the standard asphalt. I had no idea you could get a metal roof that looks like shingles and lasts twice as long while saving you energy costs.

Diann from Five Star Painting showed us the “front door” secret. Talk about a great investment – by painting or replacing your front door, you get a 73% return on your money.  Painting your kitchen cabinets is also a great way to make a big impact on your home without spending too much money.

When Mike from Exquisite Outdoor Lighting presented, I did not hear a word he said because we were oohing and aaahing over photos of his client’s homes.  I told him my husband is going to be very upset now that I will be spending all of our money on outdoor lighting for our house. It’s not just beautiful but also helps with security.

Daniel and Stephanie from PNC Bank wrapped up our evening by telling us all of the great ways we can finance the home improvement projects we are now so motivated to do.  Interest rates are low now but won’t be forever so act soon.

If you would like anymore information on our seminar or any of the vendors, please contact Simply Organized 404-825-2105 or


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Downsizing At Any Age

April 3, 2014
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You may be nowhere near retirement age or ready to move into a smaller home or assisted living yet but that doesn’t mean you can’t start downsizing now! I taught a class on Monday at the ALTA independent living apartments in John’s Creek on downsizing. My group of “students” were all people who had already downsized into an apartment but know one day they may have to live in a smaller space.

The worst experiences I have witnessed with clients are when they are rushed. I’ve been given one week to whittle 55 years worth of prized possessions down to a small enough amount to fit into a 500 square foot room. Or one day to pack up an entire house so it would look decent enough to list it for sale.

Even though my clients were appreciative, they were left feeling like maybe they got rid of something they wanted. Instead of waiting until you “have” to why not take your time so you can do what you “want” to.

Here are my tips to a successful downsizing experience:

1. Where do you want to live? Independent /Assisted Living, with a family member, etc.

2. Hire Real Estate Agent to sell home

3. How much square footage do you have in your future home/ what can you take?

4. De-clutter and Sort
a. Donate

i. Goodwill (will take everything but mattresses – many locations)
ii. Truck to pick up: or – Pat’s Place: 770-873-6058

b. Sell

i. Ebay (under 25 lbs.): 855-322-9826
ii. Estate Sale: Charleen Tittle 404-451-2295

c. Trash

i. Shred company: A-1 877-747-3319
ii. Removal: Just Trash IT 770-399-6605

5. Moving Companies

a. Atlanta Peach: 770-447-5121
b. McGregor: 404-630-9042

6. Pack

a. Make sure you take your most precious photos and important items
b. Don’t over crowd your new space
c. Do not rent a storage unit (you will spend the same amount of money in one year of rent as it would cost to replace all of the items in storage)

7. Un-Pack – Getting settled in your new home

a. Creative Use of Space
i. Use your vertical space
1. Bookshelves
2. Hooks
3. vertical wall pockets
ii. Doors
1. Inside closet doors – hanging shoe/ clear pockets
2. Inside cabinet doors – kitchen and bathroom
3. Behind office, bedroom and bathroom doors
iii. Under the bed
1. Bags (and space bags)
2. Boxes

Call me for help with any or all of the above Heather 404-825-2105

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Simply Organized

March 20, 2014
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better home jan


I saw this Better Homes magazine at the grocery store yesterday and had to buy it. It’s the January edition so I feel there was extra fate involved in it being displayed for sale in March. Obviously, I was drawn to the cover “Simply Organized”. It’s not only the name of my business but it is my mission statement, my daily goal and my motto when working with my clients.

Most people try to over think and complicate everything. I don’t think we do this on purpose, but perhaps we think that’s the only reason it hasn’t gotten done yet – “it will take too long, be too hard, I don’t know where to start, I’m totally over whelmed”, etc. If these words sound familiar to you, here’s my advice: KEEP IT SIMPLE!

You can hire an expert to help you do almost anything these days. If you have the resources, outsource it. I do everything from daily de-cluttering to move management, help with estates, finding you cleaners, painters, junk removal, shredding services and on and on. If you have a problem with your home or business and it’s weighing you down or stressing you out, call me. If I can’t help you, I will find someone who can.

If you are short on cash but have some spare time, look through my blog posts. In the last two years, I have written instructions on how to do everything from cleaning out your garage to doing your taxes. Can’t find the solution on my website, look on the internet and I am sure someone has a solution for you.

The most important thing to do is start. Whether you call me or research your problem, just get started. The sooner you find help, the quicker your stress can be gone and you can go enjoy the beautiful spring we are having!

Problem Solver: 404-825-2105 or

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