The 3 Steps to Cut the Paperwork Clutter

I've tried some embarrassingly sloppy 'organization' systems for ALL THE PAPER that I need to keep track of. I had a child's rubber boot in my vehicle stuffed with receipts, I wrote 2017 - 12 STREET ROAD on a ziplock with sharpie and shoved my unopened rental property mail in there, and I've just thrown my mail on the kitchen table and let it accumulate there until we had to eat every meal at the kitchen island. ALL THE PAPER that comes with running a household + real estate investments is no joke. It's overwhelming. So what I've done is created this Cut the Paperwork Clutter system - to get started with the 1st step - get the 'what to keep / what to toss' Checklist.

Cut the Paperwork Clutter is simple, easy to follow steps to get your paperwork organized + tidy. No more receipt explosion. Never question if you are missing a deduction. Make tax time easy. My main goal was that the system had to be something I could start right away (no fancy software or office supplies needed), has to track what's important, easy to implement and makes information easy to find. I'm THE WORST for putting things in a 'safe place' never to be found again. 

#1 what to keep, what to toss

You have to keep everything that tracks the income + deductible expenses associated with your property. In addition to your deductible expenses (also known as current expenses), you should be keeping record of capital expenses. These aren't costs you can deduct for tax purposes, but they are added to the value to your property. THIS free helpful CHECKLIST is the 1st step in the system and goes over the specific receipts and documents you should keep or toss.

how to organize

Now that you know WHAT you need to organize, let's talk about HOW you are going to tidy it all up. For all the paper documents, receipts, invoices, policies, bills, contracts, etc. you have to decide between two organization systems; paper system OR a paperless system. The best way to decide which would be best for you + your family is to address the pros and cons and pick the system that you think will be easiest and practical for you to stick to.

If you already get pretty much all your important 'keep' documents via paper, a paper system will be easy since you can skip the whole scanning/uploading step. If you don't have access to a printer to print the documents you receive electronically, a paper system will cause things to fall through the cracks and you will miss deductions that you are entitled to. Make a list of pros and cons like those mentioned.

If you have a smart phone, scanner or receive most of your 'keep' documents via email/online, a paperless system will be easy to implement. If you don't like the idea of storing documents online, than this isn't the system for you. 

where to file everything

Now, depending on HOW you are going to organize; paper vs. paperless, you need to setup a system for WHERE you will 'put' everything. If you've chosen the paper system - you are going to have 1 binder for every property. In each binder you will have dividers for every important deduction category + income source. There are some 'things' you will need, like: binder, printer, hole puncher, paper. I suggest downloading this FREE deduction overview page and using it as a base to what your dividers should be.

If you decided that a paperless system would be a better fit, you will also need some 'things'. Like a scanner or smart phone to make any paper documents electronic. 

By getting started with the 1st step (getting the 'what to keep / what to toss' Checklist) I will be in touch over the next few days. I will walk you through the actual process of setting your filing system, depending on what type of system you've chosen (paper system or paperless system).

In addition to the what, how and where of the Cut the Paperwork Clutter System, there are 3 rules you have to start TODAY. The problem with the 3 rules is they are going to go against your human nature. You aren't going to think following these rules is going to matter. But THESE RULES ARE KEY and if you can resist the temptation long enough (probably 6 or 7 days) they will become habits.

The Rules You Promise to Follow:

  1. Don't open your mail until you're ready to deal with it

  2. Store everything vertically (no more piles)

  3. whatever system you decide to go with (paper vs. paperless) you have to be ALL IN no some paper + some emails. ALL paper or ALL paperless.

It's time to clean up the mailbox explosion. Put away and stop having to stare at the Master Paperwork Piles you've created on your kitchen table. Let's get started with the 1st step - get the 'what to keep / what to toss' Checklist and then over the next few days we'll move through the Cut the Paperwork Clutter system together.

Does Money Stress You Out?

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One thing that I know for sure, is if you are feeling a heavy financial weight, it can have a ripple effect into more aspects of your life than just your feelings toward money. You can be irritable with your family, you can feel frustrated with your work situation, you might just get sluggish and lazy. 

What I want you to know is that you are NOT ALONE. This is SO normal + this moment of doubt or stress with your $$ isn't permanent. And the fact that you are feeling it is actually a good thing. #saywhat ?!? When you are out of alignment with anything in your life and DON'T feel uncomfortable I'd say you have a blindspot there and the issue will not push your buttons until it's a huge monster that just can no longer be ignored.

What does it mean to you to be "good with money?" This will be different for every person and may change monthly (daily... okay hourly... lol) depending on the person and the season of life that you are in. Does it mean no debt? does it mean being able to save every month? does it mean being able to go to the grocery store and not having to buy sale items or adding up the total in your cart?

I want to share 3 things you can do right now if you are feeling overwhelm with your money. 

#1. What's going right?

Let's throw this irritation of money (or lack of money) out the window for a minute. Is there 1 (or more) things that you feel joy about? Are you a good cook? Do you plan fun family moments (not weeks, not full days, M.O.M.E.N.T.S)? Like bedtime. Like lunch with your best friend/sister/spouse. Are you able to create beautiful art? Do you have a green thumb? Give yourself some credit. These are all things that some people wish they had. So appreciate them and own it.

#2. Are there people in your life that make you feel bad about your financial position?

Do you have a 'keeping up with the Jones' friend? Or are your parents trying to help but instead of making you feel supported, you feel judged? Is it something they are doing/saying or is it your reaction to their behaviour and decisions. If it is them you need to set some boundaries. Like friends inviting you to expensive events, encouraging purchases you can't afford, etc. You have to get in the habit of saying - "sounds amazing, but I can't". Some of the scripts I have in my repertoire are:

  • I can't go - I'm still recovering from _____
  • I'd love to, but I just opened my Visa statement and almost had a heart attack
  • Sounds amazing!! But I have to say "no" I'm really trying to save for ________

If it is you - it's nothing they are doing, it's purely jealousy or judgement on your part. You will need to either filter your interactions with them. Think it - BUT NEVER VOCALIZE IT, there's something about verbalizing your negative thoughts that actually makes your brain believe it. And this is not a healthy thought and you just need to think it, and throw it away. Kind of like when you have a terrible dream and as long as you don't talk about it you seem to forget the details. You remember the feeling it gave you, but not the story behind the emotions. My favourite tool is to create a mantra you can repeat to yourself when you feel this green monster taking over.

  • their success is something to celebrate + does not limit mine
  • I'm so grateful that my friends/family are so happy
  • having friends/family that are worried about me is a blessing
  • I appreciate that offer of help - and when they need help I'll be there for them

#3. What's going on? Let's talk about the specifics.

Why are you feeling stressed? What's pissing you off? Do you feel like the family finances are your responsibility and you'd like some help. Is the weight of your debt overwhelming? Do you just want to go on a family trip without using a credit card? What exactly is it?

That's where the magic is. Because that's where instead of putting bandaid on the issue you can dive into it and really isolate your triggers. You have to then brainstorm ideas on what you can do to fix that problem. 

#4. It takes a village - look for some support/guidance/outside perspective

This is where you have to show a touch of vulnerability. You have to ask for help. It is in our nature to try and blame others and outside influences. You're in this situation because of what's-his-name, it's the market, it's my job, it's my kids, etc. But you really have to take ownership and start gathering your tools + resources to change.

Whether it's in secret, by reading blogs + books + other content. Or by showing up and reaching out to a professional, friend, mentor or family member. Do whatever feels right. And keep in mind that what feels 'right' isn't always what feels easy.

3 Income Property Myths

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When I first started thinking about buying my first investment property the statements I heard from others seemed to be on one extreme, or the other. Some comments made me doubt my decision while others made me want to get started YESTERDAY. It wasn’t until I found a mentor and experienced real estate investor that the advice was more grounded, real and experience based.

These are the 3 most common comments I heard (and still hear) and… they just aren’t true.

Myth #1:  Rental Income is Passive

To me, passive means NO INPUT or WORK or EFFORT. So when people say to me: rental income is passive - this is saying that you get to deposit rental income into your bank account without any effort. In my opinion, whoever refers to rental properties as “passive” are not landlords. When you purchase a property you will require a downpayment, this lump sum will either have to be hard earned $ saved by yourself or acquired from an outside investor/partner. Accumulating these funds may take awhile + will not feel “passive”. Getting a tenant is not something that is “effortless”. It requires applications, credit checks, viewings, no shows, saying no, going through the lease, etc. Then once you get tenant, you will need to interact with them. Develop a relationship and rapport with them. Maintain the building. Do your bookkeeping/taxes. There are so many facets that landlords must consider, and if you are in the business of making money - passive is not the strategy I would advise.

Myth #2: Tenants will wreck your property

I’ve been a renter. I want to live somewhere nice. When I live there I think of it as “my place”. I don’t want people to come over and think I live in a dump. Yes, there are people who have lower standards of living or aren’t concerned with the state of their surroundings… but just like you wouldn’t drop your kid off at any adult’s house - you need to screen + trust your tenants.

Myth #3: You can’t lose. You will get monthly $ + the property will rise in value

Careful here. This is either advice coming from someone who has been investing in an “up” market, isn’t a real estate investor, isn’t paying close attention to their actual numbers or is just plain lucky. Not every rental property is a winner. You need to not only do your due diligence at the time of the buy (in terms of offer price, rent estimates, repair cost, etc.) but you also have to treat your rental property like a business. Not just collecting the rent payment but keeping up with the expenses, comparing them to prior years, watching for inefficiencies to help cut costs, and evaluating your overall investment portfolio + monitoring their rate of return.

If you are trying to find your first income property + are hearing these things, just be sure to filter the advise you are getting. Check out this BLOG POST. It has some tips for getting started.

If you haven't already, please "like" my Facebook page. For the last couple months I have been posting some good rules of thumb, so other great finance expert resources + occasionally pop on to chat with you live! 

How to Set Your 2018 Financial Goals

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We are a halfway through January and this might be the time when your 2018 big ideas start to slip through the cracks.

What was your 2018 New Year's Resolution? Get in better shape, get in control of your money, give something up? #allthethings

I have a strategy for making + sticking to my financial goals that you might want to try! 

Step #1: Write it down

What is #1 thing you would like to change about your finances in 2018? Less debt? More savings? Set a budget? Maybe there’s an element of all these things you would like to see, but just pick one. Is there an actual number you would like to see? Once you’ve proclaimed your goal, look at your current situation. Where are you right NOW? How does it feel? How will it feel to accomplish your goal? What will  this change mean for you + your family?

Step #2: Plan it out with small steps

Instead of focusing on a YEAR goal - what does 90-days from now look like? By transforming your goal from a YEAR down to QUARTERS you are better able to adjust to changes. It also makes the goal feel more manageable and hopefully takes away some of the overwhelm. In the first step you reflected at your current situation + your goal outcome. Now it’s important to brainstorm the tasks that will get you there. Some ideas might be: put your ideal line of credit balance on the calendar for every Friday, plan a monthly family budget meeting, pick one ‘no spending day’ a week, try the cash envelope system, setup monthly savings deposits, etc.

Step #3: Create guardrails

Now that you have your goal, your quarterly result + some steps to move the needle in the right direction, it’s time to plan for failure. What I mean by that is… what are some sneaky situations, habits, or (heaven forbid) people that might derail you from the path to success. By identifying these things, can start thinking of how we can pivot and avoid these temptations. What can you do when #FOMO #YOLO make you start to think that a last minute family vacation is a good idea? What about when you have a crazy week and eating out would just be so much easier?

By going through this exercise you are already 10 steps closer to success than simply stating a goal + hoping for the best. CLICK HERE TO GET THE WORKSHEET

When you wanted your job, you didn’t just proclaim “I NEED A JOB” and it happened. You started looking at job postings, creating your resume, completing applications, going to interviews, etc… Same thing with setting your financial goals. You need to pick something to strive for and then create a roadmap to follow to get you there.