You’re Guide to Discarding Important Documents

Image result for important documents

Most people have moments when they come across a paycheck stub, bank statement, etc., and think to themselves, “Do I really need to keep this?” The answers vary based on the type of document. However, many people don’t know exactly when to throw them away (or shred). To help ease the confusion, I’ve got your answers below on discarding important documents 101.

  • Receipts should be kept for three years for any items that you need to itemize for your tax returns. Keep them with your tax documents.
  • Paycheck stubs have a lifespan of one year. Hang onto them until the end of the year to compare them with your W-2 and social security statements. Then, you can get rid of them.
  • Medical bills vary depending on your insurance. Receipts for expenses can be kept for one year unless your insurance company needs proof or verification of visits and claims. Your insurance may request bills for hospital visits, doctor’s appointments, etc., to be shown at certain times. Think about the type of care you received or the type of expense to determine whether or not you should keep them.Avoid discarding these expenses for up to three years. If medical expenses total more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, you can deduct them on your taxes. Keep these for three years with your tax records.
  • Bank and credit card statements need to be filed away for up to three years. The reason for holding onto bank statements is in case you are audited by the IRS. However, the three-year rule is a little different for your credit cards. If you have confirmed your charges and had proof of payment, then you can shred them. If you are using your credit card statements for tax deductions, hang on to them. Getting too much paper? Switch to online documents. Just remember to write a note, so you’ll know they are online when you go to retrieve them.
  • Utility bills can be scrapped after one year. The exception is if you are claiming a home office tax deduction. Then, our good three-year rule comes into play.
  • If you have records of loans that have been paid off, don’t get rid of them until it has been seven years. If you are still paying off a loan, store all records and statements together until you have paid it off and it has been seven years.
  • Tax returns also go by the three-year recommendation. The returns can be trashed after three years from the date you filed the original return. Hold onto the returns for seven years if you file a claim.
  • Investment and real estate records need to be handy for at least three years for audit reasons. In addition, you will be able to see how much taxes you owe when you sell the stocks or property.Monthly statements can be tossed when you have received your annual summaries.
  • Any contracts, insurance documents, stock certificates, or property records that are active need to be held in a safe place. Only discard once the contracts are completed, and policies expired.
  • There is never a lifespan on documents, such as marriage licenses, birth and death certificates, wills, adoption papers, and paid mortgages. These documents should always be kept and passed down between the generations.

The rule of thumb is to keep most important documents for at least three years. There are exceptions to the rule. But if you are in doubt about something, it is always good to hang onto it no matter how long. It is better to be safe than sorry.

xoxo,

Megan

Advertisements

Ribbons with Reasons: The Causes behind the Colors

FW78-RibbonsForAReason

We all have seen them at one time or another: awareness ribbons of different colors, representing various causes. According to the website Disabled World Towards Tomorrow, awareness ribbons are “short pieces of colored ribbon folded into a loop and are used in the United States, Canada, Australia, UK, and other parts of the world.” These ribbons are used to show your support for a certain cause or issue. A single color can have multiple meanings, and some can have patterns. Also, a cause or issue can have more than one color. There is no exact number as to how many awareness ribbons exist because they are universally-used. Some of the well-known colors include pink for breast cancer, red for AIDS, and purple for Alzheimer’s. But, do you know what the lesser known colors support? Let’s take a look below.

  • Black is used as a sign of mourning for those lost in the 9/11 attacks and the Virginia Tech massacre. Also, black is associated with melanoma awareness, narcolepsy, and sleep disorders.
  • Blue awareness ribbons have many meanings, including addiction recovery awareness, bullying, colon cancer, foster care awareness, Huntington’s disease, and the West Nile virus. Light blue ribbons stand for Addison’s disease, prostate cancer, and lymphedema. As for navy blue, this color brings awareness to Crohn’s disease, rectal cancer, colon cancer, and colorectal cancers. Robin’s egg blue represents Pierre Robin syndrome, and pale blue is achalasia awareness. Lastly, royal blue stands for child abuse awareness. A mixed blue and gray ribbon with a red drop means awareness for type 1 diabetes.
  • Brown is an alternate color for colon cancer and colorectal cancers, but it also stands for anti-tobacco.
  • Burgundy has a few different meanings, including adults with disabilities, meningitis, sickle cell anemia, and headaches and migraines.
  • Brain tumors and brain cancer are supported through gray ribbons. Also, diabetes and asthma awareness use this color.
  • There are a few shades of green that symbolize various causes. Your regular shade of green gives awareness to bipolar disorder, childhood depression, cerebral palsy, depression, mental health, mental illness, and kidney cancer. A lime green ribbon is used for Lyme disease, muscular dystrophy, and lymphoma. Addiction recovery, bone tumor awareness, and renal cell carcinoma are supported by turquoise ribbons. Another commonly known awareness ribbon is the color teal. This shade represents anti-bullying, anxiety disorder, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and other gynecological cancers, polycystic ovarian syndrome, food allergies, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sexual assault and sexual violence awareness.
  • Yellow awareness ribbons mean bladder cancer, endometriosis awareness, liver cancer and liver disease, missing children, and suicide prevention.
  • Gold awareness ribbons are another popular color and many people know their meanings. Childhood cancers and neuroblastoma and osteosarcoma are represented by this color.
  • Orange brings awareness to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), COPD, leukemia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and kidney cancer.
  • Pearl, white and clear ribbons stand for dating violence awareness, lung cancer and lung disease, emphysema, bone cancer, postpartum depression, and scoliosis.
  • Pink is very well-known for breast cancer, but it also gives awareness to birth parents and nursing mothers.
  • Many people associate purple awareness ribbons with Alzheimer’s Disease, but that isn’t the only thing they’re known for. This color is used for ADD, ADHD, cystic fibrosis, domestic violence, epilepsy, March of Dimes, pancreatic cancer, and thyroid cancer. Shades of purple, such as lavender and periwinkle draw awareness to all types of cancer awareness, gynecological cancers, eating disorders, and gastric cancer.
  • Red awareness ribbons support AIDS and HIV, congenital heart defects and disease, heart disease, stroke awareness, and tuberculosis.
  • Last, but not least, brain disorders, dyslexia, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia are given awareness through the color silver.

Symbols and patterns are also used in various awareness ribbons. These symbols include the autism infinity symbol, blue star, blue diabetes circle, and butterflies for Turner syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome.

If you are like me, you have always wondered what a certain color of ribbon meant. Well, now you know and can easily see what causes have special meanings to different people.

Give to January’s Charity of the Month

This year, I’m celebrating giving back to others in our local and national communities. Every month, I’ll be profiling a different nonprofit and the many ways YOU can help. Imagine how much we can change the world in 2018!

January – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Unified-St.-Judes-hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital treats children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Founder Danny Thomas opened the hospital on February 4th, 1962. Since then, it has been a pioneer in groundbreaking research that has helped raise the rate of survival for children with cancer to 80%. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides comfort to children and their families during a stressful time in their lives. To donate, click on the logo above. To find out other ways to help, visit: Ways to Give 

Let’s change the world together!

xoxo,

Megan

The Perfect Checklist for Any Party

Yourstory-party-hunterz-store

Planning parties and making checklists—two of my favorite things! No matter how many times I plan an event, there are things I forget. Did the invitations get out at the appropriate time? Did I order the cake and other refreshments ahead of time? To make sure a party can go as smoothly as possible, it is helpful to use a party checklist. Below is a handy list for all types of festivities, which can be personalized to meet your needs.

SIX WEEKS BEFORE

  • Create your budget.
  • Choose a theme.
  • Determine the guest list.
  • Reserve your party venue, caterer, and entertainer, if needed.
  • Write down all the necessary equipment, including chairs and tables, and contact rentals.
  • Finalize the details, such as date, time, location, RSVP date, and menu.

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE 

  • Prepare your invitations and envelopes.
  • For a children’s party, ask for an updated class list from their teacher, if you are inviting their classmates.
  • Decide on games, activities, and menu to match your theme.
  • Think about items for party favors.
  • Make a shopping list of food, paper goods, and decorations.
  • If ordering food or cake, place order.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE

  • Mail invitations.
  • Purchase party supplies, at the store or online.
  • Arrange for extra help for a children’s party.

ONE TO TWO WEEKS BEFORE

  • Create a party schedule.
  • Confirm times for when extra help is arriving.
  • Purchase last-minute party supplies.
  • Design a music playlist.
  • Call those invited who haven’t responded to the invitations.

THREE DAYS BEFORE 

  • Buy food and drinks.
  • Charge necessary cameras and electronic devices.
  • Call party venue, caterer, and entertainer to confirm details.
  • Assemble activities and party favors.
  • Clean inside and outside of your home.
  • Designate areas for food, beverages, and gifts/

ONE TO TWO DAYS BEFORE 

  • Bake cake, prepare make-ahead food or pick up ordered items.
  • Decorate party venue.

PARTY DAY 

  • Finalize last-minute details.
  • Turn on the music, lighting, etc.
  • Inflate the balloons.
  • Chill beverages.
  • Assemble remaining food and set out.
  • Double-check that bathrooms are stocked with extra toilet paper and there are enough silverware, napkins, plates, and cups on the tables.

ONE WEEK AFTER

  • Send thank-you notes.
  • Post pictures to social media and send to attendees.

ALWAYS REMEMBER

  • Specify an area for boots, umbrellas, and coats.
  • Napkins (2 per person).
  • Don’t forget ice, ice bucket, tongs or scoop.
  • Paper towels.
  • Extra toilet paper.
  • Plates of all sizes (appetizer, salad, dinner, and dessert).
  • Glasses of all sizes (water, wine, mixed drink, beer, soda, and coffee).
  • If grilling, check the tank, charcoal, and lighter fluid.
  • For an outside party, remember bug spray and citronella candles.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Wine and bottle opener.
  • Garbage bags.
  • Dishwashing soap.
  • To have fun! Enjoy the food, games, activities, and mingle with your guests!

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Family Magazine 

My Three Planners: How to Choose the Right Planner(s) for You

EC-planner

I’m very picky about my planners. The simpler, the better. All I need is a planner with a place to write down everything I have for each day. No frills, pockets, or dividers. But, I do have multiple planners. That’s right, three total. One for my daily life, gratitude, and mental health.

Daily Life Planner: 

This is my go-to planner, where I keep track of my appointments and daily schedule. Also, I write down my monthly bills and when I make a payment. As you can tell, there is nothing special or fancy about this method and I love it!

Gratitude Planner:

I call it a planner; however, it serves as more of a journal. At the end of every day, I write down five things I’m grateful for. I’m excited to read back through the past 365 days at the end of the year!

Mental Health Planner:

Again, this is more of a journal, but every day I write down how I felt. Was I depressed? Happy? Anxious? This activity allows me to keep track of my feelings and my ups and downs.

Looking for the right planner for you and don’t know where to begin? Try these tips below:

  1. Remember a planner is a tool that must be used.
  2. Choose your layout and planner size. Do you like a large planner or small? How about your days displayed weekly, daily, or monthly?
  3. Choose your style.
  4. Decide which extras you need for your planner.
  5. Choose your binding preference.

xoxo,

Megan