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Get Control of Your Personal Information – Know What to Shred

Personal information

Personal information security is a hot topic these days. Between news of identity theft, mass data breaches and social media personal data security, the subject is front and center in our minds. We all want out personal information to be safe, whether it is our financial information, medical records, or social media data. Each year, we handle hundreds of documents that entail sensitive information, physical paper, our personal and financial paperwork.

It can be confusing to figure out what documents we need to keep, how long, and what documents we can dispose of, and how. Some individuals are so anxious about identity theft that they do not dispose of any paperwork at all! That results in massive paper piles, making it nearly impossible to find important documents when you need them. These piles can become an overwhelming burden. Paperwork clutter is a common problem, and very tedious and time consuming to tackle.

So, how can we protect our personal information (without getting buried in paper), at least the kind of personal information which commonly arrives in the mail? What to keep? How long? Why? We have some answers for you.

What Personal Information to Keep and How Long

  1. Tax Returns: Keep copies of all your tax returns. Keep the back-up information and
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7 Simple Ways to Protect Your Home When on Vacation

protect your home

In early spring each year, Seattleites trade their winter boots for flip-flops, and take off in search of warmth and sun. Before you order your Uber to SeaTac, use these 7 simple strategies to protect your home while you are away.

  • No one wants to come home to find out that a pipe burst and flooded the interior of their house. Turn off your water before you leave to go on vacation. Find your main water shut off and turn off the water on your way out the door.
  • Some kitchen stoves have a safety lock feature on the control panel. You can temporarily disable the gas flow to the stove, should something unexpected, like an earthquake, happen while you are away.
  • Set a timer, so that a lamp or two turns on every night,
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Organize to Protect Your Identity

Paperwork on a cluttered desk

Data breach. Customer information stolen. Identity theft. Those words regularly appear in the news, making you, the consumer, angry. You wonder why companies can’t seem to figure it out–either stop collecting personal information or protect it!

Despite companies’ security efforts, the risk of identity theft isn’t going away. Criminals world-wide seem to be one step ahead. In 2016, over $16 billion was stolen from consumers, around $1,300 per victim.

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13 Ways to Downsize Mom and Dad’s Estate

Downsize estate

Imagine the following scenario. Your 80-year-old father is relatively healthy, but recently you’ve noticed he’s become more forgetful and confused. You and your siblings suspect it may be time for your father to move to a retirement home or an assisted living facility closer to where you live. He currently lives alone in his 5,000-square foot home of thirty years. Your parents were very active adults with many interests and hobbies in retirement. In recent years, since your mother passed away, he has lost interest or the ability to take part in these hobbies. Apart from his bedroom and the kitchen, the rest of the home has gone unused for many years.

This would be an emotional time for your family. You and your siblings would be considering different treatment and housing options for your dad. Moving is a high stress event at the best of times, even more so for your elderly parent. The to-do list is long. You will need to unearth all his relevant financial

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7 Things You Need to Know to Freeze Your Credit Today

credit freeze

A while back, my friend refinanced her house and then she froze her credit. We had been discussing identity theft when she told me about this. I’d never heard of this concept before. Times have changed I guess, because now phrases like “data breach” and “identity theft” seem to be a part of daily vernacular. Recently, one of the top three credit bureaus, Equifax, was hacked and now we are left to wonder whether our personal data is out there being sold on the “dark web.” (That’s another fun new term – look it up!)

The silver lining is that it is easy to freeze your credit and protect yourself from strangers opening credit cards and securing loans in your name. It took me all of 30 minutes to freeze my credit across all three agencies (you must do all three), Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Get a free credit report

You can get a free credit report once per 12 months. It’s a good idea

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Put your Spring Home Maintenance on Auto-Pilot

home maintenance

Home Maintenance is an on-going process. Trees need trimming, gutters and windows need cleaning, the garage needs a once-over. It is easy to postpone or forget about these tasks when actually, we can simplify our lives by putting these activities on auto-pilot.
Your local gutter cleaning company can take two home maintenance tasks off your to-do list right now. Schedule to have your roof and gutters cleaned twice a year, once in the spring

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Before a Bathroom Remodel, Read This

Bathroom remodel

If you’ve ever seen a remodeling show on HGTV, you may have been inspired to remodel your home. It looks so easy, so fast and so manageable. The reality is, no surprise, a little more complex. We decided to remodel our master and guest bathrooms some time ago. We hoped to begin the project as soon as school started in September. We wanted to be done before the holidays so that we could entertain our family for Christmas. Sounds completely doable, right?
We met with our designer and contractor weeks before the start date and we got into their project queue. Contractors may have several projects going on at any given time. This means that your project will likely not begin immediately. In some ways, this is good, because it gives you leeway to research and select all the products for your project.

The Planning Phase

Unless you are an amazingly handy DIY type, you will need to work with a contractor and possibly a designer. Research the style

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Is Hoarding Genetic?

I can appreciate the cause for concern here. More and more studies are finding there is a link. I pulled this from the International OCD Foundation Hoarding website:

From the earliest studies of hoarding, it has been clear that hoarding runs in families. Studies asking about family members have reported that 50 to 80% of people who hoard had first-degree relatives whom they considered “pack rats” or hoarders.

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