Hitting the Books Again? Here’s How to Financially Prepare for Grad School

Deia Schlosberg had been working as an environmental educator, teaching students about issues concerning conservation and sustainability. While she loved teaching, she wanted to reach people on a larger scale about the importance of protecting the environment. So she decided to follow her dream of becoming a filmmaker—a dream that would require her to return to school for a graduate degree. She had no idea at the time that it would lead to becoming an award-winning documentarian.

While Schlosberg’s choice may have paid off, learning how to pay for grad school as a working adult can be a challenge. There are various benefits to getting an advanced degree: You can learn more, you can earn more, you can further advance in your current job or prepare for a career change. However, you might also find yourself stressed by the expense and resulting debt of it all, especially if you have kids, a home or other financial commitments. So a big question on your mind could be, “How much should I save for grad school?”

To financially prepare for grad school it’s important to weigh the benefits and stressors that surround getting an advanced degree.

Below are some lessons on how to financially prepare for grad school to help you determine if and when you should go back to school. If you haven’t yet decided if graduate school is right for you, see section 1 for tips on how to decide. If you already know you want to go back to school, skip to section 2.

1. Decide if going back to school is right for you

Getting an advanced degree may seem like a ticket to success, but depending on your chosen area of study, the outcome may vary. For Schlosberg, it was a bit of a risk. It can be difficult to get a break in the film industry, and going to grad school could mean carrying around debt for a long time. Is this the type of outcome you would be willing to accept?

According to Emma Johnson, best-selling author, career consultant and founder of Wealthysinglemommy.com, there are a few things you can do to help you decide whether or not going back to school is right for you:

  • Do your homework. When considering how to pay for grad school as a working adult, research your degree options and the jobs to which they might lead. Compare cost and compatibility—for instance, will classes for the program align with your work schedule? Once you’ve determined what kind of occupation you may pursue after grad school, search online for information about that occupation’s average earnings.
  • Solidify your goals. You may find clarity in writing out your goals for going back to school. Some benefits are tangible, like earning more money, building a professional network and gaining skills. Others might be less tangible, such as finding personal fulfillment. Once you know your goals, it will be easier to determine if a graduate degree makes personal and professional sense.

“Your savings should not only depend on tuition but also what the degree is—i.e., how easy it will be to repay once you are working in the desired field.”

– Deia Schlosberg, filmmaker
  • Give your degree program a test run. Consider taking classes that relate to the degree you are interested in getting in grad school. These classes can give you a taste of the subject matter you’ll be studying and help you meet people involved in the field. Also, if prerequisites are required for your advanced degree, they often cost less online or at a community college, which is important to remember when thinking about how to prepare your finances before grad school. Make sure the course credits will be accepted at the graduate school you plan to attend.
  • Take a hands-on approach. To level up in your existing career or find out what it’s like in a new field before making the change, get some work-related experience first. For instance, to learn more about moving up in your own field, get out and meet those higher level professionals by attending conferences and networking events. The same tactic applies if you want to change careers.

2. Know how much you need to save

How to pay for grad school as a working adult can be complicated, but you’ve decided you’re ready for it. Plus, hitting the books at a time when saving for retirement or your child’s education could be at the forefront makes the task of how to prepare your finances before grad school even more critical.

Understanding how to prepare your finances before grad school becomes more complicated if you’re also budgeting for a retirement plan or child’s education.

Figuring out how much to save for grad school begins with determining the cost of attendance. Here are a couple ways to do that, according to Johnson:

  • Do the research. Once you have found a school and degree that you like, visit the school’s web site. Some schools may provide the cost of tuition, fees and estimated costs for books, supplies and transportation. Costs can vary tremendously, depending on various factors: whether you attend full or part time, whether you attend a public or private school, whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident and the time it takes to get your degree.
  • Determine your budget. Once you have a handle on the school-related costs, build a spreadsheet that accounts for these costs and projects monthly income and living expenses. Working through a savings plan beforehand can help you financially prepare for grad school by showing just how much you’ll need to budget for monthly on tuition plus living expenses. Once you determine these factors, you’ll get a better idea of what you need to save up.
  • Create a savings buffer. After you determine your monthly costs, pad that number. “Your savings should not only depend on tuition but also what the degree is—i.e., how easy it will be to repay once you are working in the desired field,” Schlosberg says. She saved a little more than she estimated, giving herself an extra cushion to cover some of the potential risk to her finances.

“You may have to downscale your career and current lifestyle to go back to school, which may be a worthwhile investment of time and resources.”

– Emma Johnson, career consultant

3. Allow yourself a flexible timeline

One key factor in planning the timeline for earning your graduate degree: Don’t be in a rush. If you need to, create the time to save. It may not be necessary to go back to school full time or finish on a particular schedule, Johnson says. She mentions these possible paths to earning your degree when planning how to pay for grad school as a working adult:

  • Consider a side hustle. One option is to go to school full time and take on a side hustle. You may not make as much as you did as a full-time employee, but the income can complement your savings. It may also allow you to concentrate more on your degree and finish faster.
  • Attend part time. Go to school part time (nights and weekends) while working. It will take longer, but it will also minimize your debt, which could be better in the long run.
  • Take it slowly. Only sign up for a class or two—whatever you can afford—and continue to work. This part-time “lite” approach may take even longer, but could help you avoid overextending yourself financially or sliding into debt.
  • Take online classes. Consider online programs that could lower the cost of tuition and allow you to continue working full time.
If you’re wondering how to pay for grad school as a working adult, consider attending school part time and taking online classes.

4. Take advantage of potential cost-saving benefits

So you’ve done your research on how much you need to save while determining how to prepare your finances before grad school. But there are ways to potentially cut or eliminate some of those costs. What comes next are some solutions that may help pay your grad school bills:

  • Consider loans, financial aid and scholarships. “I took out some student loans for living expenses, but I tried to pay off my tuition as I went by working through school,” Schlosberg says. Graduate students may also be eligible for different types of scholarships and grants, which is aid that does not need to be paid back. Depending on your area of study, scholarships and grants can also be obtained through federal and state organizations, private foundations, public companies and professional organizations.
  • Ask your employer to pay the tuition. One way to financially prepare for grad school is to talk to your manager or human resources representative to find out if your current employer would help pay for, or fully fund, your degree through tuition reimbursement. This is most likely if you plan to move up the ladder and use your new skills on behalf of the company.
  • Take advantage of in-state tuition. Some people move to the same state as their desired school to try to get a break on tuition. “I moved to Montana and worked a couple jobs for a year before applying so I could get in-state tuition,” says Schlosberg. Whether you are already a resident or you move to a new state, be sure to determine how long you need to be a resident to qualify for in-state tuition at your desired university.
  • Cut back on discretionary expenses. Seemingly small things like adjusting your lifestyle to lower your monthly costs, which could mean fewer lattes and dinners out, might go a long way in resolving how to prepare your finances before grad school. “You may have to downscale your career and current lifestyle to go back to school, which may be a worthwhile investment of time and resources,” Johnson says.
When determining how to financially prepare for graduate school, consider scholarships, in-state tuition and tuition reimbursement.

Financially prepare for grad school and get a new start

Answering the question of how to pay for grad school as a working adult requires significant research and preparation, but some say it’s worth it, including Schlosberg. It not only gave her a whole new start, but a wealth of knowledge going forward to nurture her future endeavors. “Getting a graduate degree gave me the confidence to jump into a new career. I met an amazing network of people,” Schlosberg says.

But an advanced degree may not be a necessity. While it could look impressive on a resume, for many employers, a master’s degree is not a requirement. “Whatever you do, don’t go back to school just for the sake of getting a degree,” Johnson says. When thinking about how to financially prepare for graduate school, make sure it fits into your financial picture and that you’re able to “weigh your sacrifices against future gains,” she says.

The post Hitting the Books Again? Here’s How to Financially Prepare for Grad School appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.

Source: discover.com

22 Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts for 2021

When your valentine wants a little extra love, all he or she has to do is take a strip out of the jar and read one of your messages.
If you can’t afford a bouquet of roses, see if your local flower shop is selling single roses. A single red rose often says more than a whole dozen.
Remember mixtapes? Bring that sentiment to the 21st century by making your special someone a Spotify playlist. You don’t even need Spotify Premium; just get the free version of Spotify for your desktop, build the perfect list and share it with your valentine.

22 Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas Under $5

Don’t want to give away your only copy of your favorite read? Find it in a used bookstore. You can often get used books for under , and they make excellent presents.

1. Playlist

If you read the Modern Love column in The New York Times, you might have seen the piece about The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.

2. Lloyd Dobler Serenade

Still scrambling for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift?
We’ve already got you covered with at-home date ideas — for whether you are together in-person or far apart. Here are 50 last-minute gifts that all cost less than .
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Even the most humble of grocery store bouquets can become beautiful with a little help. Take the flowers out of the plastic, trim them and put them into a vase. Or, if you don’t have a vase on hand, get a glass jar out of the recycling bin, rinse it out and put the flowers in.

3. Bulk Candy

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
If you’re giving bulk candy, presentation matters. Put it in an attractive bag or box, tie it up with a ribbon and make your gift as special as the recipient.

4. Handmade Card

Write your valentine a love poem. It worked for Shakespeare, and it could work for you. Choose one of the classic poetry formats, such as the sonnet or the villanelle, or create your own.
Nothing says “I’m in this for the long term” like “This was my old stuffed bear, and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.”

5. Art

Take the iconic image of Say Anything’s Lloyd Dobler holding a boombox over his head as you model and get ready to tell your valentine that “In your eyes… I am complete.”
Nicole Dieker is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

6. Poem

Keep this pattern going until the notebook is full. A shared journal is a lovely way to write about hopes, dreams and plans for the future.

An elderly couple show affection to one another as the husband serenades his wife.

7. Song

Take your poem one step further by setting it to music. How many people get a song written just for them? Perform it for your special someone on Valentine’s Day, and you’ll learn that the best gifts don’t have to cost a thing.

8. Band Performance

Take an old T-shirt and turn it into a pillow. This Instructables guide will help you get started. You’ll need to get something to stuff the pillow with, which you can generally get at a craft store or even Target or Walmart for under .

9. Request a Song

Your cost investment depends on how many art supplies you currently have around, but a hobby store often sells affordable individual sheets of art paper. Even an ink drawing on a piece of good paper can look beautiful.

10. Old Shirt Turned into a Pillow

Find an excuse for your special someone to be out of the house or apartment on Valentine’s Day morning and then scrub, wash, sweep and fold. Top it off with a few flowers in a vase or a plate of homemade cookies on the table.

11. Old Stuffed Animal

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Want a gift that your valentine will really love? Try a perfectly cleaned home.

12. Book 

All you’ll need for this one is a jar and a few pieces of paper. Tear or cut the paper into strips and write something special on each strip. Then, fold the strips in half and put them into the jar.
Sometimes the simplest gifts are the best. If your local radio station takes requests, request your special song. Text your valentine when it’s time for your song to play, or listen to it together.
Get an inexpensive notebook, write a journal entry and give it to your Valentine with the instructions to read what’s inside, write a new journal entry and give the notebook back.

A woman decorates heart shaped cookies for Valentine's Day.

13. Homemade Cookies

While everyone else is getting expensive bouquets delivered to their valentines, why not give your date a plate of delicious homemade cookies? You can also take these cookies with you for a picnicking or stargazing adventure.

14. Love Thoughts in a Jar

Get some massage oil, put some towels over freshly washed sheets and give your special someone the massage he or she has always wanted. Look for resources online, like these massage tips from Canyon Ranch resort, that will show you how to give a safe, proper massage.
Spend an evening asking your valentine those questions — and answering them yourself — and it becomes an evening you’re unlikely to forget.

15. Book of Memories

Use an actual boombox if you can get your hands on one, or pull out your iPhone and crank up the volume.

16. Coupon Book

Wondering how you’re going to get your special someone something truly special — without spending a lot of money in the process?
If your special someone owns a Kindle, a Nook or another e-reader, there are gobs of books available for under . Look for the 99-cent listings so you can give multiple books and make your gift look extra-special. You can also look for deals from Bookbub.

17. Massage Night

Giving the gift of an old stuffed animal shows your special someone that you love and trust them enough to share one of your most treasured possessions.

18. Shared Journal

Why not make this Valentine’s Day the start of a Wednesday letter tradition of your own? Give the gift of a love letter, and tell your valentine that it is the first of many to come.
These questions, which include “What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?” and “When did you last cry in front of another person?” are designed to build intimacy and bring people closer together.

19. Love Letters

Does your valentine like picking the movie you watch together? Does your valentine like not having to do the dishes? Choosing the right coupons is what makes this gift special.
Have you read the book “The Wednesday Letters”? It’s the story of a man who writes his wife a new love letter each Wednesday.

20. Clean All The Things

Anyone can go to the grocery store and get a 99-cent card with a pre-printed message. Only you can make a one-of-a-kind card with your own heartfelt statement of love.
Even if you’ve only got in your pocket, you can still make this Valentine’s Day memorable.

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

21. The 36 Questions

The coupon book is another classic gift that has almost become cliché. The secret to making it work is to put together coupons that your valentine actually wants.
Have a favorite book that you think your valentine will also love? Take it off your bookshelf, write an inscription and turn it into a gift. It’s just as intimate as giving a stuffed animal, and you can talk about the book together afterwards.
A handmade card can often be one of the best and most treasured Valentine’s Day presents.

22. One Rose or Grocery Store Flowers

Maybe your special someone likes jelly beans or chocolate-covered almonds. The bulk candy aisle offers plenty of choices for putting together a gift that tastes better — and is much more personalized — than a cheap box of waxy Valentine’s candy.
Do you have painting or sketching skills? Make your special someone a piece of original art. It’s hard to go wrong with a flattering portrait or a sketch of the place where the two of you shared your first kiss.
This one works best if your Valentine is a fan of classic ’80s movies.
Buy an inexpensive sketchbook or notebook. Then, fill each page with a memory — the place you first met, the first time you held hands, the concert the two of you attended last spring. Draw, write, glue in ticket stubs — do whatever you want to make this book a true book of memories. Chances are it will be an unforgettable gift.
Got a friend who can play bass and a buddy who knows the drums? Teach them the song you just wrote, or ask if they’ll be willing to help you cover a song that has a special meaning for you and your valentine. Then give your valentine a never-to-be-forgotten concert.

Loft Apartments: The Pros and Cons

When you think about living in a loft, you may picture an apartment with a large, open floor plan located in the heart of a bustling city like New York. The loft apartment is airy with tall ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed hardware.

It sounds urban and cool, but are loft apartments only something seen in movies? Not so! Loft apartments are increasingly more popular and available to the renter interested in living in a loft.

What is a loft apartment?

So, what exactly is a loft apartment?

A loft apartment, like a studio apartment, is an open-concept living area with no interior walls, except for a private bathroom. Lofts are very large (think 1,000+ square feet) and have typically been converted from an industrial or commercial warehouse to a living space.

Converted from old warehouse spaces, loft rooms often feature exposed piping and brick and large windows.

How is a loft apartment different from a regular apartment?

Loft rooms differ from traditional one or two-bedroom apartments because no interior walls divide up space. Lofts are open-areas with no defined bedroom, living room and kitchen. A regular apartment will have a clearly-defined bedroom, closet, kitchen and living room. Both have a private bathroom, though.

When looking at the floor plan for a regular apartment, you’ll see the walls that clearly define each room.

floorplan of a loft apartment

Source: Apartment Guide

Compare the previous floor plan to this loft apartment and you’ll clearly see the main difference (i.e. no walls!)

loft apartment with exposed brick and light fixtures, large open space

Source: Apartment Guide

Pros of living in a loft apartment

Now that we’ve covered what a loft apartment is, let’s go over some of the pros and cons of living in a loft so you can decide if renting a loft room is right for you.

Pro #1: Trendy, urban vibes

Lofts are inherently cool.

First, the buildings usually have an interesting history tied to whether it previously was a factory, warehouse or commercial building. Second, the exposed interior — piping, brick or windows — adds charm and detail that traditional apartments often lack. Third, the layout of the open-living concept feels spacious, airy and light. You’ll walk into a loft apartment and have ample room to settle in.

Plus, lofts are usually found in larger, metro cities so you’ll have a fun time living in an urban area, too.

Pro #2: Design flexibility

Because loft rooms are so open and big, look at your loft apartment like a blank canvas.

Are you into a modern style? Get a large piece of modern art and hang it on the wall. Do you like a minimalist feel? Then you can add the essential pieces of furniture to the space and let the rest of the room speak for itself. Do you want a cozy loft? Add lots of furniture, pillows, blankets and art to make the place a comfortable loft to snuggle up in.

Lofts give renters plenty of freedom to design the place how they like.

Pro #3: Lots of space

One of the main reasons people rent loft apartments is for the space. You’ll usually get 1,000+ square feet out of a loft so you won’t feel cramped.

Lofts have lots of light so you’ll always have natural sunlight pouring in and can roam freely without feeling too confined.

loft apartment

Cons of living in a loft apartment

As with everything in life, there is also a downside to loft apartments. For all the cool perks and features, lofts can also have some features that aren’t so hot. Here are some of the main cons to loft rooms.

Con #1: Costly utilities

While a pro of living in a loft is the space, it can also mean pricier utilities. There is simply more space to heat or cool down.

Also, lofts are typically located in older and refurbished commercial buildings, so consider old piping or thin windows impacting future utilities. If you choose to rent a loft, make sure to budget for utilities being a bit more.

Con #2: Insufficient storage

While lofts are open and spacious, they also lack traditional storage space like closets and pantries. You have all the space you need in an open floor plan, but actually finding places to put your belongings requires thinking outside the box.

Get creative with where to hang clothes and where to store your stuff.

Con #3: Lack of privacy

Great for singles or couples, lofts aren’t ideal for roommates. You might feel like you lack privacy in a loft apartment because there are no separate rooms or walls. If privacy is important to you, a loft apartment will not check that box.

loft apartment rooms

How to create rooms in a loft apartment

Because lofts lack rooms, you may need to craft your own at times. Here are a few ways to create rooms in a loft apartment for privacy and aesthetics.

1. Use furniture to divide the space

Make your furniture dual-purpose. Use a bookshelf to break up the room as a faux wall. For example, a bookshelf can separate the TV space from the kitchen while storing books.

2. Hang room divider curtains

Although the walls are often high in a loft, you can hang curtain rods and curtains from the walls to create a bedroom, for example. Use curtains to divide the room and visually break up the space.

3. Install sliding doors

Sliding barn doors are trendy and useful. If you need a room sectioned off in your loft apartment, consider installing a set of sliding doors.

Renting a loft apartment

Have you settled on renting a loft apartment as your next home? Well then, decide which city you want to live in and start the search for your perfect, trendy and spacious loft.

The post Loft Apartments: The Pros and Cons appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

7 Things to Know Before Taking a Work From Home Tax Deduction

If you’re one of the millions of workers whose home is now doubling as office space due to COVID-19, you may be wondering whether that means a sweet deduction at tax time. Hold up, though: The IRS has strict rules about taking the home office deduction — and they changed drastically under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed in late 2017.

7 Essential Rules for Claiming a Work From Home Tax Deduction

Thinking about claiming a home office deduction on your tax return? Follow these tips to avoid raising any eyebrows at the IRS.

1. You can’t claim it if you’re a regular employee, even if your company is requiring you to work from home due to COVID-19.

If you’re employed by a company and you work from home, you can’t deduct home office space from your taxes. This applies whether you’re a permanent remote worker or if your office is temporarily closed because of the pandemic. The rule of thumb is that if you’re a W-2 employee, you’re not eligible.

This wasn’t always the case, though. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the deduction for miscellaneous unreimbursed employee business expenses, which allowed you to claim a home office if you worked from home for the convenience of your employer, provided that you itemized your tax deductions. The law nearly doubled the standard deduction. As a result, many people who once saved money by itemizing now have a lower tax bill when they take the standard deduction.

2. If you have a regular job but you also have self-employment income, you can qualify.

If you’re self-employed — whether you own a business or you’re a freelancer, gig worker or independent contractor — you probably can take the deduction, even if you’re also a full-time employee of a company you don’t own. It doesn’t matter if you work from home at that full-time job or work from an office, as long as you meet the other criteria that we’ll discuss shortly.

You’re only allowed to deduct the gross income you earn from self-employment, though. That means if you earned $1,000 from your side hustle plus a $50,000 salary from your regular job that you do remotely, $1,000 is the most you can deduct.

3. It needs to be a separate space that you use exclusively for business.

The IRS requires that you have a space that you use “exclusively and regularly” for business purposes. If you have an extra bedroom and you use it solely as your office space, you’re allowed to deduct the space — and that space alone. So if your house is 1,000 square feet and the home office is 200 square feet, you’re allowed to deduct 20% of your home expenses.

But if that home office also doubles as a guest bedroom, it wouldn’t qualify. Same goes for if you’re using that space to do your day job. The IRS takes the word “exclusively” pretty seriously here when it says you need to use the space exclusively for your business purposes.

To avoid running afoul of the rules, be cautious about what you keep in your home office. Photos, posters and other decorations are fine. But if you move your gaming console, exercise equipment or a TV into your office, that’s probably not. Even mixing professional books with personal books could technically cross the line.

4. You don’t need a separate room.

There needs to be a clear division between your home office space and your personal space. That doesn’t mean you have to have an entire room that you use as an office to take the deduction, though. Suppose you have a desk area in that extra bedroom. You can still claim a portion of the room as long as there’s a marker between your office space and the rest of the room.

Pro Tip

An easy way to separate your home office from your personal space, courtesy of TurboTax Intuit: Mark it with duct tape.

5. The space needs to be your principal place of business.

To deduct your home office, it needs to be your principal place of business. But that doesn’t mean you have to conduct all your business activities in the space. If you’re a handyman and you get paid to fix things at other people’s houses, but you handle the bulk of your paperwork, billing and phone calls in your home office, that’s allowed.

There are some exceptions if you operate a day care center or you store inventory. If either of these scenarios apply, check out the IRS rules.

6. Mortgage and rent aren’t the only expenses you can deduct. 

If you use 20% of your home as an office, you can deduct 20% of your mortgage or rent. But that’s not all you can deduct. You’re also allowed to deduct expenses like real estate taxes, homeowner insurance and utilities, though in this example, you’d only be allowed to deduct 20% of any of these expenses.

Be careful here, though. You can only deduct expenses for the part of the home you use for business purposes. So using the example above, if you pay someone to mow your lawn or you’re painting your kitchen, you don’t get to deduct 20% of the expenses.

You’ll also need to account for depreciation if you own the home. That can get complicated. Consider consulting with a tax professional in this situation. If you sell your home for a profit, you’ll owe capital gains taxes on the depreciation. Whenever you’re claiming deductions, it’s essential to keep good records so you can provide them to the IRS if necessary.

If you don’t want to deal with extensive record-keeping or deducting depreciation, the IRS offers a simplified option: You can take a deduction of $5 per square foot, up to a maximum of 300 square feet. This method will probably result in a smaller deduction, but it’s less complicated than the regular method.

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7. Relax. You probably won’t get audited if you follow the rules.

The home office deduction has a notorious reputation as an audit trigger, but it’s mostly undeserved. Deducting your home office expenses is perfectly legal, provided that you follow the IRS guidelines. A more likely audit trigger: You deduct a huge amount of expenses relative to the income you report, regardless of whether they’re related to a home office.

It’s essential to be ready in case you are audited, though. Make sure you can provide a copy of your mortgage or lease, insurance policies, tax records, utility bills, etc., so you can prove your deductions were warranted. You’ll also want to take pictures and be prepared to provide a diagram of your setup to the IRS if necessary.

As always, consult with a tax adviser if you’re not sure whether the expense you’re deducting is allowable. It’s best to shell out a little extra money now to avoid the headache of an audit later.

The Penny Hoarder Shop is always stocked with great deals, including technology, subscriptions, courses, kitchenware and more. Check it out today!

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Decluttering for Dummies: Insider Secrets for Organizing Your Overflowing Book Collection

organizing booksclu/Getty Images

Last year changed the way we do a lot of things—especially the way we live at home. Between mandatory shelter-in-place orders, canceled vacation plans, and working remotely, we’re all spending a lot more time inside our four walls than ever before. And with our houses now doing extra duty as offices, gyms, and even classrooms for the kids, there’s undoubtedly no shortage of clutter.

If you’re as sick of the piles as we are, then we bet you’re ready to take action. And there’s never a better time than a new year to rethink your space, declutter, and get organized.

That’s why we’re launching a new series with tips from the pros on how to bring order to every space in your home. First up: all those books you bought to read (and never did) during quarantine. Here’s what the experts say on how to comb through your bookshelves and organize those seemingly endless stacks.

How to declutter your collection

“Clutter is postponed decisions—and that’s true of book clutter as well,” says professional organizer Barbara Hemphill.

“The first step in decluttering books is to determine how much space you’re willing to allot to books,” she says. “To decide whether to keep a book, ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst thing that would happen if I got rid of this book, and then wanted it?’ If you can live with your answer, donate or toss it.”

Get rid of ugly or old books

While some books might be obvious keepers (like the ones you’ll reread or reference later on), you’ll likely end up with a good-sized pile of maybes. For those, Barbara Reich, founder of Life Organized, has this pro tip.

“I look at whether a book is in good condition, and if it’s something I’ll want to display,” she says. “For example, you may not want to display every self-help book you own.”

Donate your unwanted books

Once you’ve narrowed down your pile of keepers, it’s time to get rid of the rest. While you might try to sell any valuable or collectible editions, most other secondhand books won’t fetch a ton of cash—which is why donations can be a great way to get rid of your unwanted volumes.

However, Sherri Curley of The Practical Sort notes that the pandemic has made the usual outlets—libraries, used bookstores, nursing homes and hospitals, consignment stores, and even certain nonprofit organizations—reluctant to handle secondhand goods.

“I caution my clients and readers to save time, hassle, and gas by contacting the organization prior to heading out, to ensure that they are accepting donations and what their current protocol and hours are,” Curley says.

How to organize your remaining books

Arrange your books by color

Photo by Hudson Interior Design 

With your permanent collection of books established, you’re ready to start organizing them. One great way to get started is to group your books by color.

“This works for the very visual client who enjoys their books as a collection, rather than searching for specific ones to read or reference,” says Lucy Milligan Wahl of LMW Edits.

Organize by author

If a colorful display isn’t your style, then you might just consider organizing by author instead.

“This style works best for those who love to read and are looking to be able to access specific books on a regular basis,” says Wahl. “This is also a more time-intensive method, since it should be adjusted and updated whenever you add a new book to your collection.”

Organize by genre

If neither a color- nor author-based organization system works for you, consider a simple genre-based one.

“Organizing by genre works well for most clients, especially when they’re storing books in multiple rooms,” says Wahl. “It helps to match the genre to the space: for example, cookbooks in the kitchen, business and self-help in the home office, fiction and travel in the bedroom, etc.”

This might also be extended to other rooms of the house, like putting your kids’ books in the playroom and sports books in a basement or workout room. Finally, be sure to put aside a few favorite display books to decorate coffee tables, guest rooms, and even bathrooms.

Use leftover books as decor

Photo by M. Swabb Decor + Style

While decluttering and organizing might be adequate for most book collectors, some might just find themselves with a few leftovers that still need sorting. Here are some creative tips from the pros that can help.

“I love using large art books stacked under lamps or small art objects to personalize a space,” says Sarah Giller Nelson of Less Is More. “Using a few favorite books to decorate your entryway will make you happy every time you come home.”

Be creative with shelving

floating bookshelf
Floating bookshelf

Amazon

If you need more space than just a short stack, invisible wall-mounted bookshelves are another great option to display your favorites.

“Invisible bookshelves can be wonderful for adding an accent to a wall without needing to invest in art,” says Wahl. “A window seat can also be a great place for a row of books—perhaps your favorite novels for curling up on a cozy afternoon.”

Last but certainly not least, if it’s more shelving you need, consider this minimalist design—which is great for showing off your book collection, clutter-free.

The post Decluttering for Dummies: Insider Secrets for Organizing Your Overflowing Book Collection appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com