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10 Ways To De-clutter Your Home (And Life!)

by Cory Dudley

10 Ways To De-clutter Your Home (And Life!)


The last time I moved, my rooms were filled to the ceiling with boxes. I felt weighed down, both literally and spiritually. "How can I feel free to pick up and move — to a better city, to a better house — if I'm surrounded by all this STUFF?" I wondered.

Enter Marie Kondo, the Supernanny of tidying. A cleaning consultant in Tokyo, she spends her days helping clients lighten their load —literally. When I discovered her guide The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I realized I had been going about decluttering all wrong.

By following her strategy, I managed to donate, recycle, and discard so many bursting bags that I lost count. In the spirit of helping others crawl out from under the clutter of our overly commodified lifestyle, here are 10 tips that helped me the most.

  1. Sort by category, not location. I used to go through one room at a time. One weekend I'd tackle my bedroom. The next weekend, the basement. According to Kondo, this is a fatal mistake. To truly see what you have, you must gather every single item in a particular category in one place, then consider them all side by side. (One friend who read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up went through his shed, basement, and garage and realized he had . . . drumroll, please . . . 15 hammers
  2. Pick up each item and ask yourself, "Does it spark joy?" Actually hold each item in your hands and consider it anew. Then ask yourself if it brings you joy. If it gives you a thrill as you hold it, keep it. But if it doesn't, that's all you need to know: throw it in the donate pile. Seriously, try this—it's eerily accurate.
  3. Don't downgrade clothes to loungewear. If you have clothes you know you'll never wear outside, don't let them pile up as loungewear. I had an old sweat-stained t-shirt that I would wear on the weekends. But it became a barrier to going out, because in order to do an errand or see a friend, I would have to change into something less embarrassing. So I would just stay home. When I freed myself of this t-shirt, in a way, I was saying "yes" to life.
  4. For unread books, "sometime" means "never." There is a small window of time to read a book after you purchase it. Once that window closes, and it has gathered dust for a while, your chances of reading it are slim to none. And forget about rereading books you liked. How many books have you actually read a second time? Donate that unneeded book to someone who will get a thrill when they pick it up, and spend your time on the one book you're excited to read right now.
  5. Recycle those piles of papers. Kondo's rule of thumb for papers is "discard everything." According to her, papers will never inspire joy. Old lecture materials? Recycle them—you got what you needed from the experience of attending the talk. Credit card statements? Check them for errant charges, then into the shredder they go. Kondo reveals that her clients who had the hardest time getting rid of papers were a lawyer couple. Their refrain: "What if this document is needed in court?" They finally got rid of almost all their papers, and guess what? They're fine.
  6. Don't keep gifts out of guilt. Admit it: you've gotten gifts you don't like. The point of a gift is to express someone's feelings. After the joy of the gift-giving moment is through, you can donate the gift without guilt; it has served its purpose In my experience, people don't notice when their gift is missing from your house; they notice that one gift that you kept and love to display.
  7. Recycle electronics packaging. As soon as you get your new cell phone or iPod out of its packaging, recycle both the box and the manual. You can always get answers to any questions online. All of Kondo's clients have recycled these, and according to her, not one has ever been inconvenienced.
  8. Rid yourself of komono. This is the Japanese word for "miscellaneous items." Spare buttons, unidentified cords, free novelty goods . . . the list goes on and on. Clear 'em out and make space for the things you truly love.
  9. Declutter photos and mementos. You don't need to keep all those old birthday cards and blurry photos of European architecture. Kondo promises that if you take out each photo from your album and ask yourself if it inspires joy, you'll end up with only about 5 photos per day of every trip. They will be the photos that best bring back the joy of that time. Let the rest go. Ditto with old birthday cards and love letters. Their time in the sun has passed. Repeat Kondo's mantra: "Cherish who you are now."
  10. Storage experts are hoarders. Beware focusing on clever storage solutions before you've gone through every item in your house. Many storage experts focus on stuffing as many things as they can into your closet, without stopping to examine whether they bring joy. Don't make that fatal mistake.

Once you've gone through every item in your house, Kondo says to designate a spot for every single thing that's left. This is her key to staying clutter-free forever. The result? A house full of items that bring you joy, each in its place.

Kondo's promise is about more than just stuff. It's about intentionality and mindfulness, with a sprinkling of Zen philosophy. That's why I fell in love with this little book, and why I'm excited to have played a small part, as its American editor, in bringing it Stateside.

So turn off that episode of Hoarders and gather up all those errant hammers (or coats, or shoes, or purses). You—and your house—will thank me. Learn more about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up here.

This post is presented by Ten Speed Press

The Winning Team Real Estate Group at Old Town Real Estate Co.
522 Kimbark Street • Longmont, Colorado 80501 | o:303.776.4004 • c:303.641.8597 • f:303.776.4661
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7 Common Lawn Myths vs. Reality

by Cory Dudley

 7 Common Lawn Myths vs. Reality


Spring is approaching, and it's time for your clients to start planning their lawn and landscaping strategy. Before they start cutting and fertilizing, it's a good idea to review these common myths and myth-busting tips from lawn and landscaping professionals:

Myth #1: You can water your lawn and landscape any time of day.

Reality: Water is a valuable resource; make every drop count! Watering the lawn in the early mornings or evenings after sunset minimizes evaporation. It’s the best time for water to penetrate deep into the soil.

Myth #2: It’s ok to cut the grass very short.

Reality:Most landscape professionals advise against cutting more than one-third of the grass leaf at a time. Mowing at a finished cut height of 3 to 3.5 inches throughout the summer is generally recommended. The lawn will need less water, will be more resistant to weeds and will have a deeper, greener color. Use a sharp mower blade to prevent tearing grass blades. A crisp and clean cut will help prevent a “brown tip” appearance.

Myth #3: It’s best to water your lawn every day.

Reality:Watering your lawn every three days is better than daily watering. Deep, rather than shallow watering of your lawn is recommended to nurture the roots. An inch of water to 12 inches of soil is the preferred ratio for watering actively growing grass.

Myth #4: If you want to replace your lawn, you should do it in the spring when plants get ready to bloom.

Reality:The best time to sow seed is in the late summer and early fall when the temperatures are more consistent and when highly competitive weeds, like crabgrass, are at the end of their life cycle.

Myth #5: Early spring is the best time to fertilize the lawn.

Reality:Since different species of grass prefer nutrients at different times of the year, be sure to use the correct fertilizer, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. A slow-release fertilizer allows for more even and consistent feeding over a longer period of time than a quick-release fertilizer. And, remember to use fertilizers responsibly by cleaning up any that lands on streets, sidewalks or driveways where they can be washed into lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Myth #6: A garden hose is more cost efficient than installing an irrigation system.

Reality:Many landscape professionals recommend installing an irrigation system with smart controllers which have sensors that water when needed. Smart irrigation can offer a cost savings of 15–20 percent on water bills. Converting irrigation spray nozzles from sprinklers to rotating nozzles will spread heavy droplets of water at a slower pace, which makes them more targeted and effective.

Myth #7: You have to irrigate to have a healthy and beautiful lawn.

Reality:Grasses are built to endure long periods of drought by entering a state of dormancy. When temperatures and moisture levels are at their extreme, the growing point of the grass plant, the crown, will shut off the grass blades, turning them brow. In almost all instances, once the heat and drought stresses have gone, the crowns will begin to send up new shoots. There’s nothing wrong with irrigating to avoid dormancy, but “embracing the brown” for a couple of weeks in the summer is just fine too.

Source: "Myths vs. reality: How to get your lawn in top shape this spring," Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), the national trade association representing landscape professionals., Feb. 10, 2015.


The Winning Team Real Estate Group at Old Town Real Estate Co.
522 Kimbark Street • Longmont, Colorado 80501 | o:303.776.4004 • c:303.641.8597 • f:303.776.4661
Email:  Connect:  Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

The Deal of the Century??

by Cory Dudley

The Deal of the Century??


The Deal of the Century?? | Keeping Current Matters

Recently, Freddie Mac published a blog post titled Mortgage Rates: Still the Deal of the Century. They explained that, if you are planning to purchase a home, now may be the time:

“If you are in the market to buy a home, today's average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971.”

And they let their readers know that there is no guarantee that rates will remain this low:

“Over the past few years, we've enjoyed a long run of historically low mortgage rates. While no one expects them to change dramatically overnight, they are expected to head up. Most experts agree that mortgage rates will drift up in the coming months to end the year approaching 4.50%... Buying a home is a big investment – perhaps the biggest one you'll make in your life. So, it's important to be sure you are ready to make that purchase. If you are ready, today's rates are not to be missed.”

The article went on to calculate what the principal and interest payment would be based on a $200,000 fully amortizing mortgage at different times in history.

Mortgage Payments | Keeping Current Matters

Here is a look at rates over the decades:

Historic Mortgage Rates by Decade | Keeping Current Matters

Here is a look at rates over the last four years and what Freddie Mac projects for next year:

30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of buying your first home or looking to move up to your dream home, now may be the time to do it.


The Winning Team Real Estate Group at Old Town Real Estate Co.
522 Kimbark Street • Longmont, Colorado 80501 | o:303.776.4004 • c:303.641.8597 • f:303.776.4661
Email:  Connect:  Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

5 Tech Questions that Seniors Should Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent

shared from KCM - Guest Blogger Nikki Buckelew

If you have not bought or sold a home in a few years (or maybe decades) it is likely that there are more than a few new trends in real estate that you will encounter as you begin to interview real estate agents.

One particular trend now common among many real estate brokerage firms is called the practice of “going paperless.” This can be a bit scary for some people, especially senior adults who are not accustomed to using computers in their personal or professional lives.

If you are one of the many with reservations about the paperless process, you will want to talk with your agent about any concerns or questions you have. In this article we have provided some basic information about the paperless process and some key questions to ask your real estate agent.

How your agent handles your questions may just help you determine if he or she is the right agent for you!

What does it mean to go paperless?

Going paperless simply means that instead of printing out every contract, form or disclosure for your signature, you may be asked to sign certain documents electronically.

This could mean:

  1. Typing your name into a designated field included in a form (received via email)
  2. Signing your name on a digital touchpad (laptop, netbook, smartphone, etc.)

While some have experienced this type of technology before and are perfectly willing and comfortable using it, others are not. Frankly, the first time I was asked to sign a real estate document electronically via email I was a bit perplexed and required some guidance.

If you have not been exposed to this type of technology, it can seem a little overwhelming, especially if introduced to it in the midst all of the other things going on during a move. This is why it’s important to educate yourself on the front end, mitigating potential delays, avoiding unnecessary frustration, and preventing surprises down the road.

Here are 5 simple questions you should ask before you ‘sign on the dotted line’

1. How do you typically communicate with your clients (phone, email, text, instant messaging, etc.)?

Good agents know that the best method (and frequency) of communication is the one that best serves the client, so getting this agreed upon early in the relationship is paramount — for both you and the agent.

If you want to communicate strictly by phone, be sure that you and your agent agree on the protocols for leaving and returning messages, hours of availability, and which phone numbers are best for certain times of day. Similar discussion around email, text messaging, and other modes of communication should be had as well, if that is your desired method of information delivery.

2. What method(s) do you use for getting client signatures?

The goal here is to find out your options. Many agents are still in the conversion process of going paperless and they are more than willing to use “more conventional” methods of getting signatures.

Some may be required, however, by their respective brokerage firms to utilize only paperless systems. If this is the case, ask the agent to show you examples of the types of things that may be asked of you during the course of working together.

If after a quick tutorial, you aren’t comfortable with the electronic signature process, it’s “OK” to choose an agent who can better accommodate your preferences.

3. Can you assess my devices to insure they are compatible with the systems you use?

Even if you are completely prepared to enter the paperless world with no reservations whatsoever, it can only be done if you have the right equipment. Before agreeing to a paperless process, ask the agent to do a “test run” using a non-official/non-binding document on your system to insure its functionality.

4. Will you provide technical support if I am not “techy” and need some help?

My dad (self described “non-techy” and proud of it), has a computer, printer, smart phone, email address, and wifi. He does not, however, have the faintest idea how they work or how to pull up attachments in his email.

When he decided to purchase a new home this past year using a reverse mortgage, the lender was located out of state, which meant everything was done via email — electronically. Needless to say, I was dad’s tech support in this situation. If you do not have a trusted advisor who can help you with troubleshooting potential technology issues, make sure your agent or their staff is capable, patient, and willing to personally walking you through the steps.

5. Are you flexible if I choose to use phone and paper over electronic communication and documentation?

Options are the key. While some agents are extremely flexible in how they deliver their services, others may be married to a very specific process or style. Insure the agent you are considering is willing and able to do what is right for you, based on your comfort level, knowledge, and ability.

Bottom Line

It goes without saying that it is critical to have the conversation with your real estate professional about their paperless processes and communication methods.

Not only will doing so put your mind at ease regarding unfamiliar territory, but it may also provide your agent with necessary information so he or she can serve you more effectively.

The Winning Team Real Estate Group at Old Town Real Estate Co.
522 Kimbark Street • Longmont, Colorado 80501 | o:303.776.4004 • c:303.641.8597 • f:303.776.4661
Email:  Connect:  Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4