|Tax time (and maybe spring) is right around the corner.|
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
It is that time of year again, that many dread....tax time!
This year you have until April 15, 2013 to file your taxes in the United States. Let's make 2013 the year that you do not have to file an extension.
For easy organizing of tax related paperwork, I recommend three basic files:
1) Annual Tax File
This can be as simple as a box or hanging file folder labeled "2012 Taxes". Employers and financial institutions are required to send financial statements (such as W2s and 1099s) by January 31st, while brokerage houses have a later deadline. While you are at it, make a file for 2013 as well, so you can place items inside (such as donation or property tax receipts) as they occur throughout the year.
2) Flexible Spending Account File
If you do not participate in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or similar program with your employer, skip ahead to item number 3. If you do participate in an FSA, be sure to organize and submit all of your claims before the grace period (typically 2.5 months) ends for your plan. This will prevent you from losing your pretax funds contributed to the account.
3) Medical Expense File
This can be the most complex of the three tax files listed here, particularly if you have enough medical expenses to deduct from your taxes. There are many ways to organize a medical expense file. A three ring binder for each family member, organized by service date (i.e. the date you went to the doctor) is generally the easiest way. You can tally out of pocket expenses on paper in each binder or create an expense category using a computerized tool such as Microsoft Excel or Quicken.
If you have specific questions regarding taxes, always consult with a tax expert, such as a CPA.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
With Valentine's Day tomorrow, I thought this was a great time to share these holiday shopping tips originally published on Valentine's Day 2006.
Here are a few brief tips to avoid the stress and rush of last minute shopping:
1) Birthdays---Write all important birthdays of loved ones in your calendar. This can be done once a year if you purchase paper calendars. If you use an electronic calendar this only needs to be done once. Set a time once a month to shop for cards or gifts.
2) Weddings/Showers/Etc.---When you receive the invitation, take a moment to mark your calendar and RSVP. While you have your calendar handy, set a time to shop on-line or in store for a gift. For best selection on gift registries, shop soon after you receive the invitation.
3) Major Holidays (Christmas/Hanukkah/Etc.)---Shopping year round can be a great way to reduce stress and spread out the expense, but only if you keep the items in one place AND keep a detailed record of what you purchase for whom. I have worked with many clients that forgot about their year round purchases and ended up shopping at the last minute anyway.
Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. Do you need to conquer the clutter in your closet? Carolyn will be presenting "Conquer Your Closet" through Ann Arbor Rec and Ed on Friday, March 15, 2013. Register with Ann Arbor Rec and Ed.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Who among us does not struggle to keep on top of paper clutter? An IDC survey from 2007 discovered that 95% of all information is still processed in paper form; with 45 sheets of paper being printed on average each day per employee (source: www.napo.net).
It takes a great deal of determination and a few simple habits to conquer paper clutter at home and at work. Here are your new habits to implement:
1) Sort Daily
Take 5 to 10 minutes every day to sort through any paper that has come into your space. In the workplace, I recommend doing this at a set interval such as first thing in the morning, at lunch time or in your last hour at work. At home, I like to sort through the mail and the kids papers around dinner time. The idea here is to eliminate all the unnecessary items (i.e. junk) and deal with anything that takes two minutes or less.
2) File Immediately
If your sort has resulted in items to file, such as monthly statements, go ahead and file those items immediately. This should take two minutes or less if you have the files set up already. If you do not have files set up, setting up a file should be part of your next habit, act weekly.
3) Act Weekly
This habit is primarily for the home, as work items will typically need to be acted upon according to deadline and priority. Set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour at least once a week to work on and eliminate your action items. If your schedule is flexible, you might opt for 15 minutes several times a week. Your action time might include paying bills, sending an RSVP or setting up files.
If you need a little extra help getting a hold on paper clutter, please contact Carolyn to schedule a complementary telephone consultation and be your best in 2013.
Carolyn Anderson-Fermann is a public speaker, organizing expert and founder of Simply Organized Life. Would you like to learn how to keep your family organized? Carolyn will be presenting "Organize Your Family" through Ann Arbor Rec and Ed on Friday, February 8, 2013. Register with Ann Arbor Rec and Ed.