That pesky end-of-the-year Tax Stuff Organization

How many of you dread that end of the year thing where you are scrambling around trying to corral all the papers you need to file your taxes? Wow! That’s too many of you!

When my Hubby retired from the State Police a few years ago, we started up a small construction/rental company, and you guessed it – as much as I ADHORE numbers, I became a make-shift accountant. My life has become my biggest nightmare!

Before Hubby retired, he also trawled (we live in Southern Louisiana and it’s what you do) to supplement our income. It was at this time, being the organizer I am, that I set up our accounts in an organized manner – that is, I destroyed his old filing system (a shoe box – literally!) If you fall into the category of small business owner and your files are not huge and complicated, my system will work for you. It will also work if you just need to hold on to a few things in order to make deductions.

I currently use Quickbooks on the computer, but in the beginning, all I used was a ledger sheet and it worked beautifully. To set yourself up, you will need a three-ring binder (choose an appealing color and you’ll be much more likely to continue this practice – I know, I like pretty.) You will need either plastic dividers or plastic divider folders (Avery makes these). I prefer folders because they are easier to put the papers in. They come in a multitude of colors and you will need enough for year (12) and a couple of extras. Next up is labels (or not – you can handwrite on the dividers) and an expandable file (for year’s end.) And, in case I forget – did I mention how economical this filing system is? It is! You may have most of the supplies already lying around the house.

Recap:

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3-ring binder, separating receipts at end of month
  • 3-ring binder (at least 2-3″)
  • plastic divider pockets
  • labels
  • expandable file

When I first set up my file, I used a label maker and labeled each folder with a month. I then put the folders in the binder with December on top and worked my way back. I did originally set it up with January in the front, but as the year progresses, the files are harder to turn. Trust me here, December to January with the extra files in the front. I use the unlabeled folders for pending items or when I need a reminder to handle something, etc. You may or may not use these every year.

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January cover page – type near the bottom of the page

Place one empty folder at the back. You will file the bills here that you do not need for tax deductions – power, water, gas, etc. These bills you can toss at the end of each year. Just file the new month in front of the old to keep them in order in the event you need to quickly find it. In the other files – monthly – you will file the bills and items that you use for deductions.

I put the electricity and water bills for Hubby’s workshop, fuel bill, phone and internet bills, etc. that are deductible along with their payment record. I also file his invoices and payments as well as a Profit & Loss sheet and the bank statement. I do not file bank statements separately because they are available on-line should you need one. I file these along with all the tax-deductible items in an expandable folder at the end of the year, mark the year on it and file it away.

At the end of the month, once the bank statement is reconciled, I print the month’s Profit & Loss and then pull all of the papers from the folder. I corral all of the fuel receipts and other little receipts and staple them together and then paperclip all of the papers together and attached the “January” page, and put them back in the folder until the end of the year.

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You will then fold over short edge (typing at bottom)

I continue this procedure for each month. At the end of the year, each month is taken from the folder and placed in the yearly file (expandable file) and labeled along with the yearly Profit & Loss sheet, and all 1099s. That’s it. I am ready for the accountant.

I also have the same set up for our business files for our company. We build rental houses and each house has its own file because we frequently reference the costs of items as we purchase them again. It is much easier to pull a house file than to start digging through receipts in a folder. I tried a couple of different ways of organizing before I developed this system that is tailored for our needs. Other than the house files, all other receipts, etc. are filed according to month. In the business binder, I also keep a supply of checks for when I need them. It is much easier than having to grab the huge check box every time I need a check – which isn’t often because I use on-line bill pay at the bank.

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Papers gathered with cover sheet folded over and clipped

The last part of my filing system happens after we’ve been to the accountant. I take the files he provides me with after filing our taxes and these go in the front of the expandable file before the file is packed away.

Well – this is my system. It is a very quick and easy system to use. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment. I’ll try to answer them as best I can. My motto is why make something complicated when you don’t have to. Work efficiently. You’ll have more time to play.

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Papers ready to place back in monthly file

A note: This post is only about my tax keeping system. There is a lot more to the day-to-day business operations that require additional files. You know – those pesky pending payment files and licenses to be paid files. That is all for another day!

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File back in monthly folder until end of year
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Time Management Follow-up

Is that a catchy title that makes you want to read this post? No. I guess not. But, in my defense, my brain is a little fried from doing the number thing all day. My business computer crashed a couple of weeks ago and spent some time visiting the Geek Squad. While it was having a vacation, I was having to pay bills and conjure up make-shift invoices.

Now, the computer is back, safe and sound, and with its data fully restored which means I’ve been hard at work inputting numbers and more numbers, and did I say NUMBERS?!! I am a confessed numberfobic (I think I just invented that word.) I do not even count change, I break a dollar – yes, I am one of those. Please do not ask me to do math without a calculator and someone to help. Seriously!

Did I mention I had my computer back with all its data? I think I did. That’s all it had. I’m not complaining, well, maybe a little. It has been an adventure to say the least to get my computer up and running – even with all its data. I had data, but no Quickbooks to pull the data into any order. I had data, but no Microsoft Word, in which to read the data. I was on a mad hunt for several days trying to locate a Microsoft Office 2007, which is the only thing that would work on my computer. Someone finally located one for me on eBay and it is now ensconced on my computer and I’ve been updating lease agreements and excel spreadsheets for the past two long days.

Considering the amount of time that I spent googling trying to find something compatible (I can beat a dead horse like nobody’s mama), please do me a favor and do not tell me of an easier way that I could have installed or located Microsoft Office. I truly do NOT want to know. It would NOT make my day.

I digress. Getting back to the topic at hand – time management – it sort of worked today, or would have worked today – had it not been for Hubby needing to stop at the bank on his way to the job site, and him not deciding that until this morning. So, instead of getting up at my set time and doing my morning routine before sitting down at the computer, I was immediately thrust into a work environment and have been there ever since.

Since I spent most of the day doing business work and not writing, I am taking a break and writing. It is so nice to be finished with numbers for a couple of days – it’s Southern Louisiana and if you haven’t heard, we are in the midst of a winter storm. This is unusual for this part of the country, so the area is virtually shut-down – at least says the sheriff and parish president.

There is a curfew and I think the only reason people are adhering to the curfew is because it is actually frigid outside. People are out in hurricanes around here so you can safely say it must be the cold keeping them in. Even my two German Shepherds are nesting down in the garage. They wouldn’t even go out to potty!

Texting and Facebook and Tweeting haven’t taken a break though! I’ve had friends and family texting videos and pictures of snow to me all day long. lt’s a virtual winter wonderland elsewhere while here it is a sleeting frozen mess. That’s how I  know I’m finished with numbers (did I mention how much I hate numbers?) for a couple of days. No one is going anywhere, unless it’s an emergency.

UPS dropped a pillow off yesterday. Keep up now. I change subjects fast – whether writing or talking (ask anyone who knows me. It doesn’t mean I’m not waiting for your answer, because I am, but while I wait I have a hundred other things I need to say.) I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I had ordered that could come in such a big box. Turns out it was a pillow, a heavy pillow. I had forgotten that a company had contacted me to review their pillow. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to review products on my blog, but after they contacted me for the fourth time, I figured why not. It’s a free pillow and the emails will stop. I have to admit, I will be reviewing this pillow. I had the best night’s sleep last night – ever.  (So companies? Keep those request coming in.)

The Emily + Meritt Icon Needlepoint Pillow
The Emily + Meritt Icon Needlepoint Pillow (Photo credits: PB Teen)

I normally sleep on a feather pillow. I love to punch and push and fluff my pillow and then sink into it to sleep. I am hard on pillows. This is a pillow that is made of rubber pieces and made to feel like a feather pillow – only much MUCH heavier. I smashed and punched and fluffed and then sank into it for a great night’s sleep. I like this pillow. So…I’ll be promoting this pillow quite soon!

My electric blanket quit working this fall, or more accurately, my control (dual controls) stopped working. I have always been very careful with the controls, making sure they didn’t knock against the bed posts (four poster bed), etc. Then, one day it happened. The control literally barely knocked the bed post. Evidently, it was looking for a reason to take a nice long rest because it quit working.

The blanket is old enough now that replacement controls are non-existent – so says the abrupt woman who answered the phone at the company I called. She then informed me I could purchase the same product directly from them for a cheaper price that I could purchase the same blanket (which they sold) from Lands’ End. She was a little pushy and asked me why would I want to purchase from LE when she would give me the website and a 20% coupon off of a new blanket. Because of her attitude, I was really leaning toward hanging up the phone not ordering the product, but I took down the information and headed over to the website to check out the products.

I’m kind of glad I did. Instead of purchasing another blanket, I purchased an electric heated mattress pad. Oh My Goodness! This is so much better than a blanket. Because the heat is between you and the mattress, once you turn it off, you stay warm ALL night. Seriously! The blanket always cooled off quickly and I am thinking it is because it is exposed to the cool air. I look forward to going to bed at night when it’s cold. The heated pad also acts like a heating pad and that feels great on my back.

That’s about it for me today. Tomorrow, I am back on the wagon as far as the Time management Schedule. I really enjoyed my schedule on Monday. I had my day mapped out and it wasn’t stressful. I was able to accomplish everything I wanted to, even with the chaos caused by the business I had to take care of.

Hubby has just finished peeling and chopping apples. I think I’m being summoned to the kitchen to cook something good, so that’s it for tonight.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? I just love when readers leave a comment, so feel free to say hello!

In the event you are interested in purchasing an electric blanket or mattress pad, this is the information I used. I am not affiliated with the company, nor do I receive a commission. I just like the product – so far.

Pillows, Pads, and More

8501 Tower Point Drive
Charlotte, North Carolina 28227
United States
Phone866-522-7219
Web site:http://www.pillowspadsandmore.com

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It’s all about life – Tuesdays with Donna, A Little Southern Comfort

It’s Tuesday. Welcome to a Little Southern Comfort here on My Life. Just so happens today is also my birthday. I found myself wishing it didn’t fall on this day because I write my column on Tuesdays. While most people enjoy celebrating their birthdays, I do not. It has nothing to do with age. I am now 56 years old. See – no problem. My not celebrating my birthday has to do with life.

If I celebrated my birthday, I would find myself making a wish as I blew out a candle; and because we all want that proverbial wish to come true, we tend to wish for something that will come true. You have to admit that we all hedge our bets. I can’t do that. I would wish for my two daughters to put their anger aside and to be part of my life, an honest part with no pretense. I have wished and prayed for just that for seventeen years. It hasn’t happened. And so, this is why some birthdays, theirs and mine, are bittersweet.

Yesterday was my sister, Debbie’s, birthday. She lost a battle with Leukemia at age seven. I was five at the time, and as anyone who has lost someone dear to them will tell you, the loss never goes away. And, although I have my very own angel in Heaven, the gloom lurks near by.

As Tuesday was approaching, I didn’t think I’d have much to write about this week, but turns out, things began happening. I’m still trying to navigate my way around my new Mac Air. I have to admit that by Saturday night, I was wishing I had left it on the Apple tree (so did everyone else!) I was attempting to use Quickbooks for Mac. photo (7)I’ve been using Quickbooks on my PC for about six years now and easy peasy. On my Mac, I had a menu strip down the side of my screen as well as a menu across the top and then the open page in the center. Once I figured out what was going on (just as I was picking up the phone to dial Quickbooks help) everything made sense.

Then, I had to close the file and finding it again proved to be a scavenger hunt. After a few texts to a friend, I managed to not only locate the file but even move it to another folder. Thanks Jessica! Yeah Me!

I have another good friend whose little boy started school this year. He has a few developmental problems and his little immune system is compromised. This means she needs to stay nearby in the event another of his classmates is sick and she will need to pick her little boy up so he doesn’t get sick. We haven’t been able to have lunch together for a while so I told her we needed to do breakfast instead. What fun! She came over and we had fun that only two chocoholics and puff pasty addicts could have. We wrapped chocolate in puff pastry, put it in the oven, and sat down to wait – impatiently! When the pastries came out of the oven, we sprinkled – okay, dumped – the confectioner’s sugar on them and then laughed like only kids can do. It was the best breakfast and visit. We’ll have to do that again soon Lynette!

We almost had a hurricane blow through. Call me crazy, but Hubby and I both attribute our good fortune to all the people on the bayou praying the “Hurricane Season Prayer” that gets prayed every Sunday in mass. We live in Southern Louisiana about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans and all the rain was on the east. God listens when two or more are gathered. The proof is in the pudding!

My cousins that have been in from Georgia came to visit on Friday. They left on Sunday to go back to the place on top of the mountain they now call home. I miss them already. I pass their house in New Orleans every time I head into the city to Ochsner for a doctor appointment or blood work and I could always count on calling and saying, “I’m passing by, want company?” I am quite lucky to have them in my life, even if it’s not as often as before. I really miss the great meals I was served on those days.

The tide has been high due to the disturbance in the gulf and on Sunday the bayou was finally beginning to flow back south. Water lilies were floating by in droves and as Hubby was checking his crab traps, a few came close enough to the wharf to snag a few blooms. They are really pretty and I love sitting on the swing behind the boat house photo (2)watching them float by. It is very peaceful if you can tune out the traffic.  There will be pictures if I can figure out where they are on the computer. That’s makes me laugh, because I hit download and they disappeared. (Obviously, I did find the pictures.) I am also wondering why it was so easy to find them. Someone is playing a trick on me.  I am also including a picture of the bayou. So many people do not know what a bayou is and we get asked that question frequently. In other parts of the country, it is called a river or a stream, etc. Here in the South, it is called a bayou.

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It is also pecan season, at least in our yard. We have a pecan tree that produces every two years. And, of course, Hubby decides to check to see if the the steady wind that has been blowing has knocked any to the ground. I say this because we are on our way back from the boat house and there is no container except our pockets to put them in! photo 4photo 3

I am also including a picture of Calypso and Ryka (laying down sleeping) sitting guard at the base of the tree. We had a squirrel for the first time this year and they know it’s up there. For someone who chases her tail and can’t sit still, Calypso is

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holding a quiet vigil waiting…

According to my planner, I have books to read for review so that’s My Life for this week. Hope you’ll stop  by again next Tuesday for a visit.

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