A Few Tips for Organizing Taxes

While it’s not the most glamorous topic, we’re smack dab in the midst of tax season. In fact, they’re due on Monday. So I thought it would be helpful to share a few tips on how to get organized and stay streamlined moving forward. >

{ONE} Create a special space

This is my closet-turned-home-office space. You may remember the makeover post from awhile back? I’ve loved having this area and use those file folders on the left for collecting all kinds of paperwork – like receipts for my taxes.

Nothing is more stressful than getting to tax season and not knowing where all of those important documents and receipts are located. For many people, they’re in a pile with the bills or they’re “filed” in a teetering stack of papers on your desk.

First and foremost, it helps to create a space for yourself – even if it’s a file folder on your desk – to collect and store important tax documents. Ideally you’d use this space throughout the year. If you itemize your taxes and/or have a freelance business or other small business, you’ve probably already started gathering paperwork for next year’s taxes. So now’s the time to get ahead of the game.

{TWO} Make it pretty

You might need to motivate yourself to actually use the space you’ve set aside with pretty files. Here are some beautiful floral folders that are pretty enough to frame for your walls. <3

{THREE} Label appropriately

You can save yourself loads of time come tax season just by strategically labeling your files according to what you can deduct from your taxes, such as medical bills, education, donations, etc. It’s one of those simple, but significant difference makers.

If you create a folder for each category that applies to your home or personal business, it’s so much easier to tally everything up at the end of the year. And you can use these pretty file tabbies above compliments of Sissyprint!

Here’s a list of the most common deductions to guide you along.

{FOUR} Go digital

One of the best ways to declutter your desk (without just tossing everything) is to convert receipts, quarterly reports, statements and any other paperwork to digital files. If you’re given the option to receive a digital copy of these items, go for it. And be smart about how you store and backup these files on a hard drive.

If you’re given hard copies of anything, consider using a mobile app, such as Shoeboxed. It’s a receipt tracking and organization tool that scans receipts with your phone’s camera and instantly archives and extracts details such as vendor, amount paid and date. The cool thing is that it’s IRS-accepted, which eliminates bookkeeping headaches down the road. I’m sure there are others, but this is one I’m most familiar with.

{FIVE} Toss it out

Once your taxes are filed and you’re (possibly) waiting for a little cash return, the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to keep all of that paperwork or find a place to store your digital documents. It’s perfectly acceptable to go through and toss certain files.

Here to guide you is this super helpful article I found. It gives us a checklist of what tax records you should keep and what you can go ahead and shred. >

Good luck pulling your paperwork together. I hope it’s a smooth and easy process. See you on Friday with some fun discoveries of the week.




Friday Wrap: Adulting Like a Champ

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you really feel like an adult – even though you’ve officially been an adult for many, many years? That was me…this week.

I was in “get ‘er done” mode, and checked tons of things off my to-do list. Many of those things were very grown up, too, like prepping for taxes and getting an energy audit on the house.

Before you start yawning, though, check out some of the highlights from the week. Adulting can be way more interesting than expected.

{ONE} Updated Front Door Decor

This was by far the most fun project on my list, so we’ll start here. Easing into things.

I decided it was time to take down the “Happy New Year” message on my front door and replace it with something else seasonal – like a heart for Valentine’s Day!

I actually made this, y’all!! 

My inspiration came from this wreath. But when I looked for a heart-shaped form, I couldn’t find one…anywhere. I ventured into the “Valentine” aisle of Hob Lob, which is 40% off right now, and I found this wooden plaque. #bingo

First, I made bunches of burlap rosettes using this tutorial >>

I skipped step #8 since I was gluing these directly onto a flat surface.

And this is a closeup of what mine looked like.

Once I had all of my burlap blooms ready, I hot glued them onto the wooden sign. I had to overlap a few of them so you couldn’t see the wooden sign underneath.

Tip: Wear an old pair of gardening gloves when using your hot glue gun so you don’t burn the ever-living prints right off of your fingers. Speaking from experience.

The final step was adding a pretty pink ribbon to the top of the heart and calling it good & pretty!! (Then peeling the glue from your throbbing fingers if you forgot the gloves.)

{TWO} Completed an Energy Audit

Now this is where we get to the real adulting.

We have a few drafty rooms in our house, and our electric bills seem pretty high, so I’ve always been interested in having our energy company come out and do an audit.

They’re totally free, but they do take several hours. And you need to be there to see all of the things that need fixed…or in our case, caulked!!!

If your window ledges have cracks like this, you can apply caulk so you’re not leaking precious hot (or cold) air out of your home.

The whole process was super educational. For instance, I learned that the five recessed lights in our kitchen, which have incandescent bulbs, cost us $6/month in energy alone. LED lights only need 1/4 of that amount. And that was just one example. I literally have two pages of notes!!

When the energy people left, they gave me a free kit that included three tubes of caulking (thank you very much), a package of weather stripping, LED lightbulbs, and all kinds of other odds and ends.

This is just a small sample of the energy-saving stuff they gave me…for FREE!

I highly recommend going through one of these. It’s definitely worth the time.

{THREE} Prepped for Taxes

Taxes stink. There’s no way around them, though. So the best we can do is try to be organized, right?

I keep folders in our home office (remember that sweet little nook?) where I collect “all things tax related” throughout the year.

Sometimes having pretty folders helps me stay more organized.

We itemize our taxes, so our receipts from donations, business expenses, medical expenses, etc. all go into files as we collect them.

When it comes time (like right now) for year end statements, W2s and other important tax stuff that comes in the mail, I can simply add them to our files. And then we’re ready to rock our meeting with the accountant in no time at all.

Tip: H&R Block does our taxes, and they provide a handy envelope that includes a checklist on the outside. If you don’t already have something similar, you can download a checklist here.

{FOUR} Organized the Coat Closet

I have been so frustrated by our coat closet lately. I mean, look at it. >>

Coats were falling off their hangers and hats, gloves, and scarves were spilling out of bins on the overhead shelf.

Side note, I gave myself a half-point of credit for having bins in the first place. But we obviously didn’t use them very well.

I spent a quick 20 minutes organizing. And I promise it was only this long, because that’s all of the time I had between unpacking groceries and running to get the kids from school.

Here’s what went down. >>

  1. Removed all of the coats we never wear and bagged them for donations.
  2. Hung all of the remaining coats the same direction and picked out all of the white hangers. That instantly created a uniform and clean look!
  3. Dumped all of the hats, gloves, scarves and other misc. items on the floor and matched/sorted.
  4. Found a shoe caddy and stashed all of the newly sorted items inside.
  5. Got rid of the mismatched bins (overhead) and narrowed them down to three clear bins.
  6. Lastly, I put some of the odds and ends, like rain ponchos and detachable hoods, inside the upper bins.

Look at the instant transformation just with the same color hangers – and coats hanging the same direction.

A hanging shoe caddy is perfect for storing small items like gloves and mittens!

I put things we don’t use very often, like rain ponchos, in the matching overhead bins.

Now hopefully I won’t feel so embarrassed when guests need a place to hang their coats. Welcome to my closet nirvana, everyone!

{FIVE} Joined a Book Group

This is a legit book group, too, that’s organized through a church in our area. (So I probably won’t be making 3-gallons of sangria for this gathering) Lol!

This is a 12-week course about Calming My Anxious Heart. And heaven knows I could use some of that. Just going around the circle at our fist meeting and having to share about ourselves made me feel off-the-charts anxious. (Am I the only weirdo who feels that way?!)

Our first gathering was on Tuesday, and so far so goodish. I’ve been challenged to memorize scripture and uncover the secrets to contentment. All things I’ve never done before. But I’m sticking with my plan to stay “open” this year.

And, I’ve decided to keep this verse near over the next 12 weeks…

After such a productive, grown up week, I can’t wait for a weekend full of movies, board games, girl talk, family snuggles and a few glasses of wine with my sweet B.

I hope you have a playful weekend planned, too!