Thursday, March 14, 2013

Time-Saver Tips--Tax and Otherwise

      My sister Judy and her husband sold their home a few months ago and put most of their belongings in storage, including tax-related papers.  She found most of their tax papers because they were filed in a file cabinet drawer.  Home-improvement receipts, however, challenged Judy for different reasons.  She thought of a couple ideas to avoid future time consuming searches and deciphering of receipts used for tax preparation or other purposes:

1.  Write the home-improvement project on the sales slip such as:  drywall to patch a garage wall; tile for a shower; or paint for the kitchen, etc.  Also include the item name when not printed on the receipt. File with other tax papers.

2.  Make a copy of the annotated receipt right away because print on some types of paper fades over time and become unreadable, then useless. Staple the original receipt to the copy.

Additional tips:

3.  Organize your receipts and other tax documents in a notebook with slash pockets (it's easy to see and      pull out needed documents). Label each  folder with type of document filed (W-2s, Medical, Mileage, etc). Keep the notebook in a handy location and file items upon receipt.

4.  Read the store's "Return Policy" on sales receipts for clothing, electronics, paint, and sports equipment, etc., then write the "Return By Date" on the top of the receipt. Return policies vary from store to store and most have exceptions for return of holiday, seasonal, discontinued, and/or clearance merchandise.

5.  Affix the sales receipt to the outside of the store bag (staple or use non-damaging tape), and keep the item in the bag until it gets used or returned.

Use the tips noted above and avoid wasting time hunting for receipts and non-readable receipts.  Return of unused, unwanted, or unneeded gadgets, garments, or gear will be quick and easy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What Inspires You?

Family, friends, flowers, and organizing make me happy.  My sister Robin gave me two small hardy Cyclamen plants two years ago.  When I finally planted them in the ground, their flowers were long gone....I wondered if they would survive.  The following February, I was pleasantly surprised that the two bulbs had survived and multiplied, and then delighted me with their lovely flowers.  Robin owns Hansen Nursery and specializes in hardy Cyclamen, which she grows from seed with great care, and then ships across the United States.

This year, in early February my white Snowdrops bloomed first, then the white and pink Cyclamen, and now my purple and yellow Crocus.  Even though Spring officially begins March 20, 2013, Spring arrives for me when I see the these three plants emerge and produce flowers...along with a day like last Sunday.  I was inspired by the plants' colors and warmth of the day to tend to my flowerbed inhabitants.

While soaking up the sun and working with garden tools in our flowerbeds, I thought about the many "tools" we use to manage our lives.  I suppose my mind drifted to this topic for two reasons:  Scrapbook Club members requested information about management of financial documents after my recent presentation about basic organizing skills; and I wanted to share the information I discovered by writing a blog post.     

Internet search led to this great website,; it includes two articles:  Managing Household Records and roadmap for important papers.  The first lists financial documents and how long you need to keep each.  The second worksheet, when completed, provides your family with your personal information, from your accountant's whomever has keys to your home—to help you out in case of emergency.