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Posts Tagged ‘tax season’

When it comes to locating an important family document, do you dig furiously through a disaster of haphazard files to get to it?  Do you wish you had an easier way to file your home’s documents without reinventing the wheel?  There is no way to tell you exactly how to create and organize files for your home, since your filing system will be unique to your family.  But there is a guide from Home Storage Solutions 101 to help you get started.Some typical home file categories to consider making files for include:

  • Medical file for each family member
  • Home maintenance file, with receipts of major expenditures
  • Real estate documents
  • Insurance policies (create a file for each one, and label each year’s policy separately, to know what years you were covered with what policies)
  • Automobile documents (separate file for each car)
  • Credit card documents (this is different than the file for credit card bills, and should contain the agreement, privacy policies, etc. that you get in the mail) (one file for each card)
  • Banking records (one file for each account at each bank)
  • Loan documents (one file for each loan)
  • Investment records (one file for each investment, 401(k), IRA, etc.
  • Vital documents (such as birth and marriage certificates, will, etc.)*
  • Personal home inventory (another copy should be kept outside the house too)
  • Tax documents (instructions for organizing these found in the personal home organizer and receipt organization challenge
  • Monthly bills and receipts (instructions for organizing these found in theorganize bills challenge
  • Warranties and manuals (more information on organizing warranties and manuals here)


* Vital documents may also be stored in a safe deposit box at a bank, instead, if you wish. Seriously consider this if you don’t, at least, have a fire resistant file cabinet or storage system for these papers.

Once you’ve created your file folders, go ahead and organize files for each of the categories, adding things as you go. Over the next couple of weeks sit down with a shredder and go through your papers, putting them into the correct files or shredding them if you no longer need them.  Don’t go too overboard trying to create the perfect system– avoid fancy printable labels you have to replicate every time you create a new file.  Just make friends with your Sharpie and that will be easier in the long run.

It will take a while, but a little at a time while listening to the radio or watching a movie on your computer will get the job done and then you’ll just have to deal with papers as they come in, not huge stacks ever again!

Tension

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The tax man has cometh…praise the Lord! Did you feel the weight of the world lift from your shoulders as you put the envelope into the mailbox?  Interesting coincidence that April just happens to be Stress-Awareness Month. Studies show how stress is linked to heart disease and high blood pressure, and also contributes to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviors. JCL doesn’t like stress–we are here to make your life easier and stress free!  It’s a good goal!

As adults we’ve all learned some coping mechanisms–hopefully some that don’t include a bottle of Merlot.  My personal favorite is a nice hot bath with some candles. It’s like my own personal Nestea plunge and I can practically see the steam rising from the water as my body slips down into the water. One of the things I try to be mindful of is that my emotions are like sneezes–they are contagious.  If I’m stressed, I’m likely passing that energy off onto other people. My co-workers certainly don’t need to feel my stress, but it happens. It’s probably worse if we try to bottle it up inside. If you are a parent, think about the effects your post-work stress might be doing to your kids. Do you come home at night and vent about the boss all through dinner or grab a glass of wine and a cigarette and go into solitary confinement? As we perused the stats of the Self Assess to Fight the Stress! blog, we came across some startling information on adolescent stress.  As adults, a majority of our stress and/or anxiety comes from unmet expectations of a spouse or boss, but children are predominantly affected by change.  Kids (like the rest of us) have to cope with major life events. These events don’t have to be negative to be stressful, but its always helpful to be mindful of these changes so we can help our children transition as smoothly as possible.  Typical sources of stress may include:

  • Parent having problems
  • Fight with a friend or a sibling
  • Taking a test
  • Wondering if someone thinks you’re attractive (teens especially)
  • Not having enough privacy
  • Birth of a brother or sister
  • Moving to a new school
  • Re/marriage of a parent
  • Not having enough money (try not to talk about your money problems in front of the kids!)
  • A teacher who doesn’t like you

According to Sabine Hack, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, the impact of a stressor depends on a child’s personality, maturity, and style of coping. It is not always obvious, however, when children are feeling overtaxed. Children often have difficulty describing exactly how they feel. Instead of saying “I feel overwhelmed” they might say “my stomach hurts.” When some children are stressed they cry, become aggressive, talk back or become irritable. Others may behave well but become nervous, fearful, or panicky.  Thankfully, parents can help their children learn to keep the harmful effects of stress to a minimum by…

  1. Parents should monitor their own stress levels.  In studies on families who have experienced traumatic circumstances such as earthquakes or war, the best predictor of children’s coping is how well their parents cope. Parents need to be particularly aware of when their own stress levels contribute to marital conflict.
  1. Keep communication lines open. Kids feel better about themselves when they have a good relationship with their parents. There’s a fine line, however, between being a parent and a friend so be careful.
  1. Encourage close friendships. Children who do not have close friendships are at risk for developing stress- related difficulties, parents should encourage friendships by      scheduling play dates, sleepovers, and other fun activities.
  1. Parents need to shape daily schedules with their child’s temperament in mind. Although children thrive in familiar, predictable environments with established routines and clear safe boundaries, their tolerance for stimulation varies.
  1. No matter how busy their schedule, children of all ages (including us grown kids) need time to play and relax. Children use play to learn about their world, explore ideas and soothe themselves.

As much as we’d love to protect all children from life’s ups and downs, its important to remember that daily challenges are important steps in their development.  As Mary Tyler Moore said, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.”  Help cultivate your kids to be “brave” with all that daily life has in store, and remember that your kids are watching how you deal with stress.  Deep breaths, long baths, quiet time, and an occasional glass of Merlot!  Life just got easier!

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Tax season is upon us…yikes!  As you dutifully dig up old receipts and gather your tax documents, do you find yourself wishing you had a better system—better than crumpled receipts at the bottom of your brief case or floor board?  There’s always room for improvement.

If one of the reasons you are burrowing receipts at the bottom of your purse is because you don’t have a proper work space due to space constraints, how about a stylish/functional desk that allows you to tuck your work away when the work day ends? If that’s the case, try the “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”approach.  There’s nothing like a smart storage solutions to perk up your productivity.

Your desk will always be waiting when you need it!

Take heed, however, out of sight, out of mind may work for your class assignment, but it won’t work for the tax man.  Even if you’re running at full steam, take time at the end of each day to empty your receipts and/or log your mileage (if applicable).  Keep a storage bin or basket near your work area, and get into the habit of ending your day by clearing your wallet and/or purse of necessary tax paperwork.  At the end of the week or month, categorize and file away.  The key is to stay on top of it.  Mole hills will quickly become mountains if you don’t have a system—any system—that keeps you from dealing with a year’s supply of paperwork in one day.

If you’re still not feeling it, incorporate some color!  There are so many fun, colorful office products out now—clearly some women got into the industry—use liberally.  You’ll be surprise how much more fun sorting receipts can be with a bright, color-coded system.  So much better!  Bring on the tax man!

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