..........Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com.........

Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Greeting Card Organization

How do you organize your greeting cards? Do you just keep them tossed in a drawer and try to remember who has a birthday when? There is a better way!

You can make or purchase a greeting card organizer. One in a binder that has 12 pages with pockets. Each pocket page represents a month in the year. On the pocket you make a note of who has a birthday within that month. You put birthday cards in the pockets as you purchase them. Then, at the beginning of each month, you check your greeting card organizer and make out the cards that need to go out that month. Put them in the mail!

Or you can set birthday reminders in your daytimer or on your computer. Then keep all your greeting cards in a box, filed by subject such as "Birthday", "Thank You", "Thinking of You", "Anniversary", "Graduation", "Sympathy", "Get Well", "Congratulations", "Blank Cards".

Stan's Saturday Morning

What happened to Stan today as he was working in the yard!

He pulled his foot out of his book, had to raise the trailer at the hitch and wiggle it around until it rolled again off his boot. (It's a very heavy trailer.) He finally got the last root up and then got the ditch digger unloaded only to find that the tire was flat so he had to load it back up and take it back to be fixed. Now he's lost his whole morning. He gets so frustrated!

Yard Work

Last Sunday Stan and Luke worked on pulling up bushes in the front yard. They are old and gnarly and some are dying so we are wiping the slate clean. But it was too much for the tractor.

So one of Luke's friend's brought his small Bobcat and finished pulling up all the bushes. While the yard is in transition we decided to put in an irrigation system in the front yard and a small patio off the front porch with a walkway around to the side of the house where the driveway is. Then we will plant another crepe myrtle tree to shade that side of the house and some flowers. We aren't going to replace all the bushes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Filing System For Home Offices

Developing a filing system for your home files is important. Organizing has to include filing whether you are filing recipes, filing different printer paper (8 1/2 x 11 photo, 4 x 6 photo, 8 1/2 x 11, legal, brochure), filing your children's artwork, filing photographs, filing financial papers, etc. So developing a file system for your home is essential. Here are some filing tips from me to help you get started.

There are two types of files:

1. Active files that hold materials which are regularly referred throughout the year; and
2. Permanent files which are rarely referred to but contain records we are required to retain, such as tax and legal records. Permanent files contain things like birth certificates, marriage license, divorce papers, life ins policies, passports, social security cards, vaccination records, deeds, car titles, etc. You may keep them in a safety deposit box or a safe or a lockable file cabinet.


* Have plenty of filing supplies on hand - file folders, labels, labeler with a backup cartridge, etc. You don't want to start a project and run out of supplies because there is always the chance that you forget to get those supplies and you've lost interest in the project and it never gets finished. So plan ahead and get those supplies to have on hand.

* Try to reduce your filing needs. Don't print everything. Remember, you can organize your computer too. Keep your digital documents organized in folders just like you are attempting to do your paper files. Keep them backed up on an external source such as an external hard drive, a flash drive, a DVD or CD. Keep in mind that technology, hardware and software, changes quickly so something you saved 5 yrs ago, may not be retrievable today so those old CD's, floppy disks, old file formats may not be retrievable. But, if you can scan documents and keep them organized and retrievable then you can do away with the paper and not have paper files. You don't have to print every email and have to file it. You don't have to print all the e-statements from your credit cards or utilities. Save them on your computer. I'm from the old school of keeping all documentation but what works for YOU? Last year I did try to scan all my receipts and then threw them away. I had them organized on my computer into folders according to tax deductible expenses and then "General Receipts", "Statements". In Quicken you can attach an image to each transaction and I did attach all the receipt and statement images to the corresponding transaction in Quicken. I liked it but it takes too much time scanning all those receipts and statements, naming and filing them in their digital folders and then attaching them in Quicken. So I'm back to saving them in my filing cabinet and binder.

* Base your filing on retrieval, not storage. Instead of asking yourself, "Where should I file this?" ask yourself, "Where would I look for this if I need it?" Then create your files accordingly. For instance, I have a vehicle folder for each vehicle we own including the camper and the boat. In this permanent file for each vehicle I have the title, any original purchase agreements, loan papers, repair and maintenance records. In the active file for each vehicle I have copies of the loan papers and payment records for that year. Where would you put property tax receipts or insurance statements for vehicles? Ask yourself the question, "Where would I look for this if I need it?" When I asked myself that question, my answer was, "I would look in the Property Tax folder and the Property Insurance folder rather than the vehicle's permanent or active file folders". What about you?

* Plan your filing needs. Make a list of section areas for broad categories, then hanging file folders for categories and file folders for sub-categories. For instance: You have a hanging file folder for "Insurance" and you make file folders for "Car Ins", "Medical Ins", "Life Ins", "Homeowner's Ins", "Umbrella Ins", "Disability Ins". Or you have a section for "Utilities" and you make folders for "Electric", "Gas", "Telephone", "Garbage Pickup", "Pest Control", "Water & Sewer". Or maybe you have a section for "Medical" and you make file folders for each member of your family. Just make a list of more general categories and then the sub-categories. Once you have a plan, then you are ready to make your folders and labels.

* Insert new papers into the front of the file folder so that the latest and most recent is always on top, the oldest is always on the bottom.

* Use color coding for easy, quick identification. Office supply stores have all kinds of files and labels to do this.

* Alphabetize! You don't have to alphabetize everything. But when it makes sense, alphabetize. For instance, I have my files in sections:

Credit Cards - a file folder for each credit card and they are ALPHABETIZED!

Dogs - I keep a folder on each dog and I have 5 dogs so they are ALPHABETIZED!

Insurance/Property Taxes - Two folders, one for property insurance and one for property taxes.

Medical - I have a folder for all doctor's bills and medicine purchases.

House - Our mortgage statements go in one folder and all receipts for remodeling/landscaping/additions/maintenance go in the second folder.

Stan's Business - I have a folder for Accts Receivables (invoices, income that comes in and deposit slips) and Accts Payables (anything he purchases for business use). It's a small business on the side so this is enough for us.

Vehicles - I keep a permanent file on each vehicle in which I keep all titles, purchase agreements, repairs, purchases in that folder. If I have a vehicle loan, then I keep a separate folder for that where all the loan papers go along with statements and payment records.

Utilities - I keep files for each utility and they are ALPHABETIZED!

If you have files on clients, probably should be ALPHABETIZED. If you have employee files, probably be good to ALPHABETIZE. When it makes sense, alphabetize to help you find your file quickly and efficiently.

Of course, there are unique ways to alphabetize. You may file Duke Power (electrical utility company) under "E" for "Energy" instead of "D" for "Duke Power". Or Verizon under "C" for "cell phone". If that works for you, by all means use it. The point is to make it fast, efficient and functional for YOU!

But then there are the people... well, I knew a woman who could NOT file! We would find John Doe's file in the "W"s. Why? Because she put it there, no rhyme or reason and files got lost frequently. It was so frustrating working with her.

* Chronological (Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, etc.) filing. There are times when it makes sense to file chronologically. For instance, I always put bank statements in order by month. Or you may have to keep correspondence on a project and you would want to file by date from oldest to most recent. Maybe you have to keep notes on a subject and you keep them chronologically.

* Make it a rule to always refile things. Last month, I had to call our cable company about a charge on their recent statement. I pulled that file folder and made my notes on a sticky notepad and stuck it to the statement. I made sure I wrote down the date/time/person I was talking to. You can also jot these notes on the statement itself or the back of the statement. Now, did I leave that file on my desk? Did I place it in a basket? You should know me better by now! NO, I re-filed it. Just pulled the drawer out and placed it back where it came from. Always put it back!

* Life is continually changing, so do maintenance on your filing system to keep up! Of course, if you find that your system is no longer working for you, change it! I do this at the end of the year to get ready for the next year. I move all the previous year into their box to go into the attic for storage. I move all the last year's files into a designated file drawer marked "Last Year's Files" to keep them close for taxes and other needs. Then I make all the new folders for the coming year. This is when I make any changes to my filing system.

I found this list of possible categories at http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_g/G-229.pdf

Autos and Vehicles

Bank Records
Checking accounts
Savings accounts

Loan contracts
Safety deposit box (list of contents)


Employment Records
Employment contracts
Retirement or pension plans
Social security records
Fringe benefits

Equipment, Appliances Warranties
Use-and-care manuals
Kitchen Range, refrigerator
Air conditioner
Small appliances
Personal care appliances
Lawn mower
Recreation equipment

Financial Records
Net worth statement
Records of earnings
Records of expenditures
Loan contracts
Credit card numbers
Property tax records
Receipts and paid bills

Mortgage papers and payments or Lease and rent payments
Capital improvements (remodeling, additions, landscaping, maintenance and repair costs, etc)
Household inventory (second copy in safety deposit box)
Floor plan
Wiring diagrams

Income Tax
Previous returns
Cancelled checks (related to tax)
Current year information (medical receipts, contributions)

Insurance Policies

Bonds–records of
Stocks–records of
Real estate investments
Other investments

Organizations, Clubs

Personal Records
Educational records
Marriage license
Medical records
Pet papers
Military records
Wills, copy of
Birth certificate
Divorce papers

Reference Material
Crafts or hobbies
Home furnishings
Magazine articles
Others of interest to you

For more posts on filing, check out http://sharonscrapbook.blogspot.com/2010/03/filing-for-taxes.html

There are many ways to store your files.

This works well. But it doesn't have to be in boxes (except those old files in permanent storage). If you have the space and the money to purchase commercial filing cabinets then do so.

And here is one of my commercial lateral file cabinets that I had painted in brown to match the dark wood in my office.

This is my second commercial lateral file cabinet, beside my desk, in the background.

They are made for maximum storage and heavy usage. You can have them painted to match your decor or you can paint them, enclose them, paper them. But they are the best. Most are lockable too.

Next, if having file cabinets to match your decor is important to you, you can buy real wood cabinets that look wonderful and are very functional or have them built in.

Last on my list, are those filing cabinets that are made cheaply out of thin metal or faux wood. Laminated sawdust board file cabinets are what we find most frequently, as are the thin cheap metal file cabinets. I'm NOT a fan but if that's all you can have, it's better than nothing. Why don't I like them? Laminate can come unglued, chip and crack. Screws can come out of sawdust board and shelving will swag in the middle. And water is the death of it! It will swell when wet and ruin. Cheap metal can get dinged and warped and can't hold a lot of weight. Weight strains those cheap drawers. But, those are my opinions.

I did a Google search on filing cabinets and here is what I found:

Built in filing cabinets are the ultimate!

This oak filing cabinet is gorgeous!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Filing For Taxes

Now is the perfect time to get your filing cabinet ready for your next round of tax returns. You want to have a systematized method for organizing.
Personally, I have a file drawer in my desk and that is where I keep our current year's receipts, statements, etc. At the end of the year, I transfer all of these file folders to a file cabinet in our study so that it's accessible for tax time and anything else that comes along. At the end of the 2nd year, I will box these records up and store them in the attic. It's best to keep the last 10 yrs of financial records stored. Then you can get rid of them.

In my file drawer I have several sections: Credit Cards, Utilities, Stan's Business, Medical, Insurance/Property Taxes, Dogs, Vehicles, House.

Credit Cards - I have a folder for each credit card and I keep the receipts and statements in their respective folders. If a credit card was used to purchase something for Stan's business, or pay a medical bill, etc then I make a copy of it to put in the respective folders. That way I have the original receipt in the credit card folder but I have a copy in Stan's business folder, or medical folder, etc.

Utilities - I keep a folder for all utility bills and payments (I use our bank's bill pay and I print out the transaction and keep it for the confirmation or transaction #'s).

Stan's Business - I have a folder for Accts Receivables (invoices, income that comes in and deposit slips) and Accts Payables (anything he purchases for business use).

Medical - I have a folder for all doctor's bills and medicine purchases.

Insurance/Property Taxes - Two folders, one for property insurance and one for property taxes. I keep receipts and statements.

Dogs - I keep a folder on each dog with all their papers in them including vet bills, microchip information, etc.

Vehicles - I keep a folder on each vehicle and I keep all titles, purchase agreements, repairs, purchases in that folder. If I have a vehicle loan, then I keep a separate folder for that where all the loan papers go along with statements and payment records.

House - Our mortgage statements go in one folder and all receipts for expenses in remodeling/yard/additions/maintenance go in the second folder.

I keep a large binder on my desk where I put all my general receipts (by month) and bank statements.

I have a file drawer that contains all our manuals and warranties. Whenever I buy something that has a warranty, then I always take the original receipt and staple it to the manual. Then I jot down the purchase date, where purchased, warranty time, serial numbers and model numbers on the outside of the manual and then file in this drawer. I have this drawer in sections too. I have computer equipment (desktop, laptop, printers and their driver software and setup software), cameras, watches, kitchen appliances, laundry appliances, furniture, guns, audio/video (includes TVs, DVD players, stereo, mp3 players, etc).

As I said, this is how I do it personally.

But you might just use an accordion file or a binder with pockets. Maybe you don't want to keep all the statements, bills, etc after you've reconciled your accounts. Maybe you don't keep receipts that aren't for tax deductible items. This is just the way I do it and it's worked for me over the years. For instance, we bought a TV one time and had to have it serviced immediately. The company didn't stand behind it's warranty and we ended up having to pay for it's repair despite following all their recommendations. Eight years later, there was a class action lawsuit and we were notified that if we had had a problem with the TV and could prove our cost of repairs we would be eligible for reimbursement. I went up to the attic, picked the box of stored financial documents that were marked for that year, flipped through the file folders until I found that credit card and there was the receipt. I mailed it in and we finally got reimbursed for that repair. It didn't take me 5 minutes to find that receipt and it was worth $150.

Just throwing every little scrap of paper into a shoebox or a plastic bag doesn't exactly help you when it comes to tax time. Because I assure you, you will procrastinate when January comes. It's too big of a job and you will keep putting it off. Procrastination creates it's own stress, then the stress of having to sort through it all, and, finally, you get to actually filling out your return. So avoid all that stress, by keeping organized throughout the year.

When I'm ready on my end, then I print out transaction reports and income statements for that year and put them in a binder. Then, when February 1st comes, I'm ready to do my return. I have all my stuff filed, I have my reports in my binder and it's just a matter of starting the tax software and answering the questions. It's really no hassle. When I'm through, I make sure to print me a copy to put in my binder and I keep all 10 yrs worth of tax returns and supporting reports in those binders on a shelf in my study. If I'm every audited I can pick the binder and go. If I need more supporting documents, I can go up in the attic, pick the marked box of financial documents and go.

These are my tips for today!

For more on organizing your home office check out these posts: http://sharonscrapbook.blogspot.com/2010/03/filing-system-for-home-offices.html

Tax Time!

Guess What? It's Tax Time!

I always have to wait until after 1/31 before I can do my tax returns to make sure I get all W-2's, 1099's, etc. They have to be sent out by 1/31. So I spend my January getting my end-of-year stuff up to date on my computer. I use Quicken to keep our finances in order (including my husband's small side business). I have an Associate's Degree in Accounting and have been a bookkeeper in my past life so I'm very organized and detailed in doing our finances. But it's getting to be a pain and I'm finding it harder and harder to keep ahead. I've become a procratinator in this area of my life which is highly unusual for me! But, with my health, on my good days I would rather do something else and on my bad days I don't feel like sitting at a desk and trying to think straight. I do my devotions, take my vitamins and pray that God would enable me to sit and do what I have to do. And He answers my prayer. Thank You, God! I try to have it done before the 2nd week in February. This year I was right on it! Yeah! I've already gotten my refunds back.

I use Turbo Tax (and have used Tax Cut in the past) to prepare our taxes and I've taught my whole family how to use it to do their tax returns too. Even my grown up niece and nephews know how to fill their own out! It just took sitting down with them one year and going step by step through it. Now, I make sure they are started and then I go back through it when they are finished to make sure they didn't make any mistakes. I did the same with my Mom and my sisters.

Tax forms confuse and scare everyone which ends in a brain freeze so they pay someone to do it for them and it's really not necessary in most cases! Unless you have some major complications, you can easily fill your own taxes out. If you do a 1040EZ or a plain 1040, then you can do it by simply picking up those forms and filling one out in pencil. Once you are satisfied with your return, fill the other out in pen, attach your W-2's and you are through. It costs nothing! Just go line by line and read it carefully. If you aren't sure what they are talking about, flip out your little book of instructions (you can get them when you get your forms) and read. Usually, if you don't know what they are talking about, then it doesn't pertain to you. But just read carefully. And read all the instructions on the form from the very top to the very bottom and from the sides. It will tell you exactly where to staple your W-2 and your check, where to sign, etc.

If you do a little more with your tax returns like itemize your deductions, sell your home, buy another home, have a small business, etc...then I would advise getting Tax Cut or Turbo Tax and try to do your own. It's not a complicated program and it makes it as easy as it can be. Even if you decide to have an accountant do your taxes, do them yourself first so you can learn just what it is that you need to give your accountant. You will learn the things that you can deduct and the things that you need to keep up with. It will only cost you time and the price of the program. Once you've played around with it and are satisfied with the results you can give your accountant the figures and he/she will plug them in. It saves them time and that will save you money!!!

If you have some heavy complications and a larger, brisk business then you need someone more professional to advise you and take care of your books. But, burger flippers and hair stylists unite! You can do your own taxes as long as you can read and follow instructions! You don't have to pay someone to do them for you. It wastes your money and you don't make enough to waste! And don't get the loans secured by your tax refund! They charge you interest, and usually a hefty interest rate at that, for those loans. It's a waste of your money. I'm so cheap that I won't even pay the electronic fee for electronic filing (usually around $15) when I can buu a .41 stamp to mail it. I will have it electronically deposited in my bank account (which costs nothing) and I'm willing to wait for it rather than waste money. Of course, I understand that there are emergency situations so I'm not judging anyone, but I want all the money back that the govt owes me and I don't want to pay a middle man if I can help it! Now, if I owe the govt taxes, then I wait until 4/14 to mail it so I keep my money as long as possible. I don't like to get in the crowds at the post office on 4/15.

So those are my Tax Tips!

For more on organizing your home office check out these posts:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brett Is Growing Up - These Moments Are All Too Fleeting

I made this digital scrapbook page about how fleeting the moments are...Brett is growing up and I keep trying to capture these moments in time with my camera. (By the way, if you aren't seeing the whole picture and some is cut off, you may have Your Favorites anchored on the left hand side of the screen. Remove it or change it's width and you will see more of the photos.)

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To contact me, email me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com