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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter

I'm going to give you a break from sorting and purging this week!  If you haven't done so already, please schedule time to do these three tasks this week:
1.       Corral your tax statements as they arrive.  Those important-looking envelopes that say "Important Tax Document Enclosed"?  Put them in your 2008 tax documents file folder.  If you haven't created one previously, do it this week!  Keep the folder in a prominent place and use it to hold your statements.  Take it with you when you meet with your tax preparer.
2.       Call your tax preparer.  Schedule an appointment with him or her to bring in your tax documents to prepare your tax returns.   Most of us will have received all of our tax documents by the end of January, so schedule your appointment for sometime in February. 
Why bother doing this?  There are several reasons.  First, we humans tend to work to deadlines. If you give yourself a deadline (i.e., the date of your appointment with your tax preparer), you will force yourself to do your part of the process before the appointment.  Second, your tax preparer will love you.  Can you imagine what it must be like for accountants to receive dozens and dozens of people's information at the last minute?  Your tax preparer will certainly have more time to carefully work on your returns in February than s/he will have in April.  Third, you'll get the unpleasant process out of the way.  If you're due a refund, you'll get it sooner.  If you owe money, you'll have some extra time to come up with it before you have to mail the check on April 15.
If you prepare your own taxes, you're not exempt from this step!  Use this week to gather the forms you'll need to complete your taxes.  Public libraries have many of the most commonly-used tax forms.  You can also download Federal tax forms from the IRS website:  http://www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html?portlet=3.  You can find your state tax forms at http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/link/forms.html.  After you print your tax forms, keep them in your 2008 tax documents file folder (along with your tax statements) until you are ready to start filling them out.
3.       Consider converting to electronic recordkeeping for 2009.  I began using Quicken® for my personal finances over a decade ago, and I'm a true believer in it especially at tax time!  Instead of adding up columns of numbers manually, I simply create a report that instantly tells me how much I spent last year on charity donations, medical expenses, and other tax-related items.  Take some time this week to learn how using a bookkeeping software program can help you simplify and organize your life.  Check out this website to compare personal finance software programs:  http://personal-finance-software-review.toptenreviews.com/.   Then scroll down below the comparison table to read about the ways in which computerizing your financial records can help you.

posted on: 1/25/2009 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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Discuss This Post

by Fay Vassilakis on 1/26/2009 9:10:28 PM:

Excellent advice! Thanks!

by Tim Whiteman on 2/11/2009 12:27:10 PM:

I second the motion with your third suggestion. Getting to know how to file my taxes using QuickTax is definitely one of my wisest decisions. It saves me time, effort, stress, and the chance to commit human error during computation. QuickTax does all that for me.

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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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