Friday, January 17, 2014

Financial monkey file

Here in America tax day is April 15th. Our Congress may not be able to work together on partisan agendas but they have gotten quite good at enacting taxes on the American public. Obviously we, the public, work together to fund this government, so the adage about the only certainties in life are "death & taxes" is an annual truism. Procrastination is a habit that makes tax time akin to physical torture, so I am going to share my hard learned lesson about preparing to file your taxes.

Purchase or re-purpose any 1-1/2" 3-ring binder and fill it with 20 clear plastic page sleeves. You can find standard weight sheet protectors at most stores that sell office supplies, even WMart has a package of 25 for about four dollars. This is what I call my "monkey file," no offense to monkeys but this file is simple enough to use... Throughout the year, insert into the clear page protectors any check or check copy, receipt, and donation record generated. It is important to take that minute to place the item into the monkey file as you receive it or even think it might apply to your taxes. I leave my notebook in the kitchen, so it is in an obvious place and not forgotten. Believe me, these two seconds of filing are so worth it when tax time rolls around.

It is especially important in January of the following year when the W-2s, annual bank, retirement fund, and education tax forms arrive you have a safe single place to store these important tax summaries. Then review the already organized information, just hanging out in the monkey file. No more hunting through annual check registers, searching for receipts or estimating mileage, that data has spent the last year stored neatly in plastic protectors. Whether you do your own taxes or have an accountant, your financial records are already available at your fingertips. No more frantic searches, nor the need to dig through a box of receipts. And, if you are really a stellar monkey file maintenance human, make a list of the annual bits of tax paper you are required to have and check it off as you receive it, then you'll know what to call for or copy before tax preparation time if it's left unchecked on your master list. Once you file your taxes you empty out the monkey file and include that information with copies of that year's tax forms, leaving an empty monkey file for next year. Simple & satisfactorily segregated stuff!

So start a monkey file this year for next and you will make a positive impact on your attitude towards doing your annual taxes. You might even be able to file earlier and get an early return check. Woo-hoo! A few seconds of filing throughout the year creates an accurate tax data resource simplifying your life immeasurably.

No comments:

Post a Comment