Tax season is definitely upon us, and believe it or not you have less than a month before they’re due (April 15th). If you have yet to prep your taxes or if you’ve already sent them in, but are looking for tips on how to organize them in 2014, you’re in luck. Financial advisor Ted Koppy joined me for an interview recently to share several helpful tips and tools to ensure tax season goes as smoothly as possible!
Candace Rose: Tax season can be so stressful, especially when it comes to prepping our taxes. Do you have any suggestions on how we can stay calm and level-headed this season?
Ted Koppy: “Yeah, take a deep breath and count to 10. Beyond that you want to get organized and that is really the key to a successful and minimally stressful tax season. And that’s what I’m going to talk about today- some tips in terms of organizing and staying organized.
Let’s start with your personal finances– one of the big recommendations I make is to automate your bills as much as possible. I’m talking about electronically linking your checking out with things like your utility bills, your cable bills and your cell phone. That way you don’t have to worry about when is that bill due? Did I pay it? Did I miss it? And at the end of the year when you’re getting your tax information together, just in case some of the expenses are deductible, you simply go to your bank statement and you can find them very quickly and very easily.
Another thing that’s important in terms of staying organized is to streamline your storage as much as possible. I love the Brother Desktop Scanner, and what I love about this is the fact that it’s wireless. It’s called the ADS-2500W, and again it’s wireless, so it can sit anywhere in your office, anywhere in your home, and can be accessed by multiple users. And then once you take a paper document and run it through there and convert it to a digital file, the storage options are virtually endless. It can go to the cloud, it can go to a network server, it can go right to your smartphone, your tablet, your PC- you name it, it can go there. So when you need to get your hands on that information, you can get there very quickly.
Now something that appears low-tech and old school but really isn’t are three-ring binders from Staples. But they’re not just ordinary three-ring binders, these are called ‘Better Binder with Replacement FileRings’, exclusively at Staples. What I love about these is the fact that a three ring-binder tends to fill up with documents, they get bulky and hard to store. Well, the genius part of this is you simply snap out the three rings. The bars come out as one piece, the papers they attach to the bars and attach to the rings; you can place them into a hanging file, that way the storage is more compact, you know where to find them and then you have an empty three ring binder again. You simply buy the replacement rings, snap them back in there, and you’re good to go. And there’s a green component, you’re reusing the three-ring binder, rather than filling it up and keeping it full.
Let’s talk about getting rid of documents. This time you’re going through a lot of information, some of it you can throw out, but you want to do so in a secure way. The Staples 10 sheet cross-cut shredder- cross cut being the key term here because as you know, according to the justice department, identity theft in our country is the fastest growing crime. When you’re getting rid of sensitive information, you want to do so in a secure way. When you feed the paper through this it shreds the paper both vertically and horizontally, so it’s going to be very hard to reassemble that information. The other thing I like about this shredder is it has a Lockout Key on the top, so if you have a home office that there are kids around, it keeps them from putting their hands through a place where they don’t belong.
So bottom line, using these tools, they’re very simple- but you know what? When used together they can take a lot of the taxing part of tax season out this time of year.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Ted Koppy: “I would say if you’re not quite comfortable doing this yourself- you can do your taxes yourself, there are some great places to go in terms of software that’s updated every year on the internet. Also, I might recommend, it costs a few hundred dollars but if you can work with a tax professional, they might be able to find some deductions or credits that you missed and ultimately end up paying for themselves. The idea of course is to pay as little as possible and put as much money in your pocket. But of course pay the government what you owe.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
For more money saving tips, news and information on tax season, and so much more, please visit: CandieAnderson.com/News