When it’s time to get our personal taxes done, we stress out at how much we wish we had organized last year. Extra receipts, mortgage payments, escrow account status, business expenses … yikes! But this year is going be different.
For the first time ever, we organized. Now we’re finally heading into tax season with a whole new perspective. And it feels great.
Instead of wasting time trying to locate every last paper, we get to high-five ourselves because we know exactly where to find every possible thing we’d need. Want to know what we did?
First, what we discovered last year was that flipping the calendar was the motivation we needed to get organized. Since it’s still January, it’s the perfect time to set up a system that will work for you and your family… even if it feels like the new year was so far away. Trust us, it really isn’t. So with that in mind, here are the five filing systems we use that can help you get (and stay) organized, all the way to December, and beyond.
Just a Filing Box
Setting up a filing system is easy and affordable, but more than that, it’s just effective. All you need is a box like this one, which can be found for under $15 at places like Target. Grab some file folders while you’re there too. Then label each file folder in a way that works for you. You can mark the folders by month, by category, by expense type … really whatever suits your exact needs. We also recommend having a few extra folders in the back of the box so that if a new category pops up throughout the year, you can easily incorporate it without any inconvenience.
I mean, “balloon sales”? Who would have thought!?
Actually Saving Receipts
Saving receipts is an annoying (yet important) part of tracking expenses, especially if you are a small business owner or need to track business expenses at home. Check out this easy filing system from Thinking Closet that we use. It can be purchased for literally under $10 at many office supplies or big-box stores.
We especially encourage this little system because it’s small enough to carry in a purse, diaper bag or even glove compartment of your car. These receipts don’t have to clutter your home’s counter … which is probably where they are right now.
Speaking of receipts, have you even thought about documenting these annoying pieces of paper electronically so that you can completely ditch the paper trail? There are many apps and software options that allow you to back up all of these important documents to your phone or computer, keeping hard copies of all this stuff forever at bay. For anything that doesn’t require a hard copy, check out this tutorial to go digital. We have never met anyone whose tried this, then gone back.
Get Additional Labeled Binders, By Color
We love this option because it’s inexpensive and incredibly easy to maintain. Once you have the binders labeled, all you need on hand is a paper puncher to maintain it. Plus, we love that these can be remembered by sight alone. Check out the link for a cute tutorial!
Create a Command Center
And last but certainly not least, we love the idea of adding a DIY-command center to your home, which creates a queue for important paperwork waiting to be filed or organized. This is the key to making the whole shabam work!
As mail, receipts or important docs come into the home, your command center will keep it safe and organized until you find time to drop it into one of those filing systems from above. Plus, a command center like this will keep everyone on the same page with carpool pick-ups, weekend plans, practices, appointments and everything else that keeps us busy!
Regardless of what filing system you choose, we hope you create at least one. Investing a little time each month will make tax season far, far less stressful. Not to mention, it just looks great on your shelves and up on the wall!