It’s the final countdown before the deadline to file your taxes. Good news for all of the procrastinators, Tax Day is officially Monday, April 18, 2016. For a full explanation of everything you really don’t need to know about why it is not Friday, April 15, check out this article. Before you mentally move on from all things tax related this year, here are 3 things to do now before filing taxes NEXT year.
3 Things To Do Now Before Filing Taxes NEXT Year
1. First off, celebrate your hard work and accomplishment for getting your taxes done THIS year! Adulting is hard sometimes. Many times, I overlook the simple accomplishments of my day to day work when I really need to stop and celebrate. What I do matters. It’s important. When I’m diligent in the small things, the bigger things have more impact. My goal every year is to get our taxes to our CPA at the end of January (or as soon as everything arrives in the mail). With mostly digital downloads of all of the tax documents from the various financial organizations, it makes it possible to be done by the end of January. However, it seems every year, it is at least late February, if not March before I get it all done and I know many of your thrive on last minute pressure so it’s probably April for many of you. Let’s just say I have an emotional scar from our first year of marriage and a lack of sleep on April 15th that year. 😉 My theory is that the earlier I get it done, the fresher the CPA will be, and the less stress I have in anticipating the result. It also means we have time to make adjustments (last minute HSA or IRA contributions) if needed. Whenever you get it done, breathe a sign of relief, do something fun to celebrate, and remind yourself that You Are Essential.
2. Keep up with all of your banking transactions and budget in Mint and EveryDollar. We used to use Quicken to keep up with our bank transactions and budget categorizing. It became clunkier to do so and with everything moving to the cloud, we jumped on the Mint wagon several years back. Mint allows you to add all of your accounts (banking, investments, mortgage, etc.) to it’s online interface, and it automatically imports all of your transactions from these institutions. Their app allows you to also quickly see your financial picture on one easy summary screen. Over time, if you spend some energy categorizing the transactions and setting up rules for how to categorize transactions in the future, it will intuitively do the work for you. It is mostly accurate but still requires a review to be sure things are correct. At the end of the year, I can export all of my pre-categorized transactions from Mint and easily get the applicable ones to our CPA (like charitable contributions, home business deductions, and childcare expenses.) This is a HUGE feature to me, and why I continue to use Mint. However, their customer service is pretty poor and it has not proven to be a very flexible system for keeping up with a budget, if you have extenuating circumstances like irregular income.
EveryDollar, on the other hand, is excellent for staying on track with a budget, and I’m hopeful with the constant new features they are releasing, that it will completely replace Mint over the next year for us. They also have a free app and a very intuitive interface that makes budgeting much more enjoyable, not to mention, their much friendlier, helpful, and timely customer service. Check EveryDollar out for sure!
For each of these, you must start now to have all of your transactions for 2016 imported into their software. If you wait until later in the year to get started, you will only have a portion of those imported which will make tax time a lot more complicated than it has to be.
3. Store your receipts, forms, and documents in Evernote. I cannot say enough about how much I love this app. It is worth every penny. ALL, and I mean ALL, of our receipts, documents, forms, etc. are stored in Evernote. When it is specifically tax related, I tag it with “taxes” and the “year” so when tax time roles around, I simply search for those documents and have them all in one digital place as quickly as I can snap my fingers. No more digging through stacks of paper! When I’m actively working on getting all of my tax documents together, I place them in their own notebook, “Tax Prep 2015,” so that I can easily see what I still need to gather. I can then share or export them in a password protected file to give to our CPA. Be sure to sign up for Evernote here. This link gives you one free month of Premium service as well! Once you have done that, you can check out Brett Kelly’s ebook, Evernote Essentials, if you’d like step by step instructions for how to implement Evernote in your own life. This is the best guide to truly uncover all that Evernote can do, and Kelly makes it simple and easy to implement.
Join The Conversation: How do you set yourself up for financial success? Any tax tips we should know about? You can leave a comment by clicking here.