Organizing your Papers: Tax Time Tips



tax tips

It’s that time again!  It’s easy to procrastinate.  Incoming mail shouts out “Important Tax Papers Enclosed.”  There’s no avoiding it, it’s time to get organized for your taxes.  It’s better in baby steps with these tax time tips.

Create a master file for all tax related papers
Even before your 1099 papers arrive, start a master file using an expanding accordion file (affiliate link) or file folders.  Label the files with the important tax categories –W-2 information, interest and dividend income, capital gains and losses, charitable donations, medical and dental expenses, deductible business expenses, and miscellaneous deductions (educational expenses, safe deposit boxes, financial planning). Even before your papers arrive, this file will be their “home” and papers will not get lost! And to prepare for the current year, begin a master file for incoming documents for the current year, so you will not have to search for them at this time next year.  Not sure what papers you will need? Turbo Tax has a list for you!

Set aside time on your calendar to collect tax related information
At the beginning of February, mark your calendar for a 2 hour tax session with yourself! Go through your checkbook, bank statement and files to find important items to copy for accounting purposes. Three weeks later, mark another 2 hour tax session to wrap up those loose ends and file your documents in your master file. If you use an accountant, you are ready to send in your papers.  If you file yourself, break your filing sessions into manageable chunks like 2 hour sessions too!  You can always break these sessions into one hour segments too.  Most importantly marking these on your calendar commits you to work.

Use technology as your assistant
So much has changed about paper and the IRS.   You can use scanned documents as records for your tax deductions. According to the IRS, “The electronic storage system must also index, store, preserve, retrieve, and reproduce the electronically stored books and records.”  You can scan any kind of paper and receipts as back up documentation. If you choose to scan, be sure you back up your documents and create an online file system that you can easily use and access.

There are lots of other ways technology can help.

  • Can’t find your most important tax papers? Look online for your property tax payments and mortgage interest expense.  It’s easy to locate these records on your mortgage or banking websites.
  • Medical expenses are easy to track online at your medical provider’s website.
  • Need values for your donations?  Click online at TurboTax Its deductible Online Charity Tracker.  It’s a free, easy to use online tracker for your donations throughout the year.
  • File electronically with the IRS is the way to go.  Upon receipt, you will receive confirmation. Keep the confirmation with your tax papers, just in case.

Tax time and tax preparation is much easier by being organized.   After you are done, treat yourself to a little reward!

Need help with your tax preparation?  Let me assist you.

Enjoy a little time away from your taxes.  Check out my pinterest pages Warm Winter Fun!

Don’t miss out on upcoming organizing tips and techniques! Click here to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.


Organizing Receipts

organizing your receipts


Receipts here, there and everywhere? Is it time to get a better handle on your receipts? As temping as it seems to toss or shred as many as you can, it is easy to find a simple solution for storing receipts.  Organizing receipts saves money, helps you return items easily, and simplifies tax time.

Here are 6 simple ways to keep receipts under control!

  • Use a Ziploc or small zipper case in your car for receipts.  Gather them together from your purse, car and bags.   Drop them in the case each time you get gas.
  • Place an envelope on your kitchen desk.  Keep receipts by month and write the name of the month and year on the front of the envelope.
  • Have a slot in your command center in your kitchen for receipts.  Drop these in daily while you are doing your paper triage.
  • Have receipts in the closet? Keep a box in your dressing area for dropping in receipts.
  • Use a 13 slot accordion file for keeping receipts by month.  Keep your accordion file in an easy to access desk drawer.
  • Set up a monthly hanging file for receipts and bank deposit slips in the front of a file drawer.
  • Keep your receipts in a To Be Scanned folder or box.  Neat Desk is a great option and easy to use.  Have your Neat Connect (sponsored link) set up wirelessly all the time on  your desk, ready to use.

Now that you have gathered these, how long do you keep receipts?

  • Want to match up your credit card purchases with the monthly statement?  Match and then destroy unneeded receipts.
  • For major purchases, staple the receipt to the instruction book.
  • For taxes, in the state of Texas, these can be used as a tax deduction because of sales tax. Save your receipts by month.  Neat Connect (sponsored link) is especially helpful with templates for taxes.

Got receipts? Organizing receipts? How are you organizing receipts?


Don’t miss a minute of upcoming organizing tips and techniques! Click here to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Back to School Checklists


back to school check lists

I love checklists! Back to school can be stressful and often we forget some of the most important, simple items.  Here are a few sample back to school checklists to cover your back to school needs.

Real simple back to school checklist

Real Simple Back to School Checklist

Real Simple Back to School Checklist

mom agenda back to school check list

Mom Agenda Back to School Checklist

MomAgenda Back to School Checklist

Container Store College products

Container Store Back to College Checklist

Container Store College Checklist back to school checklist Back to School Checklist Back to School Checklist


Six Tips for Turkey Time

Time for the turkey trot~ the time of year to get your turkey and Thanksgiving dinner in order! Families and friends gather to celebrate a day of gratitude and connection.  What will make your day focused on thanksfulness?  Here are a few organizing ideas.

  • Get ahead with a list.  Having a plan makes all the difference. The list begins with who, what, where, when and how. Who will be attending? What will be needed? Where will it be held and what time? And HOW can everyone contribute?
  • Get the goodies.  Assign everyone a job, no matter if it is bringing the canned cranberries and rolls. Everyone wants to contribute so be a team player with assignments or step up and volunteer.
  • Get going.  Get ahead with your shopping list by going through your cabinets for supplies, including plates and utensils.  Shop early for items that are non-perishable. Shop in the evening early in the week to avoid crowds.
  • Set up ahead.  You can set up your food stations early in the week as well as tables and chairs.  If you are going out, call for reservations early too for best seating.
  • Time it all out. There are lots of goodies and only one oven so create a timeline for how you will cook. Remember that turkeys take time to thaw so plan on extra time for this.
  • Take time to be thankful. As you are preparing and enjoying your time together, spend a few minutes talking about gratitude.  

Happy Turkey Time everyone!   What helpful hints do you have for your family’s turkey trot?

5 Simple Filing Solutions

Filing! Everyone hates filing! However, you can make filing less painful with a few simple solutions.

  • The easiest way to file is to have one box for a one year’s worth of paper. Have an easy to access, attractive box to drop in paper as it arrives. You can find what you need by going through the paper in chronological order. It saves time and energy to have just one box for all papers.
  • Have big categories for your files. Remember that filing is for retrieval! Having categories that include important areas can help you file quickly. Categories include home and auto, financial, personal and work. This filing is best accomplished with hanging files. But don’t just file everything. Be sure to keep just what you will want to retrieve. 
  • Make a list of your files. Often we are not sure where a paper goes, so we don’t file it. With a list, you have choices of where to file and what the options are.
  • File for fun! (Really!) Add music, your favorite tv show, with a friend, or with an adult beverage to add fun to your filing.
  • Use filing products you love. I recently found the filertek dry erase hanging file tabs. Having dry erase tabs means you can add names to your files easily. Also having lots of colored hanging files or beautiful file folders makes your work lovely to look at. Companies like www.officecandy, and make fabulous products for you to love and use.

I love to share my personal filing secret! I file 4 times a year and when I file I watch foodtv. What is your personal filing secret?

ABC13 Back to School

Thanks to ABC13 for the opportunity to make a difference this fall for Back To School.

Healthy Breakfasts on a Budget

Best Lunch Boxes for your Money

Back to School Family Organizing

Woodlands Home and Garden Show Fall 2012: Simple Solutions for an Efficient Home Office


Simple Solutions for an Efficient Home Office

Are you avoiding your home office because it is cluttered with paper, extra junk, set up poorly or overwhelming?  Busy lives demand efficient ways to work productively in your home office. Join Certified Professional Organizer and Family Manager Coach Ellen Delap to learn tools and techniques for organizing your files, establishing productive processes and arranging your space for maximum effectively.  Ellen will also share products that will make a difference.  Leave with a plan for your home!

Saturday August 25 at 1:15 pm

Woodlands Marriott Conference and Resort

Back to School: Tips for Morning Routines

Back to school! Its that time of year that makes moms happy and sad; happy to start new routines and sad about the energy and organization it can take to get your family going. Throughout the month of August we are featuring organized moms who will help get you started back to school with the toughest tasks.

Moms are challenged to get everyone out the door on time with a smile.  These ideas can get everyone’s day started off right. 


Morning school routine

 The most important thing I do to make school mornings run smoothly is to do ALMOST everything the night before.  My goal is for everything to be done except for obviously breakfast, getting dressed, and brushing teeth.  Here are some of the things I do the night before that make our mornings more manageable:

* Unload the dishwasher – I loathe spending extra time in the kitchen late at night when it feels like I’ve been in there ALL DAY, but it’s so worth it to start the morning with a clean kitchen.  The breakfast dishes are a quick rinse and load and then I’ve got a clean kitchen again.

* Pack lunches, fruit break, water bottles – another kitchen chore that I despise doing at night, BUT it’s even worse to deal with the next morning, so I make myself get it done!

* Set out backpacks, shoes, and any other items that are going to school that day

* Lay school clothes out as I’m tucking kids in at night

When I slack off and don’t do one or more of these chores the night before, the result is a scattered, hectic morning – not a good start to the day!

Another trick that works for me is to require that the kids eat, dress, put on shoes, and brush teeth and hair before they watch any cartoons.  They are motivated to get these small chores done and they enjoy having 10 minutes or so of TV time before we head to school.

Meredith Delap is a stay at home mom of three.  She enjoys reading, the beach, and peace and quiet.

Cell Phones for Soldiers Drive Kingwood. July 1- 31, 2012


Cell Phones for Soldiers wants to turn old cell phones into more than 12 million minutes of prepaid calling cards for U.S. troops stationed overseas.

To do so, Cell Phones for Soldiers wants to collect 50,000 cell phones each month through a network of more than 3,000 collection sites across the country. Since 2004, Cell Phones for Soldiers has provided over 150 million minutes of talk time to soldiers and their families. 

The process includes donating and refurbishing the used cell phones.  The refurbished phones are sold on the secondary market.  Each cell phone donated is the equivalent of a 60 minute calling card.  Monetary donations can also be made on the website too.  Donations should include the phone and battery, and if available chargers too.  No instructions or boxes please.   

PostNet Kingwood and are partnering to host a drop off site in Kingwood from July 1 – July 31. PostNet Kingwood is located at 4321 Kingwood Drive in the HEB Shopping Center in Kingwood. Drop off your used cell phones and make a difference!

Not in the Kingwood, TX area but want to donate? You can visit the Cell Phones for Soldiers site and enter your zip code. There are 8 sites to donate in Houston.

Anyone can request calling cards for their soldier by using the website; however, they will need the APO/FPO military mailing address of their soldier:

Please remove the data on your phones prior to sending them in using the free data eraser link that is provided by the Recycling Partner. This link provides a hard factory reset, and will delete your contacts and existing data on the phone.

To learn more about Cell Phones for Soldiers visit

Favorite Products for Organizing Papers

My favorite organizing products are often the most simple ones to get your paper organized.

I love creating a Command tCenter with a desktop organizer.  This clear lucite organizer works well in a small space for your papers. You can choose whatever colored hanging files to insert and use your label maker to create labels, such as Action, Pay, File, Receipts, and other categories of paper that you use frequently.

If you are very, very visual, here is a product that can help you categorize your papers and keep these where you see them all the time. And when company is coming over, you can close up your work and keep it confidential.  Again, use a label maker to categorize your slots. Otherwise, it will all be miscellaneous!

Loving the product you use for organizing your papers makes all the difference!