Simple Steps for Taxes Preparation

Tax preparation tips


Its that time of year again for tax preparation. This can be very overwhelming and very stressful! Here are a few tips and resources to get you through.

  • Start with baby steps and early March is the best time to start.
  • Set up sessions for yourself for one or two hours at a time so you can work efficiently.
  • Write your sessions in your calendar and have a deadline well before April 15.



Not sure what to gather? Everyone has different items to gather, but generally these items are the following.

  • Income includes your W-2 and 1099’s.  These come in envelopes marked Important Tax Document and will be easy to find in your mail.  Or these can be found online from your employer or in investment accounts.  You may have already set up ways to find these documents easily online!
  • Expense/Deductions include home mortgage interest (From 1098), property taxes paid to your school district and county, and charitable contributions.  Property taxes may be escrowed in your mortgage, and you can find these payments listed on your monthly December mortgage statement.  Charitable contributions can be found in reviewing your checking account online.  Non-cash charitable contributions can be valued with online too.



File online for the quickest return.   Keep your filed return forever, either on paper or electronically. Ask your accountant how long to keep the preparation documents.  There is differing advice on this but most say at least 3 years.  Get ahead for next year by setting up folders to use throughout the year for income and deductions.




You and Your Federal Return

Smead Tax Organizer

AARP Top 10 Filing Tips

AARP Tax filing assistance

Maximizing your medical deductions


I love my new shiny status as Superstar!  It is a collaboration I participate in just about every month, with other organizers throughout the country. But to me it is really a shining star about collaboration in general. I love to find partners that are a great fit for what I don’t do well.  As a member of this collaboration, I am prompted monthly to submit.  The topic is already chosen, so in many ways it is just following up on a great idea. 

How do I use this collaboration process throughout my work and life?  I find having partners who give you enough information to get started on whatever the task, either with a template or not, and then move forward.  It can be when I want to give a speech, add a new aspect to my business, or even make dinner for our family.  It is always more fun when you work together!

How can collaboration help you get started, get finished or get moving on a goal?

Fire Up Your Biz – Enrich Your Life

I am honored to be a part of an amazing group of presenters, sharing information and more.  Get ready to stop constantly riding the brake on your business and shift into OVERDRIVE!  Listen in for free from your computer, phone or skype!

  • Fire up your personal performance.
  • Unleash your profit potential™.
  • Discover new strategies to manage the demands of running your own business.
  • Get a handle on the minutia and details that prevent you from doing the ‘heavy lifting’ to move your business to the next level.
  • Quiet the ‘fear voices’ and manifest a larger vision for your company.
  • Have a profitable business and time for what’s important to you!
  • Live a richer, more fulfilling life
  • Have powerful support systems that allow you to free up time and grow your business at the same time.
  • And lots more!!  Check out the session descriptions below.

Fire Up Your Biz – Enrich Your Life was born from the 1000s of conversations that we have had with business owners just like you about what holds them back from really going where they want to go with their business.

Join us for the fun and learning!

Important Documents

important papers and vital documents


Not long ago, life proceeded smoothly on a regular basis. In the past few years, that’s not the case. Emergencies seem to occur “regularly.”
Life’s emergencies require organization. Whether it’s a natural disaster, the death of a loved one, or evacuation from your home, it’s important to be prepared with your important documents. Gathering these together before an emergency gives you peace of mind.


Use this list for a reference to get your important papers in order. Remember, every family and every situation is different. Check with your lawyer and accountant to be sure you include all pertinent papers.


There are several ways to keep up with these papers.

  • Keep these papers in a notebook with tabbed slash pockets. No need to punch holes. Label the tabs with the name of the document. There are notebook systems like Life.doc to set up your system.
  • Keep these papers in a fireproof home safe in labeled folders. Your safe is portable, so it can be taken along with you.
  • Scan these papers. You can scan in your papers and keep them safe regardless of your location. Then the information is kept in the cloud. There are no worries about having all the papers with you all the time this way as you can access them wherever and whenever. By scanning, you can digitally share with family, friends and others.




Will, Durable Power of Attorney

Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will/Directive to Physicians/HIPPA release form

Declaration of Guardian and Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains

Revocable Living Trust

Driver’s license

Safe Deposit Keys and Bank address

Social Security Cards

Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate, Adoption papers, Divorce papers, Military discharge



Copies of home and auto insurance, with Insurance Agent name and phone number

Home closing documents

Home Title, Car titles and other Vehicle Titles

Utilities phone numbers and account numbers


Medical and prescription insurance cards


Prescription names and amounts

Doctors names and phone numbers


Bank names and account numbers

Name of financial adviser and phone number

Investment account numbers

Copy of taxes

Original life insurance policies

Loans and outstanding debts

Credit card copies

Credit reports

Royalties, Certificates of Deposit, Stock Certificates, and other investments

Emergency Contacts

Family and Friends

Home helpers and neighbors that have access to your home

“To be contacted” in case of death or illness


Passwords to all online accounts, as well as answers to security questions

Burial policies, Pre-paid funeral arrangements



Get started today on gathering your important documents.  You will be so glad you did!

Join us at Kingwood Library: Preparing and Organizing for Life’s Changes on January 12, 2012

 Be prepared for the difficulties and transitions that occur!  Join Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Delap and Tamara Hensarling Paul to learn about important papers and vital documents, what you need and how to organize these.  The program is hosted by Kingwood Public Library on Thursday, January 12 at  1pm. 

Tamara will share not only the important papers, but an important story to remind us all of how these papers are crucial when a disaster occurs.

Ellen will share additional papers and way to organize them in case of an emergency.

Whether you are aging, your parents are aging, or you just want to ease your childdren’s minds, join us for this seminar. 

Free and open to the public.

Twelve for 2012

12 organizing tips



1.  Get a great calendar. Just one!

2. Find the best way to do your to do list. It can be paper, computer or on your phone.

3. Organize your purse with zippy cases for makeup, receipts, and other categories.

4. Organize your car by dumping the trash and papers each time you get gas.

5. Go through your mail every day. Just for 5 minutes and triage the papers.

6. Get ready the night before with your bags by the back door.

7. Make a date with your calendar and lists for Weekly Planning, a time to review what is coming up next week, consolidate your lists, and make a plan.

8.  Go through your make up drawer and keep what you use daily easy to access.

9.  Go through your email three times a day, making decisions, delegating and deleting.

10.  Establish a weekly meeting at work and home to communicate the week’s plan.

11.  Find partners to help you complete and work through the tough stuff, whatever that may be.

12.  Prioritize your goals for 2012.  We can’t do it all, all the time.  Decide what is most important this year for your time and energy.

What are your 12 for 12?

Want to get organized in 2012? Clutter Diet Membership Specials until January 16, 2012

So many people want to get organized for the New Year, but if you are on a budget or don’t otherwise have access to hire a professional organizer, I wanted to share with you a resource to help and let you know about a special deal.  In 2006 organizing expert Lorie Marrero created The Clutter Diet®, an innovative online program that helps you “get your house in shape.” Her program has helped thousands of members in eighteen countries around the world, making organizing expertise affordable and accessible to anyone, anywhere.  As  you know, I am on of the five online Experts too!

When you use the coupon code 2012win”, you will receive 25% off an Annual membership! This discount is the lowest possible price Lorie offers.

Annual memberships are usually $143.40, but with this coupon code your price is 25% off, just $107, good through Monday, January 16 at midnight CDT. In other words, it costs you only $8.92/month to have unlimited access to organizing experts for personal consultations online!

The best part of all– If you are concerned whether this program is right for you, no worries, because your first two weeks are free!  You can sign up for the Annual membership with this coupon code and your card will not be charged until 2 weeks later, and you can cancel at any time. We feel great about recommending Lorie and her team, because there is no risk involved.

 For comparison:
Month-to-month Clutter Diet membership: $17.95/month ($215.40/yr)
Normal price for annual membership: $11.95/month ($143.40/yr prepaid)
Usual price PER HOUR with a professional organizer in person: $75.00+ per HOUR
YOUR PRICE: $8.92/month ($107/yr prepaid)

Get organized with these member resources:

  • unlimited access, 7 days a week, to a team of Certified Professional Organizers® for personal consulting in the member area, including photo consultations,  
  • easy multimedia tutorials,  
  • searchable reference articles, 
  • your own customized reminder system, 
  • and their exclusive weekly project plans…  

…all for about the price of a box of trash bags or a package of coffee.

Click here

Choose “ANNUAL” option, and enter the coupon code 2012win to get started with your free two weeks and lock in this very special discount price. After January 16 at midnight, annual memberships will cost $143.40.

Your first week takes you through Lorie’s 7-Day Quickstart [use your affiliate link here] program, a week of focused guidance to help you choose a project, plan it out, and get it DONE! Then you get an additional 7 days of full access and support at no charge before your special discount price is applied.

FTC Disclosure: Occasionally in this newsletter we may have links to other companies’ products which provide us with a commission if you purchase from our link. We want you to know that we feature only products here that we absolutely believe in and getting a commission on them is just a smart bonus if we happen to have a link available to us… We are at all times looking out for what is best for our readers and our reputation. Thank you!

Address the Mess at University of Houston Small Business Development Center. January 19.

Join us for Address the Mess! 

Join the UH SBDC as they team up with the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) to bring you an exciting and informative session on the latest ideas and solutions for organizing your business.  NAPO is a group of over 4,000 professional organizers dedicated to helping individuals and businesses bring order and efficiency to their lives. January is national GO – Get Organized month so make plans now to attend.  You will receive strategies for email productivity, must-have guidelines for organizing your business finances, and secrets for organizing and preparing your desk and workspace for immediate impact.

NAPO speakers include:

Holly Uverity, CPO®, Office Organizers – The Entrepreneur’s Organizer™

Ellen R. Delap, CPO®,

Gayle Goddard, The Clutter Fairy

Breakfast included.

ADHD and Paper


ADHD and Paper


It’s a love/hate relationship with paper!  What do we keep? How long do we keep it? Or are you just overwhelmed by it and can’t even get started!   What’s a person to do?

Working with paper if you are ADD/ADHD, hone in on your strengths and personalize your systems and routines.  Start by facing the fear, overwhelm and hatred (yes, a powerful emotion) about paper.   It is an evil monster, an anchor, and the enemy. But  now that we have vented, we are ready.   Paper may never be easy, but something we can work through.

Be brutal about what to keep and what to toss.  Often we are keeping way to much!  Using these resources, as well as asking your accountant,  you will keep less and work with less paper.

Keep paper from even coming in your home. Drop paper at the gas station when you are filling up. Shred paper by having a baby shredder in the kitchen.  Say no to receipts for gas.

It is very important to create “slots” to drop your paper.

  • Everyone needs a command center with easy access.   Here is where papers that need action start.  If you need to have a basket just to hold paper until “processed,” it can sit where you normally drop the paper.  In the command center are the actions you need to do.  Label the slots with what you call these items. Action, Pay, File are all required here.  But in addition you might have Pending, one for each of your kids and your partner, Receipts, and Contacts.
  • Next step is to create your files, which are the papers you will reference in the next year.  First decide what to keep and how long.  Don’t get overwhelmed, thinking about how much you have back logged on paper here.  Just work in 15 minute segments with a timer.  Everyone can do this for 15 minutes!  Start with general categories, like Auto/Home, Finance and Personal.  Keeping categories general makes it simple to file and simpler filing means more filing!
  • Add an archive section for required papers. This includes your taxes, legal documents, and other long term papers. You may need to add a section for investments that are getting to be a very large volume.
  • Keep your important documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, wills and related papers in a safe or safe deposit box.  You will always know where these are.

Sounds like a big project? Get help each step of the way with a professional organizer, trusted friend or reliable assistant in turning your paper  into a workable system. It is worth the work to create what works for you!


Image courtesy of the Container Store.

Emergency Preparedness: Organizing Your Important Documents


emergency preparedness organizing your important documents


For the past few weeks, our news has been filled with weather related emergencies, family’s homes being devastated, and natural disasters.  On any given day, we could be faced with the unexpected in a significant way.  In case of emergency, we want to have access to the very important papers we need to assist those we love. To be prepared, here is a list of documents and storage options for security and access.

Personal records such as birth certificates, adoption papers, citizenship records, marriage certificates, divorce documents, military service records, passports and social security cards should be stored in a safe or safe deposit box. If you will need to refer to these items, make a copy and store them in your filing cabinet, listing the specific name of the item on a file folder in your “Personal” file drawer.

Tax returns are required by law to be retained permanently. The supporting tax information must be retained for 7 years. (Although the IRS can only audit returns for the previous three years, many exceptions can extend the deadline.) Keep tax returns separately from your supporting documents.  These can be kept in an attic or the bottom drawer of your file cabinet.

For life insurance policies, you must retain the initial policy as well as any addendums. Keep these originals together, each in a file labeled with the name of the insurance company on the file folder, in a safe in your home. Keep a list of the policy numbers and insurance companies in a file in your “Financial” file drawer, labeling the file “Insurance – Life”.  Any payments for these policies can also be kept in the “Financial” drawer.

Legal documents, such as power of attorney and wills, should be kept in a safe in your home and at your attorneys. Give a copy of the document to the executor and family members. Do not keep these in a safe deposit box, as this may be sealed when the box owner dies.

Property information for your home and auto, such as the deed to your home, mortgage, or car title, should be kept in a safe or safe deposit box. For home repair and maintenance bills, keep these in a filing cabinet labeled “Home Repair” in the “Home/Auto” file drawer. For auto repair and maintenance, label these “Auto-(name of car)”, and also keep these in the “Home/Auto” file drawer.

A household inventory is important in the event of a home catastrophe. Your insurance provider will need proof of loss in the event of a fire, flood, or robbery. Videotape or photograph your possessions. Place the photos in a notebook with receipts and appraisals for expensive items. In the video or notebook, categorize the items in your home by room. Keep the video or notebook in a safe or safe deposit box.

If your wallet is lost or stolen, it is important to keep a copy of the contents. Using a copy machine, photocopy the front and back of your credit cards, driver’s license, insurance cards and all else in your wallet. Store the copies in a file folder labeled “Wallet- (your name)” in your “Personal” file drawer.

September is National Preparedness Month.  By organizing your documents in case of a family emergency, you will feel peace of mind and security. Your family will appreciate your efforts on their behalf!