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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cent Saving Saturday

In a desperate attempt to up the awesome over here at PBD, I’ve decided to make a few changes.

Saturday Swag-urday is on hiatus (at least until next holiday season) and it’s been replaced by it’s much more budget friendly buddy, Cent Saving Saturday.

Now, don’t get all excited, I’m not gonna start collecting coupons and bargain shopping.  I think we all know that Dumb Mom is not cut out to be a “couponer” and the only discounts I really care about are the ones you get for being a DSW rewards club member!

But, following the spend-your-money-unwisely-so-your-kids-think-Santa-is-the-sultan-of-a-small-nation holiday I think we could all use a bit of focus on spending less and saving more (even if I’m only saving for this).

Plus (now cover your ears if you’re sensitive or have a weak stomach) it’s tax time.

That’s right, I said the naughty word.

Taxes.

Because, in case you’re like me and you’re still writing 2009 on every thing, you should note that the dreaded season in which Uncle Sam rips you a new one and then charges you for it is upon us.

So, I figured, what better way to help a fellow blogging buddy than to offer them tax related advice.

I’m sure you are wondering what a SAHM/former teacher/photographer/freelance writer/blogger/disgruntled hospital employee knows about taxes.

Well, friends, let me tell you that before I became a photographer/freelance/writer/blogger/disgruntled hospital employee, but after I became a former teacher/SAHM I was a certified tax preparer for a national tax preparation company for 5 years.

I know what you’re thinking…is Dumb Mom that person they were making fun of on In Living Color all those years ago?

Okay, maybe you weren’t thinking that.  Maybe only Hubby refers to me as “that island dude from In Living Color”.  And, maybe it’s only Hubby who uses his totally-fake-not-even-close-okay-seriously-mon-it-sounds-JUST-like-it-but-I’m-not-admitting-that-to-him-or-he’ll-never-shut-it accent when I come home from one of my many jobs.

But, I’m sure you are curious about my credibility since I seem to be a bit of wanderlust when it comes to the professional career department.

And, I’ll admit, your concerns are warranted.

Why does one person need 7 jobs?

Dumb Dad asks me the same thing all of the time.

And, all I can say is that I like a challenge.

I like having something on my plate, and being engaged in an activity that keeps me busy and requires that I push myself to accomplish it.

I’m not sure why I have the desire to constantly bite off more than I can reasonably chew and then spend weeks flailing about to get my bearings in my exhaustion induced stupor.

Probably just so I can complain about being busy (and tired, and fat).

Well, the explanation is neither here nor there, all that matters is that the facts are these: Dumb Mom did taxes professionally for many years as a way to make some extra cash while continuing to stay home with her children (I worked every evening and weekend during tax season).  This experience allowed her to gain invaluable knowledge about the United States Tax Code and the filing of personal (and business) income taxes.  As she remains interested in this topic (because every person she knows requires that she does their taxes for them) she can be a wealth of almost always accurate information for those less schooled in the ways of the IRS.  Incidentally, Dumb Mom thinks doing taxes is fun.

Feel free to submit your own tax related questions if you want.  If I don’t know I’ll tell you and then work my butt off to find the answer (remember, I’m a glutton for punishment).

So here is this week’s tip: Get organized.

Yep, it’s really one of the key components for having a positive filing experience.

And organized does not mean having all of your receipts in a big used-to-be-home-to-a-bomb-a$$-pair-of-shoes box with “TAXES 2009” scribbled across the front.

Your tax professional does not want to spend hours going through your stupid little box.  Actually your tax preparer probably won’t mind all that much because thanks to your inability to use a filing system, Mr. Taxman just made even more bank offa you by charging you hourly.

Way to go, champ.

Now, not only do you owe Uncle Sam a fat wad of cash, you also owe Mr.Taxman a big chunk too.

So, if you want to save a few bucks (and be more informed about your tax situation) take time to go through your receipts from the year.

Separate them into categories, label them, and keep them in order.

I’m anal about having junk piles of paper lying around so I make sure that I do this throughout the year.

I have those cheapo, beige colored, nondescript file folders that I staple down both sides and label with the month. 

Then I stick all my necessary recipets (not the ones from Starbucks or DSW, those I chuck immediately to prevent spousal discovery!) in them as they accumulate.  At the end of the month I haul it down to my office/guest room/storage area/play room/secret lair area for safe keeping, and replace it with the empty folder for the following month.

Way to go Dumb Mom’s organizational skills!

Come January, all I have to do is separate them.

I like to start off by separating my business receipts (for my writing and my photography) from my personal ones (like medical/dental, home related, job related, etc).

Then, I make subcategories from there to ensure that all things are accounted for accurately.

You probably don’t need to get so technical, but my tax background rears it’s ugly head when it comes to tax record accuracy.

Not because I’m afraid of being audited (seriously, it sounds scary but only like 1% of average income people get audited per year and Uncle Sam would be seriously disappointed if he chose to come after me), just because I’ve had to go through my fair share of last-year’s-black-shoe-boxes-of-horror and I can’t imagine being that person myself.

I’m probably one of the only people on the planet who enjoys tax season. 

I like doing my taxes. 

I like getting a refund (because I always do, even though I know that’s not supposed to be the goal).

And, I like helping other people muddle through their tax nightmares because I appreciate the frustration of it all.

Want Dumb Mom to answer your tax related question on a future edition of Cent Saving Saturday?

Bring it on.  And, I dare you to try and stump me because, as creepy as it sounds, I love me an IRS related challenge!*

P.S.  Submitting your questions and receiving an answer from Dumb Mom does not guarantee that you will not be audited or thrown in jail for tax evasion.  The American tax code has a number of “gray areas” with a lot of room left for interpretation.  Dumb Mom tends to interpret things in her favor and the IRS has a history of interpreting things in their own.  As such, I will not be held accountable for any monies you owe, time spent in prison, or criminal record you gain for taking my advice.  Proceed with caution, friends, I don’t actually know everything, I just think I do!

19 comments:

Shell said...

I love your disclaimer at the end.

I really need to try to be more organized about this this year. Because otherwise, Hubs just handles it and he just wants things done quickly, not necessarily the best way.

Sunday said...

Did I mention that I was married for 10 years to a tax attorney?

When I would have trouble sleeping at night I would ask him to tell me about the tax regulations...worked every time.

So, it is good that there are people out there that aren't reduced to comatose-drooling-all over-their-pillow status when thinking about taxes.

Otherwise people like me would be in serious trouble.

Sunday said...

Ha Ha! Happy Saturday ShareFest on SITS...you were the post before me!

singedwingangel said...

LMbo @ the don't blame me at the bottom. I think what sickens me most about tax time is when I see what he SHOULD have made ( the gross income) compared to what he did make ( earned) now see what I don't get is shouldn't all of it be gross income hello he worked for I saw not one soul from any of those other tax offices out there doing it for him.. ok oi sorry deep breathe ... ahhh I loathe taxes.. we get a refund too but still.

Jennifer said...

I'm an Acoountant and I worked for a local firm through two tax seasons. I hated it. HATED! Good luck with the questions.

thatgirlblogs said...

I'd *like* to get my taxes organized, but I already had "be a slacker" penciled in on the calendar. sor-reee.

Kmama said...

LOL!! I also *always* get a refund. And like you said, I know it's not supposed to be the goal, but darn it, I love getting that large check.

Mira said...

I am damned sure to get a refund with more children than the typical mom. I'm pretty sure my husband has never fixed his number of dependents at work. It's dumb because I could use the money all year but it sure is nice to get handed a chunk of change at any time. I used to love doing my taxes until I married a very complicated man with stock options and exercised options and all manner of west coast employment compensation weirdness. Then it just got out of hand. I've often thought of becoming a tax accountant but that will have to wait a few years. I love numbers and solving mysteries and finding loopholes and solutions. Perhaps in my next incarnation.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love your disclaimer! Stopping by from SITS!

Karen MEG said...

Taxes, geez, oh yeah...our tax season is in the Spring (Canada)...so I have a little longer to dread it!

I love your blog header--cute,cute,cute kids!

Amanda {My Life Badly Written} said...

Tax times not till June here in Oz but being organised is THE top priority for me - then I just have to worry about getting Hubby organised!!!

Disclaimer cracked me up LOL!!!

faemom said...

God, I hate tax time. It started when I was nominated as the husband's CFO. That stupid ass, thankless job. For years, (Until Sean was born and told him to shove the job somewhere elese) there was ALWAYS some important paperwork gone missing. Then I would spend countless hours looking and calling to find it. Then I get a replacement to find out a month later someone else had it the whole time and blamed me. God, I hate finances! I'm so not a number person.
Thanks for letting me vent :-)

Melissa B. said...

I know how you're feeling right now. We've got taxes and student loans hanging over our heads right now...

Mama B said...

I just thought you would want to know (because all my account friends love it) I was one of those <1% to get audited...and we made very little that year! They love e=being able to say they know someone who was audited and it screws with your taxes for YEARS!

When did I become my Mom said...

That is such a good idea re: monthly folders! All this in keeping with your 2010 theme of awesomeness!!

Mary Anne Gruen said...

I can't help but bow down to anyone who enjoys doing taxes! Whoa! My husband kind of enjoys it too, though he's no where near as organized as you. I mean, no where near! I sometimes suspect he enjoys making sense out of everything before doing the taxes.

I've given you a Blog Award over at http://StarlightBlog.com Don't worry if you don't have the time to do the whole award thingy. It's mostly in acknowledgement of your great blog.

Elizabeth said...

Just wanted to say thanks for stopping by my blog and to tell you that I love, love, love the photo of your little nosepickers in your header. Both of my boys spend half the day with their fingers up their noses.

charles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adrian's Crazy Life said...

Good info! I always love a good organizational tip. And taxes are always a biggie. Fortunately, we've had the same guy doing our taxes for the last 20 years. I firmly believe some things are best left to a professional. I never cut my own hair, sell my own house, take out my own appendix, or do my own taxes. Thanks for the tip.

Giving away two copies of the movie Extract starring Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck. Contest ends 4/2/10.
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