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My Life was Simple in 1976 and So Were My Taxes

Last evening I spent three hours sorting through boxes, stacks and folders of paper.  My goal is to pare down the amount of paper I have to deal with in my home, which has become overwhelming.  I watched the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford while I sorted through the paper.  As each commercial started so did my shredder.  The end product was less stacks, boxes, folders of paper and three bags full of shredded paper.

One of the boxes I went through last evening were my tax records since 1976.  I kept the past ten years of income tax records and then began shredding each year prior to the last ten.  One observation I made was the further I went back the less paper I had for each year’s tax records and the tax manuals themselves were less pages. 

It is soon tax time again and which was my inspiration for last evenings project.  I want to be organized for the accountant at an earlier date than last year.  When I got my first job that required filing taxes it was my responsibility to do my taxes.  My dad told me where to get the forms and how to work my way through them to file my taxes. 

I continued to do my taxes until the year that we became part owners in the family business.  At that point in time taxes just became too difficult to do.  I had to call the accountant too many times to make sure I was doing our taxes right.  I caved in after 22 years of doing my own taxes.

In 1976 my tax filing consisted of a one page federal form, one page state form and one W-2.  This past year our taxes included 2 W-2’s, supporting documents for itemized deductions, 1099’s.  The stack of forms and supporting documents measured 3/4 inches in height for last year’s taxes. 

Each year as I look through the tax forms and manuals for our personal and business I have to laugh at the estimated time that the IRS estimates for doing the forms.  One assumption they make is that you will actually understand the forms to complete them in the estimated time.  We moved a long way away from a person’s ability to do his or her own taxes due to the complicated tax code. 

It’s a shame because it was always an area of my life that where I felt pride and a sense of accomplishment as I mailed the tax filing forms each year.

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My Load is Lighter…over 400 magazines to be exact

I love magazines.  I love to read them cover to cover.  Some of my favorites are home improvement magazines, cooking magazines, and especially flying magazines.  I love to keep them and go back and look at the pictures for various home improvement projects that I thought some day I would like to do.  The problem was getting out of hand.  I bought those handy storage containers for storing magazines.  I thought if they were kept neatly it was okay to keep them all.  They were taking up space in closets and shelves in just about every room in my house and some in the attic and garage.

One of the websites I frequent often is a home management system called FLYlady.net.  Each month she has a goal to work on in your home to make it a more enjoyable place to live.  This month the goal is to get rid of paper clutter.  She says living in clutter robs you of your peace. 

One reference she made when she made this statement was that we all love to stay in a nice clean motel/hotel.  What is it about it that we like?  It is the fact that it is uncluttered.  That’s what I want in my home.  Uncluttered and peaceful.  I am not a hoarder like the new TV reality shows but I do have areas in my home that have been taken over by my magazines and fabric that I use for sewing. 

Tuesday morning my grandson Jack and I loaded up the truck of my car and drove to the local recycling center and dropped them off.  Oh how I was tempted when I saw the cover of several magazines and wanted to keep just this one copy or maybe two as I was putting them into the recycling bin.

Then I found myself looking at what others had put in for recycling and realized that their magazines were different from the ones I was bringing and started to pick them up and read.  I put them back and thought of my goal of a clean, peaceful, and uncluttered home.  Bringing magazines home with me did not fit into my goal.  It’s a good thing I had Jack to keep me moving. 

The next thing on my list as far as paper clutter is all of my household records.  I love office supplies so I have found ways to keep just about everything paper for our household.  If I go in my attic I could find a box that contains receipts for what I paid for fuel oil for our first home.  We haven’t lived there since 1992.  It would be interesting trivia to read but I don’t think I need them anymore. 

My goal is to work on paring down all this paper for 15 minutes a day.  That I can handle.  I’ve already begun to tackle the mail each day as it comes into the home.  I stand next to the paper shredder, recycling and trash and sort immediately.  With four adults in our home we get a lot of mail. 

I’m feeling better already about my home and the spaces that I have cleared of clutter.  Sorry Tyler that the magazines had to go,  I know your love of magazines,  but the peace is worth it.  I will always read magazines just not keep them as long as I have in the past and pass them along to others to share.

I’ll let you know of my progress at the end of the month.

 My new idea of an uncluttered, calm, and peaceful life!

 

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