Monday, February 04, 2008

That was easy!

In just an hour or so yesterday evening I accomplished what it took me parts of two days last year and an entire day the year before to do so we could file for our income taxes.

My old method involved sorting through piles of paid bill stubs and expense receipts for those figures and thumbing through my planner to calculate my mileage for the year. Last year was especially difficult since I was pregnant and we had moved the year before, so I had sets of bills for two houses and they weren't filed very well.

After sitting up on the couch surrounded by stacks of papers for two days last year — seven months pregnant — and using an old laptop computer as a calculator, I decided I had to upgrade my system.

I had just gotten Excel but couldn't quickly figure out how to set up an income/expenditure sheet. I just opened a Word document and created headings for each utility bill, mileage, and expenses, with each month of the year as a subheading for each. As I paid the bills last year or purchased something, I entered the figures on my worksheet. I wasn't as diligent at recording each month's figures in the months after the baby was born, but finding just a few amounts was a whole lot easier than a whole year's worth.

When it came time to have the figures for income tax filing purposes, all I had to do was add up the numbers. If I could learn how to use Excel even that part would be done for me. But at least this year it was much easier to come up with the figures I needed. My goal for recording this year's tax information is to learn how to use Excel so it will take just a few minutes at tax time to come up with the numbers.