Surviving Tax Season 

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Tax time is here.  1099s and W-2s are on their way.  I know this because I have gotten a lot busier at my job as an accounting assistant.  Of course I am one of those people who enjoy doing their taxes.  I know, CRAZY.  But I guess that’s why I work in accounting.

I always found taxes are pretty straight forward as long as you have good records and all your tax documents (good tax prep software helps too).  But I am learning that for some people taxes can be difficult and time consuming.  Especially for people who own a business.  Last year was the first time I had a business to report on my taxes, and it was a learning process.  One of the best tools to help with keeping your business organized and ready for tax season is good accounting software.  At my work I do bookkeeping for several businesses and I use QuickBooks.  I love using QuickBooks so much at work I ended up buying it for my home office.

412xioca-xl-_sl160_ QuickBooks offers both a desktop version and an online version.  The Online version charges monthly, but is easily accessible from anywhere.  The online version is always up to date with the latest in QuickBooks, but can become costly over time.  The desktop version is paid for at one time and can only be accessed on the computer it is installed.  The upside to the desktop is it costs less over time, and you can use one version for a few years (unless you are in accounting and need to update each year).

Keeping good books for your business and good records for your deductions and write-offs is a great way to make the tax season go smoother.  Staying organized is key.  Keep all receipts that are business or deductible related and set up folders to separate different items (like sales vs purchases).  If you own a small business and work from home, a good home office is very helpful.  Try not to have all of your business stuff mixed with your personal stuff.  When I started my business I opened a checking account specifically for the business so that I could keep business expenses separate from personal.  It really helps to keep things organized.

Having organization and good accounting records can really help you out during the tax season.  Not everyone needs to go to an accountant to get their taxes done.  Tax software can be a less expensive way to complete your taxes.  I have worked with TurboTax and really like it because it is step-by-step and guides you through everything you need to know to get things completed.  Of course, some people may have larger businesses or more complex situations, in which case I do recommend an accountant.  Good accountants know their job well, and can help you get the most out of your taxes.  Good luck to all this tax season.

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Help Kids Enjoy Reading

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Reading has always been a passion of mine.  My mother told me that when I was a toddler (before I could read), I would grab stacks of books and tell the stories how I remembered them or make something up.  I don’t think there has ever been a time when I didn’t enjoy reading.  Okay, that isn’t true.  I really don’t enjoy reading text books.  I learned to skim through those in college.

I have two children who love to read as well, but it wasn’t always that way.  Trying to get my kids to read was a very difficult task to start with and I couldn’t understand why.  How could they not love reading as much as I love to read?  When I brought this dilemma up to my husband, he informed me that he didn’t like to read until he was an adult.  I was in shock because my husband reads all the time.  But I guess as a child/teen it seemed more like a chore to him.

I thought about what my husband had said and decided I didn’t want reading to seem like a chore for my kids.  It should be enjoyable.  So, I set out to make reading fun.

I started out by giving the kids incentives to read more.  I made reading charts and they got to put stickers on their chart for every 15 minutes of reading they completed.  Once their chart was complete they could get something from the bookstore.  That worked a little to start with, but the kids got bored with the chart, and they were content on not getting a prize.

The next thing I tried was finding books they would enjoy.  I would take them to the library and let them look for different books they wanted, and also made some suggestions of my own.  I had done quite a bit of research for what was popular based on their age groups.  My daughter, who is the oldest, finally go into the “Ivy and Bean” series by Annie Barrows, when she was around 7 or 8.  She ended up reading the entire series and moved on to other series like “Nancy Clancy” by Jane O’Conner, as she got older.  Now, at age 11, she enjoys the “Whatever After” series by Sarah Mlynowski , and the “Dork Diaries” by Rachel Renee Russell.  She also enjoys mysteries and wants to read some of the books I’ve read.

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My son was also difficult.  But I had learned from my daughter that it was just a matter of finding the right book.  To start with, I discovered that he liked history and stories based on actual events.  Together we discovered the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis .  Each book follows a different child surviving an historical event.  My son then moved on to the “Jedi Academy” series by Jeffrey Brown, and he still likes to re-read those books.  He is now 9 and loves the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinney, and graphic novels (not too graphic).

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I learned that in order to make reading fun for my kids I needed to listen to them and discover what would interest their minds.  My kids are now very avid readers, and I have since reinstated the reading chart.  Now we have a little family reading competition that has been going on for about a year.  Every time someone finishes a book within their reading level, they mark it on their chart.  First one to read 100 books gets a special prize that we all agreed would be suitable.  This has helped to encourage everyone in the house to read more, and makes for some friendly competition.  So far my son is winning.

“The 13th Reality” by James Dashner 

I love to read.  Young adult fiction is probably my favorite genre, and I enjoyed youth fiction as well.  I recently read “The 13th Reality” by James Dashner.  It is for young readers (tweens), and I really enjoyed this book.

The book follows a young boy named Tick, who is invited to become part of a group working to save the world (or better put, the realities).  Before Tick can join, however, he has to solve several riddles that are sent by letters.  You can read a full description on Goodreads.

This is the first book in a series, and I have also read the second book.  I am on the wait list for the 3rd book at my library.

To me, a good book is one that I have a hard time putting down.  I want to keep reading and find out more.   Each chapter of this book left me wanting to find out what was next.  This book is a great introduction to an adventurous series.  I definitely recommend it to middle school kids, teens, and adults.

Get it on Kindle

2017 Is Here

It is now 2017 and we are going into it with some crazy weather.  We have had snow and ice all this week.  I have missed two days of work, and I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  Will the roads be clear? Will I make it to work?  I sure hope so.

Since I have been stuck at home I have been able to work on some projects.   I am working on a special blanket for my husband and me.  We have been in our new house for a year now, and I had been recording the daily temperature for that first year.  The colors of each row of the blanket are determined by the temperature of the day they represent.  I still have a ways to go.

I have also been able to get a lot of reading done, and cleaning.  Of course, with my new roomba I got for Christmas, I can multi task pretty well.

41ng3yrleml-_sl160_I LOVE THIS VACUUM!

Yup, 2017 is here and it has brought crazy weather and productivity.  Now I need to get to work on my 2017 health goals. 😉

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