Surviving Tax Season 

istock_000020399553medium1

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.

Advertisements

Our Thanksgiving at Disney World: With some tips

This year for Thanksgiving we took a family trip to Disney World. It was a week long vacation, and included a visit to Universal Studios. We had been planning this trip since last spring, and were super excited when the time finally arrived. The trip was a blast, but there are definitely some parts that I would have changed.
The first important thing to know is that Disney World the week of Thanksgiving is crowded. I am sure had we gone the week prior or after Thanksgiving we would have faced fewer crowds and probably saved money on our plane tickets. Be sure to plan around the busy seasons when going to Disney World. I think the next time we go it will be in February or sometime that is not very busy.

If the busy seasons are unavoidable due to scheduling, there are still ways to have a great time. When you are planning your trip be sure to download the Disney World app on your smart phone. This app really helped to make the trip go a lot smoother. I was able to make reservations for dining ahead of time, and even book fast passes once I had my park tickets. I also used the app to keep an eye on wait times for rides. This app was a time saver.

Both Disney World and Universal studios were really crowded. I was hoping to be able to explore the world of Harry Potter at Universal, but the roads were so crowded I could hardly get into any of the shops. The rides were amazing, but we had to wait in long lines. The lines were not as bad at Disney World, but that is because I was able to get fast passes for the more popular rides. Universal Studios offers a fast pass type option, but it costs more, and I preferred waiting in lines then spending a lot more money (they weren’t cheap). If you want to survive the lines at Disney World, get fast passes.

My kids are 8 and 11 years old, so they didn’t really care about the characters. They were all about the rides. We were able to go on every ride, as everyone met the height requirements. I think my favorite ride at Disney World is Soarin, and my favorite one at Universal Studios is the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride. If you have smaller children I do not recommend Universal Studios. Most of those rides had height requirements, and there are some pretty awesome roller coasters that you may want to wait for until your kids can join you.

wp-image-1136028995jpg.jpgHogwarts Castle in Universal Studios

41yixfm5gol-_sl160_

We managed to save a great deal of money on tickets, as we got a military discount. We also stayed at the hotel on the Disney resort designated to military families. One thing we had to be a little more aware of with our spending was food. I found that it was less expensive to order kids meals (even for myself). The kids meals were about half the price of the regular meals, and no one knows who they are for if you are going to the counter service eateries. It doesn’t work, however, if you are at a sit-down restaurant.

Our trip was amazing even though the parks were crowded. We managed to have a great time and still do all the rides that we wanted. If you are planning a trip to Disney World try to plan for the off seasons, and get the app. I am hoping to return in about five years for my 40th birthday. Maybe then we will do a land and sea cruise.