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Tax Time: One Step to Simplify the Process

It's tax time--and if you're like me, you'd rather do just about anything but prepare your return.

One problem may be the length of time it takes to pull together necessary information. For example, with my old filing system, I would have to flip through several folders to find the required figures. This can become a frustrating and time-consuming process.

Eliminating that step can simplify your tax preparation. Here's one way: create a hanging folder for any information you'll need at tax time. Throughout the year when filing papers, ask yourself "will I need any information on this page to prepare my taxes?" If so, drop it into the hanging file. You can use folders to subdivide into categories such as income or charitable donations if you like.

When tax time rolls around, you can find most of your necessary paperwork in one place. Trust me, it may not make the process enjoyable, but it will make it less "taxing."


How to Keep Leftovers From Becoming a Scary Surprise in Your Fridge

Some foods age gracefully, such as wine and cheese. Others, like last night's casserole, not so much. How do you keep leftovers from getting jammed into the back of your refrigerator and turning into a nasty surprise?

Here's a simple solution. Designate one shelf or space in your fridge for leftover items. It becomes a visual cue: if there's food there, you have leftovers that need to be eaten. I swear by this method and it has eliminated this challenge in my own refrigerator.

Use clear storage containers because you can see in without opening the lid. If you have a little more time and energy, consider identifying them with removable labels such as these label pads from Post-It, available at many office supply stores.

Adopting any of these simple steps will save you time and money. You can eat those leftovers instead of wasting them. And, hopefully, you'll never again have the yucky chore of lifting the lid to a storage container that was jammed in the back of the fridge!


Recycle Electronics at Best Buy's e-cycle Program

My husband and I were clearing a few things out of our basement over the weekend and came across the graveyard of electronics. You know what I mean. The pile of electronics that quit working and weren't worth repairing, or items that were replaced with newer, better functioning models. It seems a lot of people have their own version of this somewhere in their homes.

A Best Buy location was on the way to the thrift store where we planned to drop off some other items, so it was the perfect time to try this service.

According to Best Buy's website:

Regardless of where you bought it, what brand it is, or how old it is: bring it to us. We'll make sure it's properly and safely recycled. It's all part of our consumer electronics recycling programs. And we'll take just about anything electronic, including TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, audio and video cables, cell phones, and more. Most things are recycled absolutely free, with a few restrictions.

I'm glad to report the process was easy and the associates were friendly. Just inside the door there was a bin for cables, jewel cases, CDs, ink and other items. The greeter put a recycle sticker on all of our products (satellite dish receivers, blender with no glass parts, inkjet printer with ink cartridges removed) and sent us to the customer service desk. We dropped off the items there and were on our way. There is a fee for TVs and monitors, but Best Buy gives a gift card in return.

So I'm making a pledge not to let the pile accumulate again. And I'm hoping you'll be able to deal with your electronics graveyard as well!


My Favorite Laundry Time Saver Eliminates the Need to Sort Socks!

Laundry is not my favorite chore, especially sorting and folding. That's probably why my favorite laundry time saver is using Sock Cop Clips from The Container Store. Just imagine--they eliminate the need to sort socks!

Socks are clipped together before dropping them in the laundry. Ours goes down the laundry chute into the hamper, then through the washer and dryer. These clips really do keep pairs together and they dry fully (other kinds I have tried left socks damp where they were clamped together). Choose a different color clip for each family member to further expedite the sorting process.

The best endorsement: my husband loves them too and actually uses them!


Click here to read more of Cathy's in-depth blogs featuring ways to organize your life or prepare your home for sale.