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I was audited!

Tax-on-lawsuit-damagesYes it’s true.  I just got a notice of assessment from the federal government, almost a year after I filed my 2013 taxes, and they’ve decided I owe them money.  There is nothing more I hate than owing people money or people owing me money.  When I go to sleep every night I like my balance sheet to be at $0 but right now it’s not – and that’s driving me crazy.

What happened

I came home from work yesterday and I had a letter from the Revenue Agency.  I thought maybe it was just another statement of account, but to my surprise it was a letter stating I forgot to claim some income on my 2013 taxes and forgot to declare some of my student loan repayments; therefore I now owe them $437.  WHAT!?  How does $200 in forgotten freelance income and less than $80 in student loan interest equal over $400 in tax fees?  I have no idea.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been audited.  Back in 2011 I was audited for the previous five years and for all that time I ended up only owing the federal government $318.  I wasn’t upset about that at all because I have a great accountant and in the grand scheme of things it’s a small amount of money for five years.  But over $400 for one year is unacceptable in my opinion – but the government disagrees.

Where I went wrong

My current accounting system consists of an Excel spreadsheet and two envelopes full of all my receipts.  I divide them into two categories: food and other business expenses.  I would like to say I add up my expenses each month, staple all receipts together and mark them into my Excel spreadsheet but that wouldn’t be true – although it was my intention last January.  I think it lasted about three months and when spring came around I just started shoving my receipts in the envelops.

In February I’ll spend a day or two sorting through my receipts and adding up all my income and expenses for the year so I can bring my papers to the accountant’s office in March.  Not the most efficient record keeping option, I know.

I would love to double check the federal government’s records because I’m one of those people who honestly believe I’m being screwed over all the time – especially when it comes to money.  I don’t trust anyone, but my accountant is probably going to charge me $200 to verify the government’s notice of assessment.  I don’t want to pay that amount on top of what I supposedly owe the government.

What I’m going to do differently in 2015

This year I am going to keep better track of my income and expenses.  I promise.  Why?  Because I have to.  Spending two days collecting receipts and trying to remember everything I did over the last year is not my idea of fun.  If I spent 30 minutes each month adding up all my income and expenses it would save me a lot of trouble during tax time.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

You’re probably thinking, why don’t you just get a book keeping service?  Because I’m not sure how they work, but I’m open to suggestions.  Does a bookkeeping service keep track of my income and expenses in both Canada and the United States?  Does it track payments received and sent via PayPal and my bank accounts?  All suggestions are welcome.

 

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Originally published on Dinks Finance

Photo from National Liberty Party

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Go green and save on your water bill

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BF and I have been in our new apartment just over two months and I’m still learning about how to save money on hydro without taking cold showers and living in the dark.  This is the first time in 34 years we’ve had to pay hydro; not only are we learning how to fit this variable payment into our monthly budget but we’re also learning to be more conscious about how much energy we consume.

We already received our first hydro bill.  It was $65 from October 1 to 16.  We moved in Oct 1 and I guess the cut off is mid month so that’s why we already received a bill.  This means our hydro bill, which includes electricity and hot water, should be around $130 each month.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but it seems like a lot since we haven’t even turned on our heat yet for the winter or our air conditioning for the summer.  Does that sound reasonable for an 1100 sq. ft. apartment?

4 ways we are trying to cut down our water bill:

Turn off the water.  I know this seems like common sense but it’s not as easy as it sounds.  I never noticed how much water I used to waste because I never had to pay attention to it.  I would turn on the shower and let the water run for a few minutes until it was hot and I am notorious for leaving the water running while I brush my teeth.  Let me tell you that all this has stopped, but old habits are hard to break.  I’m also trying not leave the water running while I’m cleaning because not only is it a waste of useful resources, it’s also letting money run down the drain – literally.

Make sure your appliances are full.  For six years we had to wash dishes by hand so having a brand new dishwasher is amazing, however it’s also a very expensive luxury.   We would love to run the dishwasher whenever we needed to use a dirty dish, but that’s just not smart.  BF and I tend to always eat the same things which means we always use the same dishes and cookware, but we don’t want to run our dishwasher until it’s absolutely full.  This means we still end up washing some dishes by hand but it’s better than wasting water and our money.

Wash in cold water.   This is probably the best money saver tip I can give.  Cold water is free so if you run the dishwasher and laundry machine on cold water it only costs electricity not electricity AND hot water.  That’s a great money saving tip.  Of course it doesn’t mean we should all start doing a load of laundry every time we need one pair of socks cleaned because that would be a waste.  Just be cautious with your water temperatures because it could save you a lot of money.  It also saves water because if you’re washing dishes by hand no one wants to linger their body parts in cold water.  I for one always wash faster when the water is cold.

How do you save money on your water bill?

Photo from Flickr

MOVING

6 things I learned from moving

MOVINGIt’s been almost two months since BF and I moved into our new apartment and for some reason I still don’t feel 100% comfortable in our new place.  How long should it take before the new place feels like ours?   Every morning I get up and walk my new route to work.  Every night I come home and enjoy our new space, but for some reason it still doesn’t seem real.  I think it’s because we lived on so little for so long that this big new modern apartment just seems so good to be true.

Moving was definitely an experience for me – in a good way.  The last time we moved was six years ago and it was a complete nightmare.  Two of the movers got into a fight in the middle of the day and one of them left, then they held our TV hostage until we paid the bill in full.  Total Nightmare.

This time our move was very smooth (sorry for the rhyming)  and it was more of a personal growth experience than anything else.  Does that sound weird?  Yes even though I’m 34 years old I learned a lot about myself over the last 30 days.

1. I’m a mini hoarder.  We have a lot of stuff.  For two people who lived in under 600 sq ft we have A LOT of stuff.  I went back to U-Haul twice to buy more boxes because we kept running out.

2. I’m in a good relationship.  Stressful times really test your relationship and packing up your entire life into boxes is stressful.  There’s a lot of logistics that go into moving and trying to coordinate everything can be very stressful.  BF and I got through it as a team and that’s a good feeling.

3. I’m kind of lazy.  When I tell you that I didn’t want to do anything during this move it’s true.  BF kept trying to motivate me to work but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I even wanted to hire people to pack our boxes, but he convinced me that would be a waste of money.

4. We can live with just the essentials.  I donated and threw out a lot of stuff.  We’re talking bags of clothes and boxes of things I haven’t seen or used in years.  Why I ever had so many things is beyond me but my rule for moving was if I didn’t use it in the last six months then I don’t need it.

5. I don’t hate change as much as I thought I did.  I like having a routine, it’s comforting and it keeps me calm.  Moving into a new apartment in a neighborhood we’ve never lived in and barely ever visited was giving me panic attacks.  However now that we’re here my anxiety has calmed down and I’m actually starting to sleep better at night – without pills.

6. I’m not 22 anymore.  Last month I turned 34 years old and my age has really started to show – especially when it comes to labour intensive work.  We started moving at 10 am, we finished by 5 pm and I was exhausted…and we had movers!  It’s not like BF and I actually did much work other than watch the moving truck to make sure nothing got stolen and directing the movers where to put boxes in the new place, yet I was very tired.  I think I passed out cold by 9 pm.   When I was 22 I had two jobs and went out with friends four days a week, now I can’t even stay awake until 9 pm – YIKES!