Saturday, January 24, 2015

TaxACT Giveaway winners!

As promised, I am here to announce the winners of the TaxACT giveaway! The rafflecopter widget used the brains of random.org to select 3 random entrants. These lucky gals will all receive a TaxACT Online 2014 Deluxe 1040 return (with the option of a discounted state return) complements of the nice and hugely helpful people at TaxACT.

Our winners are Donna, Julie and Miriam!

So, lovely ladies, expect an email from them soon with the details on how to claim your return. Thanks for participating! Happy tax season, all!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Be Your Best in 2015

A couple dear friends and I have decided that we needed a good, motivating motto for this new year we’ve got. After some deliberation and much joking about mottos past, our collective mantra turns out to be:

Be Your Best

(read: Be Yo’ Best)

And that means taking care of sick people and honoring commitments and taking a moment to just be around green things every now and again. Which is why writing a blog post about New Year’s mottos is happening 3 full weeks after the fact. Accepting my humanity, moving on…

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There are a few key areas of my life that I hope will benefit from mindfully endeavoring to be my best this year. They are:

Spiritual life – scheduling prayer time, consciously offering mortification for others, and choosing to do everything with greater joy

Family life – being more present for all my people in small ways each day; being more kind, patient and loving

Personal health – choosing more nutritious foods generally, while not beating myself up when a brownie is needed for quality of life purposes; making an effort to move more, but in ways that don’t hurt my back; choosing to love myself everyday, just as I am

Lifelong learning – not being afraid of challenges in learning new skills; following through with purely educational projects; making a real effort to do my very best work with proper technique; getting outside my comfort zone and not fearing failure

House projects – in an effort to be realistic, I have only a few stated goals for the house in 2015: make window treatments for two bedrooms (by May), paint the stairs and hallway (and all remaining doorway and other trim), and build a closet where the minibar currently exists in our sunroom. These are projects that will improve the user experience of the house in a very real way. I will do other work too, I’m sure, but those are the big goals.

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I did not make a category for my business pursuits. On purpose. I have realized that I am in a phase of my life where “making money” and “building my brand” are not what I want to really focus on. I do still  have that desire, but that cannot compete with my family needs this year and the time needed for other commitments I have made. This doesn’t mean I am shutting down, or even scaling back, but I choose to accept that I can’t drop everything else to make that a greater priority this year. I would love financial success without the effort, but that is not how this works. I will be better for saying it up front and putting my energy where it is needed in the bigger picture.

So… a little late, but better than never!

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And just a reminder that tomorrow is the last day for the TaxACT giveaway. As of this writing, there are but 10 entries for 3 prizes. You could call that either terrible blogging or excellent odds. I prefer to think positive!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

TaxACT Review and Giveaway!

So… we’re getting into tax season…

                                                                             Anybody excited?

                                                                                                                           I thought not.

Now, I am no accountant, but I have always done my own taxes. Even as a high schooler working a few hours after school, I handled my very own 1040-EZ (with some smart parents and a tax preparer [who also happened to be my future mother-in-law] to offer guidance as needed). I guess I’ve been a lifelong DIY fanatic. It’s not rocket science, though sometimes it feels like it.

(Just for kicks, here is a picture of me and my husband when we graduated 8th
grade. Waaay back in 1995. I am front and center and dorky behind the two studs taking
a knee, and my future husband is the kneeling stud on the right. Tee hee. The cute redhead
to my right married the other kneeling stud, and the standing guy in the dark jacket
married the demure darling in the dark floral dress to his right. Collectively, at last
count, we have 12 kids between us. Time flies when you're having fun!)

As life went on, I accrued student loans, got married, bought real estate, had kids, started my own small business and bought equipment, joined a partnership and made charitable contributions, among many other things. And my taxes got more and more complicated too. A schedule C, more forms, more details to track. We had been using a different online tax preparing service, but when I needed to file a schedule C, they told me it was going to cost upwards of $65 to file my state and federal return with them. I’d never had complaints about their service, but that was a hefty pill to swallow. First I decided maybe it was time to hire a CPA. After learning their prices and knowing I would still  have to deliver all the organized information to them to do it, I decided I’d shop around a little more.

(the big day in 2003. such kids!)


Enter TaxACT. I found them through an internet search. Currently, they charge only $12.99 for a deluxe federal return and $17.99 for federal and state (they also offer a free basic federal return for everyone!). I have used the federal and state version since I found them about 5 or 6 years ago (who can remember that far back?), and they have handled everything I have thrown at them with ease and convenience. Schedule C on top of the 1040? No problem! Business property that needs to be depreciated? Sure! Remember your kids’ social security numbers and favorite charities? Of course! Once you make your first return with them, they remember all your info from the previous year which saves a ton of typing and paper cuts.

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They prompt you with questions to input correct and complete data, walk you through adding your W-2s, K-1s, and other forms, and they have buttons to explain anything that needs explaining along the way. They show you a side-by-side comparison of your current return and your last year’s return (if you used them last year) so you can see any big changes or discrepancies and double check your work. You can also compare your data to the national average. Filing the state return after the federal is very quick as they import the pertinent data automatically.

Last year, I accomplished File the Taxes Day and had a little personal party because it was finished with very little trouble on my part. The very next day, another W-2 arrived from the final paycheck from my husband’s previous employer. Oops. So I got to test out the Amended Return functionality of TaxACT. It was free, since we had filed the original return through them, and it was very quick to do! Surprisingly not scary or intimidating at all! I printed out the amended returns (both federal and state) and mailed them in with the small bit we owed. Done! For real! I was so pleased with how not painful it was, I wrote them an email to tell them so. I let them know that this year I would write up a candid review of my enthusiastically positive experiences using their products, and asked if they would like to offer a giveaway. And they do!

So, while tax returns may not be the most exciting thing to read about on a blog about all things happy home, I will posit that having a good tax experience definitely helps create Domestic Bliss in your home! Give them a try!



They are offering my three winners a free TaxACT Online 2014 Deluxe 1040 return, with the option of a discounted state return. They have a great price for what they offer, especially considering how well they perform, but free is even better! To enter the giveaway, please use the rafflecopter below. Entries will be accepted from 12AM 1/15/15 until 12 AM 1/22/15. The winners will be announced here on 1/24/14, and subsequently contacted by TaxACT with a code for the free return. Easy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the above widget is not working for you, my apologies as a raffle copter newbie. I have heard some can't see it, so please try THIS LINK to my Facebook page where you can join the raffle just as well.

Thanks for stopping by!