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3 Insanely Simple Steps to Automate your Taxes

3 Insanely Simple Steps to Automate your Taxes

If you’re like me, you have a hard time staying on top of your taxes. You have gas receipts stuffed in every corner of your car. You are saving them for the day at the end of the year when you do your taxes. You think to yourself: “Is this money I get back even worth the trouble?!” Then you remember money doesn’t grow on trees, you have bills to pay and you just grunt and keep stuffing…

I don’t dread this as much as I used to. I’m going to show you how I use my favorite automation tool to COMPLETELY automate my taxes.

The tool is called: IF THIS THEN THAT or IFTTT for short!

The way it works is, it allows you to connect different tools together. And just as the name sounds, it lets you set up “IFTTT applets” that look like this:

IF “this happens” THEN “do” THAT

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If This Then That Applet

    Here are 3 simple applets that will automate this process… no more stuffing receipts.

    1. One-click: Take a picture of the receipt and upload to an organized folder on Google Drive.

    • Download the IFTTT camera app on your phone.
    • Create a folder “Receipts” and a subfolder “2016” in Google Drive.
    • Turn this applet on and edit it to put photos in the “Receipts/2016” folder.

    Now, with one click your phone will take a picture of your receipt and upload it to your Google Drive folder.

    If you don’t have data, the app will wait for wifi to upload.

    Save your receipts the first year. Once everything goes smoothly this first time around, feel free to throw dem’ receipts out.

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    ProTip: Create multiple versions of this applet with subfolders of different expense types. (“Receipts/2016/gas”, “Receipts/2016/restaurants”)

    2. Add incoming email receipts to Google Drive

    This applet will watch your inbox for emails. Any emails with “receipt” or “order” in the title will automatically go in your receipts folder. IFTTT will add a new row to a spreadsheet so you can keep track of the link to the original email.

    • Turn this applet on and press save.
    • Edit it to put files in the “Receipts/2016” folder.

    3. Send your accountant a timed email with the link to your receipts folder.

    Send Email to Accountant

      This last piece will finish off the automation process. Send your accountant an email every year with your receipts.

      Get an accountant to handle your income taxes at the end of the year. Make sure they allow you to send only electronic receipts of your purchases.

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      Here’s an applet that will send them a friendly email with a link to your receipts folder.

      This last one you’ll have to create yourself.

      • From the My Applets page, click “New Applet”.
      • Click “+this” and select Date and Time.
      • Choose the “Every year on” box.
      • Enter your favorite day in January.
      • Click “+that” and select Gmail.
      • Choose the “Send an Email” box.
      • Then, enter the email to your accountant with a link to your Receipts folder.
      • Click “Create Action”
      • Click “Finish”.

      You’re all set to go, make sure your accountant will take photos of receipts.

      Bonus: Integrate more automation with Expensify

      Expensify is service that keeps track of your receipts and expenses for your tax returns. Their free tier is great for personal use. The best part is, you can connect it with IFTTT.

      You can replace the One-click option by uploading to Expensify instead of Google Drive.

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      Replace the “add incoming email receipts to google drive” with this custom applet. Forward incoming email receipts to Expensify.

      • From the My Applets page, click “New Applet”.
      • Click “+this” and select Gmail.
      • Choose the “New email from inbox in search” box.
      • Enter “subject:receipt, subject:order” in the input and click “Create Trigger”.
      • Click “+that” and select Gmail.
      • Choose the “Send an Email” box.
      • Then, enter the email to [email protected]
      • Click “Create Action”
      • Click “Finish”.

      I’ll leave it as an exercise for you to update sending an email to your accountant.

      Conclusion

      You should now be up and running with an automated tax return process. There are even more ways you can automate. If you need to record your trips in your vehicle, there’s an applet for that.

      Let us know if there are any additional tools you use to automate your finances.

      More by this author

      Collin Glass

      Growing WealthHackers.net

      3 Insanely Simple Steps to Automate your Taxes

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      Last Updated on February 15, 2019

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

      Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

      Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

      So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

      Joe’s Goals

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        Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

        Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

        Daytum

          Daytum

          is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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          Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

          Excel or Numbers

            If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

            What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

            Evernote

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              I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

              Evernote is free with a premium version available.

              Access or Bento

                If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                Conclusion

                I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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