Tag Archives: organization

It’s Taxes Time (or Seeing My Hard Work Pay Off)

I don’t think that anyone is excited to do their taxes and owe money. Because of my jobs, I know I will owe money each year. None of my jobs take my taxes out for me, and even though I do my estimated payments like I need to they are usually not enough to cover what I owe. I know this is the situation I’m in so I am as prepared as possible for tax time. I save all my work related receipts (and there are a ton of them) and I save money out of every paycheck to use at tax time. But even with that, I’m always nervous that the news is going to be bad when I get my taxes done.

I went to Daphne at Chuck Sloan and Associates again and I’m so glad I did! First of all, everyone at Chuck Sloan understands actor and creative type taxes and the unique situations we are all in. They aren’t scared by dozens of jobs and the forms and all the weird deductions we need to do. And they understand how stressful tax time can be for us all. But I’m so happy that I have Daphne doing my taxes because she’s extra awesome! We bonded the last time she did my taxes over Disneyland and since I was going to Disneyland after doing my taxes with her I knew we’d talk about that.

Last year, Daphne showed me the worst case scenario with my taxes before she put in all my deductions so that I would feel better about how much I had saved up. I had asked her to do that for me again and once again it was less than what I had saved for my taxes. That’s always a huge relief because I know that no matter what I will have enough money to pay what I owe. But since now I’m feeling more comfortable with that, it was all about how well I tracked my work spending and tracked my deductions.

I like to think that I’m a pretty organized person and that I did a good job tracking expenses in 2016. Since I had my taxes done by Daphne once already, I knew what I should be aware of and what can be deducted. There are so many accountants that let you deduct things that aren’t totally on the up and up, so I’m glad Daphne is very careful in her work and tells me when things look weird (like how I accidentally tracked buying my new computer twice). I’m sure that there is more that I can deduct, but I’m still learning how to do the best that I can.

And even though I thought I had done all my tracking without missing things, there were a few things that I totally forgot about and I’m so glad we went over any other expenses I might have had in the year. I forgot that I got a new phone (which I do have to use for acting and my research job) and for some reason I never tracked the money that I spent to produce “Single Parent Date Night”. This is another reason I love having Daphne do my taxes. She knew to ask about these sort of things just in case I didn’t remember to track them on my paperwork (I’m sure anyone at Chuck Sloan would do the same since they know to look for these things).

In the end, I owed less than half of what I had saved for my taxes. This is so much better than I ever could have imagined! The money left over is going to be saved for another trip to New York that my sister-in-law and I are hoping to take next year. I still have more time to save more money, but I think what I have left over from my taxes savings should be able to cover pretty much the entire trip! I was only hoping that I would have about half of what I needed for that trip leftover so having this much is a big surprise to me and it making me relax a bit about how I will be able to afford that trip.

I’ve already written my checks to the IRS and sent them off so I’m now totally done with doing my 2016 taxes. It’s nice to get them done early enough so there isn’t a huge rush to do them at the last minute. And I’ve already started planning on what I can do this year to make the taxes easier next year. I will be paying more in estimated taxes, so that will help how much I owe. But I also now will be tracking my expenses even better because I learned where I was slacking last year that caused me to miss out on some potential deductions.

While it was nice in the past to be very uninvolved in my taxes, that’s not a luxury I can afford anymore. I know that with my current jobs that I will always owe money at the end of the year and I like being able to sit down with Daphne and go over everything so I understand why I owe what I do. I can see what deductions took off what and where I could have done better. I guess being more involved with all of this is just something that is required when you want to be more responsible and acting more like an adult.

Organization Time (or Seeing A Bit Of A Mess)

I take a lot of pride in being a super organized person. I have my calendar color coded, I made lists of tasks or errands to do almost every day, and I track my tax stuff throughout the year so I don’t have to do it all at once. I’m pretty set in my organization skills and I’ve taught a couple of friends to do them as well (I think everyone has appreciated the tips!).

My house is pretty small, so I try to keep things uncluttered. When there is a little bit of a mess, it seems to take everything over. At one of my old apartments, I was a much messier (and less organized person), but I’m pretty neat in my current space. But between all the day jobs I’m working now, time is much more limited and I’ve been noticing that things are getting a bit messy and overwhelming.

I’ve been trying to set small goals each day with things that need to be cleaned/organized but I’ve got 2 main projects that I want to work on and they both probably need a day devoted to them.

First, I want to organize my kitchen. I’m lacking in counter space, so I have to be very careful where I store things. I finally just got rid of all my mismatched disposable food storage containers (I got some nice glass ones and only have 6 pieces instead of 20 or more). I’ve got dozens of cookbooks, but I think I only really use maybe 3 of them. So I need to take a day or a couple of days and go through the cookbooks and scan in the recipes I like. Then I can donate the cookbooks that I don’t need and that is a lot more storage space for me in my kitchen cabinet.

I may have gotten rid of a ton of junk storage containers, but I still have so much stuff to go through. I know I donated about 20 water bottles somewhat recently, but I just counted and I have 15 water bottles in my house. I really only use maybe 3 or 4 of them, so I need to weed through them. I also have a giant fruit bowl on my counter that I do use, but I think I could find something smaller that would do just as great of a job.

I don’t want to spend a ton of money organizing my kitchen, but I know that a couple of things will need to be bought and I need to figure out exactly what I’m in need of or what I could use to make the tiny kitchen space more manageable. My main goal is to make my kitchen a place that makes me happy and motivated to keep cooking in there.

The second place that I’m in serious need of organizing is my desk. Most of my desk is technically organized, but there’s so much stuff piled up everywhere that you can’t see the organized areas! Part of the problem is that while I’m working on a project, things get piled on my printer or on my filing cabinet. I try to toss them out when the project is done, but that doesn’t always happen. Fortunately, this project will be more throwing out things than reorganizing, so it should be easier than the kitchen project I want to do.

I’m really working on making my space the best it can be for me. I need things to be functional and motivating at the same time. I need to have a ton of things within reach, but not cluttered on top of each other. I know that this is probably just normal maintenance or “spring cleaning” type work. But until I took a step back and realized how my disorganized spaces were causing issues for me, I didn’t realize how badly I needed to revamp my system.

Upgrading My Kitchen (or Time To Organize)

After my day of bulk cooking, I realized that I don’t have some things that I can really use in the kitchen. And I have a lot of things that I definitely don’t need (or are expired and I never noticed it).

So on Monday (my day off from my main day job), I set out to remedy this problem. The first thing I did was go through all of my cabinets and throw out any things that had expired. I had a lot of oils, sauces, and dry goods that I don’t use that often and many of them had expiration dates of a year or 2 ago! While some of it I know I will be replacing, many things in my cabinet were things that I bought for just one recipe and never used it again. That’s such a waste of money (and cabinet space for me). I’m really going to work on only restocking things that are more than one-time-use items.

My next clean out was my storage containers. As pretty much everyone does, I had a ton of storage containers that didn’t really go together. I had a lot of lids without containers and visa versa. And while I do like the “disposable” storage containers you can get at the store, I wanted to make sure that if I was going to bulk cook that I had good quality containers.

I got rid of many of the disposable ones (since I pretty much never use them) and saved all of my Snapware. I have the plastic Snapware that I got a long time ago and have always liked how they sealed so tightly.

My last clean out stage in my kitchen was to move things around to be in more convenient places for me. Until this week, I stored several pans in my oven because I didn’t know where else to put them. I almost always remembered to take them out before heating my oven, but on the occasions that I didn’t, it was always a pain to lift super hot pans out of my oven and find a place to store them (usually on the top of my stove). After moving some pantry items around and having more space since I got rid of expired things, I found a new home for those pans.

Then, it was time to add a few things to my kitchen to make sure I’m prepared to bulk cook again.

The first was to get more storage containers. I didn’t have that many to begin with and I wanted to get some more Snapware since I know I like those containers. I know many people don’t like plastic containers, but since I do not plan to microwave in them I figured that they would be ok. I looked online for prices and found that Costco had a great deal on them. So I headed over there and ended up arriving even before the store opened (am I the only one who didn’t know Costco didn’t open until 10am?).

I found exactly what I wanted pretty quickly.


I also was looking to get a second cutting board for my house. I only had one and during the bulk cooking I had to wash and dry it multiple times. It’s not the easiest thing to wash and it was slowing me down a lot. But while I was looking at cutting boards, I found something pretty awesome.


This bamboo cutting board has a groove cut out in the middle to place different liners in. There are 7 different ones to be used for different food products. While I might not always use the meat liner for meat, this basically gives me 7 cutting boards to use when I’m cooking!

While I got rid of more things than I added in my kitchen, I think that I am now more prepared to do more cooking at home. I’m made my tiny kitchen space as efficient as I can be and I’m looking forward to seeing what other things I can cook and store in my bulk cooking.

It’s so weird. I’ve never enjoyed cooking that much. I’ve tried to force myself to like it because my mom is an awesome cook and I see what can be created at home. But it never really clicked with me. I don’t want to say that I’m been completely transformed, but I’ve never felt this way about cooking or meal planning before. I’m excited to see where my food journey goes next!

Trying To Be An Organized Packer (or Another Bit Of My OCD)

I spent this past weekend in Lake Tahoe with my parents (and my dog) to celebrate my birthday. I promise to have some Tahoe recaps (and photos) coming up this week, but first, I wanted to share some of my travel tips. Particularly when it comes to packing.

I don’t think that I’m an expert packer, but I’ve picked up some helpful ideas over the years. And when some of my friends traveling with me have seen these in action, they always comment on how they should use them too.

First of all, I try to keep all of my travel stuff in one location in my house. In my storage area behind my kitchen, I have my suitcases and all my travel toiletries stored. This way I can just grab them together. I keep my toiletries packed (one bag for liquids and one for non-liquids due to TSA rules), so I only have to grab those bags and not have to pull everything together.


I also make a note if any of my toiletries run out on a trip so I can get a new one and put it in my bag as soon as I’m home. This way I can prevent last-minute CVS runs for a travel size toothpaste or contact lens solution.

For almost all of the trips I take, I only bring a carry-on bag (this will change for the Hawaii trip). So I have to be pretty mindful how I pack.

I always wear my bulkiest shoes on the plane, so they don’t take up room in my suitcase. And I try to only pack one other pair of shoes in my suitcase. I broke that rule on this trip because I just got some new barefoot-style sneakers (they look normal sneakers and not like barefoot shoes with toes). So I packed those up too so I could start wearing them in.

The best way I’ve found to pack shoes is to put them in shower caps. This way the dirty bottoms are covered and won’t get your clothes messy (thank you Pinterest!)


Aren’t my new barefoot sneakers cute! They are by Merrell and I got them $30 off at Off Broadway Shoes!

I know that some people believe in packing each outfit in its own bag, rolling clothes to save room, or laying all their clothes on top of each other and then folding it as one piece. I’ve tried those all, and they don’t really work for me.

My favorite way to pack clothes is what I like to call puzzle packing. I put one layer of folded clothes in my suitcase. Then I start on the next layer, trying to fill in all gaps and maximizing the spaces (fitting things together like puzzle pieces).

Once I got all my clothes in, my suitcase looked like this:


Inside are 2 pairs of shoes, socks and underwear, a dress, a sweater, a tank top, yoga pants, a workout top, a t-shirt, a bathing suit, pajamas, and a hat. And there is plenty of room in there for my toiletries and other items I might add at the last-minute.

The final step to my packing is making my day-of list. This is my list of things that I have to do before leaving for the airport.


After taking this photo, I realized I left about 4 items off this list. But mostly what it is are items that can’t be packed until the last minute (I need to wear my glasses at night so I can’t pack them until the morning, I want to be able to brush my teeth and put on makeup in the morning).

I know this is a little crazy, but it does help my anxiety about flying a bit. Also, I have yet to forget a major thing for a trip. Hopefully you will find some useful tips for your next trip. And if not, you just got a peak inside my crazy mind!

TV Prep Time (or Here Are Some Helpful Links About Scheduling Your Viewing)

I can’t believe how fast the summer is flying by! I remember when I was younger and my mom would tell me that time goes by faster the older you get. It’s true.

TV networks are starting to get ready for the fall tv season. And if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m a little OCD when it comes to my prep work for the new shows.

I noticed that the website where I get my fall tv schedules have put up some of their information already, and I thought I’d share the links and some helpful tips on how to use them. And if you aren’t an actor, as long as you enjoy watching some tv shows, you might find this helpful as well!

First of all, here’s the link to a print out of the tv lineups for networks shows in the fall.

How is this helpful? First of all, you can use it to see if any of the shows you watch regularly have changed time slots. You can also see if there is anything that you aren’t able to record (I can only record 2 shows at once on my DVR, so if I like to watch 3 that air at the same time I have to watch one on Hulu).

For actors trying to do your research, you can plan out when you can watch certain new shows (since you should be trying to watch at least one or two episodes of everything on tv). I use this to plan what shows to watch and take notes on each day of the week. Unless I’m personally super excited for a new tv show (it happens plenty), I will schedule time to watch a show the day or two after it airs. That way I’m not staying up super late to catch a new show and take notes. Sometimes when taking notes, I will watch a show all the way through once, make some quick notes, and then go back to the beginning and watch it again for more detailed notes (like character family relations). I don’t always do this, but for some dramas, it’s hard to get everything I need in one viewing.

The second link is for the premier date schedule for all tv shows. You might recognize the grid from this picture in a previous blog post.


I always print out this schedule and keep it near my tv. This shows when each show is coming back for the fall. So even if there are 6 new shows I need to watch on a Monday, perhaps only one or two are premiering in a particular week. When I have this printed out, I highlight the premier dates of all the new shows that I need to watch. I’ll either print out a second sheet to highlight the shows that I already watch (and just am antsy to start watching again), or I’ll sometimes highlight it in another color.

Using both of these sheets, I can coordinate my DVR (and Hulu if necessary) so that I’m ready for the new tv season. The only change that I’m making this year is to digitally record all of my notes. In the past, I’ve used notebooks and hand-wrote everything. This year, I’m creating notebooks in Evernote┬áto track and organize all of it. I’m not sure if I’ll like it more than handwriting (something about writing it down and not typing it seems to make me remember it more), but I’m willing to test it out!

I hope that for all of you actors, this helps you get more prepared for the fall tv season! If you have any questions about anything, please ask. I’m more than happy to share my knowledge with fellow actors. I don’t believe that we are really ever competing against anyone but ourselves in the audition room.

And for you non-actors reading this, I hope that you now know when all of your shows are coming back, and maybe you’ve learned something too!

Now I’m off to print and highlight the heck out of those pages!