Most people who itemize their taxes have trouble keeping track of everything. Old people have a real problem, keeping envelopes and other unnecessary papers; and, strewing documents everywhere in their house or car.
This is to help you organize and is not tax advice. Hopefully, it is common sense – something old people should strive for.
The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principal applies to old people in spades. Especially in financial matters.
All you need is a bucket labeled for taxes. During the year, you throw everything in the bucket; except envelopes. (Why old people keep envelopes is beyond me; and they are a source of clutter, confusion and contribute to important documents that go missing.)
You throw in notes where you paid cash or by credit card and copies of all credit card statements. Copy the front and back of needed checks and drop the copy in the bucket. Note that things in the bucket are in chronological order, so if you need something before tax season, you can find it easily.
Copy last years tax return; or your accountant’s tax form.
At tax time, take the papers out of the bucket, sort them by tax form categories, and attach them to a copy of last year’s tax return. Change the numbers, insert new numbers and add in any new items.
You now have everything you need for your taxes, or for your estate.
Old people need to learn new things. And, at your age, all your mentors are dead. The problem is finding someone to teach you and having the guts to go and learn something. It is an uphill battle to admit at 78 that you are ignorant and don’t know everything. Old people are afraid of being wrong, stupid or foolish.
I suggest that if you want to learn something new that you start with a “Dummies” book. There are hundred of them and they cover everything from Dating after Age 50 to Beekeeping. Some of them are 20 years old, but most basic knowledge is also old and you can use a Dummies book as a starting point.
At least you won’t feel quite as foolish after you have looked through a “Dummies” book.
Note that there are a number of Dummies Books directed at Seniors, or of topics of interest to seniors; even topics that you might not want anyone to know you are interested in, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Dummies, which you can order on Amazon.com. Get the Kindle edition, as you don’t want to leave it laying around, and it is cheaper.
When you are ready to buy, go to Amazon, which sells hundreds of “Dummies” books. Just search “Dummies + topic” and see what you get; or do the same thing at your local library.
Amazon should be your starting point. It is better than a card catalog, or the electronic equivalent. Then check your library; or if on vacation, the library in the town you are visiting. They usually have a good supply and it is free. Besides, going to the library is interesting anyway as they have numerous magazines, programs, cafes, etc. They also are frequently the location for the local genealogy society, and other interest groups.
For example, we go to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida each year. Except for White Sands, New Mexico has a shortage of beaches. We like the Largo Public Library in Largo, Florida which provides us with a book store, a cafe, genealogy courses, genealogy library and dozens of magazines in addition to a huge number of books for “Dummies.”
Some of the Dummies Books I found at the Largo Public Library of interest to old people, deal with laptops, tablets and smart phones, Facebook, fit over 40, social security, estate planning, genealogy, personal finance, dating after 50, and dementia.
Of special interest to those of you who are downsizing, maybe in anticipation of a move to “The Home” is: e-Bay for Dummies. Or, you might just want to buy a copy for your kids. Time to sell off all that junk, which no one in your family really wants.
You might be interested in:
And, of course, if you are an old blogger, there is always:
At my age, nothing could be more interesting than the 4th Edition of Beekeeping for Dummies.
Walking on the beach and breakfast at Crabby Bill’s in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida.
I was raised in the mid-west and have lived in New Mexico for over 50 years, so the beach has always drawn me.
My wife’s family lived in Largo, Florida and Indian Rocks Beach has been a place she has been familiar with for over 50 years.The attraction has rubbed off on me.
Our life there is simple. We rent a condo overlooking the beach, we rent a car through Costco, we use Uber, we go to the library and frequent consignment stores. We have wi-fi. Good restaurants are within walking distance.
My morning routine is what makes my day. I wake-up early and walk a mile and a half on the beach to Crabby Bill’s, a restaurant/bar that awakens at 7:00 AM. It is simple, indoors and outdoors, and caters to different customers depending on the time of the day. At 8:00 AM there is a smaller more mature crowd. At noon and in the evening they serve great fresh fish and beer at long communal tables.
Prior to breakfast is a stop at the CVS Pharmacy next door for the New York Times, a habit I have even in New Mexico. (Today, the first time in years, they didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked for the NY Times.)
As an aside, since old people always have something wrong with them, don’t forget that CVS Pharmacies have a “Minute Clinic.” They can handle all sorts of minor health problems; and, if nothing else triage you and get you more help if needed. You can get a place in line on-line, but I have always found them to be quick, helpful and professional. Why go to an emergency room unless it is an emergency?
I read the times while eating the All American Special with crisp bacon for $6.00. I then walk a mile and a half back to the condo; hopefully with a new blog topic.
Fresh air, great breakfast and the news by 9:00. What could be better?
In this day and age there is too much information; and too much of it is false. I am buffeted by ads, politics, etc. At 77, I decided to take a look at what I really needed to know. There are 10 things, not perfect, but that will at least make my present life better and protect me from the stress of old age.
You are going to die anyway, so why worry about that. Figure out how to make today as comfortable and as interesting as possible.
Here is my list:
- Walk – Almost anyone can do this and it keeps you fit physically, mentally and socially.
- “Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much.” Michael Pollan
- Wine with friends. Not too much.
- Index your investments. Unless you are too smart to be reading this blog, you can’t beat the market, so go with Index Funds, which beat most investment advisors and most funds. Set them to pay out the IRS Required Minimum Distribution each year on your birthday.
- Have a mentor. Mentors, or advisors, younger than you, are more important in old age than when you are young. You need someone to keep an eye on you. Think scams, illness, long-term care, etc.
- Socialize – if nothing else, sit out on your front porch and wave at people going by. Become a fixture. Most of us can at least get to the front porch; and, there are free shuttles to take you to church, clubs and the senior centers.
- Simplify – Life is way to complex for an old person. Reduce everything to its simplest form.
- Follow the money – In any situation, where is the money going. Check charities, investments, etc. Most things you don’t need and most investments are too good to be true. Old people are a target of scammers.
- Weights and exercise bands. – Do a bit while you are watching TV, etc. You need to be fit and you need muscles.
- Simple default protective devises. You should automatically grab for the grab bar when you get out of the shower; the rail on the stairs; your glasses when you drive. Default solutions can protect you. Some need to be learned like the new devices on cars; but, maybe you should not be driving anyway.
American Air Lines has introduced its Basic Economy Fare. Other airlines, except Southwest, are charging for checking, carry-on, and for anything that you can’t stick under the seat.
This is great. I am cheap. Now I am forced to travel as a minimalist, which is better for me. I can enjoy the journey; and, not worry about dealing with luggage.
Have you ever seen an old person trying to hoist their bag into an overhead bin? Not a pretty sight. Have you seen an old person dragging a large suitcase through the airport? Do old people really need to dress up when traveling?
I have written on this before. But now, I am forced to take a new look.
I like Rick Steves and have taken 4 trips with his organization. He sells the Euro Flight Bag (14 x 13 x 8) and it fits under the American Airlines seat with room to spare. I don’t need as much seat room since I have lost an inch or two in the last few years, and expect to lose a bit more as my pending osteoporosis develops. This bag should fit under any airline seat.
For any length of trip:
The jeans that I wear. Acceptable anywhere I might go, if clean and neat. Better than the checkered pants with the zipper that didn’t work of previous generations.
7 black t-shirts
7 pair of socks
Shoes that I wear
Light weight travel pants.
Light weight pants that I can sleep in, or use informally.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, aspirin, ibuprofen
Tai Chi slippers
I-pad with over 500 books, NY Times, Albuquerque Journal and magazine subscriptions’
Pack-It Jacket with internal pockets.
Emergency rain jacket -ScotteVest
Notebook and pens
Glasses and hearing aid
3 shirts – long-sleeved or short-sleeved depending on weather.
Cell phone with camera and Google Maps
Questions to ask:
- Can I wash my clothes for the cost of checking or the carry-on fee?
- Can I lift a bag into overhead by myself?
- Do I have to pack anything different from what I wear at home?
- Will anyone laugh at me? Do I care?
- Can i wear this on a cruise ship?
- Will this work in winter? What do I need to add, besides a heavier jacket and gloves?
- Am I going to a place with stores?
- Do I need anything else?
Airline baggage limits are a positive. Like a lot of parameters they benefit you in unintended ways. There is a lot to be said for not traveling with a lot of stuff that you don’t need when you are over 75. Keep moving, but reduce your load.
I collect all my tax records in a bucket along with any other documents that I might need for the previous year.
Most old people I know keep their tax records in various piles in various places complete with envelopes. (Why individuals save envelopes, I don’t know.) The main filing place is usually the kitchen table where they are moved around at meal time and frequently fall on the floor. As a result, they can’t find anything when it comes time to file. Remember, a good trash can is invaluable to an old person.
Record keeping is simple for most old people who don’t have a business.
- A bucket in which you throw all relevant bills, bank statements, social security statements, credit card statements, tax refund notices, mortgage statements, etc. NO ENVELOPES!!!
- If you need something, sort through the bucket.
- At the end of the year you take last year’s tax return, or a copy, remove the staple and note all the blanks that contain information. ie social security income received.
- You go through the bucket and paper-clip each item to the relevant part of last year’s tax return. All charitable contributions are paper-clipped to the charitable contributions section; all income 1099 forms are paper clipped to the income section.
- You fill in the current years information in red pen on last year’s return.
- You track down the information for the items that you don’t have documents for. ie a missing 1099.
- You add the items in the bucket that don’t appear on last year’s return if they are relevant.
- You take last year’s tax return with all the documents attached to your tax preparer, or you fill out the new return with the information.
- You put a new label on the bucket, add a copy of the 2017 tax return and forget about it until the end of 2018.
- You file the return and attach last year’s return with the paper-clipped documents attached to your copy of this years return and put it in a safe place in case you are ever audited.
The result is all the information is in one place and you, or your children or guardian, can instantly access whatever is needed for the previous year. If you are audited, everything you need to support your return is attached to your copy. If you die, your heirs can simply go the bucket and get needed information.
Health care must be automated. The geezer is no longer able to remember what to do as far as health care is concerned. He must rely on systems that automatically make sure that he gets the care that he needs. In addition, he needs a mentor to have a health care power of attorney so that there is a third-party checking up on the geezer.
The following can be scheduled or fixed so that little or no thought is required.
- Dental appointments – Every six months.
- Primary care/physicals at least annually
- Flu shots – annual
- Social groups – at least weekly
- Day care – as required – transportation will be needed
- PACE – Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly is a Medicare and Medicaid program available to Medicare recipients where available that includes everything you need from Adult Day Care, nursing home care, drugs, to hospitalization. In Albuquerque it is available and should be checked.
- Pill box – As many pills as old people seem to take, some organization is necessary. The geezer can’t deal with a bunch of bottles. I need the pills to be sorted by day, so that if I can figure out what day it is, I can find the right pill; maybe!
- Telephone speed dial – cellular – I can’t remember phone numbers; so I put the few I need on speed-dial.
- Life Alert – I will fall. I need someway to call for help if I can’t get up. However, I find that most people forget to wear them when needed the most; like, in the shower, or getting the morning paper in the snow.
- Identity bracelet – weld shut – use super glue to lock it on the wrist. Old people have a special ability to remove bracelets, much like criminals in monitored release programs.
- Door alarms – if a spouse/partner has dementia, you want an alarm/lock on the door to alert you when they leave or to keep them from leaving. The escaping spouse always leaves when you are in the bathroom.
- Neighbors – The best protection comes from neighbors who keep an eye on you.
- Urgent care centers – A better source for minor problems and triage, than waiting for hours in an emergency room.
- Refrigerator Instructions – Tape your meds list, doctor’s name, “Do Not Resuscitate notice,” people to notify list and other information for Emergency Responders. The refrigerator is where they look.
- Canary Home Security System – This is a cheap camera that you can put in your home so that your mentor/kid can check on you with his/her cell phone. It also beeps if something unusual occurs. The videos are kept for 24 hours so that you can monitor them. Just remember that this is a privacy invasion and no one wants to look at a nude 76-year-old.
I don’t carry books on trips any more. There is too much bulk, weight and trouble for a person my age. I want to share alternate reading solutions with you.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida has a number of free mini libraries. Take one/leave one. I have seen them in other places including Albuquerque, New Mexico and Waynesville, North Carolina.
If a mini-library is not available, consider the following:
- Kindle – I have downloaded thousands of books, including a number of free ones from Amazon to my I-pad or my Kindle.
- Kindle via your library. Your library may allow you to download e-books to your pad or computer for several weeks. You will probably need a library card, but I can download from the Albuquerque Public Library anywhere I can find Wi-Fi. And, no waiting. It is instant gratification.
- Libraries. Every library has a room where they sell old books and magazines cheap. Usually $1 to $2 for a hardback and a fourth that for paperbacks; frequently best sellers.
- Senior Centers – You can find donated books for free. An additional advantage is their bulletin boards which tell you about trips, programs, etc. A cheap tour may be available as well as a computer center with an expert. You can also get cheap meals and a 25 cent cup of coffee
- YMCA’s – When you finish your Silver Sneakers work-out, you can take a book from their shelves of donated books. You can also leave books there.
- Foreign Countries – Check out the bars where ex-pats hang out. You will frequently find shelves of take-one/leave-one books; in English.