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6 Things to Do before You Do Your Taxes

rynski help monster

Every tax seasons we’re inundated with tons of articles giving us list after list of savvy tips for taxes. But this particular list goes one better. Instead of serving up suggestions for doing your taxes, it serves up suggestions for avoiding them.

Welcome to the master tax procrastination list. It even comes complete with rationalizations so you can tell yourself these activities are actually going to help you with your taxes in the long run.

Clean Your Closet

This one was always my go-to activity when I didn’t feel like studying for final exams in college. My Grandma G also used to do it on holidays. While we thought grandma’s closet cleaning schedule was strange at the time, in hindsight it’s the perfect way to avoid having to make small talk with a bunch of guests. It’s likewise the perfect way to delay your taxes for hours, if not days on end.

How to rationalize that it helps with taxes:

A messy closet makes for a messy mind. And you don’t want a messy mind when you’re trying to add up 32 pages of numbers.

Feed Your Dogs

Fed dogs are happy dogs, and it’s important to surround yourself with happiness when you’re sadly drudging through your taxes. Besides, you can easily turn this activity into an extended project if their dinner comes with dessert and a post-meal playtime at the dog park in Phoenix.

How to rationalize that it helps with taxes:

It’s impossible to concentrate on anything, especially taxes, when you have hungry hounds begging at your feet.

Feed Yourself

Remember how great it felt to clean out your closet? Do the same for the fridge. Perhaps you have a half-carton of eggs expiring tomorrow, or salsa that’s sure to go bad by next week. Whip up a Mexican omelet. Now’s also a great time to try one of those new, complicated recipes that takes at least two hours to create.

How to rationalize that it helps with taxes:

It’s impossible to concentrate on taxes when your stomach is churning, burning and growling for an omelet with salsa.

Take a Shower

Taxes are a job, which means you want to perform the usual lineup of pre-job activities before you start. Taking a shower is one of them. You can stretch this activity out by deep-conditioning your hair, cleaning the shower stall, and mixing and mingling different salt scrubs and body washes until you find the exact combination that suits your mood.

How to rationalize that it helps with taxes:

You need to be sharp, clean, invigorated – and lightly scented by vanilla-rosemary-peppermint-sea salt – for best results with taxes.

Take a Walk

Walk around the block. Walk to the nearest bus stop. Take a quick hike in the desert, or head to that little shop down the block you always wanted to check out. It doesn’t matter if the block happens to be five miles long. In fact, that’s even better.

How to rationalize that it helps with taxes:

With the power to boost your mood and alleviate stress, taking a walk is an ideal way to prep for the hours of sitting that your taxes ensure are in store.

Take a Nap

Taking a nap is not only logical, but imperative at this point. After all, you’re kind of tuckered out after cleaning the closet, feeding the dogs, making an omelet, taking a shower and walking 10-miles round-trip to that little shop down the block.

How to rationalize that it helps with taxes:

You definitely need to be well-rested and sharp if you have any hope of properly adding, subtracting, or determining if you’re eligible for that farm tax credit thing.

Now that you have some creative ways to procrastinate on your taxes, along with solid rationalizations, you should have no problem putting them off without feeling the least amount of guilt. All these activities are definitely essential for ensuring you get your taxes done right, although they can’t guarantee you’ll get them done on time.

Need another fun tax procrastination activity? Shop Rynski on Etsy.

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How Not to Go Crazy Missing Your Dogs while on Vacation

belgian tervuren gigi and me

There’s a reason our family frequently heads to San Diego’s dog beach. It’s because two of our family members happen to have four paws, and traveling with the dogs is the ultimate vacation. But no matter how spectacular it is to travel with the dogs, there are trips where they just can’t tag along.

Like on extended flights to Florida. Medium flights to Michigan. Or that trip to New York you’ve been planning in the back of your head for the past nine years or so.

Dogs on the plane aren’t going to work in all cases, and tragedies can happen even when dogs are allowed on board. Road-tripping more than 1,000 miles can leave you spending more time on the road than at your destination. We dog moms have to face it – there will come a time when we simply have to leave our hounds at home.

Yes, it’s brutal. Yes, it’s heartbreaking. But no, you don’t have to let missing your four-legged kids consume or ruin your whole trip. During my travels without my pooches I’ve picked up a few tricks for enjoying myself immensely, sans guilt, even without my dogs in tow.

Make Sure They’re in Good Hands

If your dogs are safe at home with your significant other, you have this first base covered automatically. Otherwise, look into a trusted pet sitter that can come to your home to keep your dogs in a familiar environment.

Dogs that may be too apt to chew that environment without mama around may do better at a pet boarding place. Pick one that has solid reviews, room to ramble, and the word “resort” in its name. You want a place where your dog can hang out with other pooches and have fun, not stand jammed in a crate on a shelf somewhere.

Knowing your dogs are safe takes away the worry that could otherwise invade your mind as deeply as missing them.

Keep Photos Close

With all the pix stored on your smartphone, tablet, laptop and Facebook feed, you’re likely to have zillions of photos of your darling dogs. This gives you ample opportunity to gaze lovingly at them throughout your trip. Just don’t gaze and weep. Gaze and smile, thinking about the sheer glee you’ll feel when you’re all once again reunited.

Plan a Rollicking Reunion

Dog park, anyone? Plan a perky homecoming activity where you and your dogs can celebrate your grand reunion. Of course, this activity comes after the initial homecoming ritual which involves being knocked flat on your back in the middle of the kitchen floor with your face licked and glasses ripped excitedly off your face.

Snag a Few Souvenirs

No matter where you travel, you’re sure to run across a few dog toys, treats, bones, or other goodies you can bring home for the pooches. Snagging souvenirs for your happy hounds can make them even happier. Besides, if your dogs are like mine, they won’t let you back in the house without them.

With all the dog photo-gazing, souvenir-shopping and other adventures during your trip, you’ll be back home with your pooches before you know it. And yes, they’ll remember who you are. So get rid of that thought, pronto, even before you board the plane.

Want some dog-happy reading for your next trip? Go for the Rynski Doggie Dictionary

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How to Justify the Expense of a Robot Vacuum

robot vacuum and dogs

Robot vacuums have come a long way since the primitive round things that swirled around aimlessly and got stuck on even the thinnest fiber of carpet. Today’s models have a flat side for more effective pickups, along with a systematic pattern of vacuuming that leaves nothing in their wake. The best of them can conquer everything from multiple throw rugs to wads of dog hair with Cheerios and small wood chips in between.

The only problem is the high cost of a really good one, which can make you feel like you’re spending your hard-earned cash on a frivolous or needless thing. You’re not. A high-quality robot vacuum is definitely worth the investment, saving you tons of money in the long run.

Automatic $300 Savings

Your first order of business is to get a rocking deal. Research robot vacuums, finding one that costs more than you’d pay for even a new bicycle or pair of glasses. A few robot vacs in the $1,000 range qualify. Your next step is to review the features, decide which you need, and then find a $700 robot vacuum that does the same kind of stuff.

  • Money Saved: $300 right off the bat

Time Spent with Traditional Vacuum

Now tally up the time spent with your traditional vacuum on a regular basis. If you’re like most, you spend hours you don’t even realize with that archaic thing. First there’s the hassle of digging it out of the closet. This is followed by the tedious task of unwinding the cord and then moving piles of stuff away from any given outlet to plug it in.

Since you have a penchant for shag carpeting, dragging the thing across the living room always leaves your beau with back pain. Then there’s the bin emptying, the filter cleaning, and the three hours spent dousing your nostrils in essential oil to combat the musky dog smell the vacuum always spews anyway.

Your time tally can easily come to more than four hours a week with a traditional vacuum. Say you charged something like $10 per hour for your vacuum time, that’s $40 a week on labor alone, not to mention pain and suffering. Multiply the $40 of weekly labor by 52 weeks in the year, and you’re looking at $2,080.

  • Money Saved: $2,080 in annual vacuum-related labor

Pain and Suffering from Traditional Vacuum

The physical, mental and emotional anguish of using a traditional vacuum can be high, especially when you know there are high-tech robot vacs on the market. Pain and suffering easily weighs in at something like $1,500 a year. (Triple this calculation if you have to meddle with vacuum bags.)

  • Money Saved: $1,500 in annual vacuum-related pain and suffering

 Vet Bills for Dog Anxiety

You’re not the only one who suffers with the old-school vacuum. Think of the poor dogs. Every time they see you heading to the closet to unleash the mean old vacuum, they bolt in abject terror. Not only are they scared of the tall monster thing, but they suffer from a breach of trust as they see their beloved master is behind it.

It can take some mighty calming down, and maybe even a few vet visits, to get your pooches back to normal after repeated exposure to the old-school vacuum monster.

  • Money Saved: $400 per year for dog anxiety treatments

Bottom Line

While there are a few more categories you can certainly include, such as the enjoyment of a new family member that adds $0 to your grocery bill, you may be already convinced that a robot vacuum is definitely worth its salt.

Ours is a Neato Botvac Connected we lovingly named Julio. He doesn’t stink. He vacuums more thoroughly than his traditional counterpart. His back never hurts after cleaning shag carpet. And he gets along fabulously with the dogs. Not only that, but we’re saving at least $4,280 per year by adding him to our household. What a dandy savings, indeed!

robot vacuum and dog
Robot vacuum Julio and dog Elmo are becoming fast friends (as long as Julio doesn’t suck up Elmo’s treats).
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Jerk o’ the Week: Woeful William

woeful william common jerk

The following is an excerpt from the Little Book of Big Jerks to give you a sneak peek at the types of jerks you’ll meet inside the guide to dealing with difficult people.

Woeful William

Just like everything King Midas touched turn to gold, everything Woeful William touches turns to, well, crap. This guy is a magnet for really bad luck.

His roof leaks. His car stalls. His pants rip. His cat hates him. At one time you actually had sympathy for the chap until you read somewhere that people with woeful outlooks actually cause their own bad luck. Now you just feel like shaking him.

3 Giveaway Traits:

  • Inspired a record number of sad country songs
  • Has had a long lineup of pets that hated him, died tragically, or both
  • Always has an empty chair on either side of him at group lunches and dinners

How to Deal:

Leave at least two empty chairs between yourself and him.

How Else to Deal:

Check out the cool jerk-fighting tools in the Little Book of Big Jerks. Real-life solutions for dealing with real-life jerks.

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The Four Agreements: What Happens when They Go Wrong (Part 2)

four agreements metal sign

There is no law that makes people follow the four agreements. There doesn’t need to be. The personal anguish we feel when we decide to ignore these dandy guidelines for living is typically penalty enough.

As a refresher, The Four Agreements are outlined in a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. And those agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Never take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

We already looked at what happens when the first two agreement go wrong in a previous post. Now it’s time to tackle the second set. Ready?

don't make assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

Yeah, we know. Making assumptions makes an ASS of U and Me. But some of us do it anyway. And although the pithy little phrase is amusing, the outcome is usually not. An assumption is filling in the blanks, or making up a truth when we’re not sure what the actual truth may be.

Making assumptions is along the same lines as having expectations. When we assume or expect something will go a certain way, and then it doesn’t, we end up annoyed, enraged, or downright devastated. One of my favorite sayings reminds us: Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

Example of Third Agreement Gone Wrong

An organization asked if I’d like to cover and event to write up a story for their publication. Heck yes, said I, assuming the daylong assignment would give me a hefty day’s pay. The event was, after all, three hours long, involved a three-hour round-trip drive, involved taking tons of notes and spending another three hours writing up an article in all its detailed glory.

Nine hours of work should bring in a pretty good check, thought I, something like $500 with gas money and other travel expenses. Man, I could even cut back on other work for the rest of the week, perhaps take an extra day off or buy a new pair of boots!

I submitted the article with glee. They sent me a check for $100.

The work was done and the pay was non-negotiable. Had I asked about the final rate, instead of assuming it was what I wanted it to be, the story would have had an entirely different outcome. For starters, I wouldn’t have accepted the gig to write it.

fourth agreement do your best

Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Although this agreement may look pretty simple at a glance, it can actually be one of the tougher ones. That’s because it’s easy to make excuses to skip it.

We can pretend any of our half-baked efforts are the best we can do at any given time, even when we know in our souls that’s not true. We also tend to rush through things we find menial or annoying just to get them done.

Doing a crummy job on any task is going to leave you feeling crummy yourself. Trust me. Whether you’re performing brain surgery or washing a fork, always doing your best will always be worth it. This reminds me of another spot-on saying: How you do anything is how you do everything.

Example of Fourth Agreement Gone Wrong

Alas, the example of the fourth agreement gone wrong contains yet another work incident. You’d think all I do is sit around and work.

In any event, this situation arose in a past job where I was tasked with putting labels and stamps on Christmas cards to send out to the hundred or so clients.

“What crap,” I thought, “a waste of my skills. A blind monkey could do this.” I then grumbled along, slapping a label here, pasting a stamp there, and dribbling coffee here, there and everywhere in my haste to finish this seemingly crappy task as quickly as possible.

When I was done, the pile of cards looked horrible. The blind monkey who could have done the task could have certainly done it better.

Labels and stamps were all crooked and smudged. Envelope corners were bent and speckled with coffee. This outcome was not my best. It was probably one of my worst. My boss wasn’t happy. I felt rotten, mainly because my haughty attitude and actions ended up disappointing one of the best bosses I ever did have.

Even though the task appeared to be a rather minor one, it needed to be done precisely as it reflected on the entire image of the company sending the cards. Yes, many of the cards needed to be redone, although I truly did my best the second time around.

Following the four agreements cannot only save you time and heartache, but it can likewise help ensure you don’t drive 300 miles for measly pay, disappoint your favorite boss, or end up losing your job to a blind monkey who can do your work better than you do.

Want to keep the four agreements top of mind? Check out Four Agreement art.

four agreements art

 

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