We don’t really have a permanent address, but the US government kinda requires one! Here are a few things we’ve learned as we’ve transitioned into retirement and a nomad lifestyle.
1Pick your address.
We tried a P.O. Box. We tried using a friend’s address. We tried a mail service. We tried just about everything. In the end, we decided to use a relative’s address as our official home.
The most important thing to consider is having your mail delivered to an address where you’ll be visiting often. Alternatively, you’ll need someone to look at your mail and FaceTime with you to decide what’s important. We FaceTime once every couple weeks and go through our mail. 95% of the mail is junk, but every once in a while, there’s something important in that pile.
We’ve signed up for electronic bill service everywhere we possibly can, but there are still a few businesses and organizations that need to mail hard-copy materials to your home. For now, we just can’t avoid the need to have an official mailing address.
2Collect everything in one box and/or folder.
Since we’re traveling half of the year, it’s important to keep all of our receipts and important correspondence in one place. We use a plastic container about the size of a shoebox and throw EVERY receipt in there just in case we might need it.
When we get ready to sit down and work through our tax return, we pull out the box and start sorting.
We also have one folder in our email for annual taxes. For this year, all we had to do was go back to our 2018 tax folder and pull electronic receipts for donations, W-2s, etc.
For 2019, we want to get everything online, so we’re planning to scan receipts and save them to a shared folder we can access next February.
3Be ready for more complicated tax returns.
For 2018, this was our situation:
- Holly had a “normal” job
- Carter had multiple side hustles
- We started taking monthly disbursements from our investment accounts
- We changed our permanent address 4 times
- We donated 1000+ things to charity
Other than Holly’s normal job, each of these made our tax return more and more complicated.
4Use TurboTax or something similar.
The good news is that there are multiple secure websites you can use to help prepare your taxes. Holly is crazy good at accounting stuff, but we would still have a hard time with our tax return if we didn’t have TurboTax. TurboTax helps us walk through wizards to maximize deductions and correctly document self-employment income and expenses.
There are several websites like TurboTax out there. Pick one that looks reputable and stick with it. It’s important to use the same website every year. That way you can compare your current tax return to last year’s to do a sanity check. That sanity check really helps when you see subtotals that vary significantly from one year to the next. More than likely you made a mistake or forgot to enter something!
If you have other suggestions for how we can simplify, let us know! We’re always happy to learn about what’s working for others.