Scanning and new method of shredding…Yikes, tax time!

Receipts as they went through the Doxie portable scanner.

Our taxes have been done for a few weeks.  Per our accountant’s recommendation, we are to keep all of our receipts that may prove to be tax-deductible. 

Now that we’ve added advertisers to our site, been asked to write articles for various publications and web sites, and do a podcast (we’ll share these once published), there are some opportunities for a few write-offs. 

Of course, we can’t write off any of our vacation rentals, personal meals, cruises, and basic living expenses.  But, we can, from time to time, write off expenses relative to a specific situation.

Many have asked, “Will you have to pay taxes in the US if you live outside the US on a more permanent basis?” such as we are doing, as do many US ex-pats. The answer is an absolute “yes.” One would have to forfeit their citizenship and its resulting social security benefits for any other answer. That for us will never happen.

Receipt soaking in hot water in the kitchen sink.

With our taxes sent in by our trusty accountant Steve Thomas, via “e-file” we were left with a humongous pile of receipts we most certainly don’t want to carry with us around the world. 

We have our portable Doxie scanner with us.  A few weeks ago, we purchased a clear plastic sheet at the tiny office supply store in the village, in which to place multiple receipts, subsequently to scan, one sheet at a time.   

Yesterday, as Tom unrolled and unfolded the slips of paper, many affected by the humidity, I got to work on the scanning.  Less than an hour later, we were done.  But, on the floor lie a pile of receipts, enough to fill an entire trash can.

A while back, without a portable shredder (all were too heavy to pack), we were in a quandary as to a suitable method to dispose of these receipts. We’d decided on a plan which has served us well. Keep in mind, none of the credit card receipts had our full account numbers displayed.  In most cases, only the last four digits were visible, if at all.

Grape sized “little balls of” torn receipts.

Years ago, the full account number had been displayed.  Now with rampant identity theft and the last four digits alone on the receipt, it’s a daunting task for thieves to decipher the full number. They have easier methods in which to acquire our account numbers which I won’t mention here.

Placing the receipts into a large plastic bag, I decided to implement our method of destroying the slips without a shredder, without tearing or cutting them into tiny pieces or distributing parts of them in various trash cans. 

Dumping the entire bag of receipts into a pre-filled sink of hot water, we left them to soak for several hours. At this point, we reached into the sink and starting tearing the receipts into small pieces, quite easy to do requiring only a few minutes. During the soaking time, much of the print dissipated as the paper became the consistency of wet toilet paper.

Once the receipts were in this changed state, we reached into the sink extracting small enough portions to make ‘little balls” the size of a small grape.

Placing all these “little balls” on the back of the toilet, we drop one ball into the toilet each time we flush throughout the remainder of the day.  One ball at a time.

Yes, I know there are people that will say this shouldn’t be done for various reasons.  If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of flushing them and you don’t have access to a scanner, one can place the “balls” into the garbage, first pouring tomato juice over them.  The acid in the juice will further destroy the paper.

But then again, we all throw toilet paper with colors and dyes on it into the toilet bowl each day.  The printing on the receipts is often thermal printing, most of which dissipates during the soaking.  If we didn’t destroy these “little balls” this way, they’d end of in a landfill.  There’s no perfect disposal process as yet.  Perhaps, in time, there will be.

With one more task completed, we prepare ourselves for the tasks to be completed in the remaining days 10 days in Placencia Belize.

As for the moment, we are situated on our comfy lounge chairs on the veranda.  There isn’t a hint of a breeze and the surf is quiet and almost still. I’m sipping on a m hiug of my favorite tea, Pouchong. 

Soon, our diligent and hard-working guest services staff will arrive to clean, change the linen and restock our household supplies.  Our favorite is Gloria whom we’ve come to adore.  Her commitment and joy to serve our needs is humbling. Yesterday, we hugged in a heartfelt embrace. I will miss her warmth and kindness, so much the way of the local Mayan people. 

Gently, kindly and respectfully, she gracefully handles all of the guest complaints of which there are many.  We see and hear it every day as the constant turnover of travelers brings new complaints to handle.  She never falters in her strength and courage. We chose not to complain. It’s not in our budget.

Today, we’ll prep for our upcoming Easter dinner for four. Soon we’ll walk along the beach, taking special care to spot stingrays who often flutter about the shallow waters along the surf.  Tonight, we’ll meet up with new friends Lori and Larry for our last buffer dinner at Robert’s Grove Resort.

May I say it again… we are grateful. For the people we meet, for the friends we make along the way, for the ongoing opportunity somehow bestowed upon us, no more deserving than the next person. 

Have a happy Easter, happy Passover, happy holiday, whatever you may celebrate, wherever you may be.