altI really don’t like math. I hope my children never get a hold of this. I preach weekly to them about the importance of math skills in life. I’m pretty sure I utter words of praise every week I get through without using algebra, trigonometry or calculus.

There were people created with minds for mathematics. I’m not one of them. Knowing all of this, I don’t know how I became the bookkeeper for our family and business. Organization is something I understand. Numbers are a jungle.

Getting organized at the beginning of the year helps me focus on the goals ahead. As a farm wife, I have been charged with helping my husband with the farm’s record keeping. Last year, I had a goal to convert all our business records to an online system. I knew this would streamline tax preparation for the end of the year. This was no simple task. With the help of our patient accountant, I was able to tie our record keeping for each of our businesses together in an online system with easy-to-use recording and reporting systems. There is something to the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Converting everything up front was a difficult but will be worth it in the years ahead of us.

Part of this process has been training my husband to keep up with his farm and business receipts. He does an excellent job of this. He has his own version of organization. Once a month I remind him to turn in his receipts so I can go through them and make sure every income/expense is accounted for in this online system. His version of getting his receipts together looks like this. He goes out to his pick-up truck and opens the middle console, checks underneath the seat and scours every other nook and cranny where he might have put them for “safekeeping.” I typically get a pile of receipts with a few manure stains, crumpled papers and occasionally an “I’m still looking for that one.” I have found receipts on the seat of the tractor and on the floor of the barn but after a valiant effort, farm purchases are accounted for.

I’ve made a couple trips to the local office supply to make this year’s reporting system the best one yet. We’ve already gone through the process of preparing for the 2018 tax season. Everything on my end is organized and ready for a review.

The review of records is where my husband (a person created with a love for mathematics) typically shines during tax season. He can quickly find and reconcile mistakes without busting out a calculator. He moves items around if they have been miscategorized effectively and efficiently. I just stand back in awe. Most of the time I have no idea what he’s talking about.

As the end of January nears, farm families everywhere are preparing records. As for the Harris family, it’s a combination of organizational skills and natural math genius that get us through the filing process.

I hope everyone has their files in order. I’m hopeful the Internal Revenue Service sends each of us a generous refund for our efforts last year, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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