America is officially a nation of procrastinators. Scientific studies have shown that 94.76 percent of us wait to file our taxes until April 15, causing ourselves unhealthy amounts of stress and wreaking havoc on the postal system. Tax time is painful for all of us, but you can save yourself some grief (and possibly a decent amount of money) if you start preparing in December. That's right, four months early.
We realize that just the thought of doing anything tax-related in December could make you break out in a cold sweat. If you're accustomed to pulling all-nighters at the last minute, scrambling for misplaced forms and waiting for 12 hours at the post office on April 15, it will seem extreme to start thinking about tax season before Christmas. But trust us, you'll be happy if you do. And it doesn't involve anything unduly complicated: You don't have to be a tax expert or memorize every loophole in the book to make the system work for you. We've done half the work by compiling these five easy tips, so all you need to do is get started early and stay focused. We guarantee that you'll save some money -- and perhaps get that return in the mail before April.