Well, it’s April, and you know what that means: tax season is in full swing. Did you shudder just now? Pee a little bit? Plug your ears and start singing, “LALALALA” at the top of your lungs? We’ve been there, but what if this year (and every year from now on) were different? Someone once told Ami that money is a reflection of your soul, and that forever changed the way she approached her taxes. Mostly because she didn’t want her soul to look bad in front of the federal government, but still. What if we all approached our taxes with less fear and more gumption? What if we were proactive and responsible and motivated? Hey, it could happen. Here are some helpful tips that you can easily apply to tax season…and life. Do with them what you will.
1. Stop complaining. Complaining is really fun and it’s a great way to bond with others, but the truth is, it’s just not helpful. The more time you spend complaining about your taxes, the longer tax season will drag on. It’s not that bad. Just shut your mouth and do the unpleasant thing that we all have to do because…
2. Resisting reality is a waste of time. Your reality is that you’re a working citizen of this country, which means you are required to file taxes. Get over how much you’re being taxed and how unfair life is. Stop living in the fantasy world where the 99 percent are the exalted and get on the reality tax train with the rest of us. It’s really not so bad.
3. If you can, pay an expert to do it for you. It’s very powerful to know what you’re good at. It’s equally powerful to know what you’re not good at. There’s a reason we pay hairstylists to cut our hair and doctors to perform our surgeries — they actually know what they’re doing. The same is true of accountants. If you can make room in your budget, just pay the extra $300 and let someone else do it for you. Because you don’t need to file your own taxes to be a success in life.
4. Don’t avoid things out of fear. The longer you put off making that dentist appointment, the more stressful things get for your mouth. It’s the same with your taxes. Don’t bow down to fear, confront it and conquer it! Make your tax appointment right now, or delve into TurboTax tonight. You can do it.
5. Be proactive. Imagine your taxes to be a year-round task that includes organizing your receipts and paying quarterly taxes if you’re a freelancer. That way, you’re on top of things when the time comes. And when January 31st rolls around and you haven’t received your W-2, don’t wait indefinitely for your employer to get in touch with you about it, take the initiative and contact them.
6. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Your tax return should not be spent (either figuratively or, God forbid, on your credit card) before you even file. It’s better to think of that money as gravy to pour over your regular expenses. Don’t pour your gravy too early, or you’ll have to eat dry potatoes (literally, because that’s all you’ll be able to afford).
7. Find a buddy to hold you accountable. Sometimes, having a hand to hold makes scary things less scary and un-fun things more fun. If your friends can help you get up at 5AM to go to bootcamp at the gym and help you resist texting your ex when you’re drunk, they can also help motivate you to get your taxes done by a set date. For example, send your BFF an unfiltered selfie outtake and have her promise to share it on Facebook if you don’t get your taxes done in a timely fashion.
8. Lower Your Expectations. Expect to receive nothing back from the government and celebrate if the government gifts you with more than that. As anyone who has ever had a sparsely attended birthday party knows, expectations are the WORST. Nothing kills a good thing like crazy-high hopes that are inevitably dashed. Keep them in check, and you won’t be perpetually disappointed. Hell, maybe you’ll even be pleasantly surprised.
9. Treat yourself! (But not too much.) Go ahead and have a cocktail when you hit the “E-file” button. Buy yourself that Coach wallet you’ve been ogling if you find yourself with an sizeable return. But make sure your tax expenditures are moderate and proportionate to your return. Moderation is key. Always moderation.
[Photo from Shutterstock]