Tag Archives: taxes

Taxes are Taxing: Take Care Of Yourself!

taxes-646511_960_720It’s hard for me to believe, but the the first quarter of the year is already in the books and taxes are due next week.  Hopefully you are one of the lucky, non-procrastinators that filed their taxes long ago and have done something fun with the huge refund the I.R.S. sent you.

Then there’s the rest of us for whom I offer the following.

You are not alone.

According to TheConversation.com approximately 30% of the 2014 taxes were anticipated to be filed in the final two weeks before the deadline.  Why do we procrastinate?

  • Laziness:  We just don’t want to do it.  Who can’t see themselves in this one?
  • Thrill-Seeking:  We think we work better under pressure.  Generally we don’t.
  • Lack of Urgency:  There’s no penalty for dropping them off at the post office at 11:59 PM on April 18th.  Why hurry?
  • Availability of Extensions:  Extensions don’t mean you have more time to PAY, just more time to file.  If you are expecting money back, why extend?
  • We Don’t Expect a Refund: If you aren’t getting money back, why give Uncle Sam our money a minute earlier than we have to?

Well, whether we expect a refund or not, there is still stress and anxiety involved in filing our taxes at the last minute.  Knowing that, some additional self-care may be in order.

silhouette-1082172_960_720What the heck am I talking about?  Well, when I work with clients and they’ve completed a task that is hard, stressful, anxiety-ridden, emotionally taxing, or one they’ve procrastinated on, I suggest they spend some additional time focusing on their personal self care.

Self-care takes many forms and what works for one doesn’t always work for another, but here are some of my favorites:

  • Sleep:  Treat yourself to an extra few minutes of sleep, or even better, indulge in a nap.   According to the Mayo Clinic napping reduces fatigue, increases alertness, and improves our mood.
  • Exercise: Take a nice, long walk with a friend, join in on a fun exercise class at the gym, or even just dance around the house to your favorite song.  According to the CDC (cdc.gov) “People who are physically active for about 7 hours a week have a 40 percent lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.”
  • Eat something that makes you feel good:  There are physical and mental benefits of sitting down to a healthy fruit and cheese plate, a nutritional smoothie, or a nice bar of dark chocolate (it’s good for us, right?).  Indulge!
  • Meditate:   Sometimes we just need to block out our crazy world!  According to  Charles L. Raison, MD, clinical director of the Mind-Body Program at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, meditation improves both physical and emotional responses to stress.

So, whatever your tax filing situation is, know that once it’s behind you, the stress may not be.  Relax, rejuvinate, have some fun . . .  you deserve it!

Cindy Jobs


Organize to Simplify RGBwww.organizetosimplify.com

Member Color - Web   National Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
 ICD_LogoTag_Horz_72 website   Certified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.”

2016.04.01 Unsplash Jeremy ThomasWhen we worry, our brains are in a constant swirl of “what if?” questions.  Personally, as the John Lubbock quote (subject line) attests, I find worry extremely exhausting!  My mind races, I lose sleep, and I get distracted from what’s truly important.

Is worry worth it?  According to “The Complete Sales Action System®” worry chart, maybe not:

  • 40% of all things we worry about never happen
  • 30% have already happened and we can’t do anything about them
  • 12% needless worries about health
  • 10% petty miscellaneous issues
  • 8% real worries
    • 1/2 we can do little about
    • 1/2 we can

So, before your brain engages in a constant swirl of worry, think about:

Will this matter a year from now?  This thought compliments of  Dr. Richard Carlson’s book Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff  . . . and it’s all small stuff.   Things that may not matter in a year: missing a meeting or  your wife’s birthday (wait, that may matter a year from now); making a non-life-threatening mistake; or having an argument with a colleague, friend, or family member.  You get the idea.

Does this worry belong to someone else?  How many times have we taken on  worry that doesn’t belong to us?  Personally, I’ve worried about RSVPs to a party I’m not hosting; worried about a comment someone else made to a mutual friend; and worried about whether or not my husband has left for the airport on time (he’s perfectly capable of managing his time).  I couldn’t control any of these situations and they really weren’t mine to manage or worry about . . . but I did.

What’s the very worst that can happen?   Sometimes there is a legitimate reason to worry, but it helps to put some thought into “what’s next” if the worst happens.  For example:  Taxes are due within the next couple of weeks.   What’s the very worst that can happen if you don’t file on time?  Penalties, fines, or triggering an audit.  Not great options.  What can you do about it?  File an extension.  The worry was not misplaced, but once the extension is filed, you can rest a bit easier . . . for a while.

Is the problem solvable?  Can whatever we are worrying about be fixed, prevented, or resolved?  If so, the worry may be warranted.  If not, the worry energy may well be misplaced.

Maybe we can take some advice from the Dalai Lama:

“If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry.

And if there is no solution, there is no need to worry.”

Cindy Jobs


Organize to Simplify RGB www.organizetosimplify.com

Member Color - WebNational Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
 ICD_LogoTag_Horz_72 websiteCertified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization

Tax Time: How To Get and Stay Ready

Generally speaking, filing taxes is not at the top of the list of “fun things to do today.”  Taxes are frustrating, confusing, and sometimes moderately depressing.  Therefore, we tend to procrastinate when it comes to filing them.  According to TurboTax, there are five general reasons we procrastinate when it comes to filing our taxes:

  • Laziness:
      We just don’t want to do it!
  • Thrill-Seeking:
      We think we work better under pressure (generally we don’t).
  • Lack of Urgency:
    There’s no penalty for dropping them off at the post office at 11:59 PM on April 15.  Why hurry?
  • Availability of Extensions:  Extensions don’t mean you have more time to PAY
    , just more time to file.  If you are expecting money back, why extend?
  • No Expected Refund: 
    If you aren’t getting money back, why give Uncle Sam our money a minute earlier than we have to?

Hopefully you’ve already filed your taxes, received your refund, and none of what I’m presenting applies to you.  If so, way to go! (Now skip to #3, Create A Reusable File System To Track and Maintain Tax Documents).   If you are still waiting to file your taxes, here are your next few steps:

1.  Call For A Tax Appointment: Stop reading right now and call for an appointment with your tax preparer.  If you don’t have one, now is a good time to do some research.  There are, of course, a plethora of tax preparation options if you do an internet search on “tax preparation services,” but now may be a great time to use that social network you’ve been building.  Ask your friends and relatives if they have anyone they could recommend.  In addition, there may be some free tax preparation services available  depending on your age and income, search “free tax preparation services.”

2.  Gather Your Documents:  By now you should have received all the documents required to prepare your taxes.  These documents may include, but are not limited to:

  • W-2s from your employers,
  • 1099-MISC forms for self-employment income,
  • 1099-INT (interest) and 1099-DIV (dividends) forms,
  • 1099-B forms showing brokerage trades in stocks and bonds,
  • K-1 forms for income from a partnership, small business, or trust,
  • 1099-SSA form showing Social Security received,
  • Documentation of charitable donations.

Other great sources for documents you may need to prepare your taxes:
Tax Preparation Documents for Homeowners
Documents To Take To Your Accountant

3.  Create A Reusable File System To Track And Maintain Tax Documents:  Once you’ve gathered all your documents, create a filing system (it may only be two file folders or envelopes) that will allow you to repeat this process year-after-year. Create two files/envelopes:  Current Year Taxes and Previous Year Taxes.  That way you will have one  to use for the immediate filing and one to start saving documentation for next years filing. Create a checklist of all the documents that are in the Current Year Taxes file/envelope (generally it will be the same for next year, but adjust as necessary) and place it on/in the front of the file/envelope.  I suggest using sturdy, plastic folders or envelopes for this purpose, that way you’re not replacing them every year.  Plastic File Folders or  Plastic Envelopes

Although filing taxes isn’t always fun and rewarding, the consequences of not filing can be expensive and stressful.  Don’t procrastinate. Filing your taxes accurately and on time can save you money and unnecessary stress.

Cindy Jobs

Organize to Simplify RGB www.organizetosimplify.com

Member Color - WebNational Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
 ICD_LogoTag_Horz_72 websiteCertified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization

2015 “Top 10” Business Goals

10As business owners, we need to constantly be looking forward and figure out what we want our businesses to accomplish in the upcoming weeks, months or years.  In addition to constant re-evaluation, most businesses choose one time per year to do long-range planning.  Every business has a different time for this process:  in January to kick off the new year; at their financial year end; during their annual Board retreats; etc.  The best time for this process is whenever it works for you.  For me, January is the best time. That’s when I get to thinking about what needs to happen to make 2015 a successful year for me and my business clients.

Here are the top ten items we will be focusing on:

  1. Take care of yourself.  For a business to thrive, it needs a healthy leader.  Taking care of yourself takes many forms, both physical and mental.  Whether it’s hitting the gym a few times a week, participating in leadership forums, or forcing yourself to take a much-needed vacation, take care of yourself so you will be there to take care of your employees.
  2. Realize that sometimes less is more.  Focus on doing a few things well versus doing a number of things part way.   Having 15 goals may sound like an excellent business strategy, but having five goals that are strategic and attainable will more than likely be a more successful approach.
  3. Learn how to delegate.  No matter how fantastic, one person can’t do everything at an expert level.  Many things can be delegated:  website development, Quickbooks maintenance, cleaning services, marketing, etc.  Identify the things you don’t like to do, or don’t feel you do well, and find someone that does.   Those people will generally be better and faster at it than you will.
  4. Review office functionality.  Annually review job descriptions, processes, and communication patterns and make changes to procedures accordingly.  Maybe your Office Manager has changed and they no longer make the mail run or input information in Quickbooks.  If so, adjust the job description accordingly.   If your business has expanded and you now have two outside sales representatives, review their territory allocations and document it.  There are many changes that business should make as they expand, contract, or change.  Ensure changes are documented and communicated accordingly.
  5. Go mobile.  According to Televox, a global technology provider, 94% of smartphone owners will look up information on their phones, make sure your website is compatible with mobile phones and tablet devices.
  6. Review compliance with Labor and Industries.  Nearly every business that employs at least one person needs to comply with Labor and Industry rules and regulations.  If you haven’t already, commit to going to a Labor and Industries seminar and educate yourself on requirements for compliance.  Do you have an Accident Prevention Program?  Do you have a Hazardous Chemical Program?  Do you hold and document monthly safety meetings?  Figure out what you need to do to be compliant before Labor and Industries pays you a visit.
  7. Refresh your website.  Customers look to your website to get a feel for what you do, how you do it, and how professional your organization is.  Check your contact information for accuracy.  If you have any links from your website, make sure they work.  Update photos where applicable.  Most importantly, have someone you know and trust use your website.  Sometimes we are too close to our own business to ascertain whether the website works for the general public.
  8. Get ready early for tax time.  Whether we owe money or are getting money back, there’s a great sigh of relief when we’ve finished our taxes.  Check with your accountant as soon as possible to ensure you have what they need to complete your taxes in a timely manner.  Ask your accountant about record retention so you can set up filing systems and purge paperwork as you are pulling together paperwork for this year’s filing.  Also, review your current business model with your accountant to ensure your business is categorized correctly, possibly an LLC may protect you on a personal level.
  9. Find a new way to engage with your customers.  If appropriate for your business, consider developing a Facebook page, Twitter account, or newsletter program.  Communicating with your customers the way THEY want to be communicated with will be the most valuable use of marketing dollars and time.  If possible, find an expert to help you through this process.
  10. Network your heart out!  No matter what your business is, we all know someone who knows someone that could use our services.  Be the first person that comes to mind when someone says “do you know anyone that . . . . .”

A theme running through these resolutions is personal engagement.  Engage with your employees, customers, and most importantly, yourself.  Figure out what has been working, what needs to be done, and who should do it. 

Although these goals will take effort and may require a bit of a change in habit and mindset; when they are put into practice, your business will be more successful and you will be a more successful, and happier, leader. 

Cindy Jobs

Organize to Simplify RGB www.organizetosimplify.com

Member Color - WebNational Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
 ICD_LogoTag_Horz_72 websiteCertified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization

The Real Costs of Procrastination: Installment #2

Procrastination Your Cards Image

Procrastination is a tricky thing.  Frankly, I procrastinated writing this post for 6 days.  When I was working on The Real Costs of Procrastination: Installment #1 I thought “I’ll just dive right into Installment #2.”  Did I?  No.  Why?  Because I had a whole week to do it.  Now, here I am at the 11th hour trying to get in done in time for the deadline.

What was the cost to me of that decision?  Significant stress.

Last week I published The Real Costs of Procrastination: Installment #1 that dealt with the tangible and intangible costs of procrastinating on Relationships, Health, Household Chores, Home/Car Repairs, and Organization (my personal favorite).  Installment #2 will tackle Wills, Financial Planning, Taxes, Business Costs, and Insurance.

Wills:  Not that any of us want to think about it, but at some point, our earthly possessions will need to be passed on to someone else.  It’s true, as cool as our stuff is,  we can’t take it with us.  Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we had some say in where our cool stuff went?  Well, that’s what wills are for.  A 2008 study found that 58%  of Americans did not have a will.  That number doesn’t surprise me at all.  It should, but it doesn’t.  None of us want to think about death and dying, but it is irresponsible to our loved ones not to take care of this important process.  When someone passes without a will, the state gets to decide what happens to your stuff.  In most situations it could be pretty straight forward:  the inheritance goes to the spouse, the kids, etc.  But what about our businesses?  What about our stepchildren or non-marital significant other?  What if we didn’t want everything divided equally?  What if we wanted all our money and possessions to go to a favorite charity?  Without a valid will, none of these situations would probably be resolved to our desired expectation.  Cost of procrastination: Money, Relationships.

(Phew, glad to have that one out of the way.)

Financial Planning:  Detailed and thorough financial planning is critical to our long-term well being.    When we are in our twenties and thirties, we can’t see past a new pair of jeans to even think about planning for our retirement.  Those days just seem too far away. It is never too early to start planning for our retirement; but lots of times it can be too late.  What’s the benefit of starting early?   Using the compound interest calculator, I wanted to see how much a relatively small investment could grow over time.  I started with $1,000 and estimated that I’d put in an additional $50 per month (about 10 lattes with a generous tip), and calculated the growth over 10 years at a 5% interest rate.  What would I have at the end of that time period?  $9,175.63.  Change it to 20 years and the number becomes a staggering $22,492.87.  Amazing what a little planning and discipline could do for our long-term financial well being.  Cost of procrastination: Limited Retirement Savings, Reduced Retirement Enjoyment.

Taxes:  According to a CBS News post, the cost of waiting until the last minute to file income taxes costs on average an additional  $400.  It’s not that we can just choose to not pay our taxes by April 15.  (Well, some folks may, but I’m guessing the cost of that decision is much greater than $400.)   We are just delaying the inevitable.   If we thought we were getting money back on our taxes, we’d be Johnny-On-The-Spot when it came to filing our taxes, right?  Not necessarily. Procrastinators are procrastinators, and whether we think we are getting money back or having to give Uncle Sam money, we generally wait until the last minute to do it anyway.  In addition the the extra $400, the stress of not knowing takes a tremendous toll.   Cost of procrastination:  Money, stress.

Business Costs:  A 2012 CNBC post identified the cost of procrastination in business as being a staggering $10,396 . . . . per employee . . . per year.  Wow!  The article referred to procrastination as “the most invisible cost in business today.”  I don’t doubt it.  When I worked in Corporate America,  I surely procrastinated a bit on projects that I knew needed to get done, but I just didn’t feel motivated to do.  Mostly the procrastinated projects had open-ended completion dates, but they were necessary, and the benefit to the company had I completed them in a timely manner would have been significant.  Why did I procrastinate?  Generally, I felt I didn’t know enough about the project to get started; didn’t feel I had the appropriate resources to get the project completed; or just found other stuff that was more fun to do.  Cost of procrastination:  Money, Credibility, Possible Promotion

Insurance:  I just updated my business insurance a few months ago.  Before I renewed in 2013 I committed to shopping my insurance needs around a bit.  Well, I procrastinated that project and didn’t do it, letting my carrier renew me for the next 12 months without a second thought.  This year I received five proposals covering my current business insurance needs.  The result?  A 40% reduction in cost for the same coverage.  It sickens me to think of what I might have been able to do with that money had I gone through the process in 2013.   I should have taken the time to ensure that my coverage was complete and the best value available.   The same goes for renewing any kind of insurance:  auto, home, personal liability, health, etc.  I worked with a client several years ago that hadn’t done a detailed review of their business auto insurance in several years.  After my analysis of their coverage, it was determined that two of their vehicles hadn’t been included in the policy.  Can you image the cost had there been an accident with one of those vehicles?   Frightening.   Cost of procrastination:  Money, Peace of Mind, Liability

Well, that concludes my top 10 list of areas where we shouldn’t procrastinate and the costs if we do.  I hope some of them resonate with you, as they did with me as I was preparing to write about them.   We all have so much to do that sometimes things just have to be put aside for a while.  And that’s okay.  As long as “a while” doesn’t turn into “forever” and we cost ourselves and our loved ones undue financial hardship and stress.

“Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before the deadline. (Wikipedia)”

Cindy Jobs

Organize to Simplify RGB www.organizetosimplify.com

Member Color - WebNational Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter President
 ICD_LogoTag_Horz_72 websiteCertified Premium Subscriber, Institute for Challenging Disorganization