Smile While You File
AS AN INTUITIVE financial coach and experienced tax preparer (aka the Money Witch, moneywitch.com), I regularly see accomplished boss babes whose taxes are secretly out of control. Maybe they haven’t filed in a couple of years. Maybe they started a small business and don’t understand how to put it on their tax return. Maybe they owe money and don’t have it. What they, and most of us tbh, do have, is a feeling of shame, underlying anxiety, and low self-esteem in the realm of finances, which makes dealing with taxes an insufferable chore at best and a detriment to our mental, physical, and financial well-being at worst. Approaching tax planning as a self-care practice can change your entire outlook on it, and taking charge of the process will be an unexpected source of empowerment. So why do taxes make us feel so bad, and what we can do about it?
THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL
For many of us, the underlying drag of dealing with our taxes
is often resistance to the government and the capitalist, colonialist system it represents. That’s emotionally and intellectually intelligent, but it’s also exhausting. Stop wasting your resistance energy on avoiding your taxes and fully commit it to a place where you have real impact. Failing to file or pay taxes on time results in penalties and interest, which means giving the government even more of your money.
“SELF-CARE” AND AVOIDANCE
We subconsciously feel like we’re doing ourselves a favor by avoiding challenging or uncomfortable things, like doing our taxes, and even use that as a form of “self-care.” We engage avoidance to distance ourselves from stress, but knowing that something significant is falling through the cracks creates tremendous underlying stress that can arise as irritability, depression, anxiety, and body pain.
Let’s widen our definition of self-care to include handling difficult things. Let’s push ourselves to a self-care that engages self-love and not just self-soothing. So what does self-love look like in action? Think of it this way: Love yourself as if you were parenting yourself. Spoiling a kid means giving them what they want, but not what they need. Make sure you’re checking in with your needs and not just your wants. Are you acting like a responsible adult that your inner child can really trust?
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
Consciously committing to doing your taxes, and making space for the time, presence of mind, and tools it takes to prepare and file them, will greatly reduce your anxiety. Keep your records and documents organized throughout the year by getting a cute folder and build a practice of putting all relevant information in there straight away. Make a list of tax forms you are expecting and chase them if they don’t arrive. If you freelance, clarify whether you will receive a 1099, don’t operate on assumptions. Have a new tax situation that feels confusing? Proactively search online until you find an article that makes sense to you. File your taxes accurately and on time. Even if you can’t pay what you owe, you will pay less penalties overall for filing on time. Taking action is good for your self-esteem, because you observe yourself showing up for things that are difficult—it’s a huge way we show self-love and build trust with ourselves.
Affirmations for Tax Season
Recite these words daily and keep them on your phone wallpaper, on a piece of paper in your wallet, or on your altar:
“I do not waste my energy resisting my taxes or bookkeeping.”
“When I tend to my financial health, I show love and concern for myself.”
“I deserve to feel less stress and anxiety.”
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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