Here’s a radical idea: your taxes are self care. Hear me out.
As my recent podcast guest, Sandi Lin, described, there is something deeply soothing about budgeting. It’s like cleaning a drawer, or organizing your garage, not exactly “Fun,” but the state it lands in is deeply satisfying. Your world is in order. You know where things are.
You are free of the looming stress of potential surprises.
I think taxes can fall into the same category – they are an opportunity to fill in the areas of deep stress in our lives.
- Over 150 Million people do their own taxes every year – I guarantee you have done harder things
- Doing your own taxes can help you better understand your finances, and help you feel empowered with your money
- Taxes can also offer an opportunity to celebrate your wins – the lean times you have survived and the lush times you’ve created
Taxes are not rocket science
One of the biggest blockers to women doing their taxes is that it can feel difficult and full of uncertainty. I can relate – I do a lot of taxes as a VITA Volunteer, and my own family taxes are COMPLEX. Fun fact: over 150 Million people do their taxes every year, over a third of them on TurboTax or HR Block. Here’s a post I just wrote on how to do your own taxes.
Think about all the complex things you do: maybe you’re raising a kid on your own. Maybe you navigated a divorce. Maybe you’re caring for your parents. Maybe you’re crushing it at work. Maybe you trained your dog. ALL of these are harder than doing your taxes.
Wait! Weren’t You Talking about Self Care?
Let’s get back to self care. Walking around the world, women carry a heavy burden. We’re harassed and marginalized at work and on the street. We catch outright shade and condescension from basically everyone, including companies trying to sell us stuff. We take care of kids, disproportionately. We take care of elders, disproportionately. We take care of communities, disproportionately. And by the 2021 tax deadline, we will be 14 months into a pandemic that has devastated our careers and personal economies.
If you are tired just looking at a pile of tax documents, I don’t blame you. Here’s how to make it work for you.
Taxes as Spring Cleaning
Before I had a child, one of my favorite ways to spend Saturday morning was cleaning my house (now, it’s playing with my baby in a messy living room). For me, cleaning was deeply satisfying and reset my mind and home for the week. Taxes can be the same. It’s an opportunity to take stock of your finances at the 20,000 foot level. Did you make enough to live on? Did you pay too much or not enough from every paycheck? Could you have taken advantage of tax-preferred savings like an IRA? Taxes can be a great moment to take stock, clean up, and make some decisions about what you want to change. Or not!
Taxes as Celebration / Inspiration
You’re only required to keep your tax files for seven years, but I keep all of them. Why? It’s a reminder of how far I have come. Twenty years ago, my income was cobbled together, I was early in a career I hadn’t figured out yet, I was working two jobs, both of which paid badly. Every year when I do my taxes, I look back at my old returns. It reminds me that I’m going someplace good I can’t imagine yet.
Surprisingly, old tax returns are especially inspiring in a ROUGH year. When we have a rough year, like 2020 or 2009 or 2001, it’s hard to see it for what it is – a single year in the arc that bends toward wealth. Everyone has down years, but being able to see them in the context of twenty years makes it easier to realize that this too shall pass.
Taxes as Empowerment
This year, my tax self care is around my husband’s taxes. His business has a complex compensation structure that I, to my shame, have hidden from for the last few years. That is why 70% of women get a surprise at death or divorce. This year, I am pouring a glass of wine (or several) and digging in. I want to understand better how our family finances work, and use it as an opportunity to rework our financial plan.
You are not alone in doing your taxes! The AskFlossie community is here to support you and answer your questions. Check out our tips on doing your own taxes with confidence!
Kill the Doubt
But ultimately, I want to put away that little doubt in the back of my mind. “You don’t know what’s going on here.” “You don’t understand this.” “You need a professional to explain this to you.”
When it comes to taxes, that is probably not true – for me or for you. We just need to embrace it, lean into it. Get our cleaning done and move through it. We deserve to live free from the uncertainty.
Are you holding your glass of wine and ready to jump in? Let’s take a look at how to utilize the tax prep industry for FREE.
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