There are people who have money and people who are rich. ~ Coco Chanel
This is the time of year that has people asking themselves which category they fall under, if either.
Welcome to tax season.
No, no don’t run away! I promise not to get mired down in boring details. This time of year affects everyone and I’m doing my best to embrace tax season and I want to help you embrace it, too!
Why is a lifestyle and fashion blogger writing about money and taxes?
Because I’d be remiss if I left out this topic. Much of what I share involves an element of consumerism (AKA spending money). To spend money, you’ve got to have it. And to have it, you have to earn it. Which automatically throws us into the annual tax-filing duty. As I advocate for and encourage a classic and timeless lifestyle, it’s so important for me to highlight that we should do this responsibly. Taking control of your money is one of the biggest responsibilities we have.
I want to share the process that I use to embrace tax season and take control of my money all year round so that it can help you have more control over your money and improve your finances.
I track everything that I spend. I use a money management program called Quicken and this is my financial hub. Quicken is super easy, even for the non-organized and non-financially interested person. It does the heavy lifting in a one-step upload for all my bank and credit card accounts. Once those transactions come in, it is then up to me to categorize them. In order to do so, you have to go back and look at your receipts.
Dining, clothing, medical, utilities, office supplies, groceries etc. – are all examples of some categories. Think about your last Target run. (Or not, if it looks like mine…) If you can actually check out before getting bounced out, your spree likely involved 5 out of 6 of the above categories, right? This is where the process has an impact…
When you have to go back and re-analyze every penny spent, you notice things. I’m talking about all the $3.00 items from the dollar section I barely remember purchasing. Or the 500 count colorful postcards I keep buying because I’m addicted to office supplies. The tank tops that are so neatly folded that I buy simply because I want my closet to look like that! It’s ugh-inducing but it’s impactful. Revisiting these purchases reeeeeeeallly speaks to my heart and mind. What was I thinking? Why did I buy that?
Full disclosure, my weakness – Amazon Prime. Ouch.
Here’s the thing about that Ouch.
As hard as it is to face, once you do, you get this crazy wonderful feeling of release and renewal. An “I’m going to do better” renewal. “I’m taking charge of my money” renewal. Now you feel powerful for staring down the barrel of your Walgreens accidental shopping trip. Or you can realize, “no I really did not need to buy 2 more hummingbird feeders on Amazon.” Re-visiting each purchase is so insightful. It helps you explore your needs, wants and reasoning behind each purchase you make.
Lastly, the added benefit in all this is that it makes your taxes so much easier. You have an easy-to-print report of the year, receipts on hand and ta-da! If you work with an accountant, you can just hand this over and they will love you forever. As a bonus incentive, keeping accurate records might even result in bigger deductions.
As the opening quote implies, some people who have money are not always rich. And some have little money yet are very rich. Being mindful about how you spend your money makes the ultimate difference.
In this season of unavoidable scrutiny of our income and where it goes, I encourage you all as consumers and taxpayers to take control of your money. To take inventory of your earnings and expenses, then get in charge of that cycle and its far-reaching influence. I promise once you get past the first hard step, a wonderful feeling follows. So don’t give up! Here are 2 more encouraging posts I wrote about buying things and views about money.
Tips to start taking control of your money:
#1: If the thought of this task sounds awful and boring to you, try this…Treat it as an important job. One where you have to make yourself presentable and professional. Style your hair, apply your makeup and put on a decent outfit. Then sit down and tackle it. It might sound weird but the truth is that you’d never show up to a job looking like droopy sweat pants and greasy hair just walked in. So, give this the respect you would any real job. Because it really is a an important one. Wear red lipstick for pizzazz!
#2: Motivation in the preparation. “Style up” your work station. Get a calculator that you like. Yes, the calc app on your phone could work, but it’s kind of a pain + encourages distractions. Have a stapler, clips, pencils, envelopes or folders ready to go.
#3: Create categories that match your lifestyle. If you spend a lot of money on Clothing, acknowledge it and track it. And give yourself and each family member a category. Same with hobbies, professions, subscriptions etc. If you would like a list of my categories, I’d be happy to share!