On April 15th, I filed and extension with the IRS for the first time in my life. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I was left with no other alternative because I simply wasn’t ready. As I called in my extension, which was a really cool way to do it, I vowed to get serious about my accounting and get things in order in the next 30 days. Unfortunately, instead of “getting serious”, I paved a few more miles to hell with my good intentions. So with August 15th looming just around the bend, I spent all weekend getting my records in order.
All weekend you ask? Yes, I was that far behind. I had let things slide for quite some time and now I was having to make up for it by doing over a year’s worth of work in a weekend. Why would I let things get this bad? Well, if I have to be completely honest, it’s because I’m a spoiled brat when it comes to all things accounting. My mother is a CPA, so I’ve been content to be a slacker and let her do most of the work. Granted I handle billing, checks, etc., but for taxes and all things government, I’ve let her carry the brunt of the load. Yet can you consider yourself a spoiled brat if you’re self aware of your brat-ness?
I marked this year as the year of “put up, or shut up” and made a concerted effort on this years resolutions. My overall mantra was if I wasn’t actively involved in an activity in my life, then I either “get with the program”, or let it go. I have a tendency to say I’m going to “get serious” whenever I fail at something, but this year’s resolution was a little different. There were consequences. If I’m not going to be 100% vested in the activity, then I have to cut it.
Take my Church choir for example. I’ve been involved with the Noon choir at St. Edwards Catholic Church for many years now, but for the last year or so, I was hit-or-miss with my attendance. I was letting my involvement slide and that didn’t match my goals for this year. So I’ve made a concerted effort to do better with attendance and my involvement in the choir. I still have a ways to go, but I’m definitely more involved that I was last year. Had I not done better, then I was prepared to drop out all together.
I applied this “put up, or shut up” mentality to my accounting issues as well. Instead of just letting someone else handle it, I was determined to be involved, learn the process and do the work. So this weekend, with the help of my Mother’s leadership, I took the bull by the horns and did just that. I entered over a year’s worth of data into Quicken (for personal) and Quickbooks (for business) into the computer.
I reconciled until my eyes crossed and just when I didn’t think it could get any worse, it was time to sort receipts. I was given an out, but I’ve learned to appreciate the joy of suffering on my bicycle, so I kicked it into granny gear and plowed ahead. Figuring I would grind whatever grist the mill demanded I sorted over a years worth of receipts by date order.
Of course I wasn’t alone, I did have a lot of help from my lovely wife Holly. She made folders, filed paper work and slaved away on the floor toiling with receipts as well. There’s absolutely no way I could have done this one my own and having Holly and my Mother there to help was a godsend.
Tonight, we’re back at it again! We’re in the final stages of the tax preparations as we review reports and receipts to verify that we’ve captured everything. It’s a detailed review of all of the data before we fill out the tax forms. My hope is that we can do a long pull tonight and actually complete the process. Otherwise, we’ll keep plugging away each night until it’s done.
Although it’s gone surprisingly well, it is still far from a pleasurable experience. It’s been like bicycling up my own personal Mont Ventoux and I’ve been questioning myself all along the way, “Why did I let it get this bad?” and “Can’t you do better this year?” Clearly I have some issues that I have to work though, I’ve already purchased and half-read a book on this (more on that some other time), but I can only hope that I CAN and WILL do better with this year’s books. Taxes don’t have to be this hard if maintained properly, but isn’t that the key to everything?
I wouldn’t be fat if I exercised regularly. I would be a better friend if I wrote and called more regularly. My wrist wouldn’t hurt if I didn’t… oh wait, that’s the opposite – I do TOO much of that. Wait. What are you thinking? I was referring to typing! You know, you would do a lot better if you got your mind out of the gutter once in a while. 😉