Tomorrow’s the big day. The day all Americans face a hard deadline. You either get that midnight postmark or you pay penalties and interest. Procrastinate all you want, but when April 15th rolls around you’d better have your act together.
I imagine you have some friends who filed their taxes months ago. They’re probably at the mall right now spending their refunds. But not you. You’re sweating that deadline like you do every year. And even though you should be working on your return right now, you’re doing everything in your power to distract yourself and procrastinate (like reading this blog) instead of buckling down and getting your taxes done.
Your organized friends have never filed an extension. You try every year not to, but somehow this annual deadline creeps up and there you are, right up against it, debating whether or not to throw in the towel, file an extension, and put it all off until October.
If any of this sounds familiar, then you are in the right place. Last minute cramming is the hallmark of the Manic Impressive and April 15th is our final. The key is knowing what kind of person you are and accepting your reality. This, then, is all about two simple strategies:
Disciplined & Diligent or Smart & Lazy
You know all about the methods of the Disciplined & Diligent. It’s all the things you’ve failed at since Kindergarten. Smart people are too lazy to waste time being fastidious. They use their smarts to cut corners on drudgery to allow more time for innovation and sex.
Just follow these four simple methods of the Smart & Lazy and you’ll get your return in on time.
Automation – The first key to Smart & Lazy success is to automate as much of your financial information gathering as possible. Forget daily, weekly or even monthly manual tabulating. Let technology do this for you. Don’t pay cash for anything. Use credit cards and checking accounts so you can download all your transactions at the end of the year. A few hours of categorizing will give you all your expenses for the year.
Sure, disciplined, diligent people keep running totals throughout the year and know where everything is. But you’re not that person so don’t try to be. Download it all, once, at the end of the year, mash it up into one large spreadsheet, then total by category. You’ll end up in pretty much the same place as the Diligent, but without interrupting your partying and TV watching throughout the year and being all anal about it. It’s okay to be you.
Batching – Diligent people handle their finances in disciplined routine. They don’t let things pile up on them. They spend a little time each month reconciling everything along the way so the end of the year is easy.
But you don’t have to do things this way. As your W-2s and 1099s show up, throw them all in one big pile. Forget receipts. You’ll be downloading all your transactions anyway. One big pile in a plastic container of some sort, preferably with a clasp on it. Keep it all safe until it’s time in March or early April. Forget about it all ’til then. This is a form of Batching and it’s totally acceptable to work this way.
Delegation – Yes, your Diligent friends do it all themselves. TurboTax was designed for them, but not you. You need to delegate. It’s Smart and Lazy, the best of all things. You hire a pro who knows how to handle the IRS and you turn it over to him/her. It is more expensive, but you have better things to do with your time. Like create dance moves and daydream. Trust me, delegation is the way of the Warrior and the way of the Happy Manic Impressive.
Accepting Acceptable – It’s okay to be this way. Sure it would be less stressful and hectic to be done well in advance. Yes, tax prep costs money. But you can make money. You can’t make time.
So use your time wisely by having fun and social intercourse. Or regular intercourse. But don’t waste your time being something you’re not. You see that messy desk at the top of the post? Does it look like your diligent friend’s desk or more like yours? I thought so. Because you’re a genius. Like Albert Einstein. That’s his desk up there, in a picture taken by Life Magazine the day after he died.
Don’t waste your genius on a clean desk. Use it being creative and livening up the world. We need your passion and outrageous ideas, not another antiseptic work surface. Let the disciplined, diligent plodders keep neat desks and early tax appointments. Your brilliance is more important and should not be squandered on such mundanity…