Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Perils of Procrastination

Photo from Philip Taylor of PT Money, found on Flickr, licensed under 
Creative Commons

This year, I finished my tax returns on April 14.

And I promised myself I would never put myself in a similar situation again, where I’m computing my taxes at the last minute. While I was organized at a basic level — all my receipts were gathered in one place — I was behind in entering my business expenses into QuickBooks, in scanning my receipts, and in completing some other administrative tasks necessary before my taxes could be done.

My procrastination caused a variety of problems:

1. Sometimes I forgot what I had bought. While I’m generally very good about annotating my receipts if it’s not clear what I purchased, once in a while I neglected to do that. If I’d entered the expenses into QuickBooks right away, the purchases would have been fresh in my mind. But when I had to deal with receipts that were months old, things were more difficult. I wasted time over this, and probably missed a few minor deductions.

2. I lost control of my time. In the week before my taxes were due, I had to turn down invitations I would have liked to accept, because I had no free time.

3. I caused myself undue stress. I knew I had just enough time to finish everything, but that meant I had very little slack time to recover if things went wrong. My area had some strong winds that week when I was working on my taxes; people living nearby lost their power. If I’d lost mine, it would have made completing my taxes on time very rough.

Any kind of organizing maintenance is so much easier if it’s done on a regular basis. After I completed my taxes, I vowed to myself that I would keep my records up-to-date in the future.

I started writing this post in late April, and set it aside — because I wanted to make sure I did indeed follow through on my good intentions. Now it's the end of July, and I'm glad to say I've been doing pretty good. I don't have my mileage entered into QuickBooks yet, but everything else is in good shape.

Doing my taxes next year should be a breeze.


Marcie Lovett said...

I can relate, Jeri! Although I am meticulous about record keeping, I know that I am going to owe money so I don't usually start my taxes until the beginning of April. It always takes longer than I imagined, even after all these years and with the magic of Turbo Tax. Just like we tell our clients: Start earlier and schedule more time so that you don't feel stressed at the last minute.

Good job keeping your system up these past months! Much easier than trying to recall what you did months ago.

Jeri Dansky said...

Marcie, this coming year I plan to do my taxes in February. Then, if I owe money, I can still hold off on filing my returns until April. No need to give my money away early!