Terrifically Terrified Tax Time


“It’s tax time. I know this because I’m staring at documents that make no sense to me, no matter how many beers I drink.” These are the words of my favorite humorist, Dave Barry, in an article titled, “Monster tax code has many terrified.”

Whether we can laugh about tax tasks or we find it grumpy going, it can help to keep a few quick tips in mind. If your tendency is more scattered than sorted or you pile rather than file, then aim to keep all your financial information in one place. The simplest way is to get an open-topped monthly accordion file in which to drop all your tax-related documents. What’s a tax-related document you might be impatiently asking? It’s anything that translates to “pay more tax” (income & revenue records), or “pay less tax” (deductible savings contributions, certain interest expenses, or qualified business expenses). 

These days, even naturally organized people have found increased chaos due to the sheer quantity of tasks they juggle daily. When schedules are over-loaded, anyone can lose stuff. This can lead to unintentional carelessness or impulsivity in spending or other financial decisions.

Tax time can be a perfect time to tame some of the internal style “rascals” that make money mischief. Picture them on a continuum with two spender styles on the far left and two saver styles on the far right. The goal is balance.

Flasher   –   Rasher   –   Clasher   –   Dasher   –   Basher   –   Asher   –   Casher   –   Stasher


Named for their predominant traits, the money rascals often steer us unconsciously. When especially stressed, rascals may grab the wheel of financial behavior. If they’re steering too often, results are expensive. Flashers grab flashy purchases. Cars and homes are the biggest examples. Rashers are rash and impulsive. This can cause debt and an inability to pay bills (including taxes)! On the opposite end, the Casher saver favors cash and conservative choices. Stashers stash for maximum accumulation and growth. It’s important to have a calculated strategy using both saver styles.

Clashers clash with themselves, causing inconsistent behavior. Dashers are dashing through overloaded schedules, leaving money matters neglected. One of the best cures for Clasher and Dasher is to hire an objective third party to calculate what needs to go where.  Bashers bash materialism and greed, while Ashers are ashen and pale from worrying. These can all be balanced out when you’ve prioritized your goals and had their funding requirements calculated to fit your time horizon.

When we become “the rascal whisperer” to our own money mischief-makers, it takes the terror out of tax time. And if you’re prone to Dave Barry’s stress reduction techniques, you can save some bucks on beer and invest it in your retirement account. Or if that’s covered nicely, there’s always charitable giving or contributing to college savings for grandchildren or other VIP youngsters in your life. Now that’s terrific instead of terrified!

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