Monday, April 11, 2011

Horses & Taxes

OK so if given the choice between doing just about anything related to a horse versus anything related to book-keeping, accounting or taxes - well lets just say I am sure you can all guess what I will choose. So, as every year, I am in my annual "Oh my God how did April get here so quickly" panic attack.

Why can't keeping books and doing taxes be as simple and pleasant as keeping horses. Am I asking too much, really? I keep very thorough records (although not always legible to anyone but me) on each of my horses. I can tell you when they last received a vaccination or Legend shot, when they were last shod, last rode, their fitness level, feeding regimen, supplement needs etc. But ask me to balance my checkbook, or produce a Profit & Loss statement and you might as well be asking me to perform brain surgery. I do eventually get everything entered into Quickbooks (a program designed by the devil himself by the way) but it is only after this painful marathon of entering data at the last minute with the deadline of tax evasion looming over my head.

Quickbooks is supposedly a program designed to help the small business owner with their accounting. But what they don't tell you is that you need to have an accounting degree to understand it. That is why they has "certified Quickbooks experts" that you can hire. Really? Then why did I need to buy the stupid program, I should have just hired a bookkeeper. Geez, horses are so much easier to get along with.

I can tell you a horse's heart rate, calculate their mega cal daily requirement and estimate the weight of roughage needed daily but in any other application, numbers in general and math in specific, are way over my head and make my brain hurt. Not to mention the headache and indigestion. With horses it is a simple matter of input and output. They eat, they drink, they get exercise - leads to manure, wet shavings and better fitness and a happy horse. Taxes for me are just not that simple. Assets, expenses - deductible and non-deductible, depreciation, income, interest, dividends - blah, blah, blah - I can understand my horse's language much better.

My poor long suffering tax accountant is like that kind and gentle quarter horse everyone should have in there life. If I ever got him info prior to the 12 of April, I think he would fall over in shock. Every year the poor man says "get me numbers when you can" and "maybe you should have an assistant to get you better organized". I know I need to set aside time on a regular basis to keep up with the data entry and bookkeeping but I can be the queen of procrastination when it comes to something I really don't like to do.

I am open to any and all suggestions as to how not to end up in this dilemma next year. Is it just me or do things get more complicated each year while we have less time to get things done in. Am I the only procrastinator out there? Someone should come up with a program that we can use to enter records while on a trail ride. Now I would buy that one!

9 comments:

Belea T. Keeney said...

You might want to try a "To file" folder on your desk, then dump receipts and other papers into it, and then -- here's the key -- regularly go through it and, um, file the papers. :)

No, really. File it.

That's the only system that's ever worked for me and it spreads the pain over the year instead of all at once in April. I go through mine at least every other week, put on some happy music, and within 15 minutes or so, it's done. And I can forget about it until February and tax time. (Yes, I'm one of those uber-organized people that gets my tax info to the accountant by Valentine's Day. Hate me, go ahead.)

You might want to give the To file system a try and see if it works for you.

Laura Crum said...

Terri--I will second that "things get more complicated each year while we have less time to get things done in." It seems to me that I once had a life where I had time to shop at the nursery for plants for my garden and ride my horse every day. No longer. I feel like I am always running around frantically trying to get everything done that's on my schedule. As for the taxes--yeah, they're a bummer. My husband has to push me to do my part. But at least I'm getting a refund--the good part of not making much money (!)

Terri Rocovich said...

Belea,

I will give your system a try. It is the "regularly" thing that always escapes me and yes I may hate you (just a little) for being so organized. Truly I am impressed and jealous. I like the happy music idea, maybe that will help my motivation.

Terri Rocovich said...

Laura,

OMG you just described my life as well. Why does it seem like there is less than 60 minutes in each hour. Maybe if I had a "other half" to push me, I would be better at getting the boring stuff done. The dogs are no help, they just say "oh forget that book keeping, lets go to dog beach!". Clearly they are a bad influence on me.

kel said...

I have used QB at work for four companies for the last 15 years. I feel your pain. If you need some help from time to time feel free to drop me an email - don't know if I can help or not - but I'm free! Here is what I did at home that really helped me. I put a basket on my desk. Everyday I get the mail and I go through it. I throw away all the crap ads, cc applications, etc. I go through my purse and wallet every week or so and clean them out. I put all the important receipts in the basket. No junk or garbage goes in the basket. I picked a day - for me it is the 20th. On the 20th I go through the basket. I pay the bills,(I may not mail them right away, but they are ready to go when they need to go) and file them and the receipts in an accordian file by month. If I were to add qb entry into the mix, I think I would bump it up to twice a month just so the task isn't as cumbersome and overwhelming. I think what is important is setting the day and sticking to it. No excuses - I kind of think of it like brushing my teeth - no matter what happens in my life - I brush my teeth - why should this be so different. At first I set little rewards up for myself. Like dinner out that night. Or I would tell myself that after I got done I could go purchase that razzle dazzle top or jeans or bridle or ??? that I wanted. Now, it just feels so good to have it done that I just do it for the pleasure and piece of mind that it is done.

QB has a lot of features that can be super time consuming. If you are entering your bills and credit cards and paying with the bill pay application that can be super time consuming. Using memorized transactions can help cut down on data entry if you don't let it get behind. It can be a nightmare if you let it get a head of you.

Susan said...

I used to use Quickbooks when I had my business. Good thing no one else had to look at my records. It made sense to me, but since I knew nothing when I started in, I didn't know how to set it up and never did get it right.

Terri Rocovich said...

Kel

Nightmare is the right word! And it is the fact that I let it get ahead of me that is the real problem. I very much appreciate the offer for help, I will take you up on that offer. I know that QB is a neccesary evil fir accurate accounting, especially since I am self-employed, but you are so right that so many of the tasks are time-consuming and cumbersome. I thought it was supposed to save me time?

I just ordered the 2011 upgrade so maybe that will help. I am going to take your suggestion of setting aside a day and STICKING TO IT. That has become my #1 resolution for the rest of this year. And the little rewards at the end is a very good motivator. TY!

Terri Rocovich said...

Susan,

You made me feel better. I always think that I am the only accounting failure out there, being clueless as to exactly how things are supposed to be done and winging it to say the least. It is almost like I think that the God of good accounting is going to strike me down with lightning for not doing things the right way. I know, I am paranoid. Thank you though for letting me know I am not alone.

Alison said...

Like Belea, I have a file box on my desk JUST for anything that even remotely looks like 'need for taxes.' In a rush, you can stick the stuff in it and then later accompanied by music or chocolate or tea on a rainy day go through and file more carefully in a larger folder with separations. That's my frantic to slightly less frantic organizational method. Good luck!