This is my least favorite time of the year because it is time to get my finances in order to send to my accountant. While I am under the impression I have worked hard all year to keep track of income and expenses, file receipts in the right folders, and regularly add the figures to my Excel spreadsheet, I have been kidding myself. What should be a fairly straightforward task turns into an annual nightmare as I realize I have done none of the above.
First, let me say I am not a numbers person. I don’t particularly like numbers, and anything with dollar signs and decimal points gives me a stomachache. This doesn’t augur well for the task at hand. Where to start is always a problem. I guess the best place is with the pile of paid but still unfiled bills, scattered receipts, and check stubs that seem to have no discernible organization.
Then, there is trying to figure out to whom I paid what during each month of the year, so I can put the figures in the right cells of my empty spreadsheet. It’s not pretty. This year, in desperation, I called my bank and begged for a listing of 2008’s online business payments, all the time thinking, Right. Like that’s going to happen. Miracle of miracles, the lovely woman on the phone said, “Sure. I can do that. I’ll print it out and put it in the mail today.” And she did.
My income is divided into three parts: writing fees, book sales, and social security. That doesn’t sound too complicated, but fighting my way through PayPal and Amazon to see how many books I sold and how much I actually made, after the fees and humongous discounts have been deducted, almost drives me to tears.
Of course, there are the mountains of forms I get every month from Medicare, Blue cross/Blue Shield, and my Medicare Part D insurer. I guess I never look at them before I stuff them into file folders, but now I must. It’s pretty scary reading material. Insurance is it’s own private hell. When you’re self-employed, there seem to be 50 kinds, all out of pocket or deducted from something. And taxes. I never realized how many kinds of taxes there are, none of which are deducted from anything, so they are all out of pocket.
Finally, it is time to add up all these numbers (I swear I’ll eat out less, cut down on hair cuts, and find a cheaper grocery store), attach W9s (or whatever they’re called), and bundle up last year's proof of what is going on my tax return … just in case.
I do this every year, but, somehow, it never gets any easier. This is when I swear once again to hire a virtual assistant (VA). But if she’s virtual, as in — simulated, artificial, imitation, make-believe, computer-generated, online — will she come here and do all of this for me next year?
Bobbi Linkemer is a ghostwriter, book coach, editor, and the author of 14 books. Her articles on all aspects of writing appear on more than 25 article sites on the Web, including top-ranked EzineArticles.com. Bobbi has been a professional writer for 40 years, a magazine editor and journalist, and a writing teacher. She has written about thousands of subjects over the years. With Musings, for the first time, Bobbi is sharing her thoughts on a wide array of topics, from serious to satirical and philosophical to factual.