My taxes have finally been filed. As it turns out, I’m not really late (since small businesses have until June 15 to file), but it feels late since I’ve been putting them off for way, way too long.
I have a confession to make – one that I’m only now fully admitting to myself…gulp… I have some major shame issues around money. They’re pretty deeply rooted in my psyche.
It all started so long ago, when I was growing up the daughter of a poor farmer, wearing hand-me-down clothes, never quite sure I’d be able to pay for the $2 field trip fees or the cost of the skirt that was mandatory for choir, and always afraid that I was “less than” because our car was always breaking down and we just couldn’t afford the nice things other families had. Shame, shame, shame. (My sister told me recently that she even thought the fact that our cats were always grey or black must be because we were too poor to be able to afford the multi-coloured or orange cats. The day we got an orange cat was a lucky day for her.)
I tried not to admit to myself that I still carry those shame stories. I’ve made a decent living in my life and I no longer drive a broken-down car and I’ve always been able to pay field trip fees and soccer fees for my kids, but… still the shame. “I’m not good enough because I don’t know how to manage my money properly. I’m a failure because I have credit card debt. And so on. And so on.”
The shame is always worse at tax time. I fret and I fuss and I beat myself over the head with lots of old stories. The day I finally do the taxes is usually one of the ugliest days in our house and I warn the family to stay out of the way of my snarly self.
This year was even harder. Since I’d started my business last year, I felt totally incompetent when it came time to figuring out what to deduct and all that other stuff. And yet I kept telling myself that I had to do them myself and couldn’t hire anyone because there was no way I could let someone inside the mess of my finances. Shame, shame, shame.
After a couple of failed attempts, though, I had to admit defeat. I couldn’t do them myself. What did I do then? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I pushed them aside and played the avoidance game for a few more months. “Maybe if I don’t think about them they’ll go away and I won’t have to deal with the shame.” Of course, we all know that those are fools’ games and the shame ends up eating us for much longer than it would otherwise.
Finally, I swallowed my pride and called the accountant that our kind and supportive financial advisor had recommended. I arranged a meeting with him, and then I started to fret big time. “He’s going to think I’m a fool for quitting a good job to launch a silly dream. What will he say when he sees I hardly made any money in the last few months of the year after quitting my job? He’ll laugh at me when he sees I don’t have a business accounting system and I walk in with a file folder full of receipts.” Shame, shame, shame.
But then I met with him. And it turned out the fretting was for nothing. He was kind. Just like the financial advisor who had recommended him. And he didn’t judge me. And he told me that for a business like mine, he wouldn’t recommend anything more complicated than what I’ve done – just a big envelope full of receipts. (“Leave the complicated financial management systems for big businesses. It’s overkill for what you’re doing.”)
And now the taxes have been filed. He made it SO EASY! He took away the painful snarly don’t-bug-mom-on-tax-day stress. And he made the I’m-too-incompetent-to-run-a-business shame disappear with his friendly smile and non-judgemental advice.
Paying for his service was some of the BEST MONEY I have ever spent!
Here’s what I learned from the experience: (You can feel free to point me to this post the next time I need a reminder.)
1. It pays to hire something for those things that cause you the most stress and aren’t part of your giftedness.
2. Most people won’t judge you just because they shine in the areas you don’t. In fact, they’ll probably be happy to use their giftedness to help you.
3. If you hire someone who DOES judge you, it’s time to cut ties and find someone supportive instead. Life is too short to feel judged.
4. People don’t expect you to make a lot of money when you first start a business. Those that DO make a lot of money at the start are either lucky or they’re lying. Get over it and move on.
5. Limiting ourselves with our shame stories instead of letting someone step in to help will burn a lot of unnecessary energy. It will take energy away from those things that we are gifted in and that we are called to share.
6. God made some people accountants and some people writers. If you’re the writer, don’t expect yourself to be the accountant. Let people shine in their areas of giftedness and then get busy shining in yours!