We all know that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Even after we’ve gone, taxes are still levied against our estate. The more money we make, the more money the taxman looks to take.
Tax can be a serious stumbling block in our financial mindset, especially when we think about all the ways in which we are taxed, where that money goes and how it is ultimately invested into our community, whether it’s local or across the entire country. As we also know, most of our success in life happens in our head; how we think and what we think about are crucial to making healthy decisions and choices. So, if there’s a mental stumbling block, we need to flatten it or learn how to jump it.
First, we can change our perception of tax and accept that there are elements that we will never fully agree with. This is because tax is not just for us, but for everyone else too and whilst you can keep some of the people happy some of the time, you can’t keep all of the people happy all of the time.
We can think about our country like a country club. Every country club offers benefits to its members, and in order to enjoy these benefits, membership fees need to be paid on time. This keeps things equal, and it keeps the country club in a position to keep providing benefits to its members. The committee that runs a country club needs to account for ensuring that the ideals of their community are upheld and maintaining the facilities with the membership fees paid.
It’s a simple illustration, but it’s a helpful way to understand that when we choose to live in a country, we too need to pay the fees to maintain the resources, infrastructure and ideological leadership. The complexity with tax is that we move from a couple of hundred people in a very similar demographic to millions and millions of people across multiple demographics. But at its core, if we understand that tax is designed to help us contribute to shared resources, we can start to flatten or jump this mental hurdle.
Second, we can change our behaviour when it comes to earning money and paying taxes. Life is already so busy and complex, if we don’t pay regular attention to our money and our taxes, we will always find ourselves rushed and stressed over the tax season. Here are a few things to do differently this year:
If you’re not money savvy (most of us aren’t), find a financial adviser, planner or coach who you trust and make sure you have regular meetings with them.
Keep track of your income and your spending. This is the fundamental basic law of good money management; your financial adviser will help you with this.
If you don’t pay tax every month, keep a small savings account active where you can pay your estimated tax. Smaller monthly amounts are far easier to stomach than bi-annual or annual payments. You’ll also accrue interest on the saved money, which will help you when payments are due.
When you check in with your financial adviser, stay up to date with tax exemptions or tax-free savings initiatives to maximise your financial potential, both in the short and long term. These options and rulings are often updated in annual budget speeches and will affect how you move towards financial independence.
Being tax savvy is not about working hard at the end of the tax year; it’s about understanding that tax is part of our daily financial planning. If you need to chat – let’s set up a time and ensure your financial situation is at its healthiest.