{29/05/2012}   Tax returns and other disorganised finances

Between April and December I regularly think about doing my tax return, it is a burdonsome niggle.  Last year I sent my tax return off in May, but still had jolts of, “Agh, I’ve got to do my tax … oh, I’ve done it” for the rest of the year.  I hate sorting receipts and paperwork, I mean really, really hate doing it.  I also don’t enjoy discovering that my annual earnings have been going down each year for the past few years.  Can someone (me) learn to be organised with money and financial paperwork, having displayed no obvious signs of having such tendencies?
I have a pile of receipts from the past year, relevant paperwork largely in the same area and a “special” book for writing receipt info in (I tried Excel but it wasn’t without issues and I’m sure it took a lot longer than my pen and paper approach).  As I think about it, I feel quite stressed.  Every year, after spending either a day (if I have a whole free day ahead of me, littered with tea breaks and all diversions that present themselves) or a series of days surrounded by papers and an air of chaos, I get it all sent out (I have an accountant to make it easier for me, but it’s this stage that I find the worst, but being self-employed and renting accommodation having an accountant is almost necessary – does that sound like an excuse?!).  I then create a system for receipts, bank statements, etc, and for up to three months I am organised.  Then suddenly it stops, well I stop.  Oh, I’m getting myself all wound up now just thinking about it.
Believe it or not, with my trusty “To Do List notebook” filling fast, I am very organised.  It’s just over my own finances that I am a disaster.  I used to be a credit controller and took unexpected delight in sorting out other people’s finances, it’s just my own I can’t deal with.  It often niggles me that I suspect my financial paperwork carnage is a reflection of my irresponsible attitude towards money.  I don’t have debts, not even a mortgage, but earning potentially vastly different amounts each month means I spend what I earn, but it takes me a few months to adjust to meagre or non-existent salary months.  Sometimes, the thought of addressing my spending and seeing outgoings v incomings, horrifies me.  I like to know enough not to go overdrawn, but no more.  How, how, how do you change the financial habits of a lifetime?  All this came to a head when I thought about buying a car that would render me £450 a month worse off for four years.  No, no, no.  Big no.
I have never had a regular monthly salary and I am wondering if this would be key to saving and being a more responsible spender.  My first jobs were temp jobs, then EFL teaching (paid per day’s work but with overtime, unpaid days off, etc, etc, that wasn’t regular) and then this crazily paid job.  Turning 37 I have had a vague acknowledgment that I am nearer 40 than 30.  By the time I’m 40 I want to have savings and be more in touch with my spending.  I might even think about getting a pension!
A month today will be the last blog entry for me in my six-month challenge.  I should make that last post a recap of things I’ve said I’ll do, etc, over the previous six months.  My tax return WILL be done and sent by then and a new, effective system of financial organisation will be in place.  Yikes!  That scares me almost as much as the day of impending horror, of being surrounded by receipts and invoices and bank statements …


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