3 Steps to Make Tax Time a Breeze (Next Year)

When you practice these steps, you may end up having less paperwork because when you treat communication with your money like the other things scheduled in your life, it's less of a mystery and more of a familiar routine.
04/18/2016 04:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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During tax time most of us are reminded of where we could improve in the management of and the way we feel about our money.

The topic of money can generate tremendous amounts of stress and that stress can keep us from communicating clearly about other important things in our life, like work and personal relationships.

I've heard from clients that after gathering the paperwork to submit for taxes, they feel a wave of guilt for being unorganized and not really knowing what is what.

Many people feel this way.

The idea of creating order for the future is ignored because when we ultimately complete our taxes we don't want to have to look at it again for a long time.

So we don't and then we feel this way next year, again.

Consider practicing these three simple steps to feel better about communication with your money:

1.) Know the Monthly Numbers

Write EVERY monthly expense down (in a notebook, worksheet on your desktop, special place in your phone) and note the total. This includes rent or mortgage, car, electricity, phone, cleaning services, groceries, dining out and dry-cleaning. EVERYTHING! Estimate if you are unsure of a number then tweak the numbers every month when you pay your bills.

KNOWING this monthly amount helps you to feel in control and may help you uncover money you didn't realize you had. This happens when you say, "Wow, if I reduced eating out to 4 times a month instead of 8 times a month, I would have an extra $600 (or more) in my pocket every month."

2.) Pay yourself each time you get it right

Check on your balance once a week (on line) and before you do, come up with a number you think the balance is and if you are within $50, pay yourself a bonus. Literally keep a bonus envelope (or jar) and reward yourself for your discipline. The point of this step is to remind you that when you mindfully check in with your money, you make money.

3.) Go to the "ATM" once a week

Once you've completed the first two steps, you know what you need to have on hand. Even if you use your debit card more often than you ACTUALLY visit the ATM for cash, the goal with this step is to increase the amount of money you have left over at the end of the week.

When we treat communication with our money as a routine like getting up in the morning with an alarm clock, eating dinner at night or being on time for a scheduled yoga class, we develop an awareness that may remove the uncertainty that wears us down when we DO NOT check in with it on a regular basis.

The goal is to feel better next year when you gather all that paperwork. When you practice the steps above you may end up having less paperwork because when you treat communication with your money like the other things scheduled in your life, it's less of a mystery and more of a familiar routine. This may yield less stress when you think about your money in the future. Wouldn't that be nice?

Jeanne M. Stafford is a professional speaker and communications trainer. Stafford trains her audiences and clients to communicate powerfully using improv techniques. Jeanne is writing a book about communication techniques she learned through her adventures with Improv, Asperger's and Politics. Sign up for her FREE 30 Days of YES and find out how using YES words can empower you to possibility. Follow Jeanne on twitter @jeannestafford and visit her website http://jeannemstafford.com