When it comes to the end of the financial year, there’s so much that captures your attention - from tax returns and end of financial year (EOFY) sales to having to get everything ready for the financial year coming up.
The 30th June means different things to different people. For some, it’s an opportunity to lodge their tax return as soon as possible to find out if they will be receiving a bank account boost in the form of a refund. For others, it’s usually the best time to make purchases as businesses run EOFY sales in the weeks leading up to this date.
So, whether this time of year causes you stress or you simply want to streamline the way you approach things heading into the next financial year, we’ve prepared 10 easy steps to preparing for the EOFY.
When it comes time to file your tax return, whether it’s as soon as possible, at the last minute, there are some important steps you can take to ensure the whole process is as smooth as possible.
Getting started on your taxes can be tough, especially if it’s something you don’t particularly like doing or something that you’ve put off for a while. Don’t tell yourself that you have to complete all your paperwork in one sitting - that’s enough to put anyone off. Instead, set a timer for 30 minutes and start with an easier task like pulling together the papers you need and setting up a new document to record the details. Once you’ve made a start, you often realise the job isn’t as bad as you first thought it might be.
Give yourself regular breaks away from the computer and when you’re finished, celebrate your commitment in getting it done with a small reward.
If you have queries and you can’t find reliable or consistent answers, don’t dwell on it. Ask a trusted family member or friend who may know the answer or speak to a tax accountant. Remember, you’re not the only one who finds the taxation system difficult to navigate. You’re an expert in what you do, not the taxation system.
Many people rely on taxation professionals to complete the majority of the process for them. While there are costs involved, some people find that the convenience of having someone else complete their return outweighs this.
Submitting your return and receiving a bill instead of a refund can set you back financially and, if you don’t have the money set aside, can become quite stressful. However, you’ve got options when this happens. Speak to the Australian Taxation Office and ask to set up a repayment plan so that you don’t need to pay a lump sum. It’s important to address a bill as you receive it, rather than let it sit and play on your mind.
From Black Friday sales and Boxing Day sales, to everything in between, there are a number of times throughout any given year that are the best times to make purchases. The EOFY sales are no exception, offering some of the biggest shopping bargains you’ll find across a range of retailers and industries. Some people even wait months for these sales to be announced before going through with purchases they’ve been preparing to make.
If you’re someone who has a subscription to all of the big retailers in the country, your email inbox is no doubt overflowing with sales information throughout June. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the offers and worry that you’re missing out on a great deal.
It also takes time to get through all the information which means you can become time poor in other areas of your life. If getting your inbox clear is causing you some anxiety, try subscribing to your favourite retailers and unsubscribing from those that are no longer relevant to you, or narrowing your list of favourite retailers down so that you don’t have to sift through so many emails at the same time.
Sales are a great opportunity for businesses to convince people to buy more than what they need. If you don't have the money available and are buying goods on credit, remember that in most cases it will need to be paid back with interest. So, think carefully about whether you need the item or if it's a purchase you may regret at some point down the line.
When it comes to making more purchases or spending more money than expected, some people may hide information from their partner. This can cause additional and unnecessary stress, so if you make extra purchases during EOFY sales, don’t hide it from them - make the case as to why it was a good decision to purchase those goods instead. This can turn a tricky situation into a positive and less stressful one.
Planning for the next financial year can help you keep on top of things both throughout the year and at the end of the financial year. Putting an efficient and simple system in place can help you feel in control of your finances and not have to worry that the end of the financial year is looming.
Set up a spreadsheet or accounting software that you can record work-related expenses as soon as they occur. Scan or take a photo and save invoices and receipts to a folder so you don’t need to worry about finding the hard copy.
Have a system for filing bank statements, dividend statements, your car log, working from home and work-related expenses. Some people prefer to receive a hard copy and keep them in a file while others only want digital. Decide what works best for you and make a point of doing a little filing or bookkeeping each month so it’s a much smaller, less arduous job to complete your tax return when the time comes.
Setting achievable goals can help you to feel accomplished and good about your situation throughout the financial year. If you’re a sole trader, your goal may be purely financially motivated. For example, if you aren’t happy with how much you earned last year, you can work out what you need to earn in a day, a week and a month before writing down the target. However, if you work for a business that is not your own, you may wish to learn new things to advance your career or take on more in your role so that you can put yourself forward for a pay rise before your next tax return. If this is the case, list out the specific things you need to do or learn and tick them off as you go. Having goals in writing can help you achieve them.
If you recognise that the end of the financial year can be a stressful time for you, or you just don’t want to let the pressure of the situation get to you in any way, there are things you can do to keep on top of your mental health.
If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), make an appointment with a psychologist to discuss any concerns, if you have them. Your psychologist won’t provide you with financial advice, but they can help you deal with any stress or anxiety you may be feeling about your financial situation.
If your finances are a major cause of stress in your life, you may benefit from speaking to a financial counsellor who can help work through them with you.
A financial counsellor can help with:
Financial counselling is a free service in Australia, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
The link between stress and poor mental health is clear, so if you're a manager, it's important to understand the benefits of an Employee Assistance Program for mental health assistance - not just at tax time. Encourage employees to take advantage of an existing EAP, or discuss our offering by calling 1800 258 487 or contacting us online.
Please note that Altius Group are not financial advisors, therefore the information in this article is intended to act as general and not to be taken as financial advice.