Be a Money Honey

The last few weeks have been crazy. Everything has centered around my debut novel, Up a Dry Creek, coming out today. Yep, today. If I wasn’t so freaked out I’d be having the time of my life.

However, reality yanked me out of my debut novel euphoria on Friday. There I was typing away when my computer made a sound I hear multiple times a day – a sweet little bing accompanied by a calendar reminder box. June 15: Pay Estimate 2011 Taxes. Ugh. Talk about a buzz kill.

So let’s talk money. More specifically taxes.

First off, know that none of this is meant as professional advice. I am not now nor have I ever been an accountant – trust me, one glance at my checkbook and you’d realize how true that is. However, I’ve learned a few things the hard way that may make paying the piper a little easier for you.

  1. Writing is your passion, your love and your obsession. It’s also your business. Even if your business isn’t a profitable one, you need to keep track of expenses and consult with an accountant or tax software program to take advantage of the deductions available to your small businesses
  2. Keep receipts for everything: how-to books, research, association memberships, continuing education courses, meetings, paper, pens and anything else that has to do with your writing. That rule includes some big ticket items such as laptops and printers, also. You may be able to write off these expenses at the end of the year. I’ve yet to convince my accountant that my gargantuan investment in coffee is a necessary business expense, but if I ever succeed I’ll let you know.
  3. If you have a dedicated space for writing that is used only for that, you may be able to take a home office deduction. It doesn’t matter if it’s an individual room, an alcove or an empty closet (hey, I’ve been there), what’s important is that you use it only for business.
  4. When you are operating a profitable writing business (and may this be all of you), pay your estimated taxes on time and in full – state and federal. Not doing so can mean the difference between going to Disney and having a stay-cation because you drained your vacation fund to pay taxes. That sound you hear? It’s my kids whining.
  5. Get in touch with your inner money honey. You’re a writer, you know how to do research. Turn those skills to the money side of your writing business to discover how you can help to make it a more profitable one.

Money. It’s not something we writers talk about all the time, but we should. After all, as Big Worm says in the movie Friday, “Messing with my money, is like messing with my emotions.” Amen to that.