Friday, March 16, 2012

Training and Taxes – Pay Now Or Pay Later

April 15th – Tax Day. For many, the thought of this day conjures up feelings of trepidation and uncertainty similar to those experienced when first deciding to embark upon improving one’s health through diet and exercise. “How do I do it? Who can help me do it? How can I get the largest return?” Or the confident, “I can do this myself!” As this day fast approaches, let us explore some other corollaries between taxes and training....

Who can help me do it?

As it pertains to taxes, many people consult a CPA or Certified Public Accountant. Others may visit a Jackson-Hewitt or H & R Block location. For health and fitness, one would hire a certified and insured personal trainer or health coach. This method is similar to consulting a mechanic for auto repairs or licensed contractor for home repairs and projects.

The main benefits experienced here are the safety and comfort that come with having a trained eye looking over things and the convenience and efficiency of having all of the 'thinking' removed for you. No need to worry about: Is this a deductable expense? Or, what exercise do I perform to target my stomach or legs?  No IRS penalties for mistakes. No painful injuries from poor exercise choices or performance. These professionals are properly trained to sort through the mounds of information and misinformation to employ only what is useful, while discarding the rest. The objective is to keep things safe, simple, and effective.

How can I get the largest return?

We all want the largest return as fast as possible, right? It doesn’t matter if it’s the money in our tax return, or the return on investment from our time and effort spent in the gym in the form of looking and feeling better. Consulting a professional will ensure that this is exactly what happens.

The trick is to consult a professional whose expertise matches your individual lifestyle and limitations. If you have a six-figure income, the professional at the nearest H & R Block may not have the sufficient experience and education necessary to handle your unique needs. Similarly, if you are a 50+ year old adult with orthopedic concerns, hiring a fitness professional whose experience is primarily with bodybuilders and athletes may not be the best fit either. Efficiency is the priority here; making the most out of every dollar made or minute invested.

I can do it myself!

Wait. If I hire a professional then I’ll have to pay them. If I do it myself, I’ll save money! Or will you? It’s woven in our DNA to be self-reliant and self-sufficient. Indeed, these are good traits to possess. The truth is, however, it’s just not possible – or wise - to be that way all the time.

Sure, you could wade through our complicated tax codes and forms or an exercise and diet regimen yourself. But what if you could have received a $2000 return instead of $1200 had you consulted with a professional who saw two or three deductions you weren’t aware of? Would that extra $800 be worth a $100 fee? You betcha. Perhaps you could have achieved the same weight loss or strength gains in three hours a week instead of six. Money isn’t the only currency.  Going at things alone is a risk in safety and efficiency. Maybe you only need to consult a tax pro when you experience a major life change such as marriage or starting your own business which would substantially change your filing procedures. Maybe you just need a training session here and there to review your program, check exercise technique, or what to change due to a new medication or orthopedic restriction. What is your time worth to you?


Obviously, not paying your taxes or making no effort in terms of diet and exercise is a poor choice that I think everyone grasps. What many people fail to realize is doing either of these incorrectly also incurs a cost just as great, if not greater. Ask someone who has been audited or had their wages garnished. Ask someone who tore their rotator cuff bench pressing or blew out their knee squatting.

You have two choices on how you will spend your healthcare money: proactively or reactively. Spending proactively includes buying healthier foods or hiring a fitness professional. Spending reactively means more medications, more doctors’ visits, more hospital stays, or more physical therapy.

You can pay now or pay later, but only one of those choices increases your quality of life along the way.
“You must choose, but choose wisely.” – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

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