Episode 33: Taxes... Not As Scary As You Think [Featuring Jennie Schottmiller]
In one of the most helpful episodes I've ever recorded, Jennie Schottmiller and I discuss "All Things Taxes and Accounting."
If you need EASY-to-make-sense-of tax advice or want to listen to Jennie Schottmiller and I go down our own ADHD rabbit holes, this episode is for you!
Jennie and I talk about...
- Small business startup FAQs
- Accounting 101
- Very common accounting errors
- How to ask for tax help without feeling ashamed
- Tangible steps you can take starting today to make your business run smoothly
- Business Startup 101
Jennie gives out tons of FREE tax advice and even makes talking about accounting FUN.
Once you realize that accounting is just numbers on pieces of paper, it's a lot easier to feel less intimidated by them. Putting your systems in place helps make your business and your life run a lot more smoothly.
Jennie is an accountant and mental health therapist, basically making her a unicorn in the field. She runs one of the most helpful FB groups around, "Simple Profit For Mental Health Clinicians."
More About Jennie:
Jennie Schottmiller is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Pennsylvania. In 2007, Jennie left accounting to focus on health and family. She became a marriage and family therapist in 2010. Soon after opening her private therapy practice, Jennie realized that many of her peers struggled with accounting, tax, budgeting, and cash management. In addition to her clinical practice, she now runs Simple Profit offering free resources as well as a membership to provide education and support in managing business tasks.
Connect with Jennie Schottmiller at: https://www.simpleprofit.com
A Thanks to Our Sponsor!
I would also like to thank Hushmail for sponsoring this episode.
This episode of the all things private practice podcast is being brought to you by Hushmail. As a therapist, how you communicate with clients online is just as important as how you communicate in your sessions.
If you use email and web forms, they need to be secure and HIPAA compliant. Hushmail takes the guesswork out of secure communication by providing encrypted email, web forms, and e-signatures all in one HIPAA-compliant package. Are you still using paper forms or sending your clients PDFs that they have to print out and scan back? Online forms will save you a ton of time. With Hush Secure Forms, you can start with a template and customize it to reflect your practice, or use the drag-and-drop form builder to build forms from scratch with fields for e-signatures. Add the forms to your website, or send them through secure email. Hush Secure Forms also include screening forms. They have a Good Faith Estimate template to ensure you’re in compliance with the No Surprises Act. Clients will spend less time in the waiting room and more time getting the care that they need.
Go to try.hushmail.com/allthings and enjoy the first month of your plan for free.
PATRICK CASALE: As a therapist, how you communicate with clients online is just as important as how you communicate in your sessions. If you use email and web forms they need to be secure and HIPAA compliant. Hushmail takes the guesswork out of secure communication by providing encrypted email, web forms, and eSignatures all in one HIPAA-compliant package.
Are you still using paper forms or sending your client's PDFs that they have to print out and scan back? Online forms will save you a ton of time. With Hush Secure Forms you can start with a template and customize it to reflect your practice or use the drag and drop form builder to build forms from scratch with fields for eSignatures, add the forms to your website, or send them through secure email.
Hush Secure Forms also includes screening forms. They have a good faith estimate template to ensure you're in compliance with the No Surprises Act. Your clients will spend less time in the waiting room and more time getting the care that they need. Go to try.hushmail.com/allthings and enjoy the first month of your plan for free.
Hey, everyone, you are listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale joined today by Jennie Schottmiller. She is a remarkable human being who is an accountant CPA and an LMFT, owner of Simple Profit, which is a business designed to help mental health clinicians really learn more about the tax process which scares the shit out of all of us. And then also, a private practice therapist outside of Philadelphia.
Jenny, I'm just really happy to have you on here. And I will say this, I'm a Facebook group moderator, your Facebook group is by far the best on the internet. Like, it is so freaking helpful and I really appreciate it.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Thank you. I like it too and I hear that from people. And I think it's just because it's, I don't know if this is the right word, but I have it well controlled, and I think there's something to be said for having a place to go that's for a specific topic and having the moderation of that space be limited to that specific topic for the most part, because you can kind of go in-out, get what you need, and then move on with your life, which is kind of how you want accounting to be. You want it to be like, I got what I need and then I moved on. Accounting is important, but it isn't supposed to take over. And there are so many feelings of like, you said, being overwhelmed and negative experiences, where you can go to a place, find what you need, get clarity, and then say, "Oh, and now I don't have to worry about it." That's what you want.
And so, I think that's why people like that Facebook group is the organization around the topic and giving something you need without dominating, taking over your life. But adding value, adding value.
PATRICK CASALE: Adding value is a good way to look at that and I think you're right, because it's so tangible, right? Like, come in, get information on quarterly taxes, get information on deduction, or the PPP madness that was happening for so long that you were doing such a wonderful job helping with, and then, being able to be like, all right, wipe your hands and leave, where a lot of therapists Facebook groups are like can be shit shows, and like, I try really hard to maintain mine, but it still doesn't mean that it doesn't get away from you sometimes. And it feels like a different beast.
And yours has grown to over 30,000 people. Like, the fact that you and I are sitting here today and talking I'm like, "Holy shit." Like Jenny, you have a lot going on where you're moderating this, so kudos to you. I want to talk about the topic that scares a lot of therapists and small business owners, which is tax-related. And you have the unique kind of position of being a clinician and an accountant. And I think that's really incredible. So, can you talk a little bit about, like, transitioning from one to the other and vice versa? Like, you started as an accountant, right? Like, you didn't start as a mental health clinician.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Correct and before that, I started as a pizza delivery person and a waitress. And I think my whole life has been letting my ADHD take me from whatever thing I was doing to the next thing. And I joke, and I like to tell my kids, you know, "I had like 18 jobs before I went to college successfully, and went to college unsuccessfully, and then I started working." Which was important, I needed to just go work.
And one day, I was sitting at work and I was talking to my mom and I worked at a glass installation place. And I was like the admin person. I ordered the glass, I mean, the schedule, and I was talking about the parts of my job that I liked. And my mom said, "That sounds like accounting." And I said, "Well, what is accounting?" Even though my dad was an accountant, he had died when I was young, and so, I didn't really know. And so I decided to go take an accounting class and I was like, my brain works like this. I can organize these things in this way that accountants do. So, I had an aptitude for it. So, I thought, "Okay, all right, maybe this will be my thing." And went to school, started working, did well.
And then, you know, life happens, and I ended up needing to go to therapy, big life changes in my life relationship-wise and I needed to go sort myself out. And again, my mother said, "You need to go to therapy." And I said, "Oh, I know." But I had a daughter and I was going through divorce, and I'm like, "I got to find someone, that's so hard." And she's like, "You have to go to therapy." And like, "I you know." And she's like, "Have you called therapists yet? Have you looked? You need to look."
And she didn't let up until I went and that changed my life. And I left after two years saying, "Wow, therapists are cool." How awesome is it to help people change their lives and noticing that I didn't get distracted when I was in a therapy chair, in a therapy room. And I thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if the main part of my job, what didn't involve distractions that I had to constantly fight?" As an accountant, there's a lot of paperworky things. And there's a computer, and we didn't have smartphones then but we just got distracted a lot. And I thought, "Wow, how neat would it be?" When there's a person in front of me now I don't get distracted. That would be really cool.
But I was like, single, and I had a daughter, and I made decent money. And so, I just filed it away in the back of my head that, you know, when I retire at some point in my life, if the opportunity presents, I think I would love to consider being a therapist. And then, the opportunity presented itself like a few years later, and I got remarried, I had twins. I was home with them, they were premature, and we agreed that I was going to stay home because they didn't have any immune system whatsoever and they couldn't really go to daycare, well, they could have if they had to, but they didn't have to. And so we decided we'll stay home.
Well, I never in my life, okay, there was like one month I sat still, and did nothing, and played video games. That was it, one month between jobs. Other than that, I've never sat still. And so once my twins were over in the hospital, I turned to my husband, and I said, "Well, like how long am I going to stay home? Like, I'm not working? So like, how can I ride this train?" And he said, like, "I don't know, they said like three years before they have immune system that sounds kind of good and…" Over here on my computer, and I said, "I can get a master's in three years, how about I do that while they're sleeping?" And he said, "Sure." And I'm like, "Cool." And so, that's how I became a therapist.
Then after I became a therapist, I worked for six years, then I went into private practice, and I found out that therapists are really struggling around issues of business and accounting, and then that's how I became an accountant again.
PATRICK CASALE: So, you let the accounting kind of go for a bit after the pregnancy and then becoming a therapist, and then just the realization like, "Wow, therapists kind of don't know this stuff, and we don't learn it in grad school for the most part. And this could be a cool way to bridge the gap."
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Yeah, and I really let the accounting go. I thought that was it. I put it behind me. I had my spreadsheet skills, and I love spreadsheets, and when I was getting my hours, I would show people my spreadsheet to track my hours. And they would say, "That thing's really, really insane and scary." And then that was it. That was the only thing I was going to do anymore, was my immune therapist and have cool spreadsheets.
And when I was in a consultation group someone brought up the Profit First book, someone brought up budgeting, and at first, I was like, "No, no, I'm not doing that anymore. I'm not doing that anymore." But then, because they had a need, and they were struggling, and they had questions, and I can't really keep my mouth shut. I was like, "Well, fine, I'll help. Let me see what I can do." And that's really how I got started, is wanting to help people, and helping therapists is one of the most rewarding populations of people on earth to help, because therapists are so appreciative when you help them. I love helping no matter what. Even if people aren't appreciative I like helping, but man therapists appreciate it when you help them out.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I imagine so and it shows as an outsider, you know, looking in how committed you are to people feeling confident in stuff that really overwhelms them and makes them feel like, "I don't want to do this anymore." Because I think it can be so daunting when you're thinking like quarterly taxes and deductions, and how much am I going to owe at the end of the year? And how do I make sense of any of this? So, it's wonderful that you exist in both worlds. And I guess it's a good reframe to think like, even though I don't know if I wanted to become an accountant, again, becoming an accountant and working with therapists is actually helping therapists just like I'm helping my therapy clients in one way or another.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: That's to me what makes it rewarding. And sometimes I think of it as educational. I'm doing education. I don't prepare people's taxes. If anyone emails me and says, "Do you prepare taxes?" No, I don't want to prepare taxes. I help people understand the topics. I bridge that gap between being a business owner and going to the accountant so you can show up there ready to have that conversation.
What I think the main thing I do is I help people believe that they can handle it and have a frame of reference for it, so it's not overwhelming. And that I really like doing, so when I say to someone, "I know this feels like it's a lot to understand, but you saw these clients and that revenue is just a number that reflects the clients that you saw. You ran those credit cards, you paid these bills, and now the bills are just organized in a different way and you need to look and say, 'Does it make sense?'"
And you're going to know if it makes sense and we're going to look at it together, and we're going to look at it in a format that's going to allow you to tell if it makes sense. And when they look, they're like, "Oh, I can handle this." Good, that's to me where the satisfaction is because then they'll walk away and that's something that they'll always keep, "I can do that."
PATRICK CASALE: I love that and I think that just is inspirational for a lot of people because I think every therapist can be a great clinician in a lot of ways. But a lot of therapists really do struggle with the other side of practice ownership, which is the business ownership side. And I see a lot of wonderful clinicians who can't necessarily like make sense of it kind of close up shop, because it's too daunting, it's too overwhelming, it's too scary. And then, I see some other therapists who are like business savvy, and they do really, really well, and it's really helpful to have that resource to say like, "This doesn't make it less scary."
Times like paying taxes, in my opinion, sucks. I hate it. I hate when my accountant reaches out to me, but I also feel much more prepared to do so. And it gives me confidence throughout the year to kind of plan accordingly so that at the end of the year I'm not scratching my head, like, how do I owe $50,000 right now? And like, where am I going to get it? Because I see a lot of those horror stories and I imagine that you do too at times.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Absolutely and I think the people in really bad situations for tax-wise either because they've had bad accountants, not enough help, too overwhelmed, and now because of the negative experiences they're really avoidant, or extremely, you know, a lot of emotions around dealing with this topic. And it's so important when you're in that position to be able to work with someone who isn't judgmental, whether it's me or somebody else. But that isn't judgmental, isn't going to make you feel bad, because it is a hard topic. And if you haven't had the support and education around it up to a certain point, you could have gotten yourself into a bad situation.
But there isn't a tax situation that can't be fixed, there isn't an accounting situation that can't be fixed. There are relationships and families that we might, you know, take a lot of healing and never really get completely fixed. But accounting and taxes can be fixed. And as long as you have the right person to work with no matter where you are on the spectrum of, it's a disaster, to I kind of almost have a handle of it, it's all solvable.
And that's one of the nice things about accounting, even though people love to hate taxes, it's one of the nice things about accounting in taxes, is that there's an answer, there's an answer, there's a resolution, and everything's fixable.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that's a good perspective and I hope it's helpful for people listening to hear that because I think, like, at the end of the day they're numbers, right? And it has to make sense logically after we look at them and evaluate them. And hopefully, that means that they don't hold as much power over us once we start to better understand the process.
I imagine there's a lot of shamefulness too that comes into this with the like, what I don't know, I don't know, so to speak. And I talk to a lot of therapists about this all the time in my coaching, but like, I know that accounting can bring up shame for therapists in general of like, "I'm a shitty business person, I don't know what I'm doing, I didn't save enough." Like, all of those narratives are kind of going on beneath the surface.
And, you know, I know that people like yourself out there are really, really supportive of combating those narratives, because it's like, it's okay, it's not a reflection of you, and we can better understand how to move forward now that we have a sense of what's going on. Do you see a lot of shamefulness in terms of like, a lot of the numbers stuff and the money stuff that comes up?
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Huge amounts of shamefulness come around money in general, but particularly, around, you know, when we're talking about therapists and private practice, it can have real consequences to have shamefulness around money, because the main thing that shame makes us do is avoid and with our money situations, we generally will make not great decisions, we're going to make really worse decisions or might just not make good ones, because making good financial decisions comes from facing it, looking at it, and whether that's something you just force yourself to do or whether that's something that you say, well, I need a person to help me. And if I get the right help from the right non-judgmental person, then I can face it.
You either find someone you can face it with or you figure out a way to face it because that's going to lead to better decisions. And there can be a need to heal money trauma and look at where, you know, your money issues come from. But the one thing I see time and time again, that almost everyone needs is an understanding of how it works, because even if you go deep into figuring out where the shame came from, what messages you got from your parents, or from siblings, or peers, whatever those messages are, you can overcome them with knowledge and a plan, because then you're like, "Well, whatever's happened before, however bad it is, and whatever healing I need to do around that, I know what I need to look at. I have a process for it." Because, especially, around business finances, you need a process, preferably a weekly process, at least a monthly process. You need a process, you need to know what to look at, you need to know how to know it's accurate so that you can have that experience that people have in my Facebook group, "I did it and now I got to move on."
Otherwise, when we avoid it just sits and hangs over us all the time. And that is draining of our energy and it is not helpful or good. It's not healthy. It doesn't lead to have balance in our lives. But when we have a process, we know what to do, and we know how to know we did it right, boom, do it, move on, come back, do it, move on, and now it doesn't hang over us.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I love that, and then it's ultimately like reinforcing it, right? I did it, boom, I understand it now. Next year, I know how to do it, again. I build on this. And I see a lot of like heads buried under the sand, so to speak, and it starts to kind of get heavier and heavier, and like starts to build on itself with people who are like, "I'm not touching this, I'm not hiring an accountant for my business." And that really is a pet peeve of mine, unless you like truly understand accounting, if you're going to start a small business, I almost always preach like treating your business like a business and having the right teammates in place so that your business can operate optimally so that you don't have to stress it all the time or you don't feel like you're always playing catch up."
And I think that most accountants that I've experienced, typically, do free consultations or at least a free initial like 15-minute conversation about can I help you or not? And I just encourage therapists to reach out, and especially, to trusted resources. I know you have a resource list of people that you trust in terms of vetting, but I really do think that's crucial because otherwise, it's really easy to get behind it and just like avoid, avoid, avoid, like you're saying.
And I just want to like reinforce that, because I just see so much of that, whether it be accountants or lack of like financial planning, I see a lot of that too, for therapists, where it's like, "I want to retirement, I want to create these like accounts that my money goes into. I don't know anything about it, so I'm not going to do it."
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Yeah, I think that, you know, sometimes people avoid accountants because they've had a really bad experience with one. And there are a lot of people out there that are accountants that might know how to do taxes and might not understand business themselves and don't maybe understand people or how to have good business relationships with their clients.
And so, you can absolutely have a bad experience that's going to make you want to avoid. It can be really useful to have a good one. I mean, people have a legitimate right to do their own taxes if they want. But sometimes just having that person to check with or consult with, to make sure it looks like you're on track, you're not missing anything.
I see people at every end of the spectrum in terms of sort of financial savvy or comfort level. And you know, sometimes it's just like, "I just need someone to look at it." And someone's like, "You know what I need? Regular checking, I need an accountability partner." Whatever it is you need find that person, whether it's me, or someone to do your taxes, or a bookkeeper whatever it is. You find that person that can work with you.
But then on that financial investment side, there's this whole other thing that happens where if you didn't grow up, and let's say your parents didn't talk to you about their savings, or they didn't save, the key to your future, financially and financial security, because you're not… like, I would like to work a really long time, I would like to be a therapist as long as I have hearing and can communicate, and so I'm not that big on like retirement. I would like to, you know, work part-time and stuff. The one key, if I have one tip for anybody, and I'm not a financial planner is you have to live below your means. That doesn't mean tomorrow you have to live below your means. It means that when you start making more money, you do not want to start spending all that money. Some of the increase needs to go towards retirement, or savings, or investment, so that at some point there is a level of your earning and the level of what you need to live and they are getting further and further apart. That's how you have a secure financial future in retirement.
And when you start to get to that point, then you absolutely need a financial advisor. And by the way, accountants are not financial advisors. Your accountant is not going to tell you how to invest money. They can't. It's a totally different profession and people don't know that. You get a financial planner that doesn't know anything about taxes. And your accountants and tax people don't know anything about financial advising unless they've gone and also gotten dual certification in that field. So, you know, one of the things I see a lot is that people make more money and they're like, "Okay, so then I just can make more money. That's great." No, there's another layer, save it.
PATRICK CASALE: That's great advice and for people listening I know when we're making more money, we're more excited. We're like waiting to that Friday when I pay myself and then I'm going to take myself out to like awesome dinners and trips, and I I'm guilty of that, at times too. But in reality, just the recognition of like, got to start being able to save because as self-employed individuals, like, we don't have a lot of the luxuries of saving like as if you were working a W-2 job, especially, if you're not an S corp or paying yourself through payroll, right?
So like, being able to open a SEP IRA or a Roth IRA, and we're not going to talk about that shit today. But ultimately, like, I don't care if you invest like 30, 40, $50 a week, just do something, because so often when I'm working in my coaching programs people are like, "I want to start an investment, but like, I don't know how, and I don't have the money. "And I always think like, "$20, a week is better than $0 a week." And if you can just get that mindset going, so that you can really start to kind of have a plan, because otherwise, I think a lot of us just kind of plan to working until we absolutely can't, and then what?
And I have definitely been in that mindset too where I'm like, "I'm just going to work until I die." And I don't know if I really want to do that anymore. I want to be able to have some future. So, it's just something I see a lot of for sure.
One thing that's coming to mind is like common mistakes that you see maybe, like, accounting mistake 101, of like, what are big mistakes that you see therapists making in the accounting world of like, hey, these are things that are commonly done or kind of get you into hot water pretty quickly?
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Well, so one of the biggest mistakes I see that is so easily resolved, and if you find yourself making this mistake I'll help you fix it, I'm someone that thinks that this is fixable, is that thinking that you can't look at your accounting records, or that you don't need accounting records. It is pretty easy once you get things set up to have an accounting system that you spend only a few minutes a week, either running it, or looking at it, if someone else runs it, but you have to look at your numbers. And I really recommend people looking at them every week.
So, what I see a lot is I see people saying, "Well, I have QuickBooks, but I don't know how to use it." And in one hour, typically, sometimes an hour and a half, I can help someone, at least get it together or get it on track to the point where now they know where to go and what to look at, and then, you know, believe that they can do it.
And it might be that QuickBooks isn't the right system for them, and they would do far better with a spreadsheet, or maybe they're using a spreadsheet, but they've outgrown it, and they do need to upgrade to some software. Finding the right fit, and then, so that you look at it. So, I always say the best accounting system is the one you're going to use and it doesn't have to be like the one that your BFF, colleague likes the most. It could be, think about how does your brain work? What motivates you? What you're going to be willing to track? And then, track it and know what your numbers are. That's if you don't know what you make, and if you're finding out, and if this year you found out in February or March what you made in your business last year, you can't make timely decisions, it's fine. At least you got your taxes done, you found out what you made, that's good.
But knowing timely what you're making is so much more rewarding. You're doing all this hard work. Like, look and see what the results of your work are. And then you can tell like, "Oh gosh, you know what? Like, one year, August was my best month of the whole year. If I didn't look at my numbers, I would not have known that."
And so that informs my decisions about when to take my vacation the next year. So, that's a big one.
You said something earlier about treating your business like a business. And if I put that together with something else you said, which is, you know, we don't get the benefits, you know. We have to give ourselves our own benefits. But we absolutely can do that. If we treat our business like a business, we grow it to the point people say, "It's just so horrible to be self-employed, because you don't get any paid time off." You know what? You know how companies give paid time off? They set aside a little cash and then they give it to you when you're not working. You can absolutely do that for yourself. Like, when you're working take, you know, put $20 in your retirement, put $30 in your savings, and let it accumulate. And then when you decide to go take a week off, you pay yourself. Guess what? Now you have paid time off, and now you have a retirement plan and your business can pay for your health insurance. And pretty soon you are running your business like a business and you are better off than you were ever as an employee and you're actually loving it.
PATRICK CASALE: I don't really have anything to say to that, because it's such great advice. So, I think that's the way to really start to understand, like, this is how you build it in, because that's always what I hear, you know, when I'm helping clinicians start out and start their businesses and practices. And it's like, "Well, how do I build paid time off? And how do I build time or money for insurance, or for, et cetera." And it's exactly what Jennie just said. It's just really putting that money away so that you can give it back to yourself when you need it. And that goes for sick time, that goes for like mental health days, CEU time, like, all of the stuff that we need to pre-plan for that we often don't and then we find ourselves kind of scrambling when we need to. And I think that that's what creates that like, "Oh my God, like, I took three days off unexpectedly, and now I'm fucked because I didn't have anything built."
You know, save it away. And I get that not everyone's going to be able to do that at first and for those of you starting out, you may not be able to do that initially right away, but having that point plan of action and really being intentional about how you do that.
One thing I'm curious about, and it's mainly because I've been hosting these retreats for therapists is a big misconception, it seems like, around retreats, and vacationing, and planning around conferences is that you get to just go on a free vacation and deduct every single thing that comes with it. And I know that's not true. But I also want to talk about that, because I know that that is a common misconception for people. So, do you mind talking a little bit about what that looks like?
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: So, one of my things in the mental health realm of things is that let me just back up and say this, when I went to therapy as an, you know, person going through a divorce, so I was in my 30s. And I walked into therapy, and the therapist said, "So, you know, how can I help you?" And I said, "Well, I don't think I'd know a healthy relationship if it hit me over the head and even if it did, I don't know how to be a healthy person in one."
And my goal was to leave therapy knowing what a healthy relationship was. And after two years, I felt like at least for myself, I knew what a healthy relationship and one of the most critical aspects to me of something that's healthy is there's balance in it. If you're flying around the extremes, probably, not in a healthy place. Now, there can be exceptions, and someone can email me and let me know what the exceptions are. But just as a general rule, if you're the extremes ask yourself, does this feel good? So, I would apply that same principle to deducting travel expenses, is that you don't want to be like, "I can't deduct anything, I'll get in trouble, I'll get audited, it will be horrible. I better just not even go." No, that's an extreme. You also don't want to be so far on the other end that was like, "I deducted my spa treatment at the hotel, and because I needed to look good at the conference." You want there to be a balance.
And where I draw the line, and where I think the IRS draws the line is, is it business-related? So, if you are going on a self-care retreat, self-care is not a business expense. The IRS expects all of us to care for ourselves, not just therapists, firefighters, doctors and nurses, EMTs, all of them, most of those who are W-2 employees very often, and do not get to deduct any business expenses are expect to on their own time get massages, go to therapy, you know, get chiropractic care, and it's no different for us. So, if you're going on a retreat, because you need to relax, and it's basically a vacation, that's not a business trip. For it to be a business trip it needs to have some kind of agenda and structure that relates to education. So, the business deductions for trips and conferences fall under the category of business deduction of education. So, you want it to suddenly be educational, not self-care.
Now, it's okay if there's some self-care going on, you know, if there's some meditation happening there, whatever, that's totally fine. But that needs to not be the primary purpose. So, there should be some kind of an agenda about what you're learning that you are going to learn and use in your clinical practice.
One way that I differentiate this is that if I went with my spouse to a conference for couples, I'm attending as a partner, and a couple, I'm not attending as a clinician. If I go to a conference for clinicians, well, that's business. The other one was personal. There's a difference. So, you want to have the conference have some clinical connection that you can say with a straight face. And I like to say, could you sit down with one of your grandparents across the table and say it with a straight face and feel like you weren't bullshitting them? You could imagine bullshitting an IRS agent. You bullshit your grandparents? No. Your elderly neighbor, would they be like, "No." Can you say it with a straight face?
Then while you're on the trip think about is this a business deduction that's happening on a day of a conference? If it's your food, if it's your hotel, future transportation, the day you get there, the days of the training, and the travel day home, all can be business, but it is so nice to be able to extend your trip a few days. And if you want to do that, two things, you need to have fewer personal days than you have business days. If I go to a conference, and the conference starts on Thursday and ends on Saturday, I'm going to go Wednesday, business day, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, conference days, and Sunday is my travel day home business day. I'm going to count that's five days. So, I only want to have max four personal days.
On those personal days, I'm still going to deduct my airline because I still had to get there and back no matter how many days I stay, and my hotel on the personal days, I'm not going to deduct, my transportation on the personal days, and then, anything during the whole trip that's like just for me, I went on a tour, we rode the river, and we looked at the site, that's personal. So, just be thinking in your mind, is this business-related or is this for me? And then separate that out. And that's all you got to do. And then you can ask in my Facebook group.
PATRICK CASALE: That's wonderful advice. And I think like so many of us need getaway time. And I think destination, CEUs, and conferences, and retreats are becoming more and more popular right now. And maybe it's COVID-related and like being star crazy, or just simply wanting connection and travel. But I really love that advice for people because I think there is that misconception of like 100% of this is just deductible or like, if we talk business for 35 seconds, then this is deductible, right? Like, so that's really, really fantastic to think about it that way about like, is this for me, is this for business, right? And to have that separation. And also, the breakdown of like business time, personal time, and extending a trip. I think that's really a big piece of it, too. I love that. Yeah.
Other things that immediately jumped out where you're like, yeah, this is pretty common and you probably should change the way you do it or like think about it this way. Like, one thing I'm thinking about right now is like, maybe business meals and networking. I know the IRS kind of shifted some of the deduction because of COVID to like stimulate small business, but networking experience. Like, some people would say, if you go out to lunch, and you talk about your business for five minutes, then we can deduct this lunch.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Yeah and if you're going out with your friends, you know, then just not at all talking about business or five minutes then it really shouldn't be deducted. But it is not very hard to go out with your colleagues and talk about things that are business-related. Because, you know, especially, if your colleagues are also in private practice, it's not that hard to have the bulk of your conversation be related to who's open, especially, if there's a group of you, who's open? Who's taking clients? What trainings have you taken recently that are good? You know, how can we better support each other in business? And what you want to do is document, who was at the meal? What the business purpose of the meal was? And then also keep the detail receipt. Don't keep the credit card receipt that says, yeah, you know, I went out to, you know, such and such coffee house, and, and I spent $30. They want to see what did you spend $30 on and if I say I had a networking event with two other people, and there's three coffees on that bill, and a couple of muffins, then that seems to fit with what I said happened. And that's what they want to see.
The government doesn't have, like, you know, everything miced where they're going to go around and say, "Look, like you're having too much fun, Jennie, at that networking event." But what they do want to see is that you took the time, you treated it like a business, and you took the time to document what was spent, why it was spent, and who attended. And if you do that, you're not going to have any problem with your networking objections.
And personally, even though I'm not at all a marketing person, I think going out with colleagues in private practice is one of the best things that you can do to grow your practice because then they get to know you, you get to know them. And who are they going to think of when they have a case that is or isn't appropriate for them, but it would be appropriate for you? Or they're full, and they need to pass it on? They're going to think about, you know what? Gosh, when I sat down with Patrick, he really seemed to know his stuff on this topic, and I got it a client that is in his realm [INAUDIBLE 00:33:23] Patrick, that you know, to me that's really important. And that's how I feel like my private practice finally took office, is because I started hanging out with other therapists,
PATRICK CASALE: I preach that all the time, networking and relationship building are so crucial, and are really low-cost to just go out for lunch or coffee, or whatever the case may be. And then all of a sudden, like you said, then I know Jennie, and I'm like, "Oh, Jennie works with clients, A, B, and C. When they come across my radar, I'm going to refer to Jennie." Because as human beings, I think we're way more invested in the success of businesses and people that we know and trust. And I think that it's almost like on the forefront of our brains, when it's like, "Ooh, there's a referral request, ooh, I got a phone call that's not a good fit for me." And it's like, "Oh, but it is a good fit for Jennie, I'm going to send them to her." I just think it's really important to think about it that way.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: I feel stressed when I have someone I need to refer, I don't want to send them to someone who isn't going to call them back. I don't want to send them to somebody who isn't going to be in any way, shape, or form a good fit. I mean, they might not be a good fit, but I want to at least give them a good chance. I feel like I'm, you know, here's a person in need, I can't help them, I want to hand them off to someone who potentially can. So, when I have someone that I know is a good referral, a source, I'm like, "Yeah, so much less stressful. I'm so glad to have that person." And networking can give you that, so it's not even when we think about the deducting it, it is a really valuable part of your business, which makes it business-related.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, absolutely. I agree 100%. And again, therapists who are listening who maybe are more frugal in nature, like, it is not only a good marketing strategy, it is very low costs. So, take advantage of that because we know how to build relationships. I can go down a rabbit hole about this right now, I'm not going to do it, but you are experts at relationship building. That is all networking is, it does not have to be salesy, sleazy, or anything like that. That is like the first word that we often associate, but yes, very, very good advice and very good information.
So, coming back together, like, just the marriage of accounting and therapy seems like it's really a really wonderful combination. And I imagine, also, as someone who has ADHD, kind of help stimulate different parts of the brain to keep you excited about work and like, kind of moving from realm to realm at times.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Yeah, well, and I feel like there's these two parts of my brain, and being able to kind of do both really helps. When I was in graduate school one of the professor's said, "As a therapist, you need to do more than one thing so that you don't get burned out." And to me, this is my other thing, so that really helps me to feel that balance and not getting too worn out on one thing.
But you said something, Patrick, about relationships that made me think, no, even if I had a dysfunctional relationship with one of my parents growing up, and even if I had, you know, really struggled with other girls in middle school, and it colored what I think about friendships today, I still could say, you know what? But I'm going to make this next relationship I'm entering into try to be healthy one.
And I think it's good to think about your businesses that way, even if I've had bad experiences with money and bad experiences with accountants in the past, I've got a business in front of me right now and I'm going to have a good relationship with that business. And that means understanding the money, looking at it, knowing what's happening, not avoiding it, and getting support if I need it.
PATRICK CASALE: I love that. That's a great kind of closing note to this wonderful conversation because that's a really healthy approach. And you know, if you have a bad accounting experience it happens, right? We talk about human beings being human beings and bad bartending experiences, bad waiters, bad doctors, bad therapists, bad accountants, that goes hand in hand. So, try really hard not to let that dissuade you from like pursuing another option with someone else who probably could be a better fit for you. And that goes without saying for all professional relationships.
And I'm going to circle back to networking one more time, relationship building, Jennie and I would not be sitting here if she and I hadn't connected a year ago kind of just talking and shooting the shit over COVID, and having a lot of free time in our houses. So, I think it's really imperative to really do these types of things, and to reach out, and to connect, and not have ultimatums or agendas, you know, ulterior motives, is what I meant to say, no ultimatums. My brain is fried by the end of the day. But I do think that makes a big difference. And you know, seeing Jennie's success from afar, I'm just really like applauding it all the time and like cheering you on because I really respect what you're doing and what you're offering the therapist community. It really is a wonderful, wonderful resource.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: Thank you.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, tell the audience a little bit about where they can find more of what you're offering because I know you've got a membership, a Facebook group, and all the cool stuff that you have out there in the world.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: So, I try to keep it simple, because it works for my brain to keep it simple. And if it's complicated, I want to do it. So, you pretty much you got two places to go. One is, you can go to my website, simpleprofit.com and you can find a free, you know, what do I need to do if I'm starting a business? You can find blogs that have lots of free information, and you can find my membership, which is a paid group. And the membership, by the way, is for any business type. So, if you know someone else, you have a friend, they're starting a business, and it's maybe a hair salon, styling salon, and you're starting your private practice, you can both join my membership. That's on my website.
And then, if you're a clinician, and this is only for clinicians, if you're in the mental health field, you can go to Facebook and Simple Profit for Mental Health Clinicians and join the Facebook group where I have even more free resources.
PATRICK CASALE: Love it and that will all be in the show notes for everyone listening. And I just want to give a plug to the membership. I mean, it's $35 a month right now. You are getting so much content and resource, and a lot of Jennie, and a lot of valuable information. So again, treat your business like a business. It is really, really important. And Jennie, I just want to say thank you for making the time and just coming on here and giving such valuable insight into such a topic that maybe shouldn't cause us as much stress as it does.
JENNIE SCHOTTMILLER: And maybe by listening it'll be your start on the road to having it be less stressful.
PATRICK CASALE: Oh, that could be a good episode name. Thank you for that. I always pictured a transcription and I'm like, "Oh, what stands out to me?" I just want to thank you, again, and to everyone listening to the All Things Private Practice Podcast, there are new episodes coming out every Sunday morning. Like, download, subscribe, and share on all major platforms. If you want to find more of me go to allthingspractice.com, private practice, and entrepreneurial retreats, coaching, business building, and the podcast as well, and the All Things Private Practice Facebook group if you are a clinician, and we will see you next week. Doubt yourself, do it anyway.
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