Why ignorance cost me $20,000

It was the day before I left for a two week trip to the desert for some spring time flowers and warmth – and the day of picking up my tax return – April 5, 2015.

I parked in front of the office, the sun beaming into my car. I said to myself as I walked in, “please don’t be more than $2,500 that I owe,” as that’s what I paid last year in taxes.

The young woman behind the counter hands me the folder and I quickly open it to scan down to the bottom to see the final amount due.

I think she said something like, “We’ll need your signature at the bottom,” but I don’t remember as my eyes, my chest and my stomach were all turning into a big pile of anxious mess when I read what I owed: $10,000 for 2014.

I tried to smile as if it wasn’t a big deal while she handed me the payment vouchers to pay 2015 quarterly taxes for a total of $10,000.

My mind began to race – “That’s $20,000 I need to pay!”

Not to mention the $10,000 owed to credit card companies for the business coaching I’d been investing in to learn the skills needed to run and market a business.

Sum total now owed: $30,000.

The young lady behind the counter then said, “Wow, you’re a lot more calm than most people who owe taxes.”

“Oh, thanks. It’s just money, right?” I replied.

I was kidding myself and fooling her. I was a wreck inside.

I walked out to my car, closed the door, and began to sob.

What was I going to do? I’d never had debt until 4 years ago when investing in my business (and thankfully so, or I wouldn’t still be here living my calling!).

Up until I started my business, I’d lived a very frugal life as a guide and ski instructor on $14,000 a year for almost 20 years (while being a home owner). I bought when you could put 0% or 5% down for a house (which later led to the 2008 financial crisis, but was a great bonus for me!).

I decided I still needed to go to the desert. I packed my car the next day and cried most of the way down.

The other kicker: my business had slowed considerably between January and April of 2015, so I used most of my tax savings to pay the bills during that time.

As my now new accountant said, “It was the perfect storm.”

For the next 3 days, my mind was swirling in the toilet bowl. All of my old demons were awake and spewing red hot fire comments like, “you should have known better,” ” why didn’t you pay attention more,” “how could you let this happen?”

The shame ran deep.

I reached out to my first business coach who got herself out of $40,000 in debt. I needed some support.

She said, “Angela, write down the story vs. the facts.”


  • I need to file for bankruptcy
  • I need to sell my house
  • I’m broke and can’t support myself
  • I fu$%^ up
  • I can’t live my calling and help people (the most painful one of all)


  • I owe $20,000 to the government and $10,000 to credit cards (that’s a lot less dramatic isn’t it?)
  • I had a big jump in revenue from 2013 to 2014 tax years (something to celebrate!)

The demons continued for a couple more days. Then, while camped at a beautiful creek amidst the orange and pink cliffs of Escalante, I pulled out a chapter of a book I had a copied before hitting the road.

It was a chapter called “Persistence,” from the book Think and Grow Rich for Women by Sharon Lechter (A MUST READ book if you have a vision or business you want to bring into the world).

The book teaches you about mindset for creating wealth to be given back to the community.

In this chapter, I read a story about a woman who was bringing in thousands of women from all over the world for a conference on global health. She was passionate about the conference and helping women and the planet – AND she was $80 million in debt 6 weeks out.

She dug deep after most people told her to throw in the towel. She decided the conference needed to happen. She found creative ways to pay down the debt until it was only $150,000 a week before the conference.

“Okay. If she can come out of $80 million in debt, I can come out of $30,000 in debt.” I declared.

The chapter goes on to say that every business has low points, some lower than others. And those low points are what creates the statistic that only 3% of small businesses make it past their 5th year.

The truth is, those low points can lead to a turning point in your business if you find the determination within you instead of throwing in the towel.

I chose the former in that moment.

Every day after reading that chapter, when I went for a hike in the desert washes and sandstone, I said my mantra, “I CAN DO IT.”

I repeated it with every step.

Sometimes it was “I CAN do it,” sometimes, “I can DO it.” and sometimes, “I can do IT.”

I repeated it when I meditated and when I drove. It was mind over matter. I wasn’t going to let the demons win. I knew there was a way out of this, I just couldn’t see it yet. I needed to shift my perspective first before having a clarity.

As I drove back to Montana, two important thoughts came to mind: “I wonder if I can refinance my house,” and “I need to talk to a financial advisor.”

Those two aha moments created a land slide of positive outcomes.

I could refinance my house, drop a whole percentage point, and get cash out to pay off all debt plus extra cash for cushion (thanks to the financial advisor for giving me that advice or I would have just gotten enough out to pay off the debt!).

The financial advisor also put me in touch with a State of Montana program that helps small business owners – I ended up receiving a $2000 grant to attend the speaking workshop at Esalen this summer, along with incredible local contacts in marketing and accounting.

I learned that my ‘up until now’ accountant was more conservative and I wasn’t getting the tax write-offs I could be getting. So I switched accountants and hired a bookkeeper – whom I both love.

I’m learning so much about taxes and money management.

Ignorance is bliss worked for a little while, but bit me in the bum in the end. And it was one of the most important and helpful bites I’ve had in my business and in my life.

As I told a friend, “It’s like I’m finally driving the money ship instead of watching it go by from the dingy!”

Yes, I was ignorant – just as I needed to be at that time and have forgiven myself for what unfolded. And now I’m taking full ownership.

My suggestion to you: go see a financial planner. Take charge of your finances. Make a plan. Get educated about tax laws and what you can write off. Check in with your accountant from time to time. Have an accountant and bookkeeper you know, like, and trust that is looking out for your best interest while staying legal.

Start steering the ship instead of hoping it will take care of itself – because it won’t!

Categories: Feminine Power, Money Conciousness, Self-Organization

About the Author: Angela Patnode

My passion, my calling, is for you to be totally you. Through private coaching, in-depth retreats, and online group coaching programs, I help you tap into your intuition and clarify your desires and vision, I guide you to take active steps toward making your desires a reality.

5 comments to “Why ignorance cost me $20,000

  1. Patrice

    Wow Angela! Powerful and helpful post for so many reasons. Thanks SO much for sharing this.

    Aloha, Patrice

    1. Angela Patnode

      You’re welcome Patrice. I’m glad you found it helpful!

  2. kali

    Thank you for being honest Angela, as that speaks volumes when dealing with any situation. I feel the key words are to also find consultants you trust to work with. And above all us trust in yourself. Thanks for this great inspirational story!

  3. Heather

    Angela, I’m so glad I found you. I’m resonating with everything you are writing about. Keep up the great work:)

    1. Angela Patnode

      I’m so glad it’s resonating for you Heather and that you’re a part our community!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to toolbar