9 Ways a Guide Could Spend Their Tax Return

Written by Emerald LaFortune

Photography by Amber Shannon, Kyle Smith, Brian Chaffin & Boundary Expeditions

Luckily, tax return season and April (often a lean time of year for those who work a summer season) overlap. The IRS did that on purpose, right? If a chunk of change is coming your way this spring, consider investing it in your summer season in these nine ways.

1. A storage unit. Likely, you’ve just rounded up all your gear, kitchen utensils and books from various friend’s basements and Mom’s garage. You’ll never see that favorite flannel shirt again and your dry top gaskets look suspiciously stretched out by wrists not your own. You’ve got a blender but no lid and that cardboard box of books smells suspiciously like cat pee. What if there was a system where you could just rent a garage and not a full house? It could be a big metal box with a sliding door and no stairs…oh wait - this exists. A storage unit can be your only house rather than your overflow house. A storage unit is a worthy summer investment for those who’d prefer not to store their life in Rubbermaid bins behind their car at the guide house.

2. An oil change. For many guides, our wheels are home sweet home. Often the rural places we guide from aren’t known for their superb auto mechanic resources. Give your rig TLC now to avoid the “stranded between McCall and Stanley with a busted head gasket the night before a six day trip” event we’ve all come close to.

Home sweet home, guide style - Kyle Smith

Home sweet home, guide style - Kyle Smith

3. A PO box. Did you laugh when your friend complained about filing their taxes? And you explained that you’ve worked for 5 different companies in 4 different states AND contracted out as a small business? A PO box can go a long way to helping you keep bank statements, birthday cards from Grandma and all those W-2s in one place.

4. Gear repair. Re-strapping your Chacos, pressure testing your dry suit, 303ing dry bags, oiling your hiking boots, checking over your safety gear… spring is the time for a thorough gear assessment. Dealing with gear issues now lets you take advantage of sweet pro deals and warranties rather than making panicked visits to the expensive gear store twenty minutes before put in.

Get your own gear in good shape so you can focus on bigger repairs... - Kyle Smith

Get your own gear in good shape so you can focus on bigger repairs... - Kyle Smith

5. Doctors appointments. Ughhhhhhhh. I know, I know. This one. Long days physically and emotionally as a guide mean extra wear and tear on both your body and your brain. As a guide you have to take care of yourself to take care of others. Go to the dentist, get that STI screening, have the mole on the back of your hand looked at, check in with a mental health professional. We know that the cost of doctor appointment can quickly outstrip tax return income. If the idea of deciphering insurance or being in town long enough to schedule an appointment is too overwhelming, stop by the Redside sponsored health fair at this year's Idaho River Rendezvous.

6. A gift for your significant other. Being in the field all season can be hard on relationships. Whether or not your loved one is a guide, a thoughtful gift or handwritten letter saying “thanks for putting up with my crazy job” can go a long way. If your significant other is a dog, this still applies.

The "you better come back" face - Amber Shannon

The "you better come back" face - Amber Shannon

7. Dinner with that guide that has their sh&@* together. We have a lot of career guides in Idaho - the type that have a mortgage, take their kids to soccer practice, and return home after a trip to a shower not infested with weird foot fungus. Spend some of your tax return on a bottle of wine and make a dinner date with them and their family. It’s important to remember that guiding doesn’t necessarily need to be synonymous with complete life upheaval once a year. Continue to explore all the different ways “guide life” can manifest.

Guide life is always this casual, right? - Boundary Expeditions

Guide life is always this casual, right? - Boundary Expeditions

8. A fall investment. Whether it’s a class, a deposit on an apartment, a plane ticket to see friends or an hour-long massage, scheduling something to look forward to in the fall can help alleviate the post-season blues. You’ll be too exhausted come August to make the effort then. Schedule it in now - you’ll be glad you did.

9. An adventure. You spend all summer helping others have the adventure of a life time. You do work that helps connect families, inspires people to protect wild landscapes and teaches guests to trust their own abilities. Whether it’s a day on the water with friends, a climbing trip to the desert, or skiing the last spring corn of spring, take some time to give yourself an adventure too. Connect to your family, inspire yourself in the wild landscape you love and remember the extent of your abilities. It’s sure to be tax return well invested into a busy upcoming season.

Two couches + two friends = instaadventure - Brian Chaffin

Two couches + two friends = instaadventure - Brian Chaffin

How do you spend your tax return before guiding season? Leave us a comment!