tax time: the agony and the ecstasy.

9 03 2011

once upon a time, online tax software was not readily available, nor was being online. in my tiny cockroach infested first apartment, i could barely afford to eat- let alone pay for a dial up internet connection (which back in ’99 was all a single girl could dream to afford).

well, when my mom pushed me out of the nest after college, doing my own taxes was part of the deal. but not having preparation software, or even the luxury of being able to google how to do taxes, i was essentially BONED. i had to go to the LIBRARY and pick up paper forms and instruction booklets.

i distinctly remember having a panic attack over my futon full of forms and manuals. gross adjusted what? but i pushed through, did what i thought was probably right (cried on the phone to my mom for an hour or so), and got myself a refund of $500. well, actually $250 after the IRS corrected my copious errors. but it did it! by myself!

after the trauma of paper taxes, the next year i found myself a friend with internet access and vowed to e-file, no matter what the cost. as it turned out, being single renter who had yet to start paying off her student loans (now a distant utopian memory), and was making roughly $20,000 a year (less utopian), was actually an ideal situation. i could file the 1040EZ, and that meant that there were numerous free filing options for broke jerks like me (and there still are).

i chose turbotax, and it was best arbitrary decision i ever made. Read the rest of this entry »

hitting the wall.

11 02 2010

i was so enthusiastic about gambling on february 1st, but i’ve spent $27 and made $28  (i lost my $7 lead after a disastrous round of lucky lobster bingo on tuesday night), and i’m having a hard time parting with my cash.  it’s a strange feeling that i’ve never had before. i think it’s called “saving”, but i’d have to confirm with my doctor.

up until recently, i’d never had more than $100 in my savings account.  usually more like $.24. or possibly -$2.13. i had one of those accounts that automatically transferred $25 into my savings every month. but every month, i somehow ended up transferring it all right back out. somehow though, even though i was living paycheck to paycheck, i was still making it work. i paid my bills on time, i pecked away (very very slowly) at my debt. i was doing fine, and saving was not a priority. saving was for suckers who lived in fear, suckers who didn’t want to use their money for fun.

except that the problem began to arise that i was only able to stretch my paycheck most of the time.  i’d be ok until i needed to pay an enormous tax bill or buy xmas presents, or get office casual clothes for a new job (pantyhose are pricey!). out came the plastic. and slowly, the credit card bills would start to creep back up, and the minimal headway i’d made on my debts would be lost in the shuffle.

last year, as part of my 43 things, i decided to open a christmas club account. this ended up being kind of stupid and pointless for a number of reasons, but it did get me balance transferring $100 a month into a savings account that was inconvenient for me to dip into.  and as of today, that account holds $1465.66. more money than i’ve ever saved in my whole life. (dismal!)

that’s where the weirdness comes in. now that i have it, i don’t want to spend it. i need new running shoes, and i should probably stop wearing my pajamas to dance class- but i can’t. i have in mind a perfect number, and i feel like i’m not allowed to touch it until it gets over that amount. if i ever do get there, it will be enough cash to get me through for a bit if i lose my job, pay a big-ass medical bill, or have some sort of other catastrophic money sucking emergency.

i know i’m pretty slow, but i think i’ve finally figured out why people save money. it makes me feel safe, and that safety is turning out to be worth the self denial that is saving.