Thursday, April 14, 2011

Death and Taxes
Oh, that old saying. Nothing is inevitable but... you know. I am deep in the midst of procrastinating on pulling more numbers together for our taxes, which are due in less than a week. Yes, I know.
busy bee.
I associate tax season with the passing of my dad, honestly. He was the one I learned that old saying from; though god knows he wasn't the one who actually pulled the taxes together and paid them; the sensible, responsible one was Mom. He was one of the least financially savvy people I know, which is saying a lot with my family. But he liked that saying. How ironic that he died just before taxes were due a number of years ago. He stubbornly managed to avoid them after all.

I'm not sure why but this past few weeks have been hard. You'd think that I'd be all happy and relieved; we've managed to get our house refinanced and it allows us to pay off all of our debts that we've been carrying around since two years ago when Paul was unemployed for an extended period. Well, we're all paid off except for that brand spanking new house mortgage, which is painful since we were fairly close to paying off the old one. But all the rest of the debt is being consolidated into that new mortgage and will reduce our outgoing costs considerably. It's all good news, yet I find myself feeling like a raw nerve. I have no good reasons for feeling like a basket case; the boys are doing very well in school; both made the gold honor roll this semester and got a B+ and an A- on their Science Fair projects, their sports have been going very well, Paul still has a job, I'm still waaaay too busy trying to do too many things at once. It's not like the regular crazy routine has changed.
California Poppies in our next-door neighbor's yard.
Dealing with our debts has forced me to look at money and how we've been using it more carefully, though. I'm coming to the belated realization that I have a rather adversarial relationship with money. It can spill over into how I view other people, I suspect. I know a lot of that comes from old family attitudes that would be better off abandoned. I find myself quite ashamed of some of those voices I hear in my head, talking badly about other people and their financial situations, rich and poor. Some of them sound just like my dad, complaining bitterly or blaming others instead of taking responsibility and taking care of a mess myself. I have no place to be judging anybody else for their money-managing abilities or lack thereof since I'm no prize in that department myself.

But damn, it made me lividly, screamingly angry when the credit card company, who have been completely paid off for about two weeks now, went ahead and took a huge payment out of my checking account to make a payment on non-existent debt to them; my understanding had been that if there was no debt by the time the payment was due they wouldn't take it out. It was a misunderstanding on both sides, really, and thank god Paul stepped in for me and straightened it all out with them because I was incoherent with rage. What made the whole thing worse was they didn't notify me in any way, and my checking account suddenly went waaay underwater and various bill payments bounced, with all the various check charges that happen then. To add insult to it, that credit card company took the money out in an instantaneous electronic transfer of money, and they claim they cannot refund it the same way, they must cut a check and send it by mail and it will take 10 to 15 days to even be processed, let alone get to us. During which time they, of course, get all the interest to be earned from that big chunk of money. It just set off all of those angry resentful views in my head about the giant corporations and their sneaky ways to make money from little folk and all of that crazy-making stuff for me. Lord, I hate those big greedy corporations and their complete lack of humanity.


They gave me a credit card. They in effect loaned me money to buy my kids shoes, jeans with knees to put holes in, all when we had little income for necessities, let alone clothes for growing kids.
pants get well used around here...
 I'm the one who used that damned card, so it really is my own fault. Sometimes I hate having to admit I was the doofus in the first place, even if they do operate in a soul-less fashion. Money is so frustrating to deal with. I thought by the time I was this blasted old I would have worked it all out and made my peace with the money demons. But noooo...

I hate doing taxes. And I still miss my curmudgeonly, grumpy Dad, even with all of his faults.
James Gladney


  1. We aren't good with money either, though we are actively working on getting better about it.

    And, yeah, I miss him more around this time of year too, grumpy old cuss that he was, even when I was a kid.

    Maybe we should try and find some time to do something arty this weekend or soon, a kind of honoring the man he could be sometimes.

  2. I put together a long careful comment involving the artistic tradition of "don't bow to the Man and get a regular job" common since the Aesthetes and Oscar Wilde, but maybe I took too long, blogger couldn't do it. Sigh.

    Watch out for the credit card company to do the same thing next month too.
    If it was me, I'd close the cc account and go with one that has a lower interest rate. If they do it again anyway, close the damn bank account they're using and go elsewhere.
    But then, my relation with bookkeeping is difficult enough as it is that I like to keep it really simple. Yes, I got federal tax money back this year--and it all went right back out again into the property taxes on the house.
    This grownup thing, man.

  3. Ditto the comment to close the cc account and/or change the bank account. Or talk to someone at the bank about what happened, and if there is a way to prevent the (now unauthorized) withdrawal.

    We re-fi'd all of our revolving credit about 2 years ago, at our credit union, and now have _1_ credit card (thru the CU). And it's getting paid off with our income tax return.

    The good part about the re-fi? The interest paid is tax deductible (at least for now), so it's helping toward getting that refund (which I seriously procrastinated about starting, then managed to finish in one day).

  4. Oh, well done on the re-finance! We have a way to go with repairing our credit score before I can even think about that option. Until then we'll just keep swimming :-(

    I have just the same relationship to money, as well... I just keep thinking that if only I'd learned to be as sensible as we are now, just a few years earlier, we would be in a much more comfortable situation...

    Oh well!

  5. Thanks for the helpful advice, y'all! I'll be doing all that.