Well, we went and did it. We did our taxes. And by we, I mean Johnny. As we discussed in this post, we use TurboTax software as our tax filing weapon of choice. Normally, Johnny looks forward to doing our taxes. He even gets — dare I say — giddy about it. But this year, not so much.
Johnny spent the majority of 2012 working in a contracted freelance position, so our taxes were a bit more complicated. That, and we moved to a new state, which meant double the filing fun. Because Johnny was freelancing, there were a lot more variables and questions marks than usual, which meant a lot of uncertainty. And that lack of total confidence in how we’d fare at the final tally put a damper on his geeky fun. Admittedly, I never know where we stand come tax season. It’s similar to the way I felt before our first freaking budget came into existence. I would go into a month blindly and spend as I pleased, hoping that by the end of the month the odds would be ever in my favor (Hunger Games fan, deal with it).
Some personal finance topics don’t resonate with everyone. Some people may never need or want to know about 401k’s. Other people whose hair isn’t dishwater blonde (yup, it’s as bad a color as it sounds) will never need to know how much hair coloring costs. But regardless of who you are, you gots to do taxes. It’s the one time of year when — no matter what — every single money-earning human has to think about their money situation. And while this might (read: will) be an unpopular thing to say, I actually think tax season is good for us all.
I didn’t just go there, did I? Taxes are good? You mean the things that makes grown ups throw five-year-old tantrums?!
Just replace “bewd” with “taxcess.”
Here’s what’s good. When you file your taxes, you have to account for your money: how much you earned, how much your investments earned, how much you saved for retirement, etc. It covers a lot of the same territory as a monthly budget. In fact, you could even look at monthly budgets as a small-scale tax filing. And if you keep a budget, you aren’t surprised by the amount of money that is (or isn’t) in your bank account at the end of the month. The same can go for taxes. Preparing our taxes shouldn’t be like pulling a slot machine arm… although that would make it a lot more interesting.
Obviously, there are plenty of differences. Taxes are a whole lot more complicated and messy. Figuring them out isn’t as easy as keeping a budget. And the money that leaves your budget stems from a choice you made — not one bureaucrats will make for you. If the money in your budget gets spent recklessly, you only have yourself to blame.
Basically, be more like Johnny and less like me (that’s really hard to say) by knowing what to expect and avoiding being surprised in April. Knowing when and where your money’s coming and going is empowering. And it’s so much more preferable than, “Oh crap. I really hope I have the money in my account to pay for this shirt. I should. I mean, I haven’t bought that much stuff recently, have I? No, I haven’t. Wait, I don’t know. WHY IS THIS CASHIER STARING INTO MY SOUL?” Or in my case freshman year, hoping there was enough money in the bank for a Harry Potter book. And then getting declined at the register. By a cute boy I liked. And I forgot to wear pants that day. That part is a lie. The point is, such situations are avoidable.
So here’s what we wanna know… Have you done your taxes? How did/will you do them? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being a spoonful of sand mixed in a peanut butter jar, what’s your level of distaste toward taxes?