Hollie Grimaldi Flores: It’s the tax man
April 18, 2018
We have survived another tax season! Do you have plans for your refund or are you licking your wounds?
I'm never happy to find out we owe more money to Uncle Sam when the books are balanced each April, but I am a little amused when people talk about how happy they are to be getting a large refund. I personally don't need the government to save my money for me at a zero percent interest rate.
I have a savings account for that!
Ideally, I will pay just enough taxes to break even or get a small return. I understand not everyone feels this way.
I know many who count on their refund to finance vacations, buy large appliances or pay off debt. Do I need to point out that with a little less tax taken out of their pay, they might not have as much debt to pay off?
Regardless, while some breathed a sigh of relief and made plans to spend the money the government had borrowed and is now returning to them, others have just finished scrambling to find additional the funds required to meet their obligation.
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Many homeowners also had the pleasure of paying second installments on property taxes and I live in an area that thinks having homeowner fees due on the same day is a good idea as well!
It can be a taxing time, for sure!
I thought at this stage in life, money woes would have waned, but that's simply not the case. It is just part of my existence. My husband and I are doing fine in the grand scheme. We meet our debts. We find a little extra for fun. We manage to tuck away a few dollars for that magical someday called "retirement." I am grateful and I know we could be doing a lot worse. Ultimately, I remind myself (almost daily) that money does not buy happiness. The only thing having a lot of money cures is the need to have enough money. Period.
I have a number of close relationships with people who, while not wealthy by definition, are doing just fine. Some pay more in taxes annually than I made in the last several years. Let's say they have a different financial reality. They have great health insurance and paid for their children's college educations. They enjoy extravagant vacations, nice vehicles, the latest this and that. They don't have to think twice about dining out on a regular basis or dropping a few hundred dollars to attend a concert or sporting event. In that respect, life is a little easier, but it does not mean they don't suffer from issues money cannot buy.
A solid financial portfolio has not been the pathway to a happy life. It has not made them exempt from heartache, has not given them a free pass on excellent health. It has not healed broken relationships. It has not kept their children safe or successful or even nice, for that matter.
The human condition "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality" (as defined by Wikipedia) cannot be bought.
The Beatles who famously wrote a song about the taxman also wrote this simple adage, "Money can't buy me love." While I would not turn down a bucket of money or financial stability, it's much more important to amass wealth of a different nature.
I also know people who are not happy with what they have amassed. Even having more money than they will ever be able to spend is not enough. Their moral compass is broken. Their "take no prisoners" mentality is hard to comprehend. They believe the rules don't apply and they use their money and social status to intimidate others. That level of greed is pervasive in today's world and I can't stop wondering how they sleep at night.
I would not trade my life for theirs for any price.
My wealth comes in the forms of meaningful, honest, relationships. I find joy in the day to day. It only takes a moment to appreciate the sun on my face. I come back energized after a walk with a friend. The feeling of satisfaction after giving a hand up to others in need is priceless. Volunteering for causes that will make a difference in the lives of others comes with very little cost to me but immeasurable reward.
I truly believe that is what life is all about.
So, if you are among those rolling coins to pay the tax man this month, take a moment to count your true wealth.
It's never going to be about your bank balance. It will always be about something far greater. And that, is priceless.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.