This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I need an adjustment
I was naive, to say the least.
Last night I couldn't wait to sit down at the computer and do those taxes. I felt impatient as Steve installed Turbo Tax. I felt impatient as Turbo Tax loaded our previous year's information. Let the refunds begin, I thought with a lot of excitement. I was thinking double digit refund. I was thinking the end of our remaining revolving credit card debt and the closing costs on a new home. I even ventured so far as to hope it may cover the down payment on a car (my husband's lease is up) or the funding of our daughter's tuition. I had hope.
Obviously, it didn't go the way I planned. While Turbo Tax walked us through our deductions I noticed that the refund was hovering at $1600 and not really changing much. I dug through the closing information on our house in Toledo, both from when we bought it and when we sold it. I carefully went through each itemized list of the hundreds of items we donated to Goodwill before the move. I had multiple copies of the receipts for all the new appliances and carpet added to the house in hopes it would sell faster and for more money. I had documentation for the months we were without subsidized insurance and had to pay the COBRA all on our own. I had carefully saved every single gas, food, toll, and lodging receipt from the move. All that paper, all that careful saving, all that time. All that hope. For nothing. Not nothing, I suppose that isn't fair. Slowly and painfully the refund inched its way to $3000. Slowly and painfully I realized that the system isn't fair. The words 'unfortunately, personal loss is not tax deductible' kept drifting across the screen. Personal loss. Too bad. Victim of the economy. I felt hopeless.
I thought, hey, if two educated people, fairly young, hard working, pay our taxes, keep our grass cut, wouldn't have had any credit card debt if not for the move, only moved because my husband's job was in jeopardy -- if people like us can't afford to buy a new house, pay off our credit card, buy a car, and pay our daughter's tuition -- who can? We are the middle class. We are the backbone of the country, the people who don't take handouts and don't take advantage. We are the ones who are keeping social security alive. We buy American. We buy local. We vote (well, usually, the bureaucratic red tape that is residency laws did prevent us from participating in this last election!).
As I watched Turbo Tax calculating the amount we paid versus the amount we could expect to receive I actually felt sick. As I paid taxes on the state refund I received last year. As I paid taxes on the reimbursement I received for part of my moving expenses. As I saw what I paid in federal, state, local, medicare, and social security taxes, as I paid and paid, and paid some more. I started to feel angry, I definitely felt bitter. Mostly I just felt sad.
I feel sad that we'll probably have to go down to just one car. I feel sad that I can't even afford the closing costs on a house. I feel sad that I can't afford my daughter's tuition. I'll put every dime I receive in refunds toward the credit card. You see, I don't believe in having revolving credit card debt. I don't think it's good for our family and I don't think it's good for the country. I feel sad that the wife, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, and beyond of veterans cannot even buy a car, a house, or send her daughter to school because of the losses I incurred through no fault of my own. I didn't cause the housing crash. I didn't have a balloon mortgage I couldn't afford. I didn't spend more than I took in. I keep getting stuck thinking 'it's not my fault!'
But who ever wins at the blame game. I am supposed to be counting my graces this year. Okay, here are the positives: I am getting a refund, as opposed to owing (if I had owed money on my taxes I think I would have lost my mind!) My husband did find a wonderful new job, as opposed to being unemployed. I did sell my house in Ohio, as opposed to still paying a house payment and rent. Steve is a veteran, therefore we are eligible for a no-money-down VA loan if we can save the money for closing costs. Only having one car is better for the the environment. I don't know what I'll do about my daughter's tuition, but God works in mysterious ways and I'm just going to have to have faith. And probably, most importantly, I never had to go to the screen on Turbo Tax that talks about your health care costs. We are all healthy, and on a day when my friend Colleen is right this very minute having a mastectomy due to breast cancer, I know that health is never to be taken for granted. We may have had a rough year financially, but money can be replaced. People can't be. We will recover. We will save enough to cover closing costs. Or we will rent another year. Either way, we won't be homeless, as so many people are. We will survive.
I have hope.