Taxes, Blogging, and Trying New Things

When I started this blog, I admit, it was completely out of my comfort zone. I didn’t know how to start a blog, or what a hosting sever was. Brené Brown talks about how humans are hardwired for storytelling, and I’ve always wanted to write something real. A fear of mine has been that I would put myself out there, share my story, and no one would find it interesting. Ergo, not find me interesting. I have decided that even if no one reads this, Future Me will always wish that I gave it a try. Here’s to practicing A Year of No Fear. 

This past year has been a year of great accomplishment for myself and my spouse. We got married, bought our first home, and paid off more than half of his student loan debt. We maxed out our retirement vehicles, paid off my car, and even managed to save a small amount. All the while, we managed to live thoughtful and purposeful lives without feeling as if we were depriving ourselves, even while less spending money.

It Wasn’t Always Like That

But…Finances can be scary. In my mid-twenties, I owed a ton of money to the IRS and a handful of other creditors and at the time. I long had accepted the belief that “I’m just not very good with money.” I would say this aloud to my friends and family therefore speaking its truth into existence. Every time I said it, I’d believe it a little bit more! I am so grateful that one day, I decided…this shit stops now

It really was that big IRS debt that got me. Up until that point, I always earned W-2 income in some form working part time. I eventually began working more as an independent contractor and that year I happened to earn more 1099 income than I had previously. Side note: Basically, 1099s and W-2s are two separate tax forms depending on what kind of worker you are. If you’re an independent contractor, you get a 1099 form where no federal or state taxes are taken out, or paid for you. Sounds great, right? Every dollar I earned was sent straight to me! That I promptly spent!

Not so great when April 15th rolled around and I owed more money to a single entity than I ever had in my life. I had no idea what quarterly payments were, or how I was going to come up with the money to pay the government. The difference between this tax-surprise, and other years, was I previously had been primarily a W-2 employee. Payroll taxes were automatically deducted from my paycheck for me. My employer chipped in for part of it, and the money was sent to the government automatically. Oh boy, I had a lot to learn about taxes, and Learn. I. Did.

Mistakes Aren’t So Terrible After All

Looking back, I am grateful for that IRS debt. It forced me to look at my non-existent budget and have a Truth-Talk with myself. I made a list of all my bills and debts (for the first time ever) and figured out how much money I made a month. Armed with that information, I knew what I could commit to when making a payment arrangement with the IRS. Previous to this, in dealing with all my other debt, I typically ignored all phone calls from numbers I didn’t recognize (in case they were creditors). Occasionally, I called in to make a payment if I could, when I could. I feared the IRS enough to not try to pull this stunt with them, and it forever changed how I interacted with my money. (The IRS actually was quite pleasant and willing to work with me, if you happen to find yourself in that same boat.)

I plan to go into depth about budgeting in another post, but I did want to highlight how once, I felt incompetent and incapable of managing money. I thought it was a part of who I am. Instead, I found that I am much smarter than I thought. When I started this blog, I was a little overwhelmed. And then I remembered who I used to think I was, and tried to hone in on what I was telling myself this time, to make myself believe I was not smart enough to figure all of this blogging “stuff” out. I remembered that there are a lot of things I once thought I could never understand, and now I do. What makes this any different?

Even when it’s scary, when things feel foreign, and seem like they are for “other people only”, remember, no one gets to decide if things or skills are off-limits for you, except for you. It may be slow progress, but progress we will and I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn something new. 

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