“WTF is a W-2?” and other musings of a financially incompetent adult

This is the first year I’ve had to file taxes and—pardon my sophisticated language—I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing. It’s one of those life landmark things I’m a little slow on the uptake for, like learning how to ride a bike (age 10), or finally getting boobs (still waiting). I guess my previous employers were supposed to give me some obscure forms asking me to fork over part of my pathetic paychecks to the government a month ago(?), and I’m only finding out about it now at my brother’s outrage over having a clueless infant sloth for a sibling.

I am absolutely useless when it comes to money. Post-grad I didn’t even consider the repercussions of being an “independent contractor” before jumping at the opportunity. The title itself sounds cool and implies I’ve got some sort of grasp on how to lucratively dole out my skills/control my own finances, but it’s kind of like when I refer to myself as a straight up BAMF. Part out of personal gratification, the remainder out of ignorance. I was just so freaking eager to be hired by anyone moderately sane and willing to give me money for menial tasks. I didn’t know the first thing about starting a “career” unless it involved sipping mimosas and pretending to tweak my résumé by finding euphemisms for “can sort of execute menial tasks.” I had no game plan for income other than trolling internet ad listings, and there’s only so much of that one can take before you start dry heaving in a corner. Since I never set up a LinkedIn account (it makes me feel like online dating and snooty professionalism got together to shatter all the illusions of my superior existence my parents have been instilling since birth) and relied solely on Craigslist, my breaking point arrived rather quickly. You’ve truly reached a new low when you pass on that subtle post seeking “fun, flirty, 18+ females” not because you have any sort of moral standards but because you know no one in their right mind would pay to watch you attempt anything sexual. Then Facebook kicks you in the crotch while you’re already down by asking shit like this.

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Fast forward a few months and I now have two jobs that pay the bills, but that’s it. I make just enough to keep this admittedly amazing roof over my head, and am otherwise skint. Which means I’m slowly depleting my savings account and using my spare time to pray a nice dude with a decent sized package and financial security will whisk me off my feet and put an end to this incessant worrying. PS, if you’re out there reading this: hurry up man, this is urgent and I’ll bake you stuff. I’ve told myself if I just stick to a budget and make a plan it’ll be OK. But then I remember pathetic pep talks don’t cover car insurance and I panic all over again. You know how once you decide to give something up it’s suddenly all you can think about? It’s a cruel fact of life: the moment you choose to get over a toxic relationship or try to be healthy by giving up sweets is always the moment you start having graphic daydreams about your ex wearing a thong made out of Sour Straws. Deciding to spend money more responsibly is a lot like this. It doesn’t matter if touching your debit card burns more than a shot of tequila—you’re still gonna get $32 worth of Costco pesto like the drunken masochist you are.

And now there are taxes involved. Taxes I hadn’t really considered when I decided to spend my $$$ on expensive bulk condiments. It’s not that I thought I was exempt from participating in this lovely country’s fiscal policies; it’s more so that I didn’t even bother planning ahead to the next time I’d have clean underwear, let alone get my monetary affairs in order. So now I’m sitting here, snacking on dino nuggets and muttering profanities, attempting to follow the annoyingly chipper instructions on TurboTax, and I’m having an identity crisis. The only question I’ve filled out with 100% certainty is my relationship status, and that’s mostly because my lady parts screamed the answer. “Do you qualify for railroad retirement benefits?” they ask. I don’t know, does riding next to an elderly wino over the summer count? “Were you blind as of December 2014?” Jesus, are you mocking my inability to complete this form? I even had to Google the term “deductible” because I am just that daft.

I know I can’t be the only one struggling with this. Maybe one of the few to rant so extensively about it, but I am not alone in my financial ineptitude, damn it. You’d think this would give me a sense of comfort. That I’d be all, oh, thank goodness I’m not alone, we’re all in the same boat! Well, you would be wrong. I find no comfort in the idea of a bunch of morons stranded in the middle of the IRS ocean without a single paddle amongst them. Everyone I’ve asked about taxes within the age range of 22-70 has given me the bare minimum to go off of, including my own mother who told me, “I don’t know, ask your dad.” I’m so nervous to get screwed out of my already teensy livelihood. Usually I’m down for a good pounding, but not so much when it’s Uncle Sam. That dude is gnarly.

Do you ever have moments where you feel like your entire future is a ghastly vortex suckfest, but instead of getting sucked in you’re probably just going to trip into it because you’re that embarrassingly unfortunate ugh… only to be totally content with your life choices two minutes later? You’re fucking human, of course you have those moments. Don’t kid yourself. Well, that’s basically what hitting the “next” button on TurboTax feels like. All I can say is I better have enough money for a beer after this.

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