Posts Tagged 'consumer debt'

I, A Tax Non-Begrudger

If you’re stressing over your taxes being due today, I empathize. I have SO been there (though not any more. Here are my tips on breaking free of credit card and consumer debt.) Now I am a tax non-begrudger. I willingly pay taxes because I want to live in the civilized kind of society they make possible.

I see roads and highways as the most valuable collaboration of all us U.S. taxpayers. They are also the biggest chink in the armor of the Ayn-Rand-libertarian-tax-begrudging folks. Try living a life without roads. We couldn’t get to work, school or grocery stores without the roads our taxes are buying. They cost trillions of dollars. Libraries and fire and police services are other cool value-adds that taxes buy, and that make me a tax non-begrudger.

HOWEVER. I do object to bad stewardship of taxes. The biggest offender is the Iraq war, costing us over 341 million per day. My strongest objection here is to the obscene loss of life. More insidious is the unprecedented national debt it is incurring, which my attorney friend Jack actually terms treasonous on the part of the Bush administration because it sabotages our nation’s future. I’d have to agree with his assessment.

That said, I still am a tax non-begrudger because taxes allow civilized society to sustain itself, allow things for the greater good to be financed. I reject the terms ‘tax burden’ and ‘tax relief’ because they pander to the irresponsible child in each of us. If you imagine you don’t need any greater-good things like roads, or fire and police services and a national legal system, please tell me your plan for staying alive. Taxes are just another cost of living that adults pay, like rent and utilities.

It’s easy to think we’d be happier if we got to spend all our money on luxuries instead of taxes. Read The Peak of Happiness to learn why that’s not true. Happy April 15th to you, and please post a comment if you like (right under the title of this post). Tomorrow I’ll report on my first meeting that I’m having tonight with my CRAG group (in which my household will pay self-imposed fines, like taxes, for using carbon over a certain amount.)

Photo courtesy of blmurch.

Advertisements

Top Five Tips On Breaking Free of Credit Cards

In my last post I talked about overspending with credit cards and overspending the earth’s resources needing a similar solution: live happily within our means. It feels so much better this way, believe me.

Here are my Top Five recommendations for how to break free of credit cards, based on how I did it. (Note: If your debt comes from medical expenses or not earning living wages rather than consumption choices, these won’t necessarily apply to you.)

1.) Hang out with people who are good with money and live within their means. Learn all you can from them. Behavior is contagious. Tell them your goal is to stop using your credit cards, and ask for their support.

2.) Track everything you spend. An Excel spreadsheet works well. Use categories, i.e. clothing, utilities, groceries, eating out. Be curious and analytic; solve the mystery of where your money goes. Refuse to be a victim. Money is about constant choices.

3.) List exactly what triggers your using credit cards — then avoid the things on the list. Examples: going clothes shopping with Annie; eating out because there’s nothing good in the refrigerator; shopping on the Internet while at work. Vow to your friends you’ll not shop with Annie, will buy appealing groceries, and will simply work while at work. Tell them later about your follow-through (you’ll be motivated to keep your commitments).

4.) Make a long list of low-or-no-cost things that give you satisfaction or joy. Specific is good. Examples: walking in parks, reading mysteries from the library, trading child-care with Cindy, cooking fish, having Mike and Zoe over, fixing bicycles, giving away your unneeded clothes, playing board games and 20 Questions. Schedule these things into your life, making them replace your old credit card activities.

5.) See life without credit cards as making you happier and also a better user of the earth’s resources. Consider this website and program that offer excellent tools on money management.