Dave (yeah, that Dave) talks about Stupid Tax on his show quite often.
Stupid Tax is when you spend money on something really, REALLY dumb....and it ends up biting you in the butt.
We have ALL done this. If you say you've never paid Stupid Tax in your life you are a darn dirty liar and I'll give you a moment to go ask forgiveness from the Patron Saint of Impulse Spending before I continue.
Are we good?
Stupid Tax is just something we all find ourselves victims of at one point or another. We fail to have self-control....we get talked into something by a slick salesman....we think something is a REALLY GOOD DEAL....we figure we can "handle it"....it's completely incredible how someone can talk themselves into things sometimes.
So, without further adieu I wanted to share some of our BEST "Stupid Tax" moments. Feel free to laugh along, share you own (if you dare!) or just learn from our stupidity!
1. The TV from HELL
When my now-husband and I lived together pre-marriage in our little loft apartment way-back-when we made a LOT of really stupid financial decisions. A lot. He'll agree with me, I'm sure.
One of our WORST was going to Best Buy on a whim one night and FINANCING a big-screen TV. Yup. Best part is, it was once of those gigantic, behemoth rear-projection deals. Just massive.
ON TOP OF THAT, the thing was a lemon. It was shut itself off (ghost of bad decisions haunted it, methinks)....it would zoom in and out. It was a crap sandwich.
Being not-so-smart, we didn't realize when we bought the thing that it was a deferred interest plan.....so if we didn't pay it off in full within a year, all that back interest got tagged on. Yup, we ended up paying through the NOSE for this TV that didn't work.
Lesson: Don't finance anything....but most of all, don't finance possessed TVs.
2. CAR BUYING FOLLIES
We are not good car buyers. You'd think with a father who lived and breathed cars my entire childhood I'd be better at the whole thing....but I'm not. I allow myself to be completely roped in by shiny hubcaps and new car smell.
In a word, I am a SUCKA.
I've gotten better, but that doesn't mean we haven't gotten ourselves into some REALLY stupid car-buying situations.
There was the full-on plastic Suzuki I financed back in 2004/2005. I ended up carrying over some loan balance from the car I traded in, so that Suzuki, which was probably only worth about $7000 when I left the LOT....well, cost me a heck lot more. And you couldn't drive the thing without the low bumper being scraped against the road.
A few years ago we bought a "Dave Car" for cash: an older SUV with 90,000 some miles on it. It lasted us about 8 months before it died on the side of the road. We paid $5000 cash for it....so yeah, $625 a month.....kind of soured me a BIT on Dave Cars. I get the concept, but that one didn't really work out well for us.
When Suvecita died, we panicked. OMG WE HAVE NO CAR WE HAVE TO GO BUY ONE RIGHT NOW panic.
Enter Stupid Tax.
We bought a nearly new Ford. The thing drives like a go-cart....a choppy go-cart. It's my husbands' car and he's not a fan of it either.
On top of that, we were panicking so much about NOT having anything to drive that we didn't exactly get the best deal on the thing.
That's one of those "My GOD I can't wait until this one is paid off" moments.
Lesson Learned: For the love of Pete, Woman....it's like going to the grocery store when you're hungry. Stop making impulse car purchases.
3. MEMBERSHIP BLUES
You know that old saying "I would never want to belong to any club that would have me as a member?"
Yeah, I should revise that: I would never want to belong to any club that would allow someone like me to spend a ridiculous amount of money on membership.
People like to "belong"....they like to feel a part of something. Even if they have to pay for it. Over the past 3-4 years we have had: A country club membership (dumb), a gym membership (REALLY dumb....because all I really did was run....which I can do at home for free), season tickets to Great America (which hubby insists paid for themselves, but it always smarts a bit when that monthly fee comes out....in the middle of winter...when no roller coasters are to be had).....yes, all fun things....but if I add up what was spent on all of those fun things...
We'd probably be debt free by now, or pretty dang close.
So, while it's fine and dandy to belong to stuff when you're debt free....bogging yourself down with membership fees when you're on a mission to financial fitness is just big ole' Stupid Tax x1000.
Lesson Learned: You can belong to stuff when you're out of debt. Right now, enjoy being a wallflower.
4. THE YEARS OF WONDERFUL BONUSES
My husband had a job when we were in Milwaukee that had two of the most generous bosses/owners on the face of the planet. Seriously, these guys were amazing. It was a tiny business with my husband being their only employee. They paid for ALL of our healthcare 100%....Yup, 100%. He got to travel. It was just a killer job.
Along with all the perks were these amazing Christmas bonuses. I won't say exactly what they were, but they were a LOT. Especially for us, being that we didn't exactly make mad bank in those early days.
Wanna know where the Stupid Tax comes in?
We spent those bonuses on CRAP. Just DUMB. CRAP. I think one year I bought a $500 pair of Chanel sunglasses. I am NOT. KIDDING. YOU. We probably made $40,000 a year and I was walking around with $500 sunglasses.
Cool bosses have since retired and we moved away, but I would give anything to go back to those "awesome bonus" days and smack my 26 year old self in the head. Hard.
Lesson Learned: I'm an idiot.
So, if you make a financial "whoopsie", it's really okay. We all do it. Some of us do it over and over and over until we finally freakin' LEARN and STOP. Some of us never learn and that's how things like bankruptcy and foreclosure happen.
The theme that runs through ALL of this Stupid Tax, however, is entitlement. I thought I "deserved" everything that I spent needlessly on. I worked hard, I deserved a big screen TV I couldn't afford to pay cash for. I DESERVED to treat myself to a gym membership or (ohmygawd.) $500 sunglasses.
Thing is, I may have "worked hard", but I didn't deserve any of the things I didn't spend wisely on. It may have felt good in the moment, but the long lasting effects of the Stupid Tax were just never worth it. Ever.
End the Stupid Tax....save yourself the heartache....sacrifice to win!