Quarterly taxes were just due so taxes may still be on your mind like they are on ours. However, many pay “The Idiot Tax” everyday and don’t even think about it. “The Idiot Tax” quietly erodes our wealth. By now you are scratching your head wondering what the heck is it? And, am I paying it too?
Well, “The Idiot Tax” is the “tax” we pay for convenience. Our lives are busy. We are on the run. We grab and go. Don’t have time to make breakfast at home so you grab a coffee ($2.50) and egg sandwich ($5.00) from the local drive up window. Maybe you woke up late so the parking lot at the MBTA was already full so you drove into Boston and paid for parking in your office building ($35.00 vs. $7.00 for the T—you already had a paid monthly pass to ride the train). Morning coffee break time and you need some more fuel ($2.50). It’s lunchtime and you ran out of the house without lunch so you grab a sandwich, chips, cookie and a soda ($14.00) from the shop around the corner from the office. Now it’s afternoon break time and you decide to go for the mochachino with a shot of espresso and a cookie ($6.00).
You are meeting your friends for a birthday celebration and don’t have the gift yet. You pop into an expensive store because they offer “free” gift-wrapping. At dinner, you all decide on a glass of wine, however, the four of you order the same kind—individually—rather than getting the bottle and that “fifth” glass for free.
We make these “convenience” trade offs all day long. You are making soup and to start the stock you buy the pre-diced carrots, onions and celery rather than buying the individual vegetables and cutting them yourself. We buy pre-cut fruit and pre-sliced cheese. Rather than creating our own portions, we buy individual snack packs, yogurt, soda, and ice cream. We buy bottled water by the case. We use throwaway cups rather than wash a few cups.
And then we wonder where our money went. We ponder why it is so hard to save—not just for retirement but to have the “financial cushion” in the bank. Many of us “leak” a lot of money each day.
So as you pay “Uncle Sam” for your share of taxes, take some time to think about where you pay “The Idiot Tax” everyday. If you did some pre-planning this year, how might you improve cash flow? Because in the end, it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.