Financial Stimulus Or Security?

By | Sunday, March 22, 2009 Leave a Comment
It's time once again here in the U.S. to get your federal tax forms in order. I was actually pretty on the ball this year, and filed a couple weeks ago. The government (astonishingly) was on the ball, too, and I received my refund in the past week.

Now, like many people, my initial reaction was something along the lines of, "Wohoo! I'm gonna go get my something fun with this extra money! There are some nice looking graphic novels that have come out recently, and some of those DC Universe action figures look great!" But that didn't last very long as my intelligence kicked in, and I started bashing that line of thinking like it was a child's piñata.

In the first place, of course, it's not "extra" money. It's my money. It's money I earned working 40+ hours a week throughout 2008. It's money that the government has held from me, without interest, and is only now allowing me to have it back. It's "extra" only in the sense that I have adjusted to living a lifestyle I can afford on a certain amount of money I take home every two weeks, and this is above and beyond that. But it's still my money that I earned.

In the second place, I'm in the process of straightening out my finances. Key among that process is putting together enough savings that I could continue to live off that for several months if I were to lose my job. I understand most personal finance experts suggest that you have 6-8 months of your regular monthly expenses in savings under normal circumstances; given the job prospects these days, I've seen many people citing 8-10 months. That can add up to quite a chunk of change when you factor in a mortgage and typical debt payments.

So, like any other "extra" money I end up with at the end of the month, my tax refund went into my savings account, and I'm still at a loss on how Y: The Last Man and Gøland ended, and I haven't been able to pick up Nancy Goldstein's biography of Jackie Ormes. Not to mention Laika, Che, Aetheric Mechanics, Cleburne or a host of other books that have come out in the past year or two that sounded really good.

But this weekend, using my free time, I opted to start coalescing my comic book collection with the ones I was given by my father. It's literally been a pain in the ass, as I've been sitting on the concrete floor in my basement sorting through everything, but I am seeing a lot of interesting looking books that I certainly wouldn't mind reading. Some are more mainstream -- like a complete run of the 1988 Green Arrow series started by Mike Grell -- and some are considerably farther off the beaten path -- like P. Craig Russell's graphic interpretation of Mozart's The Magic Flute. Plenty of material to suit my tastes, regardless of what I'm in the mood to read.

Now, I realize that most of you probably have NOT recently come into a free collection of comics you largely hadn't read, but my point is this: if/when you receive a refund from your taxes, remember that it's your money and, given the economic environment we're in, you'd do well to use it wisely. Indeed, you'd do well to spend ALL your money wisely, but I think there's probably a greater risk of that not happening with your refund. So, my suggestion is to take at least a week or two off from spending your refund check, and think about whether or not that 12" bust of Harley Quinn is really necessary.
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