Saturday, February 16, 2008

Financial Prudence

Working in the tax return preparation industry allows one to make the acquaintance of total strangers who will both talk about their own financial situations and take your advice...or at least politely listen to it. This is, naturally, quite interesting.

It is disturbing at times to observe what people do with their money. I saw an adult man today who had no earned income for over two years (according to his own admission). He was a bit disappointed that he had no reason to file a federal tax return—and also no reason to expect any refund. Later in the day he returned to pick up his paperwork (I suspect to take it elsewhere where he could get a more desirable return prepared) a truck which might provoke divorce talk if I bought it myself!

Another fellow tax preparer remarked that when a couple with over $100K in income last year saw that they were getting a $6K refund, they were so happy that they would be able to pay off one of their credit cards!

But on the other side of the coin, I had a recently married couple come in (this was their first MFJ return). Both are young professionals—without children—and their combined income exceeded $130K. At the conclusion of our time together, the husband grilled me about what he could do to be in a better tax position next year....and listened intently to my advice.

There isn't always a correlation between income and financial sense. Many times the poor are poor because they make poor decisions—and many times those with sizable incomes make poor decisions, too. Some people could survive just fine on a gross income of $40,000 per year [some would even be thankful for it]; others shudder at the thought. God gives to all what He sees fit, and no matter how much or little it is, we are to be faithful with it. He supplies all our needs.

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