# Estimated Tax Worksheet – could it be any more complicated? (Don’t Answer That)

Ok, going by the estimated tax worksheet, perhaps I owe a different amount for this quarter.

1. Adjusted gross income you expect in 2008:

(Adjusted gross income. Use your 2007 tax return and instructions as a guide to figuring out the adjusted gross income you expect in 2008. see Expected AGI — Line 1 in chapter 2 of Pub. 505 — “Your expected AGI for 2008 (line 1) is your expected total income minus your expected adjustments to income”)

Let’s just say \$66,000 and forget any adjustments I might take.

2. Estimated total of itemized deductions: no idea

3. Subtract Line 2 from Line 1: \$66,000

4. Exceptions: Multiply \$3,500 by the number of personal exceptions = \$0?

5. Subtract line 4 from line 3 = \$66,000

6. Tax =
Figure your tax on amount on line 5 by using the 2008 Tax Rate Schedules on page 5. *If you have qualified dividends or a net capital gain, or expect to claim the foreign earned income exclusion or housing exlucsion, see “pub 505” to figure the tax.

• 10% on income between \$0 and \$8,025
• 15% on the income between \$8,025 and \$32,550; plus \$802.50
• 25% on the income between \$32,550 and \$78,850; plus \$4,481.25 = \$12843.755
• 28% on the income between \$78,850 and \$164,550; plus \$16,056.25
• 33% on the income between \$164,550 and \$357,700; plus \$40,052.25
• 35% on the income over \$357,700; plus \$103,791.75

7. Alternative minimum tax from Form 6251: (this AMT confuses me to no end so for now I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist and hope it doesn’t effect me.

What is the AMT? The AMT came into being with the Tax Reform Act of 1969. Its purpose was to target a small number of high-income taxpayers who could claim so many deductions they owed little or no income tax. A growing number of middle-income taxpayers are discovering they are subject to the AMT.

8. Add lines 6 & 7. Add to this amount any other taxes you expect to include in the total on Form 1040, line 44, or Form 1040A, line 28 = \$12843.755

9. Credits (not not include any income tax withholding on this line): huh?

10. Subtract line 9 from line 8. If zero or less, enter 0 = \$12843.755.

11. Self employment tax. Estimate of 2008 net earnings from self employment. (if \$102,00 or less, multiply the amount by 15.3% — Caution: If you also have wages subject to
social security tax, see Pub. 505 to figure the amount to enter) = \$10,098

12. Other taxes (see instructions below): let’s just say none.

13a. Add lines 10 through 12: \$10,098
b. earned income credit (forms 4136, 8801 (line 27) and 8885) – None (you have to earn less than \$17k for this.)
c. total 2008 estimated tax. Subtract line 13b from line 13a. If zero or less, enter 0 = \$22,941.755

14a. multiply line 13c by 90% (unless you’re a farmer or a fisherman, then it’s 66.5%) = \$20,647.58
b. enter the tax shown on your 2007 tax return (110% of that amount if you are not a farmer or a fisherman, and the adjusted gross income shown on that return is \$150k or more) = no idea yet
c. required annual payment ot avoid a penalty. Enter the smaller of line 14a or 14b = \$20,647.58

15. Income tax withheld and estimated to be withheld during 2008: none.

16a. subtract line 15 from line 14c:
Is the result zero or less?
Yes — stop here. you don’t have to pay anything.
No – go to line 16b…

16b: subtract line 15 from line 13c
is the result less than \$1000
yes – stop. no money needed.
no – go to line 17 to figure your required payment

17. if the first payment you are required to make is due april 15, enter 1/4 of line 16a:
\$20,647.58 / 4 = \$5161.89

(but this doesn’t at all include state taxes. I wonder if there is a separate quarterly estimated tax payment for that.)

# Freelance Life: Estimated Quarterly Taxes

I may be way off on this… but my calculations amount to an:

Estimated Quarterly Tax: \$6,706

Without the help of a CPA, I’m trying to figure out my estimated quarterly tax payment. My calculations, while likely closer to accurate than I’d like to believe, are definitely more than I have in my “for taxes” saving account.

The good news is that for this year at least, I’m allowed to put 90% of my previous year’s taxes into my estimated tax payments each quarter. And last year, since I was working full time and making much less money, my tax payments for the year were not that huge. I think… and please correct me if I’m wrong… that as long as I pay 90% of last year’s taxes (divided by four) then at the very least the government won’t be charging me any penalty fees.

Regardless, I probably should try to just pay 100% of my estimated tax to avoid a really awful April 2009.

That said… I’m trying to understand these calculations, without figuring out my deductions (since any deductions I can take will just mean that I can get a refund. And I’d rather just get a refund than deal with sorting out deductions each quarter. It’s hard enough to do it once a year!)

—-

Tax Guestimates

Assuming I make \$5500 a month for the entire year (I’m overestimating given that I’m making about \$5000-\$5300 now in any given month… some months I make more.)

TOTAL TAXES = \$26,821.362 (or 40.6% of \$66k yearly income)

FEDERAL
[\$8025 at 10%] \$0 – \$8025 = \$802.50
[\$24524 at 15%] \$8026-\$32550 = \$3678.50
[\$33,449 at 25%] \$32,551 – (\$78,850) \$66,000 = \$8,362.25

Total Federal Tax: \$12,843.25

STATE

0% \$0 – \$6828 = \$0
[\$9357 at 2% ] \$6829 – \$16186 = \$187.14
[\$9358 at 4%] \$16187 – 25545 = \$374.32
[\$10,005 at 6%] \$25456 – 35461 = \$600.30
[\$9353 at 8%] \$35462 – 44,815 = \$748.24
[\$21,184 at 9.3%] \$44816 – 66,000 = \$1970.112

Total State Tax: \$3880.112

SELF EMPLOYMENT TAX

[\$66,000 at 15.3%] = \$10,098

Total Self Employment Tax: \$10,098

Estimated Quarterly Tax: \$6706

Eeks!!! \$6,706?

I’ve only saved about \$4,500 for this quarter’s taxes. Well, I’ll really be saving more like \$6,500, but I don’t get paid until the end of the month, so the next \$2,000 I’d put away, which would be for my March-April “month” of work ending April 20, will not be paid until the end of the month. So how am I supposed to pay that in advance?

I’m so, so, so confused.

# Talking Taxes

My taxes for 2007 are going to be a total nightmare. I tried to figure them out on TurboTax a few months ago before getting my official W2s, but I’m afraid I’m missing major deductions that I should be taking (or taking deductions I shouldn’t be taking).

That has led me to seek out a CPA. So far the one who has written back to me charges \$155 an hour with a two hour minimum. Eeks. And I thought \$80 for TurboTax was pricey.

While \$310 for an accountant to do my taxes won’t be the end of the world, it still sucks. I feel like I should be able to figure out taxes for myself given that my overall earnings for the year was less than \$35k. Unfortunately that \$35k came from a bunch of different places.

Meanwhile, my uncle – who I do some small amounts of freelance work for – told me that while he’s not sending me a 1099 form I have to report the earnings. Of course I have to report the income, but I thought that he also had to report the earnings. So I’m a bit confused about this – if he doesn’t report the earnings will I get him in trouble if I report them?

Do you guys think it’s worth \$310+ to have someone prepare my tax returns? Or should I just do TurboTax and hope that I don’t majorly mess anything up?

# Woman in Charge: family finance for one day down the road

My mom never calls me to see how I’m doing. The only time I’ll hear from her is to tell me that some show is on PBS that I should watch or that there’s something else of interest to her that isn’t really of interest to me at all, yet she thinks I should know about it anyway.

The last one of these conversations had to do with Suze Orman’s book “Women and Money ” that Oprah gave away for free (via PDF download) a few weeks ago. My mom e-mailed me about the book download and then followed up immediately when I called her later on that day “did you download the book yet?”

Ok, so Suze Orman’s books and blab have provided me with some useful finance advice in the past. But at this point I know all the basics about finance and that I should save money and invest it as opposed to spend all I make.

My mom is so clueless when it comes to money. Part of it is a generational thing and part of it is a chosen “ignorance is bliss” ideology. She’s always spent as if the bank account had no end. Now that I know how finances work, I don’t really understand just how she did it. Even though my father made a good salary, it was only in the low six figures… which is a lot, but not nearly enough to spend the way she did, or so it seems. My mom would order things from QVC without worrying about the cost. Jewelry, mostly, although sometimes she’d buy appliances and things. She wouldn’t go to the mall and spend like that, but because it was on TV she could. Well, that was her excuse.

Granted, she did work hard as a stay-at-home housewife for many years, and she deserved some of the finer things in life. She put up with my father who, despite being a good breadwinner, wasn’t the best husband.

Now, though, my mom is in her late 40s and my dad is out of money for a few years. He retired early and his pension plan doesn’t kick in quite yet. My mom doesn’t get what having “no money” means. Well, that’s mostly because my dad has kept her in the dark about our financial situation over the years. She doesn’t know how much money he has in savings, or what that means for their retirement.

Knowing my dad, he has a good amount of money available for retirement. After all, he made a career out of designing pension plans for other workers. I’m sure his pension is solid, when he will get it. Still, it’s completely astonishing to me that my mom has no idea how much money they’ll have in retirement, or how much money they have now, other than “no money,” which could mean just about anything coming from my father.

My situation is so much different. Sure, right now I’m at the very start of my financial journey and I’m just learning how to save and invest. Without being able to control the markets, even if I make all the “right” choices I might still end up back where I started or worse. But at least I feel that now I’m in control of my finances. I know that if I can save a certain amount per year and invest it, if the market goes along as expected over the long haul, I’ll be able to save a certain amount of money for my retirement.

This makes me feel powerful. It also makes me focus just a little too much on money. Making money has become a bit of an obsession. As a freelancer, it’s easy to sign up for one too many projects. Who needs sleep, right?

But the way I look at it, the more I can make today, the more I have to spend later on. That’s true, regardless of what I have to do to get there.

Now, my boyfriend, he finally got himself a job and he’s making money. He spends less than me because he doesn’t have to pay rent (he lives at home) and he doesn’t really buy many clothes. When he does, he doesn’t splurge on designer anything. He still dresses nicely, but he has a very limited wardrobe. Two pairs of jeans, and a bunch of button down dress shirts. That’s pretty much all he wears. Oh, and two sweatshirts from his college and some really old shirts and shorts that he’ll wear to the gym and such.

His spending right now pretty much revolves around me. If we go out to dinner, he often pays. I used to feel bad about this, but now that all this saving money thing is a game, and as I’m paying so much in rent and clothes and products to look pretty (for him, mostly) I feel less bad about having him pay for food more often than not. Even though I’m “making” more money at my job.

My boyfriend is not at all interested in investing or finance. The other day I excitedly told him all about mutual funds and index funds and such, and he was bored to death. His mother has saved up enough money to send him to grad school one day which is, as far as I know, sitting in a fairly low-interest savings account right now. He makes money and although he spends a lot on us eating out and gadgets for himself, I’m sure he’s still making more than he’s spending right now. But he puts it all into his savings account.

I tried to get him excited about opening a ROTH IRA and told him about how hard it is to afford retirement these days, but he wasn’t interested.

Now, if this is the guy I’m going to marry, which right now I think might be the case, I feel like I have a right to not only inform him of these options, but push him down the path of opening an IRA and starting to save for retirement.

I guess, in the long run, if only one person in my couple hood is going to understand finances and save for retirement, I want it to be me. I don’t want to be like my mother, clueless and hopeless as it is. If I’m going to spend a lot of money, at least I want to have a solid grasp on what that means for my monthly contribution to my ROTH.

I keep telling my mom she should get a job. If she wants to keep living her lifestyle, it isn’t so hard, even if dad says they’re out of money. Get a part-time job and viola, some extra income which she can spend as she pleases. But she refuses, saying she’s too busy. She’s dealing with this whole fight with the school system about my sister’s education (my sister has a learning disability and the school isn’t giving her the appropriate accommodations) and otherwise she’s too busy doing other things… like, oh I don’t know, cleaning the house… no one in our house helps out with laundry or dishes, so that’s all her. Still, I think she ought to get a job. My dad is retired now, he can start helping out with some of the chores around the house. If my mom was working, maybe he’d be inspired to do so.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to make sure that I know the nitty gritty of personal finance. Even if my significant other choses to remain somewhat oblivious to how he can save for retirement, I refuse to let life take me for an unfortunate ride.

For the past few years, my net worth has gone up and down between \$25k and \$30k. Right now I’m at about \$27k. My goal is to stop going down, and to break that \$30k by summer.

# The 60 Hour Freelance Work Week

While working 60 hours at a salaried job each week seems beyond boring, diversifying one’s time and one’s ongoing work portfolio can lead to professional fulfillment on many levels, including by not limited to one’s bank account.

I recently found out that in order to be a full-time salaried employee at my current company, I need to sign on for 50-60 hours a week. While I love my job AND the company, that’s still not enough to have me sign every possible work hour away to one job.

Besides boredom, the reason to keep my ‘after 40’ job hours open is because some of my other opportunities pay much better than what I’m spending most of my week on. At my 40 hour per week job I make about \$27 an hour right now. But I’m also taking my late evenings to work as a freelance marketing writer, with projects I’m getting paid \$50 per hour for.

I’m not sure what my value is as a full-time employee versus freelance, but for some reason I feel like my \$50 per hour charge as a freelancer is justified, while I could never imagine asking my freelance full-time employer for such a raise.

When it comes down to it, I’d rather make slightly less at my “day job” and use the opportunity to pitch my writing skills for extra income that ultimately covers health insurance and other things I need.

That brings about the question… how much can I actually make in one month without not sleeping and going completely insane…

Monthly Potential Income
1. \$4800 — Gig 1. 40 hours per week (on contract)
2. \$400 — Gig 2. Approx 8 hours, or 4 projects per month at \$50/hr
3. \$250 — Gig 3. 10 hours of administrative Work at \$25/hr
4. \$400 — Gig 4. 8 hours of research & article writing at \$50/hr
—————————————————————————–
\$5850 per month

Which is a lot of money. Sort of.

Minus \$2340 ((40% taxes (25 % tax bracket + 15 % self-employment tax))) that comes out to a grande total of…

\$3510 per month after taxes, or a net income of \$42,120 per year.

That’s still pretty good, I think.

# Immortality, Death, and Retirement Planning

The other day, my boyfriend and I were discussing death and immortality. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in this blog before, but I have a huge fear of death. I’m not a religious person and the concept of just not existing anymore scares the shit out of me. While I know it’s not possible to live forever, I get past my morality-anxiety by pretending like perhaps there will be some cure to every illness known to man (including old age) by the time I’m wrinkled like a prune and somehow I can live forever.

Why do I bring all that up? Even though we (and I) can’t live forever, our society is all geared around helping us live longer. In the early 20th century, the worldwide life expectancy for a human was 30-40 years old. Now it’s 67. In another 100 years, most people will probably be livin to at least their 90s.

That’s great in terms of… well, getting to stick around, aware, on this planet for a few extra years and for medical science as a whole, but how does lengthening one’s life mess with the concept of retirement?

Ok, so in one of my days of freaking out about my mortality I ended up doing some research into Cryogenics and started reading up on a place where for a shit load of money I could get frozen after I die and maybe, just maybe somehow in the future I could be brought back, alive.

That got me thinking… if ultimately many of us would want to live forever… if that’s what all our medical science is working towards with stem cell research and such, well, at what point in our future will the concept of retirement simply vanish?

Retirement exists, as I see it, for two reasons. One – you get old, you just can’t work as much as you once did because you’re sick a lot and need to take it easy en route to death. Two, you worked a long(ish), hard life and it’s time to sit back and enjoy the last few years you have on this earth. Either way, what’s that worth if you can remain healthy forever.

It’s kind of interesting, thinking about how much our culture would change if immortality were possible, and then how much it has changed simply due to medical advances and the increase in average life expectancy. If we could live forever, even the celebrity making billions upon billions of dollars would still have to be careful with how much money they spent because if life forever were possible, at some point money would run out.

So death, not too far along from birth, is really a requirement for the concept of retirement to work (sorry I’m being so morbid today folks, but it’s just been on my mind a lot lately).

Also, there have been a bunch of articles and blog posts out in the past week or so about how retirement is impossible for many people these days, what with the cost of inflation and lack of appropriate savings.

The Motley Fool recently published an article called “The End of Retirement“inspired by the also-recent PBS Frontline series “Can You Afford to Retire?

Well, the Fool was pitching its investment advice for sale (as it does in every article on that site) but it also pointed out some of the sad yet very real facts raised in the Frontline documentary. “[Thanks to how people of different wealth classes invest throughout their lives…] The richest people are getting richer, and the middle-class workers are falling further behind.

I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle, though lean towards the rich end of the spectrum. While I feel like I’ve just struck gold with my newly minted annual salary of over \$60k (if I can hold this contract job for the whole year, mind you), after you take away taxes… including the lovely 15% self-employment tax I learned about the other day, my healthcare expenses, the fact that as a contractor I don’t get time off, paid holidays or any other benefits, and suddenly my \$60k seems not as much as it did when I first gladly accepted my offer (well, I asked for \$200 a month more, then accepted the offer).

It’s weird how two years ago I was thrilled to be making \$35k, finally a year out of undergrad with a full-time job. Now, as I worry more about saving for retirement in my 20s and somehow saving up for a house (even a fairly decent downpayment on a house… in The Bay Area) and possibly an expensive MFA a few years down the line, I am not sure how much money I’d need to make in order to really feel, well, rich.

Yet I know I’m lucky and that I’m more rich than a lot of people will ever be.

I want to invest heavily towards my retirement and I already have \$7000 put into my Roth IRA of a total \$9000 I could invest since I opened my account. Not bad, but that was taking my savings and putting most of it into that Roth IRA. Well, it’s nice to know that if I make it to 65 I’ll at least have some money to take out, tax free. But what about now? What about that house… or 2br condo… that I’m dreaming of? How about grad school?

Other than knowing I ought to live more frugally overall, I haven’t a clue about how to allocate my money. They say “max out your IRA first” (if you don’t have a 401(k) and that sounds fine and dandy, but now that I’m a slightly higher tax bracket I’m not even sure if I should be investing in my Roth IRA or if now I ought to open up a traditional IRA that gets taxed later on. Ugh, I’m so confused.

Llama Money jokes about how the \$1 million saved up for retirement isn’t really enough anymore, and explains how to save up \$1 billion by retirement instead in this post.

“If you start investing at the ripe young age of 26 ( that’s how old I’ll be in a few months ), then you have 34 long years to enjoy the magic of compound interest. Assuming you earn an average return of 10% per year ( shouldn’t be difficult if you stick with low-cost index funds ), then you must save \$308,700 per month until age 60. At that point you will have just over \$1 billion in your brokerage account.”

Yikes! Um, I don’t think I’ll be able to save \$309k per month anytime soon, or ever.

Llama poses that putting away \$280 a month is enough to at least help you out financially at retirement.

The only thing that helps me worry less is knowing that I’m the type of person who won’t want to retire. I can’t imagine wanting to stop working just because I’m old. I’ll want to work a more flexible job, maybe take a bunch of time off, travel the world. But I don’t see why I should stop earning an income as long as my health allows.

And being that I’m 24, I can’t imagine myself incapacitated to the point where I’d be forced to live off my IRA income and nothing else. If that’s what’s going to happen, well, I better figure out how to start, uh, making \$339k a month so I can save the \$309k. Yea right.

# Freelancer Woes: Taxes, Taxes, and More Taxes

While I’ve gone through periods of working part-time gigs and freelancing for a little extra cash on the side, 2008-2009 will be the first year when I’m likely going to be a contractor all year long. I love the freelance lifestyle, as I can finish my work hours when everyone else is asleep, or get all my hours done straight through and leave myself time to relax for an extra weekend day, if possible. There are so many things I love about being a freelancer (albeit one with a stable freelance gig) that I’d be hard pressed to give it up.

One thing that might, just might be able to get me to give this wonderful lifestyle up is taxes.

Just trying to figure out how to sort out my taxes owed as a freelancer seems like a giant nightmare. On top of that I now have Prosper taxes (which sounds like it will be worse than a nightmare to file) and my various stocks, ETF and mutual fund accounts to tax…

Originally I thought sorting out my taxes would be simple as taking 25 percent of all my income each month and putting it into a highish-interest ING savings account. Come tax time, my tax money will have made a little money (although that will be taxed to) and if all worked out as I originally thought, the money in that account would certainly cover all my state and federal taxes… plus I would have saved some money by holding off on paying it throughout the year.

Given that I finally stopped to smell the dead roses, I did a little research and found out about the “Self Employment Tax” which seems to be another 15.3 % on top of the 25%. So does that mean I should be putting 35% of my income each month into my ING “for tax season” account?

And then… apparently freelancers are supposed to pay an estimated tax each month. What I don’t understand is if this is for the convenience of the freelancer (don’t have to worry about spending all your tax money and being in serious trouble come April 15) or if it’s actually required by law to pay taxes on a monthly basis instead of in one lump sum at the end of the year. If it’s not illegal, I really don’t understand why more people wouldn’t just do what I think I’m doing with this savings account and getting a few extra dollars on the money that will ultimately go to the IRS at the end of the year. But maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong.

I’m, quite frankly, terrified of tax season next year. This year is complicated enough with my two full-time jobs and freelance earnings. But next year? Well, I know I’ll have to hire an accountant. But what is it I should do now, as it starting 1.5 months ago, to make my life bearable next year… and more importantly, so I don’t accidentally end up in jail for tax fraud out of ignorance and confusion?

ps: I think I just found my answer… (I guess I do have to pay in advance!!!)
http://www.irs.gov/publications/p505/ch02.html#d0e5923

——————————————————————————————————
(Thanks to the IRS for explaining, in fairly clear language, how I can give them my money)

#### When To Pay Estimated Tax

For estimated tax purposes, the year is divided into four payment periods. Each period has a specific payment due date. If you do not pay enough tax by the due date of each of the payment periods, you may be charged a penalty even if you are due a refund when you file your income tax return. The payment periods and due dates for estimated tax payments are shown below.

 For the period: Due date: Jan. 1 1 – March 31 April 15 April 1 – May 31 June 15 June 1 – August 31 September 15 Sept. 1 – Dec. 31 January 15 next year 2

 1If your tax year does not begin on January 1, see Fiscal year taxpayers, below. 2See January payment, below.

Saturday, Sunday, holiday rule. If the due date for an estimated tax payment falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the payment will be on time if you make it on the next business day. For example, a payment due on Saturday, September 15, 2007, will be on time if you make it by Monday, September 17, 2007.
January payment. If you file your 2007 Form 1040 or Form 1040A by January 31, 2008, and pay the rest of the tax you owe, you do not need to make the payment due on January 15, 2008.

Example.

Janet Adams does not pay any estimated tax for 2007. She files her 2007 income tax return and pays the balance due shown on her return on January 24, 2008.

Janet’s estimated tax for the fourth payment period is considered to have been paid on time. However, she may owe a penalty for not making the first three estimated tax payments. Any penalty for not making those payments will be figured up to January 24, 2008.

Fiscal year taxpayers. If your tax year does not start on January 1, your payment due dates are:

1. The 15th day of the 4th month of your fiscal year,

2. The 15th day of the 6th month of your fiscal year,

3. The 15th day of the 9th month of your fiscal year, and

4. The 15th day of the 1st month after the end of your fiscal year.

You do not have to make the last payment listed above if you file your income tax return by the last day of the first month after the end of your fiscal year and pay all the tax you owe with your return.

—————————————————————————————-

Ok, now I just have to figure out exactly how much I have to pay them. Hmm.

Here are some helpful links I’ll be reviewing to help me figure out just that, and I’ll report back here when I actually understand what I’m talking about:

Once I do understand all this, I can work as a freelance freelance accountant. 🙂

# Oh Boy! A \$600 Rebate!

I’m a little excited about getting a \$600 rebate this spring, thanks to the tax rebate package that passed today. While I’m not their ideal rebate grantee (I’ll likely invest the funds, maybe into my Roth, which now has \$2000 left until I max it out for 2008, though) it will make it easier to buy a few new spring pieces to my wardrobe without feeling terribly guilty about my spending (to be honest, guilt and financial logic never stopped me from spending anyway).

The good news w/ the rebate is that even if I end up owing money on taxes for 2007, I’ll actually still get a rebate or… break even.

Sweet.

I wish this happened every year!

# Dreams of a 401(k)

Oh 401(k), when I think about you, I touch myself.

Employers matching contributions? That’s a truly beautiful concept, and one I’ve never been able to take advantage of.

At the moment, my freelance career prohibits me from obtaining full benefits at one company. That’s how I chose to live my life, so I have to deal with the fact that my Roth IRA has lost significant amounts of money this year, while if I had been able to contribute to an employee-match 401(k) I might have at least broke even amidst this recession mess. However, I just have to go it alone. That’s my choice.

But that wasn’t always the case. My first full time job at a magazine showed me how even full-time gigs at companies don’t always equate to earning the luxury of a 401(k). That company was a bit, how-do-you-say, confused in terms of organization. We had a meeting about getting 401(k)’s where the financial companies came in and presented our options, then they came in another day and we met with the reps and signed the paperwork. Of course, since the company was not making any money, our 401(k) was not going to include a match at all. So ultimately the only benefit was that it would encourage employees to start saving (but tax-wise, most of us would probably be better off with a Roth anyway).

Next up on my job history resume, I obtained another full-time gig at a startup where I was to get stock options instead of a 401(k). I never actually earned any of those stock options because I left the company after three months. I was fired. I was bored with the topics I was writing about. And I couldn’t keep up with the pace. It was for the best.

I worry a bit about my retirement. I know it’s many years off, but I won’t have the security that my dad has. He retired early so my family is living on a tight budget now, but in a few years he’ll have access to his pension and he and my mother can live off that. What will I have to live off of in 2058? Or whenever it is I end up retiring?

Thus far I put \$4000 into my Roth IRA (started in 2007). It’s down to \$3600. I know… I know that investing is a long term thing. Still, I can’t help but be concerned about what my future holds. Maybe the smartest thing to do would be to get a stable full-time job at a public company or government agency. But I’m trying to balance my happiness and my future. It’s hard to find that balance. I’m worried I’m leaning too far towards happiness right now.