Getting Ahead Financially

Sometimes I feel like a pelican - whichever way I turn I still have an enormous bill in front of me.
— Blackadder the Third

It’s a conspiracy. Every time I’m making some ground financially bills appear from everywhere. I can cope, usually, with the bills that I create myself and at the moment I’m in the middle of publishing my book and that is placing a strain on the family fortunes. But, I had allowed for those costs and planned accordingly. It’s the unexpected bills that get me and my piggy bank.

This week I needed to go to the dentist. It’s a trip I often delay not because I have an aversion to dentists per se, I have an aversion to the costs which seems completely unrelated to the time I’m there. The visit, which included “minor” work and x-rays, cost a tick over $300. But wat, there’s more. I needed to return for some more “minor” work and a visit with the hygienist. This took a little longer, especially the hygienist who seemed to applying a huge amount of force for the task required. I left with great feeling teeth and a second bill for around $600. Ouch!

That reminds me, on my previous visit to the hygienist she took out a new toothbrush to demonstrate how she wanted me to brush my teeth. I got to keep the toothbrush which I thought was a freebie but, when I inspected the bill later, I was charged triple the supermarket cost of a toothbrush. Maybe I should have complained but that’s not my style.

The next welcome/unwelcome visitor was the plumber. Welcome because my hot tap was dripping, there was an unpleasant smell coming from the toilet (unrelated to toilet activity) and I had a leak in the roof that had been caused a drip in the kitchen for the past year. The drip had already beaten two plumbing firms and I turned to an old school friend who had gone back to running his own plumbing business. They completed the work brilliantly and I’m now nursing another bill circa $1000.

The final financial kick came from the unfriendly tax department. My tax life, unsurprisingly, is complicated despite the past ten governments promise to make life easier for small businesses. When you’re self-employed, they calculate your tax based on what you earned last year. This is fine if you earn roughly the same amount but this year I took a break from running my business and took a “real” job. Despite the fact that I would be earning little in the business this year I have now had to pay more tax than I earned in revenue.

I will get the money back but it leaves a hole in my current finances. To add insult to injury if they over charge you get 1.5% interest. If they under charge you then they take 6% additional in lieu of interest. They need to be thrown out of the temple that’s’ for sure.

On the whole I have no objection to paying tax as, in New Zealand, we get a lot of services for our tax dollar in the form of police, health services, education, roads etc etc. What I do object to is the “rich” people who minimise/avoid paying their fair share of tax. In fact I despise people who are loaded and don’t feel the need to contribute. They also use their clever accountants to “hide” their money so their children can get full advantage of services designed to help the under-privileged.  

I think what should happen is those that don’t contribute shouldn’t get full access to all the services paid for by taxpayers. If you only pay 10 per cent of what you should then you should only get access to 10 per cent of the roads, ring the police, fire or ambulance services between 5:00am and 7:40am and have to contribute to schools for your children’s education. One of the most damming statistics for what society tolerates came from research by Victoria University which showed 10 times more welfare fraudsters were prosecuted than tax evaders even though tax evasion costs at least $1 billion a year compared with $30 million for welfare fraud. The research showed that the courts are much harsher in their treatment of welfare fraudsters. Anyone think they are looking after their own?

Back to me, thankfully not one of the few being pursued by the tax department. I’m hoping the next fortnight is much quieter financially and I can put some dollars away. It is however the school holidays and I think that I’m dreaming!