Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fake Adult

I feel like a fake adult.  It seems like there are things that everyone probably knows, but I don’t, and since I don’t know that I don’t know those things, I won’t know until it’s too late and I am DOOMED.  I have a perennial fear of taxes in particular – I constantly worry that I’m going to get audited because I’m doing things completely incorrectly.  Is that weird?  I got a letter from my bank today asking for my TIN (taxpayer identification number) – I don’t even know what that is.  Sounds like something I should have recorded or noted at some point.  Whoops.

If ignorance is bliss, and knowledge is power, how should we describe knowing enough to know you’re ignorant?  I’m growing convinced that as electronic goods and clothing are sold at cheaper prices, as we innovate better and more efficient technologies, we’re growing more complacent and less questioning.  I notice this in myself – not questioning things I hear, needing to read a dissenting opinion before considering the possibility that some ‘generally true’ statement is indeed not true.  With the influx of information and big data, this can only lead to disaster!  I’ll just say it:  I’m old, I like to knit and go to bed at a reasonable hour, and the world is going to hell in a hand basket!

On a more serious note, my anxiety about feeling like a fake adult and not knowing the nuts and bolts of how to proceed with some financial situations and decisions (hello figuring out taxes & health insurance), includes wishing there had been more platforms for discussing personal finance in high school and earlier.  Going into college, I had no idea what a predatory credit card offer looked like.  While I was smart enough to get the concept of ‘no such thing as free money’, it felt weird to buy things but not pay for them until the end of the month.  I didn’t know how CC companies made their money, and what paying 15% interest really amounted to.  And nobody had framed money’s true role: enabling or taking away freedom.  I didn’t know how to correctly contrast a purchasing decision as a choice between buying X, or keeping the money to do Y instead, or investing it to generate interest and have the ability to say ‘screw you’ to a job I don’t like later in life.

I would love to see personal finance classes in high school that explains how banks and credit card companies function as businesses.  It would be great to learn the basics of investing (and the dark side of the personal finance industry).  We should learn to question, at a younger age, the necessity of working until 67 – a necessity only in rare cases, if you’re willing to think before you buy and to work hard.  We should learn, as teenagers, to revere the power of compound interest!  What curriculum would you introduce to high schools?

In other news, I finally registered & bought hosting for a domain – www.itsdina.com (nothing there yet).  Having determined the URL was available on Friday, I proceeded to threaten a couple of coworkers to not try to buy it before I had a chance.  (None of them are named Dina.  Yes, I’m a bit of a psycho.)  Super excited to set that baby up, however.

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