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Money and priorities

Years ago, due to work, I ended up with some money in the states, and when I finally got around to having it sent to me, with the help of a friend, IRS tax had been taken out of it, despite that as a UK citizen and resident I shouldn’t have been taxed. Its both a large and small amount of money : $2800 – “baby bear” as its too much to not chase, but not enough to get professionals involved in helping to extricate.

I finally got around to trying to sort it out this week – I contacted the IRS! And turns out that you can’t reclaim tax after more than 3 years – being as I bet they can chase us for it into the grave and beyond this was more than a little annoying.

I won’t find out until I’ve checked various paperwork next week if I’ve left it too long, and I was busy kicking myself and feeling full of regret and self directed anger when it occurred to me there was a reason I hadn’t chased it before – I don’t prioritise money very highly at all when I’m working through important and urgent things I need to do. In fact whenever I’m making decisions, finances are very low down in the process. Which explains in part why I don’t have much money, and am normally skint, but also explains why I’ve had an interesting life!

Eleven years ago left my career as a computer programmer because *all* it brought was a good salary, but most other parts of my life were unfulfilled. I blew the savings I had made during the final year of the best paid job I’ve ever had on an amazing trip to West Africa, without thinking at all about whether that was the best use of a decent lumpsum – and I have no regrets at all. :)

These days, as a temp worker (bank nurse) I fit paid work around my real life – I work just enough to cover my meager outgoings and am often broke and struggling to cover rent by the end of each month because I will drop work the second something more interesting comes along. I always scrape by, and have done since I left home at 18, but apart from a few years here and there I’ve been mostly pretty financially poor for the majority of the last couple decades. And thats because twice now I’ve quit fulltime work because it stole too much precious time from my week – the last time was almost 2 years ago when I stopped working as a nurse fulltime.

So what has that meant? Well, I’ve been free to walk in the mountains, be very active politically,  attend interesting events, work on a masters, read, occupy part of a university, travel, explore, think, talk, listen and mull. I’ve actually had a really full life. And I’m definitely not saying my choices are/were better than others, just that there were personal assumptions, attributes, values and priorities that led to them. And that not holding money as an important determinant has both led to annoying and frustrating fuck ups, but also led to the best of adventures and a life of meaning.

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