I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey's stupid tax idea. At some point, even the savviest and most frugal money manager will do something stupid that ends up costing money. I like calling this the stupid tax because it removes any sense that you need to beat yourself up. Stupid happens. You pay the tax, learn your lesson, and move on with your life.
Unfortunately, the stupid tax is not the only time that you sometimes have to pay for something that ought to be unnecessary. Lately, we seem to have come across other types of "taxes" that are truly infuriating, especially considering the fact that you often do not have control over whether you pay it. For instance:
1. The Other People's Carelessness Tax, aka The Loose Shopping Cart Tax
This is when someone hits your car in a parking lot and leaves without writing you a note. Or, when someone runs over your lawn while turning around in your driveway. Or when someone spills wine on your carpet during a dinner party and simply shifts a potted plant or other item to cover the stain rather than inform you of the party foul.
In short, this tax is when someone else makes a mistake or a mess that affects you, and you have no recourse other than to pay for and make the repairs yourself.
The Other People's Carelessness Tax is pretty awful, but in most cases, you can at least trust that the responsible individual was simply careless and cowardly. That may be infuriating, but it's not the worst kind of "tax" you might have to pay.
2. The Sharing an Abode with a Toddler Tax
Technically, this could be considered a type of stupid tax. After all, it's not particularly intelligent to allow one's toddler to play with expensive equipment.
However, if my experiences with living with a toddler are anything to judge by, it is possible to take every conceivable precaution against toddler-destructo-mode, and still find oneself facing down scribbled-upon furniture/walls, completely unrolled tubes of toilet paper, cartons of eggs thrown willy-nilly throughout a living room, or an ear full of super glue. Finding a way to thwart every toddler's destructive tendencies would require some sort of cage, and not only is that generally frowned upon in polite society, but it also won't necessarily work if my experience with children's ability to open child-safety caps is any indication.
The truly frustrating thing about the toddler tax is that you have no place to put your annoyance. It's useless getting angry at someone who doesn't know any better, and it's equally useless to get angry at yourself for not anticipating an action from a group of individuals known for asking for something and then throwing themselves on the ground in despair upon receiving exactly what was asked for, because...who knows. These are not thought patterns that any rational adult should be able to follow, let alone anticipate.
3. The People Are Nasty Jerks Tax
This is the tax that we will soon have to pay. Yesterday, J stopped at Walmart to pick up our prescriptions and a couple of sundries. When he returned to his car, he found that someone had done this:
There was no possible reason why anyone should feel the need to key J's 1993 Volvo 240. It was nastiness, pure and simple.
While we have not gotten a price quote yet for fixing this, we know that it cannot be buffed out, since the paint was scraped off down to the metal. J suspects that the cost will be somewhere around $750, considering the fact that simply mixing the correct paint color, or ordering it directly from Volvo, could cost a few hundred dollars. We're going to bite the bullet and pay for the repair, however, since J not only loves his car, but he takes great pride in it. But it's a bitter pill to swallow considering the fact that this damage was completely unnecessary and mean-spirited. Some jerk decided to do something that did not affect him/her in the slightest, and yet it will be us who pays the tax.
At least with this kind of "tax" getting angry is a perfectly acceptable reaction. Sadly, other than jumping up and down and yelling, there's not much you can do with your anger.
Thankfully, there's a reason why we put money aside for car repairs. We have the ability to fix this, and it won't make a huge difference in our budget.
It just sticks in our craw that we do have to pay for this. It's way worse than the stupid tax.
Have you ever had to pay one of these taxes? Is there any way to make them sting less?