The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

IT'S TAXING





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Dave Ramsey—  The financial radio talk show host—  Says every couple has two people.  One is the nerd with the calculator.   The other is the spendy free spirit. 

In my couple, I am the nerd.  I am calmed by a seven-by-seven Ken Ken and a mechanical pencil.  No surprise that I have used Quicken now for several decades.  But it seems in the last five or 10 years—  What with the Russian hackers stealing our info to get porn—  The cheapo, Windows-based laptops Quicken favors have gotten very buggy. 


So buggy, I bought a sacrificial Dell laptop just for Quicken.   But even that lasted barely six months without crashing.  So Charlie, the free spirit, took over paying the bills!  Writing checks by hand!  Notating them in a large, impressive leatherette binder!  The checks are pretty—tan and sort of antique-looking.  There's a stagecoach on them.

This was all charming until I realized it was tax time. To get all my financial info into the computer, I was going to have to hand-enter each check.  With a quill pen and a butter churn.

While in the joyous process of hand-inputting each check that went out in calendar year 2016— I learned some interesting things!

That beautiful 8-lane highway we drove on that time we visited friends in Orange County? That was a toll road that we apparently didn't pay for. 250 dollar fine! Plus--We're subscribers to something called Cook's Country Magazine, even though I am NOT into "homestyle cooking." And -- we've been paying hundreds of dollars a month for gym memberships that I didn't know we have!

Argh!

Losing it, I throw in the towel and buy myself my own personal version of Quicken—for Mac—  There's a help line to call—  And unbelievably, an operator immediately answers.  He's a courteous gentleman with a lilting, slightly British accent.  He answers my "sign in" question, and asks: "Do you want me to stay on the line while you try it?" "Sure!" I say, surprised.

We click pleasantly through a few more windows—  He's marvelously patient, and attentive—  Wanting to be entertaining, I actually start reciting my passwords aloud as I type them.  

"Let's see—2, 3, 4—asterisk, star, Sparky Sparky, that was my first pet— "Now I'm actually going to have to go downstairs to get my purse," I say, "and maybe go to the ladies' on the way 'cause I've had a lot of coffee— "
"It's fine!" he says—
"Well you can continue playing Solitaire or whatever you're doing!" I say.  And he chuckles!
Doing your taxes?  It takes a village.  And a butter churn.