Monday, April 02, 2012

Tires and Taxes

I swear that my car is riding an inch higher on the new tires I bought this morning.  And the gently ominous flapping sound that I thought was emanating from my engine has disappeared.  And the on-road handling of my vehicle is so much better that it’s like having a whole new car. 

To say that my old tires were worn…well, you know the “penny test” that you are supposed to do to see if your tires are ready for replacement?  The one where, if you are glimpsing the top of Lincoln’s head, you should hie thee to the tire and auto center as fast as your rims will carry you?  Well, I could see air above his head.  Really shockingly bad—it’s a wonder I was stopping at all, new brakes or not.  But I hadn’t been paid for the estate sale work since January, because we hadn’t had an estate sale until last weekend (and then, in quick succession, another this weekend).  I received a decent check for my labors Saturday afternoon, and it went off in the mail to my bank this morning.

Despite the paycheck, between the new tires ($400 at Walmart) and my personal income taxes, the next month or two is going to be tight.  Too much so, in fact, for me to go on an anticipated trip to Peru with a girlfriend and her coworker in May.  I was really looking forward to it—they are spending three days in Ecuador and then continuing on to Lima, from which they’ll travel to Machu Pichu.  But I owe $3500 in taxes (in addition to the almost $1400 I’d pre-paid) and then there’s an estimated quarterly tax bill of $1000 for this year that’s due at the same time.  This has effectively quashed all my semi-exotic travel plans, and made me wonder what appealing domestic destinations I’ll have to forego.  I’m going to have to dip into my savings to pay the feds.  Between my rent and these taxes, I took home $4000 (yes, just 4 grand!) last year to feed, clothe and entertain myself for the twelve-month duration—a little less than $400 a month.  This is probably a princely sum in most parts of the globe, so I don’t want to whine like a rich American brat, but though I do live frugally thanks to coupon-clipping and second-sale market purchases, this is still relatively little to make do on for someone living in the DC area.  And gas is running at more than $4 a gallon and I put a good 40 to 50 miles on my car every day.  Thank God, it’s fuel efficient and that they are mainly highway miles!

And maybe the new tires will help a bit with my energy bills, too.  And maybe my brother Bob, who is coming to spend the summer with me, will help with my electric bill, if nothing else.  I had to turn the AC on last week, and it was then only March!  Heaven knows what heat the summer will bring.

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