For the past 5 years, I've been trying to file my taxes. My parents usually throw mine and my brother's in with their pile to send to their accountant. This year, stubbornness prevailed, and I got to file my own taxes for 2008. This turned out to be one of those idiotic ideas that became a hard-won education, because in 2008 I...

  • lived in Illinois (and had investments)
  • moved to Massachusetts
  • was employed as an intern (paid as a contractor) in Massachusetts (while a nonresident)
  • ...and employed as an employee by the same company in Massachusetts at a later date
  • ...and had an internship in New York
  • ...and didn't have formal employment for more than half the year
  • ...and had jury duty

I have learned to file taxes. Boy, have I.

I'm now much more motivated to keep good financial records, and have a better idea what that term means. I also have mixed feelings on my parents handling a substantial portion of my finances (this year I finally opened up a savings account that was solely in my name; all my other accounts are joint with them). On the one hand, I certainly appreciate their foresight and care in all this - it's nice to have an IRA, and I do like that (thanks to them) I already had one by the time I asked (as a teenager, when I found out that IRAs existed).

On the other hand, I still feel more powerless than I'd like to handle my own finances, even if I've been supporting myself for a number of years now. And I feel like that by not having to do it myself from the beginning, I missed out on a lot of learning opportunities that would have done me good to have experienced earlier. Doing my own taxes this year helped a lot. But still... it just doesn't feel right to be 22 and not know what accounts your parents may have opened for you.

This is a dependence I've been growing increasingly uncomfortable with, and I've talked about it with my mom and dad since I was 17 (at least - possibly earlier; I know I've had this conversation with them every year starting when I entered college, if not before). They always say they'll take care of it. Which I do appreciate. They want to take care of me. And I want to take care of myself. And I think they don't trust me to do it properly, or worry that it's too much trouble (because I'm always busy, etc) and worry that I have no money (which I don't) and am unlikely to settle into the normal steady way of generating income (which is true). I've gotten a lot of "when you settle down in one place and have a steady long-term job," which... honestly, I don't know if or when this is going to happen.

But dammit, my finances are my responsibility, and I know they'll be complicated and probably annoyingly burdensome, but I should be taking care of them and if that's what I have to do then I'm willing to put up with it. And if this makes my dad angry, then... it does. (I could probably have handled that conversation better, though. At the time, it was the most polite refusal of help I could muster. And we were both tired and grouchy.) I'm not very financially sophisticated, but I'd like to be, and I can only do that if I feel like I've got complete control over and responsibility for my own money. It's a long process. My parents and I are working it out. They're doing the best they know how, too.

For my 23rd birthday, I'm asking for time with a financial counselor (preferably in the Chicago/Glenview area, so my parents can come for at least one session). I don't know how to find a good one, how to prepare (and what questions to ask) so I can make the best of use of my time and theirs, how much this costs, or how long / how many sessions I'll have to schedule with one. I'm looking for a one-time "here's what you should set up," since I think my finances should be simple enough to not need a constant advisor, though I'd like to have a checkup visit every year depending on how helpful it turns out to be.

Whoa, that was more than enough typing for the day. Off to give Andy back his laptop, then to Henry's...