Independent Contractor Taxes, Rooftop Bars, and the True Meaning of Broke

Hello, and welcome to the danger zone.

Just kidding! It’s me, your favorite Irish immigrant, here to tell you how much I love New York City and spending as many dollars as I can to enjoy it. New York doesn’t want me to spend dollars my way, though.

The Trials and Tribulations of Independent Contractor Taxes

I had to pay my own estimated taxes recently. Having just recently become an adult, taxes are something I’ve never thought too much about, and certainly not something I’ve ever had to pay myself.

Alas, working as an independent contractor in a foreign land, I am the gatekeeper between paying my taxes and getting arrested by the IRS. I’ll let you know which way it goes. LOL!

I’m not going to tell you how I went about paying my taxes, because frankly it bores me to tears. Besides, my knowledge of taxation is nebulous at best.

The good news is that while paying your own independent contractor taxes is physically an awful pain in the ass, I was able to get it done by asking questions, networking, and using a good tax program (aka TurboTax). At least I think it was good.

Further Reading: Learn how tax returns work with a handy guide to understanding taxes.

Big Apple, Big Taxes

It hurts to have money lying around in your account for months and you can’t even look at it, because looking at it is too painful. That’s money that could be used for clothes, vacations, meals, and more important, alcohol!

It’s my money that doesn’t belong to me. I’m not mature enough to deal with this.

Independent Contractor Taxes, Rooftop Bars, and the True Meaning of Broke. Follow the financial adventures of an Irish expat in NYC as she struggles with independent contractor taxes, enjoys rooftop bars, and more. #personalfinanceIt makes me wonder how Americans can afford to do anything at all. Taxes seem to be crazy high, especially in the Big Apple, where you get hit with state and city income tax for the privilege of living here. There seems to be insurance for everything. How are you supposed to know what’s imperative and what’s optional? I’m getting stressed just typing about it.

But I’ve never been an adult in Ireland, so maybe the real root of my exasperation at this country is just that it’s the first place where I’ve joined the professional workforce since graduating.

Independent Contractor Taxes vs. Waitressing Taxes

Before this job, I had just been a waitress over and over again, being taxed very little because I made very little (sadly, we don’t tip much in Ireland). College kids don’t get taxed much, either. So this is the first time reality has come and smacked me right in my mug. Ouch!

It also may be a case of working at a financial literacy platform that has made me more aware of the mechanics and fine print of money. A financial mogul would tell you to have several different savings funds, the same way an insurance broker will tell you all insurance is necessary. Unless you’re a millionaire with oodles of disposable income, it’s impossible to truly cover or save for everything.

Further Reding: “3 Ways to Learn About Money Without Falling Asleep”

Kelly Meehan Brown enjoys a drink on a rooftop bar ("Independent Contractor Taxes, Rooftop Bars, and the True Meaning of Broke")
Enjoying a drink on a rooftop bar

Fancy Lunches and Rooftop Bars (or “Shut Up and Take My Money!”)

Buuuuuuut honestly, I don’t really let that get to me all that much, because I’m extravagant and ridiculous and the $17 I just spent on lunch is the only true necessity on my mind today. (Lunch consisted of a turkey wrap, a small cup of soup, and fig rolls. Manhattan is great.) I worked hard this week, so I deserved to eat out, even though I already have lunch stuff at home. Stop judging me.

Speaking of necessities, my friends and I went for a drink at a rooftop bar in Brooklyn last night, and though we swore we were only going to have one drink, we had several one drinks.

Plus, while none of us were planning it at the beginning, we ended up going for a two-course Thai meal. It was an accident. We tripped and fell into the restaurant and all of a sudden had ordered veggie rolls and pad thai. We’re only human — mistakes happen.

This particular night of mistakes set me back $60. That’s money that I honestly don’t really have . . . It’s fine, I’ll just not pay my phone bill or something this month.

Further Reading: Check out tips for how to stop overspending.

Ireland vs. America: What’s the True Meaning of Broke?

My favorite thing about talking about how broke I am is that, in comparison with a lot of people in the States and worldwide, I don’t really know the meaning of the word. I always think I’m broke until I meet someone with $60,000 worth of student loan debt, or medical debt, or consumer debt. Meanwhile, I’m crying because I have another week left until a new paycheck, but only $150 in my bank account. That’s what they call privilege, eh?

The Cost of University

Yes, you read that connotation right. In Ireland, university fees are extremely low. When I started, my entire first year cost €2,500. That’s about $2,900 — for everyone. That’s a fairly small fee in comparison to here, though of course there are many who still struggle to pay it.

This meant, though, that I graduated college debt-free. Oddly, at the age of 23 and with a very short career behind me, I’m financially ahead of many others with longer and more successful careers. That’s just something I can not wrap my head around.

Further Reading: “5 Simple Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt”

Living Money-Loose and Debt-Free

So I’m trying to take advantage of my debt-free life by saving as much as I can. The only problem as I’ve told you before, is that I find it so impossible to save. Why would I leave $50 sitting in my bank account when I can buy new Nars makeup that I can’t resist, or have a food and cocktail-filled night out with my friends? This is where I need to get my ass in gear and stop being so extravagant. Have any suggestions for me?

Wow, I certainly waxed poetic this week! Sometimes I’m serious and not all about the jokez. Sometimes money makes you feel so serious I just want to say, “Screw you money!”

Check back in next time for more ways in which I continue to screw money, or let money screw me.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of CentSai Inc.

Sign up now to get this column in your inbox every week!