@Mae Yeah, I consolidated in 2005 at sub-3% fixed, right before it was set to go up to 4.5%. I make the minimum payments still because I figure the interest is below inflation and I'm in no rush to pay off. I'd rather invest my extra cash.
What @ccq said. I cannot stress enough how important it is do the quarterly estimates. (Even if I just complained upthread about it being complicated.) If you don't have anyone else doing the withholding, you really have to do it for yourself. (Or you get to the end of the year, have spent all your money, and owe $$$$. And just filing for an extension doesn't solve this problem.) But this is mostly a problem for 1099 people, not for W-2 people.
@jfruh I may have to take you up on that offer! But the issue definitely isn't earning more money. (I may be a freelancer, but my monthly income is pretty stable. Generally only varies a few hundred dollars.) I think maybe the problem was not taking into account pre-tax retirement accounts? And there's probably a point at which I could do that? But I got overwhelmed by complexity. (As I said, user error.)
@jfruh Probably a little of column A, a little of column B. But I have a bone to pick with you, good sir. I tried to use your method on how to estimate my freelancer quarterly taxes for Q1, and I found it A) very complicated and B) gave me a number nearly twice as high as doing it the way I usually do (dividing previous year into 4 payments). (Some of the problem might have been user error. Did I mention it was very complicated?)
@eagerber Not speaking for the writer, but I'm guessing the compulsion to self-publish comes from a desire to have people read that story? He mentions that he sent it around, it didn't get accepted anywhere, so it put it up on Amazon. In fact, it seems like money wasn't really the motivation at all. Building a readership is hard, and having short stories that run in no-name lit journals that will only ever be read by the MFAs who are reading submissions doesn't sound any more satisfying...
@LO I also have no desire to combine finances and a system similar to yours. (Not written on the fridge, but tracked in Excel.) He pays rent and all the bills, I buy groceries, and at the end of the month we input all the totals into a spreadsheet that counts up how much each of has paid and how much each of us should have paid, and then one of us (usually me) writes a check for the difference. Another thing we do is periodically adjust the proportion that each of us pays to better reflect income proportions. We are freelancers with fluctuating incomes, so it hardly seems fair to split things 50-50 when one person makes three times as much.
@OhMarie I work from home in my own office (/spare bedroom). But not everyone has the same amount of living space (I'm not in New York). My boyfriend ALSO works out of the same apartment, and he doesn't have an office. He has a desk in the living room. If we didn't work in separate rooms, I think we might kill each other. And back before we had all this space (tiny attic apartment), we took turns going out to coffee shops so we didn't go nuts.
@muggles Yes, this! I'm a freelancer, but my income doesn't fluctuate too much year-to-year, so I just use the Turbo Tax method. I also put 28 percent (chosen slightly at random) of every check I receive into a savings account designated the "tax account", so I'll have the money when I need it. The major annoyance with this method is that Turbo Tax gives you four equal payments, but they are NOT evenly spaced throughout the year. I've griped before about the Q2 June payment, which is only TWO MONTHS after the Q1 April payment. By contrast, the Q4 January payment is FOUR MONTHS after the Q3 September payment. I just don't understand why estimated taxes are not due every three months.
@Logan Sachon I agree with you! As women, we internalize So Much Stuff that we don't even realize. I did find her reaction to be super interesting (because it's good to hear women react in their own words). Especially as she's working in a very male-dominated field where the default action for women is to say "sexism has never affected me" (see also: Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg).
@probs The down payment thing is the big issue. Most of the people I know who've managed to buy a house had a significant amount of family money (as in six figures) given to them for that purpose. Which is great. I don't want to sound like I'm knocking them. But that's one of the insidious ways that wealth gets transferred from one generation to another. We can't all take Mitt Romney's advice to borrow from our parents whenever we need cash. Our classless society indeed.