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Making The Most Of Found Money
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What is it about getting money back at tax time that makes it seem like you are receiving a gift?

First off, if you get money back, you paid too much in the first place and the government had your money to use when you should have had it. Logically, I understand that but, for me, I would rather get a refund and have that ‘lump sum’ in the spring as opposed to having a little more in each paycheck. The argument being that, if I had it in my paycheck, I would spend it as I go. With a refund, it does feel like found money, some fresh cash on hand for car registration, a special trip, a little treat you wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.

This year was the first in 20-plus years I had no dependents. Yikes! My now 21-year-old not a fulltime college student daughter (part-time work, part-time college) is her own person, no longer fully dependent on me. Well, at least not in the taxpaying world.

That made her happy, though; she could get her money back since she couldn’t be claimed. Not knowing what that would do to my bottom line and my tax liability, I went with the suggestion of people that do know about these things and had changed my withholdings appropriately. Still wasn’t totally sure what it would mean so there were a few tense weeks after getting my year-end tax paperwork before I decided to plunge in and see if A) I broke even; B) I owed Uncle Sam; or C) Uncle Sam owed me.

Thankfully, it was Option C. So both my daughter and I got money back and agreed we would use it wisely.

We’ll be doing a very quick mother-daughter getaway as a belated birthday excursion for her and then later in the summer, a trip back east to see family. My niece (my brother’s daughter) is expecting a child and we are planning a visit after the baby is born. We have to fit the trip in around our work schedules and her return to school in early August … we will sneak away after Escalon’s Park Fete and hopefully not swelter in mid-July upstate New York humidity. As long as we have a good thunderstorm or two, the humidity is bearable. My parents have air conditioning, too, so that will help. We’ll do some sightseeing as well, planning this trip to visit Niagara Falls and do some hiking in the Catskills. My California niece (my sister’s oldest daughter) and my daughter’s fiancé are also going so we will be quite the collection invading the Empire State.

The recent Easter Sunday holiday also got me thinking back to Easters of the past. There were years when my sister, brother and I would be dressed in our new outfits and my mom would take pictures of us before we headed to church, often posing with snow still on the ground. Not every year, but there were those occasions when a late March or early April Easter Sunday definitely was still part of the winter season.

Holidays in general give us the chance to celebrate family and hopefully, make some new memories that you can brush off and enjoy in the years to come. I can remember plenty of Easter egg hunts and having to find Easter baskets hidden around the house as a youngster. My mom always baked a ham and, of course, we transformed the brightly colored eggs into deviled eggs and egg salad sandwiches for days after Easter.

The last trip my daughter and I took to New York, we observed Christmas in early January (2016) but there are no scheduled holidays on the calendar for the time we will be there this year. Nonetheless, with my parents meeting their future grandson-in-law and all of us able to greet the newest member of the family, I think we will have plenty to celebrate.



Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.