The Latte Factor and the Estate Tax

So, as if you are a person on the internet you have probably seen, Senator Chuck Grassley had this to say when asked why Congress plans to reduce (the Senate bill) or eliminate (the House bill) the estate tax:

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

For a hippie communist, I have some surprisingly mixed feelings about this point.

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Rethinking the rethinking

I know how my own brain works pretty well, so I also should’ve known that posting about my plans to let the blog go would, instead, make me think about how much it’s meant to me and how I’m still pretty interested in documenting my journey and thinking about my financial life. So….congrats Godaddy, you’re getting another year out of me at least! I don’t get a whole lot of clicks on ads, but I do have an adsense payment scheduled for January that will nearly cover the cost of 2018. I might like at that point to move back to the free site, but I don’t want to lose 3 years of archives and I can’t figure out a way to get my backup to upload to blogger. Maybe by December 2018 I can get that worked out.

So, what am I going to write about with my (at least) extra year? Especially, what I am going to write about that might generate enough income to cover the costs of the blog 🙂 I actually feel optimistic about coming up with new topics, besides monthly reports on my own finances. 2017 has been a hard year to write in. Financially, it’s been all over the map, including a regular low income in a low COL place; a six-week period with zero income; and a fairly decent income in a much higher COL place, but paid out in a totally weird way that, combined with the higher rent and general expenses, has been causing me to make slower monthly progress than I’d like, given that my annual salary on paper doubled when I moved. The lack of predictability (even on the micro-level; I’ve been at the new job since mid-August and I have yet to have two paychecks that are exactly the same amount!) is a little maddening.

But beyond that, it’s been a hard year to write in because I’m scared about the future of the country and about my own responsibilities as a citizen. I’ve always been slightly more politically active than the average person, but I tried to kick it up a notch in 2017, and I have. But I’m not sure making the move for this job was the right thing to do. I left a red-leaning, but potentially flippable, district that I loved, to take a job in a totally blue area that I don’t really enjoy living in. I had a lot of doubts about that decision and I still do. And I feel like, even if you are much more conservative than I am, you still should be freaked out by this tax bill that they’re trying to pass. The thing is, I think the basic job of representatives should be to protect their constituents. I can understand how conservatives might see “protection” differently than me. I see it as ensuring a generous social safety net. But I can see how conservatives might see it as “deal with the national debt and the deficit even if that means not having a generous social safety net.” But this tax bill is not that — it balloons the deficit and steals from our future in order to give tax cuts to the people who absolutely do not need them. There’s no world in which it can be conceived of as protecting constituents.

Anyway. Thinking about citizenship has taken up a lot more time in my brain in 2017 than thinking about budgeting and retirement. But now I’m thinking that it might be good to write more about that — from a financial angle, in a sense. I’ve done a bit of that, like with a couple of posts I wrote on communal housing, or with one of my all-time favorite posts here, The Phantom Tollbooth Operator, or, Your E-ZPass and the Mincome. But I think I’m interested in doing more. At least, I’m interested in giving myself another blogging year to see what happens.

Thanksgiving

I’m having a pretty minimal Thanksgiving this year due to work craziness, but I am going to the place where I volunteer for their big dinner, and I promised to make two giant pans of stuffing to bring, so I’ve got to get to that in a minute.

But I was just thinking how grateful I am for the financial stability I’ve achieved over the last few years. Starting at 35 wasn’t ideal, but hey, better than never, and it feels amazing to pretty much never worry about money, even though the larger political and economic situation is so uncertain. So I’m thankful for that, and for the blog community that’s motivated and cheered me on.

I hope you’re all having a lovely day, especially if you celebrate American Thanksgiving!

Moving to blogger (probably)

Hi all,

Thanks for your comments on my last post! I thought about it and realized that I still had my old site, http://thesingledollar.blogspot.com/ — where I posted for six months or so before moving here.

I’ll probably keep posting there, once a month or so. The only issue is that I’m not sure whether I can import the archives from this site or not. I’ve exported them to an xml file so I have that backup, but it seems like you can’t import that kind of file into blogger. Googling indicates that there used to be a conversion tool but it’s not around anymore.

However, even if I can’t import the last few years of content, at least I’ll have a place to be (that is free!) going forward. It’ll be good not to let the blogging go entirely, even if at my current rate of posting I couldn’t justify continuing to pay for the site.

How I Just Saved $1000 (also, hi!)

Okayyyyyyyyy. Obviously I’m not really updating anymore — for a combination of reasons. Partly, as my finances stabilized I had less to say about them; partly, I’ve been distracted by politics; and partly, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. For a while I thought I might be volunteering, but then I ended up taking a job after all. My old contract was up on June 30 and my one didn’t start til August 15 — meaning six weeks without my regular income. That hasn’t been a problem, since I had plenty of savings to work with, but I definitely didn’t keep as much of an eye on my spending as I might have over the summer. That was a little intentional, since I wanted to make it a really great summer with friends (I had to move for the new job). But I did also end up spending some money I didn’t need to at all. I don’t even know how much, since among other things I stopped keeping track for a while. I figure I’m going to reset YNAB for September when I get my first paycheck and start over again with the tracking.

Anyway, I just haven’t been that inspired to write, clearly. But today something happened that is relevant to this blog, namely, I pulled a little trick with my new housing situation and saved myself $1000.

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Savings rates and net worths

Hi all. I don’t have a net worth update today, partly because Mint is misbehaving — its connection with Vanguard seems to be off, and it’s showing me with an extra account there, which in turn is increasing my net worth by $17K. Not that this wouldn’t be nice, but it’s definitely not accurate 🙂

Speaking of net worth! Double Debt Single Woman is in positive net worth territory this month! It has been a long haul for her — she’s increased her net worth by over $140K in five years, through a job loss and surgery, to get to this point. Amazing work, DDSW.

I myself am thinking about a period of unemployment next year, not exactly on purpose but also not exactly NOT on purpose. My current contract runs out at the end of June and so far I don’t have a job lined up yet, though I do have a phone interview in a couple of hours and also some other things ‘cooking.’ However, I’m also considering volunteering full time for a while, at least six months or so.

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Quickie Net Worth Update, March 2017

Things are doing fine on the net worth front. I got paid this morning and according to Mint I’m at:

$20,111.61 in cash (savings and checking)

$41674.17 in retirement investments

for a total of $61785.78, representing an increase of $1269 in March. This is a little low as an increase, because of the car repair I paid for this month, but it’s fine. Who can argue, really??? My emergency fund has been partially replenished once I got paid and is now back up to $3840, and I made a substantial contribution to the life fund too, which is at $14,522. Ticking along.