Monthly Review 
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Return of Monthly Reviews!

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It’s been over a year since my last Monthly Review and I believe it’s time to bring them back. While other bloggers have continued their monthly income statements and balance sheets, I stopped a year ago because I felt it had become counter-productive. The reality is that the numbers themselves are irrelevant because they don’t apply to anyone else and they don’t help people make better decisions or learn from my mistakes. In fact, I felt that the numbers may be a distraction from the ultimate purpose of my monthly reviews, which was the explain both the good choices I’ve made as well as the bad choices.

So, in this return of monthly reviews, I’m going to simply outline the good, the bad, and the ugly of the decisions thus far. From here we’ll see how the month to months go.

Good

  • Marriage: Since my wife and I got married this year, our tax situation for 2007 was unchanged. We are, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective, are one of the many couples affected by the “marriage penalty” created by uneven tax brackets (married filing jointly brackets are not double the single brackets). Additionally, since the house and mortgage are both in my name, I was itemizing while she was claiming the standard deduction. Next year, we will be hit with the marriage penalty plus the loss of a standard deduction… considering its something we didn’t have much of a choice about it (hush those anti-marriage folks in the crowd!) we’ll just roll with it.
  • Going with Accounting Pro: I’m now working with an accountant to handle some of my business taxes and help me become legit with the online enterprises. There comes a time when you just have to pay a professional and it’s now time for me to pay (rather than to be the professional/consultant!). It’s not cheap but it forces a rigor that is far superior than the record-keeping I had been doing before.

Bad

  • Capital Gains: I made a mistake last year in selling some funds for capital gains but then not offsetting them with some capital losses that we should’ve taken, that was a big mistake. We took on about $5,000 in short term capital gains without offsetting it, whoops. That was entirely my fault.
  • Stupid Fees: In all the marriage madness and my own ignorance, we took five months of $3 fees for having less than $300 in our savings account at Bank of America, despite having more than enough in our checking account. Dumb dumb dumb. We got $15 back, for three months, but they said they couldn’t go back farther. I was going to push for the other $6 but they wouldn’t budge and, honestly, I don’t blame them. One month I can understand, five? Hmmm… I screwed up.

Ugly

  • Stock Market Suckage: This is ugly not because we made any bad decisions but only because it’s happened. In our taxable brokerage account, we’ve had about an 11% in loss on the holdings stretching back into Q4 of last year. That’s pretty gnarly, but nothing we can do, and we’re just going to set it in forget it.
  • Honeymoon: Honeymoon is expensive and one of my vices is splurging on vacations. You only get married once right? :)

The Future

  • Rolling Over 401(k)s: We need to investigate the rolling over of all of our legacy 401(k)s to our Vanguard, each of us has one legacy 401(k) to move. It’s not a difficult process, we just need to hammer out the specifics of doing the trustee-to-trustee rollover process for each account. Don’t want to take a disbursement… that’d be ugly (and foolish).
  • Consolidating Accounts: We also need to start consolidating all those excess accounts so we can simplify our finances. The process is made much more difficult as my wife is changing her name so we’ll have to wait for those to shake out before we can finalize all of these. I personally have too many accounts to keep track of so it would be good to start cleaning these up.

I hope this satisfies the voyeurs out there, at least for now, but look for more updates starting in May.

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10 Responses to “Return of Monthly Reviews!”

  1. Lily says:

    Have you considered filing taxes separately next year? This may not save you any money, since you’ll probably miss the AGI mark for several deductions, but then again it may help, since you won’t be subject to the marriage penalty. (BTW, belated congrats!)

  2. Lau says:

    Aahh.. the joy of marriage: taxes! :-D Just kidding, love ‘em too.
    Belated congratulations as well.

    And since you did your homework already, I’m sure you guys will know what to do next year.

  3. OMG. You are WAYYYyyyy too funny Jim! Yes, this was a very satisfying update on your personal situation. I’d love this to be a regular feature of your blog, and do turn up the drama a bit. lol. Just kidding. I’m still waiting for wedding photos ala MoneyNing or baby pics (maybe someday) ala Moolanomy. Haha!

  4. jim says:

    Yeah, that was a fun little homework problem for me… married filing separately.

  5. Frugal Dad says:

    I like the monthly update features. I’m probably close to killing off my blog-stat reports and personal income pieces. The blog stats only mean something to other bloggers, and it isn’t really what people have signed up for.

  6. fred@opc says:

    So let me get this straight, you called your honeymoon ‘ugly’ and you’re still able to type with those fingers?

  7. saladdin says:

    “Honeymoon is expensive and one of my vices is splurging on vacations. You only get married once right? ”

    What world are you living in? By your 5th marriage you will just go to 6 Flags over the weekend as a honeymoon.

    Just kidding.

    saladdin

  8. jim says:

    @Fred: Financially ugly. :)

    @saladdin: Are you kidding though? :)

  9. F2O says:

    Marriage Penalty – yep
    My wife and I just got married in Sept 07 and I can feel your pain. We were in just about the same situation too. I had the house and itemized, while she took the standard deduction. There really was no way around it with our situation. Luckily I saw it a mile away and we were able to adjust our witholding so there were no ugly suprises. (other than being in a higher effective tax bracket)
    One thing about the name change game – I was astounded at how easy it was for her to change her name on some accounts. No proof of anything needed. Some wanted to see the mariage license, but didn’t want a copy for their records. The one thing that required the most documentation was her teaching license.

  10. HisMoney says:

    I’ll be paying the marriage penalty this year as well. She makes quite a bit more money plus has additional income from a side business and itemized. I’m in the military so a large chunk of my income is tax free and I’ve always been better off taking the standard.

    I am certainly NOT looking forward to it!


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