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Return of Monthly Reviews!

Posted By Jim On 04/08/2008 @ 2:09 pm In Monthly Review | 10 Comments

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 [3], 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 [4] out there, at least for now, but look for more updates starting in May.


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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/return-of-monthly-reviews.html

[3] monthly income statements and balance sheets: http://www.consumerismcommentary.com/category/monthly-update/

[4] voyeurs: http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/

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