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Archive for February, 2007

Adjusting to one income again

February 21st, 2007 at 05:45 pm

2/12 was DW's last day of work. Her last paycheck came a few days later. So we are officially a one-income household again.

I'm really not expecting it to change much on the spending side since we were investing 80% of her salary in her 403b plan (which I have to figure out what to do with). She was actually only bringing home $156/month, and some of that went into savings, too. I think we'll make that up in less gas usage, less clothing costs, more home cooking and more efficient food shopping. And having her happier and more relaxed already is well worth the lost income.

Where we'll take the hit is in our retirement accounts. She was putting $1,250/month into her 403b. No way we can replace that. Also, I may need to trim back what goes into DD's 529. It used to be $225/month but I increased it to $400/month a couple of years ago. I may drop it back a bit but I'm waiting a month or two to see how everything plays out.

Wife wants to go to Israel this summer

February 7th, 2007 at 02:13 am

Last year, our Rabbi Emeritus tried to put together a group trip to Israel. In a fit of insanity, I decided that we could go and we put down a $1,500 deposit. Fortunately for our bank account, not enough people signed up and the trip was cancelled. Also fortunate because the latest round of violence started the week we had been scheduled to go.

The Rabbi is now again talking about getting a group together. I'm hoping (and have told him so) that he will plan a more budget-minded trip this year. I think the main reason he couldn't gather enough people last year was the cost. He was doing first class accomodations all the way and the trip would have been nearly $4,000/person. Since there are 3 of us, that meant $12,000 plus expenses. I figured about $14,000 all together. Like I said, I must have been out of my mind when I agreed to that.

If he manages to trim costs and make the trip more affordable, we will give it some serious consideration. As much as I'd like to go, I have a tough time spending that kind of money on anything. We also have our daughter's Bat Mitzvah coming up next year and own 2 aging cars, so I see those costs on the horizon.

We'll have to figure it out when we see the actual price of the trip.

Working on my taxes

February 4th, 2007 at 01:49 am

I started to work on my taxes today. I'm very good about putting all tax-related items in one folder in my desk drawer throughout the year. Then when tax time rolls around, all I have to do is sort through that one folder and put things together. Makes the job so much easier.

Once I have all my 1099s, I sit down and get organized. I do not do my own taxes. My father was an accountant. When he was alive, he did them for me. Since he died, my cousin, who now runs the family accounting firm my dad and uncle started, has been doing them. He does charge me, but at a considerably reduced rate. Last year, I think I paid $80. It is well worth it to me as i want to be sure it is done right and I have a professional standing behind my return.

My next step is to scan through my checkbook register and my CC statements to check for tax-related transactions. I started that earlier and will probably finish up tomorrow. Finally, I need to compile my ebay sales info. Then I'll call my cousin and set up an appointment to meet with him and give him all the data.

I'm hoping we come out about even this year. It seems that no two years are the same. Just when I think I've got it figured out so that we don't get a big refund or owe much, something changes in our financial situation. For 2006, it was my wife signing up for the 403b plan at work. Since she was putting 80% of her salary into the plan for the last 3 months of the year, that will certainly alter her taxable income. I'm hoping that balances out the $7,200 in dividends and capital gains that one of our taxable mutual funds paid this year. Time will tell where things end up. I'll report back in a few weeks after the returns are completed.