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Catching up

January 14th, 2019 at 05:47 am

Not much new in Patient Saver's world, but I've always appreciated routine and structure.

The crazy hours at work seem to have abated last week, and this past weekend was the first one in a while where I didn't have to work. I'm not sure we're completely in the clear now as I heard some people had to work on Saturday, but I guess I'll find out more when I go in today.

I am anxious to get all my paperwork together to do my taxes, as I may end up doing them twice....with and without the new standard deduction...just to understand how that might affect my bottom line. I'd love to just make it easy and take the standard deduction, but I want to make sure I'm not needlessly leaving money on the table.

I have already noticed longer daylight hours. Have you? There's still a little light left in the sky at 5 pm, and that's an improvement from the darkest days of December. We haven't even had any major snow yet, and I'm already pining for spring! Wouldn't it be grand to get through the winter with NO snow? Alas, weatherman this morning said some kind of significant snowfall may be coming this weekend. Thankfully, it won't happen on my scheduled workdays.

My local library has begun a yearlong Reading Challenge; each month, you need to read a book in a given genre; they have a recommended list if you don't have anything in mind. Once you read the book, you get your form stamped at the library and are rewarded with a small gift.

The January gift is a library tote bag, so I'm going for it! I checked out a book called Wave, written by a woman who entire family perished in the tsunami wave that hit southeast Asia in 2004. My first choice had been Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, but surprisingly, my local library didn't have such an important book. I will have to save that read for a time when I can wait a week or so to have that book sent here from another area library.

I am SOOO interested in decluttering and have been taking baby steps in doing so. A few articles of clothing here, or some paperwork in my desk drawer there. Really small stuff. I admit to having an overflow of office supplies, but these I can and do use, so I'm not disposing of them. Clothing, too, I hate to throw out, even if it doesn't fit me now, because I DID lose 10 pounds last year and believe it's doable to lose a few more, which would mean some very nice clothes I have may fit.

My weekly pay is fairly variable, and it makes it hard to estimate a year's worth of income in advance. I was surprised when I put down an annual income number when doing the online application for ACA healthcare that my monthly premium rose by about $20, and I realized later, after determining my gross for this year, that I greatly overestimated my income for next year.

So once I get my paycheck this Thursday, which happens to be for exactly 20 hours of work time, I will take the occasion to modify my account at ACA, with the paycheck as backup documentation, if necessary, and this will likely lower my monthly premiums.

I have wound up doing nothing at all with the Christmas gift of money I got from my father. It is nice just having that extra cushion available, and it makes me a little less worried about spending a little more on quality food, for instance. Yet I still feel myself procrastinating about calling the HVAC company that installed my whole house humidifier just a few years ago, because I realized it has not been working this season. It's very, very dry in my house (around 37 on the barometer), which is not great for my dry eye syndrome.

I think my inherent frugality is borderline cheap, sometimes, when I frown on paying $150 or more on a service call to fix something like the humidifier. I guess I will cave, eventually, but first I want to take a closer look at it and make sure it's not something real simple, like maybe the tube that carries the water is connected. The water valve is open and the switch at the control is on, so I don't know.

So my neighbor friend is working more hours at her p/t job, and she took me up on a casual offer I made to OCCASIONALLY walk her dog on Thursdays when she's at work; it was something I said after she told me she was worried about the dog being left alone for 3 long days in a row. (She also asked me if I'd be willing to walk the dog Saturday as she had plans to go into the city with her niece, and I agreed to that.)

As far as the walk during the week, she asked if i could let her know the day before if i could walk him so she could in turn let her sister know she wouldn't have to come to let him out in the yard. I was a little leery of doing that because I wasn't ready to commit to walking him EVERY Thursday, just on occasion when the weather was decent and I had time to do it. I think she wanted to give her sister a break from coming over, too.

I didn't want her to totally depend on me because I doubt I would want to do it every single Thursday; I don't like to walk in very cold weather, I might have more important things to do or I might just not feel like it. I wanted to do it, on occasion, just as a favor to her.

So I suggested she just have her sister keep coming , and if i was able to walk the dog on any given week, to just consider it a bonus for the dog. She reluctantly agreed.

4 Responses to “Catching up”

  1. rob62521 Says:

    I can understand not wanting to commit on the dog walking every Thursday.

    Your library book reading club sounds great! Hope you find some great books and get some wonderful prizes.

  2. Dido Says:

    1. Taxes: Pull out your 2017 return and look at Schedule A. Look first for line 9. If line 9 totaled over 10,000, then substitute 10,000 for the actual total because this is the cap for tax years 2018-2025.

    2. 2017 Schedule A, line 27: If you had anything here, substitute zero. These expenses are disallowed for 2018-2025.

    3. Did you have any big changes in medical or charitable? THe charitable is straightforward, the medical is capped at 7.5% of AGI for 2017 & 2018 (goes back to 10% of AGI in 2019-2025).

    4. Now you can estimate your total itemized deductions (sum of allowed medical, allowed taxes, interest, charitable). Does this total over 12,000? If not, you will be taking the new standard deduction of 12k.

    5. In addition to the changes in deductions, the personal exemption (which was $4,050) is eliminated for 2018-2025. This wipes out much of the net benefit of having the doubled standard deduction. Still, single people are more likely to be able to itemize than marrieds under the current law.

    Example: Let's say AGI is $50,000 from all income sources, and in 2017 your deductions were $4,250 for medical (because you paid 8k in expenses and the deduction was capped at 7.5% of AGI); $8,000 in taxes; and $450 in charity. Deductions of $12,700 was higher than last year's standard of $6,350, so you itemized. You also got an exemption of $4,050, so you subtracted $16,750 from your AGI to arrive at your taxable income of $33,250. If all of this was ordinary income (as opposed to capital gains), you were taxed on it at the 15% bracket for a federal tax bill of $4,525.

    Take the same numbers for 2018: The deduction of $12,700 is higher than the new standard deduction of $12,000, so you still itemize. But the personal exemption is gone so now you only subtract the $12,700 from your taxable income, for taxable income of $37,300. However, the tax bracket has changed and you are now in the 12% bracket, so your total federal tax ends up at $4,289, a little bit lower.

    Finally, using the same numbers with the 2019 laws, the allowable medical is now capped at 10% of AGI, so you get to deduct $3,000 rather than $4,250, making your itemized deductions $11,450, so in 2019, you take the standard deduction of $12,000, your taxable income is $38,000, and your tax is $4,373.

  3. Dido Says:

    Love "Man's Search for Meaning"; definitely read it when you can!

    Watch out about adjusting your income on the ACA. Yes, you get the subsidy up front, but if you end up earning too much, you have to pay it back, which ends up making your tax bill too big. In my view, better to take less of a subsidy than you qualify for and just wait until April, when you will be able to take the Premium Tax Credit and lower your tax bill.

    I don't blame you for not wanting the perpectual dog walker job. My neighbor will sometimes feed my cats, but I alternate between using a pet home care service and letting him do it when I am away.

    I'm with you on the decluttering in terms of wanting to do it, but it is a low priority so I keep kicking the can down the road. May watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix and try to get motivated to do a bit in the spring.

  4. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Wave sounds like a good book. I'm going to have to see if our library has it. When you started talking about a book about a tsunami wave, I almost thought you were talking about a book where several towns were completely wiped away when a damn broke. It starts with a J I think. Great, riveting, horrific story. (took place in the 60's or 70's I think in US.)

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