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Belated January Wrap-up / Money Updates

February 12, 2017

Life updates:

I got to visit my family in the Midwest for a few days in January, which is always a really great time.  My niece and nephew have grown up so much, and it is so much fun to spend time with them.  The adults commiserated over the new administration and the direction of our country, hoping for the best and making plans to fight for it.

We’re still spending a lot of time hiking and training our high energy adolescent dog, who just turned two years old.  He’s fun, sweet, energetic, time consuming, imperfect, lovable, goofy, and such a good boy!


Work is going well, although it is very full lately! Most of my tasks are enjoyable, and it’s a fun phase of the project.  I feel lucky to be working on it with such great people.  The travel is still not bad – about one week per month to a place I like, on a schedule that I set.  I also just confirmed that I’m slated to give a short presentation at the big design review in the UAE later this year – which is awesome visibility!  I’ve presented at similar reviews in my job at Los Angeles, but haven’t had the opportunity for this job yet. I was assertive and offered in a way that would make it easy to say no, but my awesome lead supported me.

I’m trying to average 70k steps per a week – which is very different than 10k steps a day and gives me a bit more flexibility to slack off a bit during the work week.

Tenure-track academics generally get a detailed review about halfway between hire and tenure review, and T’s all came back very positive!  Yay!  There have been rumblings about how  funding of science will go in the current administration. A disruption to this would impact his ability to fund his students and continue to build a group rather than him directly, but obviously he needs to have students. His area is not one of the known targets, but still, it all seems a bit unpredictable.

T still has to do his Christmas thank you notes.  I want him to write his notes to his parents stating that we have used the money to make a donation to the ACLU.    I am 99% sure they voted for Trump, although we didn’t talk about politics over the holidays.  It is not a useful conversation to have, despite them being in a swing state.  If they were my own parents, I would discuss it.  (We did make a donation, but it isn’t directly correlated to any specific Christmas present. He probably will just write a normal but very late thank you note.)

I also have a list of other places that fight injustice, and am picking one each month to support.  I have not historically put my money where my politics are and voted with my dollars.  However, in a blue state with blue reps, it seems like donations are the most effective way I can resist.  I think the second most powerful thing is helping in nearby swing districts for the 2018 elections.  I’m also attending a local branch of the March for Science.  Because this all is NOT normal.

Money Updates:

Our our first 2017 mortgage pre-payment will be $5k, and I sent it in this week. I’ve lost some of my early excitement and enthusiasm over mortgage pre-payment.  It is discouraging to note how long it will take us… but the pace I’m striving for balances other goals and liquidity with the reality mitigating an expensive market.


I did the first pass of our taxes in TurboTax, but we may end up doing them by hand (online free IRS fillable forms) for final submission.  TurboTax asked us to upgrade to the most expensive package to handle expense reimbursement for serving on a government grant review panel.  They reimburse a flat per diem for lodging, airfare and meals, but it results in a 1099-MISC as non-employee compensation. I believe we just have to fill out Schedule C-EZ to deduct the portion that was expenses (and Schedule SE), but the TurboTax won’t let us do this without paying even more.  I expect a small refund overall ( ~$500 or so).

It was notable what TurboTax said our tax bill would be before I entered all our itemized deductions for state taxes, property taxes, and mortgage interest.  Ouch.  This is helpful to keep these tax implications in mind when I mentally compare our former rent with our current house expenses.

And that’s it!  We’re just plugging away at our fairly boring goals and trying to hold unnecessary spending down.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2017 2:34 pm

    I make monthly average step goals and track my progress each week. I also vary the goal each month. I’ve found that in December and January I take way fewer steps than other months and I’m okay with that.

    We always buy the desktop TurboTax version because it works out cheaper than the online versions, partially because we can get away with Deluxe desktop but would need Premier online.

    It was amusing to see what our refund would be with only my husband’s income in TurboTax, before we put mine in. That’s what our 2017 tax situation will likely be which will offset the marriage bonus for 2016 nicely.

    • February 14, 2017 7:59 pm

      My actual goal is 3,650,000 steps in the year (yearly avg of 10k/day), but I didn’t come up with this until halfway through January and had several days that I didn’t wear my tracker. So I’m trying to make up for it! A weekly average is a lot more meaningful and easier to track (for me) than a monthly average.

  2. February 15, 2017 10:11 am

    Presentation at the UAE sounds like a really big deal! I hope that goes wonderfully!

    We need to have some non-rainy days, and for the house-hunting to be over so we can get pup and Seamus together.

    We’re still not even at the end of Month 1 and it feels like everything in the political area is bad bad bad. I hope this isn’t going to become the norm for the rest of the next however many years.

    I’m impressed you can still do your taxes on your own, I still feel like I wimped out by stopping doing ours.

    • February 18, 2017 9:43 pm

      Well… I think actually T will do the final version. I always go through using the online turbotax, which you don’t have to pay for until you submit. We have always paid the fee because it seems fair – except one year when the tax software couldn’t handle one tiny aspect of our return and we had to file by hand. So, we’ll probably do them this year.

      But it is not a super complicated situation. Our deductions are limited to mortgage interest, prop. taxes, state taxes, and charity, and everything else is pretty standard / straightforward. This schedule C EZ thing will be something we’ll have to learn this year!

      We can’t let this become the new normal, and I think there are enough of us that know that it isn’t that we will be able to resit. But it is frightening!

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