Taxes and other finance stuff

I am awaiting one final form so I can finish our taxes. I’m not in a huge rush – we owe, so it’s not really going anywhere until at least April 1 – but I would like to get it crossed off my to-do list, at which time it becomes just one of those things I think about and conclude completely for another year on April 2.

Our IRAs have been funded for 2015. My Simple IRA deduction chugs along throughout the year, and the company match is on my work to-do for March. All is well with retirement savings in our household thus far in 2015.

Savings is proceeding, although we are waiting on estimates to decide who gets to do our concrete work and the initial cost for the work. Whatever estimate we go with, I automatically add 20% for change orders and issues that will arise. If we don’t spend the buffer, I will be delighted to leave that in savings. But if stuff comes up – and it always seems to happen – I will be much less resentful about blowing the budget.

We need to sell one of our other vehicles – we presently have 5 of them – 6 if we count the project car – and 2 drivers. I would love to sell 2 of them, keeping just our own cars, the truck, and the project car in pieces, but M resists. M’s former daily driver goes up on craigslist this weekend.

I am an failed ebay and craigslist seller for household declutter crap and will be making a donation run this weekend. Honestly, I have priced everything very reasonably and still no buyers. I would rather donate that do freecycle because I do not want flakey people showing up at my house to get my excess stuff. It is customary in our neighborhood to put items on the curb with “free” signs attached, but I am not going there. It strikes me as tacky. Or makes me feel lazy. Or both.

The most troubling aspect of my financial year to date is an investment account issue that I’ve been wrestling with for the last 2+ weeks. I initiated a transfer from Betterment on January 21, 2015, and here were are, February 5, and the money has not been deposited to my bank account. I strive to be patient and to be reasonable, so I took them at their word on their 4 to 6 business days advisory for withdrawals. By Monday it ad been 8 business days. Tuesday I emailed an inquiry, no response. Wednesday I phoned and went to voice mail after a 3 minute hold, left a message and emailed again. Wednesday afternoon after no return call or email  reply I tried again, another 3 minute hold and voice mail message, yet another email, and finally I snagged someone via online chat to find out what is going on with my concrete pouring funds.

Now, I accept my responsibility in this issue. There was a breach on our primary checking account and we had to get a new account number, so without thinking it through, I updated our account to our other bank for transfers and deposits. The money had already been withdrawn from my investment account and I was assured by BofA that if the transfer was attempted to my old account number they would either move it immediately to our new account or alert me for further instructions. This was apparently a red flag for the investment account in that a large withdrawal request was followed by a change in bank accounts, resulting in additional security scrutiny. Fair enough. My big issue here? No phone call. No email. No notification that a big red flag flew up about my account. In fact, until I started to panic and try to get in touch with them 2 weeks and 1 day after the withdrawal request, they had not ever contacted me.

The rep was apologetic and gave me 3 months of fee-free service, but the damage is done. The rep indicated they were growing by leaps and bounds and the phone calls and workload had put them behind on responding to client requests for assistance. I believe that Betterment is a victim of its own success, in that during my 4 or 5 years as a customer I have never (before now) had an issue with their communications. The occasions I sent an email I received a reply in less than 24 hours, typically the same day. If I called I always got a live person who quickly and efficiently answered my question or resolved my problem. Now, when it’s something big like a transfer for a major home improvement project, they flag my account and do not notify me? They do not have staff to respond to emails or return phone calls in a timely manner?

Needless to say our funds will be transferred from Betterment to a new account at Vanguard. While I have dealt with a different person each of the times I have called about different aspects of the new account set-up and transfer of funds process, I have been satisfied that I got a live person who could help me each and every time.

And just to prove M’s conspiracy theoriest personality is rubbing off on me … I posted in the YNAB forums wondering if anyone else was having issues reaching Betterment, because YNAB’s founder is a client, supporter, and promoter of Betterment. There were a few responses to my query, and I updated last night after chatting with the rep about the resolution to my problem. Yet this morning when I was replying to another commenter who has also left Betterment for Vanguard and stated that Betterment is so busy recruiting new clients they were ignoring the concerns and issues with existing clients, my comment was not published and instead put into moderation. Hmmmm. Is there a connection there? M is rather proud of me in my evolving paranoia. I think we have both been watching too many episodes of Person of Interest.

4 thoughts on “Taxes and other finance stuff

  1. Just because you don’t think they are out to get you doesn’t mean they aren’t. Shall we fit you for your tin foil hat now? 8-)))

    BTW-I had a Vanguard account and never had a problem with them.

    • Being married to M, I know I have a tinfoil hat somewhere, probably in one of his boxes in the garage. I’ll have to look for it during this weekend’s excavation.

      Yep, back to Vanguard we go. I will feel better once the missing concrete funding has been deposited into my account, but right now I’m extremely unhappy with the situation.

  2. I already filed my taxes & received both refunds. All of my tax refunds & work bonus in 2015 & 2016 (I’ll find out the amount end of February) is being saved for my dream vaca to England (+ Scotland & Amsterdam) 2016!

    • That sounds like a FANTASTIC trip! I should be finishing up my returns this weekend, having received my final 1099 yesterday, so I’ll know how much more I need to plan on paying. It will be nice just to get it off my to-do list.

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