I am in the midst of waiting for brokerage statements to finish our personal taxes. Yep, with some trepidation I am attempting to do them myself again this year. For whatever reason they seem a lot more complicated in this transition from most of our income from a full-time, permanent, salary-and-benefits job to the bulk of our income from self-employment and only some income from a part-time, permanent, salary-and-benefits job. Next year could be the time to take all my
crap paperwork to a CPA and let them sort it out for me. Maybe. Possibly. I have another 365 days to mull it over.
But for this year, I have all our stuff together and entered into the tax program. With a maximum contribution to the HSA opened for our new health insurance plan we go from owing money (again) to having a refund due to apply to our first quarter estimated taxes instead. Amazing, happiness-inducing event.
Between January being its business-as-usual busy, hectic, crazy, I have barely bothered looking at our personal budget for stuff we are doing, planning to do, wanting to do in 2016. The deck estimate has not arrived yet, but I have lit a fire under our contractor and am threatening to withhold his beloved diet rock star or worse, donate it to trainer J if he doesn’t get my deck estimate done soon. Not that I would ever actually do that (well I might donate to trainer J, only because it takes up so much space in the fridge), but what else can I say? Don’t make me call your wife? Yes, I know you’re busy remodeling kitchens and bathrooms and building decks for other clients, but damn! I have a wedding coming up in September and need my decks in working order this spring.
Until I get that piece of information, my home improvements planning is at a standstill. I would like to get the exterior of the house repainted and some cosmetic fixes done, but the deck is the priority. Seems like we will be heading to the home and garden show this weekend to see what’s new in the home improvement world, and maybe we’ll find some amazing painter who works really cheaply (not likely, but I can dream). I would also like to get M building planter boxes for around the deck and want to look at some of the displays for ideas for nice flowers and plants. We tried really hard last year, even going so far as to spend a minor fortune on pretty flowering plants that sort of died when we went on vacation and I forgot to ask C to water them when she came by to feed the fluffbuckets. M has plans for a drip system in conjunction with the flower boxes so that should alleviate the watering issue.
It would also be nice to have something other than dead lawn out front, where everyone and all their pets on leashes see it daily, but again, we are waiting for a M’s bestie, a landscape contractor, to be less busy with everyone else’s lawns and gardens. I freely admit to not being the most patient person, but it’s been nearly a year since the new concrete was poured, we still have nothing but dead grass out front, and I have yet to do more than make an idle comment when we discuss other items on our 2016 list and 2015 project carryovers. If it were not so ridiculously expensive I would have lobbied harder for fake grass and a fence to keep the dogs of the neighborhood from using our front grass as a toilet on their daily rounds.
That is truly the most pressing budget issue right now; everything else seems to be on autopilot based on the salary I pay myself and M from my little self-employment business and my part-time job with the law firm. Food is probably our biggest issue as far as the budget goes, in that we are still exploring and experimenting with what we want/like to eat versus what is most convenient to prepare and eat at home (aka mostly prepared and processed food). M likes the smoked meat that comes from the Traeger, and I think the crockpot is the best invention for the busy person who dislikes working with food. Like so many other things between the 2 of us, our taste in food varies widely. He uses this horrible smelling spice that apparently makes beef taste great, but I cannot get far enough past the smell to actually taste the beef. Most of what I prepare he enjoys, once he has doctored it up with pepper and the spicier flavors he loves. We are working at continuing to clean-up, tighten up our diets; it is an ongoing process, not really a once-and-done or even a goal-oriented task.
Looking back at our healthcare expenses in 2015, the biggest line item was the prescription drug costs. The insulin was greatly discounted through the mail order pharmacy, but between the medications, the syringes, and pen needles, my out-of-pocket cost alone easily topped $100/month. When I add in the oral medications I was taking, the test strips, and the lancets, I averaged about $160/month for prescriptions drugs and supplies alone – just to manage my diabetes and the preventive protocol for the other complicating conditions. This year, down to the single oral medication and continuing with test strips and lancets, my bill should drop to about $30/month, an 80% cut in out-of-pocket expenses.
Looking ahead into 2016 expenses, I think the biggest discretionary expense line item is our gym dues and my personal training expenses. M mostly leaves money management issues to me, but we talk about our financial priorities a few times per year and pencil in and/or update our plans and goals as they materialize. On the gym and the training, he feels strongly that is the final frontier in our spending and other things should be cut or eliminated completely before gym dues or training are presented for consideration. While I really do not disagree, it seems selfish for me to protect something that primarily benefits me and me alone. Although J has offered to let M come and train with me sometimes, that is a nightmare scenario that is simply so apocalyptic in nature that I cannot bear to even consider it. Thankfully M would agree with my assessment; we are simply not a couple who can pursue our fitness objectives together.
The little financial engine that could continues to power our household and is chugging along nicely. My self-employment venture got off to a strong start and is steadily growing and most definitely thriving. We continue to fund our even older and grayer years, save for 2017 adventuring and home improvement projects, and just toss some coin into the “impulse” bucket that adds some zest to our relatively simple life. It will be an extra exciting year with G&K’s wedding and its social events, plus our usual summer weekends and weeks of hosting out-of-town runners.
Life is good and continues to improve. Money and it’s tracking has gotten simpler for me as the months and years have passed, and I can realistically expect my low-stress levels in this regard continue. It is all good that I primarily have to worry about other people’s money and that they pay me for my efforts.
And would you look at that – an actual money, finance, budget-related post. It has been awhile.
Happy Friday everyone!