Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What To Do About Our Tax System?!?

Most Americans have filed their taxes at this point. Depending on how good your accountant is dictates how much you paid in taxes to the government. Taxes are a pain for most Americans and for a good reason too. It causes a lot of concern – Did I fill everything correctly? Did I take all of my allowed deductions? Am I going to be audited by the KGB, opps, I mean the IRS (Infinitely Revolting Skunks)? What does this mean? Does it apply to me? Where’s the aspirin?!

There have been plenty of proposals suggested. I will cover two of those ideas in this posting. I’m interested in hearing back from our dear readers about their neat taxation ideas and their thoughts about these ideas. First, I want to establish that we need taxes for some services. Most people enjoy using paved roads for their vehicles, even if they have a 4x4. Most people cannot pay for private education for their child(ren). It might even be a good idea to pay our leaders, judges, prison officials and guards, etc. to keep our society functioning. So please, spare me the “Why do we need taxes at all?” bit, unless you plan on explaining how we function as a society. (Note: I will grant [and even cover in future postings] that there are some services that we, as a society, could do without.)

The latest idea is the fair tax. It’s the idea that we only pay taxes when we buy (consume) something. It seems like a great idea. If I’m not buying a BMW, I don’t need to pay the extra tax for it. Some things, like food and toilet paper (essentials), would continue to be not taxed at all.

However, can you imagine paying the fair tax on buying a $200K house? That’s right; a realtor doesn’t want you to think about that either. You can bet that they would be lobbying for an exemption. Car dealers would probably lobby for one as well. The bright side is once you have paid the note in full; the house is YOURS, just like your vehicle. You wouldn’t have to worry about the government taking your house for taxes they decide to increase because the economy is good.

Another issue with the fair tax is the issues of how would local and state governments prepare their budgets. They would not have the property tax to depend for their funding. I would argue that they could do their budgets in a manner similar to independent contractors and the self-employed.

The second idea that I will advance for discussion is the Chuck tax system. Chuck’s idea is that we mail in a post card every year with the amount of moneys we received through the year. Multiply the amount by three percent and send that in to the US Government. It’s so simple that everyone could do it. When I asked how would the state and local governments get their share of the booty, he said add on another one to two percent. I believe that most individuals would severely understate their income to make this system work. I also believe the governments just cannot manage their money correctly. Thus, this is the reason for increased property taxes and income taxes.

Any system that is chosen would still need people to administer and audit it. The government knows that people will not set aside money to pay their taxes once a year. Therefore, there would still be a need for paycheck deductions. However, we know that the system that we have is not working well (except for our CPAs and other tax “assisting” organizations, like H&R Block) for the common person. So the question is, what is the best tax solution for Americans?

Failing to plan IS planning to fail.

Monday, May 4, 2009

It's Been Too Long

Happy May to everyone. Life with the Audet Family continues. Lately, we have been doing some home improvements. B got a new toy. So in order to quit my yapping about the new toy, I got new appliances.

It's funny yet sad how new appliances make us happy as we get older. Could you imagine telling a 20-something, "I love you so much, I got you new appliances!" After you recover from turning to stone, you realize that is NOT what your loved one wants. Me though, I'm over the moon about my new friends/workhorses =).

We had been looking at these items for awhile. Finally, everything was right. Lowe's was reimbursing the delivery fee and giving 10% off the Energy Star appliances. Also, Bosch, the manufacturer of our washer/dryer combo gave us $200. Whirlpool, the manufacturer of our fridge and dishwasher, gave us $100 back. Well. let me describe what we got and why.

1. The new freezer is taller that the old one. The inside door is better designed to hold more stuff. It displays the temperature. It has an Energy Star approval. The old freezer had a bad seal. Yes, we could have gotten a new gasket, but that wasn't the only problem. It was an older model that we got from a kind Freecycler but was not energy efficient. It definitely was NOT frost free. We knew it was going to cost us an arm and leg being out in the garage during the summer (between the frost and the gasket). The new freezer is in the basement.

2. The new fridge is stainless steel and looks like it belongs in our home. It has an Energy Star approval. The old fridge was poorly designed. It has a huge hump in the top middle that prevented us from putting anything tall in there. Also,the calling the old fridge small would be an understatement. It could not hold enough food for three people - how was it going to hold enough food for eight! I love the freezer being on the bottom - it's really saved my back. The only problem with the new one is the magnets won't stick to the stainless steel (Yes, B and I work around the stuff. Yet, we both forgot this important fact =( ). I have started taping Faith's work to my kitchen island.

3. The old dishwasher was a safety hazard. We had planned on telling the kids that they could not run it while we were at work this summer. If we did not ensure that the water was working properly, the dish soap would fall onto the heating element and start burning. Go ahead; ask me how I know. The new dishwasher is also stainless steel. It is so quiet.

4. I got my new washing machine! It is a front loader. I cannot wait to see how much our water bill goes down. The old machine still works but it makes that really loud screeching noise as it stops. It really is bad. My m-i-l still jumps every time she hears that noise. Oh yeah, I can get more clothes in the new washer. I'm not sure if I'm going to allow the kids to touch it though...

5. Finally, the new dryer goes with the new washer. I'm happy with the pair. The moisture sensor does help with reducing the drying time.

6. Okay, I forgot to mention the pedestals for the washer and dryer. Wow. I like them because I can store so many cleaning supplies in them. It really allowed me more space on my pantry floor.

So, that's the update on my new toys.

Failing to plan IS planning to fail.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Being Sick and the Screwy Internet

Sorry for the delay in posting. The title of this posting says it all.

This Friday, I want to congratulate B for getting his degree in Biology. I am really proud of him. Once I give you some of his background, I know if you were married to him, you would be proud too!

B went to college in Maine a long time ago. He stopped his college plans to enlist in the Army during the first Gulf war. He served his time and thought that he would go back to college when he returned state-side. However, life threw some curves. He did not get much support for this with either of his exes. When we got together, he finished his AA through Maine. Then he made the bold leap to go to Hood College. They have an excellent Science Department. (Plus, work was willing to contribute for something in our field.)

This was a bit more involved than it sounds. More than a decade had past from that first college experience. Now, B had kids, rent, vehicle payments, and a full-time job. Trying to go to school and have a full-time job is not easy, as most people who have experienced it will tell you. The process wears on you physically. It eats your time - from enjoyable activities for yourself to spending time with loved ones. It also takes a toll on you mentally. You begin to question yourself. Why am I doing this to myself? I'm old enough to be my lab partner's father! Can I do this?

Now as I mentioned, B got his degree in Biology. Umm, Biology was not his first choice. Like I mentioned before, work was willing to help with the costs. So, he went for the degree in Biology. (Side note: He has learned a lot that has helped with our jobs.) Although his class load said he was only going part-time, those labs made him feel like he was going full-time. He pressed through. Now he possesses a degree that was awarded last month. He still cannot believe that he is done with his Bachelors.

So, if you are reading this, please let B know that you are proud of him too!

Failing to plan IS planning to fail.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Taking Care of the House

This blog has several purposes (for me).

1. I want to encourage others to take control of their financial futures.
2. I want to give/share tips about basic home economics.
3. I want to keep friends and family up-to-date in my life.

I feel pretty confident that this can be accomplished.

I'm still playing around with the dates to send out what. Please bear with me as I find the best way. Also, if you really have the desire, share your ideas. Right now, Mondays are the Money Tip (going through the emotional money journey). Tuesdays are the Money Task (a physical action to help you on the journey). Fridays are for family updates (stick around, summer gets really interesting with our group). Ummm. I'm still winging the rest.

Something that I have shared with family and co-workers is the idea that high schools need to make a mandatory home economics course. Before everyone gets visions of souffles in their heads, it's not what you think. I'm talking about teaching basic finances, basic car maintenance, basic home maintenance, and personal health. Today's high school children are having problems with balancing their checkbooks and understanding that NOT paying off the credit card IS a problem. Oh let's be honest here, it does not just apply to high school children. How many people understand the basics of their car? Sometimes, the best place to start is admitting that you do not know how to do something.

I will start. Cleaning is not something that comes naturally in my original family. We cleaned because my family moved (my dad is retire Air Force). I completed Army basic training, but it's not like we were told how to clean and keep it on this task(to quote one of the Drill Sergeants, "You are girls, so I don't have to show you how to clean." Boy, did he get a big surprise at the first inspection.) Cleaning wasn't something that worried my ex. His idea was to hire a housekeeper.

Money was something that my Papa discussed with me, but really didn't take root. I have learned a lot over the years. I'll blog more about this on Mondays.

Basic home maintenance was not an issue because we were always moving. I learned a little with the townhouse. Well, it is safe to say that B and I are still learning. I am better than B about car maintenance - thanks to my Uncle Lester and the first red car.

So on Wednesdays, I will be giving out tips, advice, lessons learned about Basic Home Econ. If it seems to simple for you, I am glad. It means someone cared enough to teach you that lesson.

Failing to plan IS planning to Fail.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday's Task

Today's money task is to track all accounts. Do you know how many credit cards you have? Where do you have your savings/checking accounts? What about retirement accounts such as Thrifts, 401K, IRAs, etc.?

After gathering all of the information, put in on one sheet. You can do this on the computer or write it on a sheet of paper. Do not get too "nerdish". This is the first draft! On this sheet, put the type of account, where it is located, address, phone number, account number, and other related information. Put this sheet in a safe location (You don't want the kiddies charging up the credit cards!).

Remember, this is a journey. To start the journey, you need to know where you are and what tools you have.

Failing to Plan IS Planning to Fail.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday's Money Tip - 26 JAN 2009

On Mondays, I plan on posting a money tip. Just to make things easy, I'm going to call it, "Monday's Money Tip". Some days it might be one tip - Other days there will be a few. I'll see how it goes.

Today's tip is one that experience has taught me. Getting out of debt is a mindset.

Yes. I am saying, that for most people, getting out of debt is a mental thing. I have heard said, "God is more interested in your journey than the destination." To me, this means that once my Salvation has been secured, God wants to know how I plan on living my life. Money is a bit the same.

Many people, if given enough money right now to cover their debts, would be in debt again in six months to a year. I know we've paid off some credit cards and turned right around and ran up the balance again. This happenned because we did not have the correct mindset at that time.

Most financial gurus recall their turning point in their money matters. It became an emotional issue that they were able to win. I don't have an exact moment. (Although, I have some recent experiences that tell me that we're going the right way.) Money has always been emotional in my families.

Take Home Points: 1. Getting out of debt is a journey.
2. Money is emotional.

Failing to Plan IS Planning to Fail.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Starting Anew

It's finally time. I believe that my younger siblings are much more advanced in the cyber world. However, I'm the one that does not live close (like an hour or so) to them or my extended family. I plan on writing about my family life here in lovely West Virginia and give some advice that I have received through life and education experience.

That's enough for today.

Failing to Plan IS Planning to Fail