"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take."

Taxes, Yard Sales and Boat Shows, Oh My!

I’m a bit of a nerd.  I love organizing, formatting and filling out forms.  I have NO idea what’s wrong with me, but, I’m certain it’s something.  Probably something I should already be on medication for.  But, alas, I’m unmedicated and hopelessly nerdy.  Josh sent me a text yesterday afternoon, saying he got his W2’s at work yesterday.  True confession: I spent the rest of the day longing to do our taxes.  Not just like, hey, it would be nice to do our taxes tonight and get them done.  It was a complete preoccupation of my thoughts for the rest of the afternoon.  1099’s, unreimbursed work expenses, charitable contributions, all of it.  My mind swirled with excitement as I thought about the spreadsheets I had set up half-way through 2016 to track our unreimbursed work expenses and charitable contributions.  Self-calculating, color coded and HEAVENLY.  Needless to say, we did our taxes last night.  Before we ate dinner.

2016 was the first year that I took any steps toward tracking our unreimbursed work expenses or charitable contributions.  Writing off my union dues really gave me a sense of satisfaction.  And, seeing that the 10 boxes of “stuff” that I shipped to Give Back Box in 2016 totaled $335 was a nice reward for the time spent purging, packing and taping.  After doing our taxes for 2016, we’ve decided that the minimal effort that it really takes to track those things throughout the year really do pay off for us.  So, we’ll continue tracking those things, at least for 2017.  The spreadsheets make it super simple, as long as I keep up with it throughout the year.  Another help is that I scan every scrap of paper into the computer now.  So, I don’t have a shoebox full of receipts to wade through and calculate at the end of the year.  Everything’s already scanned, entered into the spreadsheet and tagged in Evernote so that if I need to refer back to it, it’s easily accessible.  It worked well for 2016.

So, our 2016 taxes are done and submitted electronically.  When we submitted them last evening, we got a message saying that the IRS would begin accepting submissions on Monday, 1/23/2017.  But, today at lunchtime, I got a message that said, “Congratulations! The IRS has accepted your tax return.”  So, hurray!  With any luck, sometime around 7 to 14 days from now, we’ll wake up to the IRS fairy’s deposit into our checking account.  We’ve got a pretty good idea of how we’re going to handle our refund.  Obviously, our top priority is paying the Debt Monster.  But, we’ve also got that trip scheduled to Colorado in June / July that we want to have some money saved for, in order to avoid using our credit card.  The plan is to split our return between those two goals – ½ to the Debt Monster and ½ to the savings account for Colorado.

This year’s tax situation has been different that the previous years in our relationship and I really love it.  We had done the same thing for the past 5 years – determine amount of refund, then determine relatively small amount that we want to put into the savings account, then divide remaining large amount by two and spend it however we wanted to as a reward for working hard all year.  It worked just fine for us for the past five years and it would have worked just fine for us this year, too.  Except things are different now.  We’ve got almost laser focus on eliminating our debt as soon as we can, so, it’s a happy choice to make to put half of our refund toward paying off debt.  It doesn’t feel like a punishment this year, as I feel like it might have a few years ago, or even last year.  This year, we couldn’t wait to do our taxes…to find out how much we’re getting back…to find out how much we can put toward our debt…to find out how the big payment impacts our “finish line” of being debt-free (except our mortgage).

Josh has become much more interested in our “financial life” as of late, too, which is pretty cool.  I asked him about his increasing interest last night.  Figured I’d better make sure he’s not suspicious that I’m squirreling money away in an off-shore account or sending undisclosed amounts of money to a promising Egyptian prince in need of a new camel.  Seems like I might not be the only one nerding out, crunching numbers, scheming our next assault on the Debt Monster.  And that makes me really happy.  When we met, I kind of naturally fell into the financial “lead” role, as I owned my own home and had established “house bills” that I was paying.  It was easier for one person to take care of paying everything than both of us trying to remember to pay certain things.  So, I volunteered for the job.  And of course, made an array of color-coded spreadsheets to satisfy my inner nerd and keep things straight.  We’ve always talked openly about money.  I’ve always updated him on how much we had “left” after all the bills were paid each pay period.  I’ve always relied on him to help me “talk it out” when we get paid three times in one month.  (Somehow, I always mess up three pay months.  We get a whole extra paid period worth of money, but, somehow, things always get paid late.  Or not at all.  Or double paid.  Or I send the car payment to the internet company.  Or some other ridiculous thing that shouldn’t happen during a month when we have excess cash flow.  I really don’t know what happens, honestly.)  But, he told me he’s genuinely excited about our debt-free mission and interested in being an active part of planning, reviewing and revising our strategy.  That’s a huge source of happiness for me…that not only did we make the decision to change our spending habits in order to pursue this financial independence thing, but that we’ve both stuck to it, and that we’re both very interested in continuing to adjust it to do even better than we had originally planned.  We make a pretty good team.

Each year, Josh’s dad schedules an annual fishing trip through Rockaholic Fishing, a Chesapeake Bay charter fishing outfit out of Rock Hall, MD.  The charter is a half-day, six person trip.  It’s usually the guys that get to go – Josh, Josh’s dad, two brothers, a family friend and the friend’s son.  But, the past two years, due to unfortunate scheduling conflicts for the friend’s son, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to fill the sixth spot.  Two years ago, we didn’t catch ANYTHING.  Last year, we did GREAT!  This year’s trip is scheduled for the afternoon charter on Saturday, April 22nd and the morning charter on Sunday, April 23rd.  Hopefully, the guys will be able to fill up the six spots on the charter, as they really enjoy spending the time together.  If not, I guess they’ll have to twist my arm to go again this year.  Oh the torture!

2016’s Clean Up, Courtesy of Rockaholic Fishing

Also scheduled for the weekend of April 22nd and April 23rd is the Bay Bridge Boat Show at the Bay Bridge Marina in Stevensville, MD.  And, of course, Josh and I are planning to go.  (We’ll figure out the logistics of making this work with the fishing trip once someone knows who’s in for the fishing trip.)  The program for the 2017 show isn’t out yet, but, the website guarantees “more than 350 powerboats of every size and style imaginable.”  Tickets are only $12 per person.  And BoatUS promises that it will have even cheaper, discount tickets available for the show through its website.  So, I’ll continue to stalk the BoatUS page until the discount (hurray!) tickets are available and then scoop them up.  I love a good sale!  I’ve got my fingers crossed that the 2017 program is published on boat show’s website prior to the show.  The 2016 program had every single boat that was to be at the show, listed alphabetically by manufacturer, on two pages.  My inner nerd would LOVE to print that list, review and highlight it prior to the show and then use it as a checklist for the show.  Josh might come unhinged.

I’ve continued plowing through purging stuff at our house.  As I was sorting and separating, I determined that a bunch of the things I’m ready to purge I don’t really want to send via Give Back Box.  I’ve got some antiques and decorating items that may bring some decent money at a yard sale.  But, where we live is not at all conducive to orchestrating a yard sale.  (And, after having our truck stolen, I really don’t want any more “randoms” at our house than necessary.)  Thankfully, my mom lives in Suburbia, with plenty of exposure to nosey passers-by that have a high desire to rummage through someone else’s belongings.  Her two-car garage adds to the perfection of my plan, allowing us to set things up in the garage over a few days and secure it until its show time.  She’s agreeable, so, I’ve started marking prices on things and that’s the plan.  Whatever doesn’t sell during the yard sale, I’m planning to re-pack and request that Goodwill, Salvation Army or Purple Heart come pick up from my mom’s.  (Did I mention I am SO over having so much freaking stuff?!)  Even if we only make $100 at the yard sale, I’ll be happy.  Something’s better than nothing and we’ll be getting rid of stuff.  The only hiccup may be the dates.  I’m still waiting to find out what the dates will be for the yard sale and I’m hoping the dates won’t overlap with fishing and the boat show.  It’s not the end of the world if they do overlap, it would just be nicer if they didn’t.  That way, Josh gets to fish AND be slave labor a really huge help at my yard sale.  The best of both worlds.

P.S.  Today is my 28th day of sobriety from the news.  No regrets.  Only increasing focus, clarity and peace.

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