Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Have's vs. The Have-Nots

I've tried to ignore the Occupy Wall Street protest hoping they'd fade away.  Just last month, these idots were part of the Occupy My Mother's Basement movement.

I saw this quote by Dave Ramsey and immediately posted it to my Facebook page.

"When someone takes my money and gives me no say in the matter, that’s called theft—whether they’re using a gun or the government."

The OWS movement is all about economic inequality.  They are basically saying, "The rich have too much money and the government needs to take some of it away and give it to me."  Redistribution of wealth. 

But what they don't get is if you take money away from the rich to make every one even, there is zero motivation to better yourself.

Without motivation, there will be no more Steve Jobs', Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg's.

There will be no more rich.

Everyone will begin to depend on the government.

And eventually there will be no more revenues.

And what then?

Revolt against the government and then, eventually, total collapse.

Yes, this is a very Glen Beck-esque, doomsday rant.  But it's the truth.  It's the same pattern followed by every socialists government in history.

And it's what's we're facing if we cave into the Wall Street Brats.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Difference 1% Can Make

Rather than spending precious bed time writing a Whatever Wednesday post, I'm going to post a link to an editorial in today's Roanoke Times.

I pretty much abhor this left-leaning newspaper.  (Don't you love that word?  It clearly conveys the exact feeling.)

But the editorial has it right-on.

Before you jump on the "Tax the Rich Bandwagon" read this and think about it for a minute.

They do alot for us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Those Pesky Bank Fees

My feathers are ruffled.

I know.  You're suprised.  I can tell by the look on your face.

I'm pretty ticked off at the moment.

At the bank!
See, apparently banks made billions upon billions in overdraft fees last year. 

And some of those fees, came from me.  (Remember the red dress saga?)

Consumers eventually grew weary of the banks' schemes when it came to making the most out of an overdraft.  (Such as structuring transactions from largest to smallest and holding deposits longer than debits.)

Congress finally stepped in and reined in the bank's pyramid scheme, fee-ala-palooza. 

(So not technically a pyramid scheme, but you get the metaphor.)

Banks whined about losing billions of dollars.

If you know anything about banks, you know that while they'll play poker with your money and lead this country headfirst into economic equivalent of the Rotovirus, they don't want anyone messing with their money.

They're not going to lose out on their profits.  So they jacked up their processing fees.

Every time you swipe your credit and/or debit card, the banks charge the store XX amount.  It's why most Mom & Pop gas stations require you to buy $5 worth before you can use your card.  Otherwise, they'd actually be losing money to sell you that product. 

After screams of torture from these very same Mom & Pop stores, Congress once again stepped in and put a stop to the bank's free-for-all.

And banks began to whine again.

(Again - I go back to these are the very same institutions that put our country in the mess we are in...yet we're supposed to ensure that their billions are secure...while we're seeing 40% drops in our investment accounts...  That and a couple of elected officials that have the business sense of asphalt!  Cough.  Cough.)

So now (Yes, it's taken me this long to get to the point.) banks have come up with another ingenius fee.

The debit card fee

$5 per month for every customer who uses their debit card.

My bank is said to be considering this.  When they do, I'm out.  100%. let me get this straight. 

You gamble away OUR money on high-risk loans given to people who should have NEVER had a mortgage in the first place.

Then, you push this country the edge of economic collapse when this all unravels.

Then, you nickel & dime your consumers.

Then, you nickel & dime your customers.

And now, you want the people who allow you to use their money to pay you to use their money?

My head hurts from this nonsense.  It's the most bass-ackward thing I've ever heard of.

And it ticks me off.

I know banks have to make a profit.  I get that.

FYI - banks, in the words of Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls

"You're working fer me."

(Fierce reference, I know.  Banks are shaking in their boots.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Favorite Movie Ever

They wrote a movie about my life.

You didn’t know that?

I’m surprised it hasn’t come up here before.

Yes, I’m famous; I try to keep it quiet.

But yes, a movie was written entirely about my life.  Well, maybe it was based on my life.

Ok, so I’m not from Alabama.  (I told you, it was a loose translation.)

If you have lived in a dark, deep hole and never, ever seen this movie – first, you must immediately stream it.  (Or search for it on your program guide.  It comes on USA, TNT, or CMT at least once a week.) 

The synopsis of the movie is as follows (from Newegg)  Melanie Carmichael, a rising New York clothing designer suddenly finds herself engaged to the city's most eligible bachelor. But this is no fairy tale romance for Melanie. She has skeletons in her fashion-filled closet that include Jake -- the backwoods husband she married in high school who refuses to divorce her. Determined to end their marriage and sever all ties with her past once and for all, Melanie returns to Alabama. But home starts to tug at her heartstrings, and what she thought she wanted may not be what she wants at all.

Again – loose translation – work with me here.

During the movie you fall in love with both of Melanie’s parents (Earl & Pearl Smooter) both her husband (Jake Perry) and fiancée (Andrew Hennings), and her friends.  And the movie is filled with classic one liners from the Southern dictionary. 

I will translate some of the classics for you.

·         Earl Smooter (her father):  C’mon, let’s not let all that bought air out.”      Means “Shut the door.  We paid to cool or heat this house.” 
·         Melanie walking through a civil war battlefield, “Anybody seen Earl Smooter?”  Random soldier perks up from playing dead, “He’s about to surrender!!!”  Now this has a special place in my heart.  See, every weekend from June through October my family packed up and went to some random Civil War battlefield to watch my father and his friends play dress up.  (Well, that is basically what it is.)  They would reenact Civil War battles.  And every weekend we would go, camp out, wear the dresses, hoop skirts, the whole deal. 
·          You look tired.  Are you tired?  Maybe it’s just the way you’re wearing your hair now.”  Pearl Smooter (the mother) to Melanie when she arrives home for the first time in five years!  Ok – so even if the movie was a stretch, I know this character was based on my mother.  I had a horrible, awful, terrible, very bad hair cut my sophomore year in college.  I came home sobbing.  And my mother looks at me and says, “You look awful.”  Yeah – thanks, Mom.  Knew that.
·          Well, aren’t you a big, fat liar?”  Spoken by Bobby Ray (a friend) to Melanie.  My personal favorite that I use daily.
·         People need a passport to come down here.”  Spoken by Melanie.  Um…in some parts of the South, yes.
·         You’ve got a baby…in a bar.” I’ve actually said those words.  No lie.
·         You can’t ride two horses with one [BEEP}, sugarbean.” Earl Smooter to Melanie when she was trying to decide between Jake (the ex-husband) and Andrew (the fiancée.)  Means you can’t have it both ways.  I believe those were my father’s exact words to me when I had a big decision to make in college.

There are a handful of other one liners that are a part of my repertoire that I probably can’t put on here.  J 

At the heart of the movie is the same struggle a lot of us face.  We want more & better for our lives but love our home, what we know, and what we are.  I remember too well how it felt to be torn between men, places, and goals. 

And I have to say Melanie & I picked the same paths.

In the end.

But I don't wanna spoil it for all I'm gonna say is...

Yes, the movie is a loose translation of my life. 

You should know that. 
You dumb, stubborn, redneck, hick.

Oh, sorry, I didn't mean'd have to see the movie to get it.

So seriously, what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Employee Expenses

In case you've forgotten, Mr. DDA is a policeman.

And he comes home with wild stories of tax preparation from the department.

You didn't know that police officers also double as tax preparers?  No?  Just ask them.  They'll gladly tell you all the deductions they're "allowed" to take.

All I can say is that there is a reason you go to your local police department for car seat checks and NOT tax preparation...that pretty much sums up my opinion of their tax advice.

The reason for our contention is the Employee Business Expense deduction.

Many of us are not self-employed and are not entitled to deduct all of our business expenses.  However, the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) does not exclude you entirely.  If you have expenses for your job that are required and not reimbursed, they are an extent.  (As is everything, right?)
Pay parking?  It's deductible.
Mileage/Travel?  It's deductible.
Union dues?  It's deductible.
Uniforms?  It's deductible.
Equipment?  It's deductible...maybe.

Basically, anything you buy for your business that you are deducting, has to be 100% for your business.  Parking - typically is at an office building so obviously is for business.  Mileage travel - if it's not reimbursed and your business does not reimburse, then yes.  (You cannot choose.  If your employer reimburses, even if you don't take it, it's not deductible.  Ever.  Period.)  Union dues - self explanatory. 

Clothing/Uniforms - if it's something you cannot wear anywhere else, it's deductible.  Think scrubs, mechanic jumpsuits, steel-toed boots.  Not suits & ties; you can wear those somewhere else.  (Even if you don't, if it could be worn somewhere else, then no.)

Equipment - Here's the catch-all category.  The thorn in my flesh.  See, policemen have this idea that they can deduct ANYTHING!!!  Like a gun - not their duty gun - just a new gun.  This is my favorite.  Hear it every year. 

Side story:  Mr. DDA actually came home to me and said, "So-n-so said police officers can deduct one new gun a year under the tax law."  And he actually questioned me when I laughed and said no.  (I think I'm going to start telling him traffic statutes.)

See to deduct the equipment, it has to be REQUIRED for your employment and not provided by your employer.  (If you know of a police department that requires you to have anything they do not furnish, I'd like to hear it...cause in almost 30 years of being a law enforcement family member, I've never heard of it.) 

Another biggie that I hear of is computers.  If your business requires you to have a computer and they do not furnish it, it better be used for the business 100% and you should be able to prove it.

I don't have a tax prep business, so I'm not peddling for business.  But if this situation applies to you, seek the help of a professional. 

And no, a police officer is not a professional!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Money, Money, Money, Money

Yes, I am singing the song in my head.

So, have I gotten anyone watching Til Debt Do U$ Part

I love this show.  LOVE. 

Each episode, Gail Vaz-Oxlade teaches different couples how to manage their money, create a budget and debt repayment plan, and stregthen their relationships.  (By the way, it now comes on daily on CNBC.)

She basically has the same approach as my main money man, Dave Ramsey, with a few small differences.  One big difference is that the show is filmed in Canada, so alot of government programs are different.  (Such as they get paid maternity leave and there is such a thing as stress leave.  STRESS LEAVE!!!  I could use that every week!)

The couples spend 4 weeks in Gail's budget boot camp.  The first week, she shows them all their numbers.  How much they're overspending, their projected debt in 5 years, their interest rates, etc.  She takes away all credit & debit cards. 

They're given jars for food, transportation, clothing & gifts, and other.  (She usually comes in with an initial budget budget prepared for them.)  They're given their weekly allowance and the Budget Binder.  They're instructed to put all their receipts in the binder.  Between those receipts & the cash in the jars, it should always equal their weekly allowances. 

Then the couples are put through three challenges.

The first week is usually their Financial Planning Challenge.  And usually it's one of two things.  If it's a clueless couple, she makes them do their own budget.  I'm always shocked by the number of couples who say they've never done a budget!  Aaaggh!!!  If it's not that, then they're usually instructed to earn an extra XXX number of dollars per month to make her budget balance.

The second weeks is the Life Lesson Challenge.  Whatever their vice is - shopping, cars, eating out, etc. - Gail tries to teach them a way around it.  Sometimes it's been to hold a yard sale, or sell a car, or take cooking classes.

The third week is the Relationship Rescue Challenge.  As we've all heard, financial problems is the number 1 reason couples split up, so inherently, these couples usually have relationship problems.  These challenges are so creative.  Sometimes it's an obstacle course; I've seen them have to stop people in the mall and explain compound interest, it's usually creative and bonding.

At the end of the four weeks, Gail comes back to their home to see how they've done.  If they've met all her goals, stayed in their budget, she gives them up to $5000 to pay down their debt.  If their attitudes were poor or if they didn't complete a challenge, she'll give them less.

The show is really fascinating to me.  I'm always amazed at the people's reactions.  And while you probably won't learn anything earth-shattering, I think it's always good to learn. 

Side note - can I please have this job when I grow up?  Come in and beat people up over money and then save the day with a check?  Pretty much the best job EVER!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Confessions of a Cheater

So, I have some groundbreaking news.

Actually more like a confession.

Mr. DDA - I am cheating on you.

I know, a blog is not the place to spill the beans, but I figure this way if I go missing, the entire world will know it was you.

When I went away on my business trip, I saw them...  (THEM - yes, more than one.)

Lusted after them...

Took them home with me...

And slept with them...


However, the next morning, I was overwhelmed with remorse...

And guilt...

So I took them back to where I picked them up and we parted ways...

But Mr. DDA, as much as I love you, I confess, I am still in love with them...

Perhaps we can have an open marriage and they can move in with us.

If not, we've had a wonderful 10 years together.  Thanks for the memories!

PS.  Mr.  DDA - Christmas is less than 3 months away.  I wear a size 40 in European shoes...just in case you were wondering!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How I've Missed You

So sorry.  I've been away for a while.  I've kinda avoided the whole blogging thing for a while because:

1.  I was on a business trip.  Didn't even take a computer and it was amazing.

2.  I've had some serious fun.  (In case you missed it, Jason Aldean came to town and everything pretty much stops in my world when that happens.  He held his 6th Annual Concert for the Cure and raised $315,000 for our local SGK Foundation.  I'm now debating whether I can write off my tickets as a charitable contribution.  Lol.  Just kidding.)

3.  I've had some serious writers block.  Not that I don't crunch other people's numbers all day every day and should have plenty of material, but I'm actually at a loss for words right now.  The most amazing tax tip I can give you today is to pay them.  Plain and simple.

4.  I feel kinda stupid writing about my love affair with shoes when I think about all the women (and men) are at home alone tonight while their spouse is overseas fighting for our country.

5.  At the moment, I kinda feel like my whole life is in limbo.  We're trying to sell our house.  (It's awful out there...I don't recommend it.)  I'm trying to decide on a couple of career path choices.  I'm literally counting down until Thanksgiving so I can look forward to some serious time off work.  :)

Maybe I should start cooking my through a cookbook so we'd have something interesting to talk about.

Oh wait that's been done.

Maybe I should move to Texas and blog about a city girl becoming a country girl.

Oh wait, that's been done too.

And I was never a city girl.

Hmmm... guess I'll have to stick to money.

I'm off to go find some...