Hey, y’all. As you might’ve noticed, I didn’t post on Tuesday. I was in LA enjoying quite a lovely birthday weekend trip and was too busy spending Monday evening at the beach in Malibu to write. Ditto for the previous nights on being too busy. I brought my laptop with me to LA on the off-chance that I’d find some time to write (or spend time on the plane doing so). Nope. Didn’t open it even once, and you know what? That’s fine. That’s called having a life and enjoying my vacation, which was my first visit to California and my second visit to the West Coast.
I got back to DC late last night and I don’t want to write tonight. I don’t have the energy for it and I’ve got things to do like unpacking and cleaning up my room so I can hear myself think in there again. I need to cook so I’ve got food for the rest of this week. I’m tired and I need to go to bed at my normal time to get back to my East Coast schedule instead of staying up late writing. Essentially this evening should be me getting my life back in order, which has been a losing battle these last few chaotic weeks.
I want to be back in LA—sun and beaches and mountains? Yes, please!
Blogging is a labor of love and it’s certainly not sexy; it’s not going to earn me enough money anytime soon to quit my job, or even any money at all. And since I’m not getting paid to do this, I have leeway to not write when I’m on vacation or when I’m having a crappy day, despite the posting schedule I’ve set for myself.
Today has honestly been a pretty crappy day with a hefty dose of post-vacation blues, and that’s absolutely contributing to the feeling that I have nothing to say tonight. But I’m writing. I didn’t want to go the full week without writing, despite wanting to do anything but sit here with a blank Word document. So it’s especially a labor of love tonight.
I’m consciously working to build a life I love, but sometimes I have a day like today, and it’s important to me that I talk about everything as honestly as I can. So, on days like today, when I’ve got nothing else, I’ve at least got enough for a life update post. If you stick around until the end, I’ve got LA pictures for you.
On the job front, more waiting. I’ve got an interview at the end of this week for the new position, but the longer I’ve thought about it the less excited I am about the prospect of the overtime that position entails. Right now I get home right at 5:00pm and liberally make use of some of the five hours of lunch break during the week for things that are not lunch, like leaving early on a Friday to drive to NC (or when I just cannot be bothered to stop snoozing my alarm and get to work on time instead of 15 minutes late. But the thing is no one cares right now because I don’t have a direct boss ?♀️). Do I want to give up that flexibility and my decently fun side hustle in favor of getting paid overtime (at likely more or less my current salary. I suspect this will be a lateral move, although one with a better title) and for a change of scenery in terms of responsibilities? Honestly I’m not sure I do. And that’s disheartening.
And in the meantime I’ve heard nothing back about my request for a raise/title change for my current position. The interview does not invalidate that request by any means and I’m getting impatient. The second half of my interview is me talking with HR and I don’t know if that’s an appropriate time to bring up that request.
I’ve also known for a while that I’d be moving out of my current office (a newly-created position will be in my office instead) and into another location as a stopgap for when I at some point permanently move to some other desk in some other office in my department at some undecided time, maybe when we figure out what in the hell my position will become. Surprise, that’s happening all of a sudden at some undetermined time on Monday so I have to start cleaning and decluttering my office! Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that I’m interviewing for a different internal position so may be moving desks soon after anyway. All of this is deeply exhausting on top of the exhaustion of an entire year of not really having a position and waiting for this reorganization to happen.
Add in a healthy dose of office politics on my first day back at work after a four-day weekend and I’m beyond done with work right now.
Filed before I left for LA and now I’m waiting on my return! It’s a big one—approximately $1,600. I’m getting almost $400 back from the Feds and about $1,200 from DC.
Taxes filed! And yeah I gave the federal government an interest-free loan last year, but my mood upon seeing my return amount? Let’s just say I’m dancing in my chair and singing along to the music I’ve got playing (the glass of whiskey might be contributing to this mood) ???
— Erin | Reaching for FI (@reachingforfi) February 16, 2018
To be fair, $940 of that DC refund was my Schedule H property tax credit. I’d be getting a fair amount of that back anyway even if I adjusted my withholding and didn’t get much of a refund, although getting paid more each paycheck would eventually shift my numbers so that I potentially wouldn’t be eligible for as much of the Schedule H credit. I’m not going to do the math to figure out where that line is. I enjoy the hell out of getting enough money back so that I more or less only paid 11 months of rent last year, so there’s certainly an argument for leaving my withholding exactly where it is so that my AGI is artificially low.
So then there’s the matter of the additional $600 I’m getting back.
I know and hear the arguments for adjusting my withholding and not getting a refund. I know, and they make sense. But my money situation means I’m chipping away at my goals $100-$200 at a time; it’s fairly slow going. Getting $1,600 at once is an incredible psychological boost, and one I intend to make good use of.
Additionally, I’ve been sending 1/3 of every paycheck I get from my side hustle to a separate savings account for taxes. Perhaps, based on how the numbers work out, I’ll owe money on that for 2018, and that’s why I have that savings account. But for 2017 my second income just reduced my federal refund amount by about $250, so in theory every bit I put aside in 2017 is officially mine, and I can move it from that savings account to do something more useful with. Maybe I’ll send it to my Roth IRA? Stay tuned for what is likely to be an absolutely thrilling decision (I’m absolutely a boring personal finance nerd and that’s just fine with me).
I’ve got a zero balance on the credit card I’ve carried debt on since I opened it back in 2016. The intro zero interest rate promo expires sometime in March but I don’t have to worry about when that is or risk getting hit with all the accrued interest on my balance. Zero balance, y’all.
I’m down to about $200 left on two other credit cards, which, to be fair, is just spending that’s happened this month. Technically I’m out of debt! But I still want to say I have it all completely paid off. At this point I’m just playing a game of trying to reach a total zero balance by juggling the fact that I’m still putting things like groceries on my cards and that it takes a few days for the payment process (so annoying! Why can’t my money magically be moved from my checking account to my credit cards right away?). But one way or another I’m going to accomplish a zero balance screenshot by the end of the month, even if it means prepaying for purchases that are still pending.
This means I don’t have to use much or even any of my tax refund for paying off my credit card debt. That feels AMAZING. I did pull about $500 out of my emergency fund to pay off debt because I knew my refund was coming, so I’ll be replenishing that when I do get that money. I’m going to send a few hundred over to my student loans so that they are paid off ahead of my current schedule, in keeping with one of my goals for this year. But for the rest? I’m going to beef up my emergency fund and then figure out what amount to send to my Roth IRA versus my taxable investment account.
Or maybe I’ll keep some of it to use for a Memorial Day trip I’m considering to see a friend in Florida. Or to go back to LA for five days when it’s warmer and lay on the beach the whole time. Sorry, I’ve got sun and the beach on my mind, possibly because it was too cold for swimming or sunbathing or wearing anything but jeans and a sweatshirt to the beach when my friend and I went.
The point is, by the end of this month I’ll just have $1,000 left of my student loan debt and THAT’S IT for debt. That means I’ve got so many more options with my refund and side income.