Link love

Lotta links this week.  We had to make up for last week by reading the entire internet.  Lots of good videos too!

Calling all writers– Cloud is starting a publishing company!

Listen to your body clock.

Metaphors again.

Sartorial advice for landing  a spacecraft on a comet.

Argh of the day.

Framing love?

First day of marriage pics!

The problem with positive thinking.

I want a box of ham.  A tower!  Oh heck, just go and read all of these. Who knew that a comic about breaking cat news could be so long lasting and hilarious.

How to save the post office.

Anne Lamont is the coolest!

Tiny Iron Man.

#feministprincessbride

DC1 is enjoying the program mentioned in the comments.

Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago all score 100. These are my people.

all the kittehs!

Let’s hope this never happens to us

Bad advisor suggests places to donate (instead of to her).

That could be why.

10 ways to help out in Ferguson

Holy blackout batman! surely there are enough mosquitos for all?

From the Littlest professor

Why Millenials aren’t saving.

Generation X is tired.

Medieval doodles

Yes on all of this.

What would Victoria Beckham do?  And what are you proud of?

Lotteries don’t really fund education.

Sometimes the onion is just depressing because it is so true.

The truth about job growth.

Is Airbnb worth it for landlords?

Tampons in ancient Greece?  (spoiler:  probably not)

Ear wiggling kittens drinking milk from bottles.

Gamergate tries kittens, fails.

Coffee is the meaning of life.

Ok, with this last too many cooks thing, you have to keep watching *after* the point it becomes boring and irritating.  Only then does it turn hilarious.  (I turned the sound off for a little while and that helped.)

 

Ask the grumpies: IRA limits and 401K limits?

Katie asks:

I just started a new job in which for the first time, my employer offers to match my contribution to retirement.  I already have a personal Roth IRA, and I’m trying to untangle contributions limits, etc.  I know the total amount you can contribute to all Roth IRA accounts is $5,500, but does that also include the employer contribution?  E.g. If I personally contribute $5,500 to both accounts and my employer adds their contribution, will I be over the limit?  What about contribution limits to a Roth IRA versus a traditional IRA?

To our knowledge, your employer shouldn’t be offering to do anything with your (personal) IRA.  Also to our knowledge, the IRA limits are completely separate from your work contribution limits.  The IRA is an individual retirement account.  Your employer will offer a 401(K), a 403(b) or a SIMPLE IRA.  Wikipedia has a nice table comparing 401Ks to IRAs.

So if your income is low enough to max out the personal IRA, you can max out the IRA and your 403(b) and your 457.  You have separate limits for IRA vs. 403(b).  If you have a 401K, those limits are the same as for the 403(b).  Here’s a table with the number limits.   In 2014, the limit for employee contributions is 17,500.  You would also be able to add the full amount to the IRA on top of that.  (And if you have a 457, you can add 17,500).

Employer contributions limits are different than employee contributions.  Wikipedia says that the employer + employee limit for 2014 is the lesser of 100% of your income and $52,000 [update: corrected– it doesn’t look like they can do 52K and you can do 17.5K… again, talk to someone who knows these things if you’re in this situation].  Where it might matter what you do is the income limits– if you make enough money you may not be able to contribute to a Roth IRA or get any tax credit for a traditional IRA.  In that case you could put money in a traditional IRA and then back-door convert it to a Roth.

If your employer is offering a SIMPLE IRA, then you can contribute up to $12,000 in 2014 and your employer can contribute either 2% of your salary or match 3% of your salary, with a cap of $260,000 for 2014.  You would still be able to max out your personal IRA on top of whatever you do with the SIMPLE IRA.

Standard disclaimers apply– we’re not tax attorneys, talk to real experts, etc.  Probably the best people to talk to about this stuff are the relevant HR people at your place of employment.

Addendum from Katie:

I have a personal Roth IRA which I began some years ago and as a graduate student, I was never eligible for any benefits or to receive matching funds from my employer.  Now I have started a postdoc, and am eligible to receive retirement benefits.  My employer offers a 403(b) Savings plan and a 403(b) Roth.  I would prefer the 403b Roth because I would rather pay taxes on the smaller, present amount, than the future, larger amount.  I know, however, that there is a limit to the amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA.  So my question was in several parts I guess.  One, what is the difference between a 403b Roth and a Roth IRA?  Two, is the contribution limit applied individually to all Roth accounts, such that you can contribute up to the limit to each account, or does the limit apply to your contributions to all of your Roth accounts added up together?  And three, are there differences when the account is a personal one versus an employer account?

The Fidelity rep informed me that the limits apply individually to each account, so I can contribute the maximum to each if I could afford it.  I’m still unclear, however, on what the difference between the types of accounts and how personal accounts differ from employer accounts.

Think of the 403(b) as a bucket and the individual IRA as a different bucket.  You can fill either bucket with Roth or traditional funds in any mix (subject to income limits you probably aren’t hitting as a post-doc), but the 403(b) bucket will only hold $17,500 this year and the IRA will only hold $5,500 this year.  (Next year you get slightly bigger buckets).  Only your employer can give you the 403(b) bucket, and you need to be making at least 17.5K (otherwise they can only give you a smaller bucket).  You need to make at least 5.5K to put money in your IRA bucket.  If you are making more than 23K/year then you can legally max both out (though you may want to do things like eat).  I’m not sure if you’re allowed to max both out if you’re only making 17.5K/year (as in, can you double count the 5.5K).  I doubt many people are in that situation since most people need to say, eat.

Roth just means, as you noted, that you pay taxes now and not later, whereas traditional means you lower your taxable income for this year but have to pay taxes on earnings in the future when you will hopefully be in a larger tax bracket.  Roth vs. Traditional doesn’t mean anything for how much you can save (at least in the first order sense, you can actually save slightly more with one of them because of how taxes are taken into account, but it hurts my brain to think of which one… in reality it isn’t as important as what tax bracket you think you’ll be in in the future compared to now).

 Does that answer your question?

How can I tell if my problem is really a problem?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the patriarchy likes to force problems on people where none actually exist.  (By people, of course, I mean women and minorities mainly.  That’s kind of patriarchy’s thing.  White guys get fewer “damned if you do/don’t” manufactured problems.)

The internet is full of this kind of thing.  So we thought we’d give a tutorial with some examples.

“How can I tell if my parenting problem is really a problem?”

An excellent question.  Because sometimes your problem is a real problem that needs a solution, and sometimes your problem only seems like a problem because that’s what the patriarchy wants you to think, because if you’re busy worrying about something that’s not actually important, you’ll have less time to say, fight the patriarchy.  Bonus points if you get other people worried too. Answering that question is really simple in theory, though perhaps not as simple in practice– try it out and say what you think.

Step 1:  Notice that you think there might be a problem but (important!) realize that there may not actually be a problem… it’s possible that that’s just what they *want* you to think.  (“They” being the patriarchy, of course.)  This is probably the hardest step, and it might be one that you want to go through each time you’re irritated or worried, just in case it’s just the patriarchy messing with you and you can then attack the patriarchy rather than the perceived problem.

Step 2.  Ask yourself,  Is this really a problem? What makes it a problem? Why do I think it’s a problem? Here’s where you go… what are the consequences, is this actually hurting anything, do I just think it’s a problem because of culture or because someone told me it’s a problem even though nothing is actually being hurt?  Or are there real consequences?

Step 3.  Ask again, if this is actually a problem, is there a different underlying root problem.  (Crucial Conversations suggests something similar.)  Sometimes the problem you see is really just a symptom of an underlying deeper problem, and fixing the symptom is just a band-aid solution to a larger issue that needs addressing.
Here are some examples:

Biting at daycare is a problem because 1. If a kid does it too much they get kicked out and 2. Biting hurts people and we have an underlying belief that we shouldn’t hurt people that we would like to impart to our kids.  3.  Why is DC2 biting?  Is the actual problem that the kids are not being taught conflict resolution and ze’s constantly getting stuff grabbed from hir?

Sleep “issues” are a problem if A. the kid is grumpy from not getting enough sleep or  B. Mom and dad would like more quiet time (or more sleep). They are not a problem because C. Everybody else’s kid seems to sleep more or go to bed earlier so I must be doing something wrong or there’s something wrong with my kid. But many people complain about C without A being an issue at all and while simultaneously complaining that dad never gets to see the kid because the kid goes to sleep too early. If C is the only reason, then it is a non-issue. But it’s a non-issue that a lot of parents have (because most kids aren’t exactly average), so they commiserate in the comments and it builds as something that seems like it should be an issue. Complaining about sleep problems that aren’t real problems becomes the normal. Being anxious is the normal.  It doesn’t have to be.

So that’s our quick guide.  Do you have any examples you’d like to share?  What kinds of problems have you discovered were actually not problems at all?  When have you found that the superficial problem is actually masking a deeper issue?

I don’t think I’d find reading about my life to be very interesting

But I do find reading about my thoughts to be interesting.  (I waste a lot of time rereading old posts of ours.  There’s some good stuff in there!)  And sometimes I crack myself up.  (What does that mean about my sense of humor?  Hm…)

On a day to day thing though, meh.  I work.  I spend time with my family.  I do laundry and groceries and occasionally shop at whole foods.  I’m not bored living my life, but reading about it would be pretty far down in list of things to do (somewhere above “things that are really painful” but below “things I don’t enjoy doing but have to get done anyway”).

This lack of interesting stuff going on in my life seems to have increased (widened?) with DH getting a new job and making money.  I just wouldn’t want to read about someone like me.  I was more interesting when we had to scrimp and save for stuff.

But interesting isn’t really what I’ve ever been aiming for.  One doesn’t really want to live in interesting times.  (Though one does.  Which is depressing.)

And I admit, the daycare saga may be interesting to some, but it’s just depressing to me!  My poor little DC2.  Similarly having an incontinent kitten.  I’m sure I will look back on nice kitty’s preference for piles of cloth and laugh some day.

Obviously the solution is to ask #2 to write more about her life.  Because what she’s been doing is tres interesting!  At least, I think it is.

Would you find your life interesting to read about, and is that a good or a bad thing in your opinion?  Do you prefer reading about people like you or people who are different or both or neither?

Conferences for the unemployed academic

Now that I’m no longer a professor, I have to pay for my own conference travel out of pocket.  Of course, before they didn’t really pay for enough to cover even one conference, so this isn’t much different from when I was an employed academic.

In fact, dealing with conferences on my own is expensive and it sucks but it’s easier than dealing with our less-than-competent secretary!  (Insert rant here on:  it was enough for them to say they supported professional development and research, but not enough that they actually did. End Rant.)

Why am I conferencing, even though I’m not employed and I am not bringing in money? I thought it might help get a job, to network, because conferences are cool and fun, to learn about research, to see old friends.  Why does anyone ever go?

But I’m not paying 100% out of pocket.  I’m doing some things to save money on the trip.

To pay for the conference I’m using a mishmash of frequent flier miles, savings, and aggravation.  I’m also sharing hotel rooms with colleagues/friends (SCORE!)

Now, I think the trips themselves are tax deductible since I’m using them for job seeking/networking purposes, but according to my partner’s accountant given that we’re renting etc. we won’t be over the standard deduction this year even with my travel and stuff.  I’m saving the receipts anyway, just in case.

So that’s my story.

Do you pay for work-related conferences out of pocket?  How do you save on travel?  Is a conference your idea of a vacation?

Link love

We might both be gone right now.  Please don’t rob our houses/apartments.

what…?

but why?  (#2 doesn’t get this one)

Museum selfies are awesome

racism in voting

bad advisor continues to give good advice

Let me fix that for you, NYTimes

disappointed in donna ginther

How one couple budgets when no longer broke.

Baby’s first Halloween, is there something I missed?

Picking up a project management mid-stream

useful scripts for teh menz

Gosh Google

Q:  how much should a family of four give for a wedding present?

A:  Is your baby chipping in towards this gift?  The cat?  No?  In that case, give anywhere from ‘handmade card/free’ to thousands of dollars, depending on your situation.  The happy couple takes checks, cash, and money orders.

Q:  is it sanitary to rinse dishes in a sink rather than under running water

A:  use a dishwasher, it’s more water-efficient.  (P.S.  No.)

Q:  what is the purpose of medical insurance?

A:  You must be 19 years old, amirite?

Q:  do engineers make good boyfriends

A:  Mine did, but he would be a terrible boyfriend now because he’s married.

Q:  do engineering faculty teach during the summer

A:  It depends.  Some do, some don’t.

Q:  reasons why i should stay grumpy

A:  Kyriarchy.

Q:  why did i choose mna for grad school

A:  I don’t know, why did you?

Q:  how do people make a living in the midwest

A:  Usually by going to work…

Q:  what could you use a spoon for stranded on am islanf

A:  So many things!  Knife.  Reflector to flash Morse code SOS at passing vessels.  Eating utensil.  Shovel.  Cooking up your crack.  Splint.  Back-scratcher.  Shiv.  Come up with your own if this is a homework assignment.

Q:  what are the gifts can be present to friends marriage

A:  Check their registry.  If no registry, then write a check.  Or you can try to be thoughtful, but that means you have to get something them-specific.

 

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