Link Love

Do you live in Georgia’s sixth district?  “There’s a special election in your backyard on April 18th. Democrats have a real shot to flip Georgia’s 6th Congressional District and send a message to Trump and the GOP. The voter registration deadline is this Monday, March 20th. Anyone in the district can register to vote or check your status ONLINE. You can get more information here: SwingLeft.org/GA-06. And please spread the word! #FlipThe6th.”

If you live in one of these districts, make extra special sure to call your House rep about the ACA ASAP.  Leave a message or fax if necessary!

Why a freelancer needs the ACA.  Georgia Dunn chimes in with another story.  CBO scoring.  Just stop being poor.

To be fair

The medicaid expansion reduced divorce.

Jared Kushner has major conflicts of interest with a Chinese firm.

US Border agents searching your cellphone.

Scientists running for office.

Knowledge is power shirt.

Not strong enough.

Man’s right to know.

Female name for a week.

Sophia Duleep Singh

Gmail phishing scam.

#1 YA

This is cute.

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Ask the Grumpies: Outings for older kids

First Gen American asks:

Seems the last two go to weekend adventures have been dubbed as “for babies” by my tween. (They were a fall foliage historic train ride and corn maze/pumpkin fest in case you are wondering).

Wondering what new outings I can add that would hold the interest of the older one as I think we are outgrowing the zoo, museum phase of fun weekend activities.

#1 suggests: What do tweens like? Basically nothing! Also I have never outgrown the zoo and museum. [#2 notes, this is true– once when we met at a nearby city when #1 was at a conference, we went to the zoo]. Are there street fairs? I’d be happy to go to the library… Hiking? Fancy tea in the city? Music fest? Opera?

Make the tween suggest the things!

#2 suggests: What do tweens like? Protesting! Making a difference! Being active! Volunteering!

#1 says: That makes sense!  Volunteer at the cat shelter!

#2 notes: Miser-mom tends to have lots of good suggestions with her kids.

What is your favorite kind of pie?

#1:  I like apple myself.  Though I’m also a fan of pecan in moderation. (And, of course, pot pies are great.)

#2:  1.  Pumpkin, 2. French silk, 3. pie full of hammers [#1 does not know what this is], 4. Pecan-bourbon pie with chocolate chips

Why DH’s retirement account sent us a check for >$3000

Shortly after DH’s company switched from a high cost retirement provider to Fidelity (which is a better choice for small companies than is Vanguard because Vanguard charges small companies pretty high fees, in case you were wondering), DH got a check in the mail from Fidelity for >$5K.  As a distribution.  Even though DH is well under any possible age for required distributions.

It wasn’t a mistake.

On the back of the statement, it said, “It has been determined that you had an excess contribution…due to your plans non-discrimination testing…”

The problem, as explained to DH by the company’s finance person and also in this post I found online is that DH’s company doesn’t compensate its less highly employees as well for retirement as it does its highly paid employees.  And the highly paid employees are contributing to retirement compared to the less highly paid employees in too high a ratio.  So they failed a non-discrimination test and send money back to highly paid employees so that the overall firm level of contribution no longer fails that test.  It is our understanding that we will pay taxes on that money as if it is income in the 2017 tax year (though it is income from 2016).

So, DH can’t put away the full 18K + employer match (which is going away for the foreseeable future anyway) each year for retirement, but some number less than that.  So it’s a good thing that I can put away large amounts in my university 403bs and 457 plans.

There is a way to make it so the company doesn’t have to pass the non-discrimination testing, but figuring that out and pushing for it didn’t seem worth looking into given the way that DH’s company is laying everybody off at the end of the month.

So, that’s one of the fun things about working for a small company.

Have you ever gotten a 401(k) distribution because your company didn’t pass non-discrimination testing?

Link love

This post of ours seems appropriate to the current insurance debate

A more formal, but animated, explanation.

So many things about the GOP house plan are so stupid.  Anyhow, in case you missed it, it’s going to cost most people more.

Accurate

This title

Fundraiser for sexual assault survivors

I know you guys know this already, but protesting bigots on campus is not denying them free speech.  Not inviting noted racist and alt-factivist Charles Murray to give talks isn’t suppression of intellectual discourse.  The other day I went to a student presentation on safe spaces and was a little bemused to have them define a safe space as one where everyone’s opinion is provided without fear.  Another person in the audience pointed out that they forgot the part where students aren’t supposed to step on each other’s rights either.  So, no, a safe space isn’t a place where students can say racist things about Hispanic immigrants even if there are no Hispanic immigrants in the room.

raging grannies

In case you were wondering why when you tried to buy the rest of KJ Charles Magpie series after you finished the first one, they had all disappeared as kindle books… here’s why.  They should be back.

11 people arrested at Tuesdays with(out) Toomey protest.

They just want townhalls deep in the heart of Texas

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson sends a cease and desist letter to a constituent

Hidden figures book vs movie and the role of social policy

Damon Jones makes some really great points about men-only AEA panels.

These are also items on my radical liberal agenda.

An interesting sleight of hand with math that changes taxes and withdrawal rates quite a bit

IRS withholding calculator.

Cursive is back

50 things to make in a muffin pan.

Turns out there’s a valid reason why I love mochas so much

Ask the grumpies: How does not wanting to retire early affect your savings decisions?

Leigh asks:

How [does] having careers, not jobs and not wanting to retire early, while still having healthy retirement savings all ties in together. How does that affect how much you put into retirement accounts vs other accounts each year, etc.?

TBH it really doesn’t. But I do think it accounts for some of the calm we wouldn’t be feeling if we weren’t in good financial shape right now.

Back tracking a bit though…

As Leigh notes, we’re working because we want to, not necessarily because we have to.  We do like our high incomes, but a lot of why we work is because we’re trying to make the world a better place and in my case partly because of ambition.  We have no plans on retiring ever, though we may change our minds in the future.  Early retirement is definitely not in our plans.

Right now we’re maxing out all of our hassle-free retirement savings.  So I’m putting away my mandatory match, my 403(b), my 457, and DH’s 401(k) (now with Fidelity and a much better deal!  Asking for change works sometimes!).  We are on an “over-saving” track for retirement at this point given our lack of desire to retire early and my relative job security (though who knows what will happen in 30-50 years!).

The main reason we’re putting this much away is to take advantage of the tax advantage and to make it more likely that schools will give our kids financial aid.  We (as of this moment in our current situation) have plenty of money leftover to spend.  But there’s not much to buy around here and we don’t really have the time or energy to go looking for things to buy.  This is the first year that we’re starting to accumulate additional money after the targeted retirement/529/mortgage/sabbatical saving is done since before we bought a house.  If the US were stable, we’d be putting it in lump 10K sums into the stock market (with a 25K donor advised fund that we may still do), but instead we did one lump and now it’s accumulating in savings waiting to see what happens with DH’s job and the political climate.

(As we’ve expressed probably ad nauseum to our regular readers– we have more than enough to live on in our current low cost of living area, but not enough to safely buy a house in Paradise, even assuming we move to Paradise for a high paying job for DH.  But there’s always the chance we’ll want to move to Paradise with only one job and will be very happy that we “over-saved” even if we can’t afford to buy a house when we get there.)

I guess if we wanted to retire early we’d spend less.  I would probably have to actually sit down and figure out what numbers we could retire at assuming different draw down rates and stock market returns etc.  Depending on how early we wanted to retire, I’d have to figure out how to ladder accounts to draw down from (probably the easiest way is just to use the 457).  And I’d probably be freaking out about money more because it would matter for our “freedom” date.  But instead I’m expecting another 30-50 years of work so it’s easier to roll with uncertainty.  There aren’t money worries on top of everything else.

If we get more tax-advantaged space to save for retirement (because of changes to tax laws), I guess we’ll use it, but at some point we’d have to think hard about when to stop maxing it out.

So right now we’re just going with the max defaults because where else are we going to put the money?

Grumpy nation:  Do you have a career or a job?  Are you aiming for early retirement, not retiring at all, or something in between?  How does that decision impact your retirement savings decisions?

RBOC

  • I think I’m going through premature ovarian failure.  I had stopped showing symptoms for a while so my doctor wasn’t all that concerned at my annual check-up other than doing the usual thyroid check and a (less usual) prolactin check to rule out other stuff, but symptoms have returned.  I do not like them.
  • It’s more than a little depressing that when I ask my colleagues “Where would you move?” each one of them has an immediate answer because they’ve thought hard about which countries to go to if they had to flee.  We’re kind of in a bad situation for that given that the countries that do DH’s thing aren’t necessarily the best for me (especially since I am hopeless at German– Ich sprecke nicht!), but in an emergency, if we were able to get our savings out of the country, I think we’d be able to retire without working to Spain, which I think I could handle.  I don’t want to be an ex-pat though– I am too patriotic.  I want to save my country instead.
  • DH found my faculty ID when he was sorting stuff for taxes.  Putting off getting a replacement for >6 months for the win!
  • I want to buy a t-shirt that says, “Dismal Scientist” but I may have to make one.
  • We bought silverware at a discount kitchen place when we were grad students.  After having my spoon bend again while eating ice cream, I decided that maybe it’s time to get a grown-up set of flatware.  After reading a lot of reviews, I determined that silverware sets have gone down in price quite a bit since we last shopped for them, but mainly because they’re really bad quality.  Lots of complaints about rusting and not being dishwasher safe for things that are supposed to be made of the highest quality material.  Pieces in the same sets aren’t standardized.  Production is mainly in Vietnam, Indonesia, and China, which wouldn’t be a problem except that there’s no quality control on the finished products, even from name-brands like Oneida and Lenox.  So we’re trying out the one remaining US manufacturer which is more expensive but seems to be getting pretty rave reviews.  You can get a set of 3 factory-seconds to try out different patterns for $8 (including shipping and handling), so that’s what we’re doing.  I’ll write a full post if it works out.  (Lots of the online reviews about it are in exchange for a free place setting, ours won’t be– they don’t know we exist.)
  • DH didn’t get an oxford comma joke that I showed him.  I had to explain what the Oxford comma was.  He still didn’t get it.  Readers, it was the first time I have ever questioned our marriage.  But then he said he always puts the comma there in a list so I said we could stay together.  Whew.
  • DC1 is better at piano now than I ever was.
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