My How Times Have Changed

Having recently been forced to upgrade my old computer, I’ve started realizing just how much things have changed in the last decade. And I pick the 10-year point because it’s when my life changed most significantly, and because it’s just a nice round number. But watching change happen around you is a bit like watching your hairline disappear—it happens so slowly that you don’t really notice it til someone points it out to you and then WHAM! You can’t NOT notice it anymore.

For instance, ten years ago:

  • We were all using dial-up
  • A 2.6Ghz Intel Pentium chip, with Hyperthreading, was just da-bomb! Now, it sucks
  • My dogs were puppies
  • I thought making the money that I do now would be a blessing
  • Christmas was still about “me”!
  • Stamps were 33 cents each
  • The DOW closed above 11,000 for the first time (aaah, the good old days. Thank you Mr. Reagan!)
  • IE version 5.0 was released (we’re now on what…8.x?)
  • MySpace was introduced and pervs around the world could now show off their freakiness!
  • We were all walking around quoting “Austin Powers”

But there have been more personal changes of course. For instance, in the last ten years, I’ve gone back to school and finished my degree. I’ve had three children and I’ve now been married for ten years. Ten years…wow!

Funny thing is, my shell has changed, but my mind has not. I’m still the same young-at-heart, testosterone-laden Male I was then. Only now it’s tempered with respect for my wife.

Now rather than figuring out when I want to start having kids, I’m trying to figure out how to stop having them and still have fun.

Instead of going for a run at 9 p.m. cuz I’m bored and have too much energy, I veg out in front of the TV while lying in bed because I know I’ll be up at the butt-crack of dawn getting juice and blankets for the boys, in between potty training and bottle feedings.

This is how old age gets you. It doesn’t hit you all at once with a slip in the bathtub and a hip fracture. No, it sneaks up on you little by little until the next thing you know, you’re having thyroid tests run and trying to figure out when Taylor Swift stopped looking like a child and became a hottie you’d hit given half a chance! (When you were SINGLE. When you were single…)

Oh snap! Maybe my mind HAS changed.


A simple sample of trickle-down-economics

image I don’t post many political blogs. This is mainly because I know that many of my readers don’t adhere to the same political views that I do, and I don’t want to piss off the few readers I do have. But with tax time hitting and everyone trying to decide whether to do something fun with their refund, or whether to just save it, I thought I’d give a little lesson on Reaganomics–specifically “Trickle Down Economics,” which the Democrats have poo-pooed to death with this stimulus plan.

Reaganomics, in this instance anyway, is the idea that tax cuts that benefit everyone the same, actually benefit the middle class and poor the most. Now true, if you make a million dollars a year, and you save 2% on your taxes, then you’re actually getting back a heckuva lot more than someone who makes $50K per year. But let me use my own example to show how it’s not this cut and dried.

CareerMom and I do pretty well; as my family (not you “TT” or “BP”) is always quick to point out in a passive aggressive sort of way (“Wow, if I made the money you do…”). It drives me nuts because most of them also live in Timbuktu, by choice. So, while they don’t make much money, their cost of living is very low as well, so it doesn’t cost them as much. But while we do well, we still have a lot of bills, and thus, our spending cash is probably nearly the same as a family living on half what we do.

Sound odd? Let me explain.

When you make a certain amount of money, there are only a few ways in which you can keep it out of the government’s hands:

  1. Contribute the crap outta your salary into a 401K plan. The downside is, that’s cash out of your pocket every paycheck, that you won’t see for 40 years.
  2. Buy a nice house and pay the crap outta a mortgage. The downside is that, while you get to write off all that interest, it’s again, money out of your pocket every month. Plus, the utilities are HUGE!
  3. Donating to charity. The downside, again, more money out of your pocket. Sure, you get a nice “feel good” but that doesn’t pay the grocery bill!
  4. Have lots of kids. The downside is…really? I think we all know what these are.

If you’re obscenely well off, there are more ways, but these are the basic ways most people you know can save money.

I mention all of this to point out that when CareerMom and I do get a little chunk of cash back, while we’re not having to use the money to pay off the credit card that we had to use for vehicle repairs, we’re also not so flush with cash that we can just run right off to Hawaii (in fact, the only “Island” vacations we’ve been on, were to St. Thomas because CareerMom won it along with a bunch of work people, and once to the Bahamas at a very inexpensive all-inclusive–something I would NOT do again OR recommend).

With the economy where it is, it’s making even those of us with a little extra cash laying around, reconsider what to do with it. For example, with MLS (My Little Surprise) on its way, we’ll be losing our guest room. Now, we have a very large, unfinished basement, but even to convert one room and a bathroom down there will cost about 15K. Using some creative financing and with me doing a LOT of the work, we could do it, but we’re not sure we want to spend the money right now because that would completely sap us dry. So, that’s 15K NOT going into the economy.

On a much smaller scale: I was working outside the other day and a guy, who was apparently doing some pressure washing on the neighbor’s house, came over and tried to pitch me on having mine done. He was insistent that he could do it “extremely” cheaply, but I still couldn’t let myself spend that coupla hundred dollars on something that we didn’t really NEED.

So, even the small jobs aren’t getting done, and the guys who could really use the money, aren’t getting it. Having illustrated this, I’d love for the guys in Washington to show me how giving the “middle class” an extra $500-$1000 is the same as cutting everyone a tax break, which would then potentially loosen the wallets of people like us and in turn provide even more cash into the economy.

Building roads isn’t going to make me feel better about spending money. Getting GM back to work building more cars with even more gov’t requirements and standards isn’t going to make me spend any more money. And building the CDC a new, “Green” office building here in Atlanta isn’t doing a darn thing for my psyche.

No sir, there’s only one thing that will make me feel better about spending–having more to spend. Also, from me to you…a Tax Tip: If you do your taxes via TurboTax or TaxCut, don’t let them deduct the e-filing fee from your refund. On top of the regular charge, they also tack on an additional “Handling” charge. For TurboTax, it’s another $29.95 for doing nothing more than transferring money from one account to another. No, just pay for it up front with a check, or your debit card and save yourself some green!