If You Paid A Lot In Taxes, You Might Get Little Sympathy

I read a post on another one of my favorite blogs recently that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit.  I’m not going to point it out because I don’t think the post was written with the intent to get anybody upset, and it actually went off into some other advice that was practical and useful for many (thus why it’s still one of my favorite blogs), but it still gave me enough pause that I wanted to write about one aspect.

The post started off with the author complaining about having to pay a high number in federal taxes for last year.  He writes a lot about his profession and I can tell that he’s very knowledgeable, and I would wager that he is very good and very successful at what he does.

As such, I think he probably earns quite a good living.

Which, just to make very clear, I am 100% fine with.  People that do good work and are compensated well for it, I really have no problem at all with.

However, where it went a little off course was that he just jumped right into the fact that he was paying a lot of taxes, and glossed right over what I consider the even more important part of it.  What’s that?  It’s simple.

He’s  paying a lot more in taxes because he’s making a lot more money.

See, when you shift the focus of the sentence, you could easily look at the “making more money” aspect, in which case, who would complain about that?  Nobody.  Nobody at all would complain about making more money, right?

mb-2015-06-chartBut, if you’re paying more in taxes, aren’t you, in essence, complaining about making more money?

Now, I know that tax law is complicated and there are tons of factors that go into what people pay, so I know that people can make the same money and pay wildly different amounts in taxes, and vice versa, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that someone who pays $5,000 in taxes is likely making a lot less than someone who pays $25,000 in taxes.

See, it’s all about perspective.  You’d probably never hear the person that pays $5,000 in taxes say “Oh, wow, I wish I was paying $25,000 a year in taxes.”  That would sound almost silly, right?

But, what if, for the sake of argument, the two were making $50,000 and $250,000 respectively.  Would you think it crazy if the person making $50,000 thought “I wish I was making $250,000 a year.”  Of course not, who wouldn’t want that?

However, aren’t they really saying the same thing?

Let’s face it, everybody would like to pay less taxes, sure, I get that, but in the roughly 20 years I’ve been filing returns, it’s a pretty safe bet that if I’ve paid more taxes versus the prior year that I’ve started off by making more money.  I mean, you can’t really have it both ways, so which way would you rather have it, paying more and making more or paying the same but foregoing your growing income?  That could very well be the easiest question ever asked on this blog.

So, the point is that people can complain about paying taxes, but in many cases, aren’t you potentially complaining about making more money?   Have you ever heard of someone making such a complaint?  Well, if you’ve heard someone complaining that they’re paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes, you may in fact have.

I think that , in the case of the blog post I read, it could have been nullified by starting things off with something along the lines of “Our income was good last year, but even so, it still sucks paying $<amount> in taxes.”  Acknowledging the other side might have earned a tad bit more empathy from me, anyway.

Readers, what do you think?  Do you see complaining about paying more taxes almost as complaining about making too much money?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Sexiness Is A Powerful Force

Just in case you are living in a rock, Kim Kardashian posted a naked picture on Instagram and Twitter last International Women’s Day. Stars including Chloe Moretz, Bette Midler and Piers Morgan called her out for being a bad role model for young women. She hit back by writing an open letter, which had a caption “HAPPY #INTERNATIONALWOMENSDAY.”

Kim wrote, “I never understand why people get so bothered by what other people choose to do with their lives. I don’t do drugs, I hardly drink, I’ve never committed a crime—and yet I’m a bad role model for being proud of my body? I am empowered by my body. I shouldn’t have to constantly be on the defense, listing off my accomplishments just to prove that I am more than something that happened 13 years ago.” Wow, that was powerful. It hit me personally because sometimes, we criticize others by their mistakes they made way before yet I am pretty sure no one of us wants to be defined by our past shortcomings.

She continued by saying this, “I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”       For the longest time, women were criticized for being sexually liberated. But guess what, psychologists and philosophers like Sigmund Freud, John Locke and Judith Butler recognized sexuality as an important component of one’s life. Moreover, some women don’t really care about being viewed as sexually attractive and that is not a bad thing either.

Here the last sentences of Kim’s open letter: “I don’t want her to grow up in a world where she is made to feel less-than for embracing everything it means to be a woman. It’s 2016. The body-shaming and slut-shaming—it’s like, enough is enough. I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me. I am a mother. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, an entrepreneur and I am allowed to be sexy.” I strongly feel that women deserve to be respected while being able to express their feminine qualities like being sexy. It’s totally rude to impose to someone how he or she should express human sexuality. If Kim Kardashian chooses to post a nude selfie with black bars covering her private parts, then so be it. Plus, let us not be hypocritical. I have seen girls post selfies wearing skimpier bikinis than the black bars yet they are not being called a bad role model.

Sexiness is an art of expressing one’s inner and outer beauty. To feel sexy, one has to also exert effort be sexy. We had romanticized the idea of “effortlessly sexy” so much that women who work on being sexy are shamed.

 WAYS ON HOW TO BE MORE SEXY

  1. PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE

Take care of yourself by being kempt all the time. Take a bath regularly to avoid unwanted body odor. Wear fragrant and clean clothes. Pair it with a classic perfume that fits your personality and lifestyle. Practice good dental hygiene as well by brushing, flossing and gargling mouth wash. Make sure to also visit your dentist once a month to have your teeth cleaned. These basic things do not only make you aesthetically appealing, but it is an indication of self-respect.

  1. PRACTICE HEALTHY LIVING

Maintain a balanced diet, drink a lot of water, exercise regularly and sleep well. Healthy living does not only regulate one’s weight but it also enhances general well-being. In order to truly feel sexy, a person has to have a positive outlook too. Benefits of living healthily include increased energy, stable moods, and good self-image.

  1. FLAUNT WHAT YOU GOT, BABE

We all have our body insecurities and that is completely normal. But instead of focusing on what you lack, know what kind of wardrobe suits your best. If you the means, have pieces of clothing be tailored to make it more flattering. Also, you make opt to shape up with a wide range of shapewear for women.

Editors Note: This was contributed by a friend of Money Beagle.  I have always thought that while Kim Kardashian is often ridiculed for some of her choices, the fact is that choice after choice has kept her in the public eye and has landed her a great deal of financial success.  The fame and wealth that she has achieved doesn’t happen purely by accident or luck, so she does offer a lot of lessons to be learned.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Why It Pays To Be Persistent

Last week, I attended a project management conference here in the Detroit area.  It’s held every year, and thousands of people attend as it gives required credits that are needed to maintain the certification for my profession.

It’s basically a day filled with various speakers and presentations that discuss knowledge and trends in the profession.  It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, and sometimes if you pick a poor speaker, can be an outright drag, but for once per year, it’s not a bad day.

I go just about every year as it satisfies about 40% of our yearly requirements in one day.

I got my project management certification while at my current job, so I’ve only attended the conference while working for my current employer.  One thing that has always been a constant is that, while we were given the OK to attend the conference on company time, they would not pay for the conference.

It’s not that much money, about $150-200 over the years, but it was still enough of a sum that it hurt a bit when writing the check.

Every year, I would ask if the company would consider paying, and every year I would be told the same answer.

mb-201311mistakeN0.

Every year, until this year.  I asked the question a few months ago and was pleasantly surprised that my manager said that she had approval and that the company would pay this year.

Awesome!

Now, I know that I was not the only one to ask, so while I’d like to take credit for it, I know that it is not my credit alone to take.  Still, I know that it was through the persistence of me and my colleagues that it ended up happening.

How To Get What You Want

So, what’s the best way to be persistent and get what you want?  Here are a few steps.

  1. Ask Politely – I would always make sure to ask my manager if they’d consider paying, and would always approach it in a way that was polite and forward.
  2. State Your Case – On top of asking, I would normally observe how other groups within the IT organization received training for new technologies that came out, and would point out that while our practice was not technology driven, that it was still important to stay on top of the emerging trends and best practice.
  3. State The Benefits – I’ve already pointed out the benefits to attending the conference: I get knowledge, continued certification, and a day off of work!  That’s great, but when presenting the benefits to my manager, I would talk about how this would help the organization.  It would help us get better exposed to improved practices that could help projects come out better and cheaper.  I was not exaggerating when I sold it as an investment to the organization.
  4. Understand the Politics – Year after year, we’d be told ‘no’ and I never blamed my manager, because I understood that the decision came from higher above.  My current manager has been an advocate for years for us to attend this, always made the request, and explained that the requests were denied.
  5. Know When To Escalate (And When Not To) – Since the decision as being made by people higher up than my boss, it’s tempting to go right to them.  In some cases, this might actually make sense, namely if you feel it’s your boss that’s torpedoing the process.  In my case, I knew that our boss was in 100% support, and I knew that she was already bringing forth the case to her higher-ups.  In other words, she had it.  I knew that if I went over her head, it could be seen by her as a slight, and it could also make me look pushy.  There was no need to risk either of these things, so I chose not to escalate.
  6. Allow Time – The conference was last week, but I had the initial conversation with my boss back in January, when year end reviews were wrapping up.  Keep in mind that things like this take time.  Getting the approvals can take a few weeks, getting the Finance group to issue the checks can take time, plus everybody has a lot of other things that they’re working on, so it might not be the first thing on anybody’s plate.  If I’d waited until two weeks ago to ask, it likely would have been an automatic ‘no’, and this time a well deserved one.
  7. Don’t Give Up – As I noted above, I’ve been asking for years.  Along the way, I could have easily assumed that I knew the answer simply because the answer had been the same every year before, but things change and they certainly did this time.

The bottom line is to be persistent but to make sure not to be annoying or pushy.  It might take time and you might not ever get what you want, but it never hurts to ask.  After all, the worst that they can say is ‘no’, right?

Readers, have you ever had a ‘no’ become a ‘yes’?  Tell me about it and if you have any other tips to get what you want, in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

I’ve Run 25% Less This Year Than Last, And I’m Totally OK With That!

I love keeping track of numbers.  I have a spreadsheet that has tracked my/our net worth since the year 2000.  I check my Fitbit application a few times a day to see how I’m walking.  I always make sure that every day starts and ends with less than 15 e-mails in my Inbox at work.

I just love numbers, so it should come as no surprise that I keep track of my workouts.

I run at the gym pretty regularly, and I started keeping a log (in a spreadsheet, of course) of how often I’ve been running.  I also keep track of my pace, my distance, my estimated calories burned, etc.

I thought it would be interesting to compare this year to last, and as it turns out, I’ve completed roughly 25% less runs than I did as of the same date last year.

To date, I’ve run 41 times, compared to 55 times last year.

That sounds pretty bad, right?

At first, but see as a numbers guy I’m here to tell you that it’s really not so bad at all.  Why? One word.

Projections!

See, last year, I started off strong.  Between January and March, I ran on average every 2 days, and in April, ran on mb-2015-05-trackaverage every 2.5 days.  That was all well and good for awhile, but it turned out to be really bad in the long term.

Around the middle of April, I noticed a soreness in the bottom of my feet, and started slowing down a bit, taking longer between runs.  I continued slowing down in May and June, but it wasn’t really getting better.  Every run made it worse.  I did some checking around and it was clear that I had plantar fasciitis, and the only real way to solve this was to completely shut down running for a while.

In my case, I stopped regular running for roughly two months.  After that, I resumed running but at a much slower pace and also with greatly less frequency.

Because of all this, I ended up running a total of 111 times during 2015.  So, I ran 55 times in just under four months, and 56 more times that took over eight months to accomplish.

Projecting The Numbers

So, what this means is that while I’m currently behind the pace as far as the number of runs, I will start quickly ‘catching up’.  Right now, I’m averaging 11 runs per month.  This seems to be working out well as I am, on average, going two times per week before work and once on the weekend, with one week somewhere that I skip a day.  This gives me enough rest, along with the fact that I’ve drastically slowed my pace, increased my stretching, and have started wearing inserts in my shoes as needed to keep things stretched out.

With all of this, I’m comfortable that I can continue the pace of 11 runs per month throughout the year.  Knowing that I go less during the summer, due to going camping and what not, I’ve subtracted 2 runs per month for June, July, and August, and another 2 runs in December as the holidays tend to make things a little crazier as well.

If that were to hold, I would actually end up with 124 runs throughout the year.  Yes, I would actually end up with 12% more runs this year, even though I’m currently 25% behind.

It’s all about projections!

Readers, do you use projections to keep track of things over a longer period of time so that you’re not making more adjustments than might be necessary?  Where are some areas where this practice has helped you?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.