Why Cut Taxes Right Now?

Everyone hates taxes, right?  I know I certainly do.  You may not think so based on the title of this post, but I get it.  As every American probably knows, the big move right now is to reform taxes.  The President wants to cut taxes.  The Republican House and Senate seem to be moving forward.  I guess I’m just not sure: Why cut taxes?  At least right now.

Does Anything Get Fixed With The New Proposals?

My biggest concern with what I’m reading is that things don’t seem to get fixed.  When I look at taxes, the problem I have is how arbitrary things are.  You have, as an example, a $3,000 limit if you lose money on stocks.  That’s the most you can write off in a year.  This is completely arbitrary.

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When To Make The Switch To LED Christmas Lights?

We got our decorating done this past weekend. Usually, we go in full force the day after Thanksgiving, but we decided to start a bit earlier this year.  We have a mix of LED Christmas lights and regular lights.  Pretty much everything inside is regular and outside is LED.

Benefits of LED

According to the site Holiday LEDs, there are many benefits of switching to LED lights, which include:

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10 Things You Learn After Having Kids

There’s no manual on having kids.  That’s one of the first things I remember being told after we first became parents.  That was over eight years ago, but the words still ring true.  I’m sure I’m not the only parent that often feels like a manual would sure come in handy.  Though one doesn’t exist, there are some truths that I’ve learned.  Here are things you learn after having kids that I bet ring true for many out there.

You’ll Parent Like You Were Parented

Nobody is an exact replica of their parents.  But, on many occasions I’ve seen my parents come through in what I do.  My wife has pointed out the same thing.  While we all end up with our own unique styles, our parents have influence on this.

You’ll Learn While Teaching

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Letting Go

Have you ever had something that you held onto that you knew you shouldn’t have?  Eventually the time came for letting go.  For me, the recent example of that was my old artificial Christmas tree.

My First Adult Christmas Thing

I had the tree in question since 1996.  That was the year I graduated from college.  So, that holiday season, I bought myself my very first tree.  It was nothing special.  It was probably around 7′ tall and fit nicely in our small apartment.

This was in the days before pre-lit trees.  The tree was in layers.  Each layer had about 7 or 8 branches that you stuck into the pole.  They were all color coded at the end so you knew which ones went where.

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The One Way Our Christmas Budget Fails

We have most areas of our Christmas budget down to a science.  Saving is pretty easy.  We estimate our spending, divide by twelve, and set aside an equal amount each month.  That works out great.  Sticking to the budget works, for the most part.  But there is one area that we still can’t get right.  Tracking our spending is the one area where the Christmas budget fails.

I Can Track Just About Anything

Every year, when Christmas shopping starts, I start off filled with hope. For what, you ask?  Well, hope that I can finally get the tracking down to a science.

This should be pretty reasonable, after all, considering I have a pretty solid tracking system.  I have a spreadsheet where I track all spending.  Want to know how much we paid for electrical service in 2011? I can find that out.  Curious about what our new roof cost back in 2013?  I can track it to the penny.

But what did we spend for Christmas last year?  Well…..that all depends.

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Pretend You Can Do It

First grade teachers are awesome.  I think they have more wisdom than most other people.  I was reminded of this with our recent parent-teacher conference.  When we met with our first grade teacher, we talked about how much they learn this year.  It can get overwhelming.  Kids can get scared to try something that they’ve not yet mastered.  She remarked that in this situation she’ll simply tell them: “Pretend you can do it.”

It’s brilliant.  And you know what, it doesn’t apply to just first graders?

Can’t you imagine a whole slew of areas where this can apply?

Budgeting

How many people don’t budget?  A lot.  One of the top reasons given is that people don’t know how.

OK.  So pretend you can budget.

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Remember When Federal Budget Deficits Mattered?

It’s so interesting watching the latest talk from Washington come through.  It’s all about potential tax cuts and what they mean.  President Trump is touting a plan that would lower taxes for many businesses and people.  He claims it will help the middle class.  Pundits argue it mostly helps the rich.  Either way, it’s interesting that very little attention is given to the budget deficits and the impact that the plan would have.

Budget Deficits

For as long as I can remember, the federal government has run a budget deficit.  There were a couple of years under President Clinton when there was a surplus.  However, that seems to have been a blip on the radar, and very much an anomaly.

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Peak Debt – What Is Your Story?

Have you reached peak debt?  That’s what I consider the highest debt you’ll willingly take on during your lifetime.  Many people may not have hit peak debt yet.  Think of people who have not bought homes but plan to do so.  They will probably hit peak debt later.  But even they can look at their peak debt to date.

Our Peak Debt Story

We hit our peak debt in June 2007.  Predictably, this was when we took on the mortgage to our current home.  I figure that for many, this would when they saw their debt at its highest.  After all, for most people that buy a home, it’s the largest purchase they’ll ever make.  Since so many people do so with a mortgage, debt lines up as well.

For us, our highest debt total was comprised of the following:

  • Mortgage – $224,000 (this was 80% of the cost of our home)
  • Student Loan Debt – $31,969
  • Auto Loan – $8,647
  • Credit Cards – $0

This put our total at $264,616.  That was the highest debt we ever hit.

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The One Big Reason Why Sears And Kmart Are Doomed

Between 2000 and 2002, I went to school for my MBA.  I don’t remember too many of the details, but I remember one paper I wrote.  Our assignment was to pick a troubled company and strategize how to fix it.  I picked Kmart.  This was a couple of years before Sears and Kmart merged.

I can’t tell you what I wrote about point by point.  It’s possible that I may have the document saved on an old computer.  Maybe I’ll go look.  But I can tell you that things haven’t gotten any better in 15 years.

Honestly, Kmart, and now by virtue of their 2004 merger, Sears, are a mess.  So why are Sears and Kmart doomed?

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