Reprise and Revise

I thought it might be fun to revisit a few of my previous posts and see what’s been happening since. Take Email Efficiency, for instance. A few days after writing that entry I was going through my Trash folder and discovered some Doctor of Credit newsletters. My mailbox sorting rules say they should just stay unread and be placed in the Archive, not sent to the trash! It turns out the fifth or so rule in my list of 357 filters — a rule I’ve had for years! — was loosely matching on a common phrase and deleting any emails containing a match.

That rule has now been deleted.

i do occasionally review the email in my Trash folder and this is the first time I’ve spotted something that I intended to keep. Perhaps I really haven’t lost that much mail due to this errant rule as I’d first suspected.

In Thinking about Tax Year 2018, my thoughts weren’t entirely correct. (I hope they are now, though, as I’ve just e-filed my taxes — nice to have that done!) My biggest misjudgement was overestimating my income, thinking it exceeded the upper bounds for the Traditional IRA phrase-out range of “$60 to $70 thousand.” In fact my income was just below the lower end of the range, and for 2018 that is $63k. This meant that the full contribution is used in reducing my income, in this case lowering it by $5,500.

Another success was to utilize my tradeline business activities in claiming useful tax deductions. Overall the 1099-MISC income did increase my taxes, but not by as much as I had initially figured. In a way this was a step toward restructuring my finances, a goal that I had mentioned wanting to accomplish. And seeing the tax figures accounted for and on their correct forms is actually very affirming.

Taking a turn for the sour, here, I experienced financial loss to the sum of about $172 in Burger King gift card value. A $200 gift card I purchased back in July I let lie dormant for several months, my error. I was left very bewildered upon a failed swipe, and, in that Bronx BK I stepped out of line, pulled up my transaction history, and saw the awful truth. Multiple swipes starting November 1st quickly drew the balance down to $0. At this point, well after the gift card warranty date and cycles beyond the credit card fraud window, I realized that there was no hope: all value was lost.

My error was in buying such large value in merchant credit from a third-party source. Next time I will forgo the better price discounts on larger value gift cards and instead purchase smaller value cards that are discounted for less. Usually it’s not that much of a percentage less, and, in the end, whether it’s 15 or 20%, it’s still a savings. Also, now the rate of value depletion for my BK GC usage more evenly matches the warranty expiration. Looking at my past gift card usage, this really is the first time I’ve ever held value over $50 for so long. Oh well, I guess I was just being optimistic and trusting. Lesson learned, I’m not bitter, and I’m glad the reminder wasn’t any sharper.

While I’m on the subject of money, my employer changed HSA administrators. After eschewing health and dental insurance for 2016 and 17, beginning 2018 I decided to once again carry the two because the cost is tax deductible and it lessens my reported income. Further, paying the IRS a penalty of well-over a thousand dollars for not being insured is no fun either, especially when that amount would have, coincidentally enough, completely covered the cost of the health insurance with my employer. But, error recovered from, since January of 2018 I have held health and dental, and, because mine is a high-deductible plan, I get to contribute a tax-deductible $3,450 to a health savings account! (‘HSA’ — and, for 2019, the contribution is an even $3,500.)

Now, after 1 year of owning this HSA account, the vendor that holds the funds and makes investment options available is changing at the behest of my employer. The HR department is still settling on that perfect employee management system, so migrations like this have not been uncommon. But migraines are. HSA administrators are happy to charge fees, worse than a bank as the fees being charged are for necessary actions such as the “Transfer of Asset to another Custodian Fee,” which is exactly what needs to happen when changing HSA administrators.

It also takes forever. After mailing in a paper form to my old HSA admin., the account is closed, and the funds are sent by way of paper check, apparently, to my new admin., who will eventually receive the funds and reinvest them. This maneuver recalls the awful suspense that I felt from the effects of money suddenly no longer subject to the (generally upward) gyrations of the financial market, and instead diminish in value when the S&P Fund gets repurchased at a now-increased price due to market appreciation. (Or perhaps I’m just unlucky with the 1%+ differentials.) The solution is, as it was then, what’s known as an “In-Kind Transfer,” an instant, electronic transfer which can only happen between accounts held at the same institution, and is therefore not applicable to me.

Back to reflecting upon the past, in mid 2016 I made a financial prediction, wrote up a bunch of very exhausting words analyzing the global markets aspect, and have since had 8 out of 31 months within which a theoretical buy at the time could have been sold for a profit, with a maximum gain of 7%. These are completely unacceptable results, except in one way. It’s a good lesson to myself, a reaffirmation that I truly cannot pick a winning investment. Therefore I go with the market trend, which historically has been upward, and at a decent rate, too! Somewhere, I’d say, around 7%.

Toward the end of 2015 decided to split my writing roughly by subject (personal and travel) and post the entries on separate blogs. Reading back, it appears my interests were shifting toward travel, and so I decided to write about nothing but that on Real Life Points. This development coupled nicely with another project I had at the time, reconfiguring this website to simultaneously support multiple blogs. I still have those other blogs but they’ve been isolated, either their domains or subdomains were never set up, and there’s no content to display. Just this one domain name was kept, and, when doing the site name conversion, I got to know the WordPress database and PHP scripts a little better. It was a good learning experience, and besides, I was sick of unemployment and tired of travel, so doing something new and technically challenging was a mentally stimulating diversion.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been reading and reflecting back into my past. It’s been a fun trip down memory lane, but I think I’m ready to head back into the present. There’s not much going on right now. Outside there’s still some snow, although the temperature remains above freezing. The storm yesterday was mostly rain. My skin feels dry, but at 53% humidity, it would be worse if the snow wasn’t already melting into pools and invisibly evaporating into the air.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *