Taxes and Tension

I got up this morning and went straight away to finalizing my taxes.  Hey, I’m 3 days early!  I use Turbo Tax  Home&Business.  After almost five hours I am done.

I’ve been working on my taxes since February.   I’ve probably invested a total of 15 hours on this year’s taxes.  This includes reading several IRS online documents… skimming about 50 pages and reading about 10 pages in depth… sometimes re-reading many times.  And this includes doing other online research.  I find, however, that the IRS documents are more helpful than much of the drek I come across online.  They are also really boring!

This year (2008 tax year) I have the full straight of schedules: A, B, C, and D.   The filed forms for federal amount to 11 pages.  There are 8 additional pages of worksheets.

By getting done a bit before April 15, I had time to calculate my allowable 2008 Roth IRA contribution.  Unfortunately, I only get a portion of the $5000 2008 limit (for folks under 50).   Once calculated I simply made the Roth IRA investment online.  [Its not too late, you can still make contributions for 2008 up through April 15th! ]

I’m also carrying forward a capital loss.  It’s a bummer that loss offsets against income are still maxed at $3000/year.  Congress, how about some inflation adjustment on this number?  It should be upped to at least $5000 in my opinion.

I don’t hate doing taxes, but they sure are a big pain and hassle.  Hey, at least they are done for this year.  Best wishes to those of you who are rushing to file.  And to all taxpayers, my sympathy.

The WHYs of Investing

I would like to look at the question from the ground up.   I propose why we  invest is based on what we value.   For myself I think the primary reason I invest is for financial security.  More security to weather person economic changes.  This includes job loss and/or (stock) market loss.  I invested in a house because it is nice place to live and was a good value.  I keep some money in cash for unexpected costs.  I buy insurance, not just because it is required, but because it helps against a large financial loss.

While I value security, I sometimes make poor choices.   For example I have not been exercising much this winter.  I have also not been very consistent eating healthily.  This is foolish because it increases my chance of heart disease and even stroke.  Though I am still under 35, I am beginning to enter an age where I can really benefit from a healthier lifestyle.  Not to mention the fringe benefits… looking better and feeling better.

At least this is what I am trying to tell myself. 🙂  So far it’s been working for about 8 weeks.

I also hope exercise and healthy eating will offer an antidote to the sting of my financial losses of the last 9-12 months.  It would be nice to say my portfolio may be down since summer 2008, but so are my waste line and my weight.

In essence, I hope I’m investing to give myself and my loved ones the best chances for happiness over a lifetime.  I hope that I’m investing wisely in life.  Money and finance are part of that effort.  Investing time with friends and family is too.  So is taking care of one’s health and fitness.

I’ve been short-sighted in the past about some of these things.  I’ve managed my money, I believe, very well.   I like to think that mostly I’ve been a good friend and family member — but I can certainly think of some lapses.  I’ve been really hit and miss about diet and exercise.  There have been stretches up to about 2 years where I’ve been in good to excellent physical condition.  There have also have been stretches of up to 2 years where I have let fitness lapse.  I hope I’ll continue digging my self out of the most recent lapse.

My point is that investing isn’t just about money.  Ideally investing is one tool among many to help improve the way we live.  Not to suggest that this is easy.  I think that while there is a danger in neglecting financial investment, there is also a danger in forgetting to examine why we invest in the first place.

I hope this blog helps stimulate some new perspective.  It has been interesting to write.  I look forward to your thoughts on this little investing/life excursion.