Saturday, April 28, 2007

Head above water

This month has been a particularly crazy one for CashDuck, hence the long silence. But I am doing pretty well with it all, though it does mean I don't sleep quite as much as I'd like. Or blog, or clean the house, or feed the cat. (Sorry, cat.) Recent thoughts:

Taxes - Ouch. I paid about $4,600 between federal, state, and local (plus I paid some 2007 estimated taxes for local). H&R Block decided that I should pay a penalty for underpayment of estimated taxes - however yesterday I got a letter from the IRS (which did cause some consternation when I saw it) in which they stated that I didn't actually need to pay the penalty and they were going to send it back to me. Awesome! Albeit in 30 to 60 days. Still essentially free money. I signed up for the federal estimated tax payment website, and am waiting for my packet on that, and attempted to sign up for the state program but it is rather confusing so I need to sit down and try to figure that out. Local taxes, I just fill out a little coupon and mail that in with a check, there doesn't seem to be an online method. If the state and federal systems weren't so massive that I'm afraid that a paper check would get lost, I'd do it there too as it's simple, but unfortunately doesn't leave much of a record.

Housing - I am really getting the itch to get a bigger place. Our current apartment runs $695 per month plus electric/gas which is another ~$115, so it's pretty easy for me to swing. This is a two bedroom apartment and currently Boyfriend has the small bedroom (it's pretty small) as his office, and I have the remaining space in the large bedroom that isn't actually taken up by the bed. I would really like to have my own room though (especially since then I could take a larger home office deduction if I had a whole room instead of a 5x8 area) and I really need more storage space for all the duck stuff. Second, I would really like a backyard that is fenced in and that dogs haven't been pooping in so I can take my guinea pigs outside. I used to do that all the time when we first moved here but then our second year here several dogs moved into the neighboring apartments and their owners allow them to crap right off the pathway, so I can't let my guinea pigs eat that grass for fear of getting an infection. So some space outside that I can absolutely know dogs haven't crapped on would be great. Third, we need more storage space - we had a great big closet that fit everything, but then (although this is both good and bad) our landlord put a washer and dryer in it. Plus, I am storing most of the unpacked CashDuck duck stuff on a giant shelving unit which is oh-so-lovely right in our living room. So I am really thinking about moving, but have to weigh more room and nicer space against paying at least $400 more per month for what I want. I found a nice place that's a block away, but despite the fact that I walked by this morning and the rent sign is still up, the landlord said it had been rented already. So I've emailed about another place that's a little farther from where I live now, but closer to where I work, but is available in May (and our lease here is not up till August). It won't be a tragedy if we have to stay here a little longer, and then maybe our current landlord will have something that I want available, since we really like our landlord. But I am just getting a little frustrated with how crowded our house is - the rooms are all pretty small or full of furniture.

Savings - I have successfully put Plan Not Living On My Actual Salary into effect. I will get paid $338 on Monday, split 80/20 between the bills bank account and the fun stuff bank account. I already sent off the rent check from my ING checking account (hopefully it will get there on time as I forgot to do it till yesterday so it won't go out till Monday) and transferred some extra money into my bills account. I also didn't get around to making my normal $500 Roth deposit in March so I will put in $1000 in a couple of days for March and April, and my 403(b) will get the $2500 from my salary, plus my regular nonnegotiable contributions, so I am pretty excited about this massive influx. I will also probably put some more money into the Fidelity SEP IRA that I set up - I put $4600 in during early March sometime, of which only $1000 was for this tax year, so I should really put some more in. Part of the logic of not living on my salary is that pretty much one way or another there is not any way for me to get out of paying self-employment tax on my CashDuck earnings, and how much I can save of that is limited to 25% of profit, so I might as well sock away as much as I can with my 403(b) and then put away whatever I can in the SEP afterwards. Also because I can continue sending in money for 2007 to the SEP until Apri 2008, but I can't do so for the 403(b). If I continue not living on my salary for the rest of the year, I'll nearly max out the 403(b) and 457.

MBA - I've been thinking about what kind of advanced ed I should get (as I have intended to get something or other all along) and I'm really leaning towards getting an MBA. The university where I work has a really great part time MBA program which you can get done in as little as two or as many as five years, and is very flexible, and all the classes are at night. The thing that worries me though is whether I will really have the time to do it with both working full time and doing CashDuck. I finally broke down and got someone to help me with CashDuck, but I would really need more help or more time to be able to do this. So the options there are, hire someone else to help me, or go to 32 hours or less per week at my full time job. Option 1, I don't know how helpful that would be because there is so much that would be really hard to spin off, and would require a lot more sophisticated of a structure in order to keep all of the gears running together. The person who helps me now is doing tasks that can be done anytime and don't really intersect with other operations, so it doesn't matter that I don't keep tabs on her. I have a few other things that could be spun off that are similar, but she doesn't have unlimited time or unlimited space for duck prizes at her apartment. :) Option 2 might be the way to go but I think I will wait until I have been there long enough that I am too valuable for them to say "no" to me going 80% (since it would then be 80% of me or 0% of me.)

In the back of my mind there is also option 3 which is to get a different, less demanding or less than full time job, because where I work now seems pretty dysfunctional and unless things improve I might leave too. I do like the work but the management stinks. Everybody keeps asking me why I haven't quit my job to work CashDuck, but the short answer is that I would become very neurotic working at home and having nothing else to think about. Plus I need the psychological security of having that income (even if I'm not living off it) and I wouldn't feel safe quitting my job without having large, large sums of money stashed away. Third, I'm young enough that having that kind of gap in my resume might be disastrous later on. ("You were in research and quit to run a website and now you want to do research again?") So I don't feel it's wise. I mentioned this to Boyfriend the other day and he told me that he would think I was nuts if I quit my job to run CashDuck, for pretty much the reasons I outlined above, but mostly the neuroticism.

A parting thought.. Anybody else notice that ING put in a total deposits amount at the bottom, that shows how much money you have among all of your accounts? I find this to be dangerous as I am practically a compulsive saver now, and I am going to be very unhappy to see that number go down when I have to pay CashDuck estimated taxes soon (since I park CashDuck tax money and general savings money at ING), but I do like seeing that nice big number (though more than half of it is CashDuck's money anyway.)

I will try to keep to a once weekly blog update as I feel very squeezed for time right now - if you saw my house (and desk) you would understand.


mOOm said...

It depends on your planned career path. If you want to go down the MBA route, developing CashDuck will look very good. If you want to go do a PhD say though, then holding your current research connected job will be valuable. Probably at this point you don't want to burn any bridges. I like thinking about places full of ducks :)

Cheryl said...

I noticed that on ING a few days ago...and find it confusing as well. I keep my E fund there, and another acct for my homeowners assn fee, so when I log in, it shows me one total, and I have to keep seperating it in my head!