Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rollin' in it.

Well, this has been an interesting couple of weeks, money-wise:

1. My dad insisted on paying me the cost of my train tickets. (He and my mom have, upon occasion, helped out my brother and sister-in-law, who live in a more expensive area than I do but have more financially precarious jobs - my brother, in particular, works for Intervarsity and is dependent upon people's contributions to pay his salary). I hate to turn him down TOO vehemently (though I feel like I should pay for my own dang travel) because I know it makes him happy to be able to do it. (I deposited part of it and got a bunch as cash...either to spend on the "last weekend of freedom" shopping trip to Boutiqueville before summer classes start, or to put in my hidey-hole just in case a Bank Holiday or some other foolishness gets called and people start to panic. (And yes, I got it in small enough denominations that I could actually reasonably buy stuff with it if that second came to pass).

2. I got a letter from my insurance company telling me that they had miscalculated the cost of my coverage (I added the piano I inherited as a separate "fine instrument" carriage - it's over and above the homeowner's policy) and that they owed me $26 and were enclosing a check (which was enclosed)

3. I got a letter from the IRS. Now, I have to admit, I hesitated before opening it. Calculating my taxes this year were more complex because I had to do some calculation of depreciations because one of the investments my financial manager (aka my uncle the stockbroker) thought was a good idea involves a limited partnership in some forest products company or somesuch (I don't remember correctly what it's called). So I was afraid that either I was going to be audited or that I was getting whacked with a big bill because I calculated the taxes owed on that investment wrong, even though I followed the directions the corporation posted online.

Nope! It was a "Hey, you overestimated what your taxes were" letter (I guess I didn't apply the Capital Gains tax table right, or actually, I think what I did was use the regular tax table instead of putting in the lower number the Cap Gains table gives). My refund is $700 and some change greater than what I thought it would be. (And that money should be in my savings account now, or at least by the start of next month). Yeah, I know, $700 sounds like a lot to screw up but I looked over the taxes again and the change makes sense so I'm not going to question it. (I remember now dithering about it - because I was so discombobulated about the depreciation and Schedule E business and everything - and I think I just filled in the wrong number because it seemed to make sense at the time.)

4. At some point I should receive a check for $150 in return for evaluating and commenting on some proposed textbook chapters (which kind of sucked, and I told them that, but I also suggested how they could make them better, so I think I earned my money).

So I'm more flush with "unexpected" (and yeah, I know - I have to declare that $150 next tax-time and I will be doing that) income than I usually am.

So now I'm faced with an interesting dilemma: do I take some of this money and just go and blow it on something delicious and fun, like an mp3 player or a new digital camera or just a really GREAT day at Boutiqueville buying whatever grabs my fancy, or do I sock it all carefully away, figuring that things are going to get worse somehow? (Or do I figure inflation's going to go up, or a VAT - as Mr. Bingley points out, may be coming - and have one last "lost weekend" of spending money gleefully before the Titanic sinks [to mix metaphors]). Or do I slowly dribble it away buying stuff online (like I often do when I have some spare cash...I see a pattern I want here, an old book I want there...)

Or another option: do I go all responsible and use it to fix a few things around the house that kinda-sorta need fixing, but that I've been putting off? Like getting a new screen door because the metal on the old one's corroding? Or having the old clapboard stripped off my garage (it's a PITA to paint every couple years) and replaced with siding? And the ultimate thought: do I take some of the carefully-husbanded money (a few hundred dollars chunked over every month from my paycheck, at least in months where I don't have any other unexpected expenses like big car repair) out of my savings and have new windows put on the old place? It really needs it but the thought of having workmen tramping all over my house gives me the fantods, and also, workmen around here are known for doing things like starting a job and then mysteriously disappearing for three weeks - and that would most definitely not work if they had poked out two or three of the old windows but not yet got around to inserting the new ones. (I have heard of people replacing their own windows but the thought of that - and of trying to find a few other strong backs to help me do that - gives me the fantods even worse than thinking of workmen tramping through my house).

Actually, I don't know the first thing about window replacement, other than that there are some disreputable companies out there selling crap. (If I could at all afford it, I'd go with a well-known brand like Pella or Andersen. But I don't know how much those cost, even, or even if the old windows on my house are a "standard" size or if I'd need a custom job. And I REFUSE to do what many owners of old houses in my town have done - board up portions of their nice big old windows and have stingy little modern "energy efficient" windows inserted. Because I think the treatment I'd have to face for depression brought on by living in a cave-like environment would outstrip any money-saving on energy I'd see). So I really need to do some research first - but I'd love to have new windows in the house before winter, because the old ones leak heat something terrible. (Funny, they don't seem to affect the air conditioning in the summer...I don't feel hot air seeping in when I sit near a window in the way that I feel a chill in the winter).


The Fifth String said...


Dave E. said...

It wouldn't hurt to get some quotes from a Pella or Andersen installer if you know of any reputable ones in your town. I think there is a tax credit or rebate available for upgrading windows right now. I'm sure a sales rep can fill you in on it.

Mr. Bingley said...

Congrats on your "windfalls"!

Man, I would love to get some new windows for our house...schmaybe you can choose the one thing around the house that's been annoying you most and get that fixed?