2019 IRS Return 99% Complete

taxes.jpgAs of today, I can say that the 2019 returns are about complete. All we’re waiting for is the final 1099s from investments, retirement, etc. One such investment 1099 won’t be available until the second week in February, so we will have to wait another month for that little (very minor) tidbit of fiscal information.

Looking at the bottom line, i.e. the cash back or balance due, it seems that we planned pretty well in 2019 and the resulting difference is a relatively small amount in our favor. We used a predicted tax rate based on past experience and forecast that value for 2019 in our “Withholding Planning” spreadsheet. We adjusted the rate of withholding according to the results of the spreadsheet and it worked out to a difference to within a few hundred dollars from breaking even. I love it when a plan comes together.

This year is the first year that we have taken the standard deduction rather than itemizing. We went through the deductions exercise to see if we could surpass the new $27000 (married filing jointly) Standard amount, but the total of all our deductible fees, charity, mortgage interest, medical premiums and other miscellaneous items did not surpass the Standard. That actually makes it easier for us if we can depend on claiming the SD in the future, but we will track the deduction numbers just in case.

Tax year 2020 will be a bit different from the past since the Damsel will become eligible for some SSA income. We have that factoid programmed into the 2020 version of the spreadsheet to account for the difference. The delta from adding her income will be conveniently offset by a reduction in my draw from the IRA to retain about the same level as before with an appropriate cost-of-living increase of course.

Now awaiting the forms so we can claim our paltry refund. :)

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Classic 1950’s Chevrolet Sedan

Classic 1950 Chevrolet Sedan

Last Thursday was our nominal weekly shopping day, so we found ourselves out of the house and going to both downtown and uptown to visit a few places to gather provisions for the week. We also stopped into one of the local “touristy” emporiums to get a couple of belated gifts for the Damsel. The story at the link describes the latter.

On the way toward the downtown end of things we passed this very clean Chevy sedan driving in the opposite direction. Damsel (as she often does when seeing a classic) grabbed her camera and snapped this photo of the early 50’s Chevy as it rolled by us on Wickenburg Way.

We probably have seen this nice car many times in the past. There are a lot of classics that not only are brought out for our regular car shows, but are used by their owners as a means of transportation in addition to being a classic show car. I can personally think of several of these that are regularly seen around town and not always recorded by a camera shot.

Just a note about the computer environment here, we are posting this with the new system in place, enjoying the much quicker response times as we edit our work. We still have some more “cleanup” to accomplish, but there’s no hurry as we’re on RST - Retirement Standard Time.

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Getting Organized in 2020

Getting Organized

We finally got the new laptop and external display set up in the home office. Thanks to having some shelves to relieve the desktop clutter, we now have a better sense of organization. The photo above is preliminary since we have some desk lamps on order and we’re going to replace the aged speaker system with a new bluetooth system. The lamp in the left will be going away along with the old speaker system.

The shelf itself was advertised as a TV stand, but the literature it came with shows it is intended to be a shoe rack (for Imelda-wannabees, I guess). Regardless of that, the shelves are now serving as a desk organizing unit.

Frequently-accessed items and the wireless router/modem get the top shelf of the organizer, while less-frequently-accessed items get lower places behind computer monitors and such. It’s impossible to hide all the wires, but I think it is much better than it used to be. I’m sure that as time goes on, I will tweak things here and there.

I’m still installing applications and transferring files to the new machine as the need arises. I have the old computer set up in the motorhome out back and since it’s on the LAN, I can get most of what I need from the old system without having to go out there.

I sure like the new laptop computer. It is super fast compared to what I’ve been used to, although it isn’t in the supercomputer category by any means. Still, I’m enjoying the change.

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Winter Cactus Flower

Winter Cactus Flower

Damsel’s so-called “Christmas Cactus” has flowers opening about a week after the holiday. From the looks of the plant, it’s showing that many more of the flowers will be opening over the next several days. Damsel took this image today when the sun was shining into the front window where the plant sits on the sill.

We didn’t post a new year message on the eve or the day, but we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2020. We let the post slip in favor of just relaxing and doing the usual holiday things, football bowl games, food, you know - celebrating in our own way.

It turns out that the switch from the old laptop to the new one has a few wrinkles. I have slowly been transferring all my “stuff” to the new one, but need to stay on line here until the complete switch over. My laptop is also the print server for the household, and it would put a drag on things if it were to be down for too long.

Another project associated with the computer replacement is the overhaul of the desk/workstation in the office. It needs to be reorganized and updated to new stuff. I just finished assembling a three-level desktop shelf (something needed for a long time) that will hold the various devices and get a lot of the stuff currently on the overcrowded desk up and out of the way.

So, we’re making progress on everything while keeping the pace comfortable for ourselves as we move through it all. Again, may you all have a blessed and happy new year.

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New Office Furniture for the RV

Office ChairEarlier this fall, the Damsel and I purchased two office chairs to replace the stock RV dining room chairs. Today, I finished assembly of the first of the two and took the photo seen at the right. The chair is positioned facing aft just behind the cockpit chairs. It will move to its normal position at the dining room table after assembly of the second chair.

The original chairs consisted of two fixed and two folding chairs which were a matched set of four. We only used the folding chairs on a single occasion when entertaining friends in Kalifornistan in 2018. At that time, one of the original folding chairs COLLAPSED while one of our friends was sitting on it. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt. The RV dealer replaced the chair, but we haven’t trusted them since.

Damsel and I used the fixed dining chairs as office chairs when we would set up our computers on the dining table. After a while seated on them, however, our butts would get sore or fall asleep. We then resolved to replace them with some chairs comparable to those we currently use in the Arizona Home Office.

We figure we can just have a couple of garden-variety folding chairs standing by in the RV wardrobe closet for the rare occasion where we have guests in the RV. The old set of chairs, which are reasonable-looking and nice as a set, will be donated to a local charity for resale.

The second office chair will be assembled sometime in the first of the year, well before they will be needed for our spring excursion. The first one, pictured above, sure is comfy to sit in. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Holy Christmas Day 2019

Jesus Christ is Born

We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. Click on the image above to enlarge.

Luke 2:11-14 King James Version (KJV)

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Amen!

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Sometimes, Life Gives You Lemons

Dwarf Lemon Tree Harvested Lemons

Late last week, the Damsel and I picked most of the lemons from our dwarf lemon tree west of the house by the RV Drive. For a “dwarf” tree, I’d say, it has reliably produced a large number of lemons each year since we had it planted seven or eight years ago.

We normally give some of the lemons to neighbors and a couple of senior centers here in town, and use the rest of them to produce Limoncello, an Italian “digestivo” after dinner liquor. Damsel uses a recipe form an on-line website modified to use diabetic sweetener rather than sugar. We can’t tell the difference in the end.

This year, however, we have a surplus of both lemons and Limoncello, so we’re going to give most of the crop away and juice some for another couple of uses. We don’t have any trouble finding friends, neighbors and food banks locally to dispose of them for good uses.

Just for a lark, I put together the little graphic below to leverage on an old adage about life giving you lemons . . .

Make Limoncello

Click on any image above to enlarge.

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