Archive for Retirement

Safe Arrival at Home

Cactus Wren on Saguaro Buds

We’re safe at home today, after a five week absence. We drove from Bullhead City over to Kingman and then down US 93, also called the Joshua Tree Forrest Arizona Highway, but there is lots more to see along that scenic route going from I-40 down to Wickenburg. Damsel and I are happy to be at home again, having missed our beautiful retirement home. Our two small dogs seem equally happy to be getting back in their routines.

The Cactus Wren in the image above was waiting on the big saguaro out front to greet us. It is our State Bird perched on the buds of our State Flower. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Camping at the Colorado River

Camping at the Colorado River

Tonight, we’re camped at a neat little RV park right on the Colorado River in Bullhead City, AZ. The campground is less than 300 feet away from the river where we enjoyed the view that Damsel captured in the image above. It is a lot warmer here than we have had during the entire trip with the mercury hitting a bit over 100° at check in time this afternoon.

Yes, we’re finally back to our home state. We got here by a circuitous route designed to avoid Las Vegas metro area. From Beatty, NV, we went down US 95 Veterans Memorial Hwy and actually went back into California along CA 127 to Baker, up I-15 a ways and across again to Searchlight, NV, Laughlin, NV and finally arriving here in Bullhead. There is always plenty of beautiful scenery along all the desert highways. We had sunny weather and a pleasant drive with only some minor gusty wind conditions in mountainous areas.

Our plan is to head home in a couple of days after relaxing here and enjoying the summer-like weather in the RV resort. The RV’s dual A/Cs keep the temperature comfortable inside.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Next Camping Spot - Beatty, NV

Hills near the campground

Our route from Hawthorne, NV, took us along Veterans Memorial Highway (US 95) through Central Nevada. We drove through several little farming and mining towns along the way. Tonapah and Goldfield were the most interesting.

Tonight and tomorrow night we will be here in Beatty, another old mining town but with casinos being the main attraction these days. The image above is the view directly across the road from the campground. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Camping in Hawthorne, Nevada

Walker Lake and Mount Grant

We had a short but scenic ride through Northern Nevada today from Carson City via Yerrington and arriving at Hawthorne for our next couple of overnight stays. Good weather conditions and light traffic prevailed for this leg. Before leaving Carson City, we shopped at a Walmart in and fueled up with diesel.

Damsel took the image above just a few miles before arriving in Hawthorne. Walker lake, not seen in its complete glory in this image, is about 11 miles long and 5 miles wide. On another vacation through this area many years ago, Damsel and I witnessed a perfectly flat and calm lake one early morning, with the mirror image of the mountains in the distance reflected in the water.

We had a good, relaxing stay at the previous campground, just watching some baseball on the satellite channels and playing on the internet. We’re actually planning on continuing that in this campground and probably the next two stops on our return.

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We’re Underway Again

Carson City

After our now completed four week mission with family in K-stan, we are finally back on the move and are camping in Carson City, NV for a couple of nights. As I mentioned before, the return trip will be at a bit of a more leisurely pace and staying for more than one night at each stop.

Our route today was a scenic one, driving over the Sierra Nevada Range from Stockton to Carson City. We started with a short trip up CA 99 to pick up CA 88 going northeastward. The scenery rapidly changed from suburban to agricultural to rolling foothills and then the mountains.

Kit Carson Pass crests at an elevation of 8574 feet MSL. Even though it is well into the spring season, there was plenty of snow on the mountains and a couple of the alpine lakes were still mostly frozen. The Carson River flowing down the east side of the pass was moving rapidly with plenty of white water from the spring thaw.

We’re going to do some souvenir shopping at the Casino across the road tomorrow and maybe bring a take-out dinner back to the RV afterwards. We are going to meander southward on the next lags of the trip and will likely be back home in a week.

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IRS Withholding Calculator is Back Online

irs-logo.pngI mentioned in my two Federal Income Tax posts about filing and tweaking withholding that the IRS Calculator was offline due to the GOP Tax Reform Bill being enacted this year. I went back to the link to check the status of the calculator and it was back online. Today, I decided to check the numbers I calculated from IRS Notice 1036 and my withholding spreadsheet last month.

The calculator requires some accurate estimates of our 2018 income and deductions, so I gathered up our 2017 Tax Return and my spreadsheet before starting to input numbers. There is a list of things you will need to have handy on the calculator main page.

First, the calculator asks about filing status and whether someone else can claim you as a dependent. Then, it asks about income sources and if you and your spouse are over 65 years old as of January 1, 2019. There is also some child and dependent care credit questions, none of which are applicable to us. Finally, the user inputs income and adjustments before submission.

When I got my result report, the bottom line is that we are over withholding by about $785. We decided not to change anything at this time until we see how our expenses and deductions start to play out for the year. I made a note in the electronic calendar to check things out again in the fall.

The IRS withholding calculator may be found at this link.

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Tweaking the IRS Withholding Amounts

bucks.pngSince the IRS Withholding Calculator is still unavailable as of this writing, I bypassed it and went directly to IRS Notice 1036 (pdf) which is intended to guide employers as to how much to withhold from employee pay. This notice is a typical IRS offering which is both confusing and difficult to understand. I did manage, however, to get the info I needed to proceed with our 2018 withholding “tweaking.”

The financial entity which manages our two pension distributions treats each one as if it were your entire income, thus complicating the final calculation because we actually have several sources of retirement income. Since they are virtually complicating things, I opted out of withholding altogether from the two pensions.

We do, however, have control over the rollover IRA and its exact (to the integer percentage amount) withholding. I figured out what we are paid in each month, cross referenced it to the IRS notice above and determined what we should be sending to the IRS each month.

I have a spreadsheet that I have used in the past for withholding and modified it to determine (to the closest percentage point) what the number should be. I used the “effective tax rate” method based on the numbers I derived to allow me to adjust the withholding from the IRA. This way, I only have one place that I need to be tweaking.

I should have done this last year instead of effectively loaning the .gov interest-free $$$! :(

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