Finance Rants: True Money Stories That Drive Me Crazy

Ok, so recently I’ve ran into some financial issues that are so ridiculous I have to share them.  I didn’t want to devote a full post to any of these topics, so I made a collection,  hope you enjoy!

Getting A Vasectomy: You know what I don’t want? Any more kids.  I’ve been raising kids under 5 for almost 15 years, If we had another one that would reset the clock to 20 years.  Nope, not gonna do it.  I love my kids but I hate being limited in what I can do all the time because they aren’t big enough to stay at home by themselves or watch themselves.  So when it comes to family planning there’s all this talk about Women’s health, but no so much about Men’s health.  Our insurance will pay 100% first dollar to last dollar, no deductible for my wife to have any birth control in the world, and to have her tubes tied.  That’s a real surgery with real risks to her that costs like $6,000.  For me?  not covered until I hit our deductible.  Total cost out of pocket $1,017.

Here’s the kicker,  a woman can only have 1 pregnancy every 10 months.  If a guy tries really hard he can start around 3 a day, or about 1,000X as many as a woman, yet if the goal is to avoid unwanted pregnancies we make getting a vasectomy costlier to the individual.  If we truly wanted to avoid unwanted pregnancies vasectomies would be 100% covered by most insurance plans, the actual cost would be driven down to $129.95 and you could get one with little to no waiting with 1 walk-in visit to a doctor’s office. It would be just as easy as getting a tooth pulled.  There would be big ad campaigns everywhere.  I had to schedule my vasectomy months in advance and go to a consultation visit 3 weeks before the procedure.

Tax Fraud.  For the second time in my life I had to send in a paper copy of my taxes and most likely will not get my refund until August.  Why? Because our tax system is batshit crazy.  Anyone who has a Social Security number can claim a child, needing no proof that they had them for 6+ months of the year or are even their legal parent / guardian.  My wife and I took guardianship of our nephews 4 years ago about a year after Mrs. C.’s little sister passed away.  Their dad (who is only legally the dad of one of them because he never signed the others’ birth certificate) claimed them on his taxes and since he filed first was able to e-file and will be getting his money quickly, money that he is not entitled to. He had them for MAYBE 6 days out of the year, and I think that is generous.

So the IRS process is to make the 2nd person who files file by paper, and then they will receive the refund much later. The IRS will send paperwork to both parties to fill out proving that they are the correct person to claim the kids, and the losing party in theory will be barred from collected EIC and the additional child tax credit for 2 years if due to reckless disregard for the rules, and 10 years if through fraud.  Since he did this 3 years ago this process is obviously not working. This is one of the reasons I claim exempt on my taxes, so I don’t have a lot of money out there. I have a $2,700 refund coming this year thanks to the child tax credit expansion.  In future years I plan on this being around half that amount.  It still sucks having this much money held hostage, I can only imagine if I was one of those people who claim 0 all year to get a big refund.The best strategy to prevent this is to file first, which is difficult when the other party only works 1 job and we have 4 to 6 W2s to wait for.  In order to file first I simply won’t wait for my W2s. On January 1 I will file using the info off of my last paystubs and employee ID numbers from the previous year.

The ACA and 95,000% Tax Rates:

Don’t Fall Off The Cliff! Our family earned 205% of the FPL (Federal Poverty Level)(after putting what we planned on into tax deferred accounts) for our family size and this caused us to owe a $1,550 penalty to the ACA for over payment of our monthly tax credit/subsidy for health insurance.  If you fall between 200% and 300% of FPL the penalty is capped at $1,550. If you are under 200% of FPL the penalty is capped at $600.  If you aren’t aware of how this works you may end up paying $950 in tax for $1 in income.  We did the math and made an extra IRA contribution which can be made for the previous tax year up until April 15th.  To lower our penalty by $950 we made $1,900 of IRA contributions which also lowered our federal and state taxes by $365. I couldn’t give up $1,315 to keep $1,900 in my bank account vs. in our IRAs.

Getting A HELOC:

I can literally walk into any car lot in America and get a loan for $50,000+ with no money down and drive away with a brand new shiny truck with negative equity that I can move at will to anywhere in the world, the thing has wheels and an engine.  To get a HELOC of under 80% of appraised value it took over a month, they had to do an appraisal and tons of paperwork for a similar total value as the above mentioned truck.  They know where the house is and it isn’t going anywhere.  A phone call should be able to get you a HELOC.  Not only was it difficult to get a HELOC, I actually couldn’t get one on a rental property that I have <25% loan to value on currently.  It’s absolutely crazy.  At least on the bright side my credit union doesn’t charge any closing costs on a HELOC.

 

Building A Wall:

I’ve been trying to steer away from politics in this blog, so I’m going to try to keep this about the numbers and not the political positions.  Our President wanted around $5 billion to build a wall and because both parties were doing their best to imitate the Zax in the Prairie of Prax (The Zax are characters in the Dr. Seuss book The Sneetches and Other Stories who refuse to budge an inch so long that a highway gets built over them.)  the United States Government had “shutdown”.  They were still spying on us, still conducting wars, still taking our taxes…but “shutdown” none the less.  Anyways out of their roughly $4 TRILLION annual budget this $5 Billion is NOTHING.  it is a rounding error, it’s 0.1% of the U.S. Budget. It would be like a family earning $40,000 a year, saying we are gonna stop EVERYTHING over a $50 purchase. (While charging $10,000 on the credit card). Although I like the idea of spending the money here rather than in (insert desert nation here) I would rather they not spend the money at all.  We spend more than the next 38 countries COMBINED on military and military adjacent spending.

We as a country are spending north of $1 TRILLION in direct and indirect “defense” spending, and yes I use that term extremely loosely.  The money is there for a wall if they choose to build a wall, or spend it on air planes, or nuclear bombs, or salaries for soldiers, or nation building, etc. The money is there.  This is a farce.  It isn’t about money, it is all about political grand standing on both sides.  We’re all worried about this wall with Mexico, when we have the largest undefended border in the world to the North of us.  Build the great Canadian wall, all 5,525 miles worth!  The Canadians are still loyal the the Queen of England we know what they did to our Capital 200 years ago! (Tongue in cheek of course)

 

That’s about all the rants I have for a day,  what’s driving you crazy these days?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John uses the free tool Personal Capital to track his net worth and posts quarterly updates on his finances. Check out the Action Economics archives section for all past posts.

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