January 2, 2014
As some of you know, my health took a huge turn toward pear-shaped in 2013. In February, I went through congestive heart failure. In April, I was referred to a cardiologist. In August, I was finally diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that had lain dormant for over 55 years, and now had become something of a time bomb. In December, I had another round with my old enemy, cellulitis.
The interesting news for the purposes of this blog, however, is pretty good. Except when health issues have gotten to me, I’ve been doing freelance stuff all year. I haven’t looked yet to see if it has earned enough to be called a living, but I do know that it was better than the previous year.
I also took a course from Ed Gandia, of the International Freelancers Academy, called the B2B Business Launcher. I had sat in on one of Ed’s webinar’s, and walked away with so much actionable information that I knew I wanted to do the course. It did not disappoint, either. I now have a functional professional website, to which I will soon be connecting my writing blog. If you are looking at freelancing as a career, I highly recommend any course that Ed is teaching, and please feel free to tell him that I referred you. He really is one of the good guys, and he’s a heck of a nice guy, too boot.
I am setting one major financial goal for this year: to create an emergency fund for myself and get it funded so that when the next emergency strikes, and I have no doubt it will, I don’t have to scramble so badly to get things dealt with.
My other main goal for the year is to get back to blogging on a regular basis. I consider that part of taking back my health, and it’s been far too long. For now, I am planning to stick to my long-established schedule: the food and weight blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; the knitting blog on Tuesday, this blog on Thursday, and the writing/grammar blog over the weekend. We shall see how well I can stick to that.
Other than that, I am hanging in. There is some rough family stuff going on, but we all have families so we all have family stuff. I will get through it. It will involve some tough decisions that I never wanted to have to make, but I will make them. It’s also clear to me that I am going to have to really fight to get the proper resolution for my health issues. This is the kind of fight I totally hate, because I am not a medical expert by any means, and I am going to have to fight the arrogance of surgeons who refuse to see beyond chart numbers and risk profiles. But I am nothing if not persistent (Yeah, Glasser, you can say stubborn…..), and I will keep at them until what is done is what gives me the best chance of getting my life back.
So, that’s where things are at right now. What the future holds is anybody’s guess, and I’ll be just as curious to find out as everybody else.
Finally, I wish each and every one of my readers a 2014 that is filled with joy, good friends, family of the heart, health, love, and prosperity. You all keep me going, and I am grateful for each of you, whether I know you in real life, just from the Web, in comments, or even by your silent presence here. You are all important to me, and I thank you for being there.
September 5, 2013
It’s been a while since I’ve done a financial post, and it’s way past time for one. I was going to sell this article, but the gig fell through, so here it is.
The IRS 1099 Misc form needs to be filled out if you have certain specific types of what is called miscellaneous payments to non-employees like independent contractors. It also covers payments you make for certain types of business transactions where a middleman is involved. The form is filled out by the person making such payments to you, and must be included when you file your income taxes in April.
When to Use the IRS 1099 Misc
If you have paid an individual or service provider at least $10 in royalties; over $600 for rent, prizes, awards, services, medical payments health care payments; any payments for the proceeds from a fishing boat; or any payments of over $600 to an attorney, you must file an IRS 1099 Misc. You also need to use this form in you have made a sale of $5,000 or more to a buyer who will be reselling your goods. Note that personal payments are not to be reported on this form. Some of the forms of compensation that must be reported on this form are payments to non-employees, professional fees, payments by attorneys to witnesses, payments to non-employee entertainers, referral fees, and exchanges of services between two businesses.
This form is only for reporting payments made by you in the course of your business dealings. The IRS’ instruction Form breaks down not only all the items that you must report via this form, but it also notes all the exceptions and the various types of payments that should be reported on other forms, as well as those that should not be reported by you at all.
Filing the IRS 1099 Misc Online
You must send 1099 Misc forms to those you have made payments to by January 31st. Further, you must then file the forms by March 31st. These completed forms must also be filed with the state tax agency. The filing dates for state agencies vary so you need to check with your state’s tax agency to ascertain the date.
Currently, it is recommended that you complete filing the IRS 1099 Misc online. To do so, you will need to have software that allows you to scan in the completed forms for transmittal to the IRS. The preferred system for filing the IRS 1099 Misc online is the Filing Information Returns Electronically System (FIRE System), provided at the IRS website. This system is available to you at no charge, and can be accessed seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Filing the IRS 1099 Misc form, and filing it in a timely manner, is a good way of staying on top of your payments to independent contractors and other non-employees that you do business with, whether occasionally or on a regular basis. Filing it electronically (online) makes it easier for you or your accountant to stay on point with your reporting activities each year. It also eliminates the need for extra cover/transmittal forms for each group of 1099 Misc forms you file.
January 3, 2013
Well, not really, but I did make time to go and see Les Miserables with a friend this afternoon. It was wonderful, and I highly recommend it!
Yesterday, Day 1, was for making a list of things in the home that need working on. My list was:
- Clean out closet so it can be used
- Fix door panel
Vacuum carpetCompleted 25 Jan 13
- Clean front door glass
- New blinds
Fix two table lampsCompleted 26 Jan 13
- Organize bookshelves
Go through boxes in closetCompleted 28 Jan 13
- Go through coats in closet
VacuumCompleted 25 Jan 13 Fix speaker connectionCompleted 9 Jan 13
- Hang pictures
New torchereCompleted 5 Jan 13 Work on cleaning up stain on living room tableCompleted 6 Jan 13
- Restain dining room table (added 6 Jan 13)
- Organize wicker shelves (In progress)
- Organize cookbook bookcase (In progress)
VacuumCompleted 25 Jan 13
- Put up shower curtain bar
- Buy & put up shower curtain
- Buy & put up holder for shower head
- Clean tub
Clean sinkCompleted 25 Jan 13
- Fix sink drain
- Clean shower
- Fix shower drain
- Mop Floor
Clean door mirrorCompleted 9 Jan 13 Clean sink mirrorCompletd 9 Jan 13
- Fix towel bar
- Reorganize cabinets
Fix cabinet handleCompleted 9 Jan 13 Hang grid rack & add shelves & hooksCompleted 26 Jan 13 Put stuff on grid rackCompleted 26 Jan 13 VacuumCompleted 26 Jan 13
- New bed frame
Clean up pile by windowCompleted 13 Jan 13
- Clean dresser top
- Clean pile by white desk
- Clean pile by a/c (In progress)
- Hang pictures
- Clean & organize art trays
- Clean & organize desk
- Clean corner cubby
- Clean Dad’s cubby
- Yarn into cabinet or container (In progress)
- Clean up file cabinet & set up for use (In progress – Top drawer cleaned out & set up 24 Jan 13)
Files into drawer(added 24 Jan 13) Completed 26 Jan 13
- Clean floor
New torchereCompleted 6 Jan 13
- Move Julia’s desk to the roomie’s room
First batch of clean clothing into dresserCompleted 6 Jan 13 Second batch of clean clothing into dresserCompleted 8 Jan 13 Third batch of clean clothing into dresserCompleted 18 Jan 13
- Fourth batch of clean clothing into dresser
- Yarn into Ravelry stash page (added 15 Jan 13) (In progress)
- Clean under bed (added 15 Jan 13)
Clean nightstand(added 18 Jan 13) Completed 26 Jan 13
- Match unmatched socks (added 18 Jan 13) (in progress)
I’m glad that the one month is mostly for setting up and setting plans in motion. It’s clear I have a bunch of plans to get the parts of the house *I* live in ready. I know that the roomie will do little to help me, and I’m not even gonna begin to think about prodding her to clean up her room — how she keeps her place is her business, after all.
In financial news, the roomie fell prey to yet another creditor who took money out of her account so that she had to hustle to replace it. She was proud that she didn’t panic, and figured out how to replace the funds. I do not understand why what I have told her about dealing with creditors just doesn’t seem to sink in. She doesn’t print out her annual free credit reports, so she cannot check them when these creditors call, and she doesn’t keep records of what bills she pays, so when they call, she always believes that she owes what they say. Given that the amount is always the same, I suspect that there is one debt that keeps getting resold to other creditors & that she is listed as an easy mark. I’m at a point where I am not upset about this, except for not understanding why she keeps falling into the same fix, but I guess I have to accept that this is how she is with money, and work on getting things caught up more on my own.
Oh, yeah, and the netbook (my backup computer) got fried while she was borrowing it. So, out of three computers in the house, the only one working (at least vaguely) is mine. Her laptop sees my router, but cannot seem to connect to the Internet, even with an Ethernet cable. A friend offered to loan me her old iMac, but part of the reason she replaced it is that it will not run a current version of Flash, and I do need it for some of my work. We talked about letting the roomie use it, but I really don’t want to put the iMac at risk, since I cannot afford to replace it if it gets screwed up.
So, that’s the news this week. I do plan to update the list above as things get done (or as others get added), so we can see what progress I make.
What projects do you want to get done this month? This year? How do you plan to tackle them?
December 6, 2012
I need to have some dental work done.
This is partly the result of having rotten genetic, and partly due to having not paid attention to my teeth when I was younger.
I needed one extraction (a fragment left from when the Union dental clinic refused to treat me), and I need either another extraction or a root canal/post/crown. And I also need some periodontal work.
I have dental insurance under Medicaid, but…
It covered the first extraction completely, and would cover me if I have the second extraction instead of the work to save the tooth. For some reason, while extraction are considered important, saving the tooth is considered cosmetic. Makes no sense to me, but I don’t make the rules.
So. The tooth that needs the root canal/post/crown is not at an emergency point yet. The problem seems to have just started. The dentist even noted that I probably was not yet in pain from it (true). So I have a little time. Fortunately, my new dentist seem to have reasonable price for such things. Unfortunately, it’s still more than I can do on the pension I get. I have decided to do some knitting to try to raise the money to get the dental work.
My situation is, sadly, becoming more and more common, as the economy worsens. People in my age cohort (and in others) have managed to amass debt that, while they were working, they could handle. Then some emergency raises its ugly head, and the debt starts to snowball out of control. First, one payment get missed; then one or two more; eventually it becomes a question of “Do I pay my rent and eat, or do I pay my bills?”
Given that it is often taking people significantly longer to find work than it used to, thing continue to get wore, and the next thing is that you are dealing with collection agencies — some reasonable, some not-so-reasonable. Then the credit rating slip, and it become harder to get a job because employers think that a credit rating shows whether or not a prospective employee is reliable. (HINT: It doesn’t, but – again – I don’t make the rules.) And the longer one is unemployed, the less likely one i to find work, because HR department seem to think that a bad economy is no reason for a person to not be able to find a job.
The plain fact is that the system is broken. And there is not much those of us at the bottom can do to change it. And, when YOU need them, the protections that have been taken out of your salary all the years you did work might not be there for you.
This, my friends, is the new normal. And so long as the CEOs can legally get away with paying less taxes than their secretaries, it will continue to be vastly broken.
What we really need to do is to stop listening to the rhetoric, and tart looking at the actions of those who make our laws. Look at their voting records. See who would destroy programs designed to keep peoples’ head above water.
And protect yourself. Build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of unemployment. Start socking away money for your retirement. Do not assume that your kids will be able to support you in your old age; the way things are going, they will be lucky if they can support themselves and their immediate families.
Do not live above your means. No one else really cares if you have the latest, shiniest toys. And if they do, unless they are willing to help you acquire them free and clear of any strings, you are better off finding other company.
Further, take what steps you can now to improve your health. With the rising costs of medical care, it’s really the only edge you will have against the depredations of time.
From the perspective of a 60-year-old who has found the American Dream she was raised on to be akin to a nightmare in some very significant ways, you need to do this, or you will regret it down the road, when reality comes back to bite you.
November 1, 2012
We are still okay here in Brooklyn, although one of the neighboring communities that was also in a Zone B, Gerritson Beach, got hammered pretty badly. If any of you are near Gerritson Beach, the folks there need pretty much everything, including clothing. A lot of the apartments there are basement apartments, so folks there lost pretty much everything. The bad news is that since they were located in Zone B, it’s only today that they are first beginning to be noticed.
We had a small power outtage on Tuesday evening, when Con Edison took down the power in Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Midwood, and a fairly large chunk of Flatbush. Since it was already dark, I just went to be, and when I opened my eyes shortly after midnight, the power was back. The reason Con Edison took it down was that there had been a transformer explosion somewhere in the area, and they wanted to get it fixed without other parts of the grid overloading. I’m just glad we got it back, since so many are still without power.
We have oil heat, and vehicles cannot get down our street, thanks to the tree, so the Landlord has been rationing the heat a bit more than usual. Understandable, but between that and all the mold and crap in the air, I think I’m developing a cold. Thank God I knit. I have tons of clean, warm socks, scarves and shawls to add to the sweats I’ve been wearing.
I heard from my sister yesterday. Her house is still standing, but she got eight feet of water in her garage, and three feet in her house. Fortunately she and her fiance were able to move a lot of their stuff to the second floor. She also noted that most of her neighbors had their front yards torn up by boats breaking loose from the marina nearby, but that they didn’t. Still, her oil burner (and those of her neighbors) got flipped and the lines were broken, so there is oil over a ton of stuff. On the other hand, she, her fiance and their dogs did not get hurt, so she is lucky.
My cousin’s cousin, Debi, in New Jersey, had a tree come through her roof, and had no power until today.
In terms of money, I am very glad I told the Landlord that we would be a bit late this month. My pension check dropped, but there is a problem with the electronic deposits at my roommate’s credit union, so while yesterday it said she had money, today her balance is showing negative by the amount she withdrew for us to live on, plus a bank charge. She went to the Brooklyn branch of the credit union, and they told her that they were waiting for repairs to the system. I told her that once things are sorted out, she should call them and dispute the charge, since if the bank had not said her check had dropped, she would not have withdrawn the money to begin with. Meanwhile, at least we have some cash on hand to survive until her bank gets sorted out.
So, that’s the news from Sheepshead Bay. Wherever you are, dear readers, I hope you are warm, dry, and safe, and that no natural disasters come your way.
August 18, 2012
This is from a place I never thought I would see again. I am back in the hole. While I can blame having to bail out the roommate and my sister for getting me here, the flat truth is that I’m the one who made the bad decisions that landed me here.
And this time, getting out is going to be a whole lot harder, because I do not have the steady income I once did. My pension check is $178.47/month. I now have medical issues I didn’t have when I was working and had health insurance. And I gained back all the weight I had lost, so I’ve that to do all over again, too.
However, I will get out of debt. I have made an arrangement with the worst of the creditors, and I am expecting some cash down the line that will go a long way to helping sort things out. I am also feeling a bit better, and more able to do some freelancing (as the infection was trying to kill me, I became less and less energetic).
My first goal, however, is to get my living space in order. While my housekeeping was never “eat off the floor” clean, it was generally neat enough that things could be found. When I went into the hospital, my kid sister took it upon herself to try to organize half my room, so that she could take care of some things. Of course, since her priorities are very different from mine this has led to some chaos in terms of finding things. However, I have managed to not let that side of the room become overgrown, and I’ve decided I like it that way. I’ve also managed to keep the bed clear of everything but the tv remote, my second pair of glasses, and a couple of books (I often am partway through several different books, since reading is one of my major pleasures. To that end, I am going to spend much of the next month (when not writing or knitting) clearing out all the detritus of things — that is, all the stuff I am no longer using. I want to be able to have friends over of an afternoon, or hold a housefilk in my living room, and have room for people and guitars. I miss being able to invite people over for dinner.
Back when I was still working, I had acquired a book called <i>Throw Out Fifty Things</i>, by Gail Blanke. I think it’s time to read it and see if I can get the junk in my life tossed out, so I have room for an improved life.
I have also decided to pick up this blog on a regular basis again.
At any rate, this is not going to be a very long post, just a harbinger of things to come. I will be writing about uncluttering my life, financial recovery, writing, and whatever else I have something to say about, just as before, and I hope you all are interested in coming along for the ride. I expect it will not be an easy one — I will be dealing as honestly as I can with the stuff that comes up — but I do expect it will be a rewarding journey.
July 7, 2008
In this post, Five Cent Nickel challenges us to admit to our biggest financial vice.
Mine is using car services to get to and from work. Each September, I vow not to do that except in emergencies. And I usually manage to stick to that for the first half of the school year.
Then comes the first major snowfall. Between the sciatica and a weak left ankle, navigating a two-hour, three-bus (or two-hour -and-fifteen-minute, one-bus-and-two-train) commute becomes, to put it politely, hellish in the extreme, especially since my area of Brooklyn is so far down the City’s list of places to dig out that the snow is often gone by the time they get to us. So I call the local thieves. Unlike the other car services in the area, they don’t offer discounts, or deals for regular customers, but they do offer one thing the others don’t: reliability. They show up, and usually within a minute or two of when they say they will. On a well-below freezing morning at between 5:00 and 5:30 am, this is important.
So, I give in and call them. I tell myself that it’s just for the duration of the mess on the ground. then I notice that I can sleep an hour later if I use them. I’m hooked, and have to pretty much force myself to not use them sometimes. So from January until the end of June, I’m lazy and it costs me $33 (including tip) each time.
As if that wasn’t enough of a hole in my pocket, at about the same time each term, commuting home becomes an issue for the same reason. There, however, I was able to cut a deal. I call the drier directly, and he gives me $5 off what the company charges, because he’s taking me off the books. If he’s not available, I call the company, but most days he is. So that’s an additional $20 a ride. (He’s good to me, though. If I need him and don’t have the money, he will take me and I can pay him the next time.) Still, this kind of thing adds up.
I was better about it this year than the year before, and, as I loose weight so I have less joint problems, I intend to get even better about it. Still it was a significant chunk of cash that could have gone to debts or savings.
Having admitted it, the question becomes what am I gonna do about it. My bike has been retrieved from the corner of the living room. It’s in okay conditions for local riding, and I will shortly have it checked out and tuned up. Once my bike legs are back, I plan to increase the distance I can ride over the course of the summer, hopefully to a full thirty miles. (Thirty miles is double a one-way commute to work by local streets). For travelling into the city this summer, I am planning to use the express bus as much as possible.
I’m not kidding myself. This is not going to be an easy habit to kick, since it hits me right in my laziness. But I keep telling myself that when I have lost weight from the exercise, and have a fatter bank account to show for it, it will be well-worth the battle.
<i> What’s your biggest financial vice?
July 4, 2008
My roommate has met with the bank and the police. The FBI and the Postal Inspector are sending her paperwork to fill out. She has handed me $600 in cash for her share of the July rent and has promised me that I will have her share of the August rent in cash in time. She has also agreed, per Carol’s excellent suggestion that once she is clear with the bank, she will set up an automatic transfer to my account from each paycheck, so that, in effect, I get paid first.
Now, if I can just get her to actually, you know, keep records so she doesn’t forget what is coming out of her account, and where and when it is coming out, we should be okay, although I am not completely sure she won’t find some new way to get victimized.
June 30, 2008
A friend of mine suggested that, given some of the stuff I have had to deal with over the past few years, a series on what not to do might be in order here (thank you, autographedcat)!
Given the recent problem my roommate has developed I think today’s post in the series will be about avoiding being scammed. (Not that I think for one moment that any of you are that gullible, but the reason scammers keep trying is there are tons of folks who are.)
First off, avoiding scams is not that hard. The general rule is, I think, that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If someone you have never met is offering you huge amounts of money to do a job you never applied for in the first place, it’s a scam.
If someone sends you an email purporting to be from a small country and needing to transfer funds out, or claims to be in jail and needs to get their money out of the country to avoid it being seized, it’s a scam.
If you get a letter in the mail that promises you thousands for nothing but an illegal transaction on your part, yeah, that’s a scam, too.
However, in weak moments the best of us can be tempted. So here are a few clues for when you are considering that offer that looks like it could solve all your problems:
1. Do the addresses match? In my roommate’s case, the check was from a construction company in Georgia, the letterhead from a place in New Jersey, and the stamp from Canada. This should raise all sorts of hackles.
2. What do they want you to do for the money? In this case, the letter wanted her to deposit this check, then transfer, via MoneyGram, the bulk of it to “Pamela Your Last Name Here” of Toronto, Canada. If it was legit, why wouldn’t there be a name that matched either the check or the letterhead? (Not that this would necessarily make it legit, but it would look less like a scam.)
3. Again, is the offer too good to be true, or does it look like it would solve all your problems? I’ve learned over the years (and you probably have, too) that the only way out of the mess you dug yourself into is slogging your way out and learning to become accountable, both to yourself and to others.
In short, if it sounds too good to be true, toss it in the wastebasket, or delete it from your inbox.
And, in the event you do get caught, a lawyer I know suggests the following:
1. Don’t let how dumb you feel for having been scammed paralyze you, and don’t beat yourself up over it. Neither of the above will rectify the situation, and inaction may leave you open to further problems.
2. Notify your bank. Immediately. Yes, they will put a hold on your funds, but it’s better than having the scammers drain your account in addition to what they have already conned you out of.
3. Call the police. It’s likely you will have to talk to the Detective Bureau, during regular business hours, which is what my roommate is going to have to do.
4. If any part of the material is from out of your state, you are going to want to notify the FBI, and the Postal Inspectors. This kind of fraud falls into their bailiwick.
5. You will also want to notify the Big 3 credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. They need to block you accounts from giving out information that can be used to steal your identity.
6. And, if you don’t already, you are going to want to monitor your credit reports. You can do this once a year by going to annualcreditreport.com. (You all should be doing this anyway, just on general principles.)
Yes, it’s all a big pain in the butt, but it’s a lot less painful to be considered a victim of a scammer than to be considered an accessory to their actions. Believe me, that’s a level of problems that is almost impossible to resolve without throwing tons of money and time at.
And, once again, the easiest way to avoid being scammed is to commit to doing the work involved to straighten your life and finances out, and stop looking for shortcuts that will magically solve your problems. They don’t exist. Period.
Have you been caught by a scammer? What did you have to do to rectify the situation? How long did it take to resolve? What damage did it end up doing to you, beyond the obvious loss of money, credibility, and self-esteem?
June 29, 2008
As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been reading NoCreditNeeded‘s series on “33 Days and 33 Ways to Save Money and Reduce Debt”.
I was thinking about what she said, and to some point I disagree.
For example, she notes that: “When I was a young teenage mother and cash was tight, I had to make sacrifices to create a better life for my child. I didn’t have a choice. It was something I had to do. Some nights I ate cereal for dinner in order to afford diapers. Some days, I had to miss work resulting in less pay because I had to stay home with a sick child. Some months I didn’t pay the electric bill because I needed money for transportation to work/school. They were sacrifices. I didn’t have a choice.” Without casting aspersion on her actions, since there are far too many days I eat mac and cheese to afford paying bills, these are still conscious choices that she is making. Granted they are the choices that consensus reality tells us are the “right” things to do in that situation, but they are still choices and she still had the option of choosing not to do so, even if the results would not have been to her liking.
Further along she notes that: “My point is, the difference between a sacrifice and a choice is your ability to maintain no matter which path you take. Sacrifices are painful and necessary. Choices are willful and selective decisions.” Well, yes, choices are willful and selective decisions. But choosing to do something “painful and necessary” rather than to not do anything is still making a choice, no matter how you slice it.
For the record, though: Whether we do without as a conscious choice, or because we “can’t afford” to do otherwise, we choose all the time. Remember, even doing nothing is still a choice.
Do you make sacrifices or choices, and why? How does how you frame the action affect your reaction to having to do it?