Category Archives: Married Life

Thinking about motherhood a lot lately…

It’s not just that most of my friends have children that is on my mind lately – it’s that their children are very quickly growing up. I didn’t feel so behind with my friends having tiny babies that could only communicate in screams and silence, but now my friend’s kids are bouncing around all over the place, building up their personalities, laughing and making out a few words. A few of my friends are even on their second child. I’m 31, childless, by choice, but it won’t be by choice for long.

I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be a mother. But now that I’m in a long-term relationship of nearly 9 years, I’m ready. I mean, I’m really ready – as ready as I’ll ever be. But the reality is that I’m not even engaged yet. If I get engaged in early 2015, which I think I will, I won’t be married until late 2016, after I turn 33. As I’ve written about before, having children is going to be challenging and require some form of medical intervention due to having severe PCOS. Who knows if I even can have kids? It may be impossible. What will hurt most is finding out that it might have not been impossible if only I didn’t wait so long…

There’s a growing part of me that wants to skip this marriage thing altogether and jump to having children, or at least trying to. Marriage seems unnecessary these days – and, as I’ve written about before, actually costs more in the long run from a tax perspective and makes life even less affordable. Perhaps marriage itself is not a necessity anymore. I’d like to be married, but I don’t need to be. I feel, at this point, I do need to have children. That’s more important. I want to build my family before it’s too late.

My boyfriend is aware of this, and he wants kids as well. We’ve both discussed 1-2 years as the timeframe for having children. The marriage stuff is where it gets tricky. It requires 1-1.5 years of planning. Not that I really am ready, ready to have a baby today – as in, I couldn’t imagine keeping my current job after giving birth, and I’d like to remain in my job for at least two years if possible. But… I go back and forth… because I’d like children, and by children I mean 2-3 kids, and if I wait any longer it’s just going to be harder to have one, let alone a pair or trio.

I feel like I also have no one to talk to about this. I bring it up with my boyfriend and he says we’ve already discussed it and there’s no use rehashing, in so many words. A peep of this to my parents and I get an earful that I’m waiting too long to begin with. My friends who already have kids and who are sleep deprived aren’t interested in hearing my minor jealousy. So I blog about this topic a lot because I just have no one to share these feelings with. And I’m really starting to get scared — life is buzzing by so quickly and I just don’t want to let it blur before my eyes without having the opportunity to build my family. Yes, adoption and such is always an option, but like so many other women out there I would much prefer to give birth to my own children. I’m not sure if I’d ever adopt. But I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes.

It’s just crazy to me how when you turn 30 you’re suddenly, well, old, in terms of your biological clock. Nowadays our 20s are more or less thought of as time to find ourselves, to explore, to grow up – and then boom, you’re 30, or you’re 31, and then… you have 10 years to get your shit together before you’re freaking forty and you’re a full-on grown-up entering middle age. So, I have ten years, or less, to have all my children, if I’m going to have any, and figure out how to balance some form of work life and personal life. I’m terrified of moving too fast and even more so moving too slow. I put all of my energy into work because I have to right now, that’s my focus, but I can see focusing on that for so long that I just run out of time to have a family. I feel like I might have my priorities mixed up.

Feeling Lucky in Love

When you grow up with “everything” in terms of material possessions and funded hobbies up to the wazzoo, your mental health issues such as depression are thought to be pure youth melodramatics. But in my ripe old-ish age of 31, I’ve found what I was missing and didn’t know I wanted. I found this thing they call love. And like the many songs that have been written about how people search for love in all the wrong places and shapes and sizes only to find it isn’t what they expected at all, here I am, a girl who thought she could never find true love, knee deep in the definition of it.

Oh, he isn’t perfect, and I never expected perfection out of another human being. But both of us lacking parents with the ability to love in our childhood have found that we can pour out all this love we have to give, our sensitive souls smiling with each instant cuddling on the couch or waking up in each other’s arms. He’s turned me into a total softie. He’s taught me that the hollow space inside my heart doesn’t need to be filled temporarily with material possessions – that I could easily be happy living the rest of my life in a relatively small space with few items, if only I would be guaranteed the opportunity to spend that time with him, being terribly silly, immaturely mischievous, and at the same time spiritually whole in the glow of his calming, zen-like attitude towards the world which combats my east coast leather-like psyche turning it into mushy clay.

But having him in my life also makes me unclear of what I want, because just 10 years ago I could only be striving for some sort of “success,” which merely meant a story my parents could brag about to their friends and our family. I didn’t have anything I really wanted. Fame, sure, but even my lust for fame was fleeting when I realized I didn’t actually like being the center of attention, I just liked not being alone. So as this love of mine developed over the past decade I started to find myself and she wasn’t who I thought she was at all, for good and bad. She was a lot less ambitious. She cared less about being smart or rich or even beautiful. She suddenly wanted a life of stability over a life of restless leaping from story to story until her final breath. After running for so long all she wanted to do was stop and fall into loving arms. And that she did.

I like to work and to be creative and help create projects as part of a team, so I’m not aspiring to leave the workforce anytime soon. I just don’t care as much about wealth as I used to. I’d like financial security, to know I can stop work when I have kids and spend time with them if I want to; to be able to have choices. But I don’t need a giant house (thank goodness because unless I’m ultra rich there is no way to afford one here) and I certainly don’t need new cars or fancy clothes. Even my vacations tend to be more on the budget side, within reason, because I feel uncomfortable in any environment that is slightly luxurious.

All I want right now, and the me of 10 years ago couldn’t believe I’m saying this, but all I want right now is a family of my own. I want to have kids, I’m sure of it, and I want to be a mother who tries her best to be a good mother and friend to her children. I want a house big enough where I can go into another room to have alone time but not so big that it has extra space to fill with crap collected throughout the years. I appreciate interior design and aesthetics but I lean much more to simplicity than I did in the past. I may be splurging on face creams to deal with my starting-to-age skin, but beyond that, I don’t really have anything I spend on. I’m so busy working there isn’t time to shop or take fancy trips anyway, which is fine by me.

So love really changes a person… I know first hand. I see how my parents, never able to love, instead continue to try to find completeness in buying lots of stuff. My father — his collections of often not-so-great art, baseball figurines, books, DVDs, et al, filling up the house; and my mother, clothes and more clothes and then random contraptions QVC convinced her to buy. Stuff. So much stuff.

Relatedly, my dad called me the other day while I was at work – I picked up as my dad NEVER calls me so when he does I figure something bad happened so I should pick up. No, I forgot, the other reason he calls (it has happened once before that I can remember) is when my general region is on the news and he worries about me. Last time, years ago, it was because there was a very low tsunami risk on the California coast. This time it was the rain storm that was causing a little bit of flooding. I told him I was fine and I had to go, but he kept talking, because he doesn’t really care that I was at work or had to go, and he started telling me that he’s going to go ahead with the purchase of a winter home in Florida… which is fine by me, they can do what they want, but again, they just keep buying stuff, I don’t think any of it makes them happy, and it’s sad but they’ll never be happy because they’ll never know love. They can’t. They’re two narcissists who only can love themselves in a twisted sort of way.

But here I am, 31 years old, and I have this guy in my life who loves me for who I am. He’s been there through thick and thin. Literally picking me up from jail (after my first-ever and last-ever DUI.) Holding me through losing my jobs and being there as I moped through periods of unemployment until the next opportunity came around. He’s just this rock, this smiling, beautiful, charming, unlike anyone else in the world rock. It’s not that I can picture spending the rest of my life with him – it’s that I cannot picture “not” spending the rest of my life with him. We’re together now, the way couples are together, but I didn’t think that was something that I could ever be a part of. I thought that was reserved for people who were more mentally balanced, people who deserved such love. Yet I found it. And it’s worth more than anything money could buy. And for that, I’m forever grateful.

 

Should Parents Pay for a Wedding (if they want to)?

With marriage on the mind and the remainder of my single friends getting wedded up and knocked up at full throttle, I’m more than ready for matrimony (with the exception of what it will cost me in taxes, but sans that thought, I’m ready to “settle down,” so to speak. While once upon a time I dreamed of a fancy ceremony and traditional large wedding, I’m kind of over that at the moment. I’m not sure if I’d regret not having a big wedding, but one thing is for sure, my parents want that big fancy ceremony, and they want to pay for it.

Now, wanting to pay for it is not synonymous with wanting to arrange a day that will be a symbol of my love and dedication to Mr. Right. To be fair to them their wedding day was quite horrible thanks to my mother’s mother who not only planned the entire thing to her liking but also joined my parents on their honeymoon to boot. I guess they’re thinking everything they do isn’t remotely as bad as what she inflicted on them. It’s just a bad and quite terrifying baseline to begin with.

Maybe in my 20s a big wedding with a poofy dress would have made sense. Even seeing my good friend married off at 32 recently in a fairytale ballgown hasn’t changed my heart. Perhaps if I was marrying someone different – someone who liked to dance or who enjoyed social events with many people who he barely knows then a big wedding would make sense. But if I have a big fancy wedding it’s surely going to only be applicable to one half of us, and given my latest take on the whole wedding industry, one half of a half of us. Continue reading

Happy Birthday To Me… an Awkward Conversation with My Father

It’s past two a.m. on my 31st birthday morning. I’m already in this odd mood and exhausted, not in the mood for any sort of serious conversation. Unfortunately I started to doze off on the couch which meant at 2am I had to walk past my awake father in the kitchen who apparently had something he had to get off his chest. No, he didn’t want to wish me a “happy birthday.” What started as a somewhat kind “do you want to talk” inquiry launched into a tirade about how my father is upset that my boyfriend hasn’t proposed to me yet and that, at the same time, he hasn’t said hi or thank you to them in the time he has been at our house, which has now been a few days on and off.

I understand my father’s concern – and he’s expressed this many times before – but this time it was clearly more pressing for him. It made me quite uncomfortable. My response is always that I’m not sure I even want to get married and maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I have a good job. I can take care of myself. Etc, etc. My father, being of the traditional mindset (who refused to get a divorce despite it being obvious both him and my mother would be much better off apart from each other and who also pretty clearly hate each other and/or love themselves too much to ever love another person who doesn’t fuel their narcissistic supply) is freaking out that 1) I’ll never have children and 2) That I’ll have children out of wedlock and 3) That I won’t live the life he envisioned for me.

This may be fairly typical of parents from that generation, and I understand that he’s also looking at not having many good years left due to suffering from terminal cancer, so I try to be sensitive to this, but at this point I don’t know what to say. I want to just scream at him – what do you want me to do? You think starting over now, even if that was the right thing to do (which it isn’t – my boyfriend and I are going to be together permanently and already have discussed this) – how would starting over help matters any? Do you really think I’d be able to find another guy in this world who is as compatible with me and obtain a marriage proposal and jump into having kids before I’m too old to even have kids? It just doesn’t make any sense. Logistically, love aside, I’m best sticking with my current option if the end goal is grandchildren.

That said, I understand that he is upset that my boyfriend hasn’t said hi or thank you. What can I say, my bf is an odd duck – but so am I. He’s shy and he grew up in a household where social norms were far from the norms. While I have social anxiety and struggle to act like a normal human being I have learned, I guess thanks to my parents, how to fake it. They’re so good at faking it that they can convince people who don’t know them well that they’re an actual sane, lovely couple reaching their senior years. It’s amazing how my father is so completely delusional about many things – caring so little about his own appearance or other’s emotions yet being so overly paranoid about how other’s chose to live their lives. I wanted to shout “fine, if you have an issue with him then we just won’t visit again.”

At this point marriage is on my mind too, though, and I know in some respects my father is right. While I’m not sure I actually want to get married due to the marriage penalty taxes and huge potential losses in annual income, I’d like to think that at the least my boyfriend would have proposed by now and we can discuss it. Tomorrow is our 8.5 year anniversary. I know he’s been waiting on me to learn how to keep my stuff organized in our house (which is a huge challenge due to ADHD) so I have to hold up my end of the bargain before he puts a ring on it and we can discuss whether we want to get “real married” or “legal alternative to marriage married.”

Regardless, it’s going to be an awkward week at my house, to be sure. I just hope no fireworks are set off.

Hello 31.

Well, I’ve made it. Another year around the sun. Another 365 days of ups and downs, laughter and tears, deep depressions and manic outpouring of not-so-situationaly-appropriate glee. It has been a year of growth and change, saying goodbye to one job and another, embarking on a shaky yet exciting advancement in my career; moving in – finally – with my boyfriend of 8 years; losing my grandfather and attending my first funeral; and — starting — to accept that aging is going to happen, and is happening, to my own flesh despite still wanting to believe that I’m forever-young invincible.

So I have 1/32 of a grey hair now, a few more wrinkles in my forehead due to my chronic state of worry, and a couple of more breaths between freak outs to remind myself I’ve been in those unpleasant shoes before and managed to survive to see another happy day. I’ve taken steps to seek the right kind of help — hired an ADHD coach — focusing on treating the symptoms vs the root cause of my psyche which, no matter how well I psychoanalyze and understand, is never going to dramatically change. I guess you can say at 31 I’ve accepted that I have a chronic condition known as “me.”

Am I 100% satisfied with myself? God no. I have a lot of work to do. I’m always pushing myself to improve all while pondering how that may be possible given my constant state of neurosis. I’m longing to become a mother despite being terrified of how that fits in with this life I’ve managed to create for myself as a business executive and otherwise responsibility-free adult, all things considered – no mortgage, no car payments, no kids, no debts – just save, save, save, and push through the lows so I can try my best to enjoy the highs. It’s the best I’ve been able do so far, but I still have a lot to give and still have a lot of getting my shit together to do.

10 years ago I had this crazy goal to save $250,000 by age 30. I didn’t really think far past that, other than a seemingly impossible objective to save $500k before I have my first child. At the time I had $10k in the bank and didn’t even have a boyfriend so it was all a crapshoot of dreams. Today I have my guy and I’m nearing a solid $300k in networth as I say hello to 31. I’m in a good spot to achieve my $500k before my first kid goal. On paper my life is pretty damn spiffy. But every day is still a struggle with all the highs and lows.

In my 30s, now that I’m actually “in” my 30s vs just starting them, I want to achieve some kind of stability. Perhaps this means medication is a requirement vs a nice to have, but I need to find consistency in my routines and slow down enough to find serenity in the everyday. Perhaps I can do that. As opposed to my 20s and before when I longed for a bit of a crazy, uncertain, constantly changing life, now I yearn for consistency, routine, and regularity. I know I’ve always hungered for the later but a fear of not picking the right route of settling down kept me bouncing from one path to the next. I was terribly lost and only the rush of impractical choice would make me feel momentarily alive and free – but the lack of stability punched me in the gut day after day after day. In my 30s I’ll admit open heartedly that I’m tired of trying to be different and letting a fear of being “just like everyone else” run my life. Maybe being just like everyone else… (even though that’s not really possible anyway) is not that bad.

What’s throwing me off most tonight is that I graduated college in 2005 when I was 21. It was easy to accept 10 years removed since high school graduation — high school was the end of my childhood — but college… that doesn’t seem that far in the past in many respects. In others it seems like a lifetime ago. Still, it was actually 10 years ago. 10 years ago at this time I was in my senior year, falling into a very dark depression that I’d spring out of only after moving to the west coast and pushing through a year of one failure after another, picking my pieces up again every time I fell apart. Senior year of college is a blur – I was lonely, confused, unsure of where I was headed, and just trying to give myself some framework to follow, some sign to guide the way. I had just returned from my first trip abroad, a summer in eastern europe studying and traveling, and continued a relationship with my boyfriend at the time who had moved to a city on the east coast for the year, and who I visited fairly frequently as a treat to escape my life and throw myself squarely into his which I never did fit. It took a move to the west coast and a serious heart-to-heart shortly following the move that we mutually agreed we weren’t right for each other. And there I was, completely alone, with no framework or guide or must-do for life’s next steps. All I knew was that I couldn’t fail – permanently. I had to get up and keep going. And so I did.

Well, so now I’m 31. I have a goal to have my first child by 34 at the latest and the fact that that’s three years away probably scares me the most… especially because 34 isn’t even a “young” age to have a kid and I’d like to have at least two. It’s crazy how fast time flies once you’re in your mid 20s. I guess it’s strange because childhood is this extremely slow moving set of years where you’re growing and learning so quickly that every day can seem like a millennium… and suddenly you’re thrust through a magnetic launcher and boom you’re rapidly accelerating towards the rest of forever and you can’t stop it… you just have to try to breathe and appreciate the sights and sounds and wonder as you rapidly approach the end of your ride. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way at 35 and 40 and 50 and 60 and beyond, and even more so. And miss the days when time was long, the nights where the sun seemed like it would never set, the mornings rushing out the door and chasing after the school bus in excitement because of a certain topic to be discussed in class or an after school activity to be held that day.

My goal for this year is to find some sort of similar excitement in my life again -in a sane, healthy way. I’ve lost a sense of happiness, a sense of wonder, a sense of joy. Life has become a calculator of finances and hours in the day to fill with work and getting stuff done. While these are first world, middle class problems they are my problems nonetheless. I’m looking to establish my own independent sense of adventure and peace with solitude. I know this year will bring about lots of change, perhaps more than the shifts in the last 365 days, and I hope I’m ready for it. I approach my 31st year with wide eyes, an open heart and an open mind. Come on 31, bring it.

 

 

 

 

Her First Grey Hair… and Turning 31

“You have one,” my boyfriend exclaimed in a taunting manner. “I have one what,” I asked, half paying attention. “You have a grey hair,” he said, giggling, knowing that he was pushing my buttons just a few days before turning 31 (to be fair I’ve teased him re: his own grey strands for years now.) “WHAT,” I exclaimed, suddenly feeling the blood rush away from my face, breath stop, and the panic of time punch me smack in the stomach for the nth time this week. If turning 31 wasn’t enough god though to start the decolorization process of my hair as a gift for surviving another year.

Now that I’m about 31 and topped off with one silver grey hair (or, apparently, the start of one in about an inch of root) it’s very clear that in order to accomplish anything in the life of mine I must make haste. It’s so easy to get lost daydreaming about the meaning of all this and coming to yet another lapse of solid conclusion. I think back to the days when I felt excitement for the future, for moments, for all the ups and downs of life… and I try to swallow the memory of those days when there was true unfiltered anticipation and trepidation… today I’ve completely lost that part of myself. I look forward to absolutely nothing.

Maybe that is being my bipolar self yet again, perhaps I’m in a depressed phase. Or maybe this is just the way a rational person approaches life. What will the next thing that I look forward to be? A year ago I took a trip to southeast Asia with a friend and I was somewhat excited about that – it seems travel to new places is the only thing that really excites me anymore, yet I don’t like traveling on my own and I don’t actually have time to travel with work. Instead, I just am trying to be heads down, really focused on my job. I know I’m in such a fortunate place where I have a great position in a company where I actually am interested in the subject matter and I like the people I work with and I’m getting paid well. Everything is going so great. I should be extremely elated right now. But happiness is not what I feel. I feel the rush of saving money each month. The rush of knowing that I’m increasing my networth so one day I can be free – but even if I could actually accomplish financial freedom what would that actually buy me? I spent two months without a job and I was miserable and ready to go back to work by the end of the first week.

I am convinced that the next thing I’d be actually excited about is having children and seeing them grow up and go through their own phases of over excitement in discovering their new world. Yet I don’t see a life as a mother and life as a startup executive jiving together. I don’t think I can do both. Sure, some women can, but I’m barely able to handle such a high-pressure job without the kid(s) nagging for my attention and time. I’m pretty sure I’d fall completely apart trying to do both at once, even with the support of a future-husband who would be more than thrilled to stay at home.

And, of course, I shouldn’t rely on children to resolve this emptiness in my life, the hollowness in my heart. I don’t have time for hobbies but I’m sure if I had the motivation I’d figure out a way to make time. I don’t do well in a life without structure yet I’m terrible at making structure for myself. The days and months and years just tick tick tick on and on. Soon more grey hairs will pierce through my scalp, swallowing the vibrant strands which tease as the remnants of youth. Meanwhile I’m watching my always angry father fade away from his cancer and my mother continue to nag as she nags and all of life just slip past as I beg of it to stop so I can embrace it as fully as I once did, back when every moment meant more than it should have, instead of near nothing, a fractured fragment of its absolute worth.

Marriage Tax Penalty: Is it real? (*Hint… Yes it is)

My boyfriend and I have been dating for over eight years now and we’re seriously discussing marriage. I’m not sold on the whole marriage thing — I don’t believe one needs to be contractually committed to another person to have a lifelong partnership and a family. It seems that with all of my passionate hatred of organized religion and government getting involved in social freedoms I should not be considering getting “actual” married. Sure, a small ceremony would be nice, but the legal side of it frightens me quite a bit — especially since so many people I know who are older are divorced and worse off for it.

While I don’t at all expect to get divorced ever (hey, we’ve made it almost nine years as bf/gf and if we do get married it will be on our 10 year anniversary – by then I think I’d know what I’m getting into) I still don’t know if marriage is a good idea, financially speaking. The way marriage is set up… and the tax laws around marriage… is that you are rewarded for having one working parent and one stay-at-home parent. If you have two working parents and earn reasonable salaries you actually can have what they call the marriage tax penalty. Before tying the knot, I really want to better understand if that is going to cause a fiscal knot in my future bank account.

After writing this post, I found this awesome breakdown by Financial Samurai which details out the tax benefits or penalties for different types of married couples — it is a must read!

How Marriage and Tax Works

Starting the year you get wed you are officially a married couple in the eyes of the government — even if that happens on the last day of that year. You have a choice now to file married jointly or married separately. If you and your partner both work and make equal salaries, unless you’re low earners like teachers or social workers, you’re going to probably be better off filing separately.

The problem is — married filing separately doesn’t actually mean the same thing as filing as a single person. If you file separately while married you cannot take deductions for tuition fees, student loans, social security benefits tax-free exclusions, credits for the elderly and disabled, earned income credit, hope or lifetime learning education credits, child care credits, etc. And if you decide to file separately and one partner wants to itemize, the other partner needs to itemize their taxes too, even if they have no reason to do so.

But the bigger issue is for higher income earning couples. As you can see below, married filing separately and single filers do not have the same tax brackets. If you are married filing separately, anything over $74.4k will be taxed at 28%, where if you are filing single you have until $89.3k before you are bumped into the 28% tax bracket. If you happen to earn more than $180k per year as a ginle person you’ll still be within the 28% tax bracket, but if you’re married filing separately you’re going to pay 33% for any income over $113.4k.

Of course if one parent works and the other doesn’t the tax table works in that couple’s favor. I.e. say I work and make $200,000 per year and my husband stays at home and makes sure that the kids eat and don’t die — filing jointly we could remain in the 28% tax bracket, whereas if I were filing single and not married my top income would be in the 33% federal bracket.

2014 Tax Brackets (for taxes due April 15, 2015)

Tax rate Single filers Married filing jointly or qualifying widow/widower Married filing separately Head of household
10% Up to $9,075 Up to $18,150 Up to $9,075 Up to $12,950
15% $9,076 to $36,900 $18,151 to $73,800 $9,076 to $36,900 $12,951 to $49,400
25% $36,901 to $89,350 $73,801 to $148,850 $36,901 to $74,425 $49,401 to $127,550
28% $89,351 to $186,350 $148,851 to $226,850 $74,426 to $113,425 $127,551 to $206,600
33% $186,351 to $405,100 $226,851 to $405,100 $113,426 to $202,550 $206,601 to $405,100
35% $405,101 to $406,750 $405,101 to $457,600 $202,551 to $228,800 $405,101 to $432,200
39.6% $406,751 or more $457,601 or more $228,801 or more $432,201 or more


This all seems like marriage isn’t the best idea unless I plan on remaining unemployed and being a gold digger the rest of my life. It’s hard to know what the future holds, but the reality is that marriage might not be the best idea financially speaking. In fact, if I get married it will be likely that my husband and I will each earn around $130k AGI each, or more. If we earn $260k jointly we are in the 33% tax bracket. If we each earn $130k and file separately we are also in the 33% tax bracket for every dollar earned over $113k. BUT if we weren’t married at all and earned $130k all of our income would be in the 28% tax bracket.

Am I missing something here, or is marriage just a big scam to get us to pay the government more of our hard-earned money?

This article seems to make the case that marriage isn’t worth it — unless you plan to have only one working partner or both be very low income earners.

Some Other Items to Note

  • BONUS: You can get joint health insurance if one partner has it through work… this isn’t a tax benefit but it is a benefit to being married.
  • PENALTY: The Child Tax Credit provides up to $1000 for every child under 17 in one’s care, but if you file a joint return the credit phases out at $110k income total for both partners. If you file separately you don’t get the credit at all. If you are not married and file single it phases out at $75k (**again a reason why this should be determined based on cost of living because $75k is a large salary in some areas of the country and in others it’s not enough to afford a basic lifestyle.)
  • PENALTY: Miscellaneous deductions can lower taxable income, but they need to add up to more than 2% of AGI to actually matter. If one spouse has these deductions but the other doesn’t, it can be a big headache since both spouses have to itemize if one does. That also can cost more to prepare since it’s no longer standard TurboTax click click and done.
  • BONUS: If you’re married and own a home with your partner, you can take $500k in gains tax free when you sell for your next house. If you’re single you only get to take $250k in gains. That said — most of us won’t have more than $250k gains on a property because we’re buying houses that at most are $1-$1.5M. Aimirite?
  • PENALTY: Obamacare requires an additional 3.8% tax on net investment income when gross income exceeds $200,000 at a single tax payer… BUT $250k as a married couple. So basically if you earn $125k each (totally normal in cities like San Francisco or New York) you are going to pay a lot more on your investment income. Being single and making under $200k is a lot more reasonable.
  • BONUS: If you are married you can give each other as much money as your heart pleases because you basically now are the same person. If you happen to die unexpectedly, god forbid, your partner can get all your monies tax free. This is the one true bonus of marraige left but does it outweigh the extra taxes paid annually as a married couple? (Otherwise I’d think you could just get married later in life once you are ready to take advantage of tax-free cash sharing.)
  • PENALTY: This also provides a strong incentive for your partner to hire an assassin to make you disappear, if you happen to be the keeper of said monies (or maybe I’ve just been watching one too many episodes of law & order)
  • PENALTY: To deduct unreimbursed medical expenses they must be more than 7.5% of your AGI. If one partner has a big surgery that costs a lot and cannot work during the year — and is single or filing separately — he can take that deduction. But if the couple files jointly and the other partner makes a lot more then the deduction is harder to obtain.
  • PENALTY: If you make more money, more of your Social Security is subject to tax. You’re better off filing single vs married to keep more of your SS benefits. Also if you are a couple with two working partners — you’ll end up with more social security in the long run if you remain single!
  • PENALTY: The AMT (Alternate Minimum Tax) exclusion for two unmarried individuals is much lower than that for a married couple, and this can cause upper middle class earners thousands of dollars in extra tax each year.
  • PENALTY: If one partner earns less money in one year than another, if the couple remains single filers one person who earned more money can gift the other up to $13k in appreciated stock, tax free, which she could sell at her capital gains tax rate (which could be 0% if she is not earning anything that year, but filing jointly at that point might actually save the couple more.)
  • PENALTY: A single person can deduct up to $3,000 in capital losses per year. Married couples… can only deduct up to $3k in capital losses (not $6k.)
  • PENALTY: If a couple is unmarried and, say, the woman owns a house in her name and the man gets sick and relies on Medicaid to pay for a nursing home, Medicaid cannot come after the house that the woman owns. However if they are married they can take the house away!
  • PENALTY: The Roth IRA contribution limit for a married couple is lower than it is for two single individuals! If you’re a single person you can invest $5500 per year in a Roth IRA if you earn less than $114k per year (AGI) — BUT — if you’re married, you can only earn $181,000 jointly to invest in a Roth. That’s $47,000 less income you can earn and still be eligible to invest in a post-tax IRA account.
  • PENALTY: Write-offs from rental real estate can be used to offset ordinary income unless your AGI exceeds $150,000. That is — $150k as a single person or married — that amount is the same!

 

 

Divorce is the New Marriage: Why Marriage is Obsolete and Yet I’m Probably Going to Get Married Anyway

When one becomes an adult, often one gets married. My opinions on marriage are fairly strong as I believe it’s both religious ritual and business contract, neither of which actually are necessary if you are an atheist and have two working individuals in the relationship.

Marriage as a historic religious ritual makes a lot of sense. The whole concept of marriage between a man and a woman is core to the people who wrote religious books many years ago. It also helped ensure that a man would stick around to provide for his wife and children when women didn’t work. Continue reading

The Purpose of Life at 29

I feel like all I write about lately here is my constant back-and-forth on what I want the next 10 years of my life to look like. My good friend who is also a good year younger than I am just gave birth to her first child this week, and I’ve taken a good look at my life and feel like I’m making enough progress in my professional life to deserve to be a “real adult.” Which doesn’t have to include the whole marriage and kids thing, but it does include living independently, without random roommates, and being in a situation where I could have kids, or at least a kid.

Surprisingly enough, I’m starting to feel ready for that. I survived a small layoff recently, and I know that while my job will never be a sure thing, I’m valued in my role because I provide significant value to my company. Hey, I’m actually good at what I do, and confident enough now to know that if I lost my job I could, knock on wood, find another one. That feels great. That makes me think it might be time to start a family of my own.

I love my boyfriend so much. I’ve written a bit about how he hasn’t been in a full time job yet in his life, but at least he’s trying now. He’s also doing a bit of freelancing. It still is uncomfortable thinking about him being ok with making $20k per year while I’m bringing in over $100k and actually saving for retirement. I still occasionally look around at other guys and think, man, wouldn’t my life be so much easier if I could just fall in love with someone who has a real job and motivation to move up the career ladder? But that’s also what I love about my s/o… he isn’t motivated by money. He isn’t the type to work his life away. And ultimately, all I really want is a man who will be there to cuddle, to go for walks with, to make dinner with. What more do I need?

So maybe I should just get on with it and marry the guy. If I’m not going to marry him ever that’s one thing, but I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m going to do. I haven’t really felt happy at all in life until him, and I’m sure I won’t feel happy without him. After seven years, if I feel that way, that has value, and truth to it. Money be damned.

Marry for Love, Passion, or Money? All Three?

Every time I attend a wedding I do two things. One: cry. Two: put myself in the bride’s shoes, and wonder how I’d feel walking down the aisle, tying the knot forevermore. I’m writing about this topic a lot lately because it’s been on my mind. I’ve spent my entire life fighting against allowing money to factor into who I date, but at the ripe-old age of almost 30, I’ve realized that there are two key pieces of a happy marriage: One: financial compatibility. Two: frequent blow jobs (seriously.) I’m pretty convinced at this point that as long as those two things exist in a marriage, it will be successful.

This week, I spent time with a good old friend who is now the mother of a one year old. Just a few years into the marriage, she says that if she could do it over again she’d get married for money. When you have a kid, she explained, they become your world, and all you care about is providing for them. Her husband apparently went to school for a certification and failed the exam, refusing to go back to take it again, and he’s stuck in his job making around $55k per year. Meanwhile, she makes a small salary as a hair dresser, and they both struggle to make ends meet. The pair bought a condo and, additionally, are paying off a car payment of $300+ per month. On the other end of the spectrum, sort of, I have another friend who is pregnant with her first child, and she’s married to an engineer for a major tech company, and even they are struggling with finances at the moment with a kid on the way and major house remodels. I kick myself when I share my concern about my boyfriend’s financial situation with her, as she’s struggling to pay off her debts as her husband pays for their expensive bay area starter home.

I’ve been scared to be with a man who has his life together. Because of my depression and other crazies, I just don’t trust myself to maintain a relationship with anyone who is focused on their career. I feel safe with my boyfriend, I know I’ll always be in charge of the finances, he’ll surely stay at home with the potential offspring, and maybe that’s fine. I just don’t know what I want. I can see myself going on like today if I don’t have kids, living with roommates, semi cheaply, splurging on dresses, shoes and makeup on occasion but overall keeping my living expenses low. Thinking about a life with kids changes the picture. And I worry one day I’ll be upset at myself for not seeking out a man who had his life together. Just enough to have a bit of retirement savings at 30. Continue reading