This year, for TY 2021, our refund is about $1500 light.
The reason was the advance child tax credit payments, which I didn't want, but was too lazy to understand how to tell the IRS.
Anyway, I get that many say never have a refund, should be net $0.
My argument to that is we fill out our W-4 accurately, and let it go from there. Married, 1 dependent, end of story.
The IRS cannot predict my bonus on which the payroll system withholds as if that were a 1/26 payment of my annual compensation.
Just as the IRS cannot predict my capital gains or any stock sales and losses (mutual funds are killer on state income tax, bad).
I am one who never paid property taxes and insurance to escrow, except on the first mortgage prior to refi.
I seem to buy into the concept of forced savings.
Example, the job I took in 2010 was the first time I was able to max out my 401k to the IRS limit. You know the rest, it's 2022, and based on market performance, have an idea on what that account may have grown to.
I could not do the above by myself. I was this far from being forced into deferred comp because of my co's 401k qualified plan, but we grew so it was averted.
Another example. In 2016, for the first time ever, I paid cash for a car that cost more than $2k. It was almost $16k out the door.
Today, I feel like my savings is $16k less than it would have been without the car.
Everyone says paying cash for the car is best practice, is it?
If I had borrowed, it would have been maybe $380/mo. for 36 mos. I would have paid about $900 in interest. But what I think is the savings would today still be 16k higher.
I would have scrimped and saved to come up with the $380, but it was spent elsewhere.
Another example, when I changed jobs in 2010, I was paid out 10 weeks vacation, and of course the IRS withheld as if that were a 1/26 paycheck. WHERE DID THAT MONEY GO???!!!! LOL no idea!!!!
That's why I say as savvy as I would like to think I am, financial discipline is hard to accomplish. Especially when married and my wife buys cookies for $2-$3 each (I would never). Some say before marriage, people should have the same values financially. Well my wife grew up with au pairs and servants and etc. so we certainly are different.
At the end of the day, I have trained myself to focus upon net, not gross pay (medical is killing me it's a joke).
The light is at the end of the tunnel, come 7/23, I will be debt free (my wife never had any debt, never had a installment loan nor mortgage). Is that wonderful in theory, or in practice? I don't know. Other people my age have beautiful 3500 sq ft homes that I never will know. My buddy tells me been there/done that and overrated, you don't want the mortgage and taxes that come along for the ride!
Whatever the other virtues, I see avoiding debt as obtaining a form of freedom. People with car and mortgage payments, not to mention putting children through school, are much less free to do, or not to do, next that which they prefer.
I've had two mortgages, both of which I paid off way early, and never borrowed money to buy a car. Not having borrowed on a car, I've never carried comprehensive or collision, which over fifty years has save me a bundle more in insurance payments than it has cost me.
My wife and are are retired, me for about 11 years and her for about 6. All our working careers we made good incomes, invested heavily in reliable and minimal risk opportunities. With no children we were able to max out virtually everything being offered, and we did.
Today, I'm not so sure we aren't paying the price due to a lot of pre-tax investments like IRA's. The income from these investments is now taxable (to the tune of about 30%) and hits us heavily. Looking back I would have done more Roth type investments which are after tax and today would not be taxable.
Also retired. Pre-tax IRA vs Roth. Yes, it's nice to withdrawal tax free money from Roth IRA, but in my case, I think using pre-tax money in an IRA probably appreciate more. So, now I'm paying taxes with cheaper inflated dollars. Also, when wife and I retired, we did some IRA to Roth conversions with the lower tax brackets.
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