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Saturday, March 9

Catching Up and Getting Simple

Today is a beautiful day, and not just because it's sunny with a high in the low 80s here in Florida.  It's a beautiful day because I just wrapped up my federal tax return and business returns.  Even better, due to higher spending on the rental properties last year I will be getting a sizable refund this year.  Last year I had a big tax bill.

Filing taxes was easier this year.  Most of the meeting jobs I do have converted from 1099 to W-2, significantly cutting down on record keeping and forms to fill out.  My goal though is to keep simplifying my finances.  Here's what I'm working on in 2019:

Simplifying Finances, 2019...

  • A few years ago I opened a Health Savings Account.  Since I no longer have a high-deductible health plan, I can't add funds to the HSA.  I plan to withdraw the balance in this account this year as I have medical expenses.  Goal is to close it out by yearend.
  • I was one of the original adopters of Prosper, even attending Prosper Days back when it first started (the memories!).  The returns on this platform aren't meaningful enough to continue using it, so I've been withdrawing funds from it every time I had $100 available.  Some of the loans I made on Prosper mature at the end of 2022, so this is going to be a slow process.
  • I'm "shopping" the Birmingham townhomes to potential investors.  There's a good chance the sale won't go through, but I do have an interested buyer under contract.  These townhouses have been cash cows over the years, but the neighborhood has steadily declined and turnover costs are too high.  We've been thinking about adding another AirBNB property eventually, so if I do sell the townhouses, I'd potentially use the proceeds to fund another BNB here in Florida.

Having Fun, More Frugally...

We love to travel, but I don't like paying for it.  This year I'll spend every time finding ways to cut costs in the "fun" category, while not cutting back on fun.

  • Last month I opened a new credit card, the Marriott Bonvoy AMEX.  I did this for the bonus:  100,000 Marriott Rewards after spending $5,000 in three months.  This will get us several free nights in Marriott-branded properties.
  • We booked a trip to China through UTO Vacations.  It's 8 nights, and includes flights from New York, flights within China, hotels and tours.  It was only $299 per person, plus the cost of a Chinese Visa and gratuities.  Since it seemed too good to be true, I did a lot of research beforehand.  The "catch" to this incredible price is that our trip is subsidized by requiring us to visit specific stores in China on each tour.  Apparently the merchants pay a fee to the company to entice the tour to visit the store.  Overall it was a reasonable compromise, as each store visit only lasts an hour and there are only a handful of these along the way.  I liken it to doing a timeshare presentation:  the trip is substantially discounted as long as you listen to the sales pitch.

Last, but not least, is simplifying our "stuff".  This is an ongoing process that will never end.  I should probably wait until I've gathered some things to get rid of and then write another post on that.  Until then... have a great weekend!


  1. That China trip is a crazy good deal. I'll be interested to see how it turns out. I'm slowly simplifying my finances as well. I've been closing some small accounts, canceled a couple of credit cards, and moved my Roth IRA to Fidelity since they already managed my traditional IRA and work 401k.

    1. Simplifying is fun! I think where I get messed up is when I open an account for the bonus and then forget to cancel it.

  2. I have it in my December goals to close several small accounts, too. Also, reviewing the perks for all credit cards to see if any can be closed (like Sears...any...sigh).