Where the money is....

When Willie Sutton bank robber was asked why he robbed banks he said "Because that is where the money is". How things have changed.

The banker's Bank the Federal Reserve is now robbing savers with near zero interest rates. Why? Because that is where the money is. It is a hidden tax. No law was passed. Still you are having the your money stolen through near zero interest rates to restore bank's balance sheets. If you had $300,000 in an IRA (or 401k) earning 5% in 2007 ($18,000 a year with nearly no risk) you are lucky if you earn half that today. That is a $9,000 or more of hidden taxes.

I hope to expose these types of actions and others by the FED and government. Boomers need to be vigilant - because their savings is where the money is. I will also delve into other areas of finances of interest to Boomers.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The cost of ignorance - $540 a month

Psychologists say that many people will talk about anything, even sex, before they'll talk about their finances. Why is it so difficult for us to talk about money? Perhaps because money symbolizes different things to different people: power, control, security, or love, for instance.

It's been estimated that money issues are the driving force in 90% of divorces, but you CAN live happily ever after, financially speaking, if you work at not letting financial issues come between you and your partner.

In the world of personal finaces the waters are teeming with sharks. There is the FED keeping interest rates near zero. There is the Government and the IRS. There are con men. There is even your spouse. Ignore any or all of these at your own peril.

When a spouse is secretive about their individual finances there is a reason. If they are unwilling to sit down at least once a year and discuss current status and future plans and goals there is a reason. Been there and experienced that. She wanted her own checking account and separate credit cards. Her accounts were hers, and mine were ours. Why? Because she knew I would not approve of her spending habits. There were her credit cards that got run up (and yes I ended up paying them off). But I digress.

We all have heard her say "I defer to him on major financial decisions", or "I don't understand taxes, he handles that". Show me a marriage where that is the basis for finances and I will show you a husband who uses finances to control and manipulate, and even take advantage of the spouse.

Let me tell you of one case I saw. I have no idea how often this happens. Sue Ann and Jim Ed Mattison were both white collar professionals. It was around 2003 and each earned around $50,000. Sue Ann told me she took home around $2,200 a month after deductions for Federal, State and local income taxes, FICA, Medicare, and 7% into a 401k.

Not to go into great detail, but $2,200 is not consistent with a gross income of $50,000. Here is a pay check calculation from http://www.paycheckcity.com/:

As you can see Sue Ann is over with holding about $540 a month (about $6,500 a year). That is a lot of refund!!!! If you want you can do the tax calculations - you will find the withholding above consistent with an expected half of taxes on a $100,000 combined income.

Susie also told me that they got $4,000 in tax refunds. She was clueless that it should have been 50-60% more based on just the amount she over withheld. She was thrilled to get $4,000 in refunds. I suggested she may want to file and amended W-4 (and state equivalent) form with her employer. Susie did nothing.

I continued to hear about their struggles to pay college for the children. So I suggested that they have that financial talk and put all the cards on the table. Susie did nothing. I even suggested there was something not right going on. Susie still did nothing. You cannot help someone who won't act. They choose to remain ignorant because they are afraid to face reality.

So let's summarize. Susie was over withholding about $6,500 (which reduced her take home pay about $540 a month). Susie and Jimmy filed married jointly and only got $4,000 in refunds. So what happend to the $2,500 ($6,500 overage - $4,000 refund = $2,500). The only possible answer is Jimmy under withheld $200+ a month thereby increasing his take home pay. Jimmy was taking $200+ a month from Susie using tax withholdings. Did they split the $4,000 in refunds? I suspect they did which transferred additional funds from Susie to Jimmy.

Susie once told me she often "deferred" to Jimmy on major decisions. She also told me she didn't understand taxes so he handled that. Clearly a situation where Susie was almost asking to be taken advantage of.

It is 7 years later and I haven't spoken to Susie in years, but I believe Susie and Jimmy are still married. I have no reason to believe anything has changed. They split the bills, maintain their own accounts and never discuss the joint financial situation that exists and Jimmie continues to take and Susie continues to give (even if she doesn't know it).

You may know a Susie and Jimmie? I have no idea how often this happens. I do know that chosing ignorance cost Susie $540 a month in her paycheck.

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