I kept track of every penny I
spent so I could really get a fix on my budget and my spending habits and make
sure I was living sustainably under the tax-line. For me, this means that I
should spend less than $15,000 per year.
The results of my anally-retentive
record-keeping were encouraging. But
, my health insurance
has moved me into a more expensive age bracket, and I’ve moved to new housing
with lower rent and a different set of utility bills.
So I’ve gone and done it again:
’s 30-day total
’s 30-day total
$13,991 / year
$10,824 / year
Some of these numbers are more guesstimated than others. I didn’t include
any expenses that were directly related to my home business or my
contracting job that I can deduct from my income because they won’t count
against my $15,000 limit.
, I can deduct 100% of my
health insurance premiums from my income for federal income tax
purposes since I’ll be earning my keep as a self-employed contractor. So although I’ve included
the number here for comparison, this amount is not included in my
’s total may have been
understated because I didn’t amortize equipment installation costs.
I’ve spread the installation costs over one year for
I had “cell phone” as its
My discipline was poor on this . Over , I’ve spent $140 on 13 restaurant meals, ranging
from a $2.25 burrito to a $25 sushi dinner (average meal cost:
$10.75). In that same span, I’ve had 107 home-prepared meals made
with $130 worth of groceries (average meal cost: $1.20).
Plus milk, sugar, coffee-filters, etc.
I tried to keep track of
every time I was being hit directly by the California sales tax
(and the CRV
bottle tax). , I just
absorbed the tax into the cost of whatever was being taxed.
my state income tax rate was
about 0.7%, while this number puts my state sales tax rate at about
2%. There is some talk of changing the federal tax law so that you
can deduct the higher of your state sales or income tax (currently
you can only deduct the state income tax), so that’s part of my
motivation for keeping track of this.
Yep, the feds got me. When I carpool with someone, I often pick up
the tab for gasoline, and when I do I pay a federal excise tax on
it. Also, there’s a federal excise tax on alcoholic beverages.
I didn’t account for these
taxes separately but just wrapped them in to the “transportation”
and “beer/wine/spirits” categories.
this got wrapped into
utilities since we had a washer & dryer at home.
year, I’ve got to hike my stuff
to the laundromat.
, wrapped into “other.”
, amplified by extra
vaccinations and flea stuff, as my new home is surrounded by a
veritable urban wildlife habitat including families of squirrels,
opossums, and raccoons.
This includes a new smoke detector, a curtain rod, spackle, and
some other things for the new home, the cost of printing out and
faxing in a health insurance application, a donation to
So I’m well below the $15k threshold .
The lowered rent helped, but the best part is being able to deduct my health
insurance premium from my income as a contractor. I couldn’t do this
income came from being
a salaried employee.
I think also that this month’s expenses were unusually high because I was
moving in to a new home, so hopefully this will drop some now that I’m
settled. Also, I continue to search for a new health insurance plan that will
have a lower premium and that will allow me to take advantage of a tax-free
Health Savings Account. And I’m redoubling my commitment to make my meals at
I’ve added a new
feed to the site, linked from the “RSS
1.0” graphic in the box to the left. The nice thing about this one is that it
includes both a summary of the Picket Line entries
and also the complete entries, so you can read The Picket
Line in an
aggregator if that suits your fancy.
The site redesign looks fine for me at home on Mozilla
1.4 and Konqueror. A friend of mine says it looks fine
on IE too.
But I got email from another friend who says on
Mozilla 1.7 the two layout columns overlap. I don’t
have any feedback yet from users of
on Macintosh is apparently a much different beast than
its Windows namesake, so I’m eager to hear how that
I’ve got to say that the more I learn
more I like
remember when every browser had its own little proprietary
tags and attributes and you were never sure how your page was going to look.
Then things started to solidify on a standard, and today when I write in
XHTML-Transitional I pretty much know it’s gonna look okay everywhere.
the same old headaches but magnified. It’s amazing how not-right they managed
to get it this time around. It’s such a hack. All these little
“Opera does it like this, but you can
exploit a bug in the
version of IE
to hide the Opera stuff from it, and this other
browser incorrectly skips attributes with
backslashes in their names so you can hide things from it that way…”
This is the future of web publishing?
Nevertheless, I’m going to try to muddle through. I could write this
site using only
all. It would look pretty much the same (the only visible effects I can think
of that I couldn’t reproduce without
be the behavior of the cursor when hovering over tags with “title” attributes
and the forced removal of the underlining text-decoration on links). But I’d
like to learn this stuff, as kludgy as it seems.
I’d appreciate feedback. If something on The Picket
Line looks not-quite-right to you, could you leave a comment or write
me an email telling me what the symptoms are (and what browser you’re using)?