Monthly Archives: April 2013

American wealth… and Americans’ complaints

I saw this on Facebook today and had to respond…
“Dear God, Things are getting bad here. Gas prices are too high, no jobs, food and heating costs are too high. Some have taken you out of schools, government and even Christmas…” 

Many have probably seen posts like this. I think I understand the intent behind the posts, but today as I was reading, images poured through my mind. Of famines in Africa and hundreds of starving children. Of children trafficked in Asia. Of places where there are no cars to fill with gas, where a good job pays $3/hr… or even less. Where many would dig through trash heaps to sell what they find, and consider this their way of making a living. Of people who would give a day’s wages for one healthy meal for their family with hearts full of thankfulness at God’s great provision… and have to wonder if the problem is really that people have taken God out of schools or government or holidays, or if the real problem is that we’ve forgotten him, forgotten to recognize his many blessings in the midst of what most of the world would consider our extreme wealth. We are truly blessed.

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A garage?

I found another portable building today, this one far cheaper than the one that will be my cabin…. and cheaper than I could buy the building materials-even just the nails and joiners-to build a new one. The doors are 8′ wide. The building that was once a garage on my property is in terrible shape. Maybe a garage will join the cabin. We’ll see! 

Hopefully I haven’t gone from collecting stuff to collecting buildings!

Donations and tax write-offs when downsizing

I’ve filed my taxes. And I have a few words of advice:

If you are planning to downsize and someone encourages it because of the tax write-offs, don’t listen. After donating 2000 pounds of stuff in 2012, when I did my taxes I didn’t itemize for the first time in many years.

My initial fear was that itemizing 2000 pounds worth of donations might result in an audit. I’m sure the IRS auditors don’t generally see that dramatic a write-off. Or at least they haven’t ever seen anything like that from me.

When I actually did my taxes, though, I ran into another, more interesting problem I hadn’t considered before: I’d sold my big house. Which means that $1400 write off for property taxes wasn’t a part of this year’s itemization. Neither was a mortgage. Nor were any previously considered capital improvements. Along with one other previously itemize-able lifestyle change, these added up to less than the standard deduction for the first time in more than ten years.

Do I regret downsizing? Not at all. I’m as happy now as before I filed. But I was surprised. In reality, it was somewhat a pleasant surprise, because without itemizing, there will be less chance of an audit.

Of course, the fact that I couldn’t itemize this year also means one other thing: I didn’t spend the money to begin with, so even though I will pay more in taxes this year, I spent far less, as well. And am happier for it.