Monthly Archives: April 2011

Tax Time…that is, if you’re not rich!

I had half forgotten that taxes are due tomorrow, since we filed our taxes months ago, but then I read the local Willamette Weekly cover article on  9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You to Know About Taxes .

It’s really in depth, and pretty darn infuriating. Since I know you all won’t take the time to read the full article, here are the tax myths that he tries to dispel:

  1. Poor Americans do pay taxes
  2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden
  3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes
  4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all
  5. And (surprise!), since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income
  6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same – less taxes
  7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs
  8. Republicans like taxes too
  9. Other countries do it better

Not surprisingly, it was the last section that really got me going, wondering for the umpteenth time why I live in a country that likens taxes to torture and can’t understand how creating a system of mutual support is a good thing I wrote last tax season about green taxes and  taxing priorities , and have made my socialist tendencies known. Call me socialist, but I’d happily pay into a system that provides a safety net and makes many predictable expenses less expensive. Instead families are stuck wondering how to budget for unpaid maternity leave, save for college and retire with a reasonable standard of living.

What gets me is that all these tax myths are being created by those who pay the least proportionally. Obama is proposing a  modest tax increases on the wealthy , but it’s still no where near equality. I try to be an optimist in my personal, but politics lately are getting under my skin, and the tax debate reminds me of how much better I think we could do for our families. 

Would you pay more taxes for more services?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Blue Sky Benefits

I wrote last year about signing up for Blue Sky, my electric utility’s renewable energy option.

Recently I got an update about how my participation has made a difference, and it’s pretty impressive:

Avoided 5,814 pounds of CO2 or 5,911 miles not driven or 68 trees planted

I don’t know about you, but I certainly haven’t come close to planting 68 trees on my own initiative. It is a relative offset to our current miles driven as well.

In trying to find out what others think, I found a fun blog called “Retire by 40” that shares their perspective on the program.

Have you signed up for your local clean energy program?

Sustainable Family Finances  
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Zipcar Goes Public

I happened to peek at the Wall Street Journal business section in the lunch room, and found an article about Zipcar going public on the stock market this week. 

I know this is a family finance blog, but I’m really an investment virgin. We have no stocks to our name, and I have no clue where to begin (beyond adding more money to my retirement fund). My Twin Sis is the investment chic in our family, and she once made over $50k by investing in Hansen’s soda as they came out with a new energy drink.

But the prospect of investing in Zipcar has me excited. The price will determine what we can afford to invest, but I finally feel like we have the stability to begin investing and Zipcar is a company I trust and enjoy myself. A third party study estimated that “ From a $350 million industry, the study says, it will grow to become a $3 billion industry by 2016.”  Plus, here’s   3 reasons to buy ZIP .

Just last week the Christian Science Monitor hyped all the benefits of Zipcar, and other car sharing options (notably they didn’t mention Portland’s Get Around).  

Speaking of car sharing, we are still in debate about going carless. It’s a big jump, we just can’t seem to take the leap just yet…plus it’s still not truly biking weather in Portland yet!

Would you invest in Zipcar? 

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

EcoMaids Chi

There’s no doubt I now have a favorite day of the month, which coincides with our EcoMaids cleaning service . It’s hard to put into words, but it’s such a relief to come home to a spotless house. It just puts my mind at ease for the entire weekend, and I simply don’t have the angst that I used to – either feeling guilty for putting off cleaning or too exhausted to clean in my precious spare time.

The monthly cleaning service doesn’t get me off the hook entirely, but it gives substantial relief. I am much happier to sweep regularly than to haul out our “beloved” vacuum and Shark steam mop

The irony is that my moment of cleanliness bliss is often abruptly stopped short by the inevitable kitchen spill or misplaced potty attempt (which despite a few floor accidents this weekend is still going very well). We tease each other about this fate, but I’d still much rather clean up a fresh spill.

It’s not even really the absence of cleaning that elates me, it’s how that time is freed up to do any given family oriented activity. For example, this weekend instead of cleaning together all day (yes, it does take all day with two small kids “helping”!), we were able to spend the morning at a t-ball breakfast fundraiser, then a t-ball game and after nap we headed to the Pearl to hit the REI member sale and grab some Cool Moon cones at Jamison Park…all before heading to a friend’s b-day party! It was a delightful day, and truly courtesy of EcoMaids.

Having a clean home also allows me to focus on the “feng shui” details that create a peaceful home. Instead of scrubbing the tub, I’m able to pay attention to accumulating clutter. It seems that we are constantly putting things back where they belong, but on our “clean” weekend I usually take on one type project to improve our “chi”. This time I put fresh flowers around our home and replanted our big front porch pot and hanging baskets for the season. Again, these projects simply wouldn’t get done if we had to spend our time off cleaning.

On a previous post, I was criticized for spending family money on such an ephemeral luxury, rather than saving/investing the money. I understand the argument, but at this point in my life I think it’s well worth the percentage of my paycheck. I’ve literally earned it. Although that’s not to say that we couldn’t live without it, and surely under the sugar mama scenario the service would be dropped until we could afford it. It’s not something I take for granted, but it sure is nice to look forward to each month.

Do you think a cleaning service is a worthy family expense?

Sustainable Family Finances  
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.