Retail Sucks

We took the family to Michael’s Crafts looking for fun crafts for a little party we will be hosting for Abigail.
It took 45 minutes to travel each way. It’s usually 25 minutes but there was lots of traffic. Megan beat us there by 20 minutes, went to Panera Bread and had a terrible salad. Michael’s smelled like the inside of a chemical incense candle factory, several of their overhead flickering with nausia-inducing intensity, and the checkout line snaked to… I couldn’t see the end, it was like a 30 minute line. Apparently they were having a big sale. When Abigail arrived, Megan had already toured the store for our shopping list. All she found on our list was a headache. No, wait, that wasn’t on our list but that’s all she got :-(. I was much faster at shopping and got a headache in just the five minutes we were in the store for.

So we fled and went to Toys R Us. We found a couple things for xmas but totally not what we were looking for.

So we fled yet again and looked at some fish and birds at a nearby pet store to calm down.

The retail experience so completely sucks. Amazon, take my money.

Cloud Drive

I’m thinking of getting a cloud drive (NAS drive…) and want some advice. I want use a Macbook and PC to access my huge photo collection while at home and on the road. Can I set up a cloud drive to “just work” as a network drive both when I’m home and away? Like, can I view photos on the cloud drive through iTunes? Suggestions?





Turbotax saved my family $5,000 this week, I’m very happy! If you want to try it, here’s a $10 referral bonus/coupon.


Borrowing from your Roth IRA to pay for college / pay for your kids college

If you need to take out loans for school, a good place to borrow from is your own Roth IRA! You can take out as much money as you’ve put in without any penalties!

For instance, if you put $5000 into your Roth IRA a few years back and now there is $7000 in the account, you can withdraw up to $5000 scott free if it’s for school. When you do it, make sure you note it on your taxes or the IRS will think you had 1) an early withdrawal and a penalty, 2)additional income for the year. It’s important to note that a regular IRA doesn’t have this magical tax advantage.

Turbotax caught this detail and my (rather expensive) tax preparer missed it, despite me reminding him about it. After amending our returns for the last two years, Megan and I now have >$5k in refund checks coming!

(In Turbotax, in the section “Traditional and Roth IRA Contributions” there is a section that starts out “Withdraw from Lee’s Roth IRA Before 2016?”. You say “yes” and go from there. Of course, this means you have to figure out exactly how much you’ve contributed vs how much is in the account, which is a complete PITA. But it’s taxes, of course it’s a PITA!)

Here’s an article that talks about taking money out of your Roth IRA for education.

In addition, if you are planning on saving for your kids college with a 529 plan, that article and a few others I saw say that it’s better to use a Roth IRA instead! The trouble is, if you put money into a 529 plan and your kid doesn’t go to college, you are S.O.L.! But that’s not an issue with a Roth IRA. We haven’t started saving for Abigail’s college in earnest yet but 2018 is the year!

Where to Sell Used Books

I sell my old books on Amazon. For the latest book, I noticed that Amazon took a 44% cut from my $20 book. That’s pretty steep! I wrote to support and they said, “Yup, a 44% fee sounds about right. Suck it.”

A few years ago, fees were more like 15%. I somehow doubt that the internet is getting more expensive.

Bah! where else can I sell used books?

I Still Love Boomerang For Gmail

I’ve been using Boomerang for Gmail for the last 5 years (previously) and it is still the most useful part of my email. It’s my auxiliary brain. What do I do with it?

  • It sends me a reminder for messages that don’t get a response within a certain time: “Hey, we were chatting last week and I never heard back from you about…”
  • I can write a message now and deliver it later: Written Saturday 2:16am but delivered Monday 8:55am, “Don’t forget Joe, we’re doing that thing at 11!”

I welcome you to try it. You get 10 free “boomerangs” which will give you a feel for whether you’ll like it or not. Here is a referral link for a small discount for us both. The $50/year is money very well spent.