Saturday, December 12, 2015

5036 Screwed up the MRD

Saturday, December 12, 2015

If all your friends are fat, there are no seesaws, only catapults.
 – Demetri Martin –


Lately I've been sleeping oddly.  I go to bed very early, then read in bed or do logic puzzles for an hour or two, fall asleep, then I awaken again somewhere between 2 and 5 am, read or puzzle some more, fall asleep again, and wake in the morning.  Last night I woke up about 2 am, started to read, and decided I wanted something to eat.  So I came downstairs, and while munching on crackers and peanut butter, I puttered around on the computer.  I was still mulling over why the 401K folks seemed surprised that I asked more more than the Minimum Required Distribution on the 401K, so I looked some stuff up.

Well, it turns out I had been given bad advice several months ago, when I was looking into the requirements for taking the MRD (a.k.a.RMD) from my 401K and the IRAs.  The amount one has to take depends on the account balances from 12/31 of the previous year, and a percentage from IRS tables.  I had been told by my financial advisers that I could add up the accounts, arrive at the total MRD, and then take all of it from any one of the accounts, or a bit from each, or any combination, as long as the total came out to the required minimum --- and back then I found nothing online that disputed that.  So I added it all up, and took it all from the 401K.

Surprise.  I found a very recent article that says that you cannot combine the 401K with IRAs.  You can combine several IRA balances and take money from any of them, but a 401K has to be handled separately.  You have to take the 401K's MRD only from the 401K, and you can't take any IRA MRDs from the 401K.

Crap.  If I hadn't found that, I'd have been hit with major tax penalty for not having taken any MRD from the IRAs!

So, I did that at 3 am.  I took the required amount from each of the IRAs.  The IRS will have nothing to complain about.

I'm still a bit confused about why I have to pay a 20% tax "penalty" on the "excess" over the required minimum I took from the 401K.  I thought this was my retirement account, and that I'm now old enough to be able to take as much as I want out of there whenever I want --- whatever I need to live on, right?  It likely has to do with what portion is "tax free", and anything over that is taxed as income.  But I ran the numbers, and if I were to take only the minimum every year, that account wouldn't be drained until I'm 115 years old.  I'm not likely to live that long.

BTW, there's no penalty if I take money out of the 401K and roll it over into an IRA, and then I can take all I need from the IRA whenever I need it, taxed as normal income.  No penalty.  I think.  I'll have to look into that next year.

5035 A present for me?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. 
To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom."
~Bertrand Russell~


The hot thing for the younger crowd this year is the "hoverboard", somehow tied in its advertising to the Back to the Future franchise, which makes the kids lust for it.

Bullpoopy!  It has nothing whatsoever to do with hovering.  It's basically a cheaper Segway with smaller wheels and no upright.  Another difference between this thing and the Segway is that anyone can use a Segway smoothly almost immediately, while the "hoverboard" requires that you survive its multiple attempts to kill or maim you.

I sneer at you, "hoverboard"!

That got me thinking about the Segway.  I've wanted one since they first came out.  Are they still making them?  Do they still cost as much as a small slightly used car?    Answers: Yes, and yes.  Also they're so heavy and the wheels on them are so large they can't be put in a car trunk easily, which limits their versatility.

But, wandering around the web looking up deals on Segways, I found a little thing called a QBOT (  It's like a Segway but much smaller than the Segway, a bit slower, weighs only 35 lbs, and isn't so good "offroad".  But it's cute!  I can get it in pink, which makes it almost theft-proof.  And it costs a third or less of the Seqway's price.

I am very very tempted.

Friday, December 11, 2015

5034 Diary - 401K RMD, Met Life - Ignore

Friday, December 11, 2015

I guess I've got to start using this as a diary again.  After I got off the phone, after an hour and fifteen minutes with the Fidelity rep arranging for them to issue my 401K RMD check, I was feeling really good about having completed two big tasks, and then realized I couldn't remember what the first of those tasks was.  So I guess I'd better write it down for future reference.

1. I arranged for changing the beneficiary on Ex#2's life insurance (which I own and pay the premiums on), from me to Daughter.  I don't know what MetLife's problem was, but it took three days, including several abortive attempts at the website, and two phone discussions with reps.  What I have accomplished so far is the printing out of the forms - 9 pages!  Nine pages of details I have to locate.  Heck, I don't remember when his birthday is!  And I don't know his phone number.  Luckily, I do have his SS#.  (Daughter can probably provide some of what I need, but I didn't want her to know I was changing it over to her because back when I told her I intended to, she shrugged and told me to just drop the policy.)  MetLife isn't making this easy.

2. I have to withdraw the Required Minimum Distribution from my IRAs and 401K.  I don't have to take the RMD from each, I can take whatever the total works out for all three from any one of them.  So I'm taking it all from my 401K because they are the easiest to deal with.   However, they figured out how much I am supposed to take from them ONLY, so they are considering the excess I'm taking as a simple early withdrawal which I am not rolling over, and therefore they have to send 20% of the excess to the IRS as punishment.   I don't understand.  By taking it all from the 401K and not touching the IRAs, I AM in effect rolling it over without actually transferring the money --- but there's nothing I can do about it except turn the mess over to the Angel and he can probably get it refunded to me at tax time.

Nothing is easy anymore.

I guess it's not just me.  Daughter mentioned in passing the other day that she was spending an exorbitant amount of time on a simple Amazon return.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

5033 Bits

Thursday, December 10, 2015

"[T]he more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, 
the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. 
The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, 
the further to the right he or she will be. 

-- Roderick Stackelberg,  Hitler's Germany, Routledge, 1999, pp. 4–6 --


Cat Allergy

When Jay and I started dating, I had Siddy Kitty. Jay was highly allergic to cats.  The membranes in his nose swelled, the whites of his eyes turned red, and the membrane that covers the eyeball, the conjuntiva, would swell so badly it actually hung out over his lower eyelid in a blob.  All he had to do was walk into the house.  This was a bit of a problem.  I also had two dogs at the time, but they didn't bother him.

I found some kind of stuff somewhere, I forget what it was called (it was probably similar to Allerpet), a liquid that when put on the cat did something to reduce the allergens.  I scrubbed Siddy down with it about every other day at first.  I'd put some in a bowl, sop a sponge in it, then rub her all over with the sponge.  She LOVED it!  There's no way you'd ever get her into a bath (and live), but she thought being rubbed down with a sponge was wonderful.  It was like Mommy was licking her all over with a sponge tongue.

It worked beautifully.  Jay's non-reaction was immediate, and he and Siddy got to be best snuggle buddies.

Gradually I reduced the scrubbings to every three days, then every four days, then once a week, trying to find out how long the effects lasted.  Within another two months or so, I was frequently forgetting to do it, then one day I realized Siddy hadn't been doused in months, and Jay still wasn't reacting.  We stopped, and even after we got Miss Thunderfoot, a long-hair with skin problems, Jay no longer reacted.

I have no idea what happened.  His earlier reactions were so extreme, and he said he'd always been that way around cats.  Did his allergy simply go away?  Was there a psychological component to the allergy such that when he fell in love with Siddy it went away?

I'd still love to know.


Christman Lights

They've been going up all around here since the day after Thanksgiving.  Nugget and I have wandered around in the car looking at them.  She gets so excited.  I noticed something new this year.  In previous years I had seen nets of lights that people spread over shrubs and small trees.  This year some houses look like they have nets of lights spread over the whole front of the house, hundreds of tiny green and red lights.  I wondered if you hang the netting from the eaves, or what?  Then my neighbor across the street got them.  The front of their house is narrow, and the web covered the whole front, including across the front door.  I wondered how they'd get in the house.  Then I saw someone walk up to the door, and the lights were across his back --- oh, it's a projector!

Silly old lady.  Get with the times!

That seems so easy.  If I did Christmas stuff at all, I'd definitely go that route.

There's some weird overspill from the projector across the street.  I have seven or eight tiny dots of red and green on the north end of my house, running up the garage to the house roof.  I wonder, if you point the projector up to the sky, what would it look like from a plane?



I like to give peanuts to the neighborhood squirrels.  I used to stand on the porch and call them, "Squiggy!  Squiggy!", and they'd come running for the peanuts on the lawn and driveway.  Some were getting bold enough to come within a few inches of me to beg.  Then the blue jays figured out what "Squiggy" meant, and they started showing up, within seconds of my calling.  The jays would call each other, and pretty soon it was getting nasty, with jays dive bombing squirrels and squabbling over the peanuts.  So I had to stop calling.  I just threw peanuts when I saw squirrels nearby, and stopped when I heard the first jay call.

This year there's something strange about the squirrels.  There don't seem to be many big chubby mature squirrels.  They all seem to be very small and young.  Where did all the older ones go?  Hercules says a fox has been seen, but foxes would seem to have an more of an effect on the cat and rabbit population than on the squirrels.  There's one little squirrel who has a thin scrawny tail.  I worry about him.  That stick of a tail isn't going to keep him warm when it gets cold.  I try to throw peanuts to him, but he always runs away.


Other Stuff

I have lots of opinions on lots of stuff, but I try not to write anything that will just upset me more.  Gotta wait for it to simmer down a bit more.  But there's the van, Met Life, France, politicians, aaaagggghhh!  I'm getting annoyed already.  Need more time to pass.

[Drops mike....]