Real world economics
Tax Carnival #9: Welcome to Tax Season 2007

25 and counting

Here's a reality-based figure from our personal economy: $146.99.

That's what the hubby and I spent, plus tax
but pre-tip, last week on aWedding_ring_set2_2 nice dinner out.
All you frugal folks about to chastise, stop right there. It was a very special event: our 25th wedding anniversary. If you can't overspend then, just when can you?

It was the second most expensive restaurant meal we've ever had, excluding vacations (we do tend to splurge on holiday). The previous high was just over $200 dropped at a swanky resort restaurant in Palm Beach (L'Escalier at The Breakers) for our 20th. Our Austin meal was just as good, but things here in Central Texas aren't as expensive as in coastal Florida (one of the many perks of coming back home).

This year we celebrated at the fine-dining establishment of Hudson's on the Bend, known for its proprietors' friendship with cycling champ Lance Armstrong and for the chefs' creative presentations of game meat.

We dressed up, befitting the importance of the date, but as we've learned, fancy attire is not a major concern here in Austin. Several of our fellow diners looked like they were the hunters who just brought in the elk and bison that were on the menu!

We stuck with the domestic offerings and were quite pleased. And the bill was really not that bad for the appetizers, entrees, beverages and, of course, dessert. Maybe we'll go back there in another 25 years!

Marriage by the numbers: Once I started looking over the history of our marriage, I realized a lot of figures are involved in our relationship.

On the residential side of the ledger of our 25 years together, we've rented two apartments and one townhouse. We've also owned five homes, a condo and four single-family residences, with associated loan rates that have run the gamut.

Back in 1982, mortgage rates took a dive just before we bought our condo in the Washington, D.C., area. For all you fresh faces, back then double digits were the norm, mid-teen double digits, in fact. Yes, perspective is everything.

We're now on our fifth mortgage (with three refis sprinkled in there for good measure) and I'm happy to say this 30-year marker is just a smidge above 5 percent. Yes, I like this perspective much better!

Automotively, we've owned 10 vehicles, both new and used. I am very happy to report that we've been loan-free on our current cars for three years now.

Between us we've had a total of 17 jobs during our married years. I didn't realize it was quite that many, but revisiting the employment details just underscored the importance of taking control of your own retirement planning. Just a handful of those workplaces offered any pension plan, either traditional or 401(k), so I'm doubly glad we've been such good IRA contributors over the years.

And then there are the tax filings. This year will mark our 25th joint return.

We've seen lots of tax law changes over the years. In fact, we pushed our wedding day into 1982 to take advantage of the two-earner deduction that took effect that year, an early attempt to ease the marriage penalty faced by dual income families.

And back then, help from computer software was just a twinkle in some accountant-cum-computer geek's eye.

We've also shared tons of fun, truckloads of patience and immeasurable love over the years. And those are the greatest assets any couple can accumulate.


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Happy anniversary! A fancy meal seems completely appropriate to mark such an occasion.

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