Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dawn and the Girls....

Off to Canada - Packing Hell

So I'm trying to get out of the house and off to the airport. Dena is staying home to mind the farm whilst I head up for a family visit. This is what our world has come to. In my "packing" world this morning it has involved:

  1. Charging the laptop
  2. Fixing the Ipod Touch which is stuck on the Apple Logo
  3. Clearing out videos off the HDD movie camera so there's room for more
  4. Finding and cleaning out the USB HD sticks for transferring pix while up there
  5. Finding my headphones
  6. Getting all the cables packed for transferring the camera, HDD Movies, ipod, etc, etc
  7. Finding the Ipod charger
  8. Cleaning out my laptop bag and making it a travel "purse" and not a work bag.
  9. Packing allergy medication
  10. Inhalers
Oh and then there are things like clothes...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sungevity Solar - The Deal is Done

We've signed the contracts, solar here we come. You'll all be amused to learn that our solar panels are, you guessed it, Canadian.

Here is what we get...

10 - Canadian CS5A-185M, 185W Monocrystalline Module

1 - Kaco 1502xi (240V), 1.5 kW, 240 Vac, 125-500Vdc Utility Interactive Inverter

Seems minuscule but apparently it does the job.

I've figured out how they do it. My main question was "how do you sell all this solar for $ 1,500?" They do it because they are "leasing" it to us. They own it therefore they claim all the tax benefits, rebates, utility incentives, etc. They also own the electricity it generates. While I get to hopefully have a zero dollar Department of Water and Power bill (minus the water of course) any money earned by my meter spinning backwards is Sungevity's. A smart idea on their part. Kind of a win win situation I suppose. One must ask oneself if going solar is good enough or do you want to own it too?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Solar Panels on our Roof?

In our never ending quest to save money Dena discovered solar power. I had always thought that it was too expensive to have any kind of good ROI (return on investment). When I say good ROI, to me that means that I'll make my investment back in less than 2 years

So Dena got a quote for adding solar panels to our house. Apparently there are a tremendous amount of tax incentives both federally, through the state and through the power companies that we essentially would pay $1,500 and would have a 1.85Kw system. The company name is and I have done some research on why it's so cheap and read a lot of reviews. It's really all about the government subsidies so the time is now....

This is a grainy photo of our house with solar panels on the roof. I'm looking forward to some $0 bills....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Suze Orman and Bugsy - Update

If you're not familiar with the story, scroll down to last weeks posts for the whole story.

Monday Dena was practicing her script for the Suze Orman show, making changes and generally getting completely excited. Tuesday rolled around and the phone interview with Suze herfself began. Dena got about one sentence into her spiel when Suze rudely cut her off and peppered her with a few questions. None of them good. Suze Orman has a typical deny scenario for people - if you don't have 8 months in an emergency fund (aka liquid assets, either cash or easily liquidated stocks) you are automatically denied. Despite our emergency fund Dena (aka we) were quickly denied because she is unemployed. Dena was upset all day because Suze didn't let her speak, was rude and abrupt and hung up on her at the end.

Suze Orman said that we shouldn't be spending any money, period. Are we going to get Bugsy and rescue him from certain death at the bird sanctuary? I don't know. We are generally avoiding the question around our house. Why? I don't know. Maybe we're both hoping she gets a job soon and won't have time to deal with another bird, especially a special needs bird. Maybe we don't want to go against the Orman curse. Maybe we're just not committed enough?

So as of today, we have one bird and Dena is pissed at Suze Orman for being so rude and she'll never watch the show again.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

IRS (Internal Revenue Service) Adopts Rules for Domestic Partners

Well praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Yesterday I spoke with our CPA about tax planning for 2010 and she said a cryptic phrase of "well the IRS has recently adopted new Domestic Partner rules so this could be interesting." Not wanting to appear stupid and out of touch with the news and especially our community news, I kept my mouth shut and resolved to investigate it on the Internet this morning. Apparently, this new ruling (June 12, 2010) reverses a position the IRS took in 2006, when it said California's registered domestic partners should each report on their own federal tax return only the income they personally earned, not one-half of their community income.

For those of you unaware of my previous blog posts this is it in a nutshell quoted from Box Turtle Bulletin:

For several years, California law has treated couples in domestic partnerships exactly the same as marriages, including in how income tax returns were filed. But the federal government’s DOMA has banned any recognition of same-sex couples as married and the Internal Revenue Service has treated them as though they were two unrelated individuals. This has resulted in the peculiar situation in which a couple files as married for state tax purposes, and then files separate federal returns in which each reports their own individual incomes and deductions.
While it is not true in all cases, quite often this results in same-sex couples paying much higher rates of federal income taxes than they would if they could file jointly, especially when one spouse earns significantly more than the other. It has also resulted in increased time and expense in complying with income tax return preparation.

I'll let you know if we actually get a financial benefit from it, however, it cannot be any worse than the financial hit we took being RDP's last year. I was appalled that as a RDP we would have the benefit of paying more than you average couple federally. I am all about fairness and equality and this didn't sit well with me. Now if we could just get rid of the imputed income bullshit for the health insurance benefit I'd really be happy. Maybe for once in my life I'll look forward to the April 15th filing deadline.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Bugsy and Suze Orman -- Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 - please scroll down and read part 1 of this blog post.

So Dena's bright idea was to have Suze Orman tell us if we could afford buying Bugsy. Suze Orman does this segment on her money show called Can I Afford It? I figured, what the heck, so we filled in the form Sunday night. Monday morning they had already called Dena and emailed her. They were very interested. They never had a request like this before about a pet rescue and the financial ramifications of such a thing. Forms were emailed back and forth and a Dena and I did a deep dive into our finances. After all, the show is a money show and it is called "Can I Afford it?" so some true financial soul searching was required to fill all these forms in. At one point in the process Dena was sure we'd be denied. They have since called Dena every day and she has an official interview on August 10th. This could be interesting.....

Today Dena went to the bird store (For Birds Only ) to take a picture of Bugsy for the show. What happened though was that Dena was feeling bad for Frieda.... Frieda's cage is right beside Bugsy and they are buddies. As you can see, Frieda is a lilac crowned amazon and is beautiful. She is also a 2nd chance bird and is quite the flirt. She's about twice the size of Picasso. Frieda, Picasso and Bugsy get along quite well.

Whatever shall we do if we are denied? What shall we do if we're approved?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bugsy and Suze Orman -- Part 1

Sunday we took Picasso (our white fronted amazon parrot for those of you that don't know us) to the bird place for a manny/pedi (talon & wing clipping). We go every 4-5 months or so. For the past 18 months there's been a bird there by the name of Bugsy (see picture). Bugsy is a 2nd chance bird. He was rescued from a fire where the house was burned down by the boyfriend of the owner and the birds were left to fend for themselves. Bugsy was and is, needless to say, traumatized. The store staff have been working with Bugsy ever since to calm him down and re-train him.

Each time we're at the store Dena talks calmly to Bugsy and they seem to bond a little and Picasso and Bugsy love to chat. They are quite closely related with Picasso being a white fronted amazon and Bugsy being an orange cheeked Amazon. This visit we received disturbing news. Due to the economy Bugsy was slated to be shipped of to a bird sanctuary by the end of the year. All the staff at the store think Bugsy is a sweetheart underneath that scared exterior and that he wouldn't do well at a sanctuary.

We left the store quite sad and then Dena got a bright idea. See Part 2 of this blog tomorrow for the rest of the story.