Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “finances

A Chicago-Style Girl In New York, Weekend Edition

Because I was so busy getting ready for the move to NYC, I started a bunch of draft posts. As I’m settling into the city, I’ll post them. To keep up with my new adventures, don’t forget to follow my new Twitter account @ChicagoGirlinNY

So now here is the story of my weekend in New York with my girls that resulted in me having just a couple weeks to relocate.

My girls and I left on a Saturday evening to drive to New York.  We had a great time doing the tourist thing in the city.

We stayed in a hotel in Chelsea. When we rolled up, it was hot, it was Sunday, and there was garbage everywhere because New York doesn’t have alleys. Garbage pick up day in New York has got be where the phrase “hot garbage on a Sunday” comes from.

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We hung out in Chelsea all morning, and did a little shopping. I had a high fashion moment with a collar accessory in H&M.

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We couldn’t check into the hotel until 3:00 PM, so we had time to kill. We decided to go to Central Park. I was so excited because out of all the times I’ve been to New York I’d never make my way to the park.

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Us citified-yet-Midwestern girls are not cut out for all that nature/walking. We entered the park at 59th & Columbus Circle. Next thing I know, we’re by the zoo and tired as hell without the energy to make it back to the subway.

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It was just so much fun walking and taking random paths and seeing the meadow, the carnival, the kids park, the rocks to climb, etc. So much stuff, and we didn’t even see half of it.

We really spent a lot of time figuring out places where they shot movies. We saw locations for scenes from Enchanted, Brown Sugar, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and others.

Riding the subway was fun. I’ve ridden it before, and it’s just slightly more complicated than the L in Chicago.

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It was nice to be the expert for my girls as we made our way around Manhattan.

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And we were entertained by the local performers. Sorry the picture is fuzzy, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a local jazz flute player.

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After Central Park, we checked into the hotel. Then it was time for food. We headed towards Times Square to do a food crawl of all the New York-style foods one should get as a tourist. But before we got the food, we got stopped by quite the sight to see.

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That’s body paint, not a bod suit. She was really something, no? I sent this pic to my friend who just moved back to Chicago from New York, and she got nostalgic for all the crazy shit that happens there that’s just regular to everyone except the tourists. Apparently, in exactly six months, stuff like this won’t even phase me.

We did hot dogs, pizza, and were going for cheesecake at Lindy’s, but we got too tired and just stopped at this place called Havana and got tapas and Latin themed drinks and flan and cheesecake instead.

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By the time we left there, the sun was going down.

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We decided to go out dancing, but I still didn’t have anything to wear. So we popped into Forever 21, which is open until 2:00 AM in Times Square.

We were loving NYC when we realized we could shop at a four-story Forever 21 almost 24 hours a day. But then it was time to go out. I got the best picture ever while we were waiting for the subway train.

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When we made it to the club, it was closed. Whomp whomp. Sunday night, what can you do? So instead we went to a bar near the hotel and had a drink. Then it was time for bed because I had an interview the next day.

I honestly don’t even know what the girls did while I was at my interview. I just know it involves Macy’s. My interview lasted three hours, during which I did amazing things. I mean, it must’ve been amazing because they offered me the job less than 24 hours later. I’m just so grateful to be given the opportunity and soooo excited for the move!

We ended up going to the world’s fanciest sports bar for lunch. It’s right across the street from Madison Square Garden on like 32 St. I think.

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The good was great. After we finished, we got ready to get back on the road. This quick little turn around got me a job and got my girls to NYC for the first time. Even though the total driving time was only 6 or so hours less than the time we spent there, it was totally worth it.

Now I’m here in New York and experiencing times like this weekend every day. I can’t wait to share all the great places I’ve discovered in Brooklyn, a borough I never set foot in until I was apartment searching. Stay tuned!


IRS Says No, Part II

This time last year, I wrote a post about how the IRS rejected my taxes. They basically said I had it coming because I changed my name and got a new SSN card, ID, debit card, etc. around tax time.

As I learned last year, getting married right before tax time is a gamble with your personal information. But after the weeks passed, I got my refund last year and moved on with my life. I was thankful no one tried to steal my full identity, just my SSN.

This year, I figured things would go better. Obviously, the title of this post lets you know it did not go better.

I got my W-2 from work months ago. I was ready to file and get my refund and continue the very new trend of paying all of our bills exactly on time. The husband and I decided to file jointly though, so I had to wait until he got all his paperwork together.

Between finishing up the school year as a teacher, working at his alma mater’s jazz band camp, interest on student loans, and all the itemized costs and cash income of being a musician, this was no easy task.

The husband had to pull information from two different W-2s, a 1098 form, and track CD sales and cash from gigs. I was glad we made the decision for him to just directly deposit all cash from gigs into the bank. Because we use Mint, it was a lot easier to track accurately rather than guess.

Figuring his income and expenses as a musician turned out to be the easy part. We got the band camp W-2 and the student loan 1098. But we were still missing the W-2 from when he was a teacher.

The husband waited.

Then he called and left a message on the voicemail of the woman whose job it was to send out W-2 forms to all employees.

Then he waited.

Then he finally went to the office to find out what the holdup was. When he got there, he found out the woman died sometime late last year. It seems the school district never assigned anyone to take over that particular part of her job.

They gave the husband a website to go to in order to access and print off his own W-2. I’m not sure if that is common practice or not, but it sounds extra janky to me. Good thing we intended to e-file, otherwise our paperwork would be so suspect.

By the time all of this goes down, it’s April already. The husband kept saying he was “almost done” figuring out all his musician numbers.

One things leads to another and suddenly we’re rushing back home from Florida after a lovely weekend trip-turned-couples-retreat, which I’ll talk about in another post.

We sit in front of the computer around 8:00 pm on April 15th, filling out the forms to file taxes. If you read last year’s post on the topic, this was only my second year filing my own taxes without my daddy. This was also the husband’s first year filing taxes without his mother.

Needless to say, he wasn’t really prepared for the automatic steps you always have to have before filing. And I wasn’t prepared for trying to figure out a way around his lack of preparation.

When you e-file, you need and AGI and/or PIN that you setup from the previous year. We stayed with H&R Block, so my numbers were easily available on the forms I printed the previous year and online in the account info.

The husband, however, didn’t know what and AGI or PIN was, let alone how to find it. He called his mother, but she wasn’t at home. He took a guess at what his PIN was, and we filed.

Of course, the very next day, we got an e-mail saying our filing was rejected. I logged back in and the only mistake in the filing was his PIN. By this time, the husband got in touch with his mother and got his AGI from the previous year.

So we entered that and then went on to the page for filing state taxes for Illinois.

Of course, the very next day, we got an e-mail saying our state filing was rejected. I logged back in and the only mistake was how the husband setup his e-signature for the state filing. It’s based on previous years of tax returns and his information was incorrect. So, we fixed that too and finally filed our taxes.

That was three days ago and so far, we’ve not been rejected again.

But damn, right?

I look at it as a learning experience. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Keep track of important numbers and documents for myself and the husband
  2. Filing joint taxes was far less painful than I thought it would be, so that bodes well for future group projects
  3. Mint.com is the best tool ever if you don’t make enough money to worry about having a personal accountant

And Now I’m Worried

The husband and I sat down today. We had been planning on it for a while. We were going to chase our dreams. We were going to throw caution to the wind in hopes of fulfilling the hopes of our lives. But first… We had to come up with a budget.

I’ve decided I married a five year old.

The husband is not bad with money. He keeps track of his bills, he doesn’t over-spend, he has his shit together. But for some reason, talking about budgets makes him sit cross-legged on the floor and stare with glazed over eyes into the distance.

He’d definitely five years old.

After a general talk about our finances in the coming year, I knew that we needed to come up with a budget. Now that the husband will be only a musician and not a musician/music teacher, our income is going to drop by tens of thousands of dollars. That’s a lot ‘o money.

He makes good money as a musician and I make good money at my job, so we’ll still be in the middle class according to the IRS and government and them. But things will be very very different.

No more $300 dinners at any restaurant we feel like frequenting. No more shopping sprees on a whim. That thought alone makes me was to act like a five year old. Like the husband.

But we got through the budget talk. We set what we hope are realistic goals for what we can spend each month. We included all our bills, saving for a rainy day, still managing to travel, and maintenance for the cars, instruments, cats, etc.

We also underestimated our income so we’ll have a cushion each month for incidentals, like a flat tire.

According to our budget, we’ll have exactly $4 left over each month after bills, entertainment, tithing, and saving.

We’ve been spoiled in our little world where we have lots of disposable income. But if we stick to the budget, we can still travel, eat out at restaurants, go to movies, shop, and hang out at bars. We’ll just do it a lot less.

Now I feel my eyes glazing over.

And I feel worried about money. I never ever ever worry about money. I don’t like this feeling.

The good news is we plan to re-assess our budget in a month or so to see how it’s working out. And luckily, we can both access our budget in an app that I can get on my blackberry and kindle, and he can get on his iPhone.

Technology may be what keeps us on task.

Or in two months I may be saying we scrapped the whole plan.

But I have faith that the husband is in fact 28 and NOT five years old.

He will check the budget before he goes out to a bar after a gig.

And I have faith that I can control my impulses.

I will not come home with $500 worth of shoes for the husband and myself.

Do you keep a budget? How do you make it work?