Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Married with Taxes

Nateil: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” - Benjamin Franklin

It’s February, and it’s tax season. Both of our W2’s have come in and I usually do both of our taxes. In 2015 a coworker of mine put me on to TurboTax and I’ve been using it ever since. But according to the tax law, a lot has changed since 2015. We got married!! Marriage is awesome and everyday I wake up and realize that I’ve made the best decision of my life! However, marriage brings tax implications, considerations and frustrations that I wasn’t even aware of! And I’m still clueless! 

Collectively, we made approximately $75,000 for 2016. We live in Georgia so you might think that’s a decent annual income but it doesn’t FEEL like it. There’s not a lot of COMFORT in that. We were both transitioning between jobs so we spent part of 2016 looking for work, but ultimately we still lived paycheck to paycheck. That’s no longer acceptable. However, in the eyes of law, since we’re married we are supposed to handle to living off of $75,000 a year. If one spouse doesn’t work, the working spouse can claim the non-working spouse and vice-versa. But what if both spouses work? What if there are kids involved? How does that change the funds coming into the house? Here is where the confusion begins! 

 In simple terms, a single person pays more in taxes than a married one. According to the 2016 tax rates, a single person making between $9,275 - $37,650 would be taxed at 15%. If their income was between $37,650 - $91,150 they would be taxed at 25%. First of all, I don’t even understand how they arrive at these percentages or how they calculate the income levels but it’s crazy that someone making $37,000 is taxed the same as someone making $90,000! Those are two COMPLETELY different lifestyles! But, the IRS doesn’t care and the rates go on and on. When you take a look at the tax rates, it’s obvious that in some situations it would make more sense to file as a joint married couple and others that indicate it’s better to file single. That’s the frustrating part. 

In a general sense, it seems to make sense to file jointly when we both have smaller incomes. When we both become high-income earners, then it would make sense to file separately! If one spouse has a significant amount of debt, then it also makes sense to file separately, but joint returns typically receive more of a refund. If we file jointly, then we can include education credits, child-care credits, and other things, but if we file separately then we cannot include those items! Lol! It’s a headache! Stuff like this can put a strain on a marriage but thankfully we don’t have those kinds of problems! Haha!

2016 Tax Brackets
Tax Rate
Single Filers
Married Joint Filers
$0 - 9,275
$0 - 18,550
$9,275 - 37,650
$18,550 - 75,300
$37,650 - 91,150
$75,300 - 151,900
$91,150 - 190,150
$151,900 - 231,450
$190,150 - 413,350
$231,450 - 413,350
$413,350 - 415,050
$413,350 - 466,950

  In any case, filing taxes for this year has been an eye-opening experience for me. I’d like to learn more about how self-employed people or contractors file their taxes because I’m looking to supplement my salary with some contract work and I don’t want any red flags! This process definitely opens the door to communication with your spouse and is a necessary conversation to have if you’ve never talked about money with your spouse. I think it’s a great way to learn more about each other and it’s DEFINITELY a great indicator of the level of trust in your relationship. Everyone isn’t honest about their finances but strangely enough the “financial talk” can bring you both closer together! I’ve set a personal goal to make $100,000 as a single income. I plan to earn that income by 2020 so let’s get it!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Georgia Educators Technology Conference 2016

I went to #GaETC for the 1st time this week. It was a great experience! Learn more about it here:

I learned a bunch of new things. @coolcatteacher told everyone to focus on 3 things. All the technology, apps, and hardware can be overwhelming. She reminded us to just hone in on a few key takeaways and let the chips fall where they may!

This year, I will focus on Google Cardboard, Google Sites, and Google Drive Add-ons & Extensions.

  1. Google Cardboard: Great session from @TeamBorders and @SuzanneLaisney. Google Cardboard = VR learning for students. The expensive sets don't do anything different compared to the inexpensive sets. I fund raised through our parents and purchased a class set of kits from and they seem to be working just fine. Some great apps to use with Cardboard are the New York Times Virtual Reality App, Bubbli, Nearpod VR, YouTube 360 and Google Expeditions. I'm going to tinker with Google Expeditions and the New York Times Virtual Reality App. I'll let you know how that goes. 

  2. Google Sites: Great session from Mr. Daniel Riviera over at Georgia Southern University. Seems like Sites is getting a complete overhaul in 2018 and an update should be coming in the next couple of days as well. My biggest moment was realizing that I can update Google Drive files and they AUTOMATICALLY update on my site as well! That's great. The frustrating element about managing a website is actively updating the content. Now, with Google Sites, the updating process is a whole lot easier. Seamless. Also, there's more functionality with Calendar and reminders so I'm going to spend a lot of time with Sites here in the next couple of months.

  3. Google Drive Add-Ons: There's so much to talk about with this, and there are probably a lot more out there that I'm not even aware of. Great presentation from @crafty184. For math teachers, there's an add-on called gmath. Gmath allows you to create equations, graphs, stats displays, and math quizzes to insert into Docs or Sheets without all of the formatting issues. Secondly, Drive Migrator allows you to move all of your google files to another Google Account. Suppose you got a promotion, or got a job in another position. You can take all of your files with you and keep them in your personal gmail account or switch to your employers gmail account. You don't even need a flash drive anymore. Doc-to-Form allows you to create a Google Form Quiz out of a Google Doc. Just highlight the text, click over and keep it moving. For my ELA teachers there's Gradeproof. This add-on will proofread the text for you and will correct spelling, grammar, and phrasing! Lol...There's so much out there, it's getting to be ridiculous.  

That's why I'm going to focus on 3. I got to have a specialty so next year, I can be the one facilitating a workshop! :)

Check out this work from @TheSketchEffect. Dope sketch notes!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

EdCamp Experience

Recently, I attended Edcamp Fayette and I really enjoyed myself. For those who've never been to one, Edcamp is, "an organic, participant-driven professional learning experience. A community created by educators, for educators. The leading edge of professional development in education."

Teachers and administrators come together to organize meaningful professional development. Everyone in attendance gained something from the Edcamp. Usually with professional development, you are presented with information you already know and you walk away from the meeting frustrated at having wasted valuable time. Edcamp doesn't offer you the typical PD experience so it doesn't come across as unnecessary professional development.

The organizers pride themselves on calling it an unconference, and it was one of the best professional development sessions that I've ever been apart of. Once you arrive, you can select the sessions that you want to attend. Since all of them are organized by teachers, the sessions are all topics and concepts that both teachers and administrators can learn from.

I attended sessions on BreakoutEdu, Financial Planning for Teachers and All three were great and all three were beneficial to my growth and development as an educator.

I encourage all of you to attend an Edcamp. Here is the site with a calendar of their upcoming events:

Here is a video explaining the concept of Edcamp in two minutes:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Student Voices

Two days ago, I found a CNN article that was very interesting. It was called, "White Boy Privilege."

A 14 year-old named Royce wrote this poem after taking a Race, Class and Gender class at his school in Atlanta. He starts the poem by apologizing for his place on the social ladder but admits that, "to be privileged is awesome."

Lol, unfortunately, I cannot relate to being privileged. However, I think it's great that he recognizes this and was exposed to difficulties facing people who are not privileged.

We typically, don't take a Race/Gender class until we get to college, so KUDOS to the Paideia School for implementing this program and KUDOS to Royce for writing this poem.

It's refreshing to hear the voices of our students from time to time. Hearing the rhetoric and the vitriol from other adults can be depressing and extremely frustrating at times, but hearing the voices from the younger generation can really revitalize you and put things in perspective.

Check out the article from CNN:

There is a youth poetry competition called Brave New Voices, where you can hear more students addressing issues relevant to their livesCheck them out here!

Here is a poem I really like from 2014 called, Somewhere in America

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Teacher Protests in Mexico

"Education is the only weapon of the people, those of the government are the instruments of death and repression. Who is the criminal?!" - CNTE Nacional

In Mexico, teachers are protesting a national set of education reforms that would change the way that teachers are evaluated.

That sounds VERY familiar. Here in the US, and even in the state of Georgia, there are educational reforms every 2-3 years. Most of them are tied to how teachers are evaluated. It happens so often, it's become routine to assume educational changes won't last long. Usually, teachers don't even have time to evaluate if the reforms are effective because they often change AGAIN!

You can't evaluate change without granting it significant time to develop. Teachers, administrators and other educational leaders know this but we haven't given those changes a unified resistance like these teachers in Mexico are currently doing. Teachers typically don't push back. Outside of a few instances like the teachers in Chicago, we usually don't rock the boat.

I admire the teachers in Mexico for standing up for their beliefs. I wish more international stories like these would gain more exposure, but I'm thankful that we can look to teachers across the world for inspiration.

Reuters Article

CNN Article

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Father's Day

Three days after Father's Day and seems like mothers are the focus again! Lol! I never had a particular attachment to Father's Day. My father wasn't around much. But I have noticed that more and more people have taken an interest in fathers again!

Personally, I think that fathers are often perceived to be the breadwinners only! Dads are always absent, aloof, the un-disciplinarian....but recently that's changed. For the last few years, I've seen a shift in how the media portrays dads. It's almost like it's cool to be a dad again. I don't have children of my own yet, but I'm always dreaming about the type of father that I'll be.

One day, I'll join the Fraternity of Fathers, and I have a vision of how that will look within my family. I look forward to being a father and it will never make sense to me why some fathers choose to be absent. You always hear the reasons, but it will never make sense. That's why we have to celebrate the fathers that are present in the lives of their children. Celebrate the good dads that are around you!

I love Jimmy Kimmel for what he does every year for Father's Day. I think it's awesome! The videos always force us to appreciate the life that we have, because we know at any given time, it can be taken from us.

 KUDOS to all the fathers out there! Job well done.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

5-Minute Film Festival

I've recently decided to go back to school. I will be earning my 2nd master's degree. This will be a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Online Learning. You can learn more about the program and Capella University here Instructional Design & Online Learning.

This will put me over the 100K threshold in student loans so I'm hoping this degree will bolster my career so I can begin making those payments and bring down that debt.

Anyway, the introductory course I'm in right now requires us to engage in discussion posts. The discussion post for this week was: research and share two strategies that would allow you to create and protect an inclusive setting. I had to read a couple of peer-reviewed articles and other resources about the topic and I came across this video playlist at Edutopia

Edutopia: 5-Minute Film Festival

One of the videos is about a young man named Tyler. You listen to the rest. It's 8 minutes long but well worth your time.