Halloween Head Scratcher

Halloween is the best! In what feels like a different life, I had this epic Halloween where myself and three friends rented these enormous full body California Raisin costumes.  What we may have lacked in spookiness we more than made up for in clumsy raisin swagger. With a family, Halloween is different, but just as much fun. Although it makes me insane that it can’t just be the fourth Friday of every October instead of the 31st.  There may be an explanation I could find online, but rather than look it up I prefer to complain about it 🙂 Thanksgiving is an actual holiday and it’s allowed to float numerically, yet maintains its fourth Thursday of every November position. How much sense does it make to march our children out on the streets pounding the pavement for candy on a school night?  I think I could get teachers on my side of this debate and I will surely call them to arms when I start my official petition. 

 Yet this is the way it has been and is likely to continue.  The world we live in is filled with these head scratching examples and the financial realm is no exception.  Why is the age you are required, by law, to start taking money out of your IRA (and almost all pre-tax accounts) age 70½?  Not 70 or 71 and never 72, but age 70½. It gets worse in that for your first distribution after you turn 70½, you are allowed to wait until April 1st of the following year to take the distribution out.  Why does the tax code have an embedded “marriage penalty” where under several circumstances a married couple will pay more income tax and capital gains taxes than if they were in the identical situation yet single?  

When it comes to making decisions there will inevitably be variables that you just can’t control.  In order to make sound decisions and plan for the future, we have to focus on the things we can control.  We can’t directly control stock market returns, but we control how much we save vs how much we spend. We can’t control the asinine age that required distributions begin, but we can control much money is actually in the IRA by the time you reach age 70½ and beyond.  I can’t control what candy my kids are going to end up with (or how much they’ll sneakily eat when I’m not looking), but I can sure as heck control how much candy corn I keep hidden in my desk drawer.  

Happy Friday!