Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rich or Middle-Class?

Newsweek has an article written by Daniel Gross titled "Sorry, Pal, You're Rich" addressing the question of whether a $250,000 per year salary makes the earner middle-class or wealthy.

Apparently only 35% of people rolled by CNBC believed that a 250 K income qualified a household for elite rich status.

Keep in mind, the median household income in this nation for 2007 was $50,223.

$250,000 is five times that number. Only 1.9% of U.S. households have an income greater than that amount.

Barack Obama has promised to scale back tax cuts for people making more than $250,000, and now the business class is griping that people who make that much aren't rich, especially around metropolitan areas such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

Now, let's break this all down...

For 2008, the federal tax brackets for a single person (keep in mind, there's a rather complicated gradual calculation) are roughly 30%. Let's say you live in New York City where there is a state income tax of 8.14% and a city income tax of 4%.

So overall, you pay 42.14% in income taxes total.

First, let's assume you automatically deduct 10% for your company 401K - $25,000 a year to get the 50% match (free money!)


$130,185, or $10,848 per month.

Even after taxes and future retirement savings, that's definitely not bad. Heck, that's way more than I make!

On craigslist, there is an elegant 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom Upper East side brownstone steps to Bloomingdale's and subways including a washer and dryer in the apartment listed for $2,350.

We'll estimate that the cable, electric, phone, and water bills make housing and utilities cost about $3,000 per month. Since there's really no need for a vehicle in NYC, we'll factor in the $89 a month cost for a MetroCard and about $250 a month for Taxi cabs...

Since you're making a decent salary, we'll assume you have a Blackberry with $100 a month service... and ya gotta eat, right? So $750 a month for food and groceries. $1,000 a month for fun & entertainment. Another grand for shopping...

Many folks have student loans, so we'll factor in $900 (which comes out to about $100,000 in debt)

Monthly Budget


$2,350 (Rent)
$ 650 (Utilities, phone, cable)
$ 100 (Blackberry service)
$ 89 (MetroCard)
$ 250 (Taxi cabs)
$ 750 (Food/groceries)
$1,000 (Entertainment)
$1,000 (Clothes)
$ 900 (Student Loans)

$7, 089 (Monthly expenses)


$3,759 is left at the end of the month as disposable income (more than $45,000 per year)

Wow. Even in America's most expensive city, living comfortably on a $250,000 a year salary would still leave you with $45,000 to play with after saving for retirement, paying taxes, living in a nice apartment, and not having to be too frugal. Imagine how much living in a suburban or rural area would make a difference.

I don't know about you, but that seems like a wealthy lifestyle to me. But perhaps it's all based on your perspective. True, a $250,000 income would be stretched much farther if it was earned in a family of two adults and four children. Yes, I get that. Whether someone is rich or not should not just be based on income, but on circumstances.

Regardless of whether a $250,000 income makes you rich or middle-class, this post does not have the purpose of proving that the rich should not get tax breaks. I've never understood why someone making $10,000 a year pays less in taxes as a percentage than someone who rakes in $10 million. If someone has the drive, determination, and work ethic to earn that much cash legally, they should get to keep most of it.

Some coworkers and I were discussing this article heatedly this afternoon. One of them pointed out how a flat tax would make the most sense. And I have to say that I whole-heartedly agree. Although if I had my way, the flat tax would be 5% and would only cover basic government expenses and infrastructure.

I don't want to pay for someone else's short sightedness, fleecing of the system, pork projects, and the like. If I make my own money, I believe that I deserve to keep that for myself. Whether or not I help those in need should be my choice and not a legal requirement. That takes away the liberty this country was founded upon and I feel it's wrong.

So, yes, a $250,000 income in most cases, does make a person rich. But taking away approximately $100,000 of that for the U.S. government makes me very queasy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unwinding on a Tuesday Night

Red wine. It's become my new friend. My vice. I love the savory, salty, sometimes spicy taste of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and shiraz. It rolls over my tongue like a warm comfortable embrace. Finally, I've gotten to the point where I can have two glasses and not tip over. Maybe I'm actually becoming less of a light weight.
It's the perfect way to start off the evening after work. This week I've been getting home around 5:15 instead of 7. Today was a bit tense at certain points, so on my lunch break I went grocery shopping. Beringer's wine was on sale for $7.99 a bottle. Since I've had decent luck with the zinfandel, I decided to go for two bottles. (In my journey to Publix I also picked up Gouda cheese, milk, eggs, sushi, soda, juice, thinly sliced chicken breast and pita bread)
And I had a glass of wine with a microwaved hot dog. Now that is the art of sophistication. It is technically a red meat after all. To match the entertainment to the meal, I watched the latest episode of In Plain Sight on Yes... on my computer.
Very fittingly, I produce wine television segments called Wine 101. It's hosted by one of our head honchos and a man who owns a local liquor store. In fact, I've seen both of them recently. The store has the best prices imaginable and a great selection. The owner has never steered me wrong on what to purchase. He's extremely nice. Just remember that 2005 was possibly the best year ever for wine.
The weird thing is -- I'm not much of a grape fan.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Missing in Action

Sorry, it has been quite awhile since my last post. I've been on vacation this past week and have had a visitor in town hence the absence. In a nutshell, I've gone to the beach twice -- have eaten way too much great food -- and even took another trip to Bern's Steak House, one of the best steak houses in the entire country. It's been fun! I promise I'll update again soon!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Butterfly Effect

Attraction: Interpersonal attraction can be thought of as a force acting between two people tending to draw them together, and resisting their separation.

One of the most exciting and passionate emotions a person can feel, is a result of just that. Attraction. Chemistry.
Whether it's someone you've known ten years or ten minutes, it can happen with the snap of a finger.

Currently, I find my self smack dab in the middle of the strongest chemistry I've ever felt with anyone. Over the past week, I've been so distracted it's been hard to work! It's such a wonderful, euphoric, giddy feeling. I could get hit by a bus right now and still have a smile on my face.
If you couldn't tell by now, I've got someone new in the picture. He's absolutely wonderful. And knowing that he's crazy about me is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me. Things are progressing quite nicely and I find myself daydreaming often.
One indicator that I really like a guy is if my stomach gets the fluttery or tickly feeling. Yes, I get them. Butterflies. According to Wikipedia, this sensation can be a physical sensation related to the body's fight or flight response or it can be an ineffable experience related to the psychology of love.
Back in college, there were a few young men that I admired afar and never really talked to. Those instances always gave me a bad case of butterflies. But now it's almost multiplied since I not only like this one, but I actually know and talk to him. Not to mention the fact that I was intensely attracted to him right away.
After winding up heartbroken a little over six weeks ago, this is literally the last thing on Earth I expected. After my first break-up, I spent six years (yes, years) in the desert of singleness. I find it incredibly ironic, that it's only been six weeks instead. So needless to say, I'm still in shock. Complete shock. This situation pretty much snuck up on me without me having any idea what was going to happen.
I love the beginnings of a new romance.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Face Value

In this day in age, it is extremely difficult to believe in people. We say things we don't really mean and make promises we know we'll never keep. "Sure, I'll come to your party." "I never miss a Bucs game!" "I love pizza." "I'll do it." Everything is exaggerated and over the top. We are intense, impatient, and full-tilt running on empty. My favorite phrase is "trust me." Really, when I hear that, I think the exact opposite.

Don't get me wrong. I think many of my fellow human beings are well intentioned... but I'm sure not going to rely on any of you. No offense. Sometimes you just have to be an island.
So many people I talk to are literally, just spinning crap. They almost seem to be missing the essence that it takes to have a true soul. Everything they say is completely worthless, because they'll never follow through - never take action. Never do anything about it. Basically, the wheels are turning but the wagon's going nowhere. What a waste of freaking time.

Talk is easy, and as I've heard quite a bit these past few days - it's cheap. What I hate about meaningless talk is that it makes it so hard to separate the truth. When most of what you hear is just lies, how does one find a genuine statement... Or real honesty? Especially when much of what you hear, you immediately dismiss.

Obviously, I don't know, otherwise this post would explain exactly how to pick out the real McCoy. But now I'm in a situation where I have to do that and I feel lost. How do you distinguish truth?

In my particular case, I really am leaning toward believing in what's been said to me. The individual that's involved understands being lied to, and I've never experienced such raw honesty before. That's why it's hard to recognize, because it's so rare.

Many of us have a filter when it comes to people. Over time we learn (unfortunately the hard way) who we can trust and who to discard. It takes a lot of sifting through the trash to find the treasure.

Why is it so difficult to take anything at face value?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not Found in the Wedding Album

After all the turmoil surrounding my efforts to get onto Jared and Leah's ftp site, I discovered that Jared has redesigned the site. Yay! I can finally check out other wedding photos and upload my own as soon as I can find my SD card. I discovered these "lost" snapshots taken by the best man's wife, Kristen.

This is the entire wedding party (excluding the bride and groom) at Quaker Steak & Lube for the rehearsal dinner. (L-R Tim, Myself, Hillary, Becky, Ed, Matt, Andrew) It was a good night!

Seriously, what's up with my dress? Major gatherage in a very obvious place...

The ceremony was rather casual. No flowers, just rolled up mass programs for bouquets.
Being in a wedding party is a great way to stock up on matching jewelry sets.
Why the hell am I holding the flowers up like that? It's so awkward looking.
In this shot, I'm probably thinking about food. But hey, what's new?

Friday, August 1, 2008


What a great way to ring in my 26th birthday! Today I fired off a few bullets on an MP5, a 9 mm submachine gun made by German manufacturer Heckler & Koch. We were out at a large gun shop on a shoot, and this is the owner's personal piece of weaponry. He told us that he bought it for $8,000 back in 2001 and it is now worth $20,000 since it is no longer being made. The main component dates to 1986.
The MP (Maschinenpistole) is the most popular post-war submachine gun. It is used by a multitude of special forces, police and army units. It's a favorite due to its compact size, stopping power, and reliability. More notable users include the United States Navy SEALs, special forces, the German GSG9 group and the British SAS special forces.

So our crew donned protective eye wear and headsets and walked into the shooting range. I'd never held a gun before, let alone fired one. This MP5 wasn't terribly heavy. The store owner gave me an extremely brief tutorial including the advice on leaning the machine gun into my shoulder. I did that. This model has a laser which made aiming much easier.

I expected the blast to knock me down backwards, but the recoil was much less than I thought it would be. The gun had a suppressor on the end to reduce firing noise. Much more pleasant! I tried it out on both single shot and the fully automatic mode.

Believe it or not, I found this activity very enjoyable. I've heard that going to a firing range can release tension and stress, and I never bought that. But it was actually true. When the photographer and I left the store, we both agreed that we felt happier than when we walked in. The store offers a Concealed Weapon or Firearm License class. Perhaps that's something to look into.

Really, as a woman, I do believe in the right to my own protection and self preservation. Of course, the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to keep and bear arms which is something I really don't support taking away from citizens.

The smile on my face looks a little creepy, considering the fact that I'm gripping a machine gun, doesn't it?