April 14th, 2007

default, pepper

So how's it going?

It’s been a while since I’ve done a real post; I’ve started and stopped a few of them, on various topics, but I think I should probably just spit out a quick life update type of post.

Today is, of course, tax weekend, and I’m facing something I haven’t in a couple years: the fun of 1099 status. For those of you not up on IRS lingo, your employer usually sends you, at the end of the year, a W-2 form showing how much you made and how much has already been sent to the IRS on your behalf. If, however, you’re working as an independent contractor, you are effectively your own employer, so the people paying you are not taking out any money, and they send you a 1099 form. And either you’ve been paying an estimate of what would have been withheld quarterly (the right way) or you pay it all at once (the wrong way). Since I started my 1099 work in August, I didn’t think about the quarterly estimated tax thing, and I am paying it all at once. Actually, I am also paying the quarterly estimated tax for the first quarter of 2007, which is also due April 17th. Last year, I only worked about nine months at varying pay rates, four months on W-2; this year I’m estimating my quarterly taxes based on continuous work at my current pay rate, which makes what I’ll pay every quarter this year about equal to what I owe for last year.

I don’t know that I will work all of this year, which is the fun of contracting—but things seem to be pretty stable at work. Being 1099 theoretically puts me in control of when and where I work; that’s part of the legal/tax distinction between “employee” and “contractor.” I’m not sure how far that can be pushed in practice, though. (“I’m moving to Napa and telecommuting three or four days a week, okay?”) Even so, I like the job and it’s paying pretty nicely.

Actually, over the last month it’s been slowly sinking in that my finances are… good. Assuming no negative change in the next few months, my credit card debt of doom will finally be paid off and I’ll be able to throw a lot of my income into savings and I’ll still have money left over to Do Cool Stuff. This is a position I haven’t been in for years.

I’ve started a little of the Cool Stuff Doing already; not too long ago, I went on a somewhat spontaneous weekend trip to Santa Barbara, which I should probably write up as its own little post. I’m rekindling my attempts to find more interesting slightly upscale restaurants in the local area. A couple weekends ago, I bought an Apple TV. And, I’ve been working on spring cleaning for my room—which may include getting some new furniture, as I try to figure out how to maximize the space I have available. Getting a 10′×11′ space to act as both bedroom and office is a challenge.

There’s also trying to find “personal project space,” which connects back to getting the bedroom into shape. My muse is starting to tug at me about my collection of unfinished projects, both writing and programming. I’m hoping to get some of them shoved forward soon.