I endeavor to provide factual information and advice on this blog.
But I’m human.
My memory isn’t perfect.
And I have biases too. I want certain ideas and lifestyle choices to win, so to speak. And though I don’t knowingly withhold information that might tarnish the appeal of my ideas and lifestyle choices, it doesn’t mean my ideas and lifestyle choices are hunky-dory. After all, I might suffer from extreme confirmation bias; that is, I might not see the downside of my ideas and lifestyle choices because I only read, watch, and listen to people who share my worldview.
To be an honorable blogger, then, I think it’s important to remind my readers at least once a year that I’m fallible. And that’s what I aim to do now. Over the past year, I made at least three glaring mistakes. Here they are.
One. In April, I had a post about two awesome benefits of being income poor. One of the benefits pertained to the capital gains tax, which I totally misinterpreted. I thought that if you were in the 15 percent income tax bracket or lower (i.e., your adjusted gross income was less than $75,300), any capital gain you made from selling a stock would be completely tax free. But thanks to Matt over at Maximize Your Money, I quickly learned otherwise. For tax purposes, your capital gain sits on top of your adjusted gross income. The part of the the capital gain that brings you up to the income limit of the 15 percent income tax bracket has a zero percent capital gains tax. So if you had an adjusted gross income of $50K, and you had a $100K capital gain from selling a stock, the first $25,299 of that capital gain would be taxed at zero percent and the rest ($74,701) would be taxed at 15 percent. I mistakenly believed that the entire $100K capital gain would be subject to the zero percent capital gains tax. Ouch.
Two. In June, I was interviewed by Joshua Sheets for his Radical Personal Finance podcast. Joshua originally brought me on his show to discuss my idea for a Junior IRA. But as the interview advanced, he became more interested in how Mrs. Groovy and I used geoarbitrage to accelerate our progress toward financial independence. So Joshua asked me how much it cost to live in New York in 2006, the year we left for North Carolina. And I told Joshua that our monthly expenses were between $6,500 and $6,800. But right after the interview, Mrs. Groovy pointed out I was wrong. I confused our monthly take-home pay with our monthly expenses. Our monthly take-home pay was between $6,500 and $6,800. Our monthly expenses were actually between $4,500 and $4,800.
Three. Finally, in August, I had a post that offered 10 reasons why one shouldn’t get a bachelor’s degree. Two of my 10 reasons, however, were political in nature and had nothing to do with the value of obtaining a BA. But because I’m a recovering political junkie, I didn’t see this. James over at Retirement Savvy had to step in and kindly point out that these two reasons had no place in a personal finance blog. So thank you, James. I was being an ass and I needed someone to give me an etiquette lesson.
When it comes to my posts, I think it’s wise to go Ronald Reagan on me: trust, but verify. Take what I write and compare it to your knowledge and experiences. Do I have my facts right? Is my advice applicable? Or is my advice so dependent on my peculiar circumstances that it has no value to you or anyone else? And if I’m wrong, if my logic falls short, by all means call me out. I’m much more concerned about getting it right than being right.
Okay, groovy freedomists, that’s all I got. Have a glorious weekend. Make whoopie with your significant other. And if that ain’t gonna happen, at least go for a walk with your significant other and hold his or her hand.