May Income – $631.53

Here is a breakdown of my income for May.

Bank Bonus$200
Other Selling$33.24
Class Action$5.44
Cash Back$25.30
Amazon Merch$16.60

May’s income increased from April, but it is still way too low. I came back to the USA in the second half of the month and didn’t get a project offer from my employers during the month.

Dividend income came in at $22.33.

Interest income was $27.81. I have a lot of my savings in a non-interest paying account in order to qualify for a bank bonus so this total will be low until I complete the bonus. The bonus should pay out before the end of this month.

‘I received $200 from a bank bonus.

I made $300.81 from eBay. I’m slowly increasing my listings which should lead to an increase in income.

I made $33.24 from sales in a private group.

I received $25.30 cash back from a credit card and I received $5.44 from a class action.

I made $16.60 from Amazon Merch. I think that is my best month ever. I haven’t done anything on AZ Merch for years. It might be time to add some more designs and see what else I can do to increase this source of income.

I’m hopeful I will have some document review work this month. That would help my income a lot. Even if I don’t get any doc review work I should do at least a little better this month. How was your month?

May Expenses – $987.24

Here is a breakdown of my expenses for May.


May’s expenses were pleasantly low.

Entertainment expense was for an Amazon Prime subscription and an anniversary dinner.

Rent is included in support this month. I should have separated it out when I paid it, but I didn’t and I’m too lazy to go back and figure it out now.

Transportation was $54.72 for gas and $28.05 to renew my auto registration.

My food expense was $194.19. That is divided between $77.53 for groceries and $116.66 for restaurants. This was lower since I was only buying food for myself the last half of the month. Although food in Thailand is cheap, I am able to spend even less on food in the U.S.

Utilities came in at $171.65. That was for electric and internet at my U.S. house. Thailand utilities are included in support.

My phone bill was $0 since it is prepaid. This month I once again shouldn’t have any phone expense at all.

The household expense was for a haircut, toothpaste batteries, and other household supplies. The biggest part of this expense was $110 for my continuing education. I need to get some self-employed attorney income so I can write that off as a business expense.

Travel expense includes $30.12 for airfare. That includes the taxes on a couple of award tickets and a slight charge for changing the date of a ticket. I also spent $15.20 on a cheap hotel in Bangkok before I flew out the next day.

I provided $274.94 of support to my wife. That was mainly for the rent and utilities for her room.

This month’s expenses should be even less. I’m not expecting any big expenses this month.

How was your month?

April Income – $287.90

Here is a breakdown of my income for April.

Online Income$152.12
Mystery Shop$28
Cash Back$24.66
Amazon FBA$33.24

April’s income was low since I was in Thailand for the entire month.

Dividend income came in at $22.46.

Interest income was $27.42. I have a lot of my savings in a non-interest paying account in order to qualify for a bank bonus so this total will be low until I complete the bonus.

‘I received $28 from a couple of mystery shops.

I received $24.66 cash back from a shopping portal and made $33.24 from Amazon FBA.

I made $152.12 in online income. That is probably the only money this blog will make this year. It is at least enough to cover my hosting and domain name expenses.

I’m now back in the USA. I haven’t found a job yet so this month’s income probably won’t be any better. I’m hoping for a much better month in June. How was your month?

Miser Inheritance – When Contribution Maximums Matter 

Making the most of gainful surprises

When we think of financial surprises it’s usually in the form of an unplanned tax debt, a sudden bill, or some irksome expense that comes out of the blue.

Every now and then though, luck (or, more likely circumstance) decides to give us a break and sends some handy extra cash our way. Sometimes it’s a bittersweet inheritance, sometimes it’s from an upheaval, such as a severance package, and for the rare few, it simply comes from holding that one, lucky lottery ticket. But, no matter how the windfall came about, once its reality starts to sink in, the mind naturally leans towards what to do with it.

A smart strategy may be to invest it for a more comfortable retirement. But if you put it all in a term deposit or add to an investment portfolio, the earnings will generally incur tax. A more effective option, may be to contribute to your 401(k) workplace plan. But beware, like other countries, such as Australia, there are actually limits to how much you can plough in each year. In the US, these caps are called 401(k) Employee Annual Contribution Limits.

Windfalls and 401(k) plans

There are two types of 401(k) options. The standard ‘Traditional’ version gives you an up-front tax break, while the ‘Roth 401(k)’ gives you a tax-free income in retirement (since you’ve already paid tax on the money you’ve contributed).

Either way though, the annual limits are the same.

Currently (in 2023) the contribution limits for individuals are:

Under 50yo: $22,500 total per year

50yo or older: $30,000 total per year

The limit for over-50s is higher thanks to the $7,500 catch-up contribution that’s available once you hit 50.

Provided you opened your 401(k) at least five years beforehand, using a windfall to boost your retirement gives you the benefit of additional tax-free income stream when you reach 59 years and six months.

Even if retirement for you is years away, investing surplus cash in your 401(k) up to the maximums can still be a sound strategy, as long as your current miserly approach to spending is covering your needs right now.

Windfalls, investments and tax

One side-effect of a sudden rush of cash to the hip pocket, can be a sudden rush of blood to the head – figuratively speaking at least.

Even smart minds may briefly picture a shiny Mercedes parked outside the new beach house, but such visions should be quickly shrouded by more sensible and astute ideas.

As previously mentioned, interest accrued on term deposits and earnings on investments generally attract some form of tax, and while the tax shouldn’t exceed your returns, they can take a fair bite out of them. That’s why, it’s always shrewd to seek professional advice if your windfall is substantial – especially if you want to maximise the tax advantages.

Of course, some bonanzas are taxed at the outset.

Lottery wins across the US are taxed at federal level as they’re considered to be part of your income. And then depending on where you live, even more may be collected by the state coffers. The same goes for severance packages.

On the flip-side, inheritances are not taxed, except in a handful of states1 (Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), and even then, there are conditions based on the amount you inherit, and how you’re related to your benefactor.

This means that, outside of contributing to a 401(k), the source of your financial bonus may influence where and how you invest.

Ultimately though, if you find yourself the recipient of an unexpected windfall, the best advice is professional advice.

Let the emotions settle before making any big decisions, make an appointment with a financial planner, and definitely do not duck into a luxury auto showroom on the way.

April Expenses – $1302.31

Here is a breakdown of my expenses for April.


April’s expenses were about what I expected.

Entertainment expense was for an Amazon Prime subscription, 4 weeks of a WSJ online subscription, a visit to the Night Market, and taking 3 people to the movies with concessions.

Rent was $219.25. This was for my wife’s apartment May rent and April’s utilities for her apartment.

Transportation was $13.70 for a tank of gas for my wife’s scooter and some local taxis,

My food expense was $345.97. That is for 3 people and mostly eating out so it is a reasonable amount considering those factors. This month my food expense will be way down since I’ll only be buying for 2 for the first half of the month and only for myself for the last half of the month.

Utilities were $251.12 This was for my electric and internet back in the U.S plus the electric bill for my stepdaughter’s room. It was about 105 degrees almost every day here so we used a lot of air conditioning.

My phone bill was $8.76 for one more month of Thai phone service. This month I shouldn’t have any phone expense at all.

The household expense was for a haircut, a couple of towels, and a variety of household supplies that we needed.

I spent $13.18 on over-the-counter medicine.

Travel expense includes $193.27 for airfare. That includes a ticket from Buriram to Chiang Mai for my wife, a round-trip ticket from Chiang Mai to Bangkok for me, a one-way ticket from Chiang Mai to Bangkok for me, and a one-way ticket from LAX to Kansas City. That is quite a bit of flying for the money paid. It also includes $49 for the annual fee on my IHG card. The card comes with a free hotel night which I will use when I stay overnight at LAX. The room would have cost about $180 if I was paying out of pocket making for a good use of my free night. Lastly, this expense includes 2 bus tickets, a long shuttle, and a couple of airport taxis.

I provided $26.86 of support to my wife. This was just small amounts of money I gave her for various things that I didn’t bother categorizing.

I’m guessing this month’s expenses will probably be a little bit less.

How was your month?