Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Things I Bought Recently

via Yoseka Stationery

Like I mentioned last month, I'm still feeling the pandemic and social distancing blues. But I'm also guardedly optimistic that - because COVID vaccine distribution has been quite robust in NYC and with the new availability of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine - there's a chance vaccine eligibility might open up to the general public here in New York somewhat sooner than the original projected date of late May or early June. 

Because Connecticut is opening vaccine eligibility up to different age groups step-by-step, K's parents were recently able to make their first-dose appointments as part of the age 55-plus group. That's a huge relief to us! California's vaccine rollout isn't quite there yet, so we are still waiting for my mom to be eligible to make her appointment. 

I'm still mostly compliant with my low-spending goals for these few months, as I continue to work on finishing my student loan repayment. But I still allow myself occasional indulgences. In particular, I buy myself stationery or food treats semi-regularly, because those tend to be more moderately priced than clothing or accessories. Today's post is about some of the things I've bought recently, two of them fun and one of them much less so. 

Midori Five Year Diary with Embroidered Cover: I was originally not going to buy this Midori journal because I already have another five-year "a few lines a day"-type Hobonichi, but when Jetpens got these back in stock, I ended up not being able to resist. The embroidered cover is just so pretty, and I know from using another, less fancy Midori notebook that their paper is high-quality and fountain pen-friendly. (I do slightly prefer Tomoe River paper over Midori paper, however. Some extra-fine nib and ink combinations end up too dry for the Midori paper, and Midori paper doesn't show quite as much sheen or shading with some fountain pen inks compared to Tomoe River.) This journal also comes with a clear plastic cover to protect the embroidered details and keep the fabric cover clean. 

Because I'm currently using my five-year Hobonichi Techo journal for daily memory-keeping, I'm going to set aside this Midori Five Year Diary and save it for some other use later.  

Hot Chocolate Balls: These aren't quite the highly Instagrammable hot chocolate bombs with pretty, decorated chocolate shells that have been trendy recently, but they make a tasty, rich, and not overly sweet cup of hot chocolate. I heard about this company from one of my undergraduate school's alum facebook groups because they're a small business that's local to where we went to school, so I decided to try them out. I really like these hot chocolate balls, though at ~$3/serving before factoring in tax and shipping, it's definitely a splurge compared to figuring out how to make a similar hot chocolate mix at home with cocoa powder and chocolate. 

We've almost finished using up the original set I bought, two sleeves with six servings each. All the flavors were pretty good, so I'd consider ordering another set again as a special treat once in a while. 

Turbotax: (affiliate link) Ah, and now for something substantially less fun. Longtime readers may recall that I complain about Turbotax almost every year around tax time. I've even said I wanted to "break up" with Turbotax, but I ultimately failed to do so because I just couldn't get used to using any of their competitors I've tried (mainly CreditKarma and H&R Block's website version). 

I've used Turbotax's desktop software to file my taxes basically every year of my adult life - it typically costs me ~$50/year to buy - because I've become completely dependent on them. Everything else's user interface - even Turbotax's website version - just confuses me too much. I'm definitely not a Turbotax shill or anything, in fact I really hate that I'm completely dependent on their "personal income tax for dummies"-type user interface and approach. You'd think a lawyer would be less intimidated by her taxes!

Pretty much every single year, I end up running into at least one weird Turbotax software glitch. Most years, I have trouble saving my filed tax forms as a PDF, the software often crashes while trying to save or print as a PDF. A few times, the reporting of my backdoor Roth IRA conversion has been glitchy or confusing. I always figure it out in the end, but it can cause quite a headache. 

This year's problem ended up being the most annoying of the lot. Many people who needed to report a IRA distribution - which I do as part of reporting my backdoor Roth IRA conversion - found their e-filed federal tax return was rejected by the IRS due to a purported error with a "FED_Taxable_Inherited_IRA," even though none of them actually reported an inherited IRA. It was quite nerve-wracking to get this error message, because it was clear I couldn't do anything myself to fix it, I was dependent on Intuit to fix the problem on their end. Thankfully, it seems the company fixed the issue causing the error by March 5, and I was able to file my taxes afterwards with no trouble. 

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well. If you live in a country where COVID vaccine distribution is a high priority, I hope that at least some of your higher-risk friends and family members have been able to get their shot(s) by now, or at least to schedule their appointment(s)! I'm really hoping that vaccine supply will continue to increase faster than originally expected, so that K and I - and the rest of the general public - can hopefully become eligible by sometime in May. 

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