Monthly Update

July 2021 Update

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Domain Name Redemption

In late June, I started brainstorming domain names for a new project I’m working on. The registration on one of the domain names that I was kicking around had expired in April. However, the domain name still hadn’t been released back into the pool, and I started poking around to see why not. I discovered the slimy process of “domain name redemption”.

Registering a .COM domain name through Google Domains costs around $12/year. Other registrars charge more, but it’s usually only a few dollars. In other words, pretty cheap. And you can often turn on auto renewal so you don’t have to worry about it expiring when a year’s up.

But what if you don’t auto renewal and forget to re-up, even after the registrar has been hounding you via emails, texts, and smoke signals prior to expiration? Well, you often have a grace period of between 0 and 45 days, during which you can renew your domain at the renewal price.

However, after that grace period expires, the domain goes into a 30-day “redemption” period. During that period, the registrar, if they choose, can put the domain name up for auction. Or you can buy it back from them at an inflated price. Whatever they want. The domain I was looking at was through BlueHost, where the redemption fee was $70! Slimy.

I calculated out when the domain would be released back into the wild, and registered it the next day for $12.

I’ll share more details about my project in the future.

Summer Swim Meets and 529s

It wouldn’t be a monthly update unless I mentioned 529s.

This month, while volunteering at a Saturday morning swim meet, I was talking to one of the other dads about 529s. This was my first time encountering a real, live person who had opened an advisor-directed 529 in Virginia since I learned about it. I asked him a few questions to learn more, and then, out of the blue he said “I wish we’d gone with a fee-based advisor instead of an advisor that charged an annual %-of-AUM as a fee.” It made me wonder how hard it is to extricate oneself from the clutches of a financial advisor.

After talking for a bit, another volunteer working with us asked if 529s were any good if your child was a citizen of the Czech republic and would have their education 100% paid for, which was her situation. Lucky! At the time I told her they wouldn’t help, but later I started wondering if the 100% only meant tuition. If so, she could use a 529 for room and board, as long as the school accepted U.S. federal student aid, which a surprising number of European institutions do! So it could possibly still help.

As you can see from my choice of conversation topics, it’s super exciting to volunteer with me at swim meets! On the other hand, I didn’t monopolize the whole three hours we were working together!

What is Form 1040-C?

Three years ago a family moved in across the cul-de-sac. They were relocating temporarily from Paris for work. They have three kids who matched up well with our children and we had a blast playing board games with them on many a Saturday evening. They even put up with my incessant fascination with 529s and our pumping them for information about their experience as expats.

Their time in the United States has come to an end and they headed back to France this month. But not without sharing their concluding experience with the IRS. As part of their departure, they filled out IRS Form 1040-C, titled “U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Return”, a.k.a. a “sailing permit.” The form is used by alien tax payers who need to pay their taxes one last time, before they depart back to their home country.

This is a strange form. If you read the instructions, it sounds like the IRS will prevent you from leaving until you’ve paid your final taxes. But I wonder how the IRS would know that your employment terminated until the following tax season. I suspect having a “sailing permit” isn’t really enforced, and as long as you pay your taxes the following tax season, nothing will come of it. 

When our friends asked around about it, few they had talked to had heard of it, and fewer still had filled it out. They also had a difficult time with the local IRS office, confirming my suspicions that it’s a rarely used form.

I’ll never run up against it, but it was interesting seeing the IRS and it’s byzantine processes from a foreign perspective.

Sail free, friends!

Other Odds and Ends

  • I now have a 955-day streak on Duolingo. I thought with my 400+ point lead that I had a good chance of being the number in my Diamond league group this week, but someone in the group did over 1800 points today, the last day of the league. I wanted to get the silly badge, but I guess I’ll have to wait another week. Or two. Or never. I’m just not that dedicated.
  • This year, I slowed down my 401(k) front-loading. This month my contributions maxed out. I had switched to Roth contributions at the beginning of the year, but switched back sometime in March when I found out that we’re in the phaseout for the Covid stimulus and that traditional contributions would help on our taxes next April.
  • A huge locust tree fell in the backyard, just missing the play structure. The trunk had started to crack months before it fell, and the crack had accelerated in the last couple weeks. However, the tree broke a the base of the trunk, probably because of the stress caused by the crack and subsequent lean the crack caused.

From the Bookshelf

I usually have four books going at a time. This month I finished the following:

  • Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. Read aloud to the kids. They enjoyed the antics of this large family. My sixteen year-old probably enjoyed it the most, even though she’d previously read it. Maybe because of that.
  • More Than a Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament by Drs. Lexie and Lindsay Kite. This book does a great job talking through the harms of body image anxiety and stress. The problem is accentuated by our sometimes reckless media and social media consumption, and the authors share practical advice on how to break out of it. But frankly, even if you tune out social media and other media, you’ll still be affected by the body image culture.
  • The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins. I picked this up in part because our team was hiring a new employee and I wanted to see how I could help the new start ramp up quickly. While it was helpful, I found that this book is much more focused on those in leadership going through transitions. One startling fact is that 25% of the leaders in Fortune 500 companies change over during the year. That’s a pretty staggering number and this book helps map out options and ideas for having a successful transition.
  • The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler. This book outlines interesting ways that humans deceive themselves and others about the motives behind behaviors. Why do we do this? We find benefits in hiding our deeply rooted self-interest. If you pick this up, don’t be surprised if some of your sacred cows come under attack.
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Another action and science fiction packed novel by the author of The Martian. This book is far more speculative than The Martian, and a super enjoyable read. I got two of my three oldest to read it, and they thought it was fun as well. I’m working on the third!
  • A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin. Classic fantasy from a master. My grandmother gave me the original trilogy when I was a child and I didn’t read them, but finally I’m getting around to it. Enjoyable from start to finish. I have the remaining books in the series in my queue.

Conclusion

How was your July? Read anything interesting this month? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Hasta luego!

2 thoughts on “July 2021 Update

  1. Glad that tree didn’t hurt anyone on the way down! I have heard great things about Project Hail Mary, mostly from the Animal Spirts podcast. I’m currently reading Boys in the Boat to get in the Olympic spirit!

    1. For real! That tree could have done some damage!

      Boys in the Boat was a fun read. Having lived in the Puget Sound for several years, it was fun reading about a place that I was very familiar with.

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