Irvine Park Christmas Train

Its holiday season once again in Southern California and my wife was talking about visiting the Irvine Park Christmas Train again this year which gave me a great idea for a post.

We went on the Christmas Train last year.  Its a slow moving, small train that travels around the Irvine Park.  During the holiday season, the park brightens the trains path with lights and decorations.  The ride takes a break at Santa’s Village in which the kids can take a picture with Santa.  Once the pictures are finished the train returns to the station.  

The lines for the train are longer than I like but its a really nice experience for the kids. The Park also has other small attractions set up near the train station.

For more information see the Irvine Park Christmas Train

Irvine Park Christmas Train

Tax on the sale of a personal residence?

I have always been interested in the housing market since the bubble in the last decade.  Recently, some reports have house prices in certain areas starting to increase again.  With increased house prices, this brings a question that hasn’t been popular lately.  Is there tax on the sale of a personal residence?

The below video from the IRS explains the federal tax implications and where to get additional information.  Keep in mind that state tax laws may vary regarding the tax on the sale of a personal residence.

Wintertime activities in Southern California

As winter approaches, the activities of Southern Californians change. We spend less time at the beach and more time in the deserts or mountains. The LA Times has a travel section that brings forth some pretty good ideas for traveling in California during the winter months @ LA Times California Travel.

The Debt Problem

We are all aware of the debt problem that we have in the United States. The debt is currently over 16.2 trillion dollars and increasing. This represents a debt of approximately $51,600 per citizen and $141,700 per taxpayer. The debt represents a major problem with no easy solutions.

The debt and deficit can be compared to a leak in a boat. The faster the water comes in (deficit) the more total water (debt) the ship holds. At some point that ship will not be able to take on any more water and will sink. Hopefully if we bail fast enough (increase taxes and/or reduce spending), it won’t sink. But at this point, it may be inevitable without taking drastic measures. When the ship we call the United States sinks, all of the other ships will feel the waves like never before.

I believe it is probable that our government will “print” money to alleviate the problem. I also beleive that at some point, our government will have to balance the budget. If we were to balance the budget today we would remove 1.1 trillion in spending from the world economy in which the bulk of this spending occurs in the United States. I don’t believe our economy could take such a hit without going into another recession. If our government balances the budget slowly, we will end up with even greater debt to GDP ratios and will be faced with even greater deficit reduction down the road.

This leaves the inflation option.

The Fisher Hypothesis tells us that all things being equal, a rise in a country’s expected inflation rate will eventually cause an equal rise in the interest rate.

Current lenders now face the risk of rising inflation. If inflation does rise and increased interest rates follow, this represents a significant risk of loss to lenders represented by discounts in debt securities. This, in turn, produces the risk of decreased asset values and recession.

Any way I spin the issue; it always ends up in recession. Any arguement to the contrary would be appreciated so I could sleep a little more easy tonight.

Debt timebomb

Becoming an accountant

Career choices can be challenging.  I was faced with this challenge some years ago.  After considering many different ideas, I decided to be an accountant.

I knew that I wanted to do something in business from an early age.  After graduating high school I took a few classes at the local community college, but I quickly learned I wasn’t yet ready for college.

A few years passed along with a few different jobs.  I tried my hand at retail, window washing, construction, and automotive parts.  Although each job offered a great learning experience, none of them were the career I was looking for.

One day while having a conversation with my manager at that time, I told him that I was thinking about going to school for business.  He suggested that I should look into getting a degree in accounting.

After that conversation, a recent experience attempting to complete a tax return by hand and a little research, I came to a decision.  I found a rewarding career that I felt could help others.

The next 5 1/2 years were a challenging time for me.  Most of the time I worked full time while attending school at night.  I didn’t have much free time in my life, and during my fourth year of school, I somehow fit a wedding and a honeymoon into my spring break.

During my last year of school, I went on multiple interviews to find my job.  My focus was public accounting.  In my opinion, public accounting was the pinnacle of accounting. It was the specific job that the accounting classes best prepared me for.

Along with getting a couple of internships before I graduated, I was able to land a job at a well respected public accounting firm in my community.  I was scheduled to start right after school.

Graduation came and went.  With it, I had accomplished the toughest challenge of my life.  It was an accomplishment that I never imagined myself capable of and yet it felt like it came and went with relative ease.

I began working about three weeks after graduation.  In between graduating and starting work, my wife Danielle and I had our first child, Caitlyn.

I spent the next few years learning accounting and learning to be father.  They both had their challenges, but I could say that each may have prepared me for the other.

A few years has passed since that time and life has grown a bit more calm.  A new house, another baby, a CPA license and memories that will last forever.  If I had to do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I have a career that I enjoy and a wonderful family that I love.  If I had any advice to give, it would be to pick a career first then focus on the path that will get you there.  For me, it was becoming an accountant.

The Olney Family