As I’ve stated before I don’t believe in coincidence, so when Kay’s route between her Air Force school in Monterrey (she passed her Korean course with honors) and her next duty station at the Goodfellow Base in Texas took her right through Albuquerque it felt meant to be. When she made it to Albuquerque on her 20th birthday, it felt like more than that. One of my few regrets about becoming full timers is that Kay doesn’t have a permanent home to come back to on holidays, so being able to spend both Christmas and her birthday with her this year has been amazing. Plus, Lee just loves hanging out with her. The two of them really get each others sense of humor and they are pretty adorable together. Kay is driving (with two vehicles) with someone in her class who had a relative in Albuquerque, so they split apart for the day and Kay drove up to hang out with us in the camper. We even had a cake mix I had picked up somewhere awhile back and were able to make her a cake, some lunch, and recycle the cool Happy Birthday tiara Deb and Ellen had gotten for me in Glacier back in August. It was a wonderful day and we spent several hours together. Really a perfect visit and I am so grateful that we got to spend it with her.
We had plans to see several places in the area starting on Tuesday but crazy strong winds came into the area and between the wind and the cold, I decided to pass. I needed a break plus I really needed to work on taxes and figure our healthcare.
Previously we always used H&R Block in our small town, but because our situation involves working in multiple states I decided to use Travel Tax , a small company that specializes in taxes for mobile workers. Our friends Jo and Ben have used them for a couple of years and had a great experience and after a couple of free phone consultations and a look at their tax workbook, I felt like this was the right choice for us. In addition to dealing with working in multiple states, we are filing taxes for our small business Open Road for the first time. Luckily, Lee did a great job throughout the year of tracking expenses and income so it was a matter of matching up the expenses with the IRS deductible categories. Going forward all the expenses will be placed in these categories at the time they occur, so it should be even easier, but it wasn’t bad, just a little time-consuming.
After getting all the data classified properly, I also had to gather the various pieces of paper and this was much harder than prior years where our taxes were pretty straight forward. It’s a good thing though because we get to write off our solar investment we made this year, part of our cell phone/data bill (I am conservatively going with 30%), and hopefully loan interest on our camper because it is now a primary residence. Yes, I could have used Turbo Tax and may in the future, but since this is all new territory for us, we both felt a qualified tax professional was the way to go.
The other big issue this month was the fact that my subsidized health care is running out. As part of my buy out I received healthcare at the same cost as when I was employed and medical and dental for $368 a month was obviously a good deal. Unfortunately COBRA jumps to $1003 a month starting in April and that’s just a crazy amount of money. Once again in uncharted territory I reached out to fellow full timer Kyle Henson. We first met Kyle back in 2014 at the Seveirville RV-Dreams rally (with his wife Lisa and their daughter) and after his talk on healthcare options, I absolutely knew he was going to be my go-to guy. Luckily he is not only still in the business, but has expanded his relationships to include one with Escapees and in my opinion is the absolute best resource for healthcare questions in our lifestyle.
Kyle explained that because my life changing event had happened back in November I was unfortunately not eligible to sign up for the Affordable Care Act until open enrollment in December. So our options were: keep COBRA (cost was just too high), go without insurance (scary because even though we are in good health and have $12K in an HSA plan one serious event could wipe out our savings, or purchase a short-term supplemental plan. He found me a short-term plan with a $10K deductible and a maximum $10K copay out-of-pocket for $306.11 a month. It has a nationwide network and is a good plan for healthy people to have just in case. The only downside is that the plan does not meet the qualifications for the government so I will also owe 2.5% in taxes on everything we make over $20K. It still makes financial sense though, because even combining the penalty and the monthly rate it should be much less than $1K a month. Kyle was awesome and using the quote and link he sent me, enrolling online was easy. I can’t say enough about the experience and seriously, if you have any questions about healthcare he is definitely the guy to call!
So while I was doing all this, Lee was having an adventure of his own. He discovered there were two working western studio ranches here in Santa Fe and through perseverance and some luck he managed to talk his way onto a private tour at one of the studios. Everyone who has met Lee knows how much he loves movies (westerns in particular) so he had to try, and I am sure the manager of the working ranch/studio saw that and decided to give him a tour. They spent 2-1/2 hours together walking the ranch, and although there a very few areas that were off limits because a movie was being filmed that day, he did get to see almost everything. It was an amazing experience for him, and I am so glad he got to do it. I’ve included some pictures of what he saw, but not a ton of specific information because this facility is normally NOT open to the public.
For those of you who were expecting more about Santa Fe and the surrounding area I am sorry. Real life and bad weather got in the way, but since we left so many things undone from our original list we are both committed to coming back at a different time of year. I do highly recommend the Cochiti Lake Campground though if you are passing through. It’s kind of out-of-the-way, but really nice. The Corp of Engineers have done a great job with it. Next up is Texas as we start to head back East…looking forward to getting somewhere warmer!!
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