@moreadventurous My two cents is: 1. *never* pay a load--it's basically just a sales commission; 2. Anything of 1% (100 basis points) fee is high for any mutual fund; a broad index fund, it should be *much* lower--the Vanguard fund WB recommends is 0.17% (w/ a $3k minimum), and 0.05% (w/ a $10k minimum), (3) most times, if you are in an IRA with the fund manager, you can access those funds below the 'public' minimums.
@Meaghano oooooooh, the *other* thing to remember is that as soon as the kid is born s/he needs to be a +1 on your insurance. You have 30(??) days to add her after birth outside of open enrollment. And if you don't do that timely, no insurance for the kiddo until 2015, and you'll pay rack rate for every peds visit. So, yeah, something *else* to deal with.
@xtinamartinson "eat an egg instead of a bowl of cereal" From my wife's experience, the *single* worst thing you can eat (glucose-test-wise) is a bagel. Better off eating a doughnut.
@andnowlights "$515 a month for care is insane" Um, what? The USA spends over $8,000 for every single person on medical care. $6,000 for *no deductible* coverage (yes, I understand co-pays etc) is actually pretty good.
Meaghan: Whatever else you do, make “whose dad / who’s dad” get his DTAP booster (unless less than 5 years) so no one ends up with whooping cough (P is for pertussis) around the baby.
@cc Well, you don't use the sob story on phone tree person--only when you get Steve--the admin to the HR/payroll VP--who might blow you off if he thinks you're just a disorganized bozo. Seems like the 'basic' number for getting a JPM w-2 is 1.877.576.2427. They may well blow you off, but it's a starting point. Can (apparently) also do the following (in some variation): Contact the IRS If you do not receive your W-2 by February 14th, contact the IRS for assistance at 800-829-1040. When you call, you must provide your name, address, city and state, including zip code, Social Security number, phone number and have the following information: Employer’s name, address, city and state, including zip code and phone number Dates of employment An estimate of the wages you earned, the federal income tax withheld, and when you worked for that employer during [year]. The estimate should be based on year-to-date information from your final pay stub or leave-and-earnings statement, if possible. That may be almost as difficult for you, Hilde, but they is a 100% chance that the IRS has access to that W-2, so at least you know youre talking to someone who *could* find it.
@Mlanterman PS: note that you can assert up to $5,000 in expenses w/o needing to itemize them. Not that I am suggesting that you *in any way* lie or exaggerate your expenses, but you don't have to have detailed records of all of your freelance expenses in order to claim a deduction. Seriously, read thru the 1040-EZ and its instructions--here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sce.pdf Just the single form should be pretty helpful in organizing your thoughts about the income.
@Brunhilde They are supposed to (ie, 'required' by law) to keep all that for 4 years, so you should be able to contact the HR/employee benefits dept of the big mean company, and they'll just send them, or give you a login to something for ex employees or whatever. I would feel *completely* free to fib to the HR person and make up a moderate sob story about fire/flood/dog/vindictive ex, that destroyed your tax files, and etc. in an effort to get them to be slightly sympathetic. Just jot down the highlights, in case you talk to more than one person, so that they don't decide you are a liar and get all nasty.
@Mlanterman "Any idea how to go about finding their tax id number?" If a public company, a little google-fu should uncover it. But I don't know [again, not a tax pro] why you would need it--you fill out a 1040-C or a 1040-C-EZ, which doesn't ask for EINs (read the instructions on the EZ version--you don't need an EIN to use). I do know, for sure, that you can't use a 1040-EZ with SE income.
Meaghan: "Firstly, I refuse to believe this isn’t a very isolated trend, or one specific to recent college grads getting hired by banks. But has anyone actually had this happen to them?" I have not had it happen to me, but I know a story about a law firm *partner* who had something north of $10 million in business (that is, *way* more than enough revenue to pay for himself, and make money for the other partners) that would follow him, who was all set with an offer from a new firm--until they asked for his law school transcript and, upon seeing it, rescinded the offer. And, had he gone to a lesser law school than he did, the firm wouldn't have let him get that far. Now, that's a single anecdote, but it's even more irrelevant than asking some management interviewee about SATs--how do you know that a person will be a good VP of Whatever? You don't. How do you know a lawyer will make a firm money? He has clients who pay their bills and have demonstrated loyalty to him--and $10m+ is a lot of legal fees (esp 15+ years ago, when this happened).