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Tax. Brackets.

Columnist Steve Lange guesses at his finances. His wife guesses in the March Madness brackets. Once a year, the two collide.

Oddchester - Steve Lange column sig
We are part of The Trust Project.

For 51 weeks a year, I know nothing about our family finances.

Sure, my wife, Lindy, sends me occasional financial-related emails, like "Don't use the ATM card before Friday" or "Did you use the ATM card for $18 at the dollar store?" or "Everything at the dollar store is a dollar, how did you buy 18 things? And did you get my earlier email about not using the ATM card?"

Besides those periodic updates, I mostly walk around blissfully unaware of our credit card balances or interest rates, of home equity loans or medical savings accounts or which bank I'm supposed to use or what my PIN number is.

Except when it comes to one week in mid-March of every year, when we get a relatively big check back from our tax return. Then, having seen this big check, I swoop into the family finances like I'm Suze Orman, especially if Suze Orman is that woman on TV who has something to do with personal finances.

Suddenly, I'm saying things like "We should really consider high dividend-paying blue chip stocks, especially when you look at the tax benefits of dividend payments vis-à-vis taxable coupon payments."


We've only been married for 20-some years, but I think I'm getting pretty adept at reading Lindy's body language.

By the end of that one week, my newfound interest in our finances, if I'm reading Lindy correctly, makes her want to jab me in the neck with a shiv made from the papers rolled up from our second mortgage.

During that same week, Lindy, for her part, annoys me with her once-a-year interest in college basketball.

The week that we get our taxes back, inevitably, coincides with the NCAA basketball tournament, and Lindy and the kids each fill out a bracket and we all enter a pool of 300-plus people.

Even during those years when I know the backcourt of most of the teams in the tourney, even when I've invested hours poring over bracketology reports, Lindy and the kids usually crush me in the NCAA pool.

Lindy often bases her picks on which of the two cities she'd rather live in or what team's uniform color combination she prefers.

As a sidenote — and I have to admit, it's one of those seemingly innocent things that all of our significant others do that that makes you die a little inside — Lindy refers to every uniform, in every sport, as an "outfit."

So, while I'm annoying Lindy by saying things about "liquidity in the bond market," she is gloating about how she "just had a feeling" that St. Peter's would make it into the "Sweety Sixteen."


When my son Henry was 5, he picked Butler to advance deep into the tournament. This pick was based solely on the fact that the school had what sounded like "butt" in the name. That year, the Bulldogs made an improbable run to the Sweet 16. The rest of Henry's Final Four that year, incidentally, consisted of Poopytown Tech, University of Boogerville, and Wiener State.

And he still finished ahead of me.

On Saturday, the Final Four games kick off. Lindy and I finished our taxes and sent them off last week, and, according to the IRS' "Where's My Refund" app, our return is due to be deposited into our account on April 2.

Just in time for Lindy to listen to me give my terribly uninformed reasoning as to why we should invest all of our tax refund money in Bitcoin.

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While, at the same time, for me to listen to Lindy cheer as her NCAA March Madness teams continue to roll through the tournament.

Go, team with the blue outfits!

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

Opinion by Steve Lange
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