House Goals for 2019 and Beyond

After all of 2018’s work, our house (AKA Hauslermo) is feeling really good. My make-it-work kitchen makeover was definitely the right call for us, in lieu of a full kitchen renovation. The mudroom was an impactful, budget-friendly overhaul. And replacing all of the moulding makes the entire first floor feel more finished.

At this point, the finish line for Hauslermo’s renovation is kinda visible on the distant horizon, so I’ve been thinking about how to plan and budget for the remaining to-dos. In 2019, I hope to focus on some lower-cost improvements while I gather information and save money for the major renovations to come.

In addition to the goals listed below, there are three big, looming expenses: replacing the roof, the furnace, and the water heater. All of those things are functioning fine now, but I know they won’t forever. The roof will likely get worked into my 2019 or 2020 plans, and all three will impact the available funds for my other goals. (And, of course, this house or our lives could throw us an unforeseen curveball at any point in the game.)

Here goes:


  • Finish staircase, for real this time
  • Move junction box over dining room table and install new light
  • Repair brick tuckpointing – it’s failing in a few areas
  • Landscaping
    • Plant another backyard tree
    • Replace front yard bushes (three of them gave up on life – womp womp)
    • Pare down backyard bed
    • Get back into vegetable gardening (Jarrod plans to take the lead on this in his official capacity as our Food Procurement Officer)
  • Finish guest bedroom – it’s a hodgepodge of furniture and decor right now
  • Eliminate private mortgage insurance (PMI) from our home loan – this is an aspirational financial goal for 2019 or 2020. We purchased our house with less than a 20% down payment, so we have to pay $125 for PMI each month. This bums me out because it’s totally wasted money. I plan to explore all of the options for eliminating it (e.g. getting our home reappraised).
  • Sunroom Phase 1
    • Level floor – because our enclosed front sunroom used to be an exterior porch, it slopes downward (just like our mudroom – it doesn’t bother me in that space, but it’d be nice to fix it here)
    • Install new floor
    • Replace or cover ceiling insulation tiles with new beadboard

For reference, here’s our sunroom currently:


  • Sunroom Phase 2
    • Replace bungalow-inappropriate picture glass window with wall-to-wall windows
    • Install new shades
  • Replace all other windows

On Christmas day, we walked around Ravenswood Manor (a nearby neighborhood that has a lot of lovely vintage bungalows) and looked for window inspiration. I took photos for my Home Renovation board on Pinterest. Here’s our house now:Bungalow Window Before 1.jpg

And here’s a slapdash mockup:Bungalow Window Mockup 1.jpg

But it won’t really look like that because the window trim most likely won’t be white and it won’t look bonkers. It’ll look good, I promise. It better look good, because it’s going to cost one million dollars.

2021 and/or 2022

  • Basement renovation
    • Install French drain and sump pump
    • Finish half of the basement with a guest bedroom and bathroom – because our house only has two bedrooms (and they share the upstairs bathroom), it would be nice for hosting to add an additional bed and bath. It’s a walk-out basement with decent ceiling height, so it would count toward our house’s property value.
    • Reconfigure the other half of the basement for improved storage and a nicer laundry room


  • Second floor bathroom renovation
    • At the minimum, I would keep the existing layout and replace the tile, bathtub, toilet, etc.
    • At the maximum, I will investigate the possibility of reconfiguring the layout and enlarging the bathroom to accommodate two sinks – we don’t need some fancy luxury bathroom, but having a sink for both of us would be really nice

As a reminder, our bathroom currently looks like this – totally fine, but not my long-term goal:bathroom-after-1


  • Hauslermo is finished and I never do any work again
  • J/K
  • I don’t know what happens then!
    • We could likely sell our house for a modest profit, but I don’t know if we could buy a different house that’s as appealing – I’m not sure what, if anything, could be gained if we tried to trade up. I’m happy with this being our forever house, but I will want ongoing projects of some sort.
    • Maybe we invest in a two-flat as a rental property?
    • Maybe we buy a vacation house with our other childless friends? (We’ve daydreamed about a house in Michigan that we’d call The Sink Inn, with SINK standing for “Surplus Income, No Kids.”)
    • Maybe I start helping other people with their homes, as a for-profit venture and/or I get involved with a not-for-profit house-focused charity?
    • Maybe I start an entirely different hobby? Weaving, I’m looking at you.

Happy New Year, everyone!

How I Filed TV Show Filming Rental Income with TurboTax

In 2016 and 2017, we rented our home to a friend’s production company for the filming of a television show. This extra income was reported to the IRS by the production company, so I figured I should account for it when I filed our taxes, but I had no idea how. It took some research to learn what should be declared and how to actually do it in TurboTax. I did this in 2016 successfully, and filed the same way for my 2017 taxes, so I thought I’d document here.

Note: this isn’t tax advice! Well, obviously, it kinda is. But I am not a tax professional. I’m just sharing what worked for me to help out anyone Googling for the topic. This content won’t be of much interest for my usual blog readers – to make up for it, I’ll end the post with some behind-the-scenes TV show info.

Non-taxable Income and the 14 Day Rule

Most importantly: this is the process for filing taxes for income from a rental for fewer than 15 days. The 14-day rental rule exempts you from owing taxes on short-term rentals of your home.

IRS Publication 527 states: “If you rent property that you also use as your home and you rent it less than 15 days during the tax year, don’t include the rent you receive in your income…”  (This is supposedly sometimes called the “Masters Provision” because so many homeowners rent out their properties in Georgia for the Masters Golf Tournament.)

The tax professional I spoke to said – since the production company reported the money to the IRS – “if you do not put this information on your tax return there is a 100% chance that you will get a notice from the IRS.”

What the 1099-MISC Tax Form Looks Like

If you rent your home for a television show or a movie, you’ll probably receive a 1099-MISC tax form for Miscellaneous Income. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 9.13.12 PM.png

The amount you were paid for the rental of your property should be in Box 1: Rents. The first form I received had my rental income in Box 7: Nonemployee compensation, which was a mistake. The tax pro I spoke to pointed this out and I was able to get a corrected form from the production company’s accounting firm.

How to File with TurboTax

Last year, I spoke with a TurboTax support representative who advised me on the following steps. I took screenshots this year so I could illustrate the process.

1. Go to the Income section of TurboTax

2. Go to Less Common Income, and select Miscellaneous Income

TurboTax Less Common Income.png

3. Under Miscellaneous Income, select Other reportable income

TurboTax Misc Income.png

4. On the Other Taxable Income screen, enter a Description. Based on my conversations with TurboTax and a tax professional, I chose to enter: 14 day rent rule – Production Company Name 47-1234567. (I used the real production company name and federal income number (TIN), as found on the 1099 – I’m just not using it here!)

I file taxes jointly with my husband, so both of our names were listed. The check was made out to me, so I entered the income next to my name. Use the amount found in Box 1: Rents of the 1099-MISC form. (Again: the screenshot is a fictitious amount.)

TurboTax Other Taxable Income.png

5. Then, click Add Another Income Item. Use the same Description as before, but this time use the negative version of your rental amount: e.g. 1,000. Doing this shows TurboTax/the IRS that you reported the income but that the income is not taxable.

TurboTax Misc Income Summary.png

After you complete this step, you should notice that your estimated refund/money owed calculation in TurboTax was not impacted by the miscellaneous income entry.

When you file your taxes and download your official Form 1040 Individual Income Tax Return document from TurboTax, you’ll see a note in Line 21 that states See Line 21 Statement.

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 9.33.51 PM.png

At the end of your federal return document, TurboTax will have added a supporting schedule for Line 21 – Other Income.

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 9.29.43 PM.png

That’s it! Our taxes are otherwise pretty straight-forward, and this was an easy addition. If this info helps out one person, I’ll be happy.

Our House on Easy

As I mentioned in a previous post – Let’s All Watch Easy on Netflix – our house was used for a few episodes of the Netflix show Easy. Here are some screengrabs!

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That’s the kitchen I’m currently working on (see Kitchen Decision Making). I wonder what color range Aya Cash would prefer…

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 7.30.57 PM.png

My friend Jenni drew those plants on the wall. She also makes beautiful collages and hilarious dog zines. The show’s production designer framed and hung the drawings and they’ve stayed up ever since. Filmmakers have to get permission to use any art that appears on screen, so several of my friends and artists I’ve purchased from signed release forms for the show.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 7.35.59 PM.png

I love how sunny our living room looks here. But I feel bad Aya had to sit on our disgusting sofa for not one but two seasons of this show. I’m pretty sure they covered it with a blanket to conceal all the cat claw damage. We’ve since had it reupholstered.

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 7.33.05 PM.png

Here, Evan Jonigkeit is saying “Can you believe how awesome this Danish corner cabinet is?!” And Aya replies “I know! Shark Gravy has such great stuff!” j/k, j/k. You can see my wall-mounted bottle opener there between them, and a glimpse of our entryway. Here’s a better look at the cabinet:

Danish Corner Cabinet.jpg

This vintage cabinet was my first major furniture purchase for our new house, and it’s by far my favorite. Tonight I noticed another vintage corner cabinet on a different Netflix show: Princess Margaret’s rad new pad in The Crown. I like mine better!

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That’s all for now. Good luck filing your taxes, whether or not they include filming rental income!

Reader Survey – I’d Love Your Feedback

Dear readers:

I put together a brief survey to help me learn a bit more about you, the readers of this blog. I’d love your feedback!

If none of the multiple choice options provided work for you, please select “Other” and fill in your own answer. The open-ended questions are optional: feel free to skip if you don’t have anything you’d like to add.

If the embedded form below doesn’t work for you, or if you’re on a mobile device, please go to Google Forms to fill it out.

Thanks so much! And thanks for reading this blog.

Marti Palermo

Let’s All Watch Easy on Netflix

There’s a new eight-episode series coming out on Netflix next week, written and directed by the very awesome Joe Swanberg. It’s called Easy, and it’s set in Chicago. Here’s the trailer:

It’s always fun to see things that were filmed in Chicago, and it’s even better when they venture outside of the Loop into other neighborhoods. If you’re familiar with Lincoln Square, you’ll recognize the Davis Theater, Baker Miller, and more.

You’ll also recognize a lot of funny famous people, like Orlando Bloom (my #1 reigning crush from 2001-2003), Malin Akerman (Trophy Wife should still be on the air), Jake Johnson (national treasure), Hannibal Buress (best known as the 30 Rock hobo – j/k), Aya Cash (You’re the Worst is an unexpected delight), and Elizabeth Reaser (wonderful in everything she’s in, including my brother’s film One & Two).

And, there’s one more fun thing to keep an eye out for: our house!


That’s our bedroom, but that’s not our quilt, and that’s definitely not Jarrod and me.

This past February, we turned our property over to a production crew, dropped off our cats with a friend (thanks again, Ben!), and checked into a hotel for 10 days. We had a wonderful staycation in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood while an episode of Easy was filmed at our house in Albany Park.

I have very little idea what transpired while we were gone, and I’ve heard only a few details about the show’s plot. Even if I didn’t know and love Joe, I would know and love his movies: they’re funny, candid, and sweet without being pandering. So, I’m doubly excited to see the show.

After filming wrapped, we returned to a clean house and inquisitive neighbors. Only a few clues remained to remind us that our home was someone else’s for a spell: a stranger’s pants in our closet, a production schedule in our garage. One morning, several weeks later, I took a carton of eggs out of the fridge and discovered they weren’t my eggs: they were showbiz eggs, neatly cracked and stacked.


Easy comes out on Netflix on Thursday, September 22. Let’s all watch it and keep an eye out for omelettes.

Drunk in Love with Beyonce: 5 Drinking Game Rules

This past Friday my friends joined me (indulged me, really) in watching all 17 of the music videos from Beyoncé’s recently-released visual album. I couldn’t find any drinking game rules online so I DIYed them. Not the usual fodder for this blog, I know, but I wanted to codify them here.  So, without further ado, here are Five Rules for a Beyoncé Music Video Drinking Gamé.

Beyonce Video Drinking Game

1. Drink for each song title.

Each music video includes the song title within the first 30 seconds or so. Some are simple title cards but others are more clever or discreet. Raise your glass each time you see one to celebrate the gift that Beyoncé has bestowed upon you.

Beyonce Music Video Titles

2. Drink when Beyoncé wears jean shorts.

She wears ’em a lot. Most of them look rather uncomfortable. When you see jorts: drink. When you see a jort thong: chug.

Beyonce Jean Shorts

3. Drink when Jay-Z makes an appearance, in person or in voice.

This doesn’t actually happen very often – if anything, this album is about Beyoncé moving beyond Jay-Z – but he pops up occasionally to blurt “crown!”, to rap about his foyer Warhol, and to rhyme “breasteses” with “breakfast.” He also does a hilarious drunken shimmy that will remind you of your friend Nordy. Drink for Jay-Z!

Beyonce JayZ

4. Drink when Ed McMahon makes an appearance, in person or in voice.

And then pour one out: RIP, Ed.

Beyonce Ed McMahon

5. Drink when Beyoncé wears something atop her lovely head (wigs excluded).

Yoncé loves headgear even more than she loves jean shorts. She borrowed a crown from the Queen of Hearts, a beaded headdress from Le Crazy Horse, a veil from the Virgin Mary, and a balaclava from Pussy Riot.  Drink whenever you see something new on Beyoncé’s head – except for wigs.  The goal is drunkenness, not death by alcohol poisoning.

Beyonce Head Gear

Extra credit:

If five isn’t enough for you, here are a few other ideas:

  • Drink whenever food is mentioned (peaches, Skittles, half-naked dinners, etc.)
  • If you’ve got love for the Lone Star state, drink when B references Houston.
  • Drink whenever a foreign language is spoken (including a French Big Lebowski sample?!)

That’s it – have fun!

Beyonce Bottoms Up