The triumphant Julius Caesar stood on the northern banks of the Gaul River with his army. He agonized over his next move. Caesar had expanded the borders of the Republic into modern France, Spain and Britain in a decade long campaign. Should he stay in Gaul and forfeit his power to enemies in Rome, or take Rome by force with his sword and army? He had little choice, but if he crossed, there would be no turning back.
Roman law required generals returning from military conquests to disband their armies. Senators said it was “for the safety of Rome” and avoiding an internal military coup – and it protected their positions, power and wealth. However, this time opposition against Caesar had escalated. His unprecedented victories earned him unrivalled power and influence Caesar was ordered to relinquish his command and there were rumors to take him out by any means necessary.
Caesar had no intention of obeying the Senate. Inspired by a vision from the gods, he took charge of his men and said, “The die is cast.” He crossed the small stream and started a great war. And his successes continued until he was assassinated five years later. He established a new constitution, brought order to the Roman Empire, reformed the calendar with the Julian calendar, and was snuggle buddies with Cleopatra.
“Crossing the Rubicon” for Caesar meant leading the greatest empire of the times. It also brought him death. The phrase is used today when you face a difficult decision. You commit to a specific course and it becomes a point of no return. Examples include having a family, expanding into a new business area, retirement, divorce, or a tattoo. Not all are irrevocable and some have more significant consequences. And some can be reshaped or enhanced with adjustment and planning.
10 Ideas for Your Tax Refund (or Reasons Why We Save)
- Build cash reserves – Amount equal to three or six months’ living expenses if working, one or two years if retired. Check online FDIC insured money markets for competitive yields (vs local banks).
- Pay off debt.
- Add to 401k or your after-tax savings – Retirement plans generally provide tax benefits. Reasons to invest outside of retirement accounts include liquidity, real estate, or you don’t want all your future retirement checks to be fully taxable.
- Fill gaps in insurance and reduce risks – $1M umbrella liability policy might cost $300-$400 or buy a home generator.
- Fund vocational or college expenses – Also 529 plans have been expanded for elementary and secondary private schools (but not all states have agreed to piggyback on the new Federal rules so check).
- Build your HSA account – If you’re eligible, Health Savings Account are excellent with triple tax breaks (deductible contributions, tax-deferred growth, and withdrawals tax-free for qualified expenses).
- Honey do’s – Maybe not enough for a car wash in the shower, but maybe programable thermostat, closet organizer, or yard project.
- Kickstart the kid’s savings – Consider funding $5,500 to his or her Roth IRA, or their W-2 earnings, whichever is less.
- Update your estate plan – We’re not getting out of this world alive. And aging can be a double-edged sword. Consult your attorney regarding your will, power of attorney, medical directive and maybe a trust.
- Give to others – Most people give because it’s the right thing to do. A tax deduction may be a bonus. Some might “lump” contributions to every couple of years to clear the higher standard deduction.