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Archive for January, 2009

Ebay Challenge Update

January 31st, 2009 at 06:57 am

I did get a late start, but my January total stands at:

$4.95!

I have four items ending tomorrow. A bid on one and a few watchers on the other. The other two may not sell. Frown

It's a start. I'm sure I'll make up for it in later months! Keep up the good work everyone.

Fast Money!

January 30th, 2009 at 06:43 am

This past Monday night I e-filed our state and federal income tax returns.

Today, I see a pending deposit for our state refund. Wow! That is fast. So, by Monday it will be available in the account. That's technically less than 7 days from the time I hit the submit button. Amazing!

I wonder if it has to do with filing so early? If so, get those taxes done this weekend, if you have your forms. No reason not to wait...well, if you owe there is!!! LOL

Next week I will be sending in some big money to that home equity loan! I'm so excited.

Are You Snowballing?

January 29th, 2009 at 07:41 am

I noticed on campfrugals side bar a link to a site called whatsthecost.com. It has a place to calculate and save, if you so desire, a payoff for your debts. It's a snowball calculator.

I input some of my numbers for our home equity loan and our van loan. We owe over $24K on the van that we bought in May. But if we snowball our payments we could have both loans paid off by July 2010! Wow! That's about all I can say. Wow!

Check it out here.

We have snowballed in the past, and it does work. The calculator just makes it more fun! Fun, really fun!! I'm going to go play with it some more. Smile

Oops!

January 28th, 2009 at 10:03 am

I logged on to our bank accounts today to see that our account was negative! Yikes. Okay, it was only $2.50. After a little reseach, I realized that our automatic roth contributions were more than I had recorded in the checkbook. I apparently had not changed our automatic investment amount from last year...when I was playing catch up for part of the year.

So, easily fixed by moving some cushion money to our checking account. I also dropped our roth contributions for February to account for the larger amount this month. Starting in March, I will move our automatic investments to the correct amount.

Can you tell that I really push the amount in our checking account close to $0 each month? We save our cushion money in another checking account. It helps us not to overspend...but when we do a transfer is in order. It helps us keep on track. At least Friday is payday!!

Challenges? I'm In!

January 27th, 2009 at 05:21 pm

I sold my first item for 2009 on ebay today!! A pair of girls jeans for $4.95! This could be my total for January. I have one other item that could sell early. Out of the four items left, two are being watched.

The other challenge? Mooshocker has started at 2009 Mortgage Payment Challenge to see who can pay the most towards principal. I'm in. We are paying extra on our home equity loan already. The minimum we will pay off is $7,000. But we just might pay the whole thing off. Wouldn't that be cool!!

I will track the extra principal paid each month on the sidebar. Good luck everyone

Taxes Filed - Check

January 27th, 2009 at 06:41 am

Yes!!! I'm done...early again this year. It sure helped to enter all the information as I received it. Little pieces of information at a time, rather than one long day of it.

Last night, I double checked the return, electronically signed, printed copies, paid the small fee for state and hit the submit button. Quick!

Today, I checked my email and the federal return has already been accepted. The email states I should have the refund next Friday, February 6th.

The final refund results are
Federal: $610
State: $1350
Total:$1960

The plan is to use it towards home equity loan payoff. I will, of course, report that here when it happens.

Good luck filing your tax return!

It's Official....

January 26th, 2009 at 03:38 pm

I can file our taxes anytime! I have all the tax documents we need. I'm so excited!! I know, I know...I'm weird.

I was waiting for a 1099-INT from Revolution Money Exchange for the $25 bonus I received for opening an account. I emailed them a second time about the form and received a response right back. It was in my spam folder...so maybe they did email last time, too. This was their response:

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the issuance of a 1099 for your MoneyExchange account.

If you received $600.00 or more in bonus funds from Revolution Money in 2008 and have not already received a 1099 for this period, please contact a customer service representative to obtain a 1099.

For further account information, you may also contact a Customer Service Representative between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, seven days a week at 1-800-794-9071. Or you can write to Revolution MoneyExchange at P.O. Box 989, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you.

Thank you,
The Revolution MoneyExchange Team


So, this is one of those situations where they don't send out a 1099 unless the amount is over $600. Last time I checked, $25 was less than $600!! Time to get busy filing.

Finally Starting the Ebay Challenge

January 25th, 2009 at 06:02 pm

I listed 5 items for sale on ebay tonight. They won't end until February...but at least I did start in January!!

I hope that ending on Super Bowl Sunday will be a plus for me. Here's to a week of big sales!

We can't refinance

January 24th, 2009 at 08:51 am

It's true. We can't refinance. Would I like to? Yes. But we can't. We can't because we would lose money.

We have lived here for a little over two years. The Army could move us anytime between now and 2 1/2 years from now. DH thinks the latter.

Our primary mortgage is at 6%. That is still a pretty good rate. In order to get the lowest rates possible, we would need to pay points. But paying points or any closing costs is a couple thousand dollars. We would only save about $100 a month. It would take awhile to recover the costs associated with refinancing.

We just can't refinance. So, we will continue our home equity payoff. That loan is at a crazy 7.25% rate! Ugh. Once that is paid off we will have increased the equity we have to put towards the next house.

What do some of you other military families do? Rent, or buy? Fixed rate or adjustable?

A little more left until payday

January 23rd, 2009 at 02:34 pm

just a little sharing...about finances in our house!!

All the bills are paid and next Friday is payday for us. Our checking account has $222 left in it.

I will have to get groceries for the week, which will cut out $100. DH will need fuel, approx $25. Another $15 towards a birthday gift.

So, $82 left for miscellaneous needs/wants. It would nice to have some of that left...but I don't hold my breath. Last paycheck, it came down to $4.

In our budget, this is actually good. It means I'm keeping our spending to about $1400 per month for food, fuel, toiletry items, pet food, bedding and litter. Often it includes fundraisers or donations to school, too.

If we can't keep the spending within the $1400, then the money gets pulled from our 2nd checking account where we have a few hundred dollar cushion. We haven't touched that account since gas prices began falling!!

Cheap entertainment!

January 22nd, 2009 at 06:00 pm

Last weekend, as I folded clothes I came upon a few socks with holes on the bottoms. I jokingly said to my girls...want to make sock puppets? They said, "Yes!"

My oldest pulled out the sewing items to create these:


Besides two new sock puppets, they created names, personalities, accessories and video taped puppet shows. All four of us had quite a few laughs from these new characters. They are now folded up somewhere for another day of play.

Out of pocket cost: $0

The memories and fun: priceless

A New Stimulus - Refunds?

January 22nd, 2009 at 09:29 am

I had a comment, from D, on my last entry about filing taxes now and whether a tax refund of $1K that has yet to be passed by congress would effect our refunds.

I found an answer. The tax cuts would come in the form of reductions in the amount of social security tax that is withheld from paychecks. For those of us who might be able to file our taxes any day, this will not impact our refunds. No reason to delay.

Here's a link to the article. It is in today's New York Times.

Only 2 More to Go

January 22nd, 2009 at 07:20 am

My DH's W2 is finally available online! So, I plugged the numbers into the tax software and my previous calculations seem to be right on target.

However, I'm still waiting on two 1099-INT statements. One is from our money market account with FNBOdirect. Online it states the statement will be mailed.

I think we may also get a 1099-INT from Revolution Money Exchange. I opened an account to obtain the $25 they were offering last spring. I never did anything else with the account. I assume this payout is considered interest. So, I wait on that as well. I will be calling if it gets to be the last thing I'm waiting for!!

I will be filing ASAP...I want our money back! Of course, it will only be in my hands for a day or so. Because, hey, we have a home equity loan to payoff.

Here's the plan....

January 21st, 2009 at 02:34 pm

By the end of February, or before, I hope to pay the home equity loan down to under $10K. I should be able to do this easily. I needed to put it here, so that I avoid spending the money on a new couch. The wants are getting in my brain...help!!

I have estimated our tax refund to be about $2K. I also have over $1500 from February paychecks that could be allocated to the loan as well. I just need to stay away from the furniture store!

We Don't Qualify

January 19th, 2009 at 07:39 am

Well, with increased income in this last year it turns out we no longer qualify to free file with any of the IRS authorized providers. You can see if you qualify here. I would suggest checking a couple of companies, too. The charges to file a state return can vary.

I did find an oline provider that is still free regardless of income. I have even used them before, so I know they are legit. I've even seen TV commercials for them this year. The federal return will be free and state will only be $13.95. Compare this to other providers who charge you up to $60 to file both federal and state returns.

Oh, the name of the provider we are using is TaxACT. I don't get any kickbacks for this, but you can find them here.

Happy 2009 tax filing season!!

Payoff Update!

January 16th, 2009 at 07:44 am

Another milestone met! Our new home equity loan balance is under $13,000. Yippee!!

Yesterday, I made our regular payment. Only $37.66 went to principal. Today, I made a principal payment of $410.34 to bring our balance to an even balance of $12,852.

In January, a total of $1047 has been applied to principal. I feel a deep sense of gratitude that we have been able to hit the loan hard this month.
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What is your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?

January 15th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Both of my daughters are girl scouts. Do you know what that means at this time of year? Cookies. Sales begin tomorrow in our area. Now the problem: I didn't budget for these. Did you? Do you even buy them?

They EACH have a goal of 100 boxes. Each box is $3.50. Of course, I won't be buying all 200 boxes. We have neighbors, co-workers, family and friends we will be hitting up. I'm sure they all want a little more sugar in their diet, right?

So, I'm curious what is your favorite girl scout cookie? I am partial to the Thin Mints, with Shortbread a close second.

It's bound to come up. There are different names for the same cookie in different parts of the country. Check it out here.

Regular Payment Hits Today

January 15th, 2009 at 09:03 am

My regular home equity loan payment will be posted today. About $40 will probably go to principal. I will update the ticker when the new balance is posted.

After all other bills have been paid it looks like I can send in an additional $410 to the home equity loan next week. That will definitely put the balance below the $13K mark! I'm looking forward to it.
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I joined the 2009 Ebay Challenge, but other than listing a couch on craigslist, I haven't listed anything else. Part of my problem is that I sold off so much stuff last year!! I'm sure there are things to sell, they just aren't as obvious. Time to dig deep!

Estimating

January 13th, 2009 at 02:28 pm

It started when I decided to sit down and value all the donations we've given to Goodwill and other various thrift stores this year. The value of our donations was $560! I've had years where our values were much higher...like over $1500 one year!! This year they were lower because I've been selling quite a few things on ebay.

So, once I was done with that I started calculating the amount of our auto registration fees that could be deducted. Next thing I know, I have estimated our entire tax returns. Both Federal and State.It's possible I missed a couple items, but I've been doing our own taxes since I had my first job at 16, so I don't think so.

Expected Estimated Refund Amounts:
Federal $602
State $1413

Total $2,015

Nice to have a more concrete number in mind. I'm anxious to have all the forms in my hands, so I can actually file. I'm being a little impatient about it right now.
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No, I did not go to the gym today. I didn't want to go out...since it is only zero degrees. I will try to get some resistance exercises in while I watch the Biggest Loser. I'm only 20 pounds overweight, but it is a motivator!

Only $47.41

January 12th, 2009 at 10:22 am

I tend to cut things close with our budget. I have $47.41 to last thru Wednesday. DH may need fuel for his car, but otherwise I think we will have enough money to make it. Thursday is payday!!

We will be stuck at home tonight, so I expect a no spend day. We have blizzard winds on there way for the evening and overnight. Brr!

I made it to the gym today despite the snow. I burned 510 calories on the elliptical and lifted weights. I weighed myself this morning and lost 1 pound since last week!! I'll take it.

Tax Forms Arriving

January 10th, 2009 at 09:33 am

Yesterday, I received our 1099-G from the state of Iowa for the refund we received last year. I also saw our 1098 is available from our mortgage company. It is online and can be printed off. No need to wait for it in the mail!! Love it.

I have a folder that I started last year, for items related to filing taxes. So, I will drop these two items in. As the rest arrive they will go there, too. I will be all ready in a couple weeks to get started. Are you this organized, too? If not, is there something you can do now to start getting organized? I would at least be looking for donations you made in 2008, if you itemize.
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We received about 6 inches of snow overnight. They predicted up to 3 inches. A little off. The girls and I will stay home, since DH is working. They are already having a good time playing. I just need to figure out how I'm going to work out here at home today. Frown

Posted on Craigslist

January 9th, 2009 at 04:51 pm

I posted a couch we want to get rid of on craigslist for $100. I've been trying off and on to get rid of it since last spring. Maybe I'll get someone to bite this time! Keep your fingers crossed.

I finished Suze Orman's new book. I basically skimmed it since many of the things did not apply to me. No credit card debt, no foreclosure, slim to zero chance of layoff. I'm not evening thinking of leaving the stock market. I don't think I'm her target audience!!

Reading Suze's Book

January 9th, 2009 at 10:46 am

So, I just finished the first two chapters in Suze's new 2009 Action Plan book. She is explaining the whole mess of how the economy got where it is today. I sure couldn't agree more. It has been amazing to me for several years how banks could lend some people money to afford homes, that I never thought they could afford. These are people in my own extended family. They are struggling to meet payments on rising ARM's. They can't refinance. Uggh...just so frustrating.

I did watch Oprah yesterday so I do know that her book has some good action steps. The first is to pay off all credit cards! One woman had 27 cards with a total of $79K on them. She also had a $33K 401K loan to pay back! I'm sure if she starts to follow Suze's advice, she will pull herself out of the hole she is in.

Read the book...even if you think it doesn't apply to you. You might be able to use the information to help someone else you know. I sent out an email to everyone I know with the link to the book. I don't know everyone's financial situation, but the book might be just what they need to get on the right track.
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I worked out at the gym today. I made it five days in a row!! I burned 501 calories on the elliptical, treadmill and rowing machine. I lifted weights and relaxed in the sauna.

Tomorrow DH has to work the weekend training soldiers. I will find something active to do with the kids. It might be a good day for roller skating! We'll see.

New Paycheck Amount

January 8th, 2009 at 10:20 am

I can see DH's paystub online for next week. I now know the net check amount that we can expect twice a month. It increased $139.95! So each month we will have an additional $279.90.

I'm thrilled. Any type of increase or cash flow makes me giddy!!

Guess where the money is going? Home equity loan paydown. If we lived without the money last year, we don't need it this year.

Off to do more crazy calculations...I'm weird that way.
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Made it to the gym. I worked out on the elliptical today. I burned another 500 calories, lifted the same weights and sat in a crowded sauna.

I just made a great salad for lunch. I added apples slices leftover from DD's lunch, half can tuna, red onion and poppy seed dressing. Yummy!!

Tempted to Buy

January 7th, 2009 at 06:29 pm

I've been trying not to spend this week on extras. So far so good. Until, I get the mail and find a catalog for Smith Noble, a blind and window treatment company.

I really need...maybe want a new blind for our front window in our living room. I browse the catalog. I start searching online for better deals. I even measure my window. I can justify it as a need, because when we go to sell this house it will look sooo much better than the crazy three uneven shades that came with the house and that we still use. They filter light but do not provide any privacy in the evenings.

I still haven't purchased it yet...I'm so tempted. It is $140, which includes shipping for a 85" x 54" faux oak wood blind. I want to enjoy it, while I'm here...not just to sell the house when it comes time.

I haven't bought it yet, but I'm so tempted!!

Accomplishments - Day 3

January 7th, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Today I completed two more things on my list. I worked out at the gym and cleaned out the kitchen cupboards.

[x] Workout everyday at the gym (M-F)
[x] Clean out kitchen cupboards
[x] Clean microwave
[x] Clean kitchen blinds
[x] Clean bathrooms
[x] Whiten dishtowels and washcloths
[x] Write thank you notes
[x] Weed out magazines
[ ] Paint laundry room (?)

At the gym, I burned an even 500 calories on the elliptical and the stationary bike. I lifted weights and left plenty of sweat in the sauna.

The only thing left on the list is painting. I don't think it is going to get done this week. It turns out, I just don't feel motivated. Maybe tomorrow will be better, but I think for now the list is accomplished. Turns out I should have put a few more things on the list, huh?

I did pick up a few necessities at the grocery store. Spent $20.02. My grocery store is SuperTarget. I didn't go looking around for sales or deals. I just picked up what was on my list. I feel I'm doing pretty good so far in the not spending on after Christmas markdowns.

I joined Steve's Ebay challenge. I hope to average $100/mo from sales. I was close to this average last year if I remember right. Time to find some things to sell!!

Accomplishments - Day 2

January 6th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

So far having a list of things to get done around the house is keeping me out of the stores. I just know if I go in, I will find some great deals. Right now, I really do not want to spend any money.

[x] Workout everyday at the gym (M-F)
[ ] Clean out kitchen cupboards
[x] Clean microwave
[x] Clean kitchen blinds
[x] Clean bathrooms
[x] Whiten dishtowels and washcloths
[x] Write thank you notes
[x] Weed out magazines
[ ] Paint laundry room (?)

Today I was able to check off cleaning bathrooms and weeding out magazines, as well as whitening the washcloths. I'm also doing about 3 loads of laundry, so I will fold those and put away. Today is also trash day, so all the trash (kitty litter) and recycleables have been collected and put out to the curb.

I did get to the gym. I burned 495 calories on the elliptical and treadmill. I also lifted weights and sat in the sauna. My food intake has been good too.

Oh, I did spend $1.68 on stamps. I used change I found in the cupboard. Those were put on my thank you notes I wrote yesterday.

Accomplishments

January 5th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I checked off what I accomplished from the list. I also unloaded dishwasher, handwashed breakfast dishes, and sewed a patch on DD2's girl scout vest. Yes, I did put the sewing machine back!!

[x] Workout everyday at the gym (M-F)
[ ] Clean out kitchen cupboards
[x] Clean microwave
[x] Clean kitchen blinds
[ ] Clean bathrooms
[ ] Whiten dishtowels and washcloths
[x] Write thank you notes
[ ] Weed out magazines
[ ] Paint laundry room (?)

I burned 505 calories on the elliptical and another 100 on the rowing machine. I also lifted weights and sat in the sauna. Good workout day!

Now, I have to venture to Walgreen's to pick up a prescription. I don't expect to buy anything else. I will use gift card for part of precription payment if I can.

In order not to spend

January 4th, 2009 at 05:28 pm

In order not to spend this week, I am going to give myself some projects to work on. These are normal things to get done...but I really need to stay off the computer and out of the stores.

1) Workout everyday at the gym (M-F)
2) Clean out kitchen cupboards
3) Clean microwave
4) Clean kitchen blinds
5) Clean bathrooms
6) Whiten dishtowels and washcloths
7) Write thank you notes
8) Weed out magazines
9) Paint laundry room (?)

Just some ideas! Today, I went through the file cabinet in my desk and found lots of paper to shred and recycle.

The kids are back in school, so I need to keep myself busy in a new way this week. Wish me luck!

Are you working on any projects in the new year?

4 Weeks to a Refund?

January 3rd, 2009 at 06:57 pm

I was curious. I looked back at our check register to see when we received our income tax refunds last year.

Federal Feb 8, 2008
State Feb 13, 2008

Obviously, we e-filed both returns with direct deposit. That's only about 4-5 weeks away!! I should be able to have our returns this early this year,too, since DH will get his W2 on January 23rd. I can have everything else by the end of January.

I'm just a little excited about this since the money will be going to our (drum roll, please) home equity loan payoff!!

My rough estimate is to expect $499 from the federal government and over $1300 from the state of Iowa. I can't seem to get them to withhold any less...crazy!


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