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Archive for January, 2010

More than Twice Goal

January 31st, 2010 at 06:21 pm

I just sold 4 more items on ebay this evening for $23.67! I also listed another 7 items that will end next Sunday. These new sales mean my total for the Ebay challenge this month is twice my goal of $100!

2010 Ebay Challenge Total
January: $201.89

What are you waiting for? It's time to sale that clutter on ebay!

2010 Goals: Take 2

January 30th, 2010 at 11:23 am

In light of my previous post, where my husband and I determined that we will pay off our van loan before saving for a truck, I revised the 2010 goals.

1) Max out our Roth IRA's = $10,000
2) Save 7% of basic pay in TSP
3) Pay off home equity loan
4) Save money for college = $3,300
5) Add money to emergency fund = $7,000
6) Pay off van beginning balance = $19,444
7) Convert IRA's to Roth IRA's

I have deleted the goal to save for the truck in 2010. We will end up being able to save quite a bit of cash at the beginning of 2011 for the truck.

Since, I have already made one regular van payment in 2010, our current balance is now, $19,012.14. I will start a ticker on the side once this becomes our primary goal. This will not occur until at least June of this year.

It is good to have goals and know what you want to accomplish. I'm looking forward to working on this new plan!

Pay It Off

January 29th, 2010 at 08:00 pm

Just had a discussion with my husband about whether to pay down the van loan or just make regular payments and save the extra funds towards his new truck. He said focus on the debt we have!

His reason was simply that he has not decided which vehicle to get when he returns from deployment. I will have about $10K to put toward this purchase even with a paid off van.

Obviously, I'm still first and foremost focused on the home equity loan. Following that will be the van loan.

Updated Our 2010 Goals

January 29th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I updated our 2010 financial goals on my page to the left. Previously, I had left the amounts blank. I did not know at the time what amounts I could allocate to each area. Now I know.

1) Max out our Roth IRA's = $10,000
2) Save 7% of basic pay in TSP
3) Pay off home equity loan
4) Save money for college = $3,300
5) Add money to our emergency fund = $7,000
6) Pay down van loan = $7,500
7) Save cash for a truck = $7,350
8) Convert IRA's to Roth IRA's

I'm not entirely decided about paying extra on the van loan. It is at 3.9% interest rate. The next truck loan will probably be higher, so it may be better to simply save for the truck, to reduce the amount we would need to borrow. It's hard to decide when it is over a year away.

I'm just realizing that most of our goals are saving! Cool.

Ebay Update: Another Sale

January 28th, 2010 at 10:38 am

I made another sale on half.com! I actually sold two dvd's to one customer. My net proceeds were $6.13.

2010 Ebay Challenge Total
January: $178.22

What is up with half.com's notification of sales? I actually went to the site early this morning and it didn't show any new sales. Then around 11am today, I receive an email about the sales that was stamped 3:44am! What? Half.com could you improve your notification, please!!

More Items to Sell

January 28th, 2010 at 06:00 am

I found some more items to sell on ebay. It looks like I will have at least 7 listings to start on Sunday.

I usually leave my husband's things alone. But I did ask yesterday, if he had any books to get rid of. He brought me 5 out of probably the 15 he owns! One will be a money maker since it is a recent book release. The others will go on half.com until the next garage sale.

Since last summer, I have had the girls Bratz dolls, Barbie dolls and My Little Pony's to get rid of. I tried listing the Bratz dolls on craigslist, but did not get a response. I might try that route again with all three items. They do sell on ebay, but because shipping can be high for a big lot, the price people pay isn't what I want out of them. I don't believe we have anything rare that would bring a higher price. I will keep thinking about it.

I'm having a good time with the sales. I'm very motivated with this goal this year!!

Tax Refunds Arriving THIS Week

January 26th, 2010 at 02:43 pm

I e-filed our taxes last Wednesday. Both were accepted in less than 24 hours!

I can see that the state refund is a pending deposit in our checking account for tomorrow. I expect to see our federal refund on Friday, since that is the expected deposit date they listed when our return was accepted.

Fast. I like fast.

I hope to get some of this money in to our home equity loan next week. I will finally get to write an update!!

Another Small Sale

January 25th, 2010 at 05:58 pm

I sold a CD on Half.com today. My net profit after the commission and shipping is $1.28. Can't complain, right?

Ebay Challenge Totals:
January $172.09

I already have a bid on one of my ebay items this week. I also have people watching two of the other three. The auctions still have six more days to go, so I'm very pleased.

Ebay Challenge Update

January 25th, 2010 at 08:42 am

Last night all three of my auctions sold!! I'm amazed sometimes at what people will pay for things. It is always a nice surprise.

My total sales were $46.49. I sold four items between the three auctions. Much better than a garage sale!

Ebay Challenge Totals:
January $170.81

I have another set of 4 auctions up for this week. They are primarily books. I will spend some of my time this week, getting auctions ready to start on Sunday. I might as well keep going, since it is going so well.

Roth Conversion Plan

January 24th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I think we can convert our Roth IRA's in 2010 without any money out of pocket. In fact, I expect we will still get a refund.

Approximate calculations:
$54,940 AGI
($12,100) itemized deductions
($14,600) personal exemptions (4)
$23,240 Taxable Income

$3,398 Tax before credits
($2,000) Child tax credits (2)
($400) Retirement savings credit
$998 Total Tax

$814 Withholding
$800 Making work pay credit
$1,614 Total Payments

Payments - Tax = $616 Refund

AGI includes 2010 taxable income, roth conversions, interest income and 2009 state refund. Most of our income in 2010 will be non taxable because of it will be earned in a combat zone.

We qualify, just barely income wise, for the retirement saver's credit on our 2010 roth contributions, which we will max out this year.

I'm being very conservative with our itemized deductions as well. We may end up donating more or having a little bit more interest to deduct since we have yet to pay off the home equity loan.

If I convert less money to the roth's we could actually qualify for the earned income tax credit. Crazy. Financially, it will be our best year yet. One scenario I ran where we qualified for the EITC, we would receive a refund of $2875.

Can you see anything wrong with the detailed plan above?

Convenience Spending

January 23rd, 2010 at 10:23 am

Our garage door opener decided to stop working on Thursday. It would hum like the motor was running or stuck, but the door or the chain wouldn't move. My husband thought it needed a tension adjustment. Nope. Our guess is that a part was stripped out and was no longer connecting to the motor.

It really was not the best time to replace this item. Not monetarily, but just time wise. My husband's time at home is becoming more and more limited. I thought this is not something that has to be replaced. It is a convenience item. I'm strong and healthy enough to lift a garage door up and down. No big deal.

My husband thought otherwise. He spent his Thursday evening buying a new garage door opener and installing it. Only took 2.5 hours. We bought the same brand and type and only replaced the main component and the rail. All other wiring remained intact.

Cost: $148

It is nice to have it working, of course. The decision was so quick, I just hope it was the right one. Maybe the stripped part could have been replaced cheaper. But how easily to find the part? How easy to replace? We won't ever know...because we made a quick decision. Lucky for us, the decision isn't going to break the bank.

Does this happen to you? Do you make quick decisions? Do you wonder if they are more costly?

A Half.com Sale

January 22nd, 2010 at 11:14 am

On Tuesday, I listed 36 items on half.com. It was a little tedious getting everything listed, but I did it.

I already made one sale! It was for a children's book that I listed for $0.99. Funny thing too. There was only one book listed of this same title. It was listed for over $300! Crazy. I guess I'm a little more reasonable. This was not more than a $4 book from Scholastic. Ours was in good shape, except for a cut on the cover which I disclosed.

Half.com reimburses for shipping at the media mail rate. I was able to ship this very small paperback book first class for less. I netted $1.56. I bet I would have only received a quarter at a garage sale.

Small sale, but they do all add up. Who else has books listed on half.com? It doesn't cost anything to list. If they don't sell, you are not out anything. I have a book that has been listed for at least 6 months and still hasn't sold!

Taxes Done: Refund

January 21st, 2010 at 06:19 am

I had to compete online yesterday with all the other military members to obtain my husband's W2! Once that was obtained, I plugged the numbers into the online tax program. We are using taxactonline.com. I paid $17.95 to print, and efile both income tax returns.

The result is a refund from both the federal and state governments. Unfortunately, the refund is more than expected. Seriously, I can never get us to zero!! I try. I really do.

Federal Refund: $399
State Refund: $728
Total Reunds: $1,127

I was only expecting around $700 total. I'm sure I can find a place to put the extra $400+ !

Currently, I'm holding on to extra cash. With deployment nearing, my husband has expenses that I can't quite anticipate. Last week he bought a new duffel bag and tshirts. We spent about $100!

At some point...that home equity loan will be paid off. Maybe even in one lump sum!

Anyone else have their taxes done?

Tax Free Month

January 20th, 2010 at 07:49 am

First of all, I keep thinking about Monkey Mama and her husband. I don't remember the exact surgery date. It could be today. Yesterday? Not sure. My prayers and thoughts are focused on a good outcome. Send your own positive vibe their way if you feel so inclined!

A benefit of participating in a combat zone is tax free income. My husband is going to get a bonus month of tax free income because of a 10 day trip to the 'zone' in the near future. Actually, you only need one day in the 'zone' to qualify! We still pay Medicare and Social Security taxes.

This extra month only helps convince me that we should convert our IRA's to Roth's this year. I just want to know what it will end up costing us. I think we have at least $30K that we could convert. Of course, we don't have to convert it all. If I remember correct, we can split the tax bill between 2010 and 2011. I wonder if it has to be an even split?

Ebay update: I have three items listed and two already have bids!! I also found several books that I think will sell best on ebay, so I will get those up this Sunday.

Kids are home because of ice. We are getting 1/2 inch or so. I think school may be extended until mid June!!

Ebay Challenge: Sold Books

January 19th, 2010 at 06:01 am

Check out my previous posts you may have missed while the servers were down. Smile

I sold 15 books to Powells.com last night for $17.25. Most of these were children's books. This is the first site I have found to accept these types of books for cash. Yipee!

They didn't accept all of the books I have, so I will be listing quite a few on half.com until the garage sale comes around.

2010 Ebay Challenge Total
Jan: $122.76

New Purge Point Total: 114

Ebay Challenge: Ahead of Goal!

January 18th, 2010 at 07:30 am

Wow! I'm already ahead of my self imposed goal of $100 for the ebay challenge.

I sold 15 cd's for cash earlier this week for $57.56. I am still waiting on the checks, of course.

Last night, I had 5 of 7 listings sell on ebay. The sales were $47.95! Three people have paid. I'm waiting on the other two. I relisted one item and added two new items that will end this Sunday. (For the purge: the 5 listings were equal to 8 items)

2010 Ebay Challenge Total
Jan: $105.51

I'm going to keep working on this challenge hard now, while I'm motivated, since I'm working toward an average of $100 per month for the whole year.

Purge Points
Previous Total 45
New Total 69

Tax Tip: Your Forms are Online

January 16th, 2010 at 01:37 pm

I have found nearly all of the tax forms that financial firms we do business with are online. The 1098's from the mortgage companies were both online. I was able to download the 1099-INT from our money market account as well.

Next week I hope to be able to get my husband's W2 online as well. Actually, that is the only form I'm waiting for. I will probably have filed our taxes by this time next week! Cool, huh?

The 1099G from our state came in the mail, so not everything is available online. But it sure doesn't hurt to start entering the information from the tax forms as you can get your hands on them.

Do you have a place to put the tax forms you receive yet? If not, get out a folder now so you have one place to go to when you do your tax return.

I use a basic folder and actually write notes on the inside of the folder. I include a list of tax documents I need and check them off once I have entered them in. I also use it to make some calculations. Although maybe not the best idea, I listed the user name and password for the online program I'm using this year.

Tax filing can be quick and painless if you are organized and stay on top of the things you need. Need a hint about what you need? Look in last year's tax file or a copy of your 2008 return.

Happy tax filing!

Made Our Donation

January 15th, 2010 at 07:05 am

We made our donation to the American Red Cross today. This is an organization that we feel good about donating to because they help all people regardless of race or religion. They provide a critical role to US military families as well.

There are many ways to donate without laying out the cash in your pocket. You can donate airline miles and hotel rewards. You can give blood. You can even send instant messages to your friends and Microsoft will donate funds on your behalf (sign up here).

If you have some spare change you can turn it in at a Coinstar machine and request it be donated to the Red Cross, one of several organizations. Find a location here. I also noticed yesterday when I sold my used cd's that a portion of my proceeds could have been sent to the red cross. It appeared to be a regular offering at preplayeddiscs.com. You could sell a used game, cd or dvd to help out those in need.

After 9/11, we donated on a monthly basis to the Red Cross for at least a year. I had it set up to send automatically through bill pay I believe. I'm not sure why we stopped. I need to get that started again!

Purge Update: Sold 15 for $57.56

January 14th, 2010 at 10:05 am

I might have mentioned that we went through our movies and music recently. I finally got around to selling 15 CD's to two different companies that buy them. My total is $57.56! I'm getting a good start on my sales challenge.

The best deal was for a copy of Annie, the original motion picture soundtrack. The company is paying me $22.64!! Ebay recently sold one for $46. I thought about selling ours that way, but as time went on they were selling for less and less, so I decided this was the best way to guarantee a decent amount of cash! Seriously. Check and see what your stuff sells for online, you may be surprised.

I sold our discs to secondspin and preplayeddiscs.

Purge Points: 45

I'm off to recycle about 80 other compact discs (at Best Buy) that were back ups for various things. Quite a few were TV shows DH's brother copied for him last time he was overseas. I guess no desire to rewatch!

Bought a Computer Today

January 13th, 2010 at 02:09 pm

I just finished building our new computer, a laptop, through Dell.com. I am really pleased with the price. Before shipping and taxes the computer is $494. Last month when I built the same computer it was over $600!

Thanks, Mrs. for the coupon code. It definitely saved me money.

The computer will be my primary computer soon when my husband travels with our current laptop overseas. I'm looking forward to Windows 7. Vista is making me crazy!!

Thinking about HEL

January 12th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Our home equity loan.
I want to pay it off quick.
It occupies too many of my thoughts.
Today I had a new thought.
Pay it off in a year.
Additional payment per month: $232
Seems easy enough.
I'll think about it.

Was that a poem? If not, just thoughts!

Sewing Gifts

January 11th, 2010 at 04:13 pm

I spent the day sewing a tote bag for my neice that will turn 6 later this month. It turned out great! The fabric was $2 on clearance at Hobby Lobby. I only needed to use thread and interfacing that I already had. It will have to be mailed. Six year olds like gifts in the mail, right?

I also made a fabric pouch that measures about 6 inches x 5 inches. I will give it as a gift as well.

I've been thinking of quite a few things I could make to give as gifts this year. Here's an initial idea list: pajama pants, pillow case, napkins, coasters, placemats, throw size quilt. I even have instructions to make a purse and a stuffed turtle! It is exciting to think about all the possibilities.

My oldest daughter made some coasters yesterday. She is really getting the hang of sewing. She's about to learn how to sew a zipper in her sewing class at school. I just taught myself today!!

I just need to keep the cost of fabric low by watching sales and picking through clearance fabric.

Do you know how to sew? What kinds of things do you make?

Let the Bidding Begin!

January 10th, 2010 at 01:34 pm

I have 7 auctions ready to start this evening on ebay. If all items sell, I will have sent 11 items on their way. Yipee for decluttering!

I've been indecisive about my ebay challenge goal for 2010. Last year, my goal was to average $100/month with sales on ebay, craigslist and garage sales. I fell short with an average near $60 per month. The real question is: can I earn another $40 per month over last year?

I think I will try again. Same goal. It may be a stretch, but stretching is good! If I fall short, so be it. I really will try to meet this goal. I may have to get to a few garage sales looking for items to resell, but I'm okay with that!

Does anyone have a bigger goal for the ebay challenge of 2010?

Whoa! That's a lot of money!

January 9th, 2010 at 08:18 am

The bill for gas and electric arrived today to the tune of $234. Yikes!

We will make our regular $105 payment and the remainder is paid from the $300 credit we have. Nice! Unfortunately, our payment is going to go up starting next month to $119. I won't complain, it is still very reasonable.

This large bill covered 36 days where the average temperature was 18. Of course, today it was negative 8 degrees when I woke up. Tomorrow our area will get to 20 degrees above zero. It's going to feel like a heat wave!!

I've always used budget billing for energy costs. Even though I could budget for the year based on prior years, I think the energy company seems to have a better grasp on future energy costs than I would have.

Do you use budget billing? If you don't, why?

Net Check Increases

January 8th, 2010 at 08:18 am

As expected, my husband's net check has increased. Specifically, $100.86. He is paid twice a month. Can't complain about an extra $200 a month, right?

Although I can see the deposit amount, I can't yet see how the pay breaks down. A little frustrating since I thought the net increase would be about $105! I have to wait two more weeks for details.

The extra $200 will help fund college contributions for this year. We hope to send in about $2000 for each of them in 2010. I'm going to pay off the home equity loan first!

Prayers for a Safe Journey

January 7th, 2010 at 08:10 am

My husband and coworkers are traveling today in the midwest. Unfortuately, travel is not advised! Ugh. Please say a prayer for their safe journey.

The trip is 3.5 hours long in good weather and is expected to take over 8 hours.

My girls have a snow day from school. They are using their time to open new driving cups on Mario Kart. They just discovered this, so are thrilled.

Our furnace is working over time. I am very thankful it is working well. Tomorrow's high will be negative 3 degrees. The wind chill will make it VERY cold. We have a large credit right now with the power company, so it will be nice to have when the next bill arrives.

My Purge

January 6th, 2010 at 09:39 am

Yes, I'm participating in the purge. I have quite a few things so far. I'm not able to apply points, as I expect to sell a fair number of the items. I will get them sold before the end of the month though!

I have one item that if it sells (and I expect it will) will make a great story to tell here. Let's just say things are often worth far more than you think. Check around on ebay, sites that pay cash and craigslist before you toss or donate.

1/2 Birthday Treats

January 5th, 2010 at 09:33 am

I'm making peanut butter cookies (with chocolate chips) to celebrate my daughter's half birthday. I'm thrilled to have all the ingredients in the house! She will be thrilled that I thought of her.

I wish I could say that makes it a no spend day, but I ventured out in negative temperatures to get my hair cut! I'm crazy.

If it is crazy cold where you are, you might check the air in your tires. My van alerted me yesterday, that mine were low on air. Stay warm!

Organized My Files

January 4th, 2010 at 11:31 am

Long overdue. I organized my computer files.

We bought an external hard drive in July and transferred the files to it. For some reason we didn't delete a majority of the files still on the computer hard drive.

All done now. Nice and pretty!

I still want to back up our pictures to disk as a backup. That will have to wait another day.

Setback Already!

January 3rd, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I have nearly $1100 set aside that I was trying to decide what to do with. I now know what it is being used for.

I sent my husband to get the oil changed in the car yesterday. Turns out a major repair was needed to the tune of $975! When they lifted the car (2002 Ford Taurus) up the strut on the back left of the vehicle broke stabbing the tire at the same time. Guess what? We HAD to get new struts on the back and a new tire.

We already had a similar thing happen to the front end about a year ago. This is VERY common on these cars. It won't happen again since these are manufactured different than the original. Thank goodness! I'm so thankful we were not driving it at the time.

This car repair will set us back at least another two weeks on the home equity loan. At this point, I might just save up the money I need and then pay it off rather than little bits at a time. With my husband's overseas travel getting closer there are bound to be unplanned expenses. What I mean is my husband hasn't thought ahead to what those are and/or hasn't thought to tell me. Ugh!

My stress level has gone through the roof in the last 24 hours because of this car repair on top of other things going on. Crazy, really. I should be grateful we have the cash right now to pay it off without dipping into the emergency fund. I'm just disappointed with the set back. I will get through this!


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