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Archive for December, 2009

The Numbers of 2009

December 31st, 2009 at 03:15 pm

Our financial picture of 2009 wraps up like this:

Retirement contributions: $14,147.00
Retirement accounts increased: $33,219.29
Retirement accounts exceeded $100K

Total debt decreased: $17,011.21
Nearly $10K paid on HEL!!

Our net worth increased by approximately $50,230.50, which does not include any increase or decrease in our home's value.

We paid cash for a trip to Disney World and our daughter's braces. Yipee!!


December 30th, 2009 at 11:30 pm

I did declutter the other day! I have one small box to drop off at Goodwill early tomorrow morning before it gets too busy!! I meant to do it today.

Payday today. I paid all the bills and went grocery shopping. I bought too much food to celebrate the new year. Oops! I guess we'll have to turn some of those snacks into meals! I will have to shop again for a few things on Sunday before the new school and work week start.

I have a chuck of cash sitting in our account. I'm deciding whether to send it to the home equity loan or buy our new computer in the next two weeks. I'm torn!

I hope to post a wrap up of 2009 tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Decluttering Today

December 29th, 2009 at 09:53 pm

I went roller skating with the girls today. And I actually fell down once! The palms of my hands hurt. We were able to skate and rent skates for $4.50 per person and skated for nearly three hours.

The rest of the day will consist of organizing. The basement has become a bit of a catchall recently. I'm going to set some clear piles for donation, ebay and garage sales. The donation pile will end up at Goodwill tomorrow! I'm also going to take down a few of the holiday decorations. The tree will stay up until Friday.

Enjoy your last few days of the year!

Christmas Brings Cash

December 29th, 2009 at 12:52 am

Among the numerous gifts we received this Christmas, we received cash or cash equivalents.

$30 Cash
$20 Barnes and Noble
$25 JC Penney
$50 Scheels

We feel very blessed.

We Are Going Shopping

December 26th, 2009 at 03:00 pm

Yep, the day after Christmas and we are going shopping. We want to hit Old Navy for an exchange. The store also has jeans on sale, which my daughter's both need. Might as well get a good deal on them!

We will spend the rest of our day prepping for travel. The snow has finally stopped. Our area really didn't get too much, but our destination did. We just need to make sure the roads are clear and safe. Our time away will be less than originally planned, too. So be it.

Less than one week of 2009. I want to make a list of things to accomplish before year end. How about you?

Nice Surprise and a Gift for You

December 24th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

My neighbor called today to see if we wanted any gingerbread dough and icing. Um, yes!!

After I made the pumpkin pie, the girls and I rolled out the dough and cut trees and bells out. We made 26 cookies...many more than if I used our large gingerbread man and girl cutters. I think we will ice as we eat them. I have offered half our pumpkin pie to their family, but haven't heard back yet. Because of the weather, many of my neighbors are home for Christmas. It all makes for new experiences.

I would like to offer each of you a gift. A recipe for Beer Bread. It is VERY good!

3 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 oz beer or soda
3 TBS butter

Combine dry ingredients. Add beer, mix well. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Pour melted butter on top of batter. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool after baking.

Enjoy! Let me know if you try it and how you liked it.

Many Happy Returns

December 23rd, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I returned a gift today that I bought for my daughter. It's just not HER. While I was returning the item to Target, I asked and received a price adjustment on another gift. The result: $22.26 back in our account!!

I've decided after the holidays to return an outfit I bought back in November for a dressy occassion that was cancelled. That return will net us $34.22 to our account! It just doesn't make sense to have it sit in my closet with tags on it. I have no idea when I would wear it.

What I'm Thinking...

December 22nd, 2009 at 05:38 pm

Right now, all I'm really thinking about finances is: try not to spend anymore money until payday! We will get paid on December 30th because of the holidays.

December is a spendy month. It's not just the gifts, but the food, the gas for traveling and batteries!

Okay. You know me to well. I am looking ahead financially, too! I'm looking forward to making our next big dent in the home equity loan and updating our final numbers for 2009. The stock market seems to want to go up the last couple days and I want to include any gains!!

On a tax note: I think I will total up the value of our thrift store donations today and enter it into the tax program.

Our Christmas is Changing

December 21st, 2009 at 09:50 pm

Ah...the weather in the midwest likes to change every minute. As a result, our travel plans have come to a near screeching halt. Of course, it is for our own safety, so I'm not complaining.

Instead of traveling on Thursday, we will get to stay home and have our first ever immediate family Christmas!! We can sleep late, or get up early. We can take a nap and stay in our pj's all day if we want.

Yes it is disappointing to not be with other family. Unfortunately, it is difficult to argue with mother nature! We hope to travel soon after the storm clears and it is safe to drive. Getting all of my inlaws together again is going to be another act of nature in itself.

Snowed in for three days: should be cheap!

Want a $5 coupon to Kohl's?

December 20th, 2009 at 11:16 pm

It turns out you can sign up at with your email address to receive a $5 coupon. The coupon is valid on a minimum purchase of $5. It does take several days before it shows up in your email. I think I'm going to buy some socks with mine!!

I took a survey with American Consumer Opinion tonight. At the end, it reminded me that my account would be credited with the $4 in a few days. I checked my account afterwards, and I have $4 in my account already for a survey I took in February!! I will cash out my account, with $8, once my most recent survey posts. It is fun to find money you didn't realize you had.

Ready for Taxes

December 19th, 2009 at 03:23 pm

Yesterday, on a bit of a whim, I signed up with TaxAct for tax filing. We won't qualify for a free version, but it it appears we can e file and print both federal and state for under $18. That I can handle.

Last year, I entered information as it came in the mail or was available online. I could already add in our donations and real estate taxes. I even looked back to see that our state refund was returned to us on January 30 and our federal was returned February 8. Fast!!

I have estimated our total refund to be $768. I'm looking forward to seeing how accurate I was. If the refund is in that ballpark, it will be less than half of what was returned to us last year. It's not because our income or withholding changed either! The government was withholding too much state income tax per the withholding tables. They finally corrected it earlier this year.

One last miscellaneous item: I redeemed our debit card points today for $25. It's always nice to have a little extra cash. I also need to redeem some mypoints soon.

A New Computer?

December 18th, 2009 at 05:29 pm

We will be buying a new computer in the near future. Specifically, a laptop.

We have one now that my husband will take with him during deployment. That will leave me needing a new one. And yes, it is a need.

A computer, with email, and the ability to send and receive videos is essential to our emotional well being during deployment.

Right now, we have a pretty good idea of what we want to buy. The current price is very good at $449, through Monday. I'd rather wait until after the holidays to take on this additional expense. However, I wonder if the price will go up considerably if we wait. Or will the price drop after the holidays. Does anyone know?

We could even wait a couple months. I just want the best price.

Gift Wrapping Costs

December 17th, 2009 at 05:20 pm

This year my out of pocket costs for gift wrapping were near zero! Technically, I bought many of the items in the past, so they cost me something at some point.

I wrapped most items in wrapping paper, which I already owned. I save bows from previous years, if they still look good, and reuse them. This year was no different. I also seemed to have a stash of gift tags. I've decided for future years not to buy gift tags, but use red or green card stock to make a small folded card(the size of a business card) to tape on the gift.

I also wrapped many gifts in gift bags! I skip the tissue paper in most cases and close the top of the bag with tape to keep out little hands and eyes! The gift bags get used over and over, too. I have an abundance of these this year and will give my mom a stack so she doesn't go out and buy new ones.

The only thing I bought for gift wrapping was tape...on sale of course. This is a good item to buy with Walgreen's register rewards if you don't know what to purchase.

How do you keep your gift wrapping costs down?

2009 Ebay Challenge - Final

December 16th, 2009 at 08:20 pm

Yipee!! I made another craigslist sale today in the amount of $25. I sold our other rodent cage and accessories.

I challenged myself this year to make $100 per month on ebay, craigslist or garage sales. I did fall short. Here are the final numbers:

Dec Total = $50.00
Oct Total = $87.96
Sept Total = $110.00
June Total = $55.25
May Total = $197.75
April Total = $22.22
March Total = $83.13
February Total = $66.50
January Total = $4.95

Total for 2009: $677.76
Average per month: $56.48

I think I will continue the challenge in 2010. The truth is we don't have a lot of excess junk. So what should my goal be? An improvement over this year? $60 per month? I could keep it the same and really stretch myself. I might have been able to reach it this year, but there was a lack of motivation at times.

I'll decide my goal at the first of the year, but any thoughts and input are appreciated.

Increase in Pay (BAH rates are out)

December 16th, 2009 at 04:22 pm

The military posted the rates for basic allowance for housing early by at least a day. The website appears to have been updated yesterday. I wasn't expecting to see the rates until tomorrow. Our housing allowance is going up by $92 per month.

Anyone out there know what the BAS rates are for 2010? I added 3.8% to last the 2009 amount to get an estimated amount based on something I read.

I estimated our net paycheck on If you are military and do this, make sure to only tax the basic pay portion and add BAH and BAS into the net pay the website provides. We will be getting an additional $105 each pay period. That's an additional $210 per month or $2520 per year!!

Of course, that money will help us meet all the goals we have for 2010. Yipee!!