Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tax Refund: Yay!!!!!

We did our taxes last night and if you remember I was worried because I had put our numbers into TurboTax and it showed me owing $29 for federal.  Well, I'm happy to report that it was wrong!  We're getting back $1444 for federal and $132 for state.  I'm so happy and relieved that we aren't going to have to pay in.  That money can go straight to our house fund.

Also, it is nice knowing that the taxes are done.  We just need to sign one more item and our accountant will fax it to us for a signature.  We paid $200 for our accountant to do our taxes.  After doing a dry run through TurboTax, I would say that the $200 was well spent.  I would recommend that everybody use an accountant.  They have so much more knowledge of our tax system that they usually more than pay for themselves.

Have you done your taxes yet?  Were you surprised by the outcome?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mortgage Update--Feb 2012

I received our latest mortgage statement yesterday.  Our mortgage sits at $35,323 and that is after the March 1st payment has been made.  I've wrote before about how I want our mortgage to be gone before we start building our house.  We have $31,700 in savings and $10,500 in stocks that we plan to liquidate.  That would leave us about $6900 if we would pay off our mortgage right now.  Ideally, we would like to have about $20-30,000 in savings by the time we build. 

I have no idea if that is realistic or not.  It really depends on what kind of commission checks I see in the next few months and if we could get a tax refund or not.  I will know in 2 days about the tax refund.  Meanwhile, we need to live as frugally as possible and save as much as we can.  Easier said than done!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Random Thoughts

Last night I completely prepared for doing our taxes on Tuesday.  I'm a little nervous because when I did a dry run with Turbo Tax I ended up owing money on our taxes.  I was hoping to get a big fat tax refund but I can only do what I can with our information. 

This weekend I had a few things that I wanted to do:
Prepare for taxes--Done!
Send in money for my employee with return (finally got this figured out)--Done!
Clean out car--still need to do.
Clean house--still working on this but its much better,
Clean out Lil Punk's room and box up old toys
Menu plan for the week
Spend time with Lil Punk--poor little girl is sick today

Y and I have been arguing yesterday and today.  He just doesn't get that I want/need more help around the house, both with picking up and with Lil Punk.  It gets frustrating on my end.

My friend wanted us to go to The Home Show today but we couldn't because Lil Punk isn't feeling good.  I'm watching The Celebrity Apprentice and its cool that I was just in New York and I can actually identify some places that I see on the show. 

Happy Saturday!  What do you have going on?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NYC Recap

Thank you all for your supportive comments!

I think that I ended up spending around $700 on my trip but we did some amazing things while there.  We went to a Cabaret show at the Carlyle.  We saw Chicago.  We were going to see The Book of Mormon but it was $460 per ticket.  Um, no thanks.  I did the Hop On Hop Off bus through downtown and uptown.  We had a drink on the 48th floor of the Mariott.  The bar rotates so we got to see the entire city at night.  That was $46 including tip.  I saw Times Square and it is so much like I thought but better.  I got my haircut and it is kind of growing on me.  I took the subway.  The only other time I've taken the subway was in Korea and its much easier to navigate when the directions are in English.  LOL!  I went shopping in Soho and ate at a few real NYC delicatessens.  I saw St. Paul's Cathedral and Ground Zero. 

Overall, it was a very cool experience. I'm glad that I did it but I would never trade my life for living there.  I missed Lil Punk so much and it was so wonderful to see her yesterday.  I realized that I'm not materialistic and my life is full of wonderful things where I live including my family, job, and my home. 

Have you ever went on vacation and had fun but realized that you are so appreciative of how your life really is? 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

OMG! So Much Money Spent!

I'm doing a quick blogpost from my sister's place in Manhattan.  It's so freakin' expensive here and it just doesn't slow down.  I'm a little embarrassed to say that I actually spent $95 yesterday on a haircut and tip.  It looks cute but I'm not sure if that cute. 

Drinks are ridiculously expensive.  Food is expensive but I expected that.  I cannot get a grip on my finances here.  It's insane.

I think that I've spent around $500 in spending money here, maybe around $600.   I will try to do a more thorough recap when I get home. 

It's been fun here but I'm so ready to go home tomorrow and see Lil Punk.  I love my very zen life. 

What do you think?  Should I be embarrassed about how much money I've spent?  Is this ordinary or ridiculous for NYC?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I was Tagged!

1. What is one thing that brings you joy that requires money?
This is a hard one.  I really like eating lunch out and travelling. 
2. What would your ideal retirement be like?
Playing bingo, having a lake cabin, travelling, playing and spoiling my grandchildren.
3. Do you use a mac, windows or a linux based computer?
A really freakin' old PC.  I'm not up on computer lingo.  I call IT a lot at work. 
4. What got you into blogging?
I pretty much hated my job and needed an outlet while I was at work.  Plus, I really love talking and sharing finances and it just not all that appropriate in the real world.
5. Do you love your current job?
Yup!  I feel very blessed.
6. Do you have any pets?
No, but I would love an outdoor cat.  It could live comfortably in our barn.  Y is allergic to cats.
7. What is the most important thing to you on earth?
My daughter and being a good parent to her. 
8. What is one thing that you miss that has either entirely disappeared or is slowly disappearing because of technology?
Talking on the phone.  Having a good chat with a friend is not the same as texting or checking out their Facebook page.  I'm still not back on FB either.
9. Do you think the recession is still a valid argument for people not doing something about their financial situation?
Um, not sure how to answer this.  If people are making excuses, no.  If they're looking for a job and not able to find one, yeah, we are still in a recession and I feel for them.  The biggest way to feel like a piece of crap is to keep looking for a job and not getting anywhere. 
10. How do you start your day?
By pressing snooze multiple times, getting up to fetch a Diet Dew and taking a shower.
11. What is one skill you dream of learning?
Hmmm....surfing, I think.  That would be really cool.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Guest Post: Rafiki: Patience with Saving

This is a guest post from my fellow blogger Rafiki.  I have been reading his blog for over a year and I enjoy his wit and determination.  I will be doing a guest post for him in the near future but I'm kind of a bad (and busy) blogging friend and haven't gotten that far. 
Saving money? Hard. Managing time? Being in a relationship? Hard. Raising a child? Hard. Getting a degree? Hard. Finding a job? Hard. Starting a business? Hard.

Learning and having patience? Extra Hard.

The truth is though, the answer to those first seven questions and many more questions in life can be easily changed from 'hard' to 'can be hard' and then further changed to an easy if you can learn and use the skill mentioned in the last question.

That skill is Patience and in today's fast paced world it is even more rare to find and even harder to learn and use.

To achieve anything it takes time and the cold truth has always been time waits on no man. As true as the saying is, it doesn't mean that we must have everything instantaneously or with amazon prime 2 day shipping. A little patience and you can use you free super saver shipping which can save you money and get the same results.

Without patience you can set yourself up for some major disappointment. Disappointment can bring a tonne of bad waves on your day to day life and activities. For example, suppose you were waiting on something to be delivered, it was scheduled to arrive at 3 pm. You wake up in the morning all excited and can't wait for 3 pm to come. You don't know what to do to get the time to pass but there is so much you can do and should be doing, instead of focusing on those other things, your mind is occupied with your package that should be arriving at 3pm. You fill your entire morning and afternoon doing unconstructive stuff, browsing the internet reviewing your package, tracking the shipment to make sure it is on time to arrive, playing solitaire, dozing off, watching useless TV, and basically doing anything mindless you can find to do to pass the time. 3 pm comes and you find out your item won't be arriving on time or today even for that matter because of unforeseen circumstances. You fall into a slump because of the disappointment and you don't know what to do, you had your entire day planned out on receiving this package and once received you had all intentions of filling the rest of the day with said package. Upon not receiving it, you are at a lost now for what to do, not only did you not receive your package, you lost an entire day and now you are in no mood to do anything else but sulk in disappointment.(based on a true recent experience mildly altered)

Let's add patience to the above scenario and see what could have been. You had an entire day you could have planned out constructively. From the time you woke up, after having breakfast, you could have sat down and reflected on the day before and maybe even your week. You could have then come up with an action plan for the day, is there anything you need to do like laundry? After you have sorted out your to do list, you could have started on it right away, if there wasn't much on it, you have time to work on a few side projects, your blog, writing some job applications, practicing some essay writing for an upcoming english test, constructive reading, things that will benefit you in the long run. By the time you look around it would have been 3 pm and if the package had arrived you would have already have spent an already constructive day and can feel good to waste as much time as you want doing what you must with your new package. If it hadn't arrived you would already be patient enough to wait for it. Your mind would be at ease and you can properly plan the rest of your day, heck, it could be a blessing in disguise because you now have time to do other things you didn't plan on. If you so choose, you could even just relax and enjoy a little TV or doing some mindless stuff. The bottom line is that you wouldn't have wasted your

Patience can bring blessing to a lot of other stuff you do in life as well, a few examples are:

You could save up for an item you want with the possibility of getting it at a cheaper price later because of a price drop or finding it somewhere else or you could buy it on credit and end up paying way more than necessary for said item.
You can take some time, but some ingredients and make a homemade meal, saving money and more than likely getting a much healthier and tastier meal or you can go buy some fast food.
You could wash your clothes and hang them on a line to air dry which would either save you some electricity or save you a trip to the laundry or you could go with using your own washer/dryer or going to the laundry and lose out on some savings.
An extra $100 may seem impossible to find in your budget but if you can find just $10 a month to put aside, at the end of one year you would have $120. It isn't tough, it just requires patience.

There is another saying, 'good things come to those who wait'. This is also a true statement, just by waiting something beautiful or good can happen. This post also reminds me of the marshmallow test I read about on a few blogs before which was a study on delayed gratification which in turn, requires patience.

A lot can be achieved with a little patience, an oak tree doesn't grow in a day, the Great Wall of China wasn't built in a day and the Roman Empire wasn't achieved in a day.

Be patient, persevere and you can achieve success along with greatness in anything you set out to do. I am going to end with a link to a song that was stuck in my head the entire time writing this post. That song is from Sesame Street and is entitled, 'It's a long hard road'. I enjoyed Sesame Street as a child and it seems it has never left me.

Patience is a virtue.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Huge Mortgage Payment Made!!

I made a huge mortgage payment today in the amount of $13,150 to principal.  That brings our mortgage down to just over $35,000.  We have about $28,500 in savings and over $12,000 in stocks.  That means that we have enough to pay off our mortgage.  I'm going to wait for a little bit because I want to keep enough in savings for an emergency if needed. 

I calculate that we will need at least $20,000 in savings and our mortgage gone before we can build.  I will really have to save every bit I can.  Going to New York City will not help this at all but I'm still going and I'm going to have fun. 

We are starting to get so close to building.  We're still waiting to hear back on an estimate to build.  Y revised our building plan to around 1900 square feet.  We want a rambler with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  I'm so excited!

This crappy house we're living in will be gone :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feb 2012 Menu Plan & Random Updates

I've been so super busy this week with work.  It's been awesome!  Y has been picking up and dropping Lil Punk off to help me out so I could work late and get stuff done.  Y and I made a menu plan last night so we wouldn't have to get groceries until our next payday on the 15th. 

Today-  Pork Loin, potatoes, veggies
Superbowl Sunday--Bruschetta (I'm bringing this to my in-laws house, there will be other food)
Tuesday--Homemade chili pizza (never made it before, this is Y's idea)
Wednesday--Mac 'n' Cheese with Brats
Friday--pork chops with rice
Saturday--Bacon pasta toss (this is supposed to be prosciutto but I'm using bacon)
Sunday--homemade gnocchi
Monday--tuna melts
Tuesday--not sure, random

I also actually wrote down everything that we need for lunches, snacks, breakfast and drinks.  I'm hoping to spend less than $100. 

I have the grocery list made up and I'll go shopping when Lil Punk wakes up.  I also want to check out the library today.  I've only been there once right away and I don't even have a library card.  I need to quit buying books and this will be a good place to start. 

I was so busy this week that I didn't even calculate my networth as of February 1st.  We had a very rough January.  I think that we were still able to save money in January but not as much as I had hoped. 

I leave in less than 2 weeks for New York City.  I'm so excited.  I want to go to a Broadway show, not sure which one but probably the one about Mormons.  I also want to eat sushi, Thai food, and see the Statue of Liberty.  Ground Zero is also a possibility, not sure on this one.  I have some reservations about it.  I know that its an important piece of the US. 

Y met with a builder this week and we're waiting on getting an estimate back.  Our budget keeps creeping up.  The mortgage rates have stayed low so that is very good. 

Go Giants!  Who are you rooting for?  Do you watch for the game or the commercials?  I do both. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Taxes Preview: Yikes!

We have an appointment with our accountant February 28th.  I couldn't wait that long and I had almost all of my paperwork so I went to TurboTax online.  After putting in my information, it showed that we owed about $50 to state.  While that may not seem alarming, we paid in over $5000 more in federal income tax than last year.  We got a refund of about $1500 last year.  I had more expenses last year but still.  We were hoping for a refund in the amount of $4000 to $5000 range. 

I know that the goal should be to not get a tax refund but I'm commissioned, meaning that some months I make a lot more money than other months.  For the months that I make more commissions, I'm taxed like I'm making that amount the entire year.  It's impossible to have it be completely even. 

I'm really crossing my fingers that Turbo Tax was wrong, either missing something entirely or I entered something wrong.  It is so nice that we have an accountant to double check everything and make sure that we are getting the most refund that we can get (or pay in the least amount possible.)

Has this happened to anybody else?  You thought you were getting an awesome refund and found out the exact opposite?

Crossing my fingers this month :)