Weekly To Do Update

Earlier this week I had the following To-Dos and I know I need to update my progress.

  1. Open, sort, file or shred all the incoming mail and loose paper in our home office. Everything is filed, organized and in its place.
  2. Think of creative and free solutions to making our home office more usable.  Currently, I have a desk, an assortment of filing items, a printer and a bookcase.  I want to be able to keep the current bills in one area where the mister can just open up and see what’s due. Still working on this one.  I went to Pier 1 (have a $50 GC to use), Target and Ross but still can’t find something cheap, durable and appealing to the eye.
  3. I also need to figure out a way to sort our mail that comes in or that needs to leave. All for free with items that I already have in the house. I have some trays from the Container Store that I am trying out as an in box.  We’ll see how well the trays work out.
  4. Firm up our February budget and blog about it. Will post this up later tonight.
  5. Purge my closet and either list things on eBay, donate or throw away items I haven’t worn in the last 6 months.
  6. Talk to the neighbors about the possibility of having a community garage sale in March or April when the weather might cooperate. Neighbors want to do a garage sale in the summer time, so for now I have stuff sitting in the garage waiting to be sold.

Progress isn’t going as well as I thought.  Opening and filing my mail was a chore and it took a lot of self talk to get started on that project! I’m hoping that by the end of this week I can finish up the remaining items.

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Weekly Money Check-Up

photo found on google

I’m participating in www.myprettypennies.com weekly check up again.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on $160 for the battery to my car. It was a lot better than the $1,500 for repairs to my car.

2. Today I feel anxious towards money. I’ve been keeping an eye on our spending and it’s really hard to change years of bad habits.  I’m still tracking and trying to cut back.  I’ve been playing with February’s budget and I fear that we will fail in sticking to a spending plan.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was baby-sit my niece.  I love spending time with her.  She’s so different from my own kids and I absolutely adore her.  Plus, my kids love spending time with their cousin as well.

4. I will consider this week a success if I pack lunch for hubby and I everyday this week, in addition to avoiding all Starbucks.


5. Right now I am re-reading Nora Robert’s Morrigan’s Cross.


Taxes are done!

We met with our accountant today and I’m happy to report that our taxes are done! We are getting a return of $3,646 back. The IRS hasn’t finalized the tax code for Schedule A yet so we have to wait to actually submit the taxes to the IRS. Regardless, I am happy I have them done and out of the way.

During our visit, our accountant gave us some advice regarding lowering our total taxable income: increase 401(k) contributions to 10 or 15%. We both put away 6% into our funds. Since I’m working on February’s budget, I am going to play around with the numbers and see what increasing the contributions will do to our monthly spending plan. Since we usually only have our W2s and mortgage interest statements, I don’t think there is a whole lot else we can do to lower our taxable income.

Has anyone else done their taxes? Or have advice on lowering our taxable income?

Unexpected Money

I know so many people are in situations where they have lost their jobs and don’t have any income coming in other than unemployment.  I am very grateful and thankful that we can still provide for our family. We have friends who have lost their jobs and are in survival mode and it makes us really think about how wasteful we have been with our money.  We discussed our situation and have decided that we would like to have at least $5,000 in an emergency fund and then start aggressively tackling our debt.  I honestly don’t think the $1,800 or so we have sitting in savings right now is enough of an emergency fund.  We have been trying to find ways where we can save a few pennies and came up with categorizing items to sell on craigslist, eBay or garage sales and then a couple of events happened that made us very happy.

I had a meeting with my boss this morning and he casually mentioned that the company will be paying us a bonus next month.  This is the first bonus that they’ve had since 2006.  Since I started working for the company in early 2008, I never calculated any type of bonus into my pay.  He said based on my salary my bonus will be approximately $3,200 before taxes are taken out.

Coincidentally, hubby also had the same type of conversation with his employer at the same time.  His company does very well and employees have gotten an annual bonus every year ranging from $3,800 to $7,500.  He won’t find out the exact amount of the bonus until sometime next month but in my mind, I’m expecting the lower end and if it is higher than that it would be a happy surprise.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that in the past I would have already spent that money in my mind before it even hit my bank account.  For instance, one year we booked trips to Disneyland for the family and Vegas for the two of us.  This year, I’m a wee bit more cautious since the economy hasn’t really rebounded from the Great Recession and I’m hyper aware of every cent coming in and going.

How will the money be used?  The old me thinks that we should be able to use a portion of the bonuses to treat ourselves to something nice.  However, as I look around our house all I see is stuff.  We have too much stuff that sits there and collects dust and wastes valuable space in the house.  So, the new me will do the following:

1.      Donate a portion of the bonuses to the local women’s shelter.

2.      Put about $500 towards much needed repairs on our house (paint for the walls, re-caulking of bathroom, replace leaking kitchen faucet etc).

3.      The rest of it will be transferred to our ING account to fund any emergencies that come up.



Weekly To-Do List

I am one of those people who love crossing things off of to-do checklists.  I keep a standing To-Do list in my Filofax and get giddy off of completing each task.  I’m slowly recovering from my shock of how horrible our finances are and I think keeping a weekly to do list of things I can do to make them better will really benefit me.  After all, I’m one who likes to see progress even if it’s just baby steps.

By the end of this week I hope to accomplish the following:

  1. Open, sort, file or shred all the incoming mail and loose paper in our home office.
  2. Think of creative and free solutions to making our home office more usable.  Currently, I have a desk, an assortment of filing items, a printer and a bookcase.  I want to be able to keep the current bills in one area where the mister can just open up and see what’s due.
  3. I also need to figure out a way to sort our mail that comes in or that needs to leave. All for free with items that I already have in the house.
  4. Firm up our February budget and blog about it.
  5. Purge my closet and either list things on eBay, donate or throw away items I haven’t worn in the last 6 months.
  6. Talk to the neighbors about the possibility of having a community garage sale in March or April when the weather might cooperate.

 

 

 

Avoided a huge car repair bill

My license tabs were due on 12/31/2010 and just as I was driving to get an emissions test, my check engine light came on.  I ended up failing my emissions test and had to take my car to the shop.  The mechanic told me that the code that popped up was the Catalyst Converter.  He quoted a repair of cost of $1,500.  However, he said that the Catalyst Converter was in okay shape and didn’t need to be repaired right now.  He wanted to have his friend look at the Catalyst Converter and see if he can get a waiver for the repairs.  While the car was in the shop, he noticed that our battery kept dying.  He replaced the battery for us and asked us to pick up the car and drive it around for the weekend while he waited for his friend to call back.  I drove it around for about 100 miles and amazingly the Check Engine light did not come back on.  I took a chance and took the car to get an emissions test after work tonight, all the while crossing my fingers that I pass emissions.  Hallelujah!!!! We passed emissions and I was finally able to get my tabs.  Total cost: 77.75!  I feel so happy that I saved $1,500!!!!!

Weekly Money Check Up

I stumbled upon www.myprettypennies.com and I love that she has a Weekly Money Check-Up.  I think I’ll start participating as I become more aware of my money.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on my auto insurance – $156.36.
2. Today I feel extremely aware and anxious towards money.  After I tracked all of our spending for 2010 I realized that we have a lot of work ahead of ourselves.  We really need to figure a way to take control of our spending and live below our means.  In looking at our numbers for the current month, we’ve already managed to spend $421.12 on dining out.  The breakdown of expenditures:

  1. $50.82 – Alcohol
  2. $5.42 – Breakfast
  3. $42.46 – Lattes
  4. $39.85 – Dinner
  5. $222.57 – Lunch
  6. $60.00 – Kids’ School Lunches

Wow, that is really a lot of money spent on eating out 😦
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was cook a great dinner for my family and afterwards we played Scrabble .
4. I will consider this week a success if I pack our lunches everyday and not buy a latte.  Looking at #3, it’s obvious that if we can just pack our lunches and not buy lattes, we would be saving a lot of money.  Baby steps…
5. My favorite way to relax is to cook dinner for my family, eat together and then watch TV or play board games