On Tax Season

@ThatJenn My W-2 will be posted on Thursday and I am counting down the days. I always know what Ben Wyatt is talking about.

Posted on January 20, 2015 at 10:47 am 1

On Tax Season

I am straight-up excited about taxes!! I use TurboTax and it's 100% free for me because I have uncomplicated taxes and don't have to file a state return (I live in a state with no individual state income taxes, which sucks in many ways but works in my favor in this particular instance). We always get at least a bit of a refund because of the way I withhold, and also while my dude is in school we get a big-ass tax credit that I turn over to him to pay for more school. Plus I get to feel like an Adult and I kind of love filling out forms. So basically it's a win-win-win-win-win for me at tax season.

Posted on January 20, 2015 at 10:46 am 0

On The Cost of DIYing Your Floors

This is extremely timely for me! I have installed my own laminate flooring and hated the process, and we're thinking about what to do for flooring in this converted garage space we have... hoping to do the project in March. I've been kind of thinking about doing a stained concrete floor and just using rugs to make it more inhabitable. I assume the prep time was mostly scraping the floor to get old carpet adhesive off? Our carpets were barely glued down so hopefully it wouldn't be QUITE this many hours, but who the heck knows.

Posted on January 15, 2015 at 12:21 pm 0

On Open Thread: Share Your 2015 Budget

@halloliebchen ooooh that's exciting! Please do let us know how it goes, if you're so inclined!

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 10:25 am 0

On Open Thread: Share Your 2015 Budget

@ThatJenn I should note that medical, retirement savings, and a number of other things come out of my paycheck first and aren't represented here. Including my employer match I save about $11,000/year for retirement and put $2500 in a FSA for medical expenses each year. Usually I'd put more of this into savings, but I elected to put more into home improvement this year as a calculated choice. Last year I saved aggressively and filled out my emergency fund ($10k) and started up my fund for those "yearly costs" mentioned above so they don't knock out my monthly budget every time they come up. My dude expects to graduate in December, and if we have a house that is nearly ready to sell when that happens, we can really be ready to go and do whatever needs to be done (and also to save aggressively again once he hopefully has income again).

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 9:22 am 0

On Open Thread: Share Your 2015 Budget

I break my budget into actual stuff I pay from my checking account each month, and other less-frequent or prepaid stuff from my savings accounts. Monthly budget (we are a family of two, and I cover all non-school-related costs for the two of us with this budget): Paychecks into checking account: $2,100 Mobile phone: $72 (my share of my family's plan, and my dude's standalone plan) Internet: $64 Utilities: $275 (covers electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash on one bill) Groceries: $400 Restaurants: $200 Fast Food: $30 Gas & Fuel: $125 (two cars, only one is ever used for a [short] commute, mostly funds weekend road trips in one of them) Health & Fitness: $70 (OTC meds, race registrations, sports gear, etc.) Personal Care: $45 (funds 1 haircut most months) Clothing: $100 (two people) Entertainment: $100 (of which $27 covers my Dropbox, Netflix, and Hulu Plus subscriptions) "Fun fund": $103 ($100 cash to put in a jar for after my dude graduates next year; $3 is for the ATM fee that will later get refunded) Cash & ATM: $205 (this covers anything I want, usually extra restaurant/entertainment costs) I don't always stick directly to these budgets. Sometimes I don't use a budget at all one month (like personal care - my haircuts are every 6 weeks). Sometimes I go way over in one or more budgets. And this doesn't include travel, gifts, or pet costs (my pets, two turtles, cost me an average of $10/month, not including any electricity to light/heat their homes). So those have to come out of whatever is left over. These budgets are clearly just suggestions, but they give me a target and let me know how I'm doing throughout the month in Mint. I really would like to be better at sticking to them this year, though. Non-monthly budgets: I deposit $18,000 of my income into savings over the year for the following yearly costs: $3,650 - a year's worth of car payments, paid ahead $1,500 - estimated property taxes, paid in November $2,000 - estimated property insurance, paid in April $500 - estimated flood insurance, paid in April $1,600 - estimated car insurance for the year, paid in May & November, for two cars and two drivers $780 - my husband's life insurance, paid in April $500 - car maintenance $7,400 - home improvement projects

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 9:07 am 0

On Planning a 2015 Budget: Revised and Updated

Everyone's cost of renter's insurance is making me sad about owning my home (I pay about $2,400/year in homeowner's insurance, including flood insurance, and that will likely go up this year). But lots of things make me kind of sad about that, honestly. I'll sell this house in 2016 and then... do you think after a dozen years of owning I could take the leap and rent for a while? Not sure if I have the constitution for it. (I'm actually being totally serious. Renting sounds hard in all kinds of OTHER ways than the ways in which owning is hard.) As a landlord, I really wished my tenant had renter's insurance when her place was broken into and things were stolen. She would probably also say that her stuff had no value, but just grabbing random things, they probably got about $1000 worth of stuff + damages (every last electronic thing she owned except her laptop, which was with her, and the few pieces of inexpensive sentimental jewelry she owned, and they broke her dresser and the dusting for fingerprints stained her rugs). I mean, it's not really my problem, exactly, but I felt for her and there wasn't anything I could do with my policy even though we share a property (she was in the mother-in-law suite, but my policy doesn't cover her stuff). Anyway, I like your budget. I really need to stick to my budgets this year. I'm nervous because I've obligated a bunch of money for longer-term projects around the house and so the total numbers for flow of money in and out on a month basis are smaller. I KNOW it works mathematically (the amount less that I'll see in my paychecks is less than the amount I no longer have to pay on bills that I used to pay monthly), but my lizard brain thinks the smaller numbers are like a smaller hoard of food and I might not make it through the winter. A tough, tight January is really not helping my calm the lizard brain.

Posted on January 13, 2015 at 3:16 pm 0

On The Internet as Safety Net

I've seen it make a big difference for people. The first time I sent money to a semi-stranger on the internet to help with a crisis was around 2002, actually, through PayPal. They'd posted on their LiveJournal what they needed it for, and I did not need it. I'd consider doing it if I really hit bottom. But I personally have a whole lot of safety nets before that one.

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 11:00 am 0

On My Borderline Unhealthy Obsession With Job-Hunting

I am guilty of this too! I started obsessively job-hunting when I was getting divorced and wanted to leave my (stipend-paying) PhD program but couldn't afford to without somewhere to land. I'm on job 6 in 5 years, now (though mostly those were in the first two years), and turned down a job offer in California a few months ago, because I just can't stop applying. Those first few jobs, some of them were terrible and some had weirdness about them that meant they could evaporate anytime, and while I've landed on my feet I'm still just waiting for the uncertainty to start again... so I keep applying.

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 10:32 am 0

On Monday Check-in

Yep, pretty sure you are a sorcerer. :) I succeeded at my $0 weekend despite some challenges! I also successfully used up some foodstuffs from the freezer and cabinets, which is a goal of mine (I'm gonna try to buy only produce, dairy, and other perishables while I use it all up). Friday we played our RPG for the first time in actual forever, because enough people finally showed up. Of course, the next time we could schedule was 2/9, so... we'll forget everything again, then. My sister-in-law was unexpectedly in town for the weekend and asked if we wanted to get brunch Sunday. I figured our no-spend weekend was shot but my dude suggested we cook for them instead of going out, so we were saved. :) Saturday we set cheese bread to bake in the breadmaker and headed out to San Felasco Hammock State Park, just north of town, for hiking & geocaching. We realized only when we got there that it was the date of the Tour de Felasco, which is a 50-mile bike ride that lasts all day and uses all of the trails there. So hiking was out for that park, but luckily there's an adjacent city park where we went on a nice walk, my dude set up his hammock, and we relaxed. We stopped by a friend's farm on the way home, hung out with them and their kids, said hello to the brand new calves, and came home with some fresh green onions and parsley from their winter garden, which went right into the chili we made that evening. We ate that over the too-tough cheese bread (I think our yeast is dead and that recipe is weird). Sunday we made brunch for my mother-in-law only because my SIL turned out to be too sick to come. I learned that I make fancier stuff when I have to throw something together rather than really planning it: blueberry white chocolate waffles and a baked frittata with black beans, salsa, and lots of cheese. That evening I did homework and finished editing something for work-work and my dude went to archery practice. All told: lots of fun, no spending. Which is good, because money is tiiiiight this month!

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 10:27 am 0