February 23, 2014

Financial Myth: You Deserve It

The other day, a friend of mine was so excited. She was smiling from ear to ear and had announced that she just purchased a new car. I could see the new car outside. It was bright and shiny and of course, new. I overhead someone say, “Congratulations! You deserve it!”

Financial Myth: You Deserve It by TheThriftyMommy.com

You deserve it. We hear that so much today. You deserve a new car. You deserve to go on a big vacation. You work hard. You deserve some new living room furniture. You deserve to go out to eat. You deserve that candy bar.

Do you deserve it? Do you deserve to experience a great depreciation in your car as soon as you take it off the car lot? Do you deserve five to eight years of car payments? Do you deserve to be so wrapped up in debt that you can’t afford an emergency? Do you deserve the bondage of debt?

We are quick to rationalize our indulgences. Rationalizing bad behaviors leads to regret and sometimes worse behaviors.

Instead of telling ourselves that we deserve it, we should ask ourselves if we have earned it. 

It wasn’t long ago that I was driving a $1,000 mini van. I drove it for about a year. My husband piddled with it here and there to keep it working ok. The slider door didn’t work well, it was a little rusty, and it wasn’t very attractive. I saw people driving around with new vans and cars. It would have been nice to have a new mini van — one that had that new car smell, that didn’t have rust, didn’t make a squeaking noise, and one that the slider door worked properly.  Sometimes I would feel a little embarrassed about my van, but then I had to remind myself that I didn’t have a payment. It is really financially freeing not to have a car payment.  While driving our old mini van we were able to save up a little and now we have a $4,000 mini van. It’s not new and I’m ok with that. I don’t deserve a new mini van until I have earned the cash to pay for it. Honestly, if I had that kind of cash, I probably wouldn’t spend it on a car anyway.

I find peace in being content. There is not a constant drive to keep up with someone else. There is no guilt or regret from purchasing something I can’t afford.

Of course, I have made my own financial mistakes along the way. But they are mistakes — mistakes I have learned from. If you are currently living with financial mistakes, I hope that you will take baby steps to correcting those mistakes. Let’s change our entitlement attitude of “I deserve it” to one of “I have earned it”.

image credit: seanandlauren


Karen

September 28, 2013

Are You Enabling Adolescent Adults?

A few years ago I posted about this issue in an article, Have You Set Up Boundaries in Your Life?  Today I needed to elaborate a bit.  😉

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It seems every family has them — these “adults” that never seem to grow up. They end up staying with relatives, eating their food, and not contributing a fair share of the bills. I am so puzzled by this. Why in the world would someone pay for an adult’s monthly expenses? I mean, if you go to work and work hard each day to earn a paycheck to pay your bills, why would you enable someone else not to do the same?

Eventually these families grow very irritated with these moochers and yet for some reason they lack the nerve to do anything about it. I honestly think they feel trapped. When they ask the person for money, the person usually says they can’t afford it.  It is strangely interesting though that many of these live-ins can afford a new car, going out for frequent lunch dates, new clothes, a cell phone with data package, and a whole list of other necessities that I don’t have.

couch potato

As you might imagine from this post, this is a very touchy subject for me. Many times I have seen my loved ones at the receiving end of these adolescent adults. Perhaps they are poor managers of money but usually, they are just not forced to grow up.  I mean why foot the bill when someone else will do it for you?  I honestly can’t imagine treating someone this way.  My parents raised me to show respect for others and sucking someone dry is not showing respect.

Sometimes these adolescent adults might even give a little money each month and they usually feel very good about it . . . as if they are somehow helping out or doing someone a favor. Let me tell you something — the $150 contribution is only a drop in the bucket for the electric, water, internet, phone, mortgage, and food.  Don’t let it ease your conscience.

Please understand that I am not talking about college students or adult children with health problems.  There are exceptions but these are few and far between.

These adult leeches are something I still see on a regular basis. It upsets me for many reasons — I think the major reason being that it is disrespectful to the people I love.

Personally, I think there are a few ways to handle this situation. 

1.  You could give the person a reasonable timeline to move out. That would enable them enough time to save up some deposits.  Honestly, I think they should already have some money set aside since they have been mooching off of others. They probably don’t though, since they are poor money managers.

2.  You could give them a reasonable amount to pay. Take into consideration the things they are using and if they are eating your food.  Come up with a fair amount.  If they are eating your food and stay there every day, you might decide they should pay $500 per month. If you live in an expensive area or have a mortgage payment, it might be more. Tell them that you can’t foot the bill for them and that they shouldn’t expect it.  Let them know that you expect that amount next month and every month after that or they can find another place to live.  This enables them to continue to live with you and have responsibilities at a fair and shared rate or they can decide to move out and pay a higher rate.

It’s time to quit enabling people and make them grow up!

A few other articles that might interest you:

Adolescence: A modern plague, but there is a cure by Matt Walsh

My child is gifted. He’s also 29, unemployed, and living in my basement.  by Matt Walsh

image by suitee


Karen

August 14, 2013

Ways That We Save Money Each Year

Sometimes when I see the way the rest of the world lives I wonder how they afford it. Sometimes I wonder what they think of me. I don’t drive a nice car. I don’t have fancy clothes. I try not to think about it much. I’m not living my life for them anyway.  It is very apparent though that there are some things my family does to cut back on expenses.  Sometimes we do these things just because we can and because we like to save money.  Right now though, many of these are necessities to getting by every month.

Some things on this list may seem crazy to you.  That’s ok.  I was considering a few titles for this post.  One had the word “crazy” and another had the word “extreme”.  I don’t think these are extreme or crazy so those didn’t seem to fit in the title.  Perhaps these items will make you think and wonder if you could do one or two of these to help save your family some money.

ways our family saves money

We don’t make coffee runs. I enjoy my coffee just as much as anyone but I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on an indulgence.  Coffee can cost $2-5 per cup. I can make a lot of coffee at home for that price. I know of some folks whose coffee habit cost them over $100 per month. That’s a lot of money!  I don’t mind getting a coffee treat every now and again, but these treats might be once a month. They are certainly not a daily habit.

We don’t have a car payment. You may be wondering how in the world I can have three cars in my driveway and no car payment.  I have always been a frugal gal, but about 7 years ago my hubby and I took Financial Peace University classes at our church.  We sold our van.  Actually we paid the dealership $1,000 to take it back. Yes, that hurt.  Since then we have been buying used vehicles. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $700 car to get us by for a year until we can afford something better or a $3000 vehicle that we can drive for a while, we pay cash.  Some people say that they want a car that they don’t have to worry about or they say they can’t afford to make repairs.  If I’m not paying $350-500 per month in a payment, I can easily justify making some repairs from time to time.

We limit hair appointments.  When my hubby was in the Marines, he got plenty of experience cutting hair while on ship.  He cuts his hair and my son’s hair.  That alone saves us about $200 or more per year.  I also limit my hair appointments.  To be honest, I don’t go to the salon as much as I would like.  It makes me cringe to spend that much money on my hair.  I have longer hair so I can get by without making frequent visits to the salon.  If you have a regular appointment scheduled for every six weeks, maybe try to go seven or eight weeks and see how it goes.  You might be able to go another week or two which will save you money over time.

We don’t get manicures and pedicures.  While nails look attractive, I can’t really spare an extra $40 for my nails to look good.

We don’t smoke.  Smoking is an extremely expensive habit. Enough said.

We haul off our own trash.  When we lived in the city, it was nice to roll our trash out to the curb every week and not worry with it.  Of course, we paid for trash removal in our city taxes.  Now that we have moved to another part of the state, they do things differently around here.  In some areas you pay per bag.  We just decided to make trips to the landfill.  Every two or three weeks my hubby and son haul off all of the trash and recycling.  I’m guessing that this saves us about $50 per month.

We do our own yard work.  Well, actually, my hubby does the yard work.  🙂  He mows the grass, uses the weed eater, puts out grass feed, and whatever else needs to be done.

We drink water. When we go out to eat we always order water. The exception is if the kids’ meals come with a drink.  Think about it — If your family of four goes out to eat and orders four drinks, that will cost you around $8. There’s quite a bit of savings for choosing water.  Even at home we drink water. Sodas and sugary drinks aren’t good for us anyway.  We have a water system in our house and another filter on our refrigerator so we just drink it from the tap.

We pack our lunch. When I was in college and worked at a restaurant, I would see people that came in to eat lunch every day.  Every day!  Eating out every day is so expensive. I’m not saying I don’t like to eat out. Trust me, we like to eat out.  When we do, it is using coupons, sharing meals, or as a treat. It is not an every day thing. I have also seen people eat in the school cafeteria every day.   Those $3, $5 or more each day add up quickly.  I try to pack leftovers, a sandwich, and I try to keep things like peanut butter and hummus at school for those days when I’m extra hungry or I don’t have time to prepare something.  You know what?  I’ve heard Dave Ramsey say he also packs his lunch.  He can afford to go out to eat and chooses not to because it’s not a frugal option.

We limit costly entertainment options.  I can’t even tell you the last time I went to the movies.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy going to the movies. I just can’t see paying such high prices just to watch a movie.  We have learned to look for free and cheap events in our area.  Whether it be a trip to the beach, a museum, state park, parade, or a festival, we find things to do.  I look online for happenings in our area.  There are also free pamphlets and papers listing events. Do a google search and see what you can find.  These kinds of events are more memorable for our children and are certainly better for our budget.

We don’t have a dog. I know that dogs are like a part of the family and if I had a dog, I certainly wouldn’t get rid of it just to save money. But I don’t have a dog and right now another animal is not on my list of priorities.  Dogs are expensive — the shots, deworming, medicines, vet bills . . . whew I am seeing visions of dollar signs.  I love animals and I have two cats. This is just one of the things my husband and I have agreed not to spend money on right now.

We constantly look for good deals.  My husband and I tend to be conservative on our purchases. Rather than going out and spending $200 on a camera we see in store, we’ll spend two or three hours at home reading about the camera and looking for reviews. Instead of buying our clothes full price we shop the clearance racks or look for great sales.  I just shopped a back to school sale on a tax free weekend and used a $10 coupon and bought myself some shirts for work.  I try to know the cycles for when items are at their lowest prices. For example, I know that Target has deeply discounted toys twice each year.  I know that November and December are the months when cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups will be the cheapest.  We try to be good stewards of our money and make it go the farthest that we can.

We don’t have the latest in technology.  In fact, I don’t even have a smart phone. I just can’t see spending $30 or more each month. This equals almost $400 per year!  We don’t have iPads or iPhones. My son just recently got a used DS. haha. Contrary to what many people think, technology is not a necessity.  It’s not air and water.  If your job requires you to have a smart phone, then so be it. Checking facebook, twitter, and email on the go is not essential.

When possible, we buy used.  This can include toys, furniture, bicycles, etc. (The exception is used mattresses.)  Some of my favorite pieces in my home are used.  I like the thrill of finding a unique item.  I am also teaching my children the value of buying used.  A few years ago my daughter wanted some Polly Pocket toys.  She went to Target with her birthday money and came home with one small toy for $14.  She was sad at how little she got for the money.  I told her I would look online to see what I could find.  We ended up finding a big box of Polly Pocket stuff – mall, pool, clothes, dolls, etc for $40.  The cost of these things would have been over $200 new.  My children have learned that they get more for their money this way.

We pay cash. This is probably the biggest way that we save money.  We just moved into our new home seven months ago. I would love to have new blinds and curtains throughout my home. New wall hangings, shower curtains, rugs, I could go on. If I just swipe that credit card I can have it all now.  The problem with that is, there comes a day to pay our debts and with interest.  I choose not to be in bondage of debt.  Sure, I would really like to have those things but for now, I am trying to be thankful for all of the other wonderful things I have and know that in time I will furnish my home.

I know that these tips may not work for everyone but they help my family out tremendously.  I’m estimating that these things alone keep my family from spending over $10,000 each year!  In what ways does your family save money?

image source: kwod from sxc.hu


Karen

July 26, 2012

20+ Ways to Save Money on Christmas Gifts

For many people, Christmas is a favorite time of year. Unfortunately, it can also be the most stressful. The costs of Christmas cards, Christmas trees, decorations, and gifts can really burden one’s finances.

You might be wondering why I am talking about Christmas today when it is only July.  Both of my children’s birthdays fall in July.  Once their birthdays have passed I begin thinking about the next big event, which is Christmas.  Giving myself  some time to think, plan, and prepare helps to save money.  Hopefully, this post will encourage you to think ahead and plan too so that you can also save money.

Here are some ways to save money on Christmas gifts. Another day we can discuss ways to save money on the other parts of Christmas.

1.  Get help from friends and family.  Let them know what you’re shopping for.  When I do this, other people let me know when they spot a good deal on something I need.  It goes both ways.  I have been known to text pictures to people at midnight on Black Friday with deals they might be interested in.  It helps to have others watching out for what you need.

2.  Ask friends and family what they want.  Hopefully, this will avoid countless hours shopping, racking your brain, wasted gas, extra unwanted products in the environment, and the hassle of returns.

3.  Try gift cards.  Some people may think this is inappropriate, but I think it’s a great solution.  Gift cards save time, wrapping paper, shipping expenses, and help avoid unwanted gifts.  Let the person buy what they want.

4.  Save your receipts.  Get an envelope for your purse or have a special file folder in your filing cabinet.  You never know when you’ll have bought the wrong size or something didn’t work.  It’s really upsetting to return something without a receipt and not get the full value of the item.

5.  See if your store offers a gift receipt.  I think it’s nice when someone includes a gift receipt in the box.  This avoids the uncomfortable situation of asking where they bought it or if they still have the receipt.  I’ll admit that many times I’ve been left with things I couldn’t use or return.  Gift receipts are great!

6.  Be specific in your requests.  If someone asks what to get your child, try to be as specific as possible.  Tell them the exact name of the toy or their specific pants size.  Before Christmas and birthdays, I have my kids write a list of the things they really like and want.  Then when family asks for gift ideas, I have something to tell them.  I like to have a variety of lower priced items on the list too (such as hair bows, stickers, etc.) so that people don’t feel like they have to spend a lot.  This also helps with people looking for filler items.

7.  Consider drawing names with co-workers or family.  We did this with my husband’s family for several years.  To make it more fun, we kept the names we drew a secret and were surprised when we exchanged gifts.

8.  Buy just for the children.  This is becoming a common practice in our families.  We buy for our parents and the children.  This has really cut down on spending and getting unusable gifts. It also makes for a more relaxed Christmas.

9.  Consider playing a game instead of swapping gifts.  Try a white elephant or dirty Santa game.  Some games involve bringing a nice gift that someone would want.  Other games involve bringing a funny or prank type gift.  There is usually a gift maximum price suggested, such as $10-20.  With the games, each person brings one gift and each person leaves with one gift.  Be prepared for lots of laughter and fun.

10.  Be realistic.  While you’re out there shopping, you’ll probably find loads of great deals and things you want for yourself.  Be sure to budget in some money for things that you want.

11. Make a budget and stick with it. NO CHARGING! If you can only afford a $20 gift then make those dollars stretch. There are deals all around so that you can make your purchase special.

12.  Take those credit cards out of your wallet.  It’s much more tempting to charge something and purchase something out of your price range when the credit cards are in your wallet.  You don’t need a debt hangover in January.

13.  Try making homemade gifts.  With the new craft items, DIY tv shows, and Pinterest, hand crafted items have made a comeback and are more desirable.  Do you have a nitch?  You can make note cards, pillows, crocheted hats, wreaths, and many other different things that are nice.  A gift doesn’t have to be store bought.

14.  Instead of individual gifts, consider a family gift.  You could purchase a popcorn bowl and fill it with microwave popcorn, candy bars, and a new DVD.  Perhaps you could purchase the family a season pass to the aquarium or something else they would like.  The key is to think about the family and what their interests are.

15.  Keep a gift closet or special place for gifts.  Years ago, I used to have a gift closet.  I would purchase things throughout the year and put them away for later use.  Now that I no longer have a gift closet, I have gift totes. It’s not as convenient but the concept is the same.  I find things throughout the year that I think people will like (on clearance or not) and put them away for Christmas. Honestly, I think it is a more thoughtful process because I am able to think ahead and consider the person that I am buying for.  I am also able to pick up a few extra things for teachers, co-workers, and extended family.

16.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Shopping the week before Christmas means that things will be picked over and you’ll have to choose from what’s left. You may not end up with a nice gift like you had planned, or you may have to pay more for something.

17.  Find discount codes.  Never buy anything online without looking for a discount code first.  Try sites such as RetailMeNot.com and FreeShipping.org.

18.  Give the gift of service.  Instead of you and your friend exchanging gifts, consider giving a gift of service.  Everyone wants to go out on a date with their husband.  Many of us don’t go out though because we can’t afford to go out and to pay a sitter.  Give your friend babysitting services.  You could also give other services such as housecleaning, gardening, raking, etc. Perhaps you could pick a chore that she doesn’t like to do.  Use your computer or art skills to make a certificate for the services you are giving.

19.  Consider giving something used. I remember just a few years ago my son kept asking for Rescue Heroes. Each of the figurines were around $10 each. Finally I did some searching online and found two huge lots on ebay. I got the two lots for around $50, including shipping. Something similar happened with Polly Pockets for my daughter. She soon realized that she could only get a few Polly Pocket pieces for $15 but we found a big box with buildings, figurines, clothes, and more on Craigslist for $40. Consider the person you are buying for and decide if they would mind something used.

20.  Consider regifting.  Regifting doesn’t have to be tacky or thoughtless.  We all get gifts we don’t need.  Hang onto those gifts and try to thoughtfully give them to someone else.  Perhaps you could give them to your neighbor, mail carrier, your child’s teacher, the person that picks up your recycling, or your favorite bank teller.  Regifting doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  Just make sure what you are giving is considerate of what that person likes and that the gift is in good condition.  Here is a post with regifting tips.

21. Look for early sales. Loads of people shop on Black Friday but now stores are doing something different — Some are offering a week of online savings where specific items are offered each day during the sale.  Some stores are also offering big savings before Black Friday. They want your business and your money so they are looking for competitive and creative ways to get your attention.

This is certainly not a complete list of ways to save on Christmas gifts.  Which ways do you save?

image credit

This article was originally written by me in 2007. It has been revised and edited.


Karen

July 20, 2012

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Car Insurance

Just recently, I received a bill to renew my car insurance. I glanced at the bill and was getting ready to make a payment when I noticed something — this time there was a pay in full discount amount.  I began to look over my bill more closely.  Normally I pay a $3 monthly installment fee so that I can make payments for my auto insurance.  Considering I don’t have to plunk out $450-600 at a time, I didn’t think the $3 per month was too bad.  But when I factored in the pay in full discount, it makes a big difference.

 

By paying the full amount up front, I was able to get a discount of $39.90.  Also, by making the full payment I avoided paying an extra $18 in monthly installment fees. This made my savings a whopping $57.90.  Quite a bit a difference, don’t you think?

Here’s a few ways to save on your car insurance:

1.  Ask for a pay in full discount such as the discount I received. If you can’t afford to pay the full six months, perhaps you could afford to make two payments – half up front and half later. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

2.  Ask for other discounts.  Some insurance companies offer discounts for military or students with good grades.  Periodically we call our insurance company and ask for discounts.  We have been with them for about nine years. When I call them I ask for a good driver discount. We’ve had no tickets or wrecks so we are considered safe drivers.  Or you could ask them for a loyalty discount.  There are all sorts of discounts available. You just need to ask.

3. Compare prices.  It pays to shop around and compare prices of different companies.  Be sure you’re comparing similar coverage though. It wouldn’t be a good deal to save $25 and not receive the coverage you need.

4.  Ask about a higher deductible.  Some financial advisers will tell you to always get a higher deductible.  I would have to disagree with that one.  Compare, compare, compare.  We have a zero deductible and there wasn’t much difference in price.  Don’t assume that it will be way cheaper to get a higher deductible, but then again, it could be.  I would recommend making a list of companies you want to call and writing notes on prices for different types of coverage and deductibles and then comparing rates.  An hour of your time could save you hundreds of dollars.

5.  Check into a company’s reputation.  With all of the online rants and reviews, it is fairly easy to research a company.  Also, ask around to your friends and locals.  Find out who they use and if they are pleased.  It’s not a good deal if you are with a company that won’t answer your calls or help you when you need it.

6.  Carry multiple policies with the same insurance company.  Many companies offer a discount if you hold more than one policy with them.  You could have your homeowners, renters, or life insurance policy with that company. Ask if they have a multiple policy discount.

7.  Drive a low profile car. Some cars have a reputation for speeding tickets and trouble and therefore the premium for them is higher. Annual reports are available that  list the most stolen cars in the country.

8.  Keep your credit in good standing. Until recently, I didn’t realize that insurance companies check your credit regularly. A few months ago we received a letter from our insurance company stating that our rate would be higher because of an issue on our credit report. We did some investigating and found an incorrect claim that we had to dispute and get corrected. Without the insurance credit check, we wouldn’t have known about the error or that insurance companies check on people.

9.  Maintain a safe driving record. This one seems like common sense, but a ticket or accident could really raise your insurance rates.  Pay attention to speed limits and school zones.  If you do get a ticket, see if you could take a safe driver course to reduce the points and insurance premium.

10.  Drive less.  Some insurance companies offer low mileage discounts for those that carpool or drive a low amount of miles each year. I once received the discount because I worked less than five miles from my house.

Making calls, comparing rates, and asking for discounts can save you hundreds each year.  Make sure you have enough coverage and be safe.

What other tips do you have to add?

image (c) Karen Weideman


Karen

July 4, 2011

Fake Email Alert for Paypal Users

I get fake/phishy emails to my inbox quite frequently. I received another today claiming it was from paypal.  I thought this was a good time to remind you not to click on links in emails that claim to be from your bank, paypal, Craigslist, etc. 

Even ones that look real, such as this one, are usually scams to get your info.  Take a look at the email I recently received.  It looks pretty legitimate.  It also contained two links within the email for me to use to sign in to my paypal account. 

Rather than clicking on the links, I opened a new window and typed in the paypal address myself.  Sure enough, there were no messages from paypal showing on my account.  Beware of this fradulent emails that are designed to steal your information and your money.

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Notification of Limited Account Access RXI-992‏

Hello Karen Weideman,

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the PayPal
system. We recently contacted you after noticing an issue on your account.

We requested information from you for the following reason:

A recent review of your account determined that we require some additional
information from you in order to provide you with secure service.

Case ID Number: PP-758-524-697

This is a second reminder to log in to PayPal as soon as possible. Once you log
in, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access.

Be sure to log in securely by using the following link:
Click here to login and restore your account access

Once you log in, you will be provided with steps to restore your
account access. We appreciate your understanding as we work to ensure account
safety.

In accordance with PayPal’s User Agreement, your account access will remain
limited until the issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, if access to your
account remains limited for an extended period of time, it may result in further
limitations or eventual account closure. We encourage you to log in to your
PayPal account as soon as possible to help avoid this.

To review your account and some or all of the information that PayPal used to
make its decision to limit your account access, please visit the Resolution
Center. If, after reviewing your account information, you seek further
clarification regarding your account access, please contact PayPal by visiting
the Help Center and clicking “Contact Us”.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that
this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We
apologize for any inconvenience.

Thanks,

PayPal Account Review Department

Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you
will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account
and click the Help link in the top right corner of any PayPal page.

—————————————————————-
Copyright © 1999-2010 PayPal. All rights reserved.

PayPal Email ID PP522


Karen

April 19, 2011

Fake IRS Emails

It’s tax time and leave it to crooks to find an opportunity to take advantage of people.  I received this email today.  It’s even addressed from notification@irs.gov.

Dear Taxpayer!

You are encouraged to pay a penalty for the failure to file income tax returns prior to January 31, 2011.
Note, IRC [Section 6038(b)(1)]
provides for a monetary penalty of $10,000 for each [Form 5471]
that is filed after the due date of the income tax return or does not include the complete and accurate information described in [Section 6038(a)].

No penalty will be imposed if the company shows that the late filing was due to reasonable cause.

For more information please refer to attached file.

Thanks,
Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury.

Many times these emails will lure you into clicking on links or opening attachments.  These are ways to get your information or to give your computer a virus.

The IRS website has more information on suspicious emails.


Karen

March 5, 2011

Professional Tax Help May Be Needed

Each year I procrastinate getting my taxes done.  All of the itemizations and deductions are confusing and many times overwhelming.  Thankfully, I have an established relationship with an accountant in our area.  She is so nice and doesn’t mind me emailing her with questions.  All of this craziness is making a flat tax sound all the more appealing.  Why do we all have to go through this each year?  But that’s another rant for another day. Back to this whole tax mess . . .

The adoption tax credit has changed, there are rules about purchasing a new home, selling a home, and what if you receive a monthly housing allowance? 

If you’re the common man (like me), this sounds like a foreign language to you.  Don’t give up just yet.  You want your taxes done correctly and you want to receive your money without delay.  Forms that are filed incorrectly can delay refunds.

All of these new  laws and extended tax credits make it really hard for a person to file their own taxes.  I am known for being a thrifty tightwad money saving cheapskate, but here’s one time I cringe and shell out the money to a professional.   

Of course, there are some ways to save money on your tax preparation expenses.  Have your papers organized and deductions itemized by category.  Don’t make the tax preparer search through your papers.  Since they usually charge by the hour, this will only cost them time which costs you money.

Remember that the IRS has set up a handy YouTube channel to help answer some of your questions.

Will you hire a professional this year?

image sxc by YM


Karen

November 11, 2010

Should You Purchase Cell Phone Insurance?

There are many of you wondering if you should purchase the cell phone insurance.  Most financial advisors, such as Clark Howard, say that in most cases you should not get the insurance. 

If you have a regular cheapo cell phone (like me), then I wouldn’t recommend getting the insurance.  A simple math sentence of $5 x 12 months will tell you that it’s just not worth the money.  You can purchase the cheap phones on ebay or Craigslist usually for less than $50.  The ordinary phones with no bells or whistles are generally easy to come by and last a few years.  The problem with the expensive phones and Smartphones is that are known to have problems.

Take my husband’s phone(ssssss) for example.  He has had probably a DOZEN phones from Verizon.  He first started out with the Blackberry.  After getting about five Blackberry Storms and two Storm 2s, Verizon gave him a Droid. After having a few Droids, they told him the problems were from the things he had downloaded on to his phone and for him to take off all of the applications.  HUH?  What’s the point of having a data phone if you can’t have apps on it? 

All of the phones were sent back for issues such as locking up, not receiving data, the phone staying lit up, etc.  The problem is that when you send back your phone, you’re not getting a new phone; you’re getting a “refurbished” phone.  I have no clue what qualifies these phones as refurbished because they have many issues.  Just a few months ago, we dropped off another Verizon phone at a Charlotte, NC FedEx location to be shipped back and the representative at this location told my husband that they ship approximately 30 phones from that location each day!  Ok, ok, this is moving towards the craziness of Verizon so I’ll move on.

Basically, the advice is this:  If you have a regular cell phone, then the insurance probably isn’t worth the money.  If you have a more expensive phone, I’d strongly consider it.

Do you have insurance on your cell phone? What kind of experiences have you had?

Edited:  Be sure to read the fine print on cell phone insurance policies. Some charge a $35 deductible.

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Karen

October 3, 2010

5 Reasons to Live a Thrifty Lifestyle

I am a thrifty tightwad money saving bargain hunting cheapskate. It’s become second nature to me. In everything I purchase, I am looking for ways to save money.  Many times I don’t even realize I’m doing it and then it eventually becomes obvious to me when I see the things that others are purchasing. I realize that many of us are trying to live a more frugal lifestyle these days. Here are some reasons to save.

No regrets –  Have you ever purchased something and then later are left with buyer’s remorse?  It’s an awful feeling.  Or maybe you have been in a financial hard place and wish you had all the money back that you had frivilously spent. I’ve been there too. If only we could undo our mistakes.  Unfortunately, we can’t have a do-over but we can learn from our errors.

Debt free life –  Saving money allows you to have more money in your wallet.  This enables you to pay cash for your purchases, save for the future, and live a debt free life.  If you have high credit card payments, then you may not have the money to pay cash for every day purchases or you may not have saved for unexpected emergencies, so then you’ll end up charging those things you need.  It all a vicious cycle.

Save for other purchases – By saving money on everything I buy, I am able to put money into my savings account for future purchases.  Last year my husband and I purchased a new mattress set for our bedroom and put a down payment on our house.  This year we purchased a used mini van, upgraded my kitchen appliances to stainless, and purchased an HE washer and dryer.  All of these things were paid for with cash.  Trust me, it’s not because we are rich.  We are everyday people.  We just save money in every way we can, look for the best deals, weigh our options, and pay cash for purchases.

Helping the environment – People that are seeking to save money and live frugally are usually environmental friendly.  They spend less, consume less products, buy used, and try to use the things they already have.

Helping others – By living a thrifty lifestyle, I am able to help others in need.  It may be by giving food and toiletries that I have purchased for really cheap or free with sales and coupons.  It may be by using extra money that we have because we haven’t spent the money on extravagant items or car payments.

Why do you live a thrifty lifestyle?

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Karen

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