<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: February, 2007
 

Archive for February, 2007

Yikes - It Was Ugly Today

February 27th, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Hey well I am glad today I have a conservative portfolio - hehe.

I have been trying not to work in the evenings, but the busy-ness demands it I guess. Well it wouldn't be a huge deal but the odds are if I stay up past 8 I get 4 hours of sleep if I am lucky. LM is screaming his head off as I type - he is on major sleep strike. It is a tossup if it is teething or growthspurt, or all of the above I guess. It's fine when all falls in place and I go to bed early, and we split the shift. But I brought some work home and needed to get to some writing. & I wanted to spend a little time with the kids first! I just pray for some sleep too. I figured since it is a short work day tomorrow (with having to take him and pick up BM from preschool at 5) I don't have to be so awake as the days I try to work 7-6. It's more a 9-5 day instead. Who needs sleep...

Anyway, I had concluded that picking an overall portfolio mix and sticking with it for the longer haul is good. Anyway, I think I have been going conservative as I wait for the big crash of 2007. It just seems like the market was really heading for a peak. I thought this last year. & I invested quite conservatively. & then I kind of wake up looking at the gains we have made this last year and thinking this is silly - time to get more aggressive. I find it ironic I decide this on/before such a bad stock day. & yet it makes it even more apparent that if I had just had an 85/15 mix all along I'd probably be miles ahead. So be it. Today was ugly, but I still have a gain for the year. I haven't even been too eager to put money in the stock market as is. Now I am more willing. Funny how that goes. My timing is pretty bad perhaps but looking at the big picture I will probably move to some money out of bonds to stocks. It doesn't matter because I hope to soon be putting a small amount into the market every month. Until we get to that point it is just a lot uglier. When we are continually investing, the lows (and highs) won't be so dramatic.

Well here's to better stock market days, though I Can't say I Was terribly surprised today.

Anyway, today was super crazy busy and I know I haven't updated much on my finances. There isn't much to tell. I work like crazy, dh takes care of the groceries, everyone is happy. LOL. I do know dh has 3 (THREE!!) doctor appointments next week - yikes! $150. March maybe not so hot. Blech. & it's the end of the month - should have some interest to post to my challenge money. It's funny because overall I think we will be way under budget on most things for February, but medical and such will blow it all out of the water. I am looking forward to a calm month - maybe April? I hesitate to think it though because I know it could be much worse. It hasn't been so bad...

I think it has just been compounded by the fact with busy season and craziness I have had little time to make side money and same for dh. I am frustrated I haven't saved above and beyond my raise the last few weeks. I know I have the full year ahead though and many opportunities to make more money once april is over and done...

Wonderful News & I need your HELP too!

February 24th, 2007 at 07:48 pm

Okay, first I admit I Am shamelessly copying TinaP! So please forgive me.

But I have awesome news. I have always said I have wanted to write a book someday, and lately fancy what it would be like to be the next Suze Orman or Laura Rowley. But I figured I am busy with kids and a career and that is something I will get to in a decade or 2 or 3 when I am a little older and wiser, have more life experience behind me, and more time too. I kind of fancy semi-retiring early and writing or something, just not at the top of my list right now. At least not until my husband brings home some bacon so I Can relax a little more. Wink

BUT I popped onto the blogs a few days ago and saw a comment in someone's blog that SA was looking for some contributing writers - a paid gig at that. I think I Would have been excited regardless paid or not, but committing the time and the effort, I think it would have to be paid to really justify, particularly in the middle of busy tax season.

Anyway, I saw Jeffrey had picked some new writers and figured I most defintitely hadn't gotten the job. I Was actually surprised how disappointed I was. I must be crazy - it is so busy over here. But yes, disappointed - I am a perfectionist. I must have it all - LOL.

Anyway, I had just jumped the gun a bit much. Today I got invited to be a contributing write - woohoo - I am so excited. On a trial basis to start. So I need your help!

I was just reading Tina's blog and I really thought she had an excellent idea to ask for article ideas. So I just had to ask too, what kind of articles would you like to see? Taxes and all that is most definitely my forte. So I am kind of curious what it is about taxes that demystifies you??? What have you always wondered? What have you been unable to find the answers to? Just let me know, it will help me.

Thanks so much. Wink

Oh yeah and my hubby is the BEST!!!!!! I know this is going to be more work on him, watching the kids so I have some time to write (after watching them ALL day and such), and I know he may come to resent this whole thing. BUT he was 100% just happy for me. He's so swell. On the other hand, I tend to waste a lot of time on the blogs and forums so it kind of feels good to convert that into such a productive venture. & I apologize if it keeps me from my blog...

& I will have some money to add to my challenge too - so excited.

Oh yeah and if you promise not to roll your eyes at me - I have been kind of looking at all this *secret* talk thinking it sounds a little like my life philosophy but WAY overly simplified. but reading all about it the other day I thought - fine - I Am going to put it out there that I want to be a writer - that I can have this wonderful side career and blab about personal finance all day. I must admit the immediate results are downright creepy. Though I do feel now the ball is in my court and I must prove myself worthy now. I don't believe for a second that good things will come to me without a little effort on my part too. Wink So I am not sure I am a Secret convert yet. But well, it is a little weird...

Really though, I am absolutely in love with this place and feel very honored to be given a chance...

Okay - so what do YOU want to know about taxes?

One thing I am curious about is how well people really understand their payroll taxes. On one hand it seems so basic to me but on the other hand I get the feeling few people really understand where that big chunk of their paycheck goes. Am I underestimating you all? I would like to write an article on that.

Weather is SO nice!

February 19th, 2007 at 08:55 am

Oh I am feeling in such a good mood because the weather is nice. I was too sick to venture out but late yesterday afternoon dh took the kids to the park - they had a blast. Daylight savings starts early this year and I am stoked. Love coming home and having time to go outside, get a walk in, play with the kids, get fresh air, etc. So am in a good mood with the weather!!!!

I am feeling better today - will brave work.

The budget is interesting this month. I did notice the grocery and gas bill were insanely low - dh hasn't refilled his gas tank in ages. So we were talking last night and he said he hadn't been to the grocery store in a long while because everyone had been too sick to eat (primarily kids who eat way more than us it seems). & also that he hadn't been driving for his film work, all done, so he mentioned he didn't remember the last time he got gas. Plus with sickness I haven't been driving to work or preschool either. I think all of this will help offset some of the medical expenses.

For whatever reason we were also discussing dh's movie - premieres in just a couple of weeks!! & the money he may (odds are slim - but possible) he may make. I guess I was in a generous mood because I told him no matter how much he got we should just reinvest in future movies. I started thinking about all the gas/car expenses we had since he was actually driving his car a lot more, possible daycare expenditures so he could have more flexibility (LM is getting old enough), etc., moreso than the few thousand I assumed he'd want to upgrade his equipment. We were even discussing it as a film fund but could double as an emergency fund as well, obviously a true emergency would come over his film stuff. So something to think about. No matter what we do I will demand a slice for myself and for the e-fund. But if 99% goes back to him moving forward on his career I am fine with that all the same. I think it is just bad overall to get ini the mindset this money is his is why I would at least demand a little for myself and the e-fund. Hehe. I think it is a dangerous mindset to get into. But overall the hope would be to help him generate more income to come back to the family, and that is a worthy goal!

GMAC bank just sent me checks. My new MMA. Too bad since that was s'posed to be my e-fund, separate it out, make it easy. Gah. I know I do not have to use them but I am thinking if I move my short-term savings over there too it will earn higher interest and I can write checks for insurance and property taxes directly from it, avoiding a lot of transfers. I'll think about it. MAkes sense, just makes it a little harder to track. I was enjoying the balance in that one account equaling the balance in my e-fund. But with the interest might be smart - have $2200 in short-term savings today. IT is earning 0.4% less in the meantime or something and gets drained out twice a year so I don't know...

Well that is all the money stuff thinking of today. I actually have not much more than work on my mind really. I am going back to a landslide. Hope I feel up to a full day...

ETA: Oh I just had to add what a BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!!! It has hardly rained all winter but it did all last week (rain = snow in the peaks), and then this week "spring" has been settling in. So my drive to work I saw beautiful snow-capped mountains (sierra nevada) in the background, against a brilliant blue sky. It is just gorgeous out there.

I can't imagine how I would feel in an area with real seasons. Califorina is just so moderate overall there isn't a huge difference in the seasons. I actually find Sacramento a little refreshing, we get more beautiful colors in the fall, a little closer to the snow-capped mountains in the winter. But still overall not a huge difference in the landscape season to season. But with the heavy snow/rain followed by such nice weather, it is just absolutely gorgeous here today. Too bad I am locked up inside under a pile of tax returns - LOL. I heard it was going to rain or something too but doesn't look like it. Wink

It Got Me

February 17th, 2007 at 07:14 am

The stomach bug. Frown

It turned out the laryngitis thing I had came from work. 1 lady got it and gave it to EVERYONE!!!! Blech.

Kids are well on the mend from the stomach bug and dh and I well on the med from the throat thing. But last night I felt completely useless at work and when I got home had NO appetite. I worried aloud this might be a sign of the bug. & then I woke up to it. So far it is just the diahrrea but I am pretty much scared to eat anything. There is hardly anything I dislike more than vomiting. & after being pregnant and having horrendous morning sickness twice, I think I have had my fair share this life. LOL. You think I would be grateful that if I am sick it won't last months, but not really, I am just terrified of the idea of throwing up. Of being nauseous. Plus the thought of saltines and ginger ale makes me want to puke - I just equate them with very bad times. LOL. I will never sip ginger ale again probably.

Anyway, I have renewed respect for BM. He messed his pants a number of times this last week and probably TMI but I ran to the bathroom about 5 times in the last 1/2 hour. I am looking at BM quite impressed he made it to the potty as many times as he did. He hasn't been potty trained that long.

Blech.

I went and I talked to my boss last Monday about all the sickness. I hadn't wanted to because I didn't want to sound whiny, but I wanted to give him a heads up. Feels like there is always something lately. Anyway, he made it abundantly clear he did not care if I was out 2 weeks with this bug as long as NO ONE else got it. LOL. & I don't blame him, the laryngitis thing has hit us hard at the office. I think I will take today and tomorrow off, rest up, try to nick this in the bud, and pray dh doesn't get it too. & praying I have it a little more mild and won't have to hover over a toilet all week. Blech. LM was out both ends for almost 24 hours and LM puked once and that was it. So I will go for something more like that please. Wink

It's been so crazy I haven't updated my Quicken or anything. Been waiting to make a deposit to pay the rest of the month's bills. Should probably get it all ready and ask dh to run it to the bank for me before I collapse. Then when I am feeling better I will have money to pay bills. I need to go rest...

In the meantime my overtime is so out the window. Frown Dh asked me yesterday if I had to work too long today. I said well, um, I could work ALL weekend and not make 40 hours, I missed 2 days work. & he says you only missed 2? LOL. If he thought I missed more than 2 how does he think I would not have 2 days+ to catch up. Oy vey. I hope I can make some progress next week. Luckily I had no tax appointments next week. I have a lot of work to get done, but as long as I am on the mend by my tax appointments I guess this won't wreak too much havoc.

Yesterday was a BEAUTIFUL day!!!! Too bad I can't enjoy this nice weather...

Tax Info

February 12th, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Not good over here - leaving early from work - sick kids. More doctor appointments and copays, perhaps more daycare. Ugh!!! Mostly though worried about my son. He is going to the doc in a bit, may need IV, just can't keep anything down. Frown Just came on suddenly last night. & I am at work a nervous wreck. Dh does great with the kids, but he really lacks that mommy instinct. No matter who spends the lion share of the time with the kids it is something I have, and something he seems clueless about sometimes. So days like these with a fastly declining child, I do not like to work on days like these. I am going home to watch the little one so dh can take BM to the doc and have all his arms free for the gunk that is pouring out both ends. Hope he doesn't make too much mess in the car - poor guy... I am sure he wouldn't be fond of an IV, but I would feel better... Actually, it remains to be seen, he thought getting blood drawn was fascinating. LOL. I am sure he will be fine, but worried all the same... Well the best part is I wouldn't be there to see any needles. I am a big wuss when it comes to shots and needles on my kids - I just can't handle it - dh is good for that stuff... We made an agreement after I suffered through my eldest's first shots that I would just be too busy to break free from work on those shot days - Frown

Anyway, before I head out I did want to share all the articles I got in my inbox today - interesting stuff. BTW I e-filed yesterday - woohoo!!!!!

TAX
Special Section: Your Taxes
Surviving an audit, the IRS deducts deductions, tips on pleasing Uncle Sam
and more.
[url]http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2007/02/10/business/your...

Five Steps to Hiring a Tax Pro
[url]http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/2007/02/taxp...

Kudos and Shout-Outs

February 11th, 2007 at 07:25 am

Just wanted to say thank you to LuckyRobin & Living-In-Oz

I finally got off my lazy butt and made headway on the house this weekend.

First - I mentioned I had to replace the shower curtain, and extra annoying since it is an odd size. I just mentioned this offhand.

& Living-in-Oz replied:
"Just a household hint, you can put the shower curtain in the washer with a little detergent, bleach, and a few white towels and it comes out very clean. Put it into the dryer on the lowest heat setting for 5 MINUTES(no more or it will melt) and it will come out perfect! I hardly ever buy new shower curtains anymore because this works so well."

So I gave it a try yesterday. I brought down the filthy shower curtain and was a little skeptical. I was lucky I happened to glance a folded white towel on the floor because I Didn't think we had any - was going to use a bunch of white rags, but then remembered we have a pile of white towels in the baby's room - we had used them over the changing pad to protect the pad from poop and such - hehe. So we had a big pile of white towels in there. So I tossed it all the wash and watched it go for a while. I decided hot water should be fine. So I Watched it skeptically for a while and walked away. I put it on super heavy wash settings. An hour later pulled it out, and clean as a whistle. It was AMAZING. Sure I am happy I do not have to go track down this particular sized shower curtain but I am even happier that I do not have to throw that hunk of plastic in the landfill. I am so pleased. Now I wish I could throw the bath tub in the wash too. LOL. I skipped the dryer, the last thing I needed was to leave it in too long and ruin my dryer and my curtain, but was fine, just hung it back up in the shower to dry. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!

& then I was ranting about static cling and LuckyRobin posted this:
"Okay, this will sound weird but it works. Clean the hairbrush
completely out so there is no hair or dust in it at all, then wash it in the
dishwasher in the silverware holder. When it is done and dry again,
lightly spray it with a fine solution of non-stick cooking spray or olive
oil (I ususally use olive oil in a spray pump) and let it dry. Works
for me, I do it about once a month during the winter. If the brush acts
up again during the month, just lightly spray it again and let it dry
before you use it."

I had been meaning to give my hair brush and comb a good wash anyway but had never thought to put it in the wash. so I did last night. I haven't tried it yet, but I am pleased to have something to fight the static cling. We'll see. Thank you too!!!!!

I actually have gotten lots of great tips - just not enough hours in the day to try them all. But these were both pretty big so had to share. That reminds me, that e-mail dinner subscription thing did not really appeal to me but I mentioned it to dh and he actually sounded like he might like it. We will probably try a free trial then. I did notice when looking at the sample menus that even though I Feel like we cook a wide variety of food, we have a very spanish flair to our food. Lots of onions and peppers and corn, etc., bUT I was looking at these sample menus and they had piles of veggies I never even heard of. LOL. No, I think it could be good to widen the variety in our diet. Well, we'll see, will keep you updated.

Oh - found the link - http://www.savingdinner.com/

Stressed Out

February 10th, 2007 at 09:50 am

I hope the rain lets up because I decided today I just need a good walk in the fresh air. I have been so tense.

The news is not good with dh. HE went in Thursday, checked his ears (he has sudden hearing loss), said he looked fine and sent him for testing. He went yesterday and they said his hearing is only at 60% in one ear (moderate hearing loss). They were really fast to book these 2 appointments ($50 each by the way) but his next one is not until next Wednesday, to see a specialist about his ear now that they know how significant the damage is.

Part of the reason they made the appointment later I guess is it just may "go away" - odds are it might in a few days. Well I sure HOPE so. The vertigo just went away (related) and we could hope the same. BUT they said there is a chance the hearing damage is permanent. So dh is very bummed about it. I told him last night to just thing positive. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. It is not even just hearing loss, he has a ringing in his ears which is driving him crazy, though getting used to it I guess.

Doctors all said most likely virus, pretty much is nothing serious (liek a tumor or anything) but who knows, further testing, lots more $50 copays - he already has a follow up hearing test scheduled as well.

I know he was feeling really bad about all the doctor visits and I told him really as long as he doesn't get hospitalized I am okay. Though I guess with no cause, surgery and hospitalization hasn't been ruled out, but appears unlikely at the moment. We don't pay too much out of pocket until the overnight stays hit - $500/night. So I can deal with all these $50 here and there. I told dh not to pay any attention to me because I set very high goals this year and I am all stressed they are not being met due to all these emergencies. But all the same we are well prepared and it isn't that big a deal.

I was really bummed because I Decided we needed our $200 tax refund for doctor bills and such. IT isn't much but I had really wanted to save everything extra. So I am bummed but we are still saving a good $1k/month more than we were last year so I am just insane really. LOL. I told dh not to let me stress him out.

As if things could not get worse, yesterday dh drove the kids to my work so he could go to his hearing test. Kids were napping so we switched cars and I drove them home. Not used to parking on the other side I pulled in and thought, hmmm, I should have swung more to the right, but oh well, should be room. So I get in the van today, which dh had to pull far over to the left against the wall and was paying no attention. BAcked out and slammed the side mirror (which is very wide) on the side of the garage. Smashed it. I about started crying then and there. More dollar signs. IT is just ridiculous. Dh reattached it and it seems to work. Luckily it gave way easily and has some missing chunks of plastic, but overall still functional. I put some black electrical tape in my car in case it started falling apart - LOL. IT seems okay and not sure if it is worth fixing, since it works and all, survived the freeway. The electronics still work. But I feel like an IDIOT!!!! They are the mirrors you can pull inward to since they take up so much space and I am thinking maybe I will just fold them in when I pull in the garage from now on. LOL. I don't know. Luckily that is why they gavce way so easily and did not completely obliterate it. The only problem really was that the car was not where I usually put it and I was on auto pilot. Just stupid...

So February is turning out a lot like January. Doctor visits, missed work, extra daycare, car expenses. STUPID car expenses. I don't even think I admitted that in the end dh's car had NO problems but they charged us like $100 for their time and everything. USeless $100 spent. & now maybe a side mirror to replace. Bah!

Anyway, I am working all day today and tomorrow I will probably come in and file our tax return so we can get our refund. We need it for the bills this month, we just do. May work for a couple of hours too.

My parents just came back from my grandpa's funeral too. They are having a hard time. Work is insane. I am just stressed...





Move Somewhere Cheaper

February 9th, 2007 at 10:00 am

[url]http://biz.yahoo.com/brn/070208/21029.html?.v=1&.pf=rea...

Interesting article and applies to a lot of what is going on in California.

I guess we already made the move with no equity and that was a pretty sweet move. I can imagine with our equity it would be even sweeter. Wink Where where where is the neverending question.

Brings up a good point of salaries not always being parallel to housing costs.

Also brings up the point that home equity is mostly tax-free money. I am well aware in a state where if I won $1 mil I would only get to keep half of it, that that equity money is extra lucrative from a tax standpoint.

I would do it again - move somewhere cheaper. Odds are we will sometime again. Now is just not the time for us. Today we stand that we are happy with our home, our job, our friends, our locale, our proximity to family. So even with $400k tax-free equity, it just isn't that lucrative, and having seen the equity rise and fall I am not too attached. But I wouldn't be surprised is we reach a point in our life where we are ready to move. We kind of left it as something to discuss when my boss retires. See what my options are, where we stand, how well we could be if we moved, where our family is as they all are itching to spread out anwyay, etc. But in the meantime the talks are off the table, we are happy and staying. But I know it will come up again down the road.

The 2-Income Trap

February 8th, 2007 at 04:53 pm

Came across a really good site.

[url]http://www.hughchou.org/calc/[/url]

Anyway, I came across this site while still perusing the pay mortgage vs. invest conundrum. The funny thing is the more I look the more I See pay pay pay. Quite interesting. But like I said I have a long while before I will have money to pay mortgage or invest so whatever. LOL. I tried working on a spreadsheet but got a headache. Very complicated. Plus I didn't have all day.

BUT perusing this super cool site I found a link I had seen before and lost. A VERY excellent 2-income calculator.

[url]http://www.hughchou.org/calc/dappen.cgi[/url]

I think overall it is a little biased in that it does not consider all the stress of staying home all day and watching kids (which can make you shop more too). & also does not calculate the longer-term affects of taking a big career break!!! But overall I think it is a really good calculator for anyone on the fence of staying home, or planning for the future. I like it because the taxes are reflected pretty accurately, which is BIG and often overlooked. & then all the other little things that can really add up.

Anyway, when I do the calculator with taxes and daycare alone it isn't very pretty - add all the incidentals and we are clearly in the red. Or we could focus on trying to bring home some extra income, even have one of us work minimum wage nights and weekends, would be better off. But that is 2 kids in a very high COL area with a spouse whose earning potential is $30k-$40k. Eh, just so not worth it no matter how you slice it.

& I know plenty of people who are way ahead on 2-incomes and like it like that (generally 2-high wage earners. Way better of financially working often times).

But I am happy I found the calculator and could share. IF you are on the fence or not sure, could help.

Spend Update

February 8th, 2007 at 01:56 pm

Just adding the pants per my last post.

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (3) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Professional Pants (4)
Professional shirts (8)
Professional Blazer (1)
Professional Skirt (1)
Professional Shoes (3)
Panty hose (ebay)
Knee-his (for work)
Tire Pressure Guage
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird
Jump Rope (kids)
Dish Towels (4)
Table Clothes (2)

Items bought used in 2007:
Tires for Car (2)
Used books for kids (6)
**Toddler Jeans (growing boy) (4)

**New with Tags!!!

Items free in 2007:
Old cell phones for kids to play with
Toddler's First Library Card!

-------------------------------------