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Archive for January, 2011: Monkey Mama*s Monkey Money Blog
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Archive for January, 2011

Frugal Advice - Living Life

January 30th, 2011 at 04:54 pm

The best financial wisdom I have picked up for over the years is that there is usually a way to have something virtually identical for much cheaper.

Just seems to be a constant recurring theme in the discourse of personal finance. A recurring theme in everyday conversation with people around me.

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

Having been raised by frugal parents with a good sense of balance, *living life* frugally has always come rather easy to me.

When I think back over the years, it's funny, because dh and I have always gotten criticism for our life choices. We work too hard and are such tightwads. If I had a dollar every time someone told me to *Live Life.* So what is so funny about that? We do *Live Life* plenty. I just didn't know I had to spend more money and work less, to live life.

Of course, as teenagers and in our young 20s this was something that came up far more often. We were raised to be very responsible, always worked, and were on our own very young (me - age 18). The prevailing attitude is you should do very little in your teens and 20s because you have your whole life ahead of you to work and run the rat race. But, in the end, working hard while young has afforded us so much more opportunity to slow down and relax. & I alluded to the balance. No matter how hard I have worked, I have always taken time to *live life.*

Beyond that, when we do spend money, people tell us *life is to be lived.* Yay - you lived life! This is just the culture I suppose. But it REALLY grates on me. Spending more money on something doesn't mean anything to the joy it will bring to my life. I know this, but few people seem to understand that.

Beyond all this, having dealt with very sick loved ones in recent years, I feel like I am on a different spiritual plane lately. I've come to a far deeper understanding about that which is important in life.

Anyway, one day recently, I sat down and wrote a bucket list of sorts, when I could no longer take the "You don't live life" thing. I brainstormed the many things I had done while living life. IT just so happens most of the stuff didn't cost much money.

This is my version of the bucket list. I might have had a traditional bucket list before dh was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but I now realize the list was completely ridiculous and means little. I think it means more to look back at what I have done than to think what I haven't done will bring more meaning to my life. (& if there is something really important I haven't done, then I should do it now).

I had already shared that when dh was first diagnosed with his tumor, I told him if the prognosis was bad, we could cash out some retirement money and do whatever he wanted. Thinking to the traditional bucket list, right? & then dh said to me, "I don't want to go anywhere or buy anything. I just want more time with my family." Those words just really struck a chord with me. & that is when I threw away my first bucket list, because I Realized it wouldn't mean a thing to me at the end of my life.

For my new list - I threw in a few things I had planned in my life that fell through. Some due to money and lack of time (due to work). The list is VERY short.

Why don't I start with those?

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: (Or, things I had planned that fell through)

**Study abroad in London
**Travel to India (with lifelong Indian friend)
**Travel through Europe for a month with friends

(I know there will be more opportunities to take the place of these).

Of course, the most important things I have done in my life:

DONE/FREE:

**LOVE
**LAUGHED
**LEARNED
**HELPED OTHERS

& while I have been "working far too hard and saving too much money to actually enjoy life" - this is what I have been doing:

DONE:

**Built our dream home
**Owned a convertible - many road trips
**Japan
**Europe (Spain, Italy, France, Moracco)
**Mexico (cruise)
**Hawaii (Oahu & Kauai)
**Las Vegas - many road trips
**New Orleans
**New York
**Boston
**Washington DC
**Oregon/Washington - road trip
**Florida
**Denver, CO
**Kansas
**Tennessee
**North Carolina
**Tahoe
**Yosemite
**Disney Land
**Disney World
**Many road trips
**Skinny Dipped
**Jumped in a lake
**Boated around Lake Tahoe
**Skiied in Utah; saw Olympic location
**Done some intense/long bike rides
**Camped on the Beach
**Seen many shooting stars
**Pet a wild baby panther
**Saved/rehabbed baby birds & released back into the wild
**Volunteered at the animal shelter
**Skiied in Tahoe (down hill & cross country)
**White water rafting in Sacramento
**Kayaked in the ocean (with the sea otters)
**Gone whale watching (twice)
**Swam/boogie boarded in the ocean
**Swam under a waterfall
**Ran (walked) the Bay to Breakers 10k
**Helped Habitat for Humanity
**zip lined in Hawaii
**Hiked all day
**Learned to salsa & tried to learn to Swing
**Snorkeled in the ocean
**Seen a musical (or 2 or 3)
**Seen some amazing concerts (most notably, Tori Amos more times than I can count, Zappa Jr., and Metallica playing with the SF symphony).
**Watched live taping of the Daily Show (year 2000)
**Performed for others (marching band, singing, choir, piano, orchestra, etc.)
**Twirled a flag in a college marching band
**Lived in more than one city
**Taught piano to the old and young
**Married a wonderful man (10 years +)
**Birthed 2 children
**Earned a College degree
**Earned my CPA license
**Found a career that I enjoy
**I've been VP of a Professional Association
**VP, Treasurer, etc. of College Academic Fraternity
**Studied Philosophy
**Studied Astronomy
**Learned to play piano, violin, flute, drums

(Interestingly, MANY travel opportunities have come from free or very cheaply from my involvement in bands and clubs. Most travel I listed was done very cheaply, staying with friends, etc.).

I haven't added a lot to my list lately. Nothing gives me greater joy than spending time with my kids. So, instead of using my time to volunteer and try new things, I find I spend a lot of time sharing some of the above experiences with my kids. I suppose we also find much more joy in the mundane, these days. Raising a child is a life experience in itself, for sure. IT should probably TOP my list.

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Given more time, there are certainly things I would still like to do.

TO DO:

**Grand Canyon/Bryce Canyon
**Alaskan Cruise
**Egypt
**London
**Australia
**Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
**Repay a $1500 scholarship received in college (pay it forward)
**Learn to sew
**Have Grandchildren (there's something I have no control over!)

What Would I Change?

January 30th, 2011 at 12:31 am

First off, I really like the idea to have a common blog theme from time to time. Thanks Ceejay, for the idea and the topic!

I am having a hard time answering this question. (Now I wish you asked last week when I had more time to ponder! This is a good question to meditate on).

Though it's been a rough few years on the medical front, the truth is I am in a VERY good and happy spot. So much so that I am not really working towards anything in particular at the moment. I am extremely content with the status quo.

I suppose my #1 wish would be that my family and friends lived closer. My #2 wish would probably be that I did not have to live in a flood basin to live in such an amazing place. But these are not things I dwell on much since life seems to be give and take. These are things we have chosen to make other areas of our life more easy.

I think I am just in a space where life is VERY GOOD. At a different time I couldn't answer the same way. Life is full of ups and downs. I feel like I am in a little valley at the moment, catching my breath before the next mountain climb. I don't know what life has in store for me as far as my next challenges.

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

To elaborate, some of the topics mentioned were home, work, relationships.

HOME - Home is our haven and we have made our home our home exactly how we want it. There is nothing I would change. (But that we were above sea level, as I mentioned. We could move, but the trade off is more traffic, etc.).

Our neighborhood, community and region is amazing. We live minutes from downtown (a big city), but we can walk to the local farms. We are surrounded by open space and nature. It's really the best of both worlds.

The weather is great, our community is like a resort, and many spectacular vacation destinations are within a relatively short drive for our home.

OF course, we moved about 100 miles from our home town, to considerably cut our living expenses and to be able to slow down (& afford much more luxury as far as our home). Ten years in - it is a move that has paid off very well for us.

WORK - Work. I suppose I wish I could work less without a huge pay cut. Don't we all? Big Grin

As far as my job, I work close to home, have a great boss, work with great people, am paid well, am definitely appreciated, hours are good, and my schedule is flexible. Oh yes, and I like my job. So, no complaints. I get a little burned out during tax season, but the hours I work are nothing compared to the industry. I get paid overtime, anyway, so welcome the opportunity to make extra money part of the year. (Though I wouldn't be happy if I had to work so much all year round). It's a good balance. A little hard work is good.

MARRIAGE - Marriages certainly have their ups and downs. This year has just been a pretty good year. With the kids in school, dh and I have far more time together than we have had since the kids were born. & we have gone through a lot lately, so the relationship front is pretty awesome at the moment.

This leaves me with nothing I would change, though on a different day my answer would be different. I'd say the past decade has been some of the most trying times of our relationship, but we've just come out the other end stronger than ever. I know there will be many more challenges down the road, so will enjoy while things are good.

RELATIONSHIPS - I am not very social, and being very close to my immediate family I sometimes feel I have little else to give to anyone. I suppose I know I should invest in other relationships for the long run, but don't feel much motivation at current. Maybe I miss working with younger people and cultivating more relationships. Through school and work over the decades I have made some amazing friends, but people grow and move on and I have had far less opportunity to form those same relationships with age. I suppose I wish I could be more patient and tolerant with people. I just find that friendship, with age, seems to take more effort than it is worth.

This is clearly the area in my life where I struggle. Of course, I know many of you are the same way. The internet attracts similar personality types.

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

I probably feel a little extra Kumbaya, but what can I say. It's one of those rare times when everything seems to be going good. So I will enjoy it while it lasts!

Frustrated - Taxes

January 29th, 2011 at 09:45 pm

I decided to do my taxes today. Last year I filed around 1/31 and bypassed the State IOU mess. I got my refund within a week, probably.

Was my plan again for this year, but when I tried to e-file the state tax return, my employer's software wouldn't let me. IT seemed the problem was the kids' investment income (small beans and not taxable). I didn't even have to file this info with the Feds, but appeared maybe I had to for state. I decided to just take that off and try again. Still no go. It wouldn't take it simply because Fed wouldn't take it (they won't take my return until 2/14 because of all these last minute tax changes - many are in the same boat). Rolleyes

So I decided to paper file. After I got it all ready, I looked up the turn around time. I honestly think they greatly exaggerated to discourage paper filing, but the state website said 8 weeks to get paper filed refunds. Rolleyes

I set it back to e-file and will try again later.

What a waste of time today. I could have looked that up sooner and saved some headache. *sigh*

All that said, with all our medical bills in 2010, I knew our taxes would be lower. We had about $1500 in refunds and so we decided to add $2k to my regular IRA (the one I had opened for my work retirement rollover. I didn't have a regular IRA otherwise, so no real motivation to contribute, before). With the IRA deduction, I had estimated our refunds at about $1950 or so (to fund the IRA). Once I finalized everything, the end result was literally $1990. Thankfully, most of that is Feds, but a chunk is from the state. I don't want to deal with this IOU B.S., so will keep checking the software for updates and keep my fingers crossed.

Frugal Advice - Home Improvements

January 28th, 2011 at 02:26 am

The best financial wisdom I have picked up for over the years is that there is usually a way to have something virtually identical for much cheaper. Or, the good things in life don't have to cost a lot of money.

Just seems to be a constant recurring theme in the discourse of personal finance. A recurring theme in everyday conversation with people around me.

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

Today's Topic? Home Improvements...

Flooring, to be exact.

I suppose owning a small condo before we bought our first house was a good chance to *practice* home ownership.

The condo was remodeled to the hilt before we moved in, and so we didn't have any home improvement costs the two years that we owned it. Like, we didn't spend a penny on improvements.

That said, the carpet was a horrific white color. I am sure it would be pretty if there was no such thing as dirt. But, it became obvious pretty quickly that it wouldn't have been our first choice.

Funny enough, my cat puked all over the carpet over time, and left lovely pink splotches all over the carpet. (Pink from the food we feed her, I suppose).

When we bought this home we bought new construction. When we went to pick out our flooring, I remember looking at the carpet and settling on an almost mauve color. Dh and I looked at each other and said, "I think that would hide any cat puke stains." It was a very neutral/pplain color, but had a hint of that pinkish color to it.

I remember picking out this marble looking linoleum for the hard floors (kitchen/bathrooms) because it had these beautiful grey streaks through it. IT was GORGEOUS, first and foremost. But, we looked at it and said, "That will hide the dirt."

I share all this because today was the TRUE TEST for this flooring. (We've lived here 10 years, by the way). Linoleum is easy to clean, and I don't think the kids have been too harsh on it (as harsh as they have been with other parts of the house, anyway).

But, they were drawing on some white paper on the floor (my idea) with a permanent black marker. It was part of some toy and I didn't think too much about it. BUT, the ink leaked through the paper (I believe). I really don't think they were drawing on the floor, but who knows.

& suddenly my *perfect looking* floor is covered in black marks and streaks.

I tried not to cry as I got out some all purpose cleaner and let it soak for a bit. I didn't notice for about 24 hours after the mess was made! As I wiped it up, it was coming up a little bit. Not 100%, but I could breathe a little sigh of relief.

As I continued at it, some of the streaks and spots turned grey. I sat back and giggled at the genius of buying this floor in the first place. I honestly couldn't tell you what is pen marks and what is natural grey streaks, any more.

Thinking through your home improvements can really keep your costs down over the years. I'd probably rather live with black spotted linoleum than replace a perfectly good floor covering. But, thankfully I don't have to make that decision today.

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

All that said, I just have to add that it is also important to consider all options, and to consider the long term costs when choosing different home improvement options.

I share because I wonder how many of you are thinking why wouldn't we buy fixxers and do DIY improvements to save money? The fact is, the fixxer/DIY ROUTE makes little financial sense in the region we live in. Certainly not for the types of housing we searched out and when we bought. Doing the math, we came out ahead going different routes.

I think it's a good example to not just blindly believe that "x" is super expensive and "y" is the only frugal way to go. Over the years, with an open mind, we have found good deals in unexpected places.

Good News!

January 27th, 2011 at 03:31 pm

I got the news that my thyroid nodule was benign!

Woohoo!

To celebrate, we went out for a way overly expensive dinner.

It was good though.

We took the kids, because a $5 kids menu item was cheaper than childcare.

My mom was appalled and tried to talk me into a date night with dh. I have been sitting home with dh for 2 weeks and we have a dinner out planned next week (fundraiser - no kids). I thought it was appropriate to celebrate with the whole family, anyway.

I can assure you we didn't need a *date night.*

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Reminds me, all of my friends are mourning my return to work. Especially the clueless SAHPs who think I never see my kids. Yes, I will lose that 4:00-5:00 hour with my kids. I don't think anyone will notice or care. They spend most their hours at school. Wink

Beyond that, I can not wait to get back to work. Tax season is not my favorite time of year, but beyond that, I am grateful to like my job and HAPPY to go back!

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I had already committed increased mortgage payment for January, before I got the news. I can't help but feel the timing was to be. February is a short month and so I figure if dinner put us over budget for this month that we can probably make it up in February. Mortgage payments will stay, as is. No spending money left for January (though probably plenty for groceries and gas).

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I dipped my toes in at work. I don't even know where to begin, and I know today I have the potential to be bombarded (I return full-time today - and today is when my clients expect my return - probably LOTS of phone calls).

But, for the most part, it has been much better than expected.

I also got my Continuing Ed. materials, so will either knock that out this weekend or next. Office is closed next weekend so no overtime earned this week or next, but I feel just fine. Probably for the best - a couple of more weeks before I jump in to 50-hour weeks.

At home I have been completely useless, for the most part.

I need to:

*Get taxes done this weekend
*Do my continuing Ed. at some point
*Thank you notes - I put off the whole of the last 2 weeks though I have mostly felt fine

& finally, dh really doesn't do much housework, so the house is a disaster. I haven't lifted a finger, while recovering. I probably could have done a little more.

I could feel more overwhelmed, but am gratetful that I do not have to work next weekend!

Mortgage Update

January 26th, 2011 at 10:28 pm

My raise barely covered our health insurance increase (if it even did), but this year we get some tax breaks compared to last year.

So, we decided to put $50/month extra to the mortgage.

I didn't for January since my raise was only in effect for half the month.

However, dh has had a good ebay/amazon/craigslist month and so we should get a $50 deposit around 1/31 (from amazon). I was also going to add a $20 gift he got to the 2/28 payment. With the new found money I canceled the initial mortgage payment and will pay it directly on the mortgage bank's website to make sure the principal gets applied correctly. +$70 for January. Looks like I will have even more for February (more expected sales).

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I haven't been big on the mortgage pre-payments. So, what has changed? Well, being able to max out retirement is one (that was our primary goal - mortgage paydown being secondary).

We also borrowed money (closing costs) to refinance the last time, so we feel an extra priority to pay those costs down. We've never borrowed a penny against our home, otherwise (even through many other purchases/refis. We usually pay cash for closing costs).

Then there is the psychology of breaking the $200k barrier. Not only is it a big fat six figure number, but we had paid our first mortgage down to almost $200k in 2001, before we moved. Logically I know our community is very high end, and we have a real house, a garage, a yard, and over twice the space, for a mere $30k more in loans. But, by the same token, we paid our first condo down very quickly (we both worked) and it's a bummer that in 10 years all we have accomplished is nothing on the mortgage balance. Back to where we started... This wasn't exactly what we had planned, anyway. I suppose that is the part that bothers me. Making no forward progress on that debt in 10 years, was not part of the plan. We have more and we work far less, but expected to make more forward progress all the same.

That said, paying down the mortgage is still not a huge priority. If we came into some extra money, we'd consider paying down a small chunk to make up for lost time. Mostly our plan is to resume our old $1300, $1500, or $1800/month payments, once dh returned to work. How much would depend on his income. Last we both worked, we were able to swing $1800/month for a 15-year mortgage (higher interest rates than at current). I think $1800/month would be very reasonable with 1.5 or 2 incomes. I make much more money now than I did in 2001. Our current payment is $1100 - we refied from $1500 to $1100 over the years, with dropping interest rates. We are sticking with the 30-year as long as the interest rates are this low. I don't want to fret over a $1800/month payment in case of a lay off or something like that. I certainly can't afford that on my income alone. But when we are both working, we will gladly pay the extra principal.

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ETA: I received a $20 rebate today for my Visa. I get 1% cash back on this visa - only used for vendors who do not accept my AmEx (3% cash back on that one). The Visa rebate is just deposited to my checking account automatically, every January.

So, I Was able to keep the 2/28 mortgage payment @ an extra $70 as well.

Talk about timing! I took out the $20 I moved up to January, and another $20 *magically* appeared in my account. Too funny! So I added $20 back to the 2/28 mortgage payment. This was in Quicken. I will actually make the payment closer to the due date - see what else turns up.

Frugal Advice - Exercise

January 25th, 2011 at 05:56 pm

The best financial wisdom I have picked up for over the years is that there is usually a way to have something virtually identical for much cheaper.

Just seems to be a constant recurring theme in the discourse of personal finance. A recurring theme in everyday conversation with people around me.

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

One topic that often comes up is exercise.

Since having kids and having a desk job, I don't have the most lean and mean body that I used to in my youth (when I Was far more active and had youth on my side).

That said, I spend a lot of time and energy to keep fit. If nothing else, exercise helps me to deal with stress, and to easily maintain my weight. To stay healthy, too. I suppose those would be the three primary reasons that I exercise.

In everyday conversation it often comes up how keeping fit costs too much money.

I think back to the one and only time I lost weight. I have always been very thin and had a very fast metabolism. Having kids and aging had put on a few pounds and changed the playing field a bit, but after my second was born my hormones went whacked for a time and I gained a large amount of weight in a very short time period.

I couldn't afford to spend money to lose weight (Living in California, on maternity leave. Nothing to spare).

However, once my hormones settled down, losing the weight was a priority. I had worked hard to maintain my weight over the years. There is a lot of obesity in my family and so maintaining had been very important to me. I knew it would be easier to lose the random 10 pounds I had rapidly gained before the problem worsened.

& so I walked. I woke up early every morning and went on a brisk walk. I didn't have any exercise equipment but some weights, videos and a step I bought in college. I used those too. For the first time in my life I watched what I ate. It might have taken 6 months, but I worked off the 10 pounds I had gained in the month or so that my hormones went whacked. Walking was clearly the key though. Lots of power walking.

Thankfully I knew that it didn't cost any money to lose weight. Since I ate less, I probably saved money, honestly.

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

All the above said, I have always been very active and I thrive on variety. Thus, I fare better in the long run with more exercise options. Thankfully, there are many options out there.

*Walking - I am not a fan of walking in unsafe areas alone, or in the cold. That said, during the longer summer days, the kids and I walk to the park every evening. For the dark and the cold I have the gym (treadmill). More on that later. For work (not a safe area to walk) the mall is just a five minute drive. A warm place safe to walk when needed. FREE.

I often see our neighbors driving 2-3 blocks to the pool, the baseball diamond, the school, and even to the park. How ridiculous! We rarely drive where can walk to. (There isn't much else to walk to, but where we can easily walk to, we walk).

*Exercise Videos - if you buy one new video a year (or better yet, one used video a year) you can amass a large collection over time. I have invested in a mat, a step, and small hand weights, over the decades. I suppose it helps to focus on one thing at a time. You don't need to go out and buy a full gym, to be fit. Buy used and on sale to stretch your dollar.

*Balls - balls are pretty cheap to be had. Basketball, Soccer balls, footballs. When my son signed up for soccer, we bought a soccer ball and practiced with him. (Now there is a work out!). When we got a new park we bought a basketball. For Christmas this year we asked for tennis rackets - since we have tennis courts. The walk to the tennis courts is also great exercise. These are all great exercise options that have a very small up front investment.

*Swim - in the summer I swim at our pool at least 3 times a week, if not more. Since I am with the kids (keeping an eye on them) I generally do not swim laps. But I will have the kids throw their dive toys way out and chase after them, or race them at times. Plenty of exercise to be had in a pool, if you have free or cheap access to one. Ours is "free."

*Discount Gym - Not everyone needs a gym membership - that is for sure. Personally, I do well with treadmills and ellipticals. (I don't run due to knee problems, but the treadmill - speed walk up a hill - and elliptical can be a good replacement for a nice run). I don't really want to spend the outflow or make the space for the equipment in my house - particularly not with my wild kids who will be intent on breaking it. So, joining a discount gym had been a good option for me. There is no pool, there is no sauna, and there is not even a locker room, nor showers. What there is, is good cardio equipment and childcare.

Over the years as our income increased, I dedicated $15/month to the discount gym. I can quit at any time (no contracts).

When I Was first out of college, 24 hour fitness (with all the frills and open 24 hours) only cost $20/month.

I presume there are many gym options out there.

*Invest in a piece of exercise equipment.

For the long run, when my kids are more mature and calm (maybe when they move out) I foresee buying a nice elliptical machine. Probably used, to save significantly. The thing about these kind of purchases is you can shop carefully, buy once, and it should last for a long time.

The biggest investment I have made in the last decade is $200 for a real bike. I was looking at some REALLY nice bikes in the $400 range. I decided as I jumped back in after a long hiatus that I may need a bike I could ride around the neighborhood without getting mugged. I ended up finding something comparable at Wal Mart for $200. It wasn't totally comparable, don't get me wrong. But it was a very nice bike for how little I paid. Some none-name brand bike that no one would give a second look, but was very powerful and comfortable.

I suppose I look at biking as secondary to walking. Just get up on it and go. There isn't a lot more to it.

*Discount Classes - Colleges and cities offer a myriad of exercise classes at deep discounts. In college I took advantage of the school gym and the exercise classes (Essentially free on top of my regular full-time course load).

I currently have friends who pay $10-$15 a pop for over crowded zumba classes. My secret is an aerobics/yoga/strength training course through the city. IT is only $2.50 per class, but the class is amazing. I suppose the class speaks to my very being since it is all about exercise and strength training without using any exercise equipment but our own bodies. I always leave this class VERY high on endorphins. At least once a week for my sanity.

After going to this class for years, I could probably do all the workouts in my own living room, for free. But I find I do better with the actual class. (Then I can turn off my brain since I don't have to remember all the routines).

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All told, I may spend $30/month on exercise classes and a gym membership. I might invest $25 per year in GOOD shoes (to avoid injuries). I tend to buy a $50 pair of shoes every other year. I maybe invest $30 per year, on average, on some sort of new exercise equipment.

Over the years I have built up enough exercise options. Any given day I can:

Go to the gym
Go to an exercise class
Go play tennis
Take a walk (around lake, to track, to park, at the mall, go for a hike, anywhere)
Go on a bike ride
Go for a swim (summer)
Kick around a soccer ball
Play a game of basketball
Pop in an exercise video (Step aerobics, yoga, aerobics, strength training)
Turn on the radio and just dance!

& the people around me tell me that it is far too expensive to get in shape, as they read off the cost of personal trainers, pricey exercise classes, and the more high end gyms that abound in the region.

Aw, thankfully I know better.

Frugal Advice - Taxes

January 25th, 2011 at 05:07 pm

The best financial wisdom I have picked up for over the years is that there is usually a way to have something virtually identical for much cheaper. Or, the good things in life don't have to cost a lot of money.

Just seems to be a constant recurring theme in the discourse of personal finance. A recurring theme in everyday conversation with people around me.

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CreditCardFree brings today's financial wisdom:

Don't pay more to file your taxes - more than you have to.

Wise Words!

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That said, don't be penny wise and pound foolish, either.

I have to say that as a tax preparer. I honestly believe for our good clients that we save them far more than they pay us. As it should be. If not, they shouldn't hire us.

I also have the clients who pay too much but prefer us for the peace of mind. I suppose I can't blame them, though for some of them they could probably do just fine with a cheaper option.

For the most part, I'd say file your taxes in the manner that saves you the most money in the end.

For the average person, free file or do-it-yourself would be the way to go.

I also think it is good to understand about the taxes you are paying. Whether I Was an accountant or not, I could not imagine being ignorant about the taxes that I pay.

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In the old days I did my own taxes with pen and paper. These days, that would be pretty hard to do (it has gotten so complex) but low cost software could do the trick.

I use the professional software at work to do my taxes. Takes me about 10 minutes (if that), and is free to me. Obviously my tax situation is quite simple.

Unexpected Day Off

January 24th, 2011 at 06:59 pm

I was going to work on some Continuing Education from home today. I missed a seminar due to my surgery, but was able to convert it to self study.

On my time card I put about 40 hours sick time and 8 hours CPE (Education).

I peeked at my work e-mail today to find the materials, though I really didn't want to look at anything work related. That I was saving for tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find it so I went through my e-mails one by one. Thankfully, nothing too big or stressful going on.

I finally called someone at the office who was able to find out that the materials won't be ready for another week. Rolleyes Should have been ready a week ago.

Anyway, the whole time I have been home I haven't watched all the TV/movies I said I would with dh. Wouldn't by my first choice, but I feel bad. Nothing else planned today, so on the couch watching TV it is.

My boss already pulled my time card so I can't really change it. No matter since I have little choice but to complete it some way, some how. Need it for my license, and it's paid for.

Plan B: The office is closed in a couple of weekends for carpet cleaning. It is usually my only weekend off during tax season. But since I have been lazing around at home for so long, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to get my CPE out of the way during that weekend.

I suppose the worst case is I will have to finish it some time in May.

But it was a tax update and I really would prefer to review the material BEFORE tax season hits hard. It's been hard to keep up with all the tax changes lately. Fed is just the half of it - the state tax situation is a huge mess.

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So, I spent a chunk of the morning clearing e-mails and all that.

Tomorrow I return to the office. Will be working but not really there for 2 half days. Certainly don't want to take any client calls. Will see what kind of a mess awaits me...