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Raise v. Expense Increases

February 15th, 2019 at 10:06 am

My husband got a raise this year- yes! Not a huge raise, but we are super happy! The result is $98.90 per month net.

Now for the increases in expenses for 2019:
- 83.33 more to the IRAs which gets us to our limit
- 58.67 increase in F's tuition
- food cost increases - our old food budget is not cutting it anymore - probably need to add about $75 more a month to be safe but $50 more would be ok

So budget needs to change by about $192 and we have $98.90... need to find another $93.

One way to do this is to take money out of other categories:
- 20 from karate (since she does so many sports that there isn't time for a lot of privates and the testing will slow down, too)
- 10 from camp (since F doesn't really like camp anymore and will do one or two at most - one karate and one soccer)
- maybe some money from the tuition savings (we try to save a little extra each month) to offset the tuition increase

Another option is a small distribution every so often from my business, but I hate doing that.

What categories do you use to offset budget increases?

Taxes - Two Ways

February 9th, 2019 at 01:42 pm

Because I had been reading so many stories about refunds v. owning money as a result of the new tax changes, I decided to do our taxes two ways: using last year's tax code and this year's because everything else could be a result of withholding/different earnings/other factors.

This was easy to do, because I do my own taxes and I use Turbo Tax. I just opened a new file in last year's program and entered the info side by side with this year's program.

My dad said he had been planning to do the same thing: like father like daughter! My dad is 86 and still does his own taxes. The first time I did mine, he sat patiently with me as I did my (then) very simple return.

Ok, so this year we are getting back $4475 more than we would have under the old tax code. That is insane (and not in a good way, except for us it's good, but not for the country).

This is the part of the post where things get nerdy. But this is SavingAdvice, so you're probably into this! This is why I think the difference is so much in our favor:
- Standard deduction - we always took the standard deduction so the difference is pretty dramatic for us (we never itemized)
- Child tax credit - this gained us $2000 (would have been 0 under the old tax code)
- I made some pass-through money (my business profit which is taxed as personal income, and under the new rules, 20% of that is just written off
- I guess we end up in a lower tax bracket because they changed the brackets (we would have been in the 28% tax bracket last year, and now the same income is 24%)

All of this is great for us, as I mentioned, but completely unfair. Of course we can use the money (D may have to go back to the UK, but that's a different post and we are saving for college) but we shouldn't have been the ones to get a tax break. We make a good living (with both of our salaries about 120k) and I feel like this should have been aimed more at people less fortunate. Besides giving to college, some of this refund will be given as a charitable donation (along with the money F raised by making friendship bracelets for a local non-profit that deals with domestic violence).

School Re-Enrollment, Tickets to CA, etc.

February 4th, 2019 at 07:12 pm

Frugal stuff....

1. Spent the weekend playing around on Excel to make sure we have enough to pay for school. I also called the school's financial office to find out what we save if we pay the full tuition by June v. paying monthly. It's $75, and it would be super hard to pay by June, plus we keep the money that we're saving for education in an account that makes interest. So - monthly it is! But good to do the research.

2. We bought our plane tickets to visit my brother and sister-in-law after they have their baby. Not cheap, but it's our vacation this summer and we're going to help with the baby for a few days. (We'll also do some driving trips around our state - maybe Chaco, Very Large Array). My mom let me know there was a sale, so I got on Southwest. The choice was Oakland v. San Jose, and although San Jose would've been more convenient (a little closer to Palo Alto), it also meant two flights and a lot more time spent traveling, so we opted for Oakland.

3. I am finishing up a library book - Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (one of my favorite writers!). A super fun book! I'll return it tomorrow along with books that F read. I truly love our little library.

4. We now have a professional soccer team in our state (second division, but still - how cool for our young soccer players)! The are having a youth clinic up here (they play in Albuquerque, so that's super nice). You get to watch them practice, then you get a meet and greet, then a training session with them!!! I had to get a ticket but the ticket was FREE! They just want people to register. The whole team is going.

5. More free stuff - our wonderful soccer coaches have been putting together some winter programs for the team including what they call "soccer class." These are in addition to indoor practices, and each week covers a different subject: athletes + sleep, focus + relaxation, goals + habits, game day prep. And I talked to the owner of the gym where I teach and she let me do a class for three weeks on resistance training for free.

6. Track is starting and uniforms are - gulp - $95. But not unexpected, and since it's a school sport, everything else is covered. F told the coach she wants to run the 800 and 1600 and his eyes lit up. She came in first in the soccer team timed mile (6 min. 45 sec.), and I'm excited to see what she can do with training. The coach said he has picked several meets at lower altitude to take advantage of the fact that our students train at 7000 feet.

7. We spent $138 on groceries this week, which isn't great. May need to do "eat out of the freezer" at the end of the month. This does include bringing a meal to my friend B who has a concussion (and is a single mom).

Yes, Hamilton Tickets!!!!

January 1st, 2019 at 10:05 am

We got the tickets!!!! Row G orchestra, right on the aisle so F and I can actually see. We got on this website which shows you the views posted by people from various seats. OMG! As FrugalTexan I think correctly guessed: HAMILTON! We are so excited!!!!!!

Not sure if we can stay with my brother (and I wouldn't want to burden him with that), we got a hotel on booking.com. It was less than we could get on the hotel website, and we can cancel up to two days before. It's not a fancy hotel, but it looks just fine for us! And has a pool...

We will also go visit Stanford. And if you have any suggestions in the Palo Alto area, would love to hear it! It will be early August.

In other very boring news:
- Am freaking out because the book I ordered from the library is in but the library is closed today!!! I've been on the waiting list for a while; it's the new Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) book.
- I am trying to do my billing for work today even though I'm not technically working. Billing = money. Need money!

Christmas Day

December 25th, 2018 at 10:34 am

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season!!

It has been way too long since I've written anything! I was working on two things:
- a fire station (turned in the drawings on 12/20)
- a Christmas Advent Village (made of cardboard) for me and my daughter. We each wrote stories about each building, too, and gave them to each other each day. You can see them here: https://www.instagram.com/every_.little_.thing/?hl=en

I have work to finish later this week, but I am taking off Christmas!

We had a great day yesterday with all of the Santa Fe traditions. We did the Farolito walk, singing carols at the bonfires, and stopped in at the houses of two different friends, ending up at my friend K's house for frito pies. This is a free and beautiful tradition. Have any of you ever been here for Christmas?

It's supposed to snow tonight (fingers crossed we get a lot!).

So, two recent odd financial things:

1. We got nice presents for F's teachers and for her karate teachers. She signed the karate teacher cards when a friend was over, and the friend (who also takes karate) wanted to sign the cards, too (yes, she knew there was a gift included). I wasn't around (they are teenagers after all) or I would've suggested she do her own cards (I have some on hand). I didn't know what had happened until I saw her handing one of the envelopes to one of the karate teachers and then asked F about it in the car. Her mom is going to be surprised when she is thanked for the gift, but whatever. I decided to let it go. One of the cards/gifts was for someone F does private lessons with sometimes; her friend does privates with someone else, and I feel a little bad that he didn't get anything, but can't do anything about it.

2. I was at Trader Joe's the other day, and something didn't scan, and they had overcharged me $71 when they coded it in! (The item was turkey, and was only $10.24). I was super surprised that the total of the groceries was so high, but I figured "Well, I bought some special things for Christmas."
Still, I checked the receipt when I got in the car, and went right back in. They took care of it quickly. Check your receipts!!

3. My brother and his wife are expecting a baby boy! So excited! I want to knit a little cardigan, but all of my stash yarn has at least some wool in it (20% merino/80% cotton on the stuff I wanted to use) and they are vegan. I need to go to the store and find something. I am going to find something they can machine wash, but I know they wouldn't like 100% polyester.

I am super happy that these are the things on my mind because they are insignificant and not really bothersome at all! Looking forward to the day; already made cranberry sauce, and Christmas crackers are ready to go!!

Shopping on and off list

September 29th, 2018 at 12:10 pm

We went on to Target today - dangerous place because of possible impulse purchases.

On the list:
- Birthday present for F's friend K
- 2 pairs black leggings (on sale $4 each!) for F
- watch for F to replace hers that broke (they didn't have what she wanted; I just ordered it online)
- ziplocs
- eye stuff for dry eyes (I couldn't figure out what to get, so I didn't get anything, then I called my brother and he said "just saline solution" so I'll have to pick that up later)

Not on the list:
- a bag of candy corn. I have a candy corn obsession; I only eat it once a year, but I know it's awful stuff. I got the real-sugar-not-corn-syrup variety, and I'm bagging half for my friend M who has the same problem I do! I'm having lunch with her on Tuesday, so I can give it to her then.

Found a gift bag that someone gave us (we save those) to put K's present in, and we'll leave in half an hour for the party.

Looking Back at August

August 29th, 2018 at 05:59 pm

Almost the end of the month...

- We almost made it to the end of the month within our food budget; we're about $8 short. That can be made up with other categories.

- F has a class trip coming up. She is celiac, and there is a meeting tomorrow with her and her adviser (also celiac! Isn't that cool?) and some other administrators to figure out the meal plan while she's away. I will have to pack food for her, but they are going to figure out what I pack so that she can eat as much like the other kids as possible. She's in middle school now, so these are things she takes care of (I am not involved in the discussion), which is really great!

- I didn't realize that one of the 20s in my pay envelope from the gym was actually a 50! So I made $82 rather than $52.

- I need to increase the amount we put in the Pets category. Our dog is old and wonderful and needs three kinds of medicine daily.

- I made $131 on credit card rewards this month. This is from my new Chase Business Unlimited card which is no fee and is 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

- The meal plan this week is frugal:
S - crustless quiche
M- chicken piccata with rice, broccoli
T - red peppers
W - risotto
T - salmon cakes with peas
F - black bean spinach casserole
S - not sure; maybe big salad?

- I get to eat something tonight that I don't have to cook! Woohoo! Risotto is one of Ds dinners. Every once in a while it's nice not to have to cook.

- F is doing really well on varsity soccer! She is having fun, and started the last game, was played more than 3/4 of the game. And school soccer is free! Well not completely free. I have to pay to get in some games (not at our school) and I will probably join the booster club ($50) and buy a shirt to wear to games. But it's a LOT less than the $465 per season we pay to her club team. And we don't need to buy uniforms.

Lots Going On

August 24th, 2018 at 07:09 pm

I've been working so hard for the past week; it was probably ok that I wasn't able to post until now.

Here's what's been going on (some financial, some not so financial):

- F made it onto the varsity soccer team as an 8th grader! They played their first game last night and won! She played most of the game, and did really well. So we're proud!

- There has been a lot of spending associated with the soccer team (a lunch after a scrimmage, money for a tshirt to tie-dye, entry fees for D and I to the game last night, $20 for the retreat). I am taking the money from the same place we take the fees for her club team since we don't need to pay for club this fall. In the end, school soccer is A LOT less costly even with all those miscellaneous costs.

- F lent money to two friends for the lunch after the scrimmage and only one paid her back. This is her spending money, so it's in her interest to follow up.

- I have $101 left in the grocery budget for the month, which is tight. I'll shop on the 26th. I need to be careful about meal planning! Eat out of the pantry and freezer and add fresh veggies and fruit.

- Our pet debt is up to about $300... old dogs are expensive, but worth it. I need to put money in there from another category.

- We got a massive deal on our 2017 photo book (Shutterfly). I saw they had unlimited pages and 40% off, so I finally printed 2017. Total was $42 including tax and shipping. It's a BIG book. I will start entering 2018 photos so we can have a book in place when the next big deal comes around.

- Got $131 in Chase cash back; this goes into the vacation rewards fund which is up to $1500 now.

- We bought a wedding gift for my niece. We got an item on their registry that was $150. When I put it in the cart, Honey searched for coupons, and by the time we were done, it was $134... so now I feel bad because I intended to spend $150... But we are spending a lot to go out to California to attend the wedding...

- I bought F a winter puffy jacket on sale.

- Total for gym payments this month was $171. That's pretty good! This was partly offset by the $35 I had to pay for the next release. But teaching is more than paying for the releases.

- Now that F is in school and soccer I have a ton of time to work, but I need to learn how to work at a slower pace! I'm so used to having limited work time, that I work with ferocious intensity, and I can't keep that up for 10 hours! I have one more deadline in the near future, and after that I promise I will relax a little.

Soccer Tournament Weekend

May 12th, 2018 at 09:03 am

Soccer tournament weekend!

The car is all packed up... I made a spreadsheet for food, partly based on the recommendation of F's coaches on what the kids should eat and when. The games are at slightly weird times so we had to make the schedule. I just reminded her to drink another glass of water! Hydrate!

F is super excited!

I already vacuumed most of the house, cleaned the litterbox.

I also made a list of everything to bring to next week's tournament which is out of town - 5 1/2 hour car ride away!

And I looked at our "red" categories. I don't want to dip into our tax refund to pay those back to ourselves. I am shifting money around from other categories. The big one is the car repair category which is just at $700. This may take a few months to knock down.

Someone was supposed to come before 10 am to buy the birdcage we have for sale... it is 9:59, so I'm not hopeful. We leave at 10:30 for the soccer fields. I have other people who are interested, so I will email them if I have to!

Saving Money on Weekend Plans

May 6th, 2018 at 11:24 am

Here's how we saved money this weekend:

- Instead of going out to dinner or lunch (which we do have a budget for), we went out for dessert last night! It was a beautiful night and we walked down Canyon Road afterward (like tourists! Ha!). We are saving up money to go out to dinner in Flagstaff when F has her soccer tournament.

- We are having a party for F's grade at school (50 kids and their families); but since I organized it, I decided to do a fun potluck picnic (the school is letting us use the campus) instead of meeting at a restaurant (which other classes have done). This way no one has to pay for meals out for their family (so no one is excluded) and we can play soccer and frisbee, etc. People forget that even though it's a foo-foo private school, not everyone is wealthy, and lots of kids get tuition assistance.

- F and I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday and wandered around looking at everything. We bought a chard plant and a zucchini plant for the garden. I hope they do well! I don't think we'll have another freeze...