Saturday, January 28, 2012

Taxes are done

And the news isn't what I'd hoped for. Actually, what I'd planned on. We've always gotten a pretty big refund. I know that's not what the money experts advise, but it's what we do. Mostly because our expenses vary so wildly that we're afraid to change anything lest we owe a boatload of money come April. I knew that we were losing DD as a deduction this go-round. She's been on her own for more than a year now. I also knew that for the first time in a few years, we didn't have any college tuition expenses we could count. What I didn't know is that we could no longer claim our 20-year-old son as a dependent. He left college after a year and moved back home where he has been cobbling together part-time jobs until he's eligible age-wise for the full-time job he is after. Because he's not in school and because he earned more than the around $3,000 threshold, he is considered head of his own household. Despite the fact that he lives rent-free in ours. Aside from health care and transportation, we absorb his basic living expenses. Just doesn't seem fair.

The good news is that we do not owe anything. The bad news is that the refund (just a few hundred dollars) isn't nearly big enough to cover what I had hoped it would cover. Namely a chunk of DD's wedding expenses. Given that DS is graduating high school this year, too, and my parents' 50th anniversary is coming up, we really could have used some help. I'm trying not to panic here.

It's back to the drawing board. I'm going to have to cut some already dull corners even more. What fun.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things I learn at the grocery store ...

The most expensive grocery store in the area advertised a "meal deal" sale this week. For $7.99, you get: 1 Freschetta pizza, 1 TGI Friday's appetizer, 1 bag of Mission tortilla chips and 1 2-liter Coke product.

Not bad, right?

I got my four items and headed to the register. It rang up $7.44. The cashier took note first and commented that often the advertised sale prices are really lower. She presumed it was because of lower regional prices.

Who knew?

My men will be quite happy that there is now an unexpected stash of junk food perfect for watching a good ball game. And I'm happy that I feel like I got a deal. I won't be eating with them as I am actually making progress on one of my 2012 goals: I've lost 7 pounds! Now I've just got to keep the ball rolling ...


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The price of losing focus

It's been crazy busy around here. The problem with juggling so many balls at once is that inevitably one is going to get dropped. A small error in my checkbook register sent the account into overdraft. The deficit was covered by an automatic overdraft transfer from savings - at a cost of $3. I know I should be thankful that it only cost me $3, but it really annoys me that I let even a penny get away. Plus, that means I officially have just over $7 to last until Friday. Another annoyance.

But that's what happens when you don't pay attention, even for a day. You pay. It was a good reminder for me.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free ham - it's what's for dinner tonight

Free food is the best! Hubby handed me a gift from one of his customer's the other day - a $50 gift certificate to the Honey Baked Ham store. He had no idea what to do with it, but I sure did! I had never been there because I know it's pricey, but with my $50 in hand, I marched confidently in and stated my intentions.

The woman was very helpful and in the end I left with a mini spiral ham, a sliced turkey breast and a bag of fresh rolls. The total came to $49.99. I told her to keep the change :)

I am so excited because this will not only provide a couple of dinners, but lunches for everyone for at least a week. I can hear the grocery budget breathing easier already!

Hope everyone is having a great day!


Monday, January 2, 2012

12 goals for 2012, part 2

I'm determined to try to uphold my end of this blog better, so I've gotten together 12 goals as I see them today, though there are many more! As sisters, Sarah and I share several, so I've taken the liberty of swiping a few from her list :)

1. Count my blessings. Every. Day.

2. Declutter (that could be its own blog)!!!

3. Follow Eboo's Dollar a Week Saving Plan in order to have a fully funded Christmas account come next buying season.

4. Lose 40 pounds. I'd lost 29 before our daughter's wedding, then came football/holiday/stress pounds. 17 of 'em.

5. Exercise daily - treadmill or walk up our little mountain. A sit-up or two on occasion would be a nice touch.

6. Be creative with healthy, frugal meals.

7. Live more simply. We've never lived lavishly, but in a quest to reduce our heating bills (and be WARM for a change), we're preparing for a wood stove in order to take advantage of years' worth of wood on our property.

8. Take better advantage of our land (see #7) and look seriously into beehives this spring. Hubby had some as a kid, and we have a perfect setup for them. The new beekeeping supply shop in town is reasonable and knowledgeable, and since we've always preferred honey to processed sugar, this seems like a worthy investment.

9. Regarding debt, I'll have to update after the bankruptcy process has been completed and I see what's what, although I can probably go ahead and include Start repaying student loans again. And save for the two months of no summer paycheck.

10. Finish organizing photos and wrap up some old, relatively inexpensive projects (freeing up time and space for new ones).

11. Remove everything from the walls, paint, and put back only family photos and evidence of our daughter's photography skills.

12. Keep praying!

May the challenges of 2012 be easy to knock down for us all as we seek the light at the end of the $$$ tunnel!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

12 goals for 2012

OK, I promised new goals and following in the shoes of my fellow bloggers, I'm putting 12 out there. Here goes.

1. Smile more.

2. Count my blessings. Every. Day.

3. Pay for our part of daughter's wedding. In cash.

4. Make way too complicated cross-stitch Christmas stockings for same daughter and her groom as a wedding gift.

5. Follow Eboo's Dollar a Week Saving Plan in order to have a fully funded Christmas account come next buying season. I actually started this in November, since that's when I'll need it next. Total so far: $28.

6. Catch up on scrapbooking. That should keep me busy.

7. Lose 25 pounds. I made this #7 so it wouldn't be so scary.

8. Exercise. Some. Anything at all will be an improvement.

9. Continue to work on the grocery budget while eating healthier. See #7.

10. Be more positive about anything and everything. See #1.

11. End 2012 having shaved a minimum of $15,000 off our debt.

12. Keep praying. It's the only way to survive this life journey.

Happy New Year, friends. Let's make it the best one ever!