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Archive for January, 2015

Taxes, Angry People, and Interesting News Story

January 30th, 2015 at 02:57 am

Tonight I did my taxes using TaxAct. It was interesting since I had to do two states plus Federal. When I first went through NM it said I owed $2. I thought that was weird, so just before I submitted the final button to file, I decided to go through it one more time. Good thing I did! Somehow the button had been clicked that I was a full year resident instead of a partial one. That was why they wouldn't let me just input my income from the school library.

So .. I got $540 back from Federal, and $220 back from state. It cost me $36.97 to file them electronically. Once that money comes in, it will be going straight to my EF goal!

I'm glad to be done with it for another year! (and looking forward to next year's which will be so much simpler.)

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Some days my job is tolerable. Others barely tolerable.

Today was a barely.

I had a man come up with a companion (mentally handicapped I think.) He wanted to get an $8 pass for his companion.

I did what I do for *every* person that comes asking for a discount pass. "Sure, I just need a photo i.d. please."

Mt Vesuveus erupted!

The man starts ranting and raving that I shouldn't have to ask for an id. He culminates his rant by pounding his fist heavily on the counter and stomping off.

He didn't even give me a chance to let him know I could take either person's i.d. I just needed an i.d!

It is policy for the low income program. I ask for it from every person no matter how many times I've seen them.

So ... about an hour later he returns with the companion.

He practically shouts at me saying, "Here! Are you happy now?" while holding an i.d. next to his companion. He says something about trust, and then he starts ranting that he'd worked in government before and if one of his employees treated a customer like I did (simply asking for an i.d. per policy ...) that he'd fire them.

I just took the i.d., got the pass, filled out the receipt, took the money, and gave them the pass. Said, "here you go."

Around that time the bus driver supervisor came in because he'd heard the guy shouting - he asked me if I needed help and I told him I was ok. The guy asks me if that was my supervisor - told him no, that my supervisor was in a meeting. He goes "that figures."f

Finally he leaves.

The bus driver supervisor had stayed nearby out of sight, so I explained to him what had happened. He agreed with me that I hadn't done anything wrong.

Later ... I tell my boss what happened. She tells me that maybe we should just stop asking for the id. That some of the other places selling them for us aren't asking for them.

Arghh!!!!

So should I ask for the blasted id or not? How would it be fair for me to ask for it from people, but if they make a fuss, say .. nevermind?? What is the point of having a policy if we're not going to follow it?

I plan on talking to her tomorrow more about this, because it is really really really frustrating me.

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While I was bored out of my mind this afternoon having finished my book (12th of Nowhere by James Patterson) and exhausted yahoo and cnn news stories of interest, I read the local newspaper.

One of the stories was about how NE is thinking of giving a property tax credit to low and middle income people. Not just property owners though! Renters too!!
An example they gave for a renter was someone making $29k/yr and paying $362/mo rent. Um ... I make less than that and pay more than that. Thus I would easily qualify for a credit! I didn't quite get how that would work, but it's still being hashed out as to whether it'll happen or not.

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The brownies I brought for treats today were all eaten up. Smile I even had someone tell me they *really* liked them. Score one for $1 brownie mix!

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I found out that the lady who had jonsed after my job has found a different job with the city in a totally different department. Her last day is Wednesday, which is the end of my 6 month probation. Funny how that works out.

2 out of 3

January 29th, 2015 at 12:30 am

Today I got my W-2 for the bus job. I got mine for the NM job on Tuesday. So now all I need is the one from the call center job and I can do my taxes. Smile I can't wait to see how much I'll be able to put towards my EF goal!

I checked with personnel today to find out exactly when my retirement will start being taken out of my check. They told me the first March paycheck.

So I filled out a new W-4 form to change my withholding to 3. I currently have it at 2, but with my taxable income reduced by 7% I think I'll need it at either 3 or 4 to keep as much of my money as possible.

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When I got home tonight I remembered that tomorrow is my day to bring treats for the office. So I took one of the boxes of brownie mix I bought at the store going out of business and they are cooling now. Smile I think I paid about $1 for the mix.


I got credited for another Pinecone survey today. But my total is now 400 points. So I guess I can redeem after two more surveys for $10. Kind of annoying.

5 more work days til my 6 months probation is up!

Every time I get a call where someone is cussing it reaffirms my resolve to save as much money as possible in order to retire as soon as possible.

Notice people - When I give you time estimates, they are ESTIMATES. I can't control if a bus runs late or runs fast. Also, if I put you on hold to find out the answer to your question, it may take some time. Twice today I had someone hang up JUST as I got back to the phone with the answer to their question!!

MOTIVATED to save!

New Budget Plan

January 28th, 2015 at 03:18 am

I know I've been going back and forth quite a bit about different budget plans / allocations the past few months.

I haven't totally been happy with any of them.

Today though I read something on the MMM blog about his 2014 expenses, as well as a couple comments, which really resonated with me.

To put it simply, MMM doesn't go by a formal budget - he simply makes values based spending decisions.

For me, before I spend money from now on outside of the basics (rent, car insurance, giving, Roth, 10% of net EF) I am going to ask myself a series of questions (from MMM blog).

1. Will buying this really improve my overall lifetime happiness?

2. Is there another, more efficient way to meet this same need?

3. Can the same benefit be had if I delay the purchase?

4. (my own question) If I purchase this item now, how will it affect future me? I.e. Is the item worth the opportunity cost.

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I redid my whole January budget. I emptied out all categories that had positive balances to put them back into the Available to Budget (ATB).

Then I created a new category - Slush - which I funded with $1000. The rule is that if it ever goes under $1000 then it is the first category to be refueled.

I still have umpteen number of small categories - they just are not funded. After asking the series of questions if I decide the purchase is worth it, then I'll spend the money in which ever category it belongs to.

At the end of the month all money that was not spent will go to the EF until I hit the $12,000 goal. I am going to focus 100% on this goal until I reach it.

This is not to say that I won't be taking any vacations or trips - I just will be scrutinizing the expenses and value of them very hard.

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So for example if I am really wanting some chocolate I can ask myself if the chocolate is really going to help me be happier overall. Let's say I'm really wanting a whole bag of chocolate. Buying a whole bag isn't going to help me happier overall, and it won't help my future self be happier or healthier. However, if I purchased a small single chocolate bar I would get my chocolate, but at a very small cost. ($.50 vs $3.49)

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Purpose of slush fund: Let's say there's a month where Murphy hits hard and I have a large expense which uses up all of the ATB - I can then use the money in the slush fund.

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Here's January for an example:
Must Haves:
Giving: 10% of Net from prior month
Rent: 430
ROTH: 200
Car Insurance: 36
EF: 10% of Net from prior month

All other categories use the ATB money.

I have 322.93 left. All $322.93 goes to the EF category.

When you add up ROTH, EF 10% and EF ATB, it gives me an approximate 48% savings rate (of Net) for January.

Once my retirement starts being subtracted, I'll look at two savings rates - Net and Net+7%.

Overspent Grocery Budget by a lot

January 28th, 2015 at 01:11 am

Yesterday I stopped at the store that is closing - they were up to 25% off everything.

I walked out with $24 spent. However, I found out while I there that frozen foods were 40% off. I hadn't got a cart when I went in, so didn't get much in frozen foods.

Today I stopped by again ... and got a cart.

The damage? $44 in frozen foods.

It is all foods I can use for lunches and weekend meals for a good while. It barely all fit in my freezer.

However, it does make me about $40 over budget for January.

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I was reading a blog post by MMM today and all the comments. The one on his 2014 spending.

It is making me consider doing something a bit different with my budgeting. I'm still ruminating on whether I want to make this change or not, and exactly what it would look like.

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NE went to see the special specialist for his shoulder issues today. The SS had two possible options for him, but wasn't sure which one he'd recommend. One was a reverse shoulder replacement, and the other one involves taking bone grafts from a cadaver (ewww!!) and grafting it onto NEs humerus head. Also taking parts of tendons from other parts of his body to repair the multiple rotator cuffs that are not just torn, but are withered up.

This all could have been avoided if he could have just gone to the doctor when it first happened. UGH!

Discover Card plan

January 24th, 2015 at 11:44 pm

I got my replacement DC in the mail today. I'd misplaced my old one (think I may have shredded it since I never used it ...)

I signed up for the offer - spend $1k by March 31st and get $75. Normally I wouldn't go for something like this, because spending that much on my CC isn't likely to happen.

However, this just so happens to be the quarter where my car insurance renews. Smile

So here is my plan for the 1k spend:
$215 - Car Insurance
$375 - 3 months tithe (can pay via CC online!!)
$130 - 2 months Internet (too late for January)
$225 - 2.25 months groceries
$100 - 2 months utilities (can put electric on card

I'll also put gas on it since they're offering 5% CB on that to give me a little extra buffer for the 1k spending (not that an extra $35 or so is going to be that much ... 2 months gas ... if prices hold)

And ... that does it.

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I *finally* got confirmation that my Discover checking account is open. I'm glad I didn't wait til February to start the process!

The deal is open an account with $500 by 2/28. Have a balance of $5000 by 3/15 - get paid $50 if you still have a $5000 balance.

So I'll have the 500 opening balance in there, and add the rest in March - probably the first week in case it takes it awhile to transfer over.

The bonus money will of course go to my Windfall category. Smile

As soon as the $50 is paid, I'll close out the checking though. DC pays .9%, which is ok, but not as much as Barclay's. $50 beats out one month of interest at Barclay's though by a long shot. Big Grin

Amazon Prime $72 Today Only!

January 24th, 2015 at 03:09 pm

A few months ago when my Prime account was up for renewal at $99 for the year, I decided it was not worth it. I wasn't buying much from them with not working in the library anymore, and the few things I did buy were mostly subscribe and save items anyway. The couple shows that I'd want to watch, I could purchase full streaming seasons for less than the $99.

But today they have it for $72. Hmm... I just looked at Downton Abbey and Suits ... purchasing season passes for those two shows would be less than $40. So that means I'd have to find $32 worth of other shows I really want to see to break even ..

I think I just talked myself out of this temptation.

(BTW - I have more than enough AGC credit to pay for this without cutting into my regular budget. The only reason it is a temptation for me.)

Panic Attack Outside the Post Office

January 23rd, 2015 at 01:22 am

I decided to stop by the post office today to check my mail there - still have my box from when I first moved here. (need to get it canceled, just keep forgetting)

Part of the reason was it had been a few weeks since I'd been there, and part of it was I hadn't had a good day and wanted chocolate. Which I got .. before the mail.

So anyway ... I got my mail. Saw two envelopes from a place I didn't recognize and an envelope from my former 2005 employer's retirement company. Opened that up in my car ... Balance $0!!

Ensue panic attack!

Ensue rushing home.

Try to calm myself and call retirement company. Find out that my 2005 employer changed companies as of January.

They don't have the number for the new company, but they did know the name.

Google name of new company. Call customer service number. Find out my money is there.

Get very aggravated registering for an online account so I can SEE my money. Finally manage to get in and see it is still there.

I received absolutely NO communication about this impending move. My money will be moving again soon - to Vanguard, but now I just have to figure out how to move it from this new company.

I DID not like finding out about this like that. At all.

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I got in touch with someone who should know about talking with the pastor / not being a member. Haven't heard back one way or the other yet, but I'll see her on Saturday. Am feeling really frustrated with life right now.

Ten Years and a ?

January 22nd, 2015 at 12:44 am

I realized that I missed my ten-year blogaversary! January 17, 2005 I posted my very first blog here. Very few people remain here who were there then.

In some ways I'm better off financially than I was in 2005 - more retirement/stock savings. But a good bit less in cash savings. My job has fairly similar benefits, although I'm making about 15k less than I did in 2005.

I had no debt in 2005, and I have no debt now. Back then I was in uber savings mode preparing to quit teaching. Now I'm in sort of uber savings mode preparing to retire and buy a home ... in 15 years or so.

Interesting to see where I'll be in ten years from now.

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Today at work one of my coworkers pointed out to me that there is a librarian position posted on the city website ending on Friday. This is not someone I'm cozy with to say the least. She knows I have my librarian degree. She also has a friend who wanted my job - and applied twice for it.

How would you take this?


Surprise Visits and Cool News at Work

January 17th, 2015 at 03:16 pm

NE surprised me twice on Friday - He showed up at my door at 7:30 just to say hi before I left for work (he was heading to SM - the store closing down.) Then he showed up at my door again at 4:50, just a few minutes after I got home. He had his eye on a speaker in O and thought I might want to go with him.

We did end up taking a road trip to O. I like going there because they have a Hardee's - Their mushroom and swiss sandwich (burger on the side for NE) and onion rings are SO GOOD.

NE did buy the speakers, and is planning on getting them up on eBay this weekend probably.

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I found out from my boss on Friday that starting on February 9, I will be getting a 15 minute break in the afternoon. I could have asked for one in the morning too, but there's only 3 hours before my lunch break, so I thought that was kind of pointless. She was relieved that I didn't ask for the morning break. Smile

My plan for the afternoon break is to walk on the treadmill while reading a book. Smile Get more steps in daily and be away from the phone! Big Grin

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I finished up all my retirement benefit/life insurance paperwork. It won't get delivered til Tuesday though.

I ended up going with a supplemental 10k Life Insurance because if I decide I need it later for a larger amount, I'd have to be medically approved. So for about $1.80/month I'll have 81k of life insurance. If I leave, I can take it with me, the amount I pay would just go up.

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I received $25 PayPal from Mypoints yesterday. I also got my $25 AGC from PerkTV. I now have about $100 in Amazon credit.

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My goals for this weekend - Today is just about relaxation and rejuvenation - probably a trip to the library.

Sunday - Get the living room cleared of boxes and all pictures put up.

Monday - Make veggie patties, cc loaf, etc. to freeze for future lunches. Do some cleaning.

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Weigh In News: Even with my chocolate indulgences and Hardee's last night, I am down almost 2 lbs since my last official weigh in. Smile

Spent Some More ...

January 16th, 2015 at 12:21 am

I decided to stop at that store that's going out of business again after work today. This time though I wasn't starving nor was I too stressed out from work.

I spent $16 - 2 jars of Nutella, a box of Belviata cookie, 4 boxes of brownie mix, and something else I can't remember.

The brownie mix will be used for when I'm supposed to bring in treats for the office - they were $1.25 a box plus 15% off.

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Office politics. UGH!

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I am SO looking forward to 3 days off from work in a row. Having a day off during the week is okay, but not so much of a break as a 3 day in a row break.

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I'm planning on finishing both Inferno and #19 in the Stephanie Plum series tonight. Nice and relaxing. Smile