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July 24th, 2007 at 06:31 pm a certified letter in the mail yesterday. The state of NJ audited our 2004 tax return and found that we understated our income by $2600, which results in taxes due (plus interest and penalty) of about $1000.

I'll double check to make sure, but I think I know what happened...NJ doesn't allow you to deduct 401(k) contributions the same way the Federal Gov't does. I always get multiple sets of W2s, because I work in NY and live in NJ, so I must have submitted the Federal W2 with my NJ taxes, which would show the lower income amount.

Is there ever a good time to unexpectedly be told that you owe $1000? I don't think so, but this hurts more than usual. Sigh...

MIL Finances

May 19th, 2007 at 08:25 pm

MIL is thinking of maybe moving up by us in a year or two when she retires (or not). There is a brand new townhouse community that would be perfect for her. We went to the open house today (with her) and she liked it, but I think she got cold feet about actually moving.

Our original plan was to buy it now and rent it for the year or two until she gets here. Now we want to see if we could rent it indefinitely and more or less breakeven, so if she never decides to move we wouldn't be taking a loss.

Unfortunately, I have absolutely no experience as a landlord/second property owner, so I have my work cut out for me. I need to run the combination of numbers (down payment/mortgage/term), and research expected rents. I also need to read up on the accounting/tax issues surrounding owning a second property. The fun never ends...

A good thing comes to an end...

May 4th, 2007 at 08:26 pm

A few years back, I opened up savings accounts for my kids at Affinity Bank in California. They had a special program where the first $500 earned 10%. I received a letter in the mail today stating that they've changed the program requirements and, in order to keep that rate, the custodian of the account (me) needs to have a "Gold Checking Account". Minimum balance is $500 and there's an $8 fee per quarter if you don't meet it.

I suppose if I lived in California and needed a regular checking account, this might be a good deal, but given that I'm in NJ, it's not that hot. So I'm going to write them a letter asking them to close the accounts and forward me the money. Bummer. At least it was good while it lasted.

I see that I haven't posted for a while. The Communion is Sunday, so I've spent most of my spare time taking care of the last minute details associated with that. Hoping to be more in the swing of things in the middle of next week.

In the meantime, we did pay off the HELOC with Hubby's bonus ($6300+), so that's cool. Still waiting for my NYS tax return to come in. I asked for it to be sent electronically. I'm assuming that since I waited to the last minute with everyone else, they're running a bit behind.

Water Water Everywhere

April 17th, 2007 at 11:39 pm

In case you haven't heard, Northern NJ was hit with a big Nor'Easter this weekend. The result of 6.5" of rain on an already saturated ground? 5 inches of water in my basement and a broken hot water heater Frown. Fortunately (or unfortunately for us) we've had 2 other water-related emergencies in the past 6 months (bathroom pipe burst and water softener leaked). So the company we used to clean up those messes bumped us up the list and came over Monday to suck up the water. The heating guy came today to replace the hot water heater. All else in the basement (boiler, washer, dryer, fridge and freezer) appear to have made it out ok. (Thank goodness).

Next step is to call the insurance company. I'm not sure if we have flood insurance or what would be covered. And I'm sure everyone in my area is calling them, too, because the wait times have been crazy. Always an adventure.

Good news is that hubby's bonus came through and it was on the high end of what we thought. Bad news is that a chunck of it will now go to pay the bills associated with this flood. At least we have it. Other good news is that at least our entire house/cars aren't under water like many in our area who needed to be evacuated. Also, hubby's been complaining about how we haven't cleaned out the basement and it was such a mess. Not anymore! Smile

In other news, taxes are done and filed. (I read today that the IRS gave people affected by the storm an extra 2 days to file, but I submitted mine Sunday night so I didn't need the extension)!

With all that behind me, the next big thing is DD's 1st Communion. I need to get her shoes and tights, and arrange for pictures.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think that once the Communion is behind us, things should settle down quite a bit.

And a shoutout to the weight loss challenge: Still down 8 pounds, and just bought 2 new pairs of pants one size less than what I've been wearing, thank you very much. On to the treadmill!

Taxes done!

April 13th, 2007 at 04:01 am

Whew! Just finished them, using Turbo Tax. The net result is an outflow of about $2000, which is significantly better than the $7000 from last year. I'll have to up the estimated taxes a bit more.

The upside of procastination is that TurboTax has been free for the last week or so. I have to fill out Federal and 2 states (NY & NJ), so I probably saved about $75 by not having to purchase it.

Hubby will be back from his trip tomorrow night, so I'll go over it with him then and get this out the door. Can't tell you what a relief that is.

Another week has passed

April 11th, 2007 at 10:34 pm

Where has 2007 gone that it's already the middle of April? Did I blink or something?

I'm back from a very relaxing, cheap vacation. Back to the swing of school, spring sports, DD's 1st Communion in May, and life in general.

I'm blogging now because I (STILL) haven't done the taxes. Time to pay the piper...I'll start as soon as I submit this entry, I promise!

Got hubby's April paystub. A 3.65% raise this year, better than average, but not as great as year's past. His bonus check comes on the 15th, so I'm anxious to see how much that is. It'll go a long way to determining how much debt we can knock down.

Still doing the treadmill thing. Down 8 pounds since January, despite vacation and Easter. Slow and steady wins the race. My HUGE challenge now (in addition to the taxes) is to stop picking at all of the leftover Easter candy. I'd throw it all out, except my kids know EXACTLY what's there. My goal is to limit myself to one piece per day and have it last through the end of the year...

Way overdue entry!

February 21st, 2007 at 04:09 pm

Posting once a week just isn't cutting it...I need to get on here more often. So what's been up?

First, the 2007 Weight Loss Challenge is progressing nicely. As of Monday I'm down a solid 7 lbs from the beginning of the year. I'm doing 40 minutes on the treadmill 4-5 times per week, and I'm still excited about it. So wahoo there!
Speaking of the challenge, PricePlus, are you out there lurking? Haven't seen a post from you for a while, and wanted to make sure you're doing ok...

Second, it's been rebate-central at my house these last few weeks. In addition to the $4 or $5 ones I've been due, I just got back 2 $50 rebates from Verizon for new cell phones we got for Christmas, and I got a check for $375 from my credit card company for rewards that I cashed in. Although February has been a great month financially, I'm still making up for the blows I took in January (brakes for the car, water softener leak), so the extra money will definitely come in handy.

Haven't been inspired to revisit the taxes since my first go-round last week. I need to, though, just so they don't continue to hang over my head.

Did I mention in a previous post that the insurance company is not covering DS's speech therapy yet? Turns out that the diagnosis code used was too vague, so the therapist needs to give me a new one that will be covered. That will be a nice check if/when I ever get it, but until then, it's a hefty chunk of change to lay out. (Also met with the school today regarding the therapy they're going to start giving him. Can the bureaucracy be any worse? It'll be another 2-3 weeks before the next and final(?) meeting, then he can start. Ugh...)

So that's the deal here. Hope everyone is doind well...

Inside-Out PJs

February 14th, 2007 at 02:48 am

We're all wearing them. It's snowing, with a possible 3-6" by tomorrow morning. I'm planning on working from home anyway, so I'd LOVE a snow day for the kids!

Took the first stab at my taxes last night. Looks like I'll owe about $2000 Federal. This is much better than last year, when we owed $7200! I usually get about $1800 back from NY, but I have to look at Turbo Tax to figure out what's wrong. It looks like they double count our income (we get W2s for NY and NJ). Once I figure out how to stop the double counting, I'll see what I'm due back from NY. So it looks like I'll need to up the amount of our estimated tax payments, but at least we won't have to deplete our emergency fund like last year...

I held steady during my weigh in on Monday. Not bad, considering I was only on the treadmill 4 days last week, and went overboard eating rotten food on Saturday. So all-in-all I'm happy just not to have gained anything. And I'm back in the saddle this week.

Dinner out...

January 23rd, 2007 at 05:35 pm

I'm on this site at least twice a day, and could have sworn that I posted an entry at some point since the 18th, but I guess not...

Maybe I was subconsciously feeling guilty for going out to a (too) expensive dinner Saturday night. We were supposed to go to a housewarming party that was cancelled. The kids were already scheduled for a sleepover at Grandma's, so we decided to go out to dinner. Instead of going to a local pub-type place, we opted for the really nice Italian place by hubby's work. It was fantastic, but instead of buying a small housewarming gift ($10-$15), or a relatively inexpensive dinner, we broke the bank. I have total buyer's remorse too, because as good as it was, it wasn't worth it...

Other than that, life's on autopilot (which is not a bad thing). Still walking on the treadmill, still watching what I eat (I'm down 5 lbs total from the beginning of the year), still not buying breakfast/lunch at work. So far so good.

I listed 3 things on Ebay during the $.20 listing sale (my first ever). I have watchers on all of them, and have had questions for 2 of them, but no bids. I have a few days left, so I'm hoping I'll get something. Even if not, it was worth it just for the experience!

Tax-related stuff has been dribbling in. As soon as I get my W-2s, I should be ready to do a rough estimate. Hoping (desperately) that I don't owe...usually wishful thinking.

Worth It / Not Worth It

May 15th, 2006 at 09:18 pm

I'm having a good day...I received my NYS tax refund of $1673. It will immediately go back into our savings account, from which the hefty Federal Tax bill was paid. It will feel good to start building that back up.

I also got an offer from my Citibank Drivers' Edge card. For 3 months, they'll give us a 5% credit on all purchases, instead of the usual 2%. We charge everything and pay the bill each month, so for 5% it will be worth it to use that card more over the next few months...

I worked from home today, because it was DS's Kindergarten Orientation. Other than taking the kids back & forth to school, I didn't leave the house. So I saved $34 by not going into work ($20 parking, $2.05 tolls, and ~$12 gas).

I also have dinner in the CrockPot. One thing about crockpots: you're totally screwed if there's a blackout! Our power went out for 1 1/2 hours this morning. Luckily I was home so when it came back on, I reset the Crockpot and am good to go. Had I been at work, we'd be ordering out tonight!

While on the subject of Crockpots, I'm going to start a "Worth It/Not Worth It" list in my blog. Today, for the first time, I used Crock Pot liners by Reynolds Wrap. Absolutely no mess! No baked on gook. I received a sample package of 4 in the mail (which makes them even MORE worth it), and I don't know what they cost at the store. But I'm thinking if they're at all reasonable, with a coupon, then they're WORTH IT! I'd love to see others list items in their blogs that they think are worth it or not...

March recap / property tax woes

April 8th, 2006 at 06:49 pm

I know, I's April 9th, but I've been avoiding doing my March recap because it was a sub-par month. A few things put me over the top: We spent $509 on gas for the cars! I've been shooting to spend $300. I did great with this in February, so I expected March to be a little higher. Add in the trip to NC (~1150 miles round trip), and that added another $100+ to the bill. Better luck this month.

We also spent almost $400 eating out. We were shooting for $260 ($100 regular + a dinner for $160 that we planned for. The rest was totally unbudgeted.

On the plus side, I finally cancelled AOL ($17.95/mth) now that I have cable internet.

I'll learn a lot more about my financial picture this month. Hubby's raise takes effect this month, and he'll get a small bonus. We need to drop his withholding to zero, plus put $200/month into an account for estimated taxes. Also, our town did a revaluation and our property taxes are going up in August. We currently pay around $7700/year, and after the calculation the town gave us to estimate the new amount, it comes to about $9700. So that means an extra $175/month to that account. Fortunately, this is the last month I need to pay for DS's preschool, which will free up $655/month to cover these new outlays. Curious to see where it all ends up.

I'm looking forward to getting my coupon train...this was a good week for coupons! Other than that, I need to (finally) mail out the taxes and file some stuff!

Tax troubles :(

February 9th, 2006 at 03:57 pm

I have been all-consumed by our taxes. I went through TurboTax again and don't think I missed anything, which means the net we owe between Federal, NY and NJ will be about $7k. Frown

We realized that we (desperately) need to adjust his W4 form to increase the amount that's taken out each month. Years ago, when we bought the house, had the 2 kids, and were making less, he put down 7 exemptions. Since then, we're both making much more, and have refinanced the mortgage twice and are now paying much less interest. (Still have the kids, though Smile). When I did the calculation on the W4 form, it not only said that we should reduce his exemptions to 0, but that we should have an additional $300/month taken out! Ouch! I know we just need to suck it up and do it, but it's going to be painful.

Hubby's bonus will also be much lower than expected, so we'll need to dip into savings to pay the tax bill. Blah!

Turning to the positive...twice yesterday, I ordered things with expired discount codes and in both cases, the rep I got was extremely nice and honored them anyway. One saved me $4.20, the other saved me $40. It really pays to ask the reps if they can honor them anyway.

Also, taking a cue from Flash, my kids only use Tom's of Maine strawberry toothpaste. I noticed that every tube ends up splitting (and the toothpaste leaks out) before it's used up. So I called the 1-800# today. They explained why, and are sending me a "Tube Rolling Key" and a free tube of toothpaste. Good deal!

I'm changing jobs next Thursday, so my coworkers are taking me to lunch today. We have a quiet weekend planned, so hopefully it will be low-spend...

What a weekend...

February 6th, 2006 at 03:39 am

It was a tough weekend financially...First, I did my taxes using Turbo Tax. Upside - it was a piece of cake, really easy and user friendly. Downside, the net result is that we're going to owe about $7000 total. Ouch! I pulled out last year's return and compared some of the big line items. The culprits - fewer donations (we donated a car for 2004 before the rules changed), slightly higher income, slightly lower mortgage interest and higher Alternative Minimum Tax. Blech. I still have to check out one thing that may help - we had losses from a mutual fund sale a few years back that we've been carrying forward. I thought we used the last of it in 2004, but I want to double check. Otherwise, we're stuck with this big painful bite. Thankfully, hubby gets his bonus in April. The only question now is how much of it will be covered.

Onto other things, we got our gas bill in the mail. Over $500 last month (and over $500 the month before too). I'm trying not to flip out too much because we're on the budget billing plan. So even though we're wayyy over now, our actual usage is pretty low come April. I just can't let it get too out of hand.

We also ate out unexpectedly yesterday. The kids were at grandma's for a sleepover, so we went to Church Saturday night and decided to go out afterward. The bill was about $60 (hubby paid $20 cash for drinks at the bar, but that's his problem! Smile). In light of the looming tax bill it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do, but we did have a great time.

So not a great financial weekend, but I'm ready to put it behind me. I'm the kind that likes to get all the bad news out of the way at once, rather than have it come in dribs and drabs...

Getting ready for the taxes

February 3rd, 2006 at 03:13 pm

So we decided to take a stab at the taxes ourselves. The kids are going to grandma's for a sleepover tomorrow, so I'm going to pick up the TurboTax software today after work, and gather all of my documents tonight. Then tomorrow I'll get to it. If it works out, great, if not, we'll suck it up and go to the accountant. It's not like we have anything so complicated, it's just such a tedious process. Hopefully, the software will make it go much more smoothly...As a plus, if I buy the software at OfficeMax, I can get a shredder free after rebate. I've been meaning to pick one up for a while, so might as well do it now.

I need to go grocery shopping later today. We have no more milk, bread, butter or eggs in the house! Yikes.

I also need to update my budget and see how things will look for February. No shortage of things to do...


January 23rd, 2006 at 09:40 pm

I got my W4 forms in the mail today. Although I don't have all of my mutual fund statements, I felt like I had enough info to get a feel for what the tax picture would look like. Boy did I ever! First cut has us owing in the neighborhood of about $6000! We always owe (last year was about $3000, which was bad enough). We never readjusted our withholding after we refinanced our mortgage (and are paying significantly less in interest). Last year we owed a small penalty (~$30) and still didn't bother changing the withholding! I usually get about $1800 back from NYS, but that's still a huge chunk to pay. Thank goodness for hubby's bonus in April, though we hate the fact that we always need to use it to pay taxes.

I talked to hubby about going to an accountant this year. We've done it a few times in the past, but I hate to pay someone $400 to tell me I owe $4000! But with the AMT, and with the fact that we live in NJ and work in NY, it's getting complicated enough that I'd feel better with professional help. And he should be able to tell us what to set our withholding at once and for all. I hate this time of year...

Sunny Thursday...

April 14th, 2005 at 04:11 pm

OK, so I just finished photocopying my taxes, and am getting ready to package them together, write out the checks, and mail them off. Nothing like waiting until the last possible second! I'm going to go to the Post Office around's always crazy at lunchtime, even when it's not tax time! I hope I don't have too long a wait. I'll just be so happy to cross them off my list!

I went ahead with the homeowners switch yesterday. Now I just need to have them contact my mortgage company to make it official before I cancel the old policy. Then, after May 1st, I'll cancel my escrow account and start putting the savings toward my home-equity line. Yay!

I'm up to the Church/Charity part of my budget. I'm not inclined to do any cutting here. If anything, I should increase this category! We've been paying the same amount to Church each week for the last five years! I just don't have the inspiration to increase it. As for other charities, one thing I'd like to do is make it more routine and organized. There are some places I give to every year (town fire/first aid, etc.), but I don't think about it until I get their letter in the mail. Then there are places (colleges, other charities) that I give to occasionally, but with no real schedule. Finally there are places (American Cancer Society, etc.) that we give to in memory of someone who's passed away, things like that. In all of these cases, it just comes out of the blue (and usually all at the same time, and usually during a tough month!).

I think I'd be better off making a list of places to whom I want to regularly contribute, then set aside an amount in the budget each month and do it. That way, it's scheduled, regular, no surprises.

Oh well, I need to finish my taxes (blech)...

A new month...

April 1st, 2005 at 05:17 pm

April will be a tough month for us. We owe federal taxes, and are getting NY state money back. But of course, I didn't file that first, so I'll be out all of the money for federal and won't get back the NY for a month or so. (It's that cost of disorganization I was talking about a few posts ago). Anyway, the net result is that we're out about $1100. We kind of expected it, because it's the same every year, but it still hurts to send in the check. We've also bought a few things for the house that we had been putting off and finally decided to bite the bullet and buy. I hate starting the month off behind the 8-ball!

The kids are going to the doctor today ($30 total copay, plus any medications that are prescribed). We just started doing a healthcare FSA this year, so for some reason, I'm not as disturbed about this, because we'll get reimbursed (even though it already came out of our paycheck). I'm sure that we'll need to pay parking for the concert tonight, and we planned on having takeout, but that should come out of our allowance.

Update on my quest to reduce the electric bill: We're on budget billing, and we're running about $125 under, through the first four months. I'm hoping that even with increased use over the summer, we'll still be able to knock it down to $120 for next year.

The next line items on the budget are phone/cell phone. I just changed my LD plan to some ridiculously low rate (2.7c out of state, 4.5c regional in state). This should knock about $10/month. I need to get better about using my cell phone for more of these calls. We usually have enough minutes leftover at the end of the month that I could do some of the long distance calls using that.

Have a great weekend!