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Archive for January, 2006

Tax-o-rama 2005

January 30th, 2006 at 09:50 pm

Well, we e-filed taxes last night. It wasn't bad but it wasn't easy-peasy either.

I went on the www.irs.gov site, looking for free file. Found at least thirty sites and software areas willing to do it as long as you didn't make that much money. However, we file in Washington state (WA). WA has no state income tax, which is somehow a weird twist. At least two thirds of the sites wouldn't do a WA state filing, including the big famous ones like TurboTax. I picked one that would do WA and started up. I didn't like the interface particularly, so when it bailed out on me because I had an IRA, I was relieved. (Too complicated a return, it said. Wow. No wonder no one wants to save for retirement. Smile)

The second site (www.olt.com) was a lot better. It looked more organized and felt like the tax software I used last year when I volunteered for EITC, and I used a lot of the skills from that here. For example, no matter what, fill out the 1099s & W2s completely, match it exactly to the form down to the 0s! The program asked for the forms you had first (1099INTs, 1099DIVs, 1099Rs, W2), then pitched the questions based on what you had. I took awhile before the IRA question came up but thankfully it didn't think that was too complicated.

Turned out you could do your state taxes, too, for an extra fee. That's probably why few of these sites really wanted a WA filer. No take for them. The site I picked really tried, though: it claimed that I have to file WI taxes. All for 137$. I'll look into it. (and I did - I would owe 7$. Come and get it, guvner.)

We're getting a $539 refund, yay IRA, so of course I had to come up with the routing/ account numbers. No fee for that either.

The last item necessary is a bit tricky. I had to dig out the 2004 form because the AGI on it was going to work as an e-file ID. Sent it off into the queue, and I'll look in on it in a couple of days. You can track your file to some extent.

Saved a .pdf file of the 2005 1040 to print in a couple of days. Later, when I get my financial USB drive started up, that's one of the first files going in.

All told it took about an hour and a half. Not as easy as claimed, but it does take the drama out of it. Remember only ten years ago when all the post offices were bedlam in early April? Waiting in incredibly long lines to get forms, then at the end racing in to get your filing postmarked by the 15th?

another rainy sunday

January 29th, 2006 at 07:10 pm

Nice lazy, very rainy Sunday. Greens are on the stove.

Went to a small independent produce stand near home. Treasure trove of ethnic styles - part Russian, part Asian, part Hispanic. If you have a hankering for Russian branded cookies and very cheap produce here's your place. - .39/lb for cabbage, .29/lb for onions. Got the greens for .99/ bunch while other grocery stores are running about 1.99 - 2.49 bunch - yikes. I had lost the habit of going there over the summer because you really have to dig for decent produce, and I got lazy. Hit another grocery store on the way and got the wet cat food.

Mailed the checks for two DRPs. In this case, I know that neither transfer agent will get the check before Tuesday payday. Since I'm going to copay the chiropractor tomorrow, I withdrew a bit from ING. My saving's going backwards just when the ING deal demands new savings. Sigh.

Found an interesting author - Martin Limon, Jade Lady Burning. It's a police procedural set in 1970's Korea, with crimes solved by 2 GIs.

Worked out on Saturday and discovered what I'm sure is the most frugal piece of workout equipment ever: stretch cord. A big rubber band with handles. We did French presses - that rubber band whopped my triceps and nearly whopped my butt.

Tonight I do my taxes and I await Tuesday payday.

Disappointments of the rich and thin

January 27th, 2006 at 09:26 pm

Well, this'll be a short blog entry! Smile

This morning right before lunch I nearly tore apart my office looking for my wallet. WHERE WAS IT? Awful thoughts - I had gone to the chiropractor, which meant I could have lost it outside... Argh!

Then I fished around in my back jeans pocket. There. I could not feel my wallet in my jeans. That was not the case three months ago. Progress, I guess, and a sneaky way of having gym intersect with saving money. I'll be thin, but I'll be pickpocket bait. Smile

Turns out that I have good medical insurance chiropractor wise - 20$ copays.

Picked up my W-2 today. I'll take another look, but I think I have everything I need.

Like everyone else, I'm running on empty. No milk or wet cat food, which makes the cat cranky. It's every man for himself tonight.

Call me anything

January 26th, 2006 at 07:53 pm

Work was getting back to normal, or to at least a semblance of normal. I'm booking a ton of match pledges. "Matches, matches, we don't need no stinkin' matches!"

More balance-y moves, stretches, and calisthenics for gym today. I could do a lot of it the second or third try, so I guess I'm developing a bit of muscle memory. Very nice and very useful for the yoga mat. I do miss the weights, though, and I've been slacking on the pedaling. After gym, it was time for a 10 minute back cracking. I had a more intense adjustment, and had to be talked into it a bit. Stiff spot in the back popped and I said "Jesus!" The chiropractor said, "call me anything."

I felt pretty good. Thinner, and standing up straighter.

I've been using the football winnings to make it through the week. I finally, unfortunately, have adjusted to my new salary. Ugh. How did that happen?

I have tightened again on the lunches. Pull #1- No more lunch and a half. One lunch, eat half, eat other half. Pull #2 - Eat the special, even if its not my routine meal. I get to be cheap and try something new. Smile

Saving log - 2$ tip box + 100$ in sold ING invites (thx Jeffrey!)
Spending log - 1.50$ coffee (got the smaller one) + 4.36$ lunch

A co worker got fired

January 24th, 2006 at 09:38 pm

A little weird today. One of the data entry staff got fired today and was escorted out of the building. He apparently threatened another of the data entry staff (via blog, deep irony) and that was that.

At one point I had thought that I might reveal to my lawyer friend (also co worker) that I had this blog (who has a blog), but you know that this journal is strangely intimate because its so detached. As soon as anyone at work knows, I'll be holding my thoughts, fearing comments and this journal will lose a lot.

Of course, I can have a little bit of fun. If anyone really wants to know what my lawyer friend looks like:
http://hoquiamhouse.blogspot.com/

He's the one holding the filthy underwear in the first picture from 1/20/2006.

Got the sewer/water bill.

Sister figures that if the medical creditors don't show by the beginning of February, the four months will have passed. Worked out at the gym today with the new personal trainer - she's funny and I think we will get along well. She does more stretches, which I think are very useful.

The spinal adjustments have been working pretty well too. I've never done a decent squat for a couple of months; I've always pulled from the left, my right knee had always buckled and my right foot turns out. Today - perfect squats, Straight up, straight down.

Won the halftime

January 23rd, 2006 at 08:04 pm

In the football pool Sunday. 30$! You could win the first quarter for 10$, the halftime 30$, the third quarter 10$, and the game 50$. I'll tell you my technique. In the last football pool, one person won three out of four of the quarters - I considered her the luck magnet. If there was an empty spot in the grid next to her name, I took it. Smile That's all the skill I have in gambling.

I'll have to contact our landlord; the sewer/water bill is late. I feel silly sometimes asking for my bills. Cripes, don't they need the money?

Had a Szechuan lunch with my lawyer friend/co worker. He's in the midst of his own battle with our HR department. He calculated the 403 B match one way, HR another, for a difference of $600.

I asked sister for info about the US Bank asset/creditor list. What is it? Are we at the end?

Savings log - 4$ tip box + 30$ gambling winnings
Spending log - 1.75$ coffee + 13$ lunch

Football pool

January 22nd, 2006 at 05:39 pm

So I'm pretty sure that no one is out and about in Seattle at this moment - we are in the midst of the Seahawks game. I've put $5 in a football pool Friday night at work. I never win at these things, but you never, never know.

Last night I took a look at whether my health insurance covers chiropractic. They do, to a point. 12 spinal adjustments in a year, X-rays included; I figure that I'll be getting twice as many adjustments. I'll check tomorrow to see if I can still slip into the Medical Flex Plan. If not, time to ask what each adjustment costs and plan from there.

trainer leaving

January 21st, 2006 at 02:11 pm

Miscellaneous: Last night I counted my tip box out and sent $42 into my brick & mortar bank to be later sent to ING. I sent $150 to PayPal for some miscellaneous payments. Wow - 4.3% without a hitch...might pay to shove a bit of ING money in there to incubate a bit. Sent 500$ to the credit card.

Used a Peet's complimentary card to get a latte, a nice break from the drip. Oranges, eggs, frozen green beans are cheap in the grocery store. I really like finding frozen green beans - they keep well and they very rarely are cheaper fresh.

The shocker news yesterday was that my trainer is moving up north. We made an appointment with another trainer as a transition. Apparently the trainers talk about me - that I work hard at this and how rare that is. Funny story - yesterday I was scheduled to do 15 minutes on the elliptical, making me 10 minutes late for my next appointment. I split the difference, only doing 10 minutes on the elliptical, and being 5 minutes late. All the trainers laughed at this; the usual thing would have been that the client would have completely blown it off. I'm not happy about the trainer leaving, but I'm philosophical - the trainer is the facilitator, but ultimately I have to be the one who loses weight and gets healthy.

Still have not lost pounds, but I am swimming in my clothes and my body fat dropped a percent, so something is going on. I figure that if I look thinner, I can always lie about my weight. Sister send another box of clothes - very nice ones, with tags still on them but now 2 sizes over mine. I'll put a little ad in craigslist before I send to the thrift store.

The next appointment was for the chiropractor. Most of my asymmetry on my workouts is apparently due to a wicked hunch and bad posture. The daily adjustments take 10 minutes, and they make me feel pretty good as long as I stand up straight. Smile The only disconcerting thing during them is that my back and neck sound like a bowl of rice krispies over milk.

Collecting my 1099s and other papers for taxes - all I need is my W2 (or is it W4). Taxes are going to be different for me yet again this year. I used to Telefile it, last year I had to do paper because of dividends, this year it's online filing.

1-20
Savings log - $42
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $5.00 lunch

1-21
Savings log - 0$
Spending log - 5.00$ lunch + 42.96 groceries

Paypal not playING

January 19th, 2006 at 08:29 pm

Talked to my friend to whom I sent an ING invite. Hadn't used it yet, but promised that she would by the end of the month. Sheesh. Sometimes my friends can be such putzes. Geez, a 9% return on 250$ and 4.75% on new money? I'm jealous!

Found out that paypal and ING don't talk to each other, at least in my hands. I think its because of the 6 withdrawl savings account and the fluid money market don't mix. On the other hand, ING and Vanguard talk well to each other - both savings accounts.

I've noticed that with the Vanguard account and whatnot that my junk mail has gotten classy with glossy investment ads. It just means I pack gifts with classy, glossy shreds. Smile

My gym membership includes a free chiropractic referral, which I used this afternoon. My back doesn't hurt, but I do notice that I'm not symmetrical and that I favor one leg, one arm, etc. The chiropractor found plenty, because my posture is pretty crappy. X-rays and a little neck adjustment, which felt pretty good.

I managed to make one 40$ withdrawl last for 4 days - a big accomplishment for me. Tomorrow I'll look in my tip box and send some ING's way.

Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $4.37 lunch.

Dad's Estate

January 17th, 2006 at 11:48 pm

I got a US Bank list of assets and distributions of dad's estate, and the assets of mom's estate. The first piece of property has been sold and the money is now in the money market accounts, while the second piece is still listed as miscellaneous and has not been sold. Total (assets - distributions) about 650K.

I have to say that the bank was very thorough - they even got a refund of the leftovers of an AARP subscription as an asset (19$), and have paid off all of dad's medical bills, utility bills, insurance premiums, probate office payment, bank executor cut. Gotta tell you that if I had been the executor, I would be bald with all the hairs that I would have torn out of my head.

So far, no listing on any of mom's medical bills, nor sister's lawyer's cut. Creditors have 4 months to speak up and get paid. From the looks of it, most of them from the farm/dad's side have been paid off. I wonder how much time is left. And the lawyer will charge his slice. I think sister will be surprised as to the size of his cut, compared to the executor's cut.

I'll have to ask sister and/or the executor where things stand.

Gym class = $, maybe

January 16th, 2006 at 07:58 pm

Three new ING accounts! Thanks, Jeffrey!

Today is a vacation day, and so is tomorrow for me. Today was also a gym day for me and so will be tomorrow. Its just like high school, all the fun stuff and then there's gym. Although these days I'm feeling a lot better about going to gym, getting into the swing of it.

But to keep this an actual financial diary I've got to mention that I signed up for a fitness challenge. Fitness, thankfully, won't be determined by the number of pushups (hah hah), but by decrease in weight and inches around various places and body fat content between the dates of Feb 9 and April 1. Winner gets $1000. It would be great if I win but if I lose, I still lose, so I'd still win. Smile

After gym, I went to a Tully's and had a green tea and half a tuna sandwich, all while watching Jim Cramer's Mad Money and the Suze Orman show. Both are a whole different experience when they're mute and closed captioned. The advice is relatively good when you can disassociate it from the chair throwing (Cramer) and strange hectoring (Orman). When you think about it, they are both saying the same thing - make the psychology of money work for you, not against you.

And with that I came to a revelation. Several commenters noticed that I had a credit card balance with a fair amount of savings. All of that credit card debt comes from the personal trainer. I could pay it off in a matter of days but I'm not because if I did, the debt is behind me and I will blow off the gym. This way, as long as my debt is at the back of my mind I will say "dammit, I'm paying for this!" and go. My psychology of money is working in tandem with my weight loss/get fit plan.

Know thyself.

Free hotel room

January 14th, 2006 at 03:59 pm

DH and I used the free hotel room last night. It was a very, very pleasant room, all in an Italian theme with a marble bathroom and a great view of downtown Seattle. It was normally expensive place (over $300/night), so it seems a shame that we spent most of the time asleep. We were going to another restaurant in downtown Seattle, one where we have a gift card, but with the crazy Friday driving and the rain - 27 days straight, almost a record - downtown Seattle traffic was a complete nightmare. We would have had to walk about 10 blocks and wait an hour.

So we went downstairs to the restaurant in the hotel. It was quite the blowout; we had wine and steak and lobster and at the end we spent over 200$. The hotel got a deal back, but they gave us a wonderful experience and I didn't feel particularly slighted about it.

I guess that's the difference between frugal and cheap to me. Frugal implies a certain amount of planning, but flexible for the unexpected. We had saved some money, let's see what the future holds and enjoy ourselves. Cheap is more reflexive; no - its too much. I guess if we would have been cheap we would have hit the coffee shop across the street and complained.

Did manage to put in 5$ in the tip box over the last two days. Put in 2$ into a football pool for the Seahawks game. Sent 10 ING invites out and got already got an invite or perhaps it was an invite I sent to my friend over a week ago. I'll have to ask my friend whether she took me up on the ING offer.

Back on point

January 11th, 2006 at 09:59 pm

First day back at work and I'm still in a good mood. Smile The horseflies landed in the two days I was away, so they were easy to swat and kill.

No gym today, but I did buy a yoga mat yesterday (Target - $19.99) and ran through some calisthentics. Soft but grippy. No sliding around and no carpet burns! I also bought a couple of large workout shirts - I fit into them, but not in the best way. Instead getting 10 lbs of mud into a 5 lb sack, its more like 5 1/4 lbs. I'm treating getting into them properly as a goal.

DH and I are going to use the free night at the hotel this Friday and use up a spare restaurant gift card. Frugal fun! And we will be off Monday, and I have another day off on Tuesday. All to chip away only slightly at the large quantity of vacation time. We should all have such troubles.

I'm going to get one last cup of coffee from the coffee card tomorrow. Tomorrow, the trainer promised that we'll work the upper body. Friday comes the paycheck.

1/10
Saving log - 0$
Spending log - 7$ (fun stuff from Body Shop) + 20$ (2 workout shirts) + 21$ (yoga mat & bottle of water) + 7.62$ lunch + 1.65$ coffee

1/11
Saving log - 0$
Spending log - $4.23 lunch

day off - ahhhh

January 9th, 2006 at 09:27 pm

Day off.

Slept in, ate some breakfast, had a little coffee in a small cafe that I've wanted to try, bought a lunch and a water, and then suddenly it was time for an hour of gym. Yesterday I discovered that I fit into a large shirt, rather than an extra large. Exciting! I rewarded myself with some french toast (powdered sugar instead of syrup) and I went to the gym to work off some of it. I managed to stay on the elliptical machine two minutes longer each time, and that my heart rate went down or stayed steady as long as I took deep breaths. Gym today, gym yesterday. Suddenly, I'm a jock. Yikes! After gym I ate my lunch. Best tasting sandwich I ever had.

So to keep this a financial diary - got another tax form from my KO DRP, my 2006 IRA came through into my Vanguard account, I sent 40$ to my 3M DRP.

Grocery deals and a tax estimator

January 7th, 2006 at 11:28 pm

Grocery store deal joy - fresh pineapple for .67/lb, dried spaghetti/fettucine/linguine for .50/lb, mixed nuts for $1.79/lb. All beat what I'd seen in North Seattle in two years, based on my price book. I've stocked up, but now what I have do is eat what I have and stop buying!!!

I found a tax estimator: http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/calcs/n_tax/main.asp

Not that its perfect, but it should be able to tell me if I owe or am going to get a refund. With the IRA it looks like this year I will get a refund - first time in about 5 yrs. I aim with my withholding to owe a little, about $100. The estimator is giving me a refund of about $450. It gives me a little impetus to get all my forms together.

pate and crackers

January 6th, 2006 at 09:09 pm

Ah...I have Monday and Tuesday off. Even though I was bugged a bit by co workers coming in and gossiping, I managed to get quite a bit done - everything done that I really wanted to get done, and that makes a four day weekend even sweeter. Think I will book my free hotel room this weekend. I'll have next Tuesday off too.

Broke down and actually got a chain-grocery store card - not Safeway. The grocery chain is going nameless - I only buy canned cat food there. When the card price for it was 20% lower, I broke down and got it. My dearest wish is that the data miner looking at all my canned cat food purchases will say, "remind me not to have pate and crackers at her house." Smile

Curry place is back from vacation. Ah, lunch joy.

My trainer, stuck in traffic, was forty-five minutes late. He got a hold of me at the gym...so I ran through a warmup, ran through ab crunches, some weights, some exercises and stretches. He told me that he was very proud of me - I didn't play hooky. Came clean with him about the elliptical machine - he told me that we'll have to work on breathing and figure what level I should be starting from.

Saving log: Tip jar - 5$.
Spending log: lunch - 5$ (coffee card is still holding out, yay!).

2006 IRA from Vanguard

January 5th, 2006 at 09:14 pm

I decided to use the other half of gramma's gift money to fully fund my 2006 IRA. A couple of weeks ago I funded my 2005 IRA. Per retire@50, none of this pansy-a**ed dollar cost averaging. Smile I had the $4000, I put it in all at once in Vanguard and now it has all year to grow.

Had a nice lunch with a co worker. Turns out that she has inheritance money that has been sitting in her brick and mortar bank for a year. I sent her an ING account invite. I know, I know, now ING is sooo done compared to HSBC, Emigrant, and PayPal even, but still. Its a big jump from .5% to 3.8%, much bigger than 3.8% to 4.25%, and the 25$ for her is a nice little incentive. We dare not even mention the $10 for me. Smile

getting back in the saddle

January 4th, 2006 at 08:16 pm

Moved 50$ from checking to savings, and 3$ in the tip box. It felt good.
Also put 40$ into one DRP, 35$ into another. That felt good too.
Managed to use up most of my Christmas gift card of coffee - so I get a couple of weeks of non-1.65$ coffee. That makes me feel alert and good.

Did six minutes on the elliptical machine after the workout. My heart rate zoomed to 170. I stopped; that didn't feel good. I'm not proud, I'm going to have to work up to it.

This and That

January 2nd, 2006 at 07:09 pm

Well, my bank didn't listen to my begging. They aren't going to waive the fee. Fine - I've got to suck it up and learn from it. Its easy to be snarky - I made a whole $8.65 in interest in 2005 from that little savings account. I made $163.45 interest on my ING account.

Cleaned out the freezer of the bags of bones and frozen vegetables and made a big batch of turkey vegetable soup. Yummy and cleansing at the same time. Smile Collected my two coupons for the grocery store for next Saturday.

Wished my uncle a happy new year and gave him a vague explanation of what is going down with the farm. Sister called and asked when we get distributions. Depends on how done the "done deal" was for the first piece of property - it brought in exactly 300K. In the farmhouse, most of the furniture is out, along with the stained glass and some of the carved moldings. The only pieces of furniture left are those that the rest of the family is going to take in a couple of weeks. Sister told me a little about the possible buyer - a county employee. Hopefully this will be a second house - the farmhouse is barely livable. The last two barn kittens were having a run on the second floor of her house in Milwaukee.

I collected up all the tax papers for the February to come.