Monday, April 28, 2014

Money Monday: Money Milestones

There are so many things I want to do in life. So many goals, dreams, and aspirations that my husband and I have. Some big, some small, some attainable, and some pretty far fetched, but they keep us going, keep us pushing, and keep us striving. 

There is one thing holding us back from many of our Specifically, that we don't have enough of it. 

A long time ago, we made up our minds to live debt free. We decided that we would rather do with less that have creditors knocking on our doors. We would rather keep our money that send it away to credit card companies, banks, and lending institutions. 

Given that decision, there is a trade off. Many of the things we want to do, want to see, want to accomplish must be put on hold while we save, and work towards paying off our mortgage, which is our last remaining debt. 

Most day's, I can be patient. I am willing to wait, and take it one small step at a time.  

For me, mentally the biggest obstacle that I see in our financial future--our mortgage. I want to pay off as much as we can all the time. I think about it every single day. I talk about with my husband several times a week. I often remind myself of that quote "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

The same goes for retirement. Are we saving enough? Are we contributing enough? Will we have to buy the cook book "100 Way to Prepare Alpo and Love it" in our old age?

I don't know. 

Most day's I am ok with our progress. Most days. 

But lately, I have found myself disappointed with the speed of our progress. 

A few weeks ago, in the midst of some spectacular self pity, I went into our file cabinet and pulled out some of my pre-marriage papers, and found this:

Back in my 2007, I opened up my first saving account. At the time I had a few hundred in my checking account, a few thousand in student loans, and this. This little piece of paper was my nest egg. This was my emergency fund. Built, scrimped, and saved from graduation money, baby sitting money, minimum wage earned at Victoria Secrets, and a few bucks given to me here and there by my folks. I remember taking my green pen, and circling the sum, and then circling the interest. At the time, I had no plan for repaying my loans, no job, and no clue what I was going to do with my life. 

I didn't know that we were on the brink of a recession that would rock this country and our world. I didn't know that I was about embark on a journey financially that would change my world view, and in a large part shape who I am. 

But, here I am nearly 8 years later, much older and tad wiser. More mature? I hope so. 

By nature, I am not a sentimental person. I don't like to keep a lot of things, I don't often look back through my old stuff. I am always on the look out for things to throw away and give away. I want everything in my life to be neat, organized, and efficient. But, in 8 years, I have tried time and time again to shred this bank statement, but I never have been able to pull the trigger. I have held onto this piece of paper for some reason. Maybe because I like bench marks, and I like seeing that I am indeed making progress and moving forward, some way, some how. 

This document remind me that I am not just treading water. I am moving forward and making progress. I have to keep hoping and keep pushing. I have to continue to take it one step and one bite at a time. 

That's the great thing about America---we all have the ability to make our lives better today than they were yesterday. We have the ability to move forward and make our tomorrow better than our yesterday. 

What are your money milestones? Do you have something that reminds you of where you were? Where are you on your journey?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Before and After---Springtime Backyard Clean Up

Spring has sprung! You know what that means--its time to clean up and clean out. Its time to get rid of the old and in with the new, fresh, and clean.

These past few weeks, P and I have spent a lot of time cleaning up, cleaning out, and sprucing things up around the house.

This past weekend, we were outside as much as possible. It was sunny, warm, and perfect.

First up, the area next to our a/c unit. We have tried for 2 years to get something to grow in this area, and nothing will. The guy at the plant store thinks there may have been some oil or chemicals spilled in the area from the original unit years ago, and that the soil is contaminated. Once contaminated, nothing will grow there. So we decided to do a "California garden" and now it is just rocks and a pot with some plants.

Next, we began to clean up the small area under our kitchen window. We have done plants here twice, and each year, they last for a little while, then they die off. This year we decided to plant jasmine, let it take over the area, and provide a clean look for years to come. 

Finally, we spent the rest of our time removing 3 feet of our deck. We wanted to make the most of the yard space we have. After removing the deck, we planted 3 feet of grass in its place.

Clearly, the dogs are enjoying the new grass.

Next weekend, we plan to use a power washer to remove all the old paint from the deck, then stain it, so it all looks fresh and new.

A few bucks, a little elbow grease, and a lot of sweat later---we like the look of the yard updates!

Have you been doing any spring clean up or clean outs?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Confessions

Happy Friday!

Let's do this.

1.I walked into a public restroom in my office and it stuck really badly. I went into the stall to use the restroom and someone walked in. I said "I did not make that smell, that was someone else." I was a bit paranoid that someone thought I did that.

2. I painted my nails while on a long conference call at work. It was a nationwide call, and there was nothing I needed for the call. So, I decided to multitask.

3. I went for a run, and ended up doubling my mileage because of all the walking I did. Thats not really the way to train hard. I would run a bit, walk, run, walk. That was not on the training plan.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!!

Fess up!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Money Monday: Taxes and Tithing on the Secondary Market and Tax Day Deals

Are you one of the millions of Americans scrambling to get their taxes done before the 15th? 

Luckily for us, my husband and I worked hard to get our things organized and we filed at the end of February this year. We have waited until April before, and it is stressful, so these past few years, we have wanted to avoid the stress and pressure and filed as early as we could. 

Obviously, our tax system is complicated, confusing, and down right byzantine. 

 o my...
I am so confused
 I could cry. 

One grey area that many Americans fail to report is additional income obtained on secondary markets. For example, did you sell something on Craigslist? A question that many of us, myself included don't ask is "Should I pay takes on that item?"

Answer: It depends on your State and Municipality.  

Most states will not go out of their way to collect sales tax on income from a secondary market. Kay Bell, author of Don't Mess with Taxes says that "if an item you owned for personal use, such as a car, refrigerator, furniture, stereo, jewelry, or silverware, your gain is taxable as a capital gain. But, if that sale nets you less than you originally paid, not more, there is no gain tax. 

However, if you find that your online sales become profitable and you are able to turn them into a business, then yes, you will need to begin filing taxes on those funds. 

That takes us to the moral side of the argument. For Christians, they believe that you should tithe 10% of all monies to your local church. Are monies collected from the secondary market included?
A recent survey I saw said Mormon's are 90% more likely than anyone else to pay a tithe on those funds received from sales.

Interesting, no?

And finally---Tax Day Deals--- Don't forget to cash in on a few of these deals 
Arby's--Get a free snack sized curly fries
Boston Market- Get 2 half chicken  individuals meals for 10.40 (Named for the 1040 form)
Great American Cookie Co--Free chocolate chip cookie
Hard Rock Cafe--If you preform a song on sate, you will get your meal for free
Orange Leaf- Fill up yogurt cup for 4.15
Schlotzsky's--Free small original sandwich when purchasing a chip and drink.

Do you report or tithe on extra income? Are your taxes done? Going for a tax day freebie?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Confessions

Hey y'all, happy Friday!

I hope you have had an amazing week. Let's get our confessions on.

1.After a work out, I laid on the floor and let my dogs lick my face. I was hot, sweaty, and didn't have the energy to push them away. Its sick, and I probably will get rabies or something.

2. Sometimes, I try to convince P that I speak fluent Spanish.  I usually insert Spanish words in the middle of a sentence. For example, I will say Come to the store, con me. Con is the Spanish word for with. Or, I'll say Yo Soy tired.

3. I sneeze on P.  Sometimes I don't cover my mouth and I sneeze right on him. And I sneeze all the time.

4. P and I ate 3 big bags of chips in 2 days. We have a problem.

Fess up Friends!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Money Monday: Status Symbols of Today

Status Symbol: Perceived visible external demotion of one's social position and perceived indicator of economic or social status.

Growing up, it was a really big deal to have expensive china. The type of plates, bowls and silver wear that you take out a few times a year, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and if the Pope comes to your house for supper.

While we never went without food, when I was younger, money was tight, and there was not much extra for nice clothes, vacations, or luxuries.

Here it is. Red Avon Pope china. My mom has loads
of this stuff. And, like this photo, she even kept the boxes.
But, we did have the special Pope china. It was not the designer stuff, it was from Avon. My mom built her collection over many many years, and I remember when she completed her set, she was so happy and excited.

I think for her generation, that was a major status symbol. It was a symbol of how far they had come.

I don't know anyone my age that has a set of china. Do you?

What about the fancy soaps? The ones shaped liked objects that you were not allowed to use. Again, these were reserved for royalty, like Princess Di, or again, the Pope.

I also think that another status symbol that has begun to pass is the McMansion. The 5,000 square foot house in the suburbs, that cost $650,000 or more.

I think for us from the millennial generation, our priorities have shifted a bit. When the recession hit, many of my generation were just a few years out of college, and we were working hard to pay off our student loans, establish our careers, and learn to stand on our own two feet. Then, the dreams we thought we were entitled too, the dreams that we quickly realized were not guaranteed, came crashing down.

Somewhere along the way, our priorities shifted, and like the generation after the Great Depression, we have come out on the other side, changed.

We decided we no longer needed the huge houses, the Rolex watches, or the fur coats. Many of us have shunned those things as relics of the past.

From what I can tell, the status symbols for my generation seem to be as follows:

Homes: There seems to be a trend to purchase a smaller, older home, the remodel it, and make it open, modern, and contemporary.

Cars: BMW's seem to be left by the wayside. Now, Audi's and Infiniti's tend to be the car of choice.

Boutique Gym Memberships: Pure Barre, Yoga, Barre 3, Physique. These studios that specialize in one type of workout are now major trends that show how we spend our disposable income.

Accessories: Many of us pride ourselves on purchasing mid priced clothing, but if you look close, the accessories speak volumes. Hipster glasses, Fitbit's, iPhone's, iPhone cases, purses, and wallets speak loudly about how we spend our dollars.

No better, no worse, but trends have changed, and we as a collective group have changed. We felt immense pain during the recession. It hurt, we lost a lot, and we had a brush with reality that many of us were not prepared for.

What do you think are the status symbols of today?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Confessions

Happy Friday Friends!!! It is time for our weekly confessions.

1.I said something really mean about a teenage girl. My boss and I were at lunch, and a teenage girl was really dressed up, and walked by our table. I tiled my head and said "She is going to make a really good trophy wife one day." I am so very mean.

2.I cleaned my cup I drink from at work. Not a big deal, but this is the first time in probably 6 months. After washing it, I realized how dirty it was, and how dirty I am for not washing it sooner. Egh.

3. I was invited to an event, and I told the person who invited me that I was busy and couldn't go. I ended up going, and the first person I saw was the one who invited me. I had to make up some lame excuse that I had a change in plans.

Fess up my friends!!!

Happy Friday! :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Pinterest Success

Hey gang. It's been a few weeks.

Moving on from my radio silence........

I have not blogged much these past few weeks because I have been traveling, doing some home improvement projects, and taking care of some really serious business like watching all the seasons of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix. I am totally hooked, and am dying to find out who A is. Don't tell me if you know.

One major mile stone that we have reached during the 1st quarter of the year....I have finally had a Pinterest success! Well, not so much me, but P.

I saw this pinned this ages ago, and I thought it was beautiful.

I showed it to P sauce and asked him to make one for me. So he did.

First, we went to Home Depot to look at 5 panel doors, and they were pretty expensive, and we didn't want to spend that much money on the project. After doing some research, we found a scrap yard on the South side of Dallas, and we stopped by one early Saturday morning. We asked if they had any doors on sight, and the guy running the shop laughed. He said, "Yea, we have about 3,000."


After door hunting, and some negotiations, we were able to get this beauty for $45.00

As you can see, we may have gone a bit overboard an purchased a few doors. Now, we are those weird people in the neighborhood with a lot of doors.

At one point P suggested hanging them around the house like art. I suggested we not do that.

That door had 8 layers of paint on there, all different colors. We went through containers and containers of stripper, trying to remove all the old gunk. It took days to work through each layer, peeling and scraping one area at a time.

After getting all of the main layers off, it was time to start working on the panels and in the corners. The detail work.

At this point, one of us got bored and stopped working on the door. I'll give you a hint, there was a certain handsome gentleman working on the door way past midnight one night to finish, while the other gentlewoman was snuggling with the dogs, passed out on the couch.

Finally, we got the door stripped, sanded, and ready to paint.

The real delay started here. P left the color selection up to me, and for some reason I was dead set on teal. Even though teal goes with nothing in our room, I wanted teal. I bought teal, painted a portion teal, hated the teal, and declared that this thing would never be finished.

A little about me, I don't do well when I have a lot of options. Have you ever looked at paint samples? There are around 86,000 colors to choose from, and each is slightly different from the next. And once you chose the color you have to choose the finish, gloss, high gloss, matte.....Are you going to distress it. You know who was distressed, me.

Lots of really tough first world problems I was facing.

Finally, I was able to move from my paint induced paralyzed state, I chose a color from the 18 sample bottles I purchased from the Home Depot. (I wish I was inflating this number.)

I picked, I painted, and here is what we were left with.
Our lovely headboard.

Please excuse the sloppily made bed.

Thanks to Pinterest and P, I think it looks awesome!!!

Any Pinterest successes recently?