Yes - for free. Is your adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $56,000? If so, you can prepare your taxes for free. Go to www.irs.gov.com to prepare your federal taxes for free.
To get your state taxes prepared for free go to your state income tax website. There you should be able to prepare and e-file your taxes for free, if they offer it. Most states offer the free service. If you prepare your state taxes on the "free" federal website they will charge you for preparing the state taxes. If you are expecting a refund, you can e-file for free, and get your refund deposited into your bank account within 10 days.
Truth -- this world's system is set up to separate you from your hard-earned money, so keep as much as you can.
Do you pay to get your taxes done or do them yourself?
Yes - for free. Is your adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $56,000? If so, you can prepare your taxes for free. Go to www.irs.gov.com to prepare your federal taxes for free.
I went to the Dollar Store yesterday, and was shocked to hear the cashier, while ringing people up, screaming for the manager -- loud. The manager came, and the cashier told him a worker was driving up in the parking lot, and she was 20 minutes late. Then loudly she continued to complain about the worker, while ringing up customers, and told the manager to call the worker on her cell phone to turn around and go home. For a few minutes they both argued about who should call her, while she continued to ring up her customers. Finally, the manager went into a little office with no ceiling, called the worker -- yelling, and told her to turn her car around and go home. He said, "This time he wasn't playing."
By the time he came out I was in the cashier's line. She now was on her cell phone, while ringing up customers, loudly talking to someone saying how tired she was since she started work at 5:00 a.m. Of course, she had to tell the person on her cell phone about the worker that was 20 minutes late, and how she had to now work double shift and how unhappy she was. Then she told the person on the phone she would call them back in 10 minutes, because she had a long line of customers waiting for her. I was the third and last person in her line.
The cashier is now breathing hard, signing, huffing, puffing, and just plain irritable as we stand in her line. Once the cashier was off the cell phone, she asked the manager about his conversation with the late or fired worker. Then they talked about how trifling she was for always being late. They stated that traffic lights and getting gas is no excuse, and those things are apart of getting to work on time.
When I got to her I said, "Wow...Looks like you've had a really rough day. You've been here since 5:00 a.m.; you must be really tired, huh? I really hope your day gets better and you get some rest. Have a great day."
Geez, and retailers are wondering why they are losing business?
I know it may sound crazy, but I really am excited about 2009. I'm healthy, will be starting a new job, I'm still coaching clients, and I feel like I have a balanced life.
I am refusing to participate in the gloom and doom the media loves to program into us. I see many possibilities for great financial gains and accomplishments in 2009. When the average person is allowing anxiety, worry, and fear to consume their daily thoughts and actions, I choose faith and hope.
Of course faith, hope, and preparation is a major key to weathering this economic storm. I believe since we've been so frugal and have stored away in our time of harvest, we are prepared during this time of famine.
All in all, I'm excited about 2009 and I am looking forward to what the future holds.
What about you, are you excited about 2009 or not?
We have electrical car problems. The inside light stopped working about 3-weeks ago, and this morning we found out the tail lights weren't working. We were so scared the cost would be a thousand or so. I mean come on it's electical work, right?
Well my husband took the car in this morning, and before he left we prayed for an honest person, and that the total bill would be no more than $200.
We got the call a couple of hours ago. The total bill is only $133, and the rental car we will need until Tuesday is only $66.70. Did you know if you put your rental car on your visa, insurance may be covered. Our Marriott Visa covers comprehension, theft, and liability.
Total bill $199.70 (repair and rental). Prayer really does work, and we are so thankful!
Thanksgiving was wonderful as usual. We went to Augusta, GA to spend time with my 4 brothers and sisters, and eight nieces and nephews that live in Georgia. The rest of my brothers and sisters (3) and parents live in Oregon/Washington area. Anyway, our tradition each year in Georgia is to spend Thanksgiving in Augusta at my sister's home. Like usual, we ate so much and it was so good. We all spent the night, woke up early, and cooked a huge breakfast. The breakfast, like usual, was incredible. What I love most is just the hanging out, laughing, talking, reminiscing, and time with a fun and loving family.
Then I started thinking about how thankful I am for the little things in my life. For my husband of 16 years, our daughter, a job, our homes, good health, food, transportation, a loving extended family, healthy parents, clothes, and money to pay bills. I'm just "thankful" for blessings that so many do not have. Yes, the blessings seem simple and basic, but what if you didn't have them? Yes, I am truly thankful that I'm thankful. And in this economy that is saying a whole lot!
I don't know how much you spend for Christmas, but more then anything I hope you don't get into debt. A time that should bring happiness and cheer, can be diminished because of debt.
For that reason, the best way to not get in debt during the holidays is to prepare at the beginning of the year, like January. That means changing your habits. The best method to achieve this is by developing a Christmas list in advance. Matter of fact, set up a saving's plan just for Christmas spending from January to November. Next, determine the amount you want to spend on gifts, and divide it by the number eleven. For example, if the shopping amount is $500.00 divide it by eleven, which is $45.45 per month. Lastly, set up a separate bank account to deposit the $45.45 automatically, or set the money aside in an envelope each month and hide it. If you stick to your plan, by December you will have $500.00 set aside for Christmas shopping!
A few additional ways to enjoy a debt-free Christmas is to use a piggy bank to store spare change. Let the money accumulate, then deposit it every month into a bank account. At the end of the year you will be surprised to see how much you have saved. Finally, use your God-given talents for gifts: bake goodies, do hand-made gifts, or cook a meal for a group of family or friends.
There are so many other ways to walk away debt free at Christmas. What ideas do you have?
Today is my 16th year anniversary and my daughter's 11th birthday. We actually celebrated my daughter's birthday yesterday and had a great time. We took her to see High School Musical 3, had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, took her shopping for clothes, and brought her two finches as pets. Okay, that is way more than we usually spend on birthdays, but she's doing so good as a home schooler and becoming so responsible. We decided to do more than less.
Okay, so today is my anniversary, 16 wonderful years that went incredibly fast. My husband said, "Let's just give each other the gift of time." I thought what a wonderful idea -- time. And, it's free. So we have been enjoying the day reminiscing, laughing, talking, and just having "together" time, ah.
What I know for sure, having all the money in the world or receiving the most expensive gifts will not bring me happiness or keep a happy marriage and home.
Ah, the "simplicities of life" really do work!
Yesterday after having a fun day out and about, we stopped to get gas. Surprisingly enough, the prices were quite low compared to just 3-weeks ago. Yes, $2.34 a gallon mid-range.
I told my husband 6-months ago that just before Election Day the prices would start dropping. And, yes they have! I've always felt the whole gas thing was rigged and crooked.
How low are your gas prices where you live? Do you feel the whole gas thing is rigged and crooked?
I've worn Mary Kay products since I was 17 years old. I've loved their makeup, skincare, and even perfumes for years. However, while evaluating my financial priorities and needs and wants, I'm staying focused on what is real important.
Yes, I need makeup, pretty skin, and to smell good, but also I need to re-evaluate if I can get all those things and save money too. I can and have!
Thank God I've found alternative products that I am happy with that have saved me a fortune. You know every penny really does count. I don't think my face and body knows the difference. They're just happy someone takes the time to care. Thank you Wal-Mart and Sally's Beauty Supply!
What changes have you made to save money on makeup and skincare products?
My daughter loves American Girl (AG) products. She is 10 years old. If you aren't familiar with AG, their stuff is good quality but very expensive. My daughter gets paid $10 from our neighbor to vacuum her home most weeks. She saves her money and when she gets $30-40, what does she do? Spend it on AG.
Okay, the dolls cost $90. Thank God her grandma gave it to her for a birthday gift last year. However, my daughter brought her doll a tennis outfit that came with a visor and tennis racket. It cost $48. I told my daughter I wouldn't pay $48 for an outfit for her, let alone for a piece of plastic.
Anyway, obviously our daughter is a great saver. But once she saves her money, it all goes to this pretty plastic non-human thing. I've started to take 50% of her earnings to go towards her savings account.
Funny, my husband and I are so frugal, and our daughter loves saving for pricey frivolous things. Hopefully she'll grow out of it.
Have your kids picked up your frugal ways?
Do you live your life saying, "I'll be happy when?" One thing I know for sure, happiness is a choice and so is worrying.
Regardless of our current economic crisis, I have made the decision to be happy and continue to enjoy life. Yes, we have lost plenty of money, too. However, I've been there and done that before. The season passed, we kept on living, and continued to save. You just do what you can do, right?
When you realize that you have absolutely no control of what will happen in the world and even your life, you just learn to ask God for his favor and blessings.
In spite of the economy I am happy and not worrying. I am doing better than some and worst then others, but I'm happy and okay with life and me. Are you?
With the economy as it is, we are watching every penny. We're very frugal, but sometimes I just want what I want when I want it. You know what I mean?
Okay, so we just discovered this wonderful cuban restaurant five-minutes away. Hadn't tried cuban food before that, but basically it's just caribbean or island food. I LOVE it! I actually dream about it, and they have a great dinner special for $6.99 before 4:30pm.
So one thing we have decided to do to save money is to get food to go (no tip), and we are ordering a regular entree and two kids meals. Come on, I'm a kid at heart, right? Anyway, kid's meal portions can be bigger than adult meals at times.
I'm too excited!
What is it that you want when you want it, and sometimes you just got to have it?
The end of the year is almost here. All through the year my family collect things that are still in good condition, but we have outgrown, do not need or want. We give our items to the Goodwill.
The great part, we are helping someone in need and we also get a tax deduction.
What do you do with items you do not want? Do you give them to others in need?
Wow...times are pretty rough for most people. If you have not made adjustments to your way of life by now, I'm not sure what to say. We're frugal, but we've become even more frugal since June. These are a few things we've changed since June.
- went down to one car instead of two
- home school our daughter (hubby does that)
- have limit our 1-2 hour one-day-get-aways to once a month or every other
- haven't went on as many 2-4 day vacations. Have only went twice this year. Usually go 4-5 times.
- go out to eat around two times a month with coupons
- eat more salad and soup dishes with very little meat
- pay bills online or via phone to cut down on stamps
- our entertainment is more parks, walks, board games, and videos
- do not go out of our area to visit people, mainly talk on the phone
- do more home-churching than going to church (been doing that for years anyway)
What have you done to cutback on spending?
I have a baby shower coming up Saturday for a client. I just found out about the date this Friday, so I probably won't be able to attend because we already have plans. However, I do plan to purchase a gift, hopefully, going in on half with my sister (she's her friend too) who will probably attend.
Because most of my clients are all over the country, I never meet them face-to-face let alone ever see them. But this is a client since 2005 (off and on), before I made the rule of coaching clients over the phone, only.
I usually spend $10-15 dollars on baby shower gifts, but I will probably spend $15-25 for this client. However, since we're not a big gift giving family, it will throw us off our budget some. But I will take the cash out of another of our envelopes.
Are you a big gift giver? If so, do you have a budget, and how much do you usually spend in a month or year?
In this economy with people being laid off left and right, how do you cope if both people in a household lose their jobs? That is a very difficult situation to be in. In 2001, my husband and I moved to Washington state. Unfortunately, 9/11 happened a few months later. We ended up living on our savings for 2-1/2 years. It was really really hard.
Now we are back in Atlanta, but I really feel for people in that situation. Especially if they do not have money saved. Here are a few suggestions to make ends meet and bring in extra income, if you are in that "season" of no income.
- Still track your expenses and budget your money
- Rent out a room or two if you can (do you have a basement?)
- Sell things you do not want, use or need
- Get part-time jobs and still look for full-time jobs
- Have garage sales
- Baby sit kids for money (if you love kids)
- Try to get contract work
Have you ever been in that situation? What did you do?
There is a common pactice currently going on in the restaurant industry. In the last month or so I have noticed consistently that all their menus have changed. The prices have increased. Some much higher on average then others, but what they all consistently have in common is smaller portions.
I understand raising the prices. I mean, these are hard times. But, come on, smaller portions, too? I mean we do notice things, most of us.
I work hard for my money. I want to get what I pay for. High gas, food, energy, and everything else personally affects me too.
Eating out is a choice. I've decided to eat out one time a month. Our solution: we decided to increase our grocery spending to accomodate the things I like when I eat out. Also, we will get food to go, so we do not have to leave a tip, and use coupons (like buy-one-get-one-free).
I'm trying to hold on to as much money as I can. The world indeed wants to separate us from our money, but they will have a hard time getting mine.
I just called my investment company to inquire about our money market account being FDIC insured. It isn't. Then I asked if our IRA's were insured (I thought they were). I was told that only banks and credit union's money is FDIC insured. The Merrill Lynches, Lehman, Vanguard, and Fidelity types are not. So if something happens, all your money goes bye-bye. I'm not trying to cause panic, however I do want you to be informed.
I'm transfering our money over to our credit union today. Better safe than sorry.
Are your investments FDIC insured? You better find out quick!
Within the last 3-4 years, I've worked at the voter registration booth on election day. Actually, I've done it a total of three times. I did not work through the state office, but through a temporary service.
The first time I did it, they paid me $340 for the day. The last two times I worked, I got paid $400 for the day. I just called and left a message to see about doing it again this coming election. I just got signed up, and they will let me know the pay once it is approved.
Yes, that $400 was the easiest $400 I've ever made. The day is long. It starts at 6am and ends around 8pm. I got two breaks and a one-hour lunch away from the booth. The state workers can't leave the premises. I brought plenty of books, magazines, and newspapers to read.
My job? If a machine doesn't work; I unplug it from the outlet. If it still doesn't work, then I called technical support to come fix the machine. In the interim, I put a sign "out of order" on the machine. I was praying for machines to break I was so bored.
I hope they are paying $400 or more this election. $400 to sit and read, and make sure the state workers are doing their job, only in America.
Yesterday my family went to the Tennessee Aquarium for a quick one-day get away. When we arrived we needed parking. Surprisingly enough, there was alot of spaces available in the paid lots and on the street.
I told my husband parking on the street was free because if was Sunday. Of course he didn't believe me, and decided to ask a local person. Well, the local person told him parking wasn't free on the street. So my husband spent 10-15 minutes driving around to see how much different lots were charging. One was charging $8 for the day, another $5 for the day, and another $4 every 1.5 hours.
I kept assuring my husband the meter actually said "parking was free on Sunday," but that wasn't good enough either. Then my husband went inside a restaurant to ask. Yeap, she said, "parking was free on Sundays."
Finally, we found a spot right in front of the Aquarium on the street for free.
The moral of the story. Husband's listen to the counsel of your wives, and don't always go with the first parking lot price. The price is always cheaper somewhere else.
I talked to a friend a few days ago, and she told me she had a new phone service called "Magic Jack." With Magic Jack for only $39.95 you get free local, long-distance, directory assistance, phone number, call waiting, voicemail, caller id, and you get a free trial for 30-days to try it.
She said, it's great, and their bill is only $39.95 a year. The only downfall, you have to change phones numbers. Their website is www.magicjack.com.
Have you heard of Magic Jack? What do you think?
I'm happy. For the last 3-4 days the weather has been in the 70's and we haven't had to turn on the air. Our home is all electric, so our bills range in the amounts of $80-$140 depending on the time of year. However, when I see Spring or Fall coming, I'm so happy. Lower bills!
To save, we just open the windows and let the cool breeze come through. If it gets a little bit stuffy, we turn on the ceiling fans. At night, it's even cooler so we open the windows just a little. Uh, how nice. We are heading towards the time of year that we will not need to turn on the air or heat. Probably for around 2 months.
It's nice being able to appreciate the simple things in life, isn't it?
I stopped buying magazines years ago. However, whenever I would visit friends and family, instead of talking, I spent my time devouring their magazines. I absolutely love to read.
Then one day Delta Airlines sent me a letter saying 14,000 of my frequent flyer miles had expired. Huh? Because I had not accumulated new miles in three years. However, I still had 4,000 miles left. I was mad as I don't know what. Also, my husband and daughter had around 4,000 miles each, too.
I had an idea, we'll use up all the points and get something we want. Well, the only thing we had enough points for were magazines. Now, we get around 10 magazines a month. I love laying in bed just reading. The best part, it didn't cost me a dime. I now have enough reading material to last until I retire.
Do you know ways besides the library to get free magazines?
Some days just before grocery shopping, when the food is getting low, and you're too tired to cook, a breakfast dinner is the solution. It beats going out to eat and spending money, right?
For "breakfast dinners" we may cook omelets, pancakes, grits, biscuits, cereal w/fruit, turkey bacon, and eggs.
Do you ever have breakfast dinners? If so, what do you cook?
Snacks have really gone up in price. Of course I’m always thinking of the best way to save money. So about a month ago we started making our own snacks each week. Well, as you know Saturday mornings are grocery shopping day for my husband (in 16 years of marriage I've never been grocery shopping). Now, that's another story.
Anyway, my husband picked up a pumpkin. I do not like store brought pumpkin pie. But I love homemade pumpkin pie, so I decided that would be our snack this week. Of course I couldn't leave out the seeds. The small pumpkin he purchased only cost $1.81. I made a wonderful pumpkin pie, and garlic flavored pumpkin seeds. They were a hit! The seeds were delicious by themselves, and we sprinkled some on salad. You really can't beat spending $1.81 on snacks. The one pumpkin probably saved us around $4.00-5.00 this week.
Do you like pumpkin? If so, what do you do to stretch your dollars with pumpkins?
I grew up with ice cream. Two things my dad would get at least twice a week was more milk and ice cream. I mean with eight kids and my parents, he had no choice. Back then ice cream was really affordable. Also, Dairy Queen was my most favorite place to get ice cream.
Okay, so let's fast forward to 2008. I still love ice cream, even though I don't eat it as much (health reasons). However, a few weeks ago at a community event, my daughter wanted an ice cream cone and they were $5.00. She was outraged! I personally couldn't believe it either. Also, a major "ice cream" franchise that we once loved, their cones went up to $3.75 each. Yeah, it's homemade, but so what.
I use to have an ice cream maker that was absolutely wonderful, but it broke. Now, when I am in the mood for ice cream I go to Target and pick up 1/2 a gallon. Even at the store a 1/2 gallon can be close to $5.00. I always look for a sale on ice cream for $2.69 or close to it.
Do you make your own ice cream, buy it, or do without it because of the price or other reasons?
My husband use to have hair. He would go to get his hair cut every two weeks. His haircut would cost around $12, and he would usually give a $2 tip. Well, one day he walked in and they announced the price had increased to $14. That day, my husband came home and stated he was going to shave his head. He just couldn't see paying $384 a year (including tip) for something he could do for free. He went from nice brown wavy hair to smooth skin on his head.
Then one day I had enough. I was paying $75 every six weeks to get my hair done. It would take hours out of my day, and it was probably costing me about $800 a year. I wanted low maintenance, too. My husband went to Wal-Mart purchased a kit with clippers and everything. So I cut my hair into a 1/2-inch afro. Now, it takes me two minutes to do my hair, literally. I love the freedom and the money it has saved us.
Best part, my husband still thinks I'm beautiful, and he looks very handsome, too.
So, how much are you spending on hair care? Would you be "crazy" enough to do something drastic like we did to save money?
I couldn't believe it when my husband told me that we only spent $22 on gas this month. Yes, we still have two more days left, but geez we still have over a 1/2 a tank left in the car. I know it's unusual, and it is for us too. However, when we decided in June to home school our daughter, and go down to one car to save money, who would have thought.
Okay, I admit most people do have to leave the house. But I work from home, our daughter's piano class is 10 minutes away, our bank is 2 minutes away, and the grocery store is 10 minutes away. We go to church once a week, which is 25 minutes away, and we always do everything to avoid traffic. My goodness, we live in the burbs of Atlanta, and it is pure "traffic hell" at certain times.
Anyway, to think I'm excited about having paid $22 for a 1/2 of a tank of gas, when it used to cost us $12 to fill up the whole tank. We will probably fill up the gas tank on Sunday, because the gas station on the way from church has the cheapest gas. My husband will only put the medium grade gas in our car.
How much do you spend on gas each month, and have you done anything drastic to cut down on gas expenses for your car(s)?
The other day I blogged on restaurants’ prices going up. Well, I'm not one to complain and not do something about it. So I emailed the owners of the restaurant to tell them what I thought about their prices going up. It wasn't a mean email, just factual. I really didn't expect to get an answer, but I did.
They thanked me for my comments, explained why their prices are increasing, and the direction the restaurant is going. Then the amazing part, they thanked me for being a loyal customer, and said, “To bring in the email, and me and a guest can have lunch or dinner with a dessert and beverage on them. Also, they invited me to the grand opening in their new building in October.
Okay, I'm so EXCITED!!! Now, I am a loyal customer for life, at lunch time of course, the prices are cheaper. I even put a great comment on a blog for them on Atlanta's major online newspaper today.
I'm a nice "complainer," that seems to walk away with free stuff. What happens when you complain?
I use to have cable, but I got rid of it because I didn't have the self-control to get up off the couch and do my work or just go to bed. However, when I did have cable, it was basic. Not standard but basic. A lot of people get confused between the two. Basic is around $20.00 with all the fees and standard is around $40.00 or so. The cost difference is around $240.00 a year.
Okay, so in mentoring people, one of the biggest money wasters is what they pay for cable. I've had clients paying $240 a month for cable on the verge of foreclosure. Unfortunately, they had determined that premium cable was a necessity, and having a roof over their head wasn't that important.
When looking at ways to cutback and save, there should be no "sacred cows." Meaning, you cannot get attached or joined at the hip with anything. My customer was paying $2,880 a year to watch the "boob tube." So when I suggested they get basic cable to save money, they weren’t hearing it. “What about standard cable,” I asked? Not happening! Their solution was to get a plan that cost $110.00 a month.
Again, basic cable with about 30 channels is around $20.00 including fees. If you were behind on your mortgage, your car was in fear of being repossessed, or your lights were going to be turned off, would cable still be your priority?
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