Sunday, January 29, 2006

Taking Stock

I like to take stock in my life from time to time. I think people forget to do this. They get caught up in their jobs, making money, and amassing "stuff" and forget to take stock in the important things. Take hapiness for instance. Are that many people really miserable? Do most people go through life just going through the motions? I ask this because I got a book club offer in the mail. It was a book club selling all kinds of self help books. To me, that is so hopeless. So many people think they need to change, and need so much help doing it that there is an entire book club dedicated to it. Just some of the offerings were "How to Find Happiness", "Karma Sutra" (which be the way is how to have better sex), "Eating right for Happiness", "Getting in touch with your inner spirit for Happiness", "Building a Better Family," and so on.
It just seems like a no-brainer to me. If you are unhappy, change! It's free and simple advice. Take a look at what is making you miserable and take the steps to change. Happiness does not come in a little pill, or a book, or magic gemstones, or crystals, or even in the foods you eat ( although I attribute some of my happiness to chocolate). Take stock and change. I have made a lot of changes in my life and I made them not necessairly because I was unhappy, but because I wanted to work towards my goals. I took stock and I wasn't completely where I wanted to be. I have this "life is short" philosophy that drives most things I do. I guess my point is, life is short, don't waste time reading about how to change in a book. Just go out and do it.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I am surely speaking of tax time. I love tax time. It's a time to take stock of the finances, and settle up with the government. Typically, due to our investments and us being pretty savy, we have a large refund. Last yeat it was over 10K. Really. I know, I would be better to not have the refund, have the money back in the pay checks to invest it earning interest somewhere. However, our money came from us renting out our apartment and renovating it at the same time On the books, this equaled losing money. It really was, we totally renovated an apartment top to bottom. We also sold said renovated apartment and now are facing a capital gain this year. Two of them actually, we sold both properties. So I am not sure what tax time holds in store. We do get the adoption tax credit, and we get to add two children to the mix. I have 5K in college tuition from St. Rose, and there were renovations to the apartment before we sold it. PLUS, moving expenses ( totally legal to write off in a job related move) and because we itemize and had shitty insurance ( now we have mine, it is awesome baby), we have almost 5K in medical expenses. So, we either will come out even, or we may possible owe. Either way, I did the tax prep today and once the forms come in from year end earnings, I can send it onto our accountant to do the math. Even though I don't expect that big tax refund we have gotten used to, I am excited to get this last tax year behind us, settle up with the government and move fiscally forward.
2006 will bring a tax deduction for insulating the kitchen floor ( energy tax breaks for 2006-2007), tuition ( my last class for perm. certification), and child care deductions, in addition to the usual interest on the home loan and school loan. It's a start. Gone will be the rental write off and the medical write offs. My plan is really good now and there will hardly be any uncovered medical expenses. Nice to have that money back in our pockets!
Here's to a financially healthy 2006, may your mutual funds grow and your 401K's pop, and may we get closer to getting Bush out of office so better financial days loom on the horizon.

Monday, January 16, 2006

No Carrot Left Behind

This weekend was a blur of cleaning, vacuuming, and cooking! I had a bunch of odds and ends left over in the fridge, so couple that with my interest of taking care of our money, and I turned scraps into dinners! Also add to this the fact that my Magic Bullet has arrived. Can you believe it? I purchased something from an infomercial. Well.......actually, new in box half price from eBay. So, this is what I accomplished today:
  • Threw the parm in the MB, now have fresh parm for pasta this week
  • threw banannas and formula into MB, had lunch for Ava ( she loved it, kicked her little feet the entire time she was eating)
  • Threw eggs, mayo, salt, celery salt and fresh ground balck pepper into it and made egg salad sandwiches for lunch, with left overs for the week
  • Took the left over carrots from making stew last night and sliced them up for dinner on Thursday with the turkey.
  • cooked up the left over bacon, crumbled it up and put it into a Quiche to sever tomorrow ( it's wrapped up tight in the fridge as we speak)
  • made home made bread and used the left over potato buds in it to make Irish potato bread ( served it tonight with corned beef and kraut, and it rocked the house).
  • made the corned beef in the crock pot with left overs for corned beef sandwiches later this week. ( will use the left over Russian dressing and make Rubens)
  • used up the left over chocolate and butterscotch chips from Christmas baking and made 4 dozen cookies.

I now have no scraps of this and that left and entire dinners for later this week. How cool is that? And the house smelled so yummy.......

Saturday, January 14, 2006


This weekend, I want nothing better than to be a hermit! The last 4 weekends, from Kayana's birthday, to Christmas, to New Years, to Anna's birthday, and holding Career Day at school in the mix, I have been one b-u-s-y girl. I need to play catch up this weekend and just hang around the house. The only things I have scheduled are taking Daisy to the groomer for an emergency bath ( the snow melted and she rolled in something that reeks!). I have a high tolerance for stinky smells, but she just smells nasty. I also am taking my car to Best Buy to have the remote car starter installed. Otherwise, I plan on seeing nobody, and I rather like it this way. I'd like to cook, clean, and I have a couple organizational projects on the horizon. Sounds great! Here's to a long productive weekend. A house filled with the smells of cleaners and home cooked meals. Perfect.......

Monday, January 02, 2006

Money Honey

Now that I am just working, and not working, going to grad school and doing internships, I have more time on my hands. In the past 3 years I have been way to busy to really keep track ofour money. Fortunately, Brian and I are careful with it, but I would like it working for me a little more this year. So, in the past week, I have taken the bull by the horns. I opened a life insurance account for the baby and Anna ( Miranda has one), I opened up a UPromise Credit card, both to transfer another credit card to it to enjoy 0% interest for the year and pay down a balance quicker, and to cash in on the college savings rewards ( think 3 girls bound for college someday). I am filing a past claim for the teaching assistant job in Schenectady for 9 months of credit into the teaching retirement system ( I almost completely forgot about this), and I just enrolled in this keep the change thing with my debit card where the bank rounds my purchases up and deposits the change into my savings account. Cool!

Other goals include investing into Brian's 401K ( available to him after March), and getting my own 401B going ( this in addition to my retirement system, Brian's IRA, and a whole life policy should make retirement everything we want it to be).

OH! And for the next 2 years, 2006 and 2007, you can get a tax credit on any energy efficent improvements you make on your home. We are puling up the kitchen floor to insulate under it and put in a new floor. This will qualify as our first tax credit of the year! Sweet.

Banner Year

2005 was a banner yea for me. For the first time in the history of me, I didn't want the year to end. I didn't want to count down at midnight and toast, I liked the year we had. Besides, we are leaving the year Ava was born in.

2005 looked like this for me:
January- started my elementary school counseling placement and my LAST semester of grad school

February- found out I was PREGNANT!

March-passed my counseling boards

April- Interviewed with HP and was asked back to a second interview

May- Second interview, job offer, Anna's adoption, put offer in on this house, budget passed here and I was offically a counselor!!! Had a job before I graduated, and finally, graduated from Grad school in May

June- put both houses on market, sold our house in 1 day, got my certification in the mail

July- A quite month! Packed and waited (not patientally) for our closing date

August-closed on one house we sold, and the house we bought, moved to HP, started my job

September- closed on our income property, started my first school year as a counselor, had Ava, Brian starts new job

October- Nice and quiet, home on maternity leave

November- returned to work after leave and settled into my job

December- First Holidays in our new old house. GREAT way to end 2005

So long 2005, you were a great year to my family. We have been so blessed this past year and I appreciate every moment of it. I can only hope to continue on with good health, and good luck in 2006. Happy New Year.