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Archive for April, 2016

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance check

April 30th, 2016 at 11:15 pm

AS got a $700 freelance payment, nearly a month earlier than expected! This was like kismet, because we found out that state refunds may take longer than usual this year, and we'd been depending on a $701 state tax refund for AS to prevent the May checking account deficit. Now it doesn't matter when the refund comes!

This payment was already factored into projected deficit, so it only reduces the actual.

Actual deficit: $5,208.04
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $6,694.38

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance job (BIG!)

April 27th, 2016 at 05:34 pm

I had some financial ins and outs that I managed to balance against each other: CC rewards and low grocery spending due to gift cards on the one hand; NT's passport, my and AS's vacation spending and a much higher than expected electricity bill on the other. AS and I used some personal spending money to make it break even, so no positive or negative effect on the tax bill goal.

However, AS got confirmation of two new jobs, a medium one ($500) and a HUGE one ($7900). We're still where we were on the current deficit, but our future surplus now looks much bigger.

AS freelance jobs net: $5,460

Actual deficit: $5,663.04
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $6,694.38

Once we clean up the actual deficit, AS can start planning her dental extraction and implant. She got the final piece of the post-insurance estimates, and the procedure will end up costing us a max of $3034.32.

Good money things

April 21st, 2016 at 04:16 am

A few positives have happened, but I'm not counting them into the tax bill goal yet:

I ordered CC rewards from 3 cards, totaling about $120.

NT got reimbursed for a Prime membership with his work that I forgot we'd paid for: $99 in the bank from out of nowhere!

AS heard from an old co-worker of mine about a possible ongoing writing job. She'd have to sign up with a staffing agency his company uses, but if that works out, should be a good source of income!

We used a CC rewards Target gift card for groceries last week, so we were able to put AA's school lunch refill and a few other extras on it. So far we still have $20 left over from last week's grocery budget. This week we got more gift cards, so we're going to try and do as much of our grocery shopping as possible on Target cards.

The reason I haven't put any of this toward the tax bill is that NT has his passport application coming up this week, and AS and I are traveling with the kids to visit our parents in Va. I'm hoping we can also use Target cards there to buy some snacks and whatever else we need, and use whatever surplus we have from the above good money things to fund NT's passport and whatever incidental expenses AS and I can't either pay for with a gift card or use our own spending money.

I'd be really happy if we just broke even and didn't have to dip into the progress we've made on the tax bill so far!

April 20 health and moderation

April 21st, 2016 at 04:04 am

Breakfast: coffee, banana.

Lunch: leftover Cuban black beans, plantains and rice.

Dinner: Southern-fried tofu, mashed potatoes, broccoli and a biscuit with jelly, glass of wine.

Snacks: mango, another glass of wine.

Extra activity: only a bit.

April 18-19 health and moderation

April 20th, 2016 at 03:50 am

April 18
Breakfast: strawberries and grapes, coffee.

Lunch: leftover cauliflower and "cheese."

Dinner: sesame tofu with green beans, carrots and rice.

Extra activity: a bit, about half a mile.

April 19
Breakfast: part of a grapefruit, 2 oranges, coffee.

Lunch: salad with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, orange and sunflower seeds, 3 veggie chikn nuggets, 1 small piece of bread. Snack: coffee.

Dinner: grilled refried bean & vegan cheese sandwich.

Snacks: more refried beans, salsa and potato chips, 2 glasses wine. (I know, bad snacks!)

Exercise: only about half a mile again.

Yesterday was so great eating-wise; today started out great but I admit the NY voting news depressed me and I self-medicated with carbs and wine. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

Update on tax bill goal: Freelance payments and budget surplus

April 18th, 2016 at 08:31 pm

AS just received a check containing payment for several smaller jobs she did for my company, totaling $1576.25. I'm now 99% sure we won't need to pull from the line of credit at all to cover a temporary shortfall! There's one other place where we could fall short if AS doesn't receive a payment, but it's from a university, and those have been very reliable direct deposits, so I'd be surprised if it didn't work out.

These expected payments impact the current deficit but were already figured into the future surplus.

I also noticed a line in the budget for AA's April bus pass renewal. Even though her 6th birthday was in early March, we only recently pulled out the bus pass we'd ordered and started using it, so I won't need to renew it in April. This benefits both actual and projected.

AS freelance payment net: $1,024.56
Bus pass budget surplus: $85

Actual deficit: $5,663.04
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $1,234.38

April 17 health and moderation

April 18th, 2016 at 04:29 am

Breakfast: cinnamon Life cereal and soymilk, coffee.

Lunch: molletes (salsa, refried beans and melted cheese on a bolillo roll) w/lettuce & cherry tomatoes.

Dinner: roasted cauliflower with nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce.

Snack: 1 glass of wine.

Extra activity: walked maybe 2 extra miles.

Weighed in at the usual time tonight and I was 2.6 lbs. down! That puts me at 138.5. It's good to be back in my 130s, and only 11.5 away from my ideal weight.

Thursday through Monday I'm visiting my parents; traveling to the boring suburbs of Virginia usually makes me want to stuff myself with junk food. We'll see if I can keep the goal in sight and keep the noshing under control!

April 15-16 health and moderation & a credit card question

April 17th, 2016 at 01:32 pm

You'll notice I'm allowing some of the forbidden foods back into my diet, such as white-flour products, alcohol and fake meats, but still trying to limit them overall.

April 15:

Breakfast: everything bagel w/hummus (my work's treat), coffee.

Lunch: mock chicken dijon sandwich and salad with broccoli, Brussels sprouts and sunflower seeds (my boss's treat, but I tried to stay good by swapping out chips for salad).

Dinner: spaghetti & veggieballs.

Snack: one delightful glass of red wine.

Extra activity: Walked about 2 miles extra.

April 16:

Breakfast: 1 slice 12-grain toast with peanut butter and a banana.

Lunch: grilled hummus sandwich and tomato soup.

Snack: wheat grass shot, apple-spinach juice.

Dinner: Twice-baked potato and broccoli.

Snacks: popcorn and 1 glass of wine.

Extra activity: walked about 4 miles extra.

Now to my question: A friend I've been trying to help confessed that she's been making charges to a credit card that she'd opened for the purpose of a low-rate balance transfer. The purchases, of course, are subject to the higher interest rate. Frown She's since gotten rid of the card so the spending temptation is gone. Now she has another balance transfer opportunity. She'd like to only transfer the higher-interest portion. The credit card company when she talked to them refused to tell her what portion of the debt was at the higher interest, and they said she couldn't just transfer the higher-interest balance. Both things seem anathema to the Consumer Protection act, but I admit I can't find anything explicit about these two things: whether they're required to tell you what portion of the balance is at a higher rate, and whether balance transfers apply to the higher-interest portion. (I know payments do, but I'm not sure if balance transfers count.)

I'm going to talk to my friend about what led to making this mistake so hopefully we can figure out how to keep her from doing it in the future. But in the meantime, I'd like to help her with this problem.

Update on tax bill goal: Payment, less transaction fee

April 15th, 2016 at 07:34 pm

AS let me know she got partial payment ($1984.66) early for a freelance job. She took a credit card payment, so there was a fee, meaning we're getting a bit less than expected. But we're getting it earlier than expected, so that's great!

The payment affects current deficit, while the fee impacts both current and future. What's really cool about this payment is that it possibly eliminates the remaining temporary shortfall in our May budget that would have required a LOC advance. We may get out of this situation not paying a cent of interest to anyone!

AS freelance payment net: $1,290.03
CC fee: -$69.61

Actual deficit: $6,772.60
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $1,149.38

April 14 health and moderation

April 15th, 2016 at 07:20 pm

Breakfast: coffee, soy latte (my co-worker was buying!).

Lunch: Moroccan stew and rice.

Snack: ended my cleanse a half day early to celebrate Neil's citizenship with a margarita and some chips and guacamole.

Dinner: "Buddha bowl": sweet potato, broccoli, onion, kale, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, tahini.

Exercise: walked about a mile and a half extra.

Update on tax bill goal: My raise!

April 15th, 2016 at 02:37 pm

My paycheck hit the checking account with my raise reflected: $44.41 more. Not bad! I was hoping for at least $30 more.

I'd already worked out my budget through the end of May, so when I updated my April 30 and May 15 paychecks, I had a net gain of $133.23.

This helps reduce the actual deficit as well as increase the projected surplus.

I also applied the raise to the rest of my annual budget. I'd been holding $742.16 in checking to help cover maxing out the Roth IRAs July through December. Since I'm doubling up contributions the last half of the year to free up money the first half, for those months my budget is in the hole. Now with the raise, I only need $229.07 plus my June surplus to fully fund the Roths. That frees up $513.09 to apply to the tax bill!

CJ raise (3 paychecks): $133.23
Roth funding surplus: $513.09

Actual deficit: $7,993.02
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $1,218.99

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance check, various upcoming expenses

April 15th, 2016 at 04:46 am

AS got a $75 check today. It was expected money, so it only counts toward actual, not projected.

AS net payment: $48.75

Actual deficit: $8,639.34
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $572.67

NT got his citizenship today! Very exciting. That was already paid for, but he needs his U.S. passport now. I don't remember how much it is for a new one (not a renewal). So that'll be an expense.

Also, AS is gathering quotes for her tooth extraction/implant she'll need at some point. The total so far looks to be $2425, but the second stage needs to be estimated by her dentist office, so that could be a couple thousand more. We'll have to start saving up for this expense, because she really does need it.

On the upside, I found out that AA's yearbook is only going to be $8! That's a relief.

Another bright note: I got the first of the gift cards from the Citi ThankYou bonus. Most of them are for Target with a few for CVS. We'll use them for household expenses and hopefully be under budget for groceries, so we can put any surplus in the grocery budget toward the tax bill.

Speaking of, the checks go out tomorrow! Today I requested a transfer from savings of the $15,331 that's going to help cover them. So far it looks like I won't need to take a LOC advance, but if some of AS's checks are delayed I may have to. I'll closely monitor the situation; I can make the transfer instantaneously so I'll wait until I absolutely have to.

April 12-13 health and moderation

April 15th, 2016 at 04:29 am

April 12:
Breakfast: canteloupe, honeydew, pineapple, strawberries, coffee.

Lunch: Leftover chickpeas a la king on whole wheat toast.

Dinner: Cuban black beans, rice, plantains, avocado and mango.

Snack: a bit more mango.

Extra activity: a half mile in the morning, another half mile in the evening (both with the kids, so not moving fast).

April 13:
Breakfast: 2 oranges, coffee.

Lunch: Moroccan veggie stew and rice.

Dinner: tempeh BLATs (the A is for avocado) on 12-grain bread with sugar snap peas and carrots.

Snacks: none (I had 1 and a half sandwiches and was stuffed!)

Exercise: walked a bit extra and cleaned grout off bathroom tiles for an hour.

Update on tax bill goal: Lots to report!

April 14th, 2016 at 03:17 am

Let's see if I can remember everything that happened today:

I got a raise! Just 2.5%, but I'll take it. I'm not counting that in my tax bill goal because I don't know the net; I'll note that on Friday.

NT got a small bonus! $135 cash, which he'll deposit tomorrow to help with our tax goal.

I signed the kids up for swim class -- well, tried to. I have to try again tomorrow, because their system was causing problems. But I know it will be $180, so I'll count that as a minus now.

AS found out that her new healthcare had a credit from a previous overpayment, somehow. I don't quite understand, but suffice it to say we're paying $171.86 less than expected this month!

I transferred $3.90 of CC rewards into checking!

AS got a future job! Estimated at $1,170, so we'll net $761.15 after tax and retirement.

So that's:
NT bonus: $135 (applies to both actual and future)
Swim class: -$180 (applies to both)
Healthcare budget surplus: $171.86 (applies to both)
CC reward: $3.90 (applies to both)
AS net payment: $761.15 (applies to future only)

Actual deficit: $8,688.09
Projected deficit w/ future money in: None! On paper we have a projected surplus of $572.67. Of course we've got expenses coming up that will eat into that, but exciting nonetheless!

April 11 health and moderation

April 12th, 2016 at 06:29 pm

Breakfast: 2 oranges, coffee.

Lunch: leftover pintos and rice.

Dinner: deconstructed sushi bowl (sushi rice, teriyaki sauce, broccoli, tofu, avocado, green onions, wasabi & pickled ginger).

No snacks that I can remember.

Only a bit of extra activity (walking half mile).

Update on tax bill goal: budget surplus

April 12th, 2016 at 06:24 pm

We got notice of our May gas bill and it's $26.62 less than I had set aside in the budget, so that amount can go toward the tax bill goal.

Gas bill budget surplus: $26.62

Actual deficit: $8,818.85
Projected deficit w/ future money in: $319.24

Although we've been experiencing all positive progress recently, I see some nonbudgeted expenses coming up that will cut into that progress. I need to sign our kids up for another session of swim classes (our older kid is finally moving up a level after being stuck for quite some time, so I don't want to miss the next one!), and kindergarten yearbook order forms are here. (I adored my yearbooks as a kid and think my kids will as well.) But on the whole, we're doing a good job avoiding extra expenditures.

Updates on tax bill: WV letter and AS payments received

April 11th, 2016 at 08:25 pm

Today we got two bits of good news in the mail: $800 of freelance checks AS was expecting (one a bit earlier than expected!) and a letter from the WV tax dept. telling us that we didn't have to pay interest on the tax owed, so we actually owe them $259 less. I haven't sent out the checks yet, so I'll write a new one.

The freelance check was already factored into projected deficit, but the WV news affects both bottom lines!

Net AS payment: $520
WV tax reduction: $259

Actual deficit: $8,845.47
Projected deficit w/ future money in: $345.86

We're very close to eliminating the temporary shortfall in April (when the tax checks hit); if we get one more good check for AS we may not have to do a LOC advance in April! Actually, too, if the contractor doesn't finish the bathroom work this week, that may be enough to eliminate the shortfall because we wouldn't have to pay him this week, and we should receive AS's freelance checks next week if they don't come in this week.

The May temporary shortfall is now less than $2K. Seems unlikely we'll be able to avoid that one completely, but even the thought of avoiding one temporary advance from the LOC is exciting!

April 10 health and moderation

April 11th, 2016 at 01:53 pm

Breakfast: 2 bananas, coffee.

Lunch: chickpeas a la king on spelt toast with margarine.

Dinner: portobello-broccoli-tofu stir fry and rice.

Snack: popcorn cooked in margarine with nutritional yeast.

Extra activity: walked to and from Hourcar (about a mile total).

I weighed in last night 0.4 lbs. lighter, so I'm at about 141 now. While I would have liked bigger results, at least I finally stopped the yo-yo from bouncing up again! I didn't feel at all hungry these past 10 days, so I think I can lighten up on portion sizes during my final 4 days of super-healthy eating, which will prepare me for portion control when I allow some processed foods back into my diet.

April 9 health and moderation

April 10th, 2016 at 07:56 pm

Breakfast: coffee.

Lunch: tofu satay, snow peas, rice.

Snack: wheat grass shot, carrot orange juice.

Dinner: tempeh ratatouille (tempeh instead of eggplant), spelt bread with margarine.

Snacks: wheat grass shot, coconut shake, pepitos.

Exercise: walked to and from a store to get my first snack, about 3 miles total.

April 8 health and moderation

April 9th, 2016 at 08:51 pm

Breakfast: Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, mango, strawberries, coffee.

Lunch: big bowl of chili, little bit of rice.

Dinner: pinto beans & rice bowl w/ avocado, tomato, onion.

Snack: apple.

No extra activity, I'm afraid. It was a weird and busy week.

Some bits of good news

April 8th, 2016 at 08:07 pm

A couple weeks ago, we got a free dishwasher (well, except the cost of the carshare to go get it) from Freecycle. Our current one leaks and is white (whereas the replacement appliances we've been buying are black). The free dishwasher is black and hopefully won't leak! We haven't had time to think about trying to install it yet. Still dealing with the basement bathroom, an issue that keeps creeping along. But it's nice to know we might be able to put off buying a replacement dishwasher!

Remember the possible medical issue I was worrying about and was going to get a battery of tests done to check out? Well, the soreness went away on its own, and I confirmed with my doctor it's OK to not get the tests. If the problem recurs and doesn't go away when it's "that time of month," then we'll revisit. Big relief from both a money and health standpoint!

NT is becoming a U.S. citizen next week! He's already passed the test and interview; this is just the ceremony that makes it official.

AS has two possible jobs, either of which could eliminate the tax bill deficit. One of the jobs, possibly by quite a lot. She's still waiting for confirmation and exact dollar amounts, and likely won't hear for sure on the bigger job until May. But they both sound like nearly sure things.

Of course, the spending for our upcoming Va. and NY trips haven't been accounted for. And there are other things we need to think about this year: I'm a bit short in my future budget to max out the Roths. AS needs to get a tooth removed and replaced with an implant at some point before the bone loss becomes too great and causes an even bigger problem. But it's nice to know that solving the tax bill is possible.

April 7 health and moderation

April 8th, 2016 at 07:30 pm

Breakfast: 2 clementines, coffee.

Lunch: big bowl of vegan chili, small amount of rice, couple pieces of raw cauliflower and carrots.

Dinner: red beans and quinoa, broccoli, avocado.

Snack: banana.

Extra activity: walked 7 long blocks before boarding my bus home from work.

Update on tax bill goal: AS freelance job

April 7th, 2016 at 09:59 pm

AS accepted a small freelance job for $50. Payment will probably be sometime in May, so this only impacts the projected deficit, not the actual.

Net AS payment: $32.50

Actual deficit: $9,624.47
Projected deficit w/ future money in: $604.86

Update on tax bill goal: CC rewards

April 7th, 2016 at 06:50 pm

One of our credit card rewards bonuses hit, so I was able to put a $105.40 statement credit toward that card's balance. This benefits both the current and projected deficit numbers!

CC reward: $105.40

Actual deficit: $9,624.47
Projected deficit w/ future money in: $637.36

April 6 health and moderation

April 7th, 2016 at 06:47 pm

Breakfast: three clementines, coffee.

Lunch: leftover veggie burger, cacciatore sauce and brown rice.

Dinner: kale and yams with peanut sauce over millet.

Snack: big bowl of black grapes.

Only a bit of extra activity, I'm afraid. It's been an unusual week of bringing extra work home that I have to do once the kids are in bed!

April 5 health and moderation

April 6th, 2016 at 03:34 pm

Breakfast: two clementines, coffee.

Lunch: big bowl of vegan chili, couple of bell pepper strips and cucumber slices.

Dinner: sesame oil stir fry of tofu, broccoli, bell peppers and onions in garlic-ginger-hoisin-soy-mirin sauce, topped with avocado, basil and peanuts, over white basmati rice.

Snack: carrot-apple-ginger juice. (My juice habit is getting expensive, but luckily it's being offset by no spending on alcohol!)

Extra activity: took a walk to get the juice (about a mile and a half total).

April 4 health and moderation

April 5th, 2016 at 05:20 pm

Breakfast: grapes, strawberries, half a grapefruit, coffee.

Lunch: leftover hoppin' John.

Dinner: tofu cacciatore (basically veggie marinara sauce over pan fried tofu) and brown rice. (Two helpings; it was good!)

Snack: banana.

No extra activity, unfortunately; had to work right after putting the kids to bed.

Update on tax bill goal: some freelance payments received

April 5th, 2016 at 05:18 pm

AS got paid $1280 for some freelance jobs yesterday. Setting aside tax and retirement she netted $832.

This was already calculated into the projected deficit, so it only reduces the actual deficit. But at least that's under $10K for the time being!

Checks received (net): $1280

Actual deficit: $9,729.87
Projected deficit w/ future money in: $742.76

April 3 health and moderation

April 4th, 2016 at 03:09 pm

Day three breakfast was banana, apple, and coffee.

Lunch: salad with tofu, pepitos, avocados and snow peas.

Dinner: homemade veggie burger on spelt bread w/ fixins, baked yam fries.

Snacks: wheat grass shot (YUM) and lots of grapes.

I was on my feet a lot yesterday cooking, and I also walked about 1.5 miles extra.

Last night I weighed in 2.6 lbs. lighter than last week! I'm at 141.5 lbs, would love to lose another 14.5 but 10 more would make me pretty happy!

April 2 health and moderation

April 3rd, 2016 at 09:18 pm

Day two breakfast was pineapple and banana, and coffee.

Lunch: holy basil tofu, rice and sugar snap peas.

Dinner: cottage pie (sweet potato, potato, pinto beans, TVP).

I ran a couple extra errands by foot, adding about 2 miles of walking to my day.

Night snacks: carrot-orange-ginger juice and a banana. I did have one bite of cupcake that Anitra is making for a contest.

I forgot to play harmonica, and I had lots of things to do that upped my screen time more than I'd want. But at least I'm more conscious when I'm watching TV and on the computer, periodically checking in to think "Are you really doing something or just zoning out?" And when I wasn't doing anything, I would quit the screen time.

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