Friday, February 29, 2008

Extra income and freebies for February

OK, so February extra income wasn't as healthy as January, but still any extra income is just that, EXTRA!! I earned an additional $19 from surveys. But this month, I really scored on the freebies, here they are:

*Lean Cuisine meal trial
*Marie Callendar's meal trials (2)
*Pkg of Always pads
*Ice cream cone at Baskin-Robbins
*$125.85 check from eBates
*Body lotion at Aveda
*$30 gift card to grocery store (2)
*$5 off grocery coupon when spending $25

Not bad for the short month! I am really enjoying this free stuff and it's always fun to see what comes in the mail. I wish it had been a better month for survey income, but maybe next month.

February wrap up.....

Wow! What a great month! I have NEVER been so under-budget in so many categories!! I'll just jump right in with it!

Groceries: Budgeted $100, spent $36.78
Dining out: Budgeted $100, spent $36.67
Gas: Budgeted $100, spent $68.51
Clothes: Budgeted $100, spent $31.23 (includes dry cleaning)
Gifts: Budgeted $100, spent $47.50

Most other items were all within a few dollars of what had been budgeted and thankfully for the most part, all on the under-budget side of things. I did again go over in my entertainment, this being the final payment on my football season tickets, but the other months this year should be so under-budget that it should really help bring this in line.

I only added $180 to my savings, but also put my $1300 tax return into my Roth IRA, so I feel good about that. I will keep plugging away, trying to save money where I can and see how it goes. If I have more months like these, I will be able to put lots of money away and should definitely reach my savings goals sooner rather than later. And you know I like that! :)

Oh yes, all this and I had 17 days where I spent nothing, zip, nada, zilch, absolutely zero!!!!

Today, I am 9 years old

and I would like to retire when I am 15! :) Thank God that is really 24 years and not only 6! I would never be able to make it! I love having a leap year birthday, it's fun to have something a little different than everyone else. It makes the leap years birthday even more special and my family really goes all out. My next real birthday I will be 10 (or 40!) Yikes, either way that is freaking me out a little.

So, if I go by my leap year age (9) I think I am doing fabulously on my retirement savings and future planning, but if I go by my real age (36), I have got some serious work to do in the next 24 years. But, I think I am up for the challenge, we'll see how it goes! One thing's for sure, I don't want to still be working when I am 20!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dang property taxes...

My property taxes went up for 2008 to $1978.26/year from $633.10 for all of 2007. YIKES!! That is one helluva huge jump!! At first I freaked out thinking that if they went up this much every year, there was no way I would be able to keep up. But, then I remembered, they were so low last year because it was the first year that the conversion had been done at my place and that next year I wouldn't see nearly as drastic a jump. Whew, I panicked there for several minutes, then my rational side kicked in and I was fine. Of course if property taxes are going up, that also means the value of my home is increasing too, so an increase within reason is fine. :)

Since there was such an large increase this year and the first half of the taxes are due in April, and I don't have nearly enough held in escrow to pay them, I need to come up with $600 extra in March to add to the account that pays my taxes. OK, I'm fine with that, I have it and won't even have to take it out of savings, so I am happy. Now if I could just get a new adjustment done to my mortgage so they take the money out over the next 6 months instead of all at one time, I would be much happier. Baby steps!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tax refund received

in yesterday's mail and I will be going to the bank at lunchtime to deposit it. I have written a check for $1300 to my Roth IRA that is going out in today's mail. Feels good to have gotten the refund and am quickly using it to help secure my financial future. I did keep $23 of it for myself, maybe I will get a pedicure or something fun just for me. ;)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Frugal weekend and upcoming week....

This past weekend I didn't spend much money at all and I was also quite busy, didn't spend the whole weekend at home. ;) Friday I went to a Southern Living party at a friend's house, she had a wonderful dinner and dessert spread. There were a lot of great things I could have bought, but I had brought my practical side with me and new I didn't need any of them. I order a 2 year subscription to a magazine I enjoy reading, it was only $20 for 2 years, so I was happy with that. Saturday I volunteered at a school auction and was busy the entire day with that, it was a fun way to spend the day, something different to do and I enjoyed it. They fed us so much great food too, it was wonderful. Sunday found me at home doing laundry and cleaning chores and the like, but I had plans to go meet a friend for happy hour at 3:00, she was treating for my birthday which is coming up this week. We had a great time catching up too, and I have found a great new place for happy hour. All the food was either $2, $3, or $4, such a great deal. And even better that I wasn't buying! :) I love birthdays! This whole week seems to have turned into birthday week for me. I have plans tomorrow evening, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings! Yikes that is a lot of eating out, thankfully I won't be paying for it, except in the waistline. I hope my clothes still fit after all of this indulgence! ;) Hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is it not reasonable to want to retire at 60??

Not according to my financial planner, if I keep saving the way I am. Ok, maybe this is the kick in the butt I needed to get me more serious about saving for the future. I am really good about not spending money, but what am I doing with the money I am not spending? Certainly not maxing out my retirement options the way I should/could be. I would like to retire by the time I am 60, but according to the plan I saw yesterday, with relatively the same lifestyle I am currently leading, I would be lucky to retire at age 66!! Harald sent me home with some really great print outs of where I am and how it could change if I made one or many of several changes to my current savings plan and I liked what I saw. Now is the time for me to kick that plan into action and get serious about putting the money away for the future. I spent about an hour at his office last night, then about another 2 hours looking at the pretty color printed pages he sent me home with. OK, time to get really serious about retirement savings. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Meeting with my financial planner tomorrow...

I just got off the phone with my financial planner and we have our 6 month meeting tomorrow to look at my plan and see where I am at, where I want to go and what I need to do in order to get there. I am really looking forward to this meeting. I am also looking forward to giving him a $1300 check to add to my Roth IRA, yeah!!! Next week I will be 36 and I am hoping to retire when I am 60, earlier if all goes well, but I'm thinking 60. So, that means ONLY (ha!) 24 more years, so it will be interesting to see what Harald (financial planner) has for me tomorrow. I'll let you all know what I find out.

Hope everyone is having a great month! I am doing really well not spending too much money this month and adding a lot to different savings accounts. I received my property tax notice last week and while the taxes went up quite a bit, I am happy that I have the money to pay them and don't have to worry about where the money will be coming from.

I think I will have a pretty good month in review, but I will save the details of that for another day. ;) Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More money to put into my Roth...

In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to put $1200 from my tax refund into my Roth IRA and use the rest ($123) to buy a couple pair of jeans. Well, last night I had to meet my mom at the mall to give her something I had been holding onto for her. I decided to start looking for some jeans while I was waiting. I haven't received my tax refund yet, but it doesn't hurt to look. I also had a $40 gift card to Macy's in my wallet. And I knew it would take me forever to find some jeans, I'm only 5' and very thin, so pants that fit right are hard to find. So, I headed to the petite section at Macy's and found about 5 pair of jeans to try on. First pair I tried, OMG, they fit!!! And fit perfectly! And the price?? Only $48! So, with tax, they total came to $52.78, I used the gift card and only had to pay $12.78 for a great fitting pair of jeans. :) I only bought one pair for now, I want to see how they wash and wear. But now I know I can find some jeans that fit without breaking the bank!! I know I had said I was going to buy a couple pair, but I think I will hold off, see how it goes with this pair and go from there.

So, for now I will add $1300 to my Roth IRA, I'll keep the other $23 and maybe treat myself to a pedicure once it gets a little warmer and it's sandal season again! :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

What to do with my tax refund.....

Well, after reading the comments on my last post, I have been giving it some thought over the weekend and I think I have decided what to do. I am going to take the $1323 I am getting back and put $1200 towards my Roth IRA and use the remaining $123 to buy myself some new jeans. Luckily I can wear jeans to work, so I think I will buy a couple pair and be set for awhile. I am already contributing $200/month to the Roth and adding this $1200 puts me at $3600 for the year. I will also add the $600 tax rebate bringing that total up to $4200 meaning I will only need to add another $800 for the year to max this out. I am really hoping to do that this year as I think it will really help get the momentum going for my retirement. This will be the first year I will be able to max it out, so wish me luck! I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Just filed my taxes

So, I just finished filing my 2007 taxes and am happy to report that I am getting a federal refund in the amount of $1323. In Washington state we don't file state taxes. I know buying my house helped a lot and am curious to see what the taxes look like next year when I don't have all the closing costs and things to include. I know the interest deduction will still make a big difference, I'm just not sure yet if I should adjust my withholding. I guess I will see how it goes for 2008 and then decide.

Now, what should I do with my refund? I am thinking that I will put most of it into my savings as I am currenly trying to build that up to $10,000, possibly $12,000 before fully funding my Roth IRA. I am currently contributing to the maximum match on my employer sponsored Simple IRA. But I also think I might take $100 or so of it and have some fun, or buy myself some new clothes. I am in desperate need of some jeans.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Extra income and freebies for January...

I decided after reading several other PF Bloggers excellent annual reviews of 2007 that in 2008, I was going to keep much better track of things. So far, I am doing well in this endeavor. January netted me several freebies and an additional $68.10 income from surveys. Yeah! As far as the freebies I received, they are as follows:

* 6 free movie rentals from Blockbuster (cashed in survey points)
* $30 grocery gift card
* $3 from recycled cans collected at the office
* 40 free song downloads from eMusic
* $10 coupon off my grocery bill

I feel pretty good about the amount of free stuff and extra money I received and so far February is off to a roaring good start! I'll keep you posted at the end of the month, but I think it's going to net me more than January did, in fact, I know it will. :)