Ooooooh!  I love this time of year!  Tax time always meant money back for me and I always looked forward to getting my refund.  It has been several years since I have held a job outside the home so I don’t get refunds anymore.  I always got refunds in the thousands, which most financial advisers will say is a HORRIBLE thing!

Most financial advisers will say that if you are getting thousands back at tax time then you need to adjust your withholding forms.  They think that the best plan is to come as close to a zero on your tax forms as possible.  You should not owe nor should you be owed money.  That is THEIR ideal situation.  Their hypothesis is that it would be better for me to get a little extra money in my paycheck each week instead of a big tax refund.  The thinking goes that I would be able to invest it or save it and earn interest on it during the year instead of letting the IRS hold it.

As a single mom of four children, my life is a different story.  If there were a little extra in my paycheck each week, chances are good that it would not be going into a savings account but more likely spent as it came in.  I always looked at taxes as a sort of forced savings.  Knowing I would get a refund worth several thousand dollars each year gave me something to look forward to.  A lump sum like that feels totally different than a little bit each week!

I would take my tax refund and do some necessary things (new tires on the car, catch up on a bill or two, etc) then spend a little on some fun stuff (a new toy for each of the kids or money for a new tv, something like that) and then the rest went into savings for emergencies during the year.  That plan always worked well for me and I never regretted doing my money that way, no matter what the “professionals” said I should do about MY taxes.

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Happy Presidents Day!

If my son Ben was writing this post, he would be regaling you with stories about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington!  As much as I am not a fan of history, he is a sponge and just soaks up all the little bits and pieces of information he can absorb about our former presidents.

Since the kiddos don’t have school today, I plan on having a Game Day here at the house.  Games and fun and snacks.  Taking the day off and relaxing and of course listening to Bennie rattle off fun facts about our former leaders!

 

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By this point in time, I am sure that you have heard that Whitney Houston is dead.  Most reports claim that she had taken some pills and when combined with the alcohol she consumed, it somehow lead to her death.

Whenever I hear of another celebrity tragedy (death, divorce, weight gain, infidelity, the list goes on and on…) it reminds me the reality is that no matter what your social status, financial status, or your place in life, no one has it easy.  No one.  This makes some people question what is the meaning of life, what is the purpose of life and how to change your life.

We each have our own journey to take. Our own path to follow.  God has a different plan for each and every one of us, no two are alike.  Instead of wishing you were on a different path, enjoy your own!  Your path is just as special as the next persons!  It was created just for you!  By keeping your eyes on YOUR path, and not the paths of others, you will begin to see a change in your life for the better.  You will start to observe things you never noticed before.  Your path will lead you to your purpose!

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I know that recently I posted about money in plain sight and returning items that you have never used. Another way to make some money is to sell some stuff on Ebay.  What sells on Ebay?  Your stuff of course!

You might think that you don’t have anything worth selling and that is an incorrect assumption!  Lots of things sell for good money on Ebay.  The best, low risk way to sell on Ebay is to find things around your house that you are no longer using and list those for sale.  Go over to Ebay and look around.  Try searching for some items that you have and think might be worth something, just so you can see what other people have them priced at and how much people are willing to pay.

Once you have the hang of it, listing an item for sale on Ebay takes maybe 15 minutes.  If you make even just $10 off an item, you are getting paid $40 an hour!  You don’t have to dedicate your life to listing items on Ebay, but it can bring in some extra cash to add to your budget!  I like to sell things on Ebay and then use the money to buy something new that I want but cannot afford from my budget.  It’s a win-win situation.  I get to clean out, the items go to a new home where they will be used and I get money to purchase a new item without breaking the bank.

 

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My son (who is Autistic) was a notoriously picky eater.  Over the past few years, I have managed to change that pattern.  What’s funny to me is that sometimes we resist trying a new food at home for fear that the picky eaters in our house will resist and protest.  This is not always the case.

The price of the white bread that my family prefers is almost $3 per loaf.  I have a bread machine and enjoy making bread in it but it doesn’t really lend itself to being “sandwich” bread.  So, off I went in search of an alternative.

I tried the bread outlet stores.  They didn’t carry our type of bread and the types they did carry weren’t very tasty (we tried them all).  So, I continued to buy our $3 bread.  Recently I noticed a store brand “honey wheat” bread that was $1 less than the bread we love and it seemed similar in texture and softness.  It was, however, WHEAT!  My kids would never go for that (or so I thought).  I bought the bread figuring that it would eventually get used.

Fast forward a few days…. I notice that the bread is indeed being eaten and I never heard not even one single word of protest.  I don’t think they ever even noticed the change!

Feeling a little braver, I was at the Dollar Tree this week and noticed a similar colored wheat bread and it looked pretty soft.  For a dollar, how could I go wrong?  I brought it home and again it is being used, no questions asked and not one word of protest.

Here is the point:  try it.  You just never know what the kids will go for and what they will absolutely not try.  Sure, there are some things that I still won’t buy the generic of (Kraft mac & cheese is one of those things) but for just about everything else, I am open to new brands and ideas!  Now, instead of spending $3 for one loaf of bread, I know that I can get the wheat bread at Dollar Tree for $1 * that’s three loafs for the price of one!  Whoo hoo!

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Car repair is such a difficult issue  for me.  I feel like no matter what I do, I am doomed to be taken advantage of if my car needs repair.  Even if I think I understand what needs to be fixed, I am usually wrong.  Even more difficult, is trying to figure out who to listen to about car maintainence.

This weekend was the perfect example.  A few months ago, my van started overheating a little.  Not much and not all the time, but enough for me to notice.  So, I took it into our “reliable” mechanic.  Someone I trusted and thought did a good job on my vehicle when I needed something done.

They kept it for a day, told me there was an air bubble in the radiator so they “burped it” and it should be fine.  They charged me $65 and did not even use the right antifreeze for my vehicle (they used WATER!).  Ugh.  Fast forward to February.

Now my van is overheating all the time and obviously I was reluctant to take it back to the same mechanic.  Dane found a mechanic friend of his that said he would take a look at it for me and let me know what repairs it needed.   The van was overheating SOOOOO bad at this point, I could not even make it 5 minutes up the road without it going into the red area of the temperature gauge.

We got within a  1/2 mile of this man’s house but could not drive it further because it started sputtering.  He came out to where I was on the side of the road with my van.  He opened the radiator and immediately noticed that there was NO FLUID in the thing!  OMG!  I felt like an idiot!  The previous mechanic told me I should never open  the “pressurized system” and as long as I could see the coolant in the overflow container, then it’s fine.  Ummm…… yeah….. apparently bad advice because even at this point, there was still coolant in the overflow container.  As soon as our friend put antifreeze into the radiator the temperature dropped and i drove it to his house.

After he looked it over, he determined that the water pump was failing.  So, instead of a $800 repair (other mechanics told me I needed to replace the heater core), it is costing me $210 for a new belt, flushing the radiator, replacing the water pump and antifreeze and getting a much needed oil change.

The moral of the story is this….. if you think there is something wrong with your vehicle, there probably is. No one knows your vehicle better than you.  If you get an opinion on vehicle repairs and they don’t sound right, get a second opinion.  It could save you hundreds and give you peace of mind.

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Just a quick post here on the most obvious way to stay warm during cold days and how to save money in the home.

It is much cheaper to add a layer of clothing than it is to crank the heater up.  If your feet are cold, put on some socks or slippers.  If your arms are cold, put on a jacket, sweater or sweatshirt.  If your legs are cold, cover them with a blanket throw. If you are in bed and cold, add another blanket on top of you.

I know this is obvious, but even I am guilty of saying “It’s cold in here, turn the heat on for a little bit”.  Then I realize I am walking around barefoot.  Good grief!

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