Milestone, taxes, and general ramblings

February 24, 2011 at 10:49 am (debt stats, goals, taxes, Uncategorized)

Today is a great debt day! I paid off my second to last debt and only have the SBA loan remaining. Whoo hoo! It’s an exciting moment to finally get to that point.

On top of paying the final $654 on my last remaining credit card/loan, I also just got my $880 tax return back, which I immediately paid towards my *last* debt, the SBA loan, bringing the total under $27K! Fabulous day indeed!

February is a bad income month, since it is so short. I also forgot to put in my hours for one day so my check from Monday is short a day! I wasn’t too horribly upset, since the next check (after the end of February) is only 9 days!!!! So an extra day of pay (a paycheck late) will be more than welcome when it comes time to pay rent and bills.

Still maintaining bringing lunch every day to work! I have gone out once this month, but that was a planned-in-advance activity, so I am going to include that in my restaurant spending.

I also have a very sizeable check coming my way in a week or three from a settlement. I’m involved with a 2-part lawsuit due to a bunch of accidents I was recently involved in the last few years. I haven’t ever spoken about them, but I should be getting about $7K, which I am going to pay towards my debt. Even though I’d love to go to Europe. Even though I’m bemoaning the fact that my truck has such sh*tty mileage and I want to get another Subaru outback. Nope. Not going to do anything but pay debt. Even though I really really want to do something else! I may have a big splurgy dinner out. Once. But that’s it.

Nothing else to report from the maven household. Working. Going to the gym (a lot!). Cooking at home (a lot). Not much else!

Stay warm everyone!

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Great progress this month – line of credit paid in full!

February 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm (debt stats, garden, taxes)

Today I paid off my personal line of credit with a $1,000 payment!!! It was my highest interest rate debt at 10%. Now, I’m left with $29,582 in my SBA loan, which is at 5% and about $5800 on my US Bank card, currently at 0%. I’ve been very careful this month with spending, and I was lucky enough to have 2 very nice paychecks with a lot of overtime. Going forward, I will dedicate myself with sniper focus on my SBA. In a way it’s a nice feeling to know that you only have to concentrate on one debt. I don’t know how people with a gazillion cards do it. But then, in the past I’ve only had 2 credit cards at most at any one time (now I have 3 but that was just to get the 0% interest rates; I did it intentionally, never used them except as a way to reduce interest, and have been paying them back steadily).

I should be receiving my $792 back from the IRS by early March. I think I will put $300 into my emergency fund to top it off back to $1,000. The rest I’m debating throwing at the SBA debt, or possibly saving it for next month’s expenses. I will have a fairly large expense in the next 3 weeks; we are building raised garden beds and will have 6 cubic yards of compost/soil delivered, which should be about $240. Add in the purchase of fertilizer and soil ammendments (we will have a lot of growing space to deal with), I’ll say it will be $350-$400 that J and I will have to split. To add insult to injury, my next paycheck will be extremely tiny. Not only will it only be a measly 9 days, but due to a 3-day management seminar work is sending me to, I’m losing 2 days of OT – both days that I stay late to close the building – to the tune of about 4 hours. So this paycheck will be a full day and a half smaller than usual.

I also updated my mini-funds a few days ago. Overall, this has been a good month for progress, great for making up for the past 2 months of much more modest gains.

Actually

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Tax season, how does it work?

February 14, 2010 at 6:58 am (taxes)

During the months of January through April do you all of a sudden find lots of tax-assistance stores in the strip malls and small business areas where you live? I had my oil changed yesterday, in this really sketchy lower-income neighborhood area that’s near where I live. I took a walk around to see it while I waited the 40 minutes for the mechanic to finish.

There was the person in the liberty mutual costume on the street corner waving at people. H&R Block had an office, as did like 3 other tax businesses. I tried to remember if there are that many in the “off” tax season, you know the rest of the year after April 15? I can’t remember if these were from vacant businesses and only temporary office shells, or if they were around the rest of the year.

I wonder what these business do the rest of the year? Is it all seasonal, temp tax-prep work? I’m sure there are business folks that need tax help to file quarterly taxes, but I’m sure they don’t use the predatory tax assistance businesses, or if they do, that there would be enough work to employ people and pay for business storefront rent. I would hope they go to accredited CPAs.

And what about the IRS? I got my electronic filing approved today. On a Sunday! I don’t know if it is automated or if it is done by a live human. Either way, I’m sure there are IRS government employees working weekends. I’ve always been impressed how quickly they process my return and refund. I can’t imagine how many people they must employ, to have every adult tax payer go through their system in an orderly and timely fashion in a 2.5 month period (I’m estimating that taxes start Feb, after W-2s come out through April 15). What do *they* do the rest of the year? Audits? If they have other work to do, do they put it on hiatus until tax season is over? Do they employ hordes of temporary workers?

If anyone works in this field, I would love to know the logistics! It seems like the higher-education version of hiring temp workers for the Christmas shopping rush.

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First time e-filing! Over and done.

February 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm (taxes)

Wow. I just finished doing my taxes. It was relatively painless, almost (dare I say it) fun. I have to admit that I’ve always done paper taxes, and always gotten it wrong. I’d send off my return, and then a check would show up for several hundred dollars more than I had expected. And I never really understood why.

This year, for the first time, I decided to use a tax software program – TurboTax’s free online e-filing. This was partially due to seeing lots of other pf bloggers talk about it. So I checked it out and decided to trust them with my personal information. I still wasn’t convinced – I went through the motions of filling out all the forms, data entry, and answering questions. It determined which form I needed to use (1040A rather than the 1040 I tried filling out myself). It gave me a tax refund number. Then it asked me to confirm my identity with the IRS since this would be my first e-filing attempt. My last year’s return is bundled up in my file drawers which are still wrapped up in the basement since our fall move. It wasn’t super easy to access, and I wasn’t completely sure about the electronic portion – did I still have to send forms in? Maybe I wanted to keep 100% control and do it myself, still, and use TurboTax’s results as a guide to make sure I got the numbers right.

Well, I filled out the form manually and found out how unclear some of it all is. I doubted my entries over and over. I read page 26, 32 and 47 of the instruction booklet (I made those numbers up for this post, by the way). I finished and my return was much less than TurboTax’s. I must have done something wrong. Turns out that I didn’t know about the Making Work Pay refund ($400!) or anything about Schedule M.

So I decided to just go for it and e-file. I found last year’s tax return, submitted one number, entered my bank info, and I was good to go. Easy, done, and whew! No wondering if it will get lost in the mail, ID theft, or long delays. Plus, I feel confident that I entered everything correctly, and didn’t miss out.

I fit into the category for free e-filing. My income is less than $57K, I don’t own a home, didn’t buy a car this year, and was not a student. Pretty basic. Even if I didn’t, I still feel like it might be worth paying for. However, I’ve been seeing that there are plenty of other free services you can use: Tax Act, as well as the IRS’s website itself.

Hopefully on Monday I’ll get a confirmation that my e-filing was accepted. If so, I can look forward to a $792 credit that I will be applying to my debt principal.

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