HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
- Last post of 2015! Thanks for reading. I hope my ramblings have been sometimes entertaining but more often helpful, in some way. I know that blogging my frugal efforts (and other tidbits of my life) has been invaluable to me: it has provided me with an online journal that I can re-read and rediscover (my memory is horrible!), it has allowed me, very antisocial me, to connect with several awesome people throughout the world and here in the USA (shout out to all of you who have commented and emailed, thanks so so much!), and most importantly for me, it has continued to inspire me to be a better steward of the income my wonderful husband brings in for us, so we can continue to hopefully enjoy life with some kind of an income and a paid-for house after his retirement or if he loses his job. I could do so much better, though, but I'm determined to make progress every year as I reflect on the years past.
- It's 2:15 a.m. as I'm prepping this post. I'm extremely late going to bed because I got all caught up in recording Greg's paystubs for 2015 into a tax worksheet that I have designed. You'd think that understanding a paystub would be easy (it certainly was very straight forward back when I worked!) but Greg's paystubs are something else... and the only way I can make sense of them is to retype everything manually into Excel and see if the totals that should be match what's on his paystubs. Most times yes, they do match. But sometimes they don't, and then I need to become a detective to see why. Can I say that I hate stock options and vesting and restricted stock and gross up and all this crap?! I wish they would just increase his annual pay to the amount that he actually makes (and so deserves) after all the bonuses and stocks, it would be so much more straight forward!
This detective/recording task is something that I should have been doing throughout the year but, as I mentioned yesterday, I hate dealing with this stuff so every year I end up ignoring the reminders that I set in my Google calendar to do it everytime he gets paid. Ugh.
- Plus the cat is in heat. That's it, I've decided that is her problem. She is crying and meowing and rubbing against cabinets and furniture while crying out (and man, she is LOUD!) and I have no patience for such nonsense. We need to sleep! I've rebuked her forcefully and sent her back to the entry room with the other 2 cats and hopefully she'll just hide and fall asleep. I don't even care if she doesn't like me anymore! My daughter tried taking her into her room for the night and that lasted about 15 minutes before she brought her back down, litterbox, water bowl and all, lol.
- Now (2:30 a.m.), I've got to try and get some sleep as I have to get up early to get the crockpot started and for us to head out to WDW on New Year's Eve. What were we thinking?! I so wish my son didn't care if we went or not so I could cancel, but he was really excited when I told him we were coming to see him, lol.
- New Year's is a non-event for us so I doubt we'll even stay up late enough to see the ball drop on Time Square. I just hope that the neighbors won't go overboard with fireworks but at least we have less of a chance of fires since it rained last night.
- Well he just couldn't stay away... my middle son called tonight and asked if he could come spend the night tonight because he's coming to visit his GF for a few hours and then he has to work at Universal tomorrow. Greg asked me if we were going to charge him the nightly fee, lol!
- It rained overnight! I realize that some readers might be dealing with floods or the threat of a flood right now (and I'm sorry if you do) but we haven't had any rain to speak of in many weeks. We need rain so my garden can grow vegetables, our lakes and rivers are healthier, and we have less forest fires come late winter/early spring.
- I researched the 2016 401(k) maximum contributions (still $18,000) and figured out the rate that we need to set aside each pay period so we can max out our contributions. It's a little different from last year since Greg got a small raise, so I'll need to change that on the appropriate website tomorrow. We contribute to a Roth 401(k), which means that we pay tax on contributions right now, not wanting to take the gamble that our tax rate will be lower in our golden years. I'd much rather be safe than sorry.
- I prepped our 2016 Tax Worksheet by trying to guess what Greg's paychecks will be next year. I say "guess" because having a larger income than the minimum wage is very nice and working for a company that hands out bonuses is awesome, but it brings its own set of problems when trying to anticipate our income and taxes for the year and whether we think we'll be eligible to contribute to Roth IRA accounts or not.
I wasn't kidding when I said we needed an accountant. Arrgh. Tomorrow, FICA contributions restart, the Roth 401(k) contributions restart too (they had ceased these last 2 pay periods since we'd contributed the maximum), and the new health benefits contributions kick in. So I've guesstimated what I think his first 2016 paycheck will be, which is significantly lower than the last 2 we have gotten. The only thing that makes it a little easier this year is that I'm keeping our W-4 at zero exemptions. Still, I think we'll owe taxes come April because we were very lucky in 2015 that he received a large bonus AND quite a bit of restricted stock too. If I had paid attention to the details of his paystubs all year, I would have realized that and recalculated the W-4 to see if I needed to send extra money to the IRS every pay period. But I didn't, and the Restricted Stock, even though it appears in the gross amount that he has earned in 2015, isn't real money that was deposited into our checking so I didn't realize that he had gotten it. I don't get the email statements for that account (and even if I did, I wouldn't open them because I don't open any of the other investment statements, they scare me!). Greg says that it doesn't matter if we pay it throughout the year or all at once in April, but that's because he's not the one writing the check for several thousands of dollars!
Anyway, after guesstimating his paychecks, I plugged that magical paycheck number into my Excel budget, which has been prepped for 2016. Once we get the first paystub of the year, I'll update it again with the real number. For now, it gives me an idea of what our cash flow will probably be like every day of the year, provided that we stick to our budget... and that he doesn't get laid off. Then, I get to do it all over again in June, since (fingers crossed) this is when he usually gets a raise and a bonus. I really need to be more assiduous with this in 2016. Yeah, yeah, I say this every single year. Listen to me whine about this when some of you are trying to figure out how you will make ends meet in 2016... but that sad reality doesn't make the PITA of my reality any less true. I love my BFF but I wish she was an accountant so I wouldn't have to find someone else to give me advice, as I don't like meeting new people with whom I'm expected to have a relationship.
- We got up at 6:45 a.m. and had breakfast at home before leaving for WDW. I brought water along for the car trip, Greg brought his tea in a traveling mug. Thankfully he had some peanut butter crackers in his truck, because I was quite hungry when we drove home and we avoided stopping at Panera's (as I had thought we'd do) since I could eat some crackers :)
- Before we left, I got dinner started in the crockpot. I cubed the bottom beef roast (ugh, cutting raw meat that early in the morning is disgusting!), used up the rest of the butternut squash that I had peeled and cubed before the Christmas break, some carrots that I had frozen, a little bit of onion that I had frozen, a bottle of blond lager (the recipe calls for stout but lager was all I had on hand), and some beef bouillon granules + water. Herbs were dried rosemary and thyme from my garden and 2 bay leaves. I cooked it on low for 8 hours. There was no room in the crockpot for me to add the 2 potatoes that I wanted to use instead of turnips so I might steam them in the microwave tonight.
- We gassed up Greg's truck so I have another receipt with which to take a survey for a freebie. Not sure if I'll redeem them because both my daughter and I want to eat healthier, but maybe I'll just freeze them for my son.
- I found 10 cents on the ground as we were walking from the Magic Kingdom parking lot to Transportation and Ticket Center. Woohoo! Our little debacle just came down by 10 cents!
- An upside of our WDW tribulations is that we got exercise today, since we walked from our parking space to TTC, then from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort, and then from TTC back to our car!
- When we got home, my 13-year-old tried to convince me to go get lunch from Hardee's, reminding me that I had coupons, but I held fast and we had lunch at home with what we had on hand. Way to go, me, as you all know that I haven't resisted ANY take-out opportunities recently. Which reminds me that I really need to add up my receipts and see how badly I behaved these past 10 days!
- Instead of going to run errands, we remained home the rest of the day and watched "LOTR: The Return of the King, Extended Edition" (we own the Blu Ray set that I had bought in July when the best price was available). Then we started watching some of the extras. Today the DVD did work in the Xbox One. Go figure...
- Meanwhile, I earned my Bing Rewards credits for the day and played SBTV on my phone and NGage and Juno Group videos on my laptop to try and earn some Swagbucks. By the way, there is a new post on the Swagbucks blog about changes coming to the Daily Goal, including the fact that you will now need to CLAIM your bonus and do that during the first ten days after your (new) notification or you will lose it. Boo. Until now, it was credited automatically but people were whining that they weren't notified when it was because they're.. well, whiners who can't be bothered to check their ledger. Sheesh. Seriously, people, help yourselves! This means that if I go on vacation abroad for more than 10 days around the time my notification would be made, I would have to forfeit my bonuses from the previous month because Swagbucks cannot be accessed from where I'll be. Arrgh. Anyway....
- What a better way to end the year but to reach my daily goal? No, I won't try to make it to the 2nd goal though...
- I also took advantage of the looooong movie to catch up on some blogs. One post I found was of a blogger who had posted 5 covers of financial books she had read in 2015 but without any comments about them or back story, so I got curious to see why she would have been interested in them and researched them on Amazon. I ended up deciding that one of my goals in 2016 should be to become more interested and invested (see what I did, there?!) in such financial matters as investing and financial planning so I looked to see which of those books were available at my library system and put one on hold, two on a list to put on hold at a later time, and put one in my Amazon wishlist for later this year since the latest edition will be published in April (and hopefully my library will acquire it).
|I put this on hold at the library. It came highly recommended by several people. John Bogle used to be the CEO of Vanguard.|
- Since I was thinking about goals (yeahhh, the extra footage wasn't all that gripping, actually, and all the characters were crying at one point or another, which has always annoyed me to no end), I decided that I should try to devise an exercise regimen for myself too. I don't like exercise videos because I'm not coordinated, but I do own and love the old Greg Smithey's series (from Buns of Steel, a big 80s exercise juggernaut): Easy Aerobics, Easy Toning, and Easy Stretching... but on VHS. Sadly, it is still not available on DVD, and will probably never be. So one of the tasks on my new to-do list will be to dust up my VCR, play the tapes, and film the TV screen with my digital camera so I can have them on an SD card and play them from there since either the tapes or the VCR will probably bite the dust pretty soon.
|Can you believe that they want, in 2015, $51.89 for those old VHS tapes?! I bought them for less than that about 20 years ago!|
- CVS sent me a 20% off coupon that I uploaded to my ExtraCare card. Once again it's not valid on anything that's on sale or on milk, so it's pretty much useless to me, but "you never know"!
- I watered my zombie celery plant (still surviving but not thriving) and the pineapple top that has regrown now and that I need to transplant with water collected from the dehumidifier last week.
- I uploaded new Kellogg's rebate offers to my SavingStar account.
- I collected the MyCokeRewards codes from the last 3 packs of Coke products from the Christmas Eve buffet and saved them. I'm waiting for some promotional event to see if I can earn more than the regular MCR points when I input them.
- Nothing today!
- So, as you may have read earlier today, our foray to Walt Disney World ended up being a complete waste of money and time. Grrr. (Part 1 is here).
- I had to throw away the half-loaf of corn bread that I had baked last week because no one ate it and it got moldy because I had no room in the fridge or freezer for it. My bread baking days are going to be numbered in 2016 as I need to lose a significant amount of weight.
- I didn't go out to run the errands I kind of needed to do today in order to use up coupons that expired today so: I didn't get to use my free Steak'n Shake meal voucher (birthday freebie) or the $1.50 Barber Foods coupons, which is kind of a failure to get free and cheaper food. Oh well. I did make a half-hearted attempt to motivate myself to go mid-afternoon but Greg reminded me that we have tons of stuff in the house so going out isn't an emergency. He's right.
- I tried baking the last 4 biscuits from a can I had opened on Christmas Eve, but they didn't rise and remained like small pucks so I just threw them away. Thankfully I had also baked a can of 5 Grands! Jr. biscuits, anticipating the failure. But I had to try...
- Figured out some financial stuff for 2016.
- Cooked dinner in crockpot.
- Attempted to go see my oldest son perform at WDW.
- Finished watching the Lord of the Rings, extended edition with Greg and our son.
- Researched financial education books online and made a list of those that I want to read in 2016.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!