Monday, August 30, 2010

8 Financial Benefits of Being Married

This is the second of a three part series called Financial Benefits of Being...

And today we'll cover being married.
  1. Living Expenses Per Person. It does not take twice the space for two people to live versus one. Two people do not use twice as much water or electricity. So if two people = two incomes, it is far cheaper to be married than to be single as far as living expenses go. (on the other hand, if two people = one income, the advantage lies with being single obviously).
  2. Accountability. This is a huge advantage financially. There is someone else to keep your spending in check. As long as you two learn how to discuss money without fighting, there is great wealth to be found (literally) in having someone to check in with to reign in your spending.
  3. Financial Stability. If both people in the marriage are working, panic does not have to ensue with the loss of work or sudden layoff occurs. There is another source of income to work with until the partner who has lost a job can get back on their feet.
  4. Tax Benefits. You notice how it benefits most people to file married filing jointly rather than each filing singly? The government rewards you for being married on your tax filing status with slightly lower tax rates. With the slowly disappearing marriage penalty, this is becoming more and more true.
  5. More responsibility. It seems that with marriage, people realize it is time to "grow up" a bit and think about the future. Of course it doesn't always take marriage, but too often, it does for many. Marriage usually initiates the purchase of a home to build equity, contributions to retirement to start, savings for future children's educations, and whatnot.
  6. Exempt from estate and gift taxes. There are rules about the amounts that cap off these rules, but basically you can give money to a spouse, while alive or posthumously, without the huge tax penalty that would incur if you gave it to anyone else. Anyone remember Shawshank Redemption?
  7. Reaching Goals Faster. If there are two incomes in the marriage, goals can be achieved much more quickly that with a single individual.
  8. Men Are More Dedicated to Their Jobs. Studies have shown that with marriage (and even more so with the addition of a family), men are more dedicated to their employer and to a job well done in an effort to provide for the family. This results in more raises, promotions, and bonuses than their single counterparts.

So there are eight that I found? Can you recommend any others?

Photo credit: andreyutzu

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WFMW - Blog Scheduling to An Extreme

So you've probably seen posts about how to schedule your blog posts in Blogger. If not, read this one quickly. The ability to schedule posts is seriously a serious lifesaver.

However I take it to a bit of an extreme (some might say), but it really works for me.

I do series of posts. As in Tuesdays are my "Free for All" days and Saturdays are my "Weekly Round Up" posts. I always like to include a picture with my posts because I think it just makes it more interesting to look at. For the Free for All I like to have pictures with the word "Free" included and for the Round Up posts, I like to include round things in the photos ('cause I'm creative like that).

However, I hate having to search for a picture I've never used before.

So I typically do picture searching on one day and take care of a lot of posts. For instance, I like to search Flickr's selection under the Creative Commons rules so I can use the pictures. So I do a search for "Free" and once I find a collection of pictures I snag them all. Then I plug them into a scheduled post along with my attribution link and save it for the date it will post. Like this:



Additionally, I like to do my round up posts (where I summarize my favorite reads of the week) in a similar manner. I used to wait until Friday and then go back through my favorite items in my feed reader list. Now, when I find a post I like, I go ahead and save it into the post I already have pre-scheduled with a photo. Once I reach the end of the week, the post is completed and I don't have to spend the day searching through old posts that I've already read in a frantic search for my favorites.

This is what this Saturday's post looks like right now:



So yes, my blogger dashboard looks like this:



with a lot of posts waiting to post, but those all have pictures ready to go. And if you'll look hard, you'll see that I won't have to look for pictures of "round" things until the end of the year!

Extreme scheduling of blog posts works for me! Head over to We Are THAT Family and see what works for everyone else!

Monday, August 23, 2010

8 Financial Benefits of Being Single

If you're visiting from the Carnival of Personal Finance #272 – Yogi Berra Edition! over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, welcome! It's a bit crazy around here right now because I'm hosting a huge back to school series of giveaways. It's a lot of fun, but all of the fun really fills up my blog! Look around and get comfortable. I'm still posting my "regular" stuff amidst the giveaways, so you can find that here. Feel free to enter some of the giveaways if you want as well!

This will be the first part is a short three-part series of Financial Benefits of...

And today we will discuss the financial benefits of being single. While it is true that it is cheaper per person to live in a relationship, there are financial benefits of being single. Here is a quick list of those:
  1. You make all the financial decisions. Yes, this can be viewed as stressful, but it is not as stressful as having to consider someone else in your financial decisions. You can decide what you want to do with your money as selfishly as you want to do so. If you want something, you don't have to consult with anyone else.
  2. No need to change anyone. If you are naturally a saver, you don't have to convince someone to be on the same page as you and curb their spending. If you are naturally a spender, you don't have to justify your purchase to anyone but yourself.
  3. No need for life insurance. Unless you just have a large estate that you want to leave to a nephew or something, there is no need to invest in term life insurance if you don't have to worry about taking care of anyone if you die suddenly.
  4. You don't have to carry another person's liabilities. That's right. You don't have to worry about the late payment on someone else's credit card or the tax fraud they might incur or the possibility of being sued because of their actions. It's all about you.
  5. You don't have to ask permission to go to the ATM. That might be harshly stated, but if your spouse is the one who pays the bills rather than you, you might have to check with them before spending to make sure there aren't plans for the money that is currently in the bank (as in, the bills are all due tomorrow).
  6. Health insurance is WAY cheaper for one person than for two. And especially cheaper than for a family. YIKES!
  7. Single person = Single living space. Once again, I know it costs less per person to share a living space, but the smaller the space needed, the less the rent. And if two people does not equate to two incomes, it is cheaper to live being single. Same goes for utilities.
  8. You can deal with a smaller car. Yep...those SUVs and vans and full size family sedans cost more, cost more to insure, cost more to fuel, cost more to maintain. So if you aren't required to have one for the room, you can get by with a much cheaper ride.
Obviously, regardless of your marital status, you must gain responsibility and accountability for your personal finances if you are going to rule them (rather than letting your money control you). However, the above reason as just a few ways it is financially beneficial to be single.

Do you have any to add?

Photo credit: sundstrom

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WFMW - No Hassle Birthday Cake and Ice Cream

Yesterday was my birthday. Yeah, yeah...happy birthday to me. =)

Chip hit the nail on the head when it came to celebrating with cake and ice cream. It pleased me. It pleased the kids. It pleased the budget. It pleased him (no baking).

What is this wonder?

Birthday Cake Ice Cream.

Now, I cannot recommend every manufactuer's version of this, but here in the deep South where we have Blue Bell (sorry...the rest of you are just missing out), the Birthday Cake ice cream that they make and release for a few months a year is TO DIE FOR.

Seriously.

It's not cake flavored ice cream. Some brands do that. It's not the same thing.

No.

It is ice cream with actual chunks of chocolate cake in it. Just look at it.



Doesn't that make your mouth water?

And it is scrumptious!

And every bit as good as a birthday cake with ice cream on top.

And perfect for our family of 4.

So instead of buying or baking me an entire cake and buying ice cream to put on it, Chip allowed me to enjoy both while making everyone happy.

And that works for all of us! Head over to We Are THAT Family to see what works for everyone else!

photo credit: Coastal Coffee Cafe

Monday, August 16, 2010

8 Fairy Tales You Don't Want Your Children to Read

Many fairy tales have some rather sinister beginnings. Luckily, these tales have been updated by children's book publishers and Disney to create more happily ending tales oblivious to their frightening sources.

Here are eight stories that you would not read to your children in their original form. Source: List Verse
  1. The Pied Piper: In the tale of the Pied Piper, we have a village overrun with rats. A man arrives dressed in clothes of pied (a patchwork of colors) and offers to rid the town of the vermin. The villagers agree to pay a vast sum of money if the piper can do it – and he does. He plays music on his pipe which draws all the rats out of the town. When he returns for payment – the villagers won’t cough up so the Pied Piper decides to rid the town of children too! In most modern variants, the piper draws the children to a cave out of the town and when the townsfolk finally agree to pay up, he sends them back. In the darker original, the piper leads the children to a river where they all drown (except a lame boy who couldn’t keep up). Some modern scholars say that there are connotations of pedophilia in this fairy tale.

  2. Little Red Riding Hood: The version of this tale that most of us are familiar with ends with Riding Hood being saved by the woodsman who kills the wicked wolf. But in fact, the original French version (by Charles Perrault) of the tale was not quite so nice. In this version, the little girl is a well bred young lady who is given false instructions by the wolf when she asks the way to her grandmothers. Foolishly riding hood takes the advice of the wolf and ends up being eaten. And here the story ends. There is no woodsman – no grandmother – just a fat wolf and a dead Red Riding Hood. The moral to this story is to not take advice from strangers.

  3. The Little Mermaid: The 1989 version of the Little Mermaid might be better known as “The big whopper!” In the Disney version, the film ends with Ariel the mermaid being changed into a human so she can marry Eric. They marry in a wonderful wedding attended by humans and merpeople. But, in the very first version by Hans Christian Andersen, the mermaid sees the Prince marry a princess and she despairs. She is offered a knife with which to stab the prince to death, but rather than do that she jumps into the sea and dies by turning to froth. Hans Christian Andersen modified the ending slightly to make it more pleasant. In his new ending, instead of dying when turned to froth, she becomes a “daughter of the air” waiting to go to heaven – so, frankly, she is still dead for all intents and purposes.

  4. Snow White: In the tale of snow white that we are all familiar with, the Queen asks a huntsman to kill her and bring her heart back as proof. Instead, the huntsman can’t bring himself to do it and returns with the heart of a boar. Now, fortunately Disney hasn’t done too much damage to this tale, but they did leave out one important original element: in the original tale, the Queen actually asks for Snow White’s liver and lungs – which are to be served for dinner that night! Also in the original, Snow White wakes up when she is jostled by the prince’s horse as he carries her back to his castle – not from a magical kiss. What the prince wanted to do with a dead girl’s body I will leave to your imagination. Oh – in the Grimm version, the tale ends with the Queen being forced to dance to death in red hot iron shoes!

  5. Sleeping Beauty: In the original sleeping beauty, the lovely princess is put to sleep when she pricks her finger on a spindle. She sleeps for one hundred years when a prince finally arrives, kisses her, and awakens her. They fall in love, marry, and (surprise surprise) live happily ever after. But alas, the original tale is not so sweet (in fact, you have to read this to believe it.) In the original, the young woman is put to sleep because of a prophesy, rather than a curse. And it isn’t the kiss of a prince which wakes her up: the king seeing her asleep, and rather fancying having a bit, rapes her. After nine months she gives birth to two children (while she is still asleep). One of the children sucks her finger which removes the piece of flax which was keeping her asleep. She wakes up to find herself raped and the mother of two kids.

  6. Goldilocks and the Three Bears: In this heart warming tale, we hear of pretty little Goldilocks who finds the house of the three bears. She sneaks inside and eats their food, sits in their chairs, and finally falls asleep on the bed of the littlest bear. When the bears return home they find her asleep – she awakens and escapes out the window in terror. The original tale (which actually only dates to 1837) has two possible variations. In the first, the bears find Goldilocks and rip her apart and eat her. In the second, Goldilocks is actually an old hag who (like the sanitized version) jumps out of a window when the bears wake her up. The story ends by telling us that she either broke her neck in the fall, or was arrested for vagrancy and sent to the “House of Correction”.

  7. Hansel and Gretel: In the widely known version of Hansel and Gretel, we hear of two little children who become lost in the forest, eventually finding their way to a gingerbread house which belongs to a wicked witch. The children end up enslaved for a time as the witch prepares them for eating. They figure their way out and throw the witch in a fire and escape. In an earlier French version of this tale (called The Lost Children), instead of a witch we have a devil. Now the wicked old devil is tricked by the children (in much the same way as Hansel and Gretel) but he works it out and puts together a sawhorse to put one of the children on to bleed (that isn’t an error – he really does). The children pretend not to know how to get on the sawhorse so the devil’s wife demonstrates. While she is lying down the kids slash her throat and escape.

  8. Cinderella: In the modern Cinderella fairy tale we have the beautiful Cinderella swept off her feet by the prince and her wicked step sisters marrying two lords – with everyone living happily ever after. The fairy tale has its origins way back in the 1st century BC where Strabo’s heroine was actually called Rhodopis, not Cinderella. The story was very similar to the modern one with the exception of the glass slippers and pumpkin coach. But, lurking behind the pretty tale is a more sinister variation by the Grimm brothers: in this version, the nasty step-sisters cut off parts of their own feet in order to fit them into the glass slipper – hoping to fool the prince. The prince is alerted to the trickery by two pigeons who peck out the step sister’s eyes. They end up spending the rest of their lives as blind beggars while Cinderella gets to lounge about in luxury at the prince’s castle.

Photo credit: ibeeby

Monday, August 9, 2010

8 New Uses for Clear Nail Polish

In my quest for finding interesting uses for common items, I found another real winner at Joey Green's Wacky Uses that I wanted to share with you.

Clear nail polish. I LOVED these ideas and had only ever heard of one of them!
  1. Stop a run in nylons. Paint the snag immediately with clear nail polish.
  2. Protect shirt buttons. Dab the center of each button with clear nail polish to reinforce the threads so buttons stay on longer
  3. Laminate prescription labels. Keep prescription labels clear and readable by painting them with clear nail polish.
  4. Prevent rust on toilet seat screws. Paint the screws with clear nail polish.
  5. Thread a needle with ease. Dip the end of the thread in clear nail polish. Let dry, then thread.
  6. Repair a small dent in a window, auto windshield, or wood floor. Fill hole with a few drops of clear nail polish, let it dry, then add a few more drops until full.
  7. Prevent the bottom edges of shaving cream cans from rusting. Paint the bottom edges of the can with clear nail polish.
  8. Tighten loose dresser drawer knobs. Dip the end of the screw in clear nail polish and replace the knob in the hole to dry snugly.
Any others you want to add?

Photo credit: rbatina

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Our Financial Status - Update #10

INCOME:
We actually made $2496.00 more than budgeted because there were three paydays during the month. HOORAY! So although two of Chip's checks were less than we were used to (due to training and such) we still came out on top!


UNDER BUDGET:
Auto Service/Parts: $30 under budget.
Fast Food/Restaurants: $66 under budget. Can you believe it? This is our weakness and we conquered it this month under the pressure of having to write a huge check to the IRS. We really can do it, I guess!
Groceries: $19 under budget. Yep. Even with a reduce eating out budget...in a long month...we pulled it off!
Clothing: $9 under budget. I bought Patrick some new shoes that he desperately needed, but got a good price on them.


ON BUDGET:
Auto Insurance: No problem here.
Television: As usual.
Doctor: Abigail's 1 year check up was covered by the one co-pay a month I have budgeted.
Term Life Insurance: On target.
Home Services: No surprises.


OVER BUDGET:
Gas & Fuel: $43 over budget. Chip's had to travel more for work in the last week, so it happens.
Mobile Phone: $3 over budget.
Utilities: $145 over budget. It was hot. Really hot. And we have to have air conditioning here in southeast Georgia. I'm trusting this will balance out when it cools off some so the monthly budget will be a nice average.
Pharmacy: $5 under. Nothing spent here.
Mortgage: Appears to be about $1500 over budget, but that's because July's payment cleared in July and so did August's. However, we were truly $5 over budget because I totally forgot to pay our HOA fees and had to pay a $5 late charge. Stupid, stupid.
Income Tax: $1722 over budget. Yeah...we have a huge SNAFU when filing our 2008 taxes. Our fault entirely, so we had to sent the IRS a big check. Next month? Another (but much smaller) one to the state.
Photographs: $81 over budget. We had 1-year photos made of Abigail. The pics were adorable. I used a coupon though and saved over $200. I think that's okay, right?


ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
  • Didn't make any headway on the debt repayment this month because we had to pay the IRS. Boo, hiss. So the minimum payments were made and we're moving on.
  • We didn't have to use our credit cards at all this month. Although the unexpected payment to the IRS put a huge damper on life, we buckled down. And we had to dip into our emergency fund, but that's okay...that's what it is for. Last year we would have put the IRS payment on a credit card and not thought twice about it.
  • We are having to dip a little more into the emergency fund this month because we had to pay for re-enrollment of the kids for school. Good news? Its...
  • Patrick gets to go to a lottery-funded Pre-K program this year, so we don't have the same tuition as his daycare. We still have to pay for the afterschool care, but this will save us about $70 a week. Woo hoo!
  • Since we have to pay the state of Georgia for our tax mistake and rebuild our emergency fund, I don't expect to make any headway on the credit cards again next month. Oh well...at least we're surviving!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WFMW - Random Kitchen Cleaning Tips

This is just a small collection of tips I came up with in the spur of the moment. I've collected this knowledge over time from various sources.

  • Use ketchup to clean your copper post. Rub some on, leave 5-30 minutes (depending on the level of tarnish) and rinse. That easy!
  • If your dishwasher is starting to smell, at a cut lemon into the utensil holder and proceed with normal wash cycle. The dishes and the dishwasher will be clean and smell lemony.
  • Adding vinegar to your dish washing water or dishwater will prevent water stains (and clean scum build up out of your dishwasher).
  • If you have some stinky garbage (raw seafood or meat) that needs to go in the trash but you're a long way from garbage pickup day, wrap it up and stick it in the freezer. When trash pickup day arrives, drop into your trashcan. No smell in your house or trashcan.
  • Don't forget to clean the underside of the overhanging edges of your counter tops. Trust me...you don't want to discover this on your own.
  • Clean sponges by microwaving them for 1 minute.

It's a short list, but it's what I got. =)

These tips work for me. See what works for everyone else over at We Are THAT Family!

Photo credit: konr4d

Monday, August 2, 2010

8 Interesting Uses for Chalk


I truly love finding interesting and new uses for everyday items. In my investigation of such things, I ran across a list of uncommon uses for white chalk at Joey Green's Wacky Uses. I wanted to share those with you.

  1. Clean ring-around-the-collar. Mark the stain heavily with white Crayola Chalk. The chalk will absorb the sebum oil that holds in the dirt.
  2. Prevent silverware from tarnishing. Place a piece of Crayola Chalk in your silver chest to absorb moisture.
  3. Prevent tools from rusting. Place a few pieces of Crayola Chalk in your toolbox to absorb moisture.
  4. Remove grease. Rub Crayola Chalk on a grease spot on clothing or table linens, let it absorb the oil, then brush off. Launder as usual.
  5. Prevent costume jewelry from tarnishing. Place a piece of Crayola Chalk in your jewelry box.
  6. Prevent a screwdriver from slipping. Rub Crayola Chalk on the tip.
  7. Fill a hole in a plaster wall. Insert a piece of Crayola Chalk into the hole, cut it off even with the wall, then plaster.
  8. Repel pests. Draw a line of Crayola Chalk around windows and doors outside your home, and around water pipes inside your home. Ants will not cross a chalk line. Also, slugs will not cross a chalk line.

Do you know of any to add to the list?

Photo credit: RGD_90

 

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