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How Much We Spent The First Year

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I have heard that “renting is like throwing away your money.” I have heard it a lot. In fact, I even used to say it! Until 2008, when house prices fell for the first time in my lifetime. The truth is, that line is more marketing ploy than truth when you actually crunch the numbers. We are closing the books on our twelfth month in our new-to-us home, and trust me: There is plenty of money we have thrown away. Don’t get me wrong: We are even more in love with our house now than we Read more […]

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Positive Net Worth! {2016 First Quarter Update}

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A lot has happened since my last net worth check-in. Un-Anticipated Expenses: A $1,300 snowblower that costs more than one of our cars. $70 of food spoiled after losing power for 36 hours. $700 generator to prevent pipes from freezing, but was returned when the power came on 10 minutes after we got it home. $625 for six months of pre-paid piano lessons for Little Stapler. $135 keyboard for Little Stapler to practice piano. (We will buy a piano if he sticks with his lessons and practicing) That’s Read more […]

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All Aboard the Tax Rollercoaster!

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I am a glutton for punishment. That is, I do my taxes each year as soon as I can. The truth of the matter is that I do our taxes ASAP so I know whether we will owe money and to have more time to get the IRS payment together. This year was no different. Unlike years past, I did not divert any of my freelance income to a savings account for taxes. Although I only made a few thousand dollars as “self employment” income, I was still concerned. I was also unsure of how the whole mortgage interest Read more […]

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The Envelope System Experiment: Lessons Learned

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I have learned a few things after using the cash envelope system for a month. Not the least of which is how difficult it is to stay squarely within a budget!  Although I tried The Envelope System last summer, the lessons I learned have stayed with me. Now that we are flush with some cash in our bank accounts, I wonder whether I should try using cash again, but reconsidered. Here’s why … Cash is Not King Despite my idealistic efforts to have no exceptions to our “cash only” policy, there Read more […]

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I Got Rid of Half of My Jewelry {And it feels great!}

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I don’t have expensive tastes, but I do enjoy high quality, beautiful jewelry. Over the years, I have acquired several gemstone, pearl, and amber pendants and earrings. But you wouldn’t know it if you looked at me recently. I have been in a jewelry rut. Most days, I don’t wear any jewelry because I don’t think of putting any on, don’t think I have any to match my clothes, or don’t have time. Well, wouldn’t you know … Mr. Stapler got me a beautiful gemstone necklace for my birthday. It Read more […]

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Take a Moment to Review your Investment Portfolio

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I am usually very hands-off with our investments. So when I happen to open up Mr. Stapler’s Vanguard account (to facilitate a rollover from an old 403(b)), I was shocked to see that thousands of dollars were invested in a money market fund. Shocked and disappointed. You see, I’m not the most daredevil investor, but I do like to invest our retirement funds for the long haul. I like to put our money into low-cost index funds and intend to keep them there for decades. But when I opened up Vanguard, Read more […]

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How to Cut Cable and Save over $1,000 a year

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I know you hate paying your cable bill. Maybe you’ve put it on autopay so you don’t have to think about it, or maybe you grudgingly set up your online bill pay each month. Either way, you’re not alone. More and more people are “cutting the cord” … on cable. This new wave of cord cutters is particularly ironic for my parents, who were probably the last people in their town to start subscribing to cable a few years ago. Now, if they want to watch shows like House of Cards or Grace and Frankie Read more […]

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Facebook Yard Sales: Worth the hassle?

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Have you heard of Facebook Yard Sales? They are (usually) private Facebook groups (you have to request to be added) that are organized by region. People post items that they would like to sell and respond to inquiries on Facebook. I usually sell my baby gear at semi-annual consignment sales, but there are some downsides. For someone trying to declutter her basement yesterday, it’s frustrating to wait for the sale to roll around twice a year. It also involves a lot of pricing and tagging at Read more […]

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Tips for Finding the Best Deal on Tax Preparation Software

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(Please note that there are affiliate links in this post.) I love collecting the tax forms that arrive in my mailbox every January. Does that make me strange? OK, I know I’m a bit of an oddball. I like to do my taxes every year. It’s a fun puzzle to see how much income we had the year before and plug in our deductions, credits, and exemptions. I love to see how that little (or large!) number at the top of my screen changes. Year after year, I also seek out the best prices for TurboTax. Read more […]

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Why I Don’t Want an Emergency Fund

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We used to have a $20,000 Emergency Fund. This was back in 2009, before Little Stapler arrived. We were both working full time, spending little, and banking $3,000 a month. No, that’s not a typo: We saved $3,000 a month! I like to think of them as the financial glory days. Although I do wish that we were socking away that savings at our student loan debt, I appreciate that we were able to pay cash for our second car — a used 2006 Toyota Prius. Until that point, we had been commuting together Read more […]