Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why This Week Rocked (in no particular order)

We booked tickets for our summer Alaska.
Our bffs had a baby. Congratulations Carson & Nicole!
We got to go visit & play with our friends' new puppy!
My best girlfriends made me feel like a million bucks.
Liz booked tix to come visit over spring break(!) Jenny
baked us yummy lime cookies & mailed them all the way
from Illinois. What wonderful friends. I love you ladies.
And last but certainly not least...
Matt took the DAT (dental admissions test) &  
rocked it. I made monkey bread to celebrate......
Did I mention that it was in the 60s this weekend? We went mntn biking! These are the days I love North Carolina. Let's hope for more weeks like this one.

Life for Less: Coming soon...April 15th!

I have been mulling over some tax tips to share with y'all for quite some time. A couple of nights ago, I started working on a life for less: tax tidbits post when I remembered a little goal I set to have our Federal, Illinois & North Carolina returns filed by the end of February. An unexpected delay in getting a W-2 from my former employer put a hiccup in that plan, and I haven't finished yet. When I do file our taxes (which will be very soon)...I promise you a good, newsy blog post about some tax tidbits I've learned along the way. Stay tuned!

(By the way, that's me...being a total nerd in front of the IRS in D.C.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Welcome to the world, Liam!

This lady just had a baby!!!
Our best couple friends, Carson & Nicole, welcomed a baby
boy to their family this morning. At 6:40, William "Liam" 
Carson was born to 2 very special parents. He weighs 7lb 
1oz & is a very healthy little boy! Aunt Suz & Uncle Matt 
can't wait to meet him! Of course, we love him already!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mountain Dews, baby.

The Olympics are a big deal in our household.

14 years ago I went to the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games with my fam & 8 years ago Matt went to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games with his fam, so we're all about the Olympics. Summer/winter, we don't discriminate. I've been glued to the TV every night, staying up way too late watching all sorts of different events. Matt's been a little preoccupied studying for the DAT (which he takes this Saturday ... say a prayer for him!), but he manages to tear himself away from the books every once in awhile to catch the highlights.

Speaking of which, tonight is a big night in my hubby's opinion... Why? Because tonight, folks, we get to watch the half pipe finals & cheer on none other than the crazy red-head, Shaun White (we just watched him pull some sweet tricks in his qualifying run...double cork anyone?).

Also, Matt has a man crush on Shaun White. It's okay, I've forgiven him... all in the in the name of the Olympic spirit. Go USA!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Life for Less: Free* Credit Report

(a.k.a. Will the *REAL free credit report please stand up?)

If you've turned on your TV anytime in the last 5 years, you've probably heard the jingle (note that I am not linking to their website -- hear me out on this one). And you probably took the ads at face value, assuming that if you were to go to you'd get, well, a free credit report. Not so fast.

If you ventured to the web site, you'd click on a big button that said "Click here to see your FREE credit report & score." This is where I stopped my little experiment, because I know the trick that they're about to pull. If you were to proceed at this point, you'd (unknowingly) sign yourself up for a credit monitoring service at $14.95/month. You wouldn't realize this until a month later when you saw a strange charge on your credit card bill. The web site prompts you to enter your credit card number as a requirement to redeem your "free" report and assures you that "credit card will not be charged during the free trial period." False.

So where do you go to get a free credit report? The ONLY place where you can get a free credit report is By law, everyone is entitled to a free report from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, & TransUnion) every 12 months. Now before you rush off to to pull all three reports, consider spacing out your reports and check one every 4 months. That way if there is something unusual on your reports, you're more likely to catch it sooner rather than later. I've set up calendar reminders for us.

Lastly, here's a little Credit Reports 101, for those of you who've never reviewed your credit reports. It's not too late to start!

What's on your report: information about you compiled from data you provide to lenders & others, including
  • Trade lines: past & present credit accounts (& information about if you make timely payments)
  • Credit inquiries: requests for information about you made by potential lenders
  • Public record & collection items: information gathered from government & collection agencies (e.g. purchase contracts, collection items, bankruptcy)
What you should look for:
  • Do you recognize all of the accounts listed?
  • Is your address history & other information accurate?
 If you find an error: 
  • Report the error to the credit agency.
  • The agency must investigate & respond to you within 30 days.
  • If you are in the midst of a loan application, notify potential lender(s) of the incorrect information.
  • Go check out your other 2 reports to make sure the other agencies don't have incorrect information.
Sidenote: I have today off (President's Day, yay!) so I'm sitting on our couch writing this post with the TV on in the background and I just saw an ad for Don't be fooled...also NOT free.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In honor of February 14th...

14 Things I love about Matt McA:
 (1) He makes me laugh. everyday.
(2) He's so darn handsome.

(3) He loves to dance. (He's a big goofball & he's not ashamed of it).
(4) He's pursuing his big dreams to be a dentist.
(5) He's not afraid of a kitchen: he packs my lunch every morning,
makes me coffee when I'm running late & is a grillmaster!
 (6) He's a closet tree-hugger, recycler extraordinaire, bike-riding to school/work kind of a guy.

(7) He promised me he'd buy me a puppy some day.
(8) He's adventurous & shares my love for the outdoors.
(9) He runs with me & even does yoga with me
(oops! that was supposed to be a secret!)

(10) He's going to be a great dad some day.
(11) He's a good friend.
(12) He has an amazing family (& he loves my family, too!)
(13) He's a man of character & of faith.
 (14) He loves me back.
Happy Valentine's Day, M3. I love you to pieces.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Southerners & Snow

2 weekends ago we had a snowstorm. I think we had a couple inches in our neck of the woods. If you lived in NC, you may have thought the world was coming to an end. The grocery store was sold out of all of the essentials: bread, milk, eggs, frozen pizza. Schools were closed or delayed ...all week long. Virtually no one had to go work. No one left their homes (including us!) at the risk of being on the roads that were (a) unplowed & unsalted & (b) shared with folks who had no experience or business driving in the snow. The tickers at the bottom of the local channels were showing church cancellations (this is when I knew I was in the South). It was craziness.

At the risk of sounding like a snotty northerner, I empathize with southerners. Heck, I grew up in Florida! Southerners don't have the resources or know-how to handle the snow. Plus, it's a novelty...NC gets a dusting & folks are buying sleds & building snowmen.  

Perhaps my 6 years in Illinois desensitized me to winter weather. Three years ago this week, I walked to class in arguably one of the biggest snow storms central Illinois has seen in decades, only to have classes at the U of I subsequently cancelled that morning for the first time since 1979! (That's me in the snow-->)  My professor's reaction - "let's finish class, we're all here anyway." Nevermind trudging back home in all that snow. So while my roommates slept in, we chugged through corporate tax. Thanks, Professor Sternberg. I don't know where I'd be without a firm understanding of accumulated earnings & profits.

I guess I shouldn't complain too much about our recent brush with winter weather. I stayed inside all weekend in my pjs and watched chick flicks while Matt studied. And...I started this blog!
One more tidbit. Our 2007 snow storm conveniently fell on Valentine's Day weekend. Matt rode his bike to Schnucks to buy lobster for V-day. My roommates/ BFFs, Jenny & Courtney, had some fun with the (live) lobsters before we ate 'em. I stumbled across this photo & just couldn't resist. Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Life for Less: Intro

Like I mentioned in my welcome, I'm a bit obsessed with personal finance. I get really worked up about things like budgeting, emergency funds, health insurance, oh yeah... and taxes. On more than one occasion, I contemplated collecting my thoughts on paper and relieving my husband of being the only object of my rants. So if you're reading this, Matt thanks you. I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have enough knowledge/experience/common sense and want to share what little I've learned with my friends.

Before I get started on a particular topic, I want to introduce one of my favorite things: 
One of the most powerful things you can do to take control of your personal finances is figuring out where you money goes. It's nearly impossible to meet your goals without being realistic about your spending.
Kudos to my good friend, Liz Fay, for introducing me to A free, secure, online aggregator of your various accounts. Instead of visiting 4 or 5 different web sites to check your credit card(s), debit card(s) & investment balances, transactions, etc... just visit Mint.  "Mint downloads and categorizes your balances and transactions automatically every day— making it effortless to see graphs of your spending, income, balances, and net worth." 
Did I mention Mint is secure? & it makes simple graphs? & it remembers how you've categorized spending in the past? & it will create a budget for you based on your historical spending? & it alerts you when there are large or unusual transactions? & it's intuitive? I used Quicken for awhile, and I must admit that I don't miss it at all. I plan on spending an entire post gushing about Mint, but for now, do yourself a favor and check it out!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...