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Archive for March, 2008

Finally got our refund!

March 29th, 2008 at 04:51 pm

Last year was a great year for us. Our gross income went from $105K in 2006 to $142K in 2007. Unfortunately, our marginal tax rate also went up from 9.2% to 14.2% because of raises a little bit of OT. Our AGI was $122K. So when we did our taxes we got back $3200 but owed the state $207. Still not bad considering our income went up significantly. That will go up again this yea. We still claiming 1 exemptions on our withholding so not to owe money and we preferred this option. Plus we'll get another $1800 in May from Bush's stimulus package. That's a total $4792. I know most people hate the idea of loaning the government money for free. But for us, that's really the practical solution because we stress more on "owing" than how much interest we'll get in invested interest.

It's a good thing that we get money back each year because that funds our property tax and family vacation every year. We're not a big spender; we don't stay on fancy hotels, or fly to exotic locations. We preferred to drive instead. For example, last year we took our kids to see the Grand Canyon and Lego Land near San Diego. On the way to Grand Canyon we stopped to Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. I think my wife's enjoyed it more than my kids since she hasn't seen any those places before. It was a blast!. The year before that we visited my wife's relatives living just outside Seattle WA. On the way there, we stopped to see Mount St. Helen. That was the highlight of the whole trip for me. From there, we drove straight to Seattle and stayed there for a week. I also finally got the chance to visit my Aunt who I haven't seen in decades. She lives just outside Vancouver BC. That was really fun.

This year, we might spend few days to Disneyland or San Diego Sea World. But were also thinking of renting a beach house in Oregon for a week just to get away from NorCal. So we're looking forward to that, but we haven't found a place yet. So if anyone know a place in Oregon to rent a nice beach house with excellent view, please share them.


End of April

March 28th, 2008 at 02:20 am

It's that time again already. I tell you time fly before you know it, its summer time.

Anyway, the month of March was fantastic. We were able to throw our son's his 4th year birthday party. We rented a Palace Jumping place for $315 (max 26 kids) for toddlers. Some of his classmates from school was able to attend. The rest were friends, relatives, and coworkers. We had about 24 kids attended the party and about 30 adults. We originally budgeted for $700.00 but we were able to spend less than $600.00. My mom paid for the cake and all the preps. We saved just over $100 bucks from everything else which included food. My wife's best friend made her fantastic spaghetti.

We also did some landscaping project for our front yard and side corner of our house. We live in the corner lot so we had bunch of weeds and stuff growing that we wanted to eliminate and clear things out. We put new rocks and new plants. We originally budgeted for $2K but only spent exactly $1K for the entire project. Again, we did our due diligence and invited lots of bidders to come. Thats how we were able to save.

I should also mention. The $10 a day limit for lunches seems to work really well for me. For 3 weeks this month, I brought my lunch from home which saved me about $200 from our budget. I also brewed my coffee each morning. I'd say I saved about $300 just on coffee alone this year and by staying away from Starbucks. That explain Starbucks losing its appeal lately. Huh go figure!

With all those extra expenses for March, we still were able to saved $1015 towards the EF, which met our goal again for third straight months. Again, majority of those savings came from less eating out, brewing my coffee, more cooking at home, and less DEBIT card activities. So far this year, we have increased our EF to $3015.

Emergency Fund continue to build...

March 2nd, 2008 at 01:20 am

It's about time i update our progress.

We thought the month of February was going to be a tough month to save. My wife got sick because of the "flu bag" but she recovers and started going back again today after a week off. I'm still recovering myself but only missed one day of work. However, because she couldn't cook and I don't really cook either other than making basic stuff (hotdogs, sandwiches, salad etc) we ate a lot of take outs. At least my kids love it! However, the big difference before why we spend so much money was we didn't have a budget plan. This time we did. And so, at the end of the month we were able to save an extra $1000.00 towards building our EF. As long as we were conscious on what we spend we were able to keep each other in check all the time. Our balance as of Feb 29th is $5935.00. We still have another $10K to save by the end of the year. We're still moving on...!

March is typically where we spend lots of money because of birthdays for our son, cousin, and relatives. Not only those gifts, but our property tax is also due so that's a big chunk. Thank god we have a separate pot of money to pay that every year. That pot is well funded again this year. Nevertheless, we got our budget planned out for all the extra expenses. So we should expect to save an extra 1K. I almost forgot to mention, we did received our tax refund which is about $3K. Not bad given our AGI was $122K. But this is the fund that helps fund our Property Tax and summer vacation. As long we can maintain between $4K to $5K balances on this account, we don't worry about a thing. We don't know about what we're going to do about the rebate checks ($1800) when we get it. But I suspect we might just use it for all towards our vacation in Oregon this summer.