Giving: Back-to-School Brigade

31 07 2011

The school season is in full swing throughout stores.  Deals on classroom supplies are spread everywhere so I purchased on-sale school supplies in support of Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade.  The idea behind the Backpack Brigade is to provide school supplies for the children of servicemembers.  Often times one parent is deployed overseas and this task of purchasing school supplies can be a daunting one for the families at home.  This helps to eliminate any stress levels of the parents brought on by a deployment or helps to eliminate the financial burden of having to purchase school supplies during a time when funds are low.  I am happy to contribute to the Back-to-School Brigade!

I was able to find:

  • 4 glues – free
  • 2 pencil cases – $0.25 each
  • 1 pack pencils – free
  • 4 pack index cards – free
  • 1 pencil sharpener – free
  • 3 packs label – unused had on hand
  • 2 folders – $0.25 each
  • 1 pack crayons – unused had on hand
  • 1 pack pencil cap erasers – free





Test your Financial Know-How

28 07 2011

Our world is surrounded by credit cards, IRAs, networth and liquid cash.  Test your knowledge of financial literacy! 

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/06/136062128/money-quiz-test-your-financial-know-how





10 Tips to Ease Tax Time for Military (Courtesy of the IRS)

28 07 2011

Courtesy of the IRS

Military personnel have some unique duties, expenses and transitions. Some special tax benefits may apply when moving to a new base, traveling to a duty station, returning from active duty and more. These tips may put military members a bit “at ease” when it comes to their taxes.

  • Moving Expenses.   If you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty and you move because of a permanent change of station, you can deduct the reasonable unreimbursed expenses of moving you and members of your household.
  • Combat Pay.  If you serve in a combat zone as an enlisted person or as a warrant officer for any part of a month, all your military pay received for military service that month is not taxable. For officers, the monthly exclusion is capped at the highest enlisted pay, plus any hostile fire or imminent danger pay received.
  • Extension of Deadlines.  The time for taking care of certain tax matters can be postponed. The deadline for filing tax returns, paying taxes, filing claims for refund, and taking other actions with the IRS is automatically extended for qualifying members of the military.
  • Uniform Cost and Upkeep.  If military regulations prohibit you from wearing certain uniforms when off duty, you can deduct the cost and upkeep of those uniforms, but you must reduce your expenses by any allowance or reimbursement you receive.
  • Joint Returns.  Generally, joint returns must be signed by both spouses. However, when one spouse may not be available due to military duty, a power of attorney may be used to file a joint return.
  • Travel to Reserve Duty.  If you are a member of the US Armed Forces Reserves, you can deduct unreimbursed travel expenses for traveling more than 100 miles away from home to perform your reserve duties.
  • ROTC Students.  Subsistence allowances paid to ROTC students participating in advanced training are not taxable. However, active duty pay – such as pay received during summer advanced camp – is taxable.
  • Transitioning Back to Civilian Life.  You may be able to deduct some costs you incur while looking for a new job. Expenses may include travel, resume preparation fees, and outplacement agency fees. Moving expenses may be deductible if your move is closely related to the start of work at a new job location, and you meet certain tests.
  • Tax Help.  Most military installations offer free tax filing and preparation assistance during the filing season.

Tax Information IRS Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide, summarizes many important military-related tax topics. Publication 3 can be downloaded from www.irs.gov or may be ordered by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).





Facebook Week in Review: 07/22/2011

25 07 2011

July 22

Save to Win this weekend. TGIF!

Heatwave Showdown – cooling/heating your home accounts for 43% of your utility bill. Cooling and heating systems use the most energy and drain the most dollars. Check out the U.S. Dept of Energy for tips on conserving your energy dollar.  http://www.energysavers.gov/tips/heating_cooling.cfm

July 21

Be aware of your surroundings – today we spotted a credit card on the ground near the mass transit ticket booth. When retrieving items from your wallet/purse be certain you haven’t dropped cash, debit/credit cards or other items. In this instance we called the credit card company, they canceled the card. However, if it fell into the wrong hands the result could lead to identity theft, unauthorized charges, etc.

“The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have”—Unknown

July 20

“U.S. households on average spend 41% (the proportion is 44% for singles) of their food budgets outside their homes”—U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey

July 19

Did you know? Was your cable/internet/phone service not working some days during the month? Call your service provider and request credit for the days service was down. Remember, you are paying a monthly fee in exchange for properly working services during the monthly period.

You’ve come too far to stop now. Spending is very tempting, but keep pushing forward with your saving.

July 18

Another great resource from Fake Checks – don’t fall prey to rental, work-at-home and overpayment schemes. Take the “Fraud Test” as well – http://www.fakechecks.org/frau​dtest.html. Stay informed. Protect yourself from Fake Outs.  http://www.fakechecks.org/prevention.html





Facebook Week in Review: 07/15/2011

18 07 2011

July 15

Calling all Savers with Children – the Li’l heroes monthly email newsletter (through Commissaries.com) shares baby-related vendor web pages offering special savings to their readers. TGIF !  http://www.commissaries.com/baby/

Pre-Applications for the $1B Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP) to Help Unemployed and Underemployed Homeowners at Risk of Foreclosure are due by July 22, 2011.  http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=%2Fpress%2Fpress_releases_media_advisories%2F2011%2FHUDNo.11-147

July 14

Think Big. Save Big.

The 2011 figures were released: HUD and VA announced that $46.2M will be provided to supply permanent housing and case management to almost 7,000 homeless veterans in America. HUD-VASH (rental vouchers) will announce the remaining funding by this summer’s end.  http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=%2Fpress%2Fpress_releases_media_advisories%2F2011%2FHUDNo.11-150

July 13

Ten great reasons . . . . http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/family-money/10-reasons-im-cancelling-my-credit-cards-1310065287880/?link=SM_mustread

“Whenever you change your name, be sure to report the change to Social Security. Otherwise, your earnings may not be recorded properly and you may not receive all the Social Security you are due. Not changing your name with Social Security also can delay your income tax refund.”–SSA Use form SS-5 at www.socialsecurity.gov or call 800-772-1213.

July 12

Many ‘smart’ phones require data plans. Prior to signing a cellphone agreement, know how much the plan will cost per month and fit that amount into your monthly budget. Also decide if you’ll use the data plan. Don’t get stuck paying ‘smart’ fees you cannot afford or don’t use (not to forget cancellation fees if you decide to switch plans or carriers).

Inflation does not retire.

July 11

Keep up with setting aside money for your retirement. Making small sacrifices now will pay off later. No pain, no gain.

“Random Shopping Runs” may cause budgets to incur “mystery spending” by month end. Set a “variables” category within your budget to account for that spending.





Giving: Humane Society

16 07 2011

Often times people continue to tithe and participate in charitable giving regardless of their current financial situation.  While it is important to some people to open their wallets and give back to their community, their financial house should be in order first.  This means if you are living beyond paycheck to paycheck, charitable contributions should be halted until the monthly budget balances out.

However, this may not be an option for some people because they have a strong desire to help others regardless if they require help themselves.  For these people I would advise lowering the amounts contributed or perhaps give in other ways that aren’t monetary – your time and/or tangible items.

This month I have decided to use coupons to provide tangible donations to the animal shelter.  Also, I used the money in the food budget to provide the funds needed to make the purchase.  The total prior to coupons would have been somewhere around $5 but after coupons I spent under $2.





Facebook Week in Review: 07/08/2011

11 07 2011

July 8

Less is More – Making the choice to consume less not only frees up our time from shopping, it provides financial stability. Think high yields = money for savings, down payment for a home, college and retirement funds. Less is more when it comes to consuming.

July 7

Just released the Federal Benefits Guide from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is their most popular publication – featuring Federal Benefits (compensation, pension, VA life insurance, etc.) for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors.  http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp

A bumper sticker caught our attention. It read, ‘I owe I owe it’s off to work I go’

July 6

Waste Not – chop and freeze vegetables if you know you will not use them prior to their spoiling. This will save you a trip to the Commissary and keep $ in your wallet. Also, if you spy a great deal and want to stock up – carry out the same method – preserve your savings and food.

“The average U.S. credit score — a predictor of the likelihood lenders will be paid back — rose to 696 in May, the highest in at least four years”–Equifax

July 5

Check out the U.S. Dept of Education’s college cost center. See which schools have the highest and lowest tuition and net prices.  http://collegecost.ed.gov/catc/Default.aspx

Question Time – how are you keeping recreational costs low this summer? Visiting MWR, planning a local vacation…..

July 4

Let’s remember all Warriors past and present on this Glorious Fourth. Thank you to our Service Members and their Families that stand along side them….With Liberty and Justice for All !








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