Wednesday, February 29, 2012
One thing that I have noticed is that if I keep myself extremely busy then time seems to fly by. If I have a slower paced day...well then, time seems to drag on forever so luckily for me, most of my days are jammed packed with work and activities.
Time...it is definitely something I wish I had more of because lately, I seem to get very "little" time to myself. I really miss sitting around and doing some scrapbooking, crafting, reading or even soaking in a nice hot bubble bath for an hour. Time...where does it go?
It seems like 99% of my day is spent doing things for other people and only 1% of my day is doing something for myself. Something I have come to realize is that I need to find "MORE TIME" for myself because spending 99% of my time doing stuff for other people is certainly making me miserable.
So starting today...a minimum of 1 hour of each and every day will be spent doing whatever I want to do! No matter what...you need to take time for yourself every day!
Hubby has been collecting Star Wars items since the movies first came out and has a "shrine" of Star Wars things displayed in our family room & game room. He just couldn't resist having his photo taken for this! Enjoy!
Monday, February 27, 2012
Preparation is key to any task and absolutely essential when completing your taxes. Before you commit your weekend to pouring over government vernacular, consider these seven tips to stay on track.
1. Identify Deductions
Before you start number crunching, be sure you know what expenses to write off; you don't want to miss out on a single tax-deductable expense. The list is quite long, so take the time to read it thoroughly and highlight anything that applies to you. You can find the Top 500 Itemized Deductions on the IRS website.
2. Organize, Organize, Organize
Now that you know what to deduct, it's time to organize the information. You've filed tax-related documents in a single file all year - that's as organized as you need to be, right? Wrong. If your receipts are a hodgepodge of charitable donations, business lunches and vehicle records, take the time to separate them out. This will save you a lot of headache come input time.
3. Keep Track of W2s
By law, employers must submit W2s to employees by Jan. 31 of each year. If you failed to receive yours or can't seem to locate it, contact your HR department or supervisor. File it immediately when you receive it.
4. Find Discounts for Software
Preparing taxes at home is much cheaper than working with a professional, but that doesn't mean you should pay full price. Look for tax coupons from websites like CouponSherpa.com and save on software packages to make your tax prep even more affordable.
5. Save on Professional Help
Taxes are never straightforward, but business owners and people with multiple real estate properties are much less likely to be audited when they work with a tax professional. If you work with a chain agency like H&R Block, be on the lookout for deals and discounts; they run rampant this time of year.
6. Analyze Your Refund
It's tough to compete with the glee of receiving a hefty tax return, but not owing anything to the IRS is the sweetest gift of all. If your withholdings are too high, you're missing out on monthly income. If they're too low, you're living the high life until an abrupt wake-up call on April 15. Ultimately, you want to break even with Uncle Sam, so use the IRS Withholding Calculator to determine the optimal deduction from your paycheck.
7. Spend Refunds Wisely
It's tempting to treat yourself when you get a refund, but the biggest treat of all is financial security. Thankfully, 43.8 percent of Americans intend to stash away expected refunds this year, up from 42.1 percent in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation's Tax Returns Consumer Survey. Paying down debt, donating to a charity, and adding to emergency savings are all wise ways to spend your refund.
Have you ever heard of the online web site called clipix yet? If not, today I am going to tell you a little bit about it. Clipix is a FREE to use web site where you can organized all of those recipes, home decorating ideas, craft projects, scrapbooking layouts, fashion finds, etc. that you find online. Organizing them all on Clipix is a great way to remind yourself about them a few weeks or months from now. Clipix is FREE and very easy to use!
When you open up your online clipix account you will immediately see how cool this tool is. You will want to read the brief instructions and then add clipix to your toolbar favorites. You will then create a few personal clipboards and name them. I have clipboards for craft ideas, fashion finds, home dec ideas, recipes and one for scrapbook layout ideas. You can make as many clipboards as you need and use them for all kinds of things!
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Anyway...we have 2 small streams that run through our property and as we were checking out the beauty of the stream we found 3 adult ducks! As you can see from my photos..2 were male and 1 was a female (she is the brown one).
These 2 male ducks chased her around something fierce this afternoon and were definitely trying to get her attention. I am not sure if it is mating season for ducks or what...but she was letting them close to her (at times) and then at other times she was pushing them away.
I just love wildlife so it was very nice to sit on the bench and watch the ducks today and after a few minutes they did come up close to us and wanted us to feed them. (I didn't have any ducky food on me though).
We did locate the female's nest but we didn't touch it. We could clearly see though that there were no ducky eggs inside of it. Hopefully in a few months we will have some baby ducks running around the property.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Despite the vast difference in money-use methodologies, shoppers tend to get their terminology mixed up. "Investing" in an LCD TV or Blu-Ray player is a misnomer. Just like a new car, these items lose value as soon as you take them for a spin. Though most consumers are already aware of this detail, it doesn't seem to slow their interest when it comes to electronics. The Consumer Electronics Association projects more than $1 trillion in such spending this year, an increase of 5 percent from 2011.
With the Consumer Electronics Show wrapping up last week, tech fanatics everywhere have an itch for the next big thing. If you plan on scratching it, use these tips to help defeat depreciation.
1. Use the News
Nothing kills the excitement of a brand new gadget like discovering a price drop days after you've opened the box. In fact, many holiday shoppers are suffering through this exact scenario, thanks to a recent $100 price drop in several popular tablets. Avoid getting stuck in this predicament by tracking the news on products you're planning to buy. Big cuts are usually announced in advance to help stimulate sales.
2. Read Reviews
User reviews are a great place to start your electronics education. They'll help identify common problems so you can steer clear of troublesome products. Poorly reviewed items are usually the first to plummet in value, since manufacturers need to unload such inventory to make room for new, higher-quality products.
3. Cut the Initial Cost
There's no secret formula to preserving value, but there are plenty of ways to cut the initial costs. Find coupon codes for Dell, Newegg and other popular retailers on such sites as CouponSherpa. When making high-dollar buys, don't shy away from haggling, either. Most items include a certain amount of mark-up, and most managers would rather sacrifice a few dollars than lose the sale altogether. Just make sure you're prepared to buy, if they meet your price.
4. Protect What You've Got
You don't have to coddle your iPad like a newborn, but keeping it protected pays off in the long run. Simple actions like adding a screen protector and case ensures a longer, healthier life for your gadget. It also helps preserve any resale value you hope to get in the future. Don't bother buying brand-name, though. Quality cases, cables and covers are abundantly available online for a fraction of the price.
5. Quality Matters
Though low price-tags can tempt even the most careful consumer, it's best to avoid the cheapest of the cheap. Simple logic should tell you there's a good reason for an item being priced $100 less than its closest counterpart. When you're already laying out a good chunk of change, it's often worth spending a little more for quality. A Forbes.com article notes that Apple products tend to retain their value best, in comparison to other computers and electronics.
6. Wait it Out
At some point you have to put a price-tag on bragging rights. Is making your friends green with envy over your 3D HDTV really worth a few hundred dollars? Electronics are never at a higher price than when they're brand new. Ignore the hype on new releases and give yourself an extra six months before buying. While the waiting seems interminable, you'll get a good understanding of the item's quality and can still keep an eye out for special offers and sales.
7. The Old Switcheroo
One of the best ways to enhance the value of your electronics is making a trade. Your two-year-old HDTV is as good as trash to a major retailer, but someone just upgrading from tube technology would consider it a treasure. Using sites like Swap.com or even Craigslist to trade unwanted items lets you assign your own value and keeps unnecessary waste out of landfills.
8. Beware of Buyback
Many popular merchants now offer buyback programs promoting value preservation for customers. However, some of these programs are quite counterproductive and come with many restrictions. For example, the maximum possible payout from Best Buy's Program is only 50 percent, and that's within the first six months. The retailer's program also requires you pay a fee to participate and discretionary details, like product condition, can significantly detract from the resale value. When considering a buyback program, look for one that doesn't cost extra and provides payment in cash, not just store credit.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., and has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Since the time this photograph was taken we have seen the Goodyear Blimp a few more times! I am hoping that it becomes a regular in the skies above as we usually don't get this type of excitement around here. In addition, when we do see the blimps, we rarely see them flying this low. He was pretty low and we got a really good look at it!
If you click on the photo in this post it will open up in a new window and be enlarged. That should help you to see the details better. I think it's pretty cool and one day I would LOVE to take a ride in the Goodyear Blimp. Have any of you ever ridden in a blimp? If so, did you like it? I would love to hear about it!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
My husband is my best friend and my lover and I can not imagine life without him. Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful hubby Sam! I love you! (now where is my new bling?) LOL just kidding darling!
Thursday, February 9, 2012
With each proposal usually shines a diamond ring, and depending on the cut, carat, color and clarity, this particular Valentine surprise could be the most expensive you've orchestrated yet. If you don't know what to look for or how to price out a rock, review these six basic diamond buying tips so you don't blow your entire bank account.
1. Research Pays
Before you begin the buying process, learn about the four Cs: cut, carat, color and clarity. The unnamed fifth C, naturally, is cost. Read The Diamond Buying Guide for details and don't forget to chat with your significant other about personal preferences before making the purchase plunge.
2. Cash Out
Diamonds are forever on your credit card. Don't let a seller talk you into a more-expensive stone by quoting monthly payments. The interest rates will make the total payments seemingly stretch into infinity. Wait until you can afford to pay cash while saving even more money when you buy store gift cards at up to 50 percent off the face value from websites like GiftCardGranny.
3. Never Buy Sight Unseen
Photographs just don't tell the whole story. If you plan on buying a diamond ring off of Craigslist or another website, have a qualified jeweler examine the stone and setting before you hand over your hard-earned money.
4. Size Isn't Everything
The biggest determinant of diamond price and beauty is the cut, not carat weight or size. Examine stones with a variety of cut grades to understand what qualifies as a well-cut and affordable diamond.
5. Get a Report Card
Make sure your rock comes with a diamond-grading report. You'll enjoy more peace of mind if you have an independent professional lab verify the quality.
Purchase a diamond wholesale, then allow your fiancée to select the desired setting. Not only will you save on the overall cost, but you will avoid potential sad scenes since personal style preference plays a major role in the dream engagement ring.
I guess groundhog Phil was right last week when he predicted 6 more weeks of winter here in PA. on Groundhog Day as we got some new snow yesterday! Oh My!!!
I am soooooo ready for spring and summer to get here! Today the sun is shinning so hopefully this snow will melt and move on out of here quickly!
Monday, February 6, 2012
No wonder pet lovers go hog wild over gifts for their four-legged friends during the holidays -- and Valentine's Day is no exception. In 2011, the National Retail Federation expected consumers to spend 54 percent more on their pets than in 2010. Naturally, this represents yet another opportunity for retailers to make a few bucks, so consider these frugal gift ideas to please your precious pets without blowing your budget.
1. Make it Personal
According to the American Pet Product Association, spending on pets in 2010 is estimated at $47.7 billion. That's a lot of chew toys. Set your gift apart from the pack by personalizing it with your pet's name or picture. You can get this done professionally for a pretty penny, but consider how easy it is to create a photo of your beloved canine for her treat container or food bowl.
2. Tasty Treats
You can find festive treats for cats and dogs alike at most major pet stores, including Petsmart and Petco. Cut down on the cost of these premade goodies and purchase gift cards at a discount from sites like GiftCardGranny. You can save up to 10 percent, leaving room in your budget for a bit more pooch-pampering.
3. Edible Greeting Cards
It's high time someone in the greeting card industry thanked all those cute animals gracing the covers of Hallmark cards with a greeting card of their own. Enter Crunchkins, the creator or edible greeting cards for dogs and cats. For less than $5, you can mail a rawhide card to your dog or a catnip card to your kitty, complete with a heartfelt message conveying your love.
4. Cheap DIY Chew Toys
We all know some kids have more fun with the packaging of a pricey present over the actual contents. The same can be said for your pet, who grasps the connection between price and affection even less so than your toddler. Skip the premade wares and go DIY this Valentine's Day with a homemade tug-of-war rope made of old socks, or a crackly paper bag for your kitty-cat max.
5. Baked Goodies
If you bake cookies for your sweetheart, consider baking a special batch for Fido and Fluffy. You can make delicious treats for your pets out of common ingredients, and feel good knowing just what's going into their bellies. Red Velvet Pupcakes, perhaps? Find this recipe and others at Dogster.com.
Are you looking for a new cell phone and/or cellular carrier? If so, You have got to check out Sprint's 4 day sale which runs from February 5th through February 8th, 2012. This special 4 day ONLY sale is for their web site customers so that is the ONLY place you can get these fabulous deals!
You can get the fantastic Nexus S™ 4G cell phone for FREE when you open up a new account or add to an existing account! That's right folks, for FREE! ($50 MIR converts to instant + $99.00 web only savings).
You can get the wonderful HTC EVO™ 3D cell phone for only $49.99 when you open up a new account or add to an existing account. ($50 MIR converts to instant + $50.00 web only savings). Wow, what a fabulous deal on that phone!
In addition, you can get all of your activation fees for new lines of service WAIVED and you get FREE shipping when you shop Sprint.com! These are 2 fabulous deals that don't come along too often and they are both for Sprint's online customers so you will need to head on over to Sprint.com today to take advantage of these fabulous deals!
I know I will be heading over there myself and checking them out today!
Friday, February 3, 2012
"We are seeing couples move away from formal and traditional type weddings to fun, romantic, simple, casual, and unique weddings with a touch of formal and tradition," the report reads.
Here are more trends forecasted for 2012, as couples scale back, simplify and reflect their personalities.
1. It's a small world.
Couples are keeping a tight rein on guest numbers (under 150), as the overall cost of the wedding is directly affected by how many heads are in attendance.
2. Autumn leads.
While June is the reigning month for marriages, September is a close second, and other months including August and October are on the rise.
3. Rustic and vintage themes.
Rustic themes and vintage touches continue to trend. Kellie Hanley of Orlando, Fla., is planning a "rustic, country chic" wedding this June at the Mead Gardens Amphitheater in Winter Park, and a reception at the local Farmer's Market "to tie in that 'barn' feel we wanted," she says. To pull off the theme, she's opting to do most of the decorating herself.
4. DIY reigns.
"You can do things for so much cheaper yourself!" says Hanley, who relies on sites like Pinterest.com for ideas. She's not alone. Megan Knight, from Coppell, Texas, is taking on most of the wedding day tasks. "Flowers, invitations, website, so far, perhaps even the cake," she says. "We haven't decided if we're going to take on that yet."
5. Tech love.
Today's brides (96% of them according to Weddingwire.com) are planning, shopping and registering online and even incorporating technology into the wedding day itself. Online blogs are providing the inspiration brides are looking for to piece together their day. Hanley's other favorites include Sparkle & Hay, RuffledBlog.com and TheKnot.com.
6. Sweet endings.
Dessert buffets continue to take a bite out of receptions, with nontraditional choices like: square mini-cakes and cupcake tiers or pies, macaroons, Whoopie Pies, cake pops, color-coordinated candy and even ice cream sundae stations or a cookies and milk bar. The dessert choices reflect the whimsical, fun nature of today's weddings.
7. Color me vibrant.
Knight, who describes her upcoming Texas wedding as "laid back" and "casual," is using a formal royal blue theme, and softening it with yellow and white accents. Some of the biggest colors this year are purples and green as well as jewel tones, according to TheWeddingReport.com.
8. Casually groomed.
Much to the relief of grooms everywhere, tuxedo rentals are out and suits and casual wear are in. TheWeddingReport.com states demand for tuxedo rental is down 11% over 2010 numbers (61% to 54% in 2011).
9. Candid cameras.
Formal photos are out and candid shots are in that fit with the look and feel of the wedding day. Demand for photo booths continues to rise as a fun way to capture memories.
10. Non-traditional gifts.
Non-traditional gift registries like CardAvenue.com are popping up, allowing couples to register for gift cards according to their tastes and needs, as research shows that couples are waiting longer to get married (brides are 27 on average, grooms 29).
11. Close to home.
TheWeddingReport.com predicts destination weddings will decline or remain flat in 2012 as couples are sticking close to home for the wedding day. They're also choosing more outdoor and/or all-inclusive locations to simplify their weddings and save money.
12. Staying put.
Not only are couples staying close to home, they're opting to host the ceremony and reception in the same location - again, to save money and simplify. Cindy Vega, who describes her upcoming wedding as "a little nontraditional" and "simple" has chosen Ashton Gardens in her hometown of Houston, Texas, because the on-site chapel and reception hall will allow them to keep the festivities in one location. "It was voted 4 years in a row as the top venue in Houston," she adds.
Weddings expert Cara Davis is the author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot and blogs from her home in Orlando, FL, about cheap ways to spend and save at CheapWaysTo.com. For more information, to book a segment, or arrange an interview, email Cara Davis at email@example.com.
Are you looking to save money on your family's prescriptions? Do you have a Walgreens in your local city or neighborhood? If so, I would like to talk to you today about the Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens.
This fantastic savings club gives you savings on more than 8,000 brand-name and all generic medications. It will also give you discounts on your annual flu shot, pet prescriptions, nebulizers (for those with breathing problems) and diabetic supplies. In addition, you will get discounts when you purchase Walgreens brand products and on their fantastic photo-finishing services.
The Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens has family plans and individual plans. If you want the family plan that only costs $35.00 a year and covers you, your spouse, children up to age 22 and your family's pets. Wow, I love that! If you just want individual coverage you can join the Prescription Savings Club for only $20.00 per year.
Walgreens is a brand and company that you can trust and they care about you and your family's health. Their pharmacists are educated and can handle all of your prescription needs.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Gas prices may have dropped precipitously in the last few months -- down an average of 12 percent at present since September -- but they're still hovering up there amidst the heavenly orbs. We can either hope Mars has plenty of "Texas tea" or start listening to consumer advice on how to save at the gas pump. Read on for eight such tips.
1. Discounts make cents.
Take advantage of grocery store club memberships that offer fuel discounts. Not only will you save a little on each purchase, you can find priceless satisfaction in sticking it to the oil tycoons, one dime at a time.
2. Make friends with your SmartPhone.
Though money doesn't grow on trees, gas stations seem to and prices seem to vary among the many options. So how to find the best deal? Enter Gas Buddy, your friendly mobile fuel-price finder. Input your zip code to find the name and location of a nearby station with the cheapest gas. Thanks, buddy!
3. Use public transportation.
If the idea of clutching the overhead rail on a public bus makes you dry heave, pop a Dramamine and shake it off. The money you'll save in gas by busing it even a couple times a week will give you plenty of extra cash to stock up on hand sanitizer.
4. Get rewarded for your fuel use.
Most credit cards offer frequent flyer miles, but if you drive more than you fly these perks aren't as rewarding. CHASE Freedom offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent at gas stations from Jan. 1 through Mar. 31 annually, and 1% cash back for the remainder of the year.
5. Buy discount gift cards.
Sites like GiftCardGranny.com sell gas gift cards for less than face value, which means you can save up to 10 percent off your annual fuel bill.
6. Take a swim in your vehicle.
Perhaps you've avoided carpooling because none of your coworkers take the same route. Consider some online help with CarpoolWorld.com, where you can post routes, ride requirements and even specify a non-smoking preference.
7. Lay off the lead foot.
Speeds exceeding 60mph forces your vehicle to overcome stronger wind resistance and burns fuel faster. So ease up off that gas pedal, and also be sure tires are properly inflated for optimal fuel efficiency.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. For all media inquiries, please contact Andrea Woroch at 970-672-6085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.