Friday, February 12, 2016

Taxes, TaxAct and TurboTax

Tax season is here and I filed our taxes last night. We will not be getting as much money as we got last year and to me things still don't add up correctly but the return was accepted by the IRS. Last year I was trading Apple a lot and you may remember when it took me down, well around that time I incurred a few wash sales and when I sold on that day, I was pretty much going for the tax loss but with the wash sales I did not end up getting as much... I even knew about the wash sale rules but when you're trying to make money and taking risks, you don't always reap the rewards. In this case after doing taxes I probably lost around $2,500 so yes, lesson learned, buy stocks and forget about the m, leave the money in there...anyways, no more crazy day trading.

You may recall that I always use TaxAct but for some reason this year it was not taking my CVS stock import file from Scottrade. It would load it and then bring my numbers (refund) way too high or way to low. I don't understand how to enter wash sales on TaxAct, I tried adding and deleting lines and no luck so this year I decided to go with TurboTax, I must say it was not my favorite. On TaxAct you feel like you are doing taxes and entering more numbers and you see the actual forms but TurboTax treats you like you don't know anything about taxes. The main advantage TurboTax has was the stock import, all I had to do was log in from TurboTax into my Scottrade account and everything was updated! The numbers added up correctly like I had calculated them and the Schedule D was filled out perfectly with all the wash sales. I don't recall seeing the Schedule D on TaxAct but that's probably because I didn't make it far enough to review since my numbers were not adding up. Enough tax talk, I'm glad everything is done and got to see the approval this morning:


On to the amounts, so last year we got close to $7,000 but this year we will only be getting $5,286. Like I said above, the wash sales had a huge impact on this number but we also made an extra $15,000 in income. Most of that extra income was a promotion at work, my promotion increase, my previous year increase and a couple of bonuses that were paid out mid-year. Wife also had a nice increase this year but we forgot to take out taxes from her dad's pension so that was another $600 that we lost. Well, technically we did get money and it made us money in our savings account, we just didn't pay any taxes on it. Since our AIG is lot higher- like way in to the 6 digits, we are starting to miss out on things like the childcare credits and dependent care. We are still getting them but not as much. Since we are making a bit more money now I probably need to stash more on the 401K but I already put in close to 15% so I may be sending more to the 403B or to the kids 529 plan which is already up to $5,000 last time I checked.

Difference with the numbers- so this is what TaxAct had when I put in my wash sales which I knew was wrong and way to high but it passed all the alerts:


Here's the actual refund amount from TurboTax and it also added up with all my manual calculations and since it passed the IRS acceptance, hopefully that means no audit:


The money is going straight to our Discover Savings account which will put us back over $20,000 in cash savings but I will probably have to take $3,000 out of that and pay... down.... our stupid credit card...

As usual, I am glad the government holds on to most of this money for us. If we got more money every month in our paychecks we would spend it so it's always nice to get a big refund once a year.

That's it for our taxes, have you filed yours?? Big refund? Little refund? TurboTax? TaxAct?

HS

Monday, January 11, 2016

Quick Updates, Credit Cards and Savings

Hi I'm still here! There are 71 comments pending so at some point I will go through them all. Sorry I know you want to see your stuff posted but give me time. Speaking of time, it has been a while since I posted so let's do some numbers:

Credit cards:

Things are good, below you can see our overall balances. There's stuff pending and I hate to tell you this but I had to dip into savings to bring this balance down. As usual our spending is pretty high. I had to pay my HOA fees in November which have gone up to $960 and then came the holiday shopping season which set me back a good $1,500. After the holidays we took a small family vacation and drove to see some friends in Oklahoma so that was probably another $1,000 gas alone for the giant SUV was $250! Also included in that total below is airfare to New York Citi for March. My running is out of control so last year I decided I wanted to run half marathons in all the major cities so around December I was picked for the United NYC Half ($135). Chicago and San Francisco are next on the list. Adding to all these crazy expenses is my daughter's school, they wanted $740 up front the first week of January so that also messed up my credit cards numbers up a bit. They will take another $740 in February. The last portion of credit card debt is Best Buy which you can also see below, most of that was holiday shopping BUT I also decided to buy the Apple Watch for me to try out and so far I'm not a huge fan so it may be going to eBay soon. So here's all of our actual credit card debt:

 








Savings:

This one is driving me crazy! Like  I mentioned above we spend a lot of money, I probably had close to $23,000 in this account 7 to 8 months ago but now it is down to $17,000! I want to save money but it is so hard. The good news is that I talked my wife in to doing after school care at her school so she has to stay one extra hour per day and she will be making an additional $25 dollars per day. I set up her direct deposit to go straight in to our savings so this is money that will be saved. It may not be much but you may recall we also have a pension coming in to this account so if we save $300 per month I am fine with that. Tax return should put this account back to $20,000 so as long as I don't touch this money and we live on our paychecks it should continue to grow. We made $175 in interest last year just for having the money in this account, it may not be much but at least we made some money with our money. At Bank of America I still keep $1,000 in our savings at all times, like I've said before this money is mainly for emergencies but I have never really used it, if anything crazy happens I usually just put stuff on the credit cards. At home I have over $5,000 in cash, most of it is in $100 bills but I also have a few rare notes that are worth way more over face value. I love having cash at home, there's no better feeling in the world than just starting at $5,000 in cash LOL. Enough words already, here's the balance on our main savings account:


Crazy life but now you can see where we are at financially as we start 2016. With that said, 2016 won't be a cheap year we already have 3 trips planned and with my running out of control I'm sure I'll be doing more runs out of town. Running is very addictive, I do not recommend it to anyone trying to save money. Speaking of running this coming weekend I also have the Aramco Houston Half Marathon! link to my recap from last year. Wish me luck!

Have a good day!

HS

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I'm Alive BUT Life is a Disaster

Howdy! Remember me! WOW did you read about Mysti who finally sold her house and is living a new life in the south! Congrats Mysti and good luck!!

I'm still here, I'm still working and kicking it and NO I did not croak but thank you everyone for all the caring messages :)

Life is a disaster and we are out of control which you kind of already knew. The kids have pulled the wife and I completely apart so I'm seeing divorce in the cards in the next few months. There is nothing there, no more love or attraction but we both pretend something is there. We both drink way too much and we kind of find it funny when our daughter asks if we need beer at the store. I am probably an addict but so is everyone else around me (friends, family) so for now we will continue to maintain the status quo. Our spending is still out of control but as usual I keep tabs on it and manage to make payments. The credit card is sitting around $5,000 so as I tell you every year I am waiting for my bonus to bring that back down. I won't complain about our HOA fees but just know that they went up to $960 per year. Savings is currently at $23,000 so we could always get money from there and pay off stuff.

Work - I got promoted at work so that adds an additional $5,000 in yearly income but that also means more taxes but more to 401K.

eBay - Still buying and selling stuff but have moved on to bigger items, I now average $3,000 to $4,000 over the past couple of months. Most of it is what I call my 'Play Money' so I buy other stuff as well that I want and re-sell things as I don't use them.

Running - Still going strong, I can outrun anyone of you :) I may also sing up for a full marathon in 2016.

Autos - Both cars are running great, gasoline is cheap so the giant SUV is now cheaper to fill up than our previous 4Runner was, the price was around $1.61 per gallon last time I pumped. My car still runs good so I am keeping it for now.

Cash - If you remember you know I have a cash addiction so I keep around $3,000 at home for no reason other than to stare at it every once in a while. Some of it is vintage / collectible so I may re-sell it at some point.

Kids - Awesome but spoiled, both very healthy so I am very thankful for that. Daughter will start pre-school in the fall so that will set me back $740 per month.

That's about all I have for now, if you have any questions feel free to ask. I may finally delete this thing soon so hurry and ask!

Have a good day!

HS

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September Credit Card Debt Updates

Grrrrrr! I went ahead and paid down most of our credit card debt. As you may recall I purchased a new refrigerator and our yearly vacation added a ton of  new debt. I went ahead and paid off the refrigerator and used part of our paychecks and some eBay profits to pay down our Citi credit cards.

Below you can see my the latest totals:

Citi & Best Buy:

 


The current balance as of this morning is $1,426.41 with some minor charges pending on the Thank You card. Wife also placed an Amazon order last night on the Forward card so that will show a charge in the next few days. The Citi Thank You card also charged me a yearly fee of $95! I called and tried to get this taken off but no luck. I don't mind paying it since I still have a offer for $300 in gift cards if i spend $3,000 in the next 3 months so for now I'm going to keep the account and try to get that $300. They said if I close the card in the next few months I could get part of that money back.

August to September was expensive. I had mom and wife's birthday so that set me back around $600 between gifts and dinner. Towards the end of September we are taking a trip, wife asked me to book a trip to San Antonio, TX to take the kids to Sea World for one last hurrah before we settle in to the winter. I'm thinking that will cost around $600 to $700 for hotel, tickets and meals. October will probably also be costly, wife is going out of town for 2 nights with the girls to a wine and beer festival and that will probably set me back another $500.

That's all the updates I have for now, I still don't understand how most of you don't spend any money!!! 

HS

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Credit Card Debt Updates

What would this debt blog be without credit card debt?! Summer is always when we spend the most and our vacation didn’t help but we had a great time so now it’s time to focus on paying stuff back. Below you can see the latest balance on our Citi Thank You card. You may recall I had a balance of close to $500 on our Citi Forward card and now that one is ZERO!  I also had a balance of $1,577 on our Best Buy credit card and that balance is now down to $1,000. I will post a screen shot of that one when I get it back down to zero. I have a ton of stuff to post on eBay, I went on a buying spree locally and picked up 15 watches to re-sell so when I make some profits I will probably send that money to our Citi Thank You card.




I'll post more updates as I get this balance down.

Have a good day!

HS

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Did I Say That? New Refrigerator and Best Buy

Did I really say Never never ever buy anything Samsung! four years ago on this post?? Well not sure what I was thinking last week but I decided to buy the exact same refrigerator, yup I bought Samsung again! The one that we bought to replace that model four years one was never my favorite- it had all kinds of issues with temperature, it had leak inside where water would get everywhere and also the ice maker went out. Most people would call a repair company but the refrigerator sorts of works so I decided why not make that a beer fridge in my garage and then get a brand new one for the kitchen. I also went back to black. Most people say stainless looks nice but you cannot keep it clean and I totally agree! I’m much happier having black back in my kitchen. I also went back to side by side, I cannot stand the French doors with the freezer at the bottom, call me old school LOL. If this new fridge lasts us four years, that’s fine I think by now I’m going to get used to buying a new refrigerator every four to five years. Here's my new refrigerator:


You probably already know where this topic is headed and you are correct, I added new debt. I will say I love that I can walk in to a store and get anything I want on credit. Over the years you know that I pay off my debts quickly so I don’t mind charging stuff on the cards. This new purchase went on our Best Buy credit card and like most of my previous purchases on that card you know I’m going to pay this off quickly. If I don’t do that I still get 18 months of deferred finance charges so as long as I make the small minimum payment I should be good for a while which is why I love credit!! (ssshhhh don’t tell Dave Ramsey). Here’s the current balance on the card, the fridge was not that much but I threw in a new Apple TV so the balance is a little bit higher:


Happy happy happy!! I now have a cold refrigerator, a working ice maker and I love that the color is black! I also have a refrigerator in my garage that’s also cold and with the ice maker off hopefully I won’t have as many issues and I can have it stocked with lots of beer- mmmmmmm cold beer!

HS

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our Summer Vacation and Crazy Spending

From Friday July 24 to Friday July 31 we went on what I’d like to call our official summer vacation. We left Houston Friday afternoon and we spent one night in Lafayette, Louisiana. Next day we drove all the way to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Our best friends’ parents own a high rise luxury condo that they rent out most of the year so they let them have it for a week. They invited us to come hang out with them for the week. We took the kids but let me tell you it is no fun traveling with a 1 year old and a 3 year old but we made it. We arrived there on Saturday around 6 PM and checked in. The place was amazing, high rise luxury, 3 bedrooms with beach view. Each room had their own bathroom so wife and I each shared a room with a kid. Our friends also have 2 kids around the same ages so they took the master bedroom with their little ones.

Vacation for us apparently means spending a ton of money and we really went all out. We bought groceries for the week and tons of beer ($300) but we still ate a lot of meals out ($300). We bought a ton of stuff we didn’t use like champagne for mimosas and fancy steaks but we didn’t have time to consume it all. We also did the zoo in Gulf Shores for the little ones ($100) and a ton of shopping at the outlet mall for the adults ($300). One day we also had the bright idea to drive all the way to Pensacola beach FL so that was probably another $200. Gas for the trip was a good $200 to $250 since we took the gas guzzler. One the way back we decided to spend one night in New Orleans in the French Quarter and do the Aquarium so that another $400! We got home on Friday but then we had to spend more money on things like groceries and feeding our family as a thank you for keeping our golden retriever. Let me tell you, we had a great time but now I have to deal with the bills. Below are the current totals on our credit cards. Note- the Forward card balance is mostly cash advances, did I mention Mr. HS snuck out to party in New Orleans after he put the family to bed? Casino and bars are not cheap in NOLA LOL. Here are the totals:


Yikes! I have no clue how I’m going to pay most of this back but I will probably tackle the Citi Forward balance first then tackle the larger amounts. Enough about bills and money, below are a few pictures of our crazy adventure through 5 states:

We took the scenic routes so we had beach views most of the way:


Condo Views from balcony:




First thing we did was get beer:


We also got everyone YETI tumblers, they are awesome:


Lots of card games and catching up:


We picked up stuffed chickens in Louisiana  to cook, this one had crawfish- YUM: 


Beach Views:


Sand was amazing:


Random things people do in the sand:



New Orleans, Canal Street:


View from our hotel room in New Orleans:


The food in New Orleans is amazing:


That's some of the pictures I took I still need to go through my camera and I also took tons of video with my GoPro. On the way there we also got rear ended in Baton Rouge so I'm also having to deal with that this week, the car was fine but our bumper got some damage.

That's all for now, next for me is to try to figure out a way to pay all of this off :)

HS

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Apple Took Me Down!

Well no luck trading Apple after the quarterly earnings report came out last night. I had made back most of my money and probably had around $9,955 at the close of the market yesterday. The closing price was around $130 to $131 and I felt like the stock could hit $134 to $135 post earnings so I stayed in hoping to cash in around $10,250 but then our friend Tim Cook gave us the news that Apple only sold 47.5 million iPhones in the quarter which was not good enough so the stock took a nice dive this morning. Below you can see my happy face at the close of market and the arrow is where I sold my shares this morning:


I lost a good $800 to $900!!! I haven't done the math yet but I lost a nice chunk of change in a matter of hours! I probably have around $9,250 in there now so I will probably take a break this week and try to get back in the market next week.

Hehehe- you know what they say about money- 'If you want to know what God thinks about money, just look at the people HE gives it to." - apparently I wasn't on his list this morning LOL

HS

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

June to July Updates

Hey! Remember me? Still around but not a whole lot going on. Getting that new project I told you about reminded me how much I don’t like what I do but my pay is OK so I pretty much go to work and do the zombie dance- answer emails, schedule meetings, configure the software and act happy. I am still looking at what I want to do when I grow up but you know how life goes and we usually never get what we want, especially when kids are in the picture. I still pretty much try to do the things I enjoy like running and playing golf when I can find the time.

I had another bad episode with alcohol around my birthday. Those of you who know me may remember I struggle a bit with alcohol. I had been drinking a lot from last summer to this summer, pretty much every day, 4 to 6 beers here and there and the occasional hard liquors. An opportunity arose when I would be around family without my kids so I wanted to make it memorable and as usual the night ended up in disaster. A divorce or separation was probably in the works but I love my kids too much to be away from them so I decided to cut back and take control and make things right. I will not let drinking control my life but I don’t want to stop drinking either. There are things I will not do anymore and from here on I will be reminded of my past mistakes when I’m around drinking- moderation is key, I know I have a problem but I don’t want to completely stop drinking.

Summer is here and it’s usually the time when we spend the most money. As usual I keep things under control but spending is bound to happen so the credit card is up a bit. The current balance is $1,600 as of this morning; I should be able to pay that down with our next paychecks. We have a week-long vacation coming up in Gulf Shores, Alabama at the end of July which will probably add another $1,000 to this debt but you only live once and I want to spend some time with my kids so I’m not going to worry too much about it right now. You know me and I can pay down any credit card balance that comes my way LOL

Finances- cash savings still around $26,000. Around $16,000 sits in our savings account and the rest is on the market riding Apple. I lost a bit over the past couple of weeks, probably around $500 but I’m going to let it sit for a while and see where it goes. If it gets down another $500 I may just sell and take a loss, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. As far as cash only goes at home I’m still trying and paying for most things in cash but stuff still ends up on credit. eBay still my tiny little cash cow, I probably make $200 to $300 in profit every month. I buy stuff low, sell high and also look for stuff locally. If I make $25 to $50 in profit per item, I am happy but sometimes I do take a loss and just get my money back with fees and shipping being that loss.

That is all I have for now, I have you are having the time of your life!

HS

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Project Done, I'm Back Home!

The project I got last month came to an end on Friday. I knew it was a short term role and I was fine with it ending as I didn't really like the client that much or the clunky desktop that they required me to use. I also couldn't get on eBay or Facebook on that machine so that made it seem like the days would never end. As of Monday I'm back home and I will admit, I missed being home. I get lots of quiet time since the kids go to daycare and wife still working. I get all our errands done and I can do all the grocery shopping. I also love to cook so I can get dinner ready and I keep the house clean. I know I have to go back to work soon but I'm going to enjoy the next few days and just take it easy.

Yesterday I had an interview with a client downtown for a long term role doing what I love which is trading products and testing the software that handles those transactions. I think everything went well so I'm hoping to hear from them today. The manager also said they would bill me at a higher rate so that would mean I can easily get promoted in December. The only minor issue is they go with the open-office trend which means everyone can see your computer and what you are doing. This is exactly what it looked like but not an actual picture of the client:


I don't mind these type of work setups but I'm the type of person that works very fast and gets everything done in 2 to 3 hours so then I tend to 'play' a bit and take it easy the rest of the day. The other issue I have is everyone knows exactly what time you came in and and when you leave. I'm the type that comes in at 9 and leaves around 4:30 PM and take my hour lunch so I can't really get away with that when everyone is looking at you. At the same time I don't mind, I adjust quickly but at my previous client I got spoiled to my own little space away from everyone and could come and go as I pleased. Again, all of this is minor, I really want this role and I want to get promoted so I hope I get call today.

Today is National Running Day so I have to go running this afternoon!! Have a good day and go for  a run!

HS