Feb 25 2013

Filing our taxes for 2012 and looking ahead for this year


I finally finished our taxes this weekend, using Turbo Tax online as I have for the last few years. I saved $20 or so by clicking through our account with Vanguard first.

This year, I added tax info as I received it and did a little at a time, rather than a marathon tax filing session.

We are in the small group of Americans who can’t actually file their return just yet — our Mortgage Credit Certificate was one of the forms that was delayed this year (worth the wait though, because that credit alone was worth $1,032 or so this year to us!).

So, I’m hoping we’ll see our refund sometime in March? No idea. Turbo Tax has our forms in the queue and they’ll be submitted once the IRS will allow it.

The refund was a bit larger than I had hoped for. We try to keep it to around $1,000 or less, because we’d rather have the money rolling in steadily with each paycheck than have a big lump.

For one thing, my blog income was less than last year, and I had too much tax withheld because I didn’t want to have to owe a bunch and pay penalties on that. Bummer about my blog income dying, but I am not interested in running sponsored posts and I doubt you’d want to read them here.

Since the government is getting an interest-free loan on my money and I don’t know when we’ll see it for sure, we increased our exemptions on the W4 form.

We’re having less tax taken out of Shane’s paychecks now, and I’ll run the W4 calculator again in a few months to make sure we’re still on track for a $1k refund give or take.

I’d like to use the refund to fill up Shane’s Health Savings Account. We haven’t opened one yet, since I’m still looking at our options. Most of the ones I’ve seen so far have a minimum that your account balance needs to reach, or they’ll assess a monthly fee. No thanks. The money can stay in savings until we can avoid those fees.

The HSA will reduce our income tax liability for the year. It can also grow if we can invest it in decent options (I’m hoping to find something beyond a CD or money market. Barf!). The money will be there for large medical expenses (right now, Shane and the kids have a deductible of $5k — eep!). And if we don’t use the money, it can roll over year after year. Some people contribute every year, but pay for medical expenses out of other funds. They intend to use the HSA as a medical account during retirement (perhaps early retirement?) and I think that’s a cool idea.

How about you? Taxes filed? If you’re getting a refund, what are your plans for it? Do you have an HSA?

Feb 05 2013

My updated laundry room


The bulk of the work has been done in our laundry room for a few months, but in the last few weeks we’ve finished it off with decorative touches and now I’m ready to share what we did.

Here’s the ridiculous before picture, as awful and cluttered as it could possibly be:

Hah! I was standing in the garage taking this photo. The door on the far right leads to a short hallway to the rest of the house.

We tackled this room first because I wanted something on small enough scale that we could complete the whole thing without too much fuss or expense. I wanted a practice room to paint, before heading on to our bigger projects. Plus, the paint in this room was the worst. Scuffed, holes in the wall, and just terrible.

I bought four or five small sample cans before picking the color we used. They all looked different on the swatches, and we ended up going with something more bold than I originally expected. Those mini cans are around $3 each and worth it! I ended up using about 1.5 gallons of paint.

Here’s some after shots:



Better, right? We took down the wire storage rack since it was not pretty to look at. The previous homeowners used decorative baskets to hold their cleaning supplies, but we wanted to go with a cabinet so we could hide the clutter altogether.

Spackled and painted two coats of that sunny yellow. I ended up using about 1.5 gallons of paint.

We got the shoe rack for Christmas one year. The rug came from Overstock. I have a bulletin board that I’ve had for years mounted to the one wall in the room you can’t see (it wasn’t exciting enough for a picture, but I like that it’s in there).

The items on top of the cabinet came from Home Goods and Goodwill for the most part. My great-grandma made the blue owl in the 1970s and the clear vase was just from some flowers that I received.

The large photo on the wall is of Shane and Johnny when we were on vacation in Brown County a few months ago. My friend Christine edited it for me (thank you!). It is 20×30 and that proved to be difficult to find a suitable frame locally. I checked all the usual places, but nope. I ended up buying the frame on Amazon from Craig Frames, and turns out the frame is made of real wood and was made in Michigan. It was a great price, too.

Overall, I’m happy with how the laundry room turned out. There’s one more project we’d like to do in that room: a few open shelves either next to the cabinet or on that adjacent wall. Clutter quickly piles up on top of the dryer. It would be nice to have just a little more storage in that room for things going in and out of the house.

Next up: painting my bedroom, and fixing our kitchen (paint on the walls, new counters, new light fixtures, oh my).

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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