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Archive for March, 2008

Where is my Refund?

March 27th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

So I prepare my taxes on February 5th and it looks like the IRS owes me. I send it via internet though Turbo Tax, within 10 days I get my State Refund and I'm still waiting for my Federal Refund. A few days later I get another mortgage interest statement. I amend my return $300 I'll get back. I cannot send this in by Turbo Tax again as an amended return, so I print out the amended return and send them in via snail mail.

Here we are about 6 weeks later and still no refund. I called the IRS last Thursday to inquire. They advise that they received my taxes on March 13th (that would mean it took over a month for my taxes to get to the IRS by mail), that doesn't sound right. They then tell me they can wait 19 cycles to respond to my amended return (19 weeks), he further advises me that they never received the electronic return. I advised him I never received a rejection, but when I sent in the amended return I sent in the original return attached that I had electronically filed. He says he wouldn't know because when they see a return is amended they just put it in the amended returns and review it later.

At this point, I'm very upset. I received my State refund so it had to go though and I never received notice via email that my return had been rejected. Just great, I'm in the process of trying to settle my credit cards and the IRS owes me $4,758 and they won't pay me until they are ready and they don't pay me interest and penalities for holding up my money. I explain to the IRS Represenative that I need my money, I'm behind on my debts and I'm having a difficult time making my mortgage and utilities; he ask if I'm in foreclosure and I advised him I am not, he says he will forward my case to an advocate but he doesn't think they will help and they don't care about my credit cards, that is not a true hardship. He further advises the advocate will call in the next three business days.

On Tuesday I call the IRS again, I have not heard from an advocate. They give me the name of the advocate that has been assigned to me so I call her number and leave a message; still no call from an advocate.

So the IRS can hold my money, can think my financial crisis is just a minor inconvenience and I will just have to wait until they are good and ready.
This is what I have to say; I paid my bills on time for 20 years, I've never been late on anything, then I fall into this big hole called the "housing crisis", as a result my credit goes to pieces, I can't sleep at night, I get sick from the stress and get pneumonia for the first time in years and they think it is just a minor inconvenience. Having financial problems affects ones life and if you are a conscientious person like myself, it affects every aspect of your life. Until I get this situation rectified, I will not feel complete as a person.

After I settle my debts I will have some tax implications. I'm sure the IRS will have their hand out and they will charge me tax and penalties if I do not pay on time - this all just seems very unfair to me and this could make the difference of me getting sued or not getting sued. If I can't come up with money before chargeoff on a credit card, it opens up the pandora box of litigation.

This is all so very frustrating and being sick has not made things better for me. All I want is my money and I want it as soon as possible so I can settle this financial mess I'm in. I wonder when I will see my money?






Debt Settlement Update

March 16th, 2008 at 02:15 pm

I haven't said much lately about my credit card situation and thought that maybe you'd like to know what has been happening. First of all, my phone has been ringing daily, I still have four creditors with 7 credit cards that are calling. I have my answering machine set up so I don't hear the constant ringing, but I can see from caller ID, they are calling.

I have been sick since last Sunday with that horrid flu and today I'm not much better still. I did talk to my creditors the week before I got sick just to let them know I was here and waiting to settle with them.

What I have learned from this experience is that there are policies within each credit card company and you have to wait until you are at least 120 days past due before they will negotiate a settlement. I'm not 120 days past due yet, I'm only a little over 90 days and less on some cards.

This whole thing seems like it has been an eternity, probably because I saw my falling last October and have been worrying relentlessly ever since. I've made offers to two of my large accounts; one wrote to me that they were unable to settle at this point and thanked me for my good faith effort to settle this account and the other told me I was not eligible yet. So I asked the collection person what they meant by "I'm not eligible yet, did it have to be a number of days?" She said, "you've got it" and then I said, "how many days, 120 days?" and she said, "you said it", I guess we are talking in code because this is a company secret. So two weeks into April I will be 120 days on one of my accounts and I am going to make the offer and see if I am now "Eligble". I will be so glad when this is over so I can move on with my life.

I was offered a new job a few weeks ago, but had to decline because my credit is a mess and in my business, "Credit is Character"; they would not have hired me if they had seen my credit. Even after I have cleaned this mess up, I am going to have to wait until my credit score goes up before I can apply elsewhere and it will be embarrassing to explain that I was overextended and had to take this approach. With the housing market not budging, I may have to take a different job and it would probably be in sales, because I could never work in an office again and be stuck to a desk, I've been on my own for years and it's a scarey thought that I would be confined in an office cubicle.

So the saga continues and hopefully, by June, this whole thing will come to a closure. In the meantime, I hope the housing market opens up. I was unable to pay my mortgages this month and am having to use money from my debt settlement account to pay them; that is not good, I need that money to settle this mess.

I have a car I'm planning on selling and hope to take that out of storage this week and get it to a garage so he can get it repaired and put on his lot to sell for me; there has been so much snow I haven't been able to do that yet. This would be a huge boost to my situation if I sold that car. The current vehicle I am driving is 8 years old and needs work so if I sell the other car I can fix my current vehicle to run for the next few years until my credit comes back; but even when my credit comes back, I hope to save enough money to pay cash for a good used vehicle and hope not to borrow any money - I never buy new!

After this situation the best thing I can do for myself or anyone can do for themselves, is put their own money in the bank and borrow against it to start building a new credit history. I do have a couple of mortgages I am paying on that also will help, but I do hope to sell a house this year.

What Budgeting Can Teach You About Money.

March 12th, 2008 at 12:05 am

I don't care who you are, if you do not write it down monthly, you do not know how much money you are spending. You can do it the old fashion way and just keep a monthly ledger or you can buy a program such as Quicken.

My husband has a terrible convenience store habit and he is constantly stopping at convenience stores buying cigarettes, coffee, diet coke, cookies, candy and snacks. It totals up and usually is $400 or more a month. We were married last August and I finally made the decision to trail his spending with a Quicken program. He really had no idea how much he was spending until I made him participate in the monthly budget.

The first step of my plan was to make him write out the income we anticipated and the debts to be paid:
BUDGET PLANNING

INCOME:
Salary and Wages: $______________
Rental Income: ______________
Child Support/Alimony: ______________
Social Security: ______________
Pension: ______________
Dividend/Interest: ______________

Total: ============

TAXES:
Federal Income: _____________
State: _____________
FICA/Medicare: _____________
Other: _____________
Total: ===========



RETIREMENT & SAVINGS:
401K: _____________
Pension: _____________
Stocks/Bonds/Mutuals: _____________
Savings/College Plan: _____________
Other: _____________
Total: ===========
HOUSING & DEBT:
Mortgage/Rent: ______________
Real Estate Tax: ______________
Car Loan: ______________
Credit Card: ______________
Child Support/Alimony: ______________
Personal Loans: ______________
Other: ______________

Total: ============

INSURANCE EXPENSE:

Car Insurance: _____________
Homeowners Insurance: _____________
Life Insurance: _____________
Renters Insurance: _____________
Health Insurance: _____________
Dental/Eye Insurance: _____________
Disability Insurance: _____________
Employer Life Insurance: _____________
Other: _____________
Total: ===========

PERSONAL EXPENSES:
Groceries: ______________
Personal Care: ______________
Magazines/Subscriptions: ______________
Internet/Cable: ______________
Lights/Water/Sewer: ______________
Heating: ______________
Cell Phone: ______________
Telephone: ______________
Vehicle Gas/Taxi ______________
Parking Tolls: ______________
Union/Club Dues: ______________
Entertainment: ______________
Clothing: ______________
Doctor/RX Prescriptions: ______________
Dental: ______________
Day Care: ______________
Other: ______________
Other: ______________
Other: ______________
Total: ============

You will then know what you have left and if there isn't anything left, you need to cut back and budget how to make your money stretch until the end of the month. While DH had his hard copy to work from, I kept the true figures by plugging them in each day to the Quicken program. At the end of the month I printed the actual numbers and we compared them to his hard numbers. Interestingly, he had not budgeted for convenience store stops or cigarettes and he was way off on his budget.

After a few months of trailing all of the little convenience store stops he is finally starting to see how his "habit" is affecting our family budget. I can't say that he has it under contol yet, but at the end of the month he will get his Quicken report showing where all the money went. It's undisputable if you budget and make each other accountable to stay within the budget.

Wish me luck,this has been a hard habit for my husband to break and only true numbers bring reality and accountability.






Eating from the Stocked Items for the Month

March 5th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

In order to include some of the meals I've had this week, I'm starting with Friday because on Friday I had a crock pot dinner that carried over to two more meals this week. So here goes:

Friday: Beef Pot Luck Dinner

6 lb. Beef Shoulder Road
8 peeled potatoes
1 lb. baby carrots
1 chopped up onion
2 cups of water
Salt and Pepper to taste

I put all this in the crockpot with the veggies on the bottom, added two cups of water and put it on high for six hours. Meat was cooked medium well and there was nice au jus.

Saturday: Hearty Beef & Barley Stew

1 cup cubed up beef
1 cup cubed up carrots
1 cup cubed up potatoe
Juice from crock pot
1/2 cup barley
2 cans of Beef Broth
Spices to taste

Put it all in the crock pot on high and let cook for about two hours. Then I take a 1/2 cup of cold water add 3 T of flour and stir it together until all flour is dissolved and pour it in the crock pot to thicken the stew. Very delicious and we ate it with Texas Toast.

I still had enough beef, carrots and potatoe cubed from the Friday night pot luck to make another stew so I put it in the fridge for another nights menu.

Sunday: Chicken, Brocolli Alfredo

1 8 oz. chicken breast (cubed)
1 cup frozen chopped brocolli
1 jar alfredo sauce w/cheese
Angel Hair

I sauteed the cubed chicken breast in olive oil until all pieces were white and then I added the brocolli, I sauteed on low until the brocolli was fully thawed and the chicken was fully cooked and slightly browned and added the alfredo sauce.

As I was cooking the chicken alfredo I cooked up enough angel hair for four servings.

I served it with Texas Toast.

Monday: Beef Pot Pie

Two pie shells
Beef, Carrot & Potatoe Mixture
1 can of Beef Gravy

I lined a pie plate with pie pastry. I mixed the beef, carrot & Potatoe with gravy and poured it in the pie shell and then put on top layer; put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Tuesday: Lemon Chicken & Rice

2 large Chicken Breast
1 can of Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1 beaten egg
1 c. flour season with Lemon & Pepper Spice
Salt & Pepper
1 C. Rice
2 C. Water
2 T. butter

I first put 2 cup of water and 1 cup of rice with 2 T. butter in a microwave safe 2 quart pyrex dish. Put it on high for 18 minutes.

I pound the chicken until it is flat, cut it into four pieces. Dip it into the egg batter and then roll in the flour and place in a hot pan with olive oil and saute until browned on both sides and cooked; usually no more than 15 minutes. Take chicken out of the pan, put 1 can of chicken broth, 1/4 cup of lemon juice in fry pan. In a separate cup put 1/4 cup of cold water and stir in 3 T. flour, pour into chicken & Lemon broth and stir quickly with a fork so no lumping occurs. Spice to taste with lemon pepper and salt, when slightly thickened, add the chicken back into the mix and coat chicken. Serve over rice with canned asparagus pieces (the lemon from the chicken taste great on the asparagus).

Wednesday: Chili & Texas Toast

1 lb. of ground beef
1 large can of red kidney beans
1 jar of ragu sauce
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. italian spice
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. basil flakes
red pepper flakes to taste
Salt & Pepper

In a crock pot brown the ground beef on high, drain off grease. Pour in the remaining ingredients add spice and let it simmer for at least four hours. Serve with salad and texas cheese toast.

Thursday: Garlic Pork Lions

1 lb. pork lions
(soak in olive oil and crushed garlic for at least a couple of hours with salt and pepper to taste).
2 baking potatoes
1 can Green Beans

When pork is fully marinated. Start your oven at 350 degrees, wash you baking potatoes and punch holes in them with a fork. Let the potatoe cook for 30 minutes then arrange your pork loins in a baking dish. Put them in the oven for approximately 30 minutes along with the baking potatoes. Heat your green beans in the microwave and add butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Friday: Pork Stir Fry

1 frozen bag of snow pea stir fry
Leftover Pork
Soy Sauce
Rice

Start your rice in the microwave, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of rice and 2 Tsp. of butter. Cook on high for 18 minutes.

Slice left over pork into thin short pieces. Saute the snow pea stir fry veggies in olive oil, when melted and cooked pour in your pork pieces, continue to saute until heated; add soy sauce to taste and serve over rice.

So there is our week menu. For meat I used 1 beef roast, 1 package of chicken (3 breast), 1 lb. of hamburger and 1 package of pork loins (4 pieces). We are still in good shape and I haven't had to go to the store for anything yet. The only item we seem to be low on right now is milk which I will pick up on Friday before the weekend.


$50 Free at Walmart and $28.48 in Free Groceries

March 2nd, 2008 at 02:53 pm

So the DH and I sat down to do the March budget. We take our current checking balance, add in potential income and then minus out all the debts; including my DH's medical bills and gas for work. We didn't factor in his habitual convenience store stops or cigarettes, he said he is going to stop smoking this week; he's on the pill and chewing the gum so we will see (as I write this he has gone to the store; hmmmm must be a cigarette run, not a good sign). Our bottom line is that we are about $1,500 short to pay all the bills this month and I was given a $300 grocery budget to work with. So we will figure it out even if we have to push a few things into April or borrow from the DS account (I don't really want to touch that).

So I had applied for some ebay bidding tool on line; it came and had a free offer for $50 in walmart gift cards to do a free trail membership in a savings club; which I joined for the trial period and then cancelled before I was charged a fee. So I filled out all the paperwork sent it out, it came back and had another process of filing out more paperwork with my savings club account number; I filled it out and sent it in and I received two $25 Walmart cards totally free. I wonder how many people just don't take the time.

So DH and I go to Walmart to pick up paper products; cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items and eggs; that's right eggs are $2.78 for 18 eggs at Walmart; best deal in town. I further bought a 3 lb. block of cheddar cheese, some dish clothes and face clothes and a few cans of veggies and some salsa. My bill comes to $61.69. $11.69 over the budget so it gets taken from my grocery account.

So now I have to plan the family meals to stay within my budget of $300.00; I assess my current supplies and what is in the freezer before I go. I go to Shaw's and buy three packages of chicken breast (this is usually two meals from each package for us) sales price is $1.99 per pound; I buy a large package of hamburger that I will divide up into three servings to make lasagna; chili and shepards pie out of. I picked up other items including fresh fruit, veggies and canned products, my bill came to $138.68 after my Shaws discount of $28.48; so now I have used $150.37 from my $300.00 budget and I have gotten $78.48 in groceries free.

As I assess my situation; I know that doing bulk shopping on paper products and laundry supplies and all other groceries through the months gives me extra for times like this when we need to sharpen the pencil. I'm set for the month. I generally shop at BJ's once a month for the bulk items; I won't need to go there this month because we have not used up many of the products we bought the last few times.

Now I have many pieces of meat in the freezer to work with; a ham, a broiling chicken, two packages of pork lions, five servings of hamburger; six packages of chicken breast (1.99 a lb), six pizza's, A beef roast, a 2 lb. sirlion steak which was purchased at $1.99 a pound, 4 lbs. of butter; bag of pecans; bag of walnuts; bag of sliced almonds; 4 loaves of bread; 1 package of bagels; a bag of hamburger rolls; frozen french fries; a bag of stir fry veggies; a bag of broccoli florets; bag of frozen peas and mixed veggies; a 4 lb bag of mozzeralla cheese, a 3 lb. bag of shredded cheddar cheese.

I have stock piled 8 cans of corn, peas, green beans, kidney beans, cubed tomatoe pieces, 2 cans beets, 2 cans of asparagus pieces; 5 cans of tuna fish, 3 jars of tomatoe sauce, 2 cans of black olives; a liter of olive oil, 2 bags of dried peas and beans.

Regarding baking supplies and spices; everything I need and more; flour, sugar, baking powder and soda; baking cocoa, oatmeal, corn meal, bread crumbs.

Starches include a 10 lb. bag of potatoes, 3 lbs. of angel hair and a 5 lb. bag of rice and a package of lasagna noodles and a 24 package case of chicken flavored roman noodles.

I have about six bananas, 4 apples, 4 peaches, a bag of 10 Florida fresh tangerines for $2.99 and a lb. of grapes for fresh fruit and I have individual servings of about 8 cups of fruit cocktail and one can of pineapple slices and a jar of cherries.

I got two bags of packaged salad mix for the price of one and I still had a head of romaine lettuce; five green peppers, fresh sliced mushrooms and a cucumber. I have a bulk bag of gourmet croutons too and plenty of salad dressings. The problem I have with those bag salads is you have to eat them very quickly after you open them. These will probably last a couple of weeks.


My husband is a diet coke fanatic so I bought 4 - 24 can packs of diet coke for $23.96 that figures out to about .40 cents a can; huge savings and it should keep him out of the stores. I had recently purchased a 3 lb. bulk package of granola bars and a bulk package of 24 servings of Activa yogurt so he will take a six pack of the yogurt and enough granola bars for the week. We pack his lunch from leftovers from the night before so he shouldn't have to buy lunches. So I think I have plenty to work with to stay in budget.

This is looking pretty good so it looks like I'll just have to pick up things like milk, coffee creamers and possibly a few ingredients for things I make.

I may get to save some of the $300 to apply toward other things. When I shopped yesterday I also got a $5.00 coupon off my next time shopping at Shaw's and $3.00 off my favorite bottle of wine. So $8.00 already to save when I go to the store again.

It was a great day and we'll see what I can do with this to make 30 meals for the evenings. We also eat light for breakfast, a toast and egg; or bagel and yogurt and coffee. For lunches we eat leftovers; there are always plenty of them and if not; open a can of tuna and make a sandwich or have a package of roman noodles and add some leftover chicken to it or veggies!

I'll make my first week dinner list and post it tomorrow with meals starting today.
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