Yesterday, in addition to be the deadline for filing Federal and State tax returns it was also Tax Freedom Day. Tax Freedom Day is the day that average Americans have earned enough to pay their tax burden for this year (107 days). It is 4 days later than it was last year.

Many people have the thrill of getting a large tax refund. It is important to remember this was your money, you were loaning to the government interest free. If you regularly receive a tax refund and struggle with your bills most months, it is recommended to check your withdrawal allowances. If you change this, you may be able to receive more money in your paychecks.

If you do receive a tax refund, consider paying off debt or putting into savings instead of purchasing items you could not normally afford. Some people suggest using 5% or so of it to buy something for yourself and put the rest away.

Could you eat only 7 foods a month or wear 7 pieces of clothing for 30 days? This is part of what Jen Hatmaker did as an experiment to realize many others live with a lot less than we do. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess is the story of her and her family doing without certain things for a month at a time which lasted a total of 7 months.

She picked 7 areas of her life and limited herself and in some months her husband and two children to 7 items in that area for the month. The seven areas include food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending and stress.

During month 3, each day she selected 7 things to donate, give away or throw away. After 30 days, you would have 210 items to get rid of. At the beginning of this, she counted over 300 items in just her closet, she ended up getting rid of over 200 items from her closet.

During month 4, they gave up all media, except email and texting that she and her husband needed for their jobs and correspondence with teachers and other groups.

During the Spending month, she selected 7 spending categories, that meant no eating out. Her 7 choices were The Farmers Market, HEB gas station, Online bill pay, Kids’ school, limited travel fund, emergency medical and Target.

Getting rid of seven things a day is one step in 4 weeks to a more organized home which is being hosted by Crystal from Money Saving Mom.

I was interested in reading the book after reading Crystal’s review of it.

The book is written like a diary with entries from certain days. She confesses to a few goofs during the experiment. It was a quick and easy read and makes you realize how much stuff we have and question if it is all necessary.

Posted in Books, Budgeting, Saving
Nancy Kvamme

Hunger Hits Home was shown on the Food Network the other night. It is available online and will be aired again April 21 at 5 PM CT and April 23 9 AM CT.

The show was sponsored by the Food Network and Share Our Strengths No Kid Hungry Campaign. Some of the statistics from the show are:
More than 16 million kids in America live in households that struggle to put food on the table, 1 out of 5 kids.
For many kids, most of the meals they receive are the free or reduced priced school meals. Now with summer coming, most are not going to receive those meals when there is not school.
Almost 45 million Americans used SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) in 2011.
In some areas, people are having difficulty affording food to feed their families. There are areas that people only have certain places to shop locally such as convenience stores where it is difficult to buy nutritious food. One of the women shown in the special had to take a 45 subway ride to buy fruits and vegetables and could only afford to buy a small bag of vegetables.

The other day I received a set of coupons in the mail from Cashwise. There are 4 coupons good each week for the next 8 weeks. There was also a set of coupons for Sunmart in the April 15 Forum.

They use these coupons to get you into the store. Some of the items can be as much as half the regular price but remember to consider if it is a good deal for you. You are not saving money if you spend on something you would not normally buy.

Federal tax returns are due on Tuesday, April 17. Several businesses have special discounts to relieve some of the stress of Tax Day. Some of the discounts are good only on the 17th and some are good for multiple days. For some of the discounts you will need to print a coupon from the company’s Facebook page.

As with other sales and deals, it is only a deal if it was something you normally buy or use.

Nancy Kvamme

This is the time of the year to start looking for summer jobs. With the unemployment in its current situation it may be harder for teens to find jobs. The Fargo Public Library is hosting two hour-long summer job workshops geared to teens. The first one is scheduled for Thursday, April 12 at 4 p.m. at the Main Library. The second session will be at the Dr. James Carlson Library at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.

Some of the topics covered will be how and where to search for jobs, basic interview tips and how to fill out job applications. No registration is required and there is no charge. All materials will be provided. You can contact the Teen Librarian, Bree Schmidt at teens@cityoffargo.com for more details.

Shredding any personal papers that have your account numbers and other information is an important step to take in order to protect your identity.

Secure Your ID Day is an opportunity to have some of your documtns shredded for free. It will be held at Wells Fargo banks at 2501 13th Ave S in Fargo and 1050 E. Interstate Ave in Bismarck. It will be from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, April 21. will also be free cellphone recycling and information on identity theft. You can register to win a personal shredder.

Posted in Uncategorized
Nancy Kvamme

Following are a few recent articles I have found online.

Being 60 and paying still paying student loans. As the article states, it is not known how many of these people have been paying their loans since their 20s or if they went back to school later in life. Also, if they had co signed for a loan for their children and got stuck paying it off. Student loans are one of the few debts that are not erased by bankruptcy.

In recent years, financial discussions have become part of many premarital lessons. This article discusses 4 money talks couples should have. They include

• Let’s talk about financial baggage. It is important to know what kind of debt the other is bringing to the relationship and also what their saving and spending habits are.
• Let’s talk about spending limits.
• Let’s talk to a pro.
• Let’s review our money plan.

Spending money on items without your partner knowing is known as financial infidelity. It may not seem like a big deal hiding purchases from your partner but it may affect your financial lives if it gets out of control.

One of the books I have found and enjoyed reading is Smart Couples finish Rich by David Bach. Two of his other books are Smart Women Finish Rich and The Automatic Millionaire.

Money Secrets of the Amish, Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving was the result of writer Lorilee Craker investigating why the Amish were thriving during the economic downturn. It consists of a dozen tried and true financial habits the Amish have followed for many years to help your cash go further.

Some of the habits discussed in the book are:

UWMW – Use it up, Wear it out, Make do or do without.
Pay on time – It may not seem like a lot getting charged a minimal amount if you don’t pay a bill on time, but if you do it consistently with a number of bills it can add up.
Saving – Saving money will protect you from the “drizzle,” acting as an umbrella of sorts.
Dead horses smell bad, but debt smells even worse- One of the quotes in the book that struck me was “Making interest payments is like paying for a dead horse/”
Shopping secondhand- Sometimes you can find items at secondhand stores for a fraction of the regular price you would pay.
To buy in bulk or not – In some cases, buying in bulk may save you money. You need to consider if you will use the product before it spoils. You will not save money if you end up throwing a bunch of it out.
The Best Things in life are free – “The truth that transcends Plain and Fancy; chasing after money and things is meaningless, because the best things in life are free.

Another quote I saw recently is “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like” – Will Rogers.

One way to save money is to be organized. Some ways being unorganized can cost you money are:
• If you don’t keep track of your bills that come in the mail, you may incur penalties and interest for late payments. Also, if you misplace checks before getting to the bank.
• If you put things in the same spot all the time, you could save time by not having to search for it. Or if you need to go buy an item you can’t find. You could have saved the money you spent on the replacement item.
• By having an organized fridge and pantry you know what leftover items and other items you have that can be used before they spoil. Also, you know what items you have on hand so you don’t spend money on buying duplicates of things you already have. It doesn’t save you much money if you buy items on sale but don’t use them before they expire.

Crystal from Money Saving Mom is doing a series on 4 weeks to a more organized home. Each day she will post the steps for that day and each evening she will post her progress from the day and have opportunities for you to post your progress also.

Each day, there is one main step to do if you are busy and can’t complete all of the steps for that day. The series started on Monday, April 2 and day 1 was to clean out your purse and day 2 was to clean out your refrigerator. Even if you can’t complete it now or keep up daily, it gives you ideas of ways to stay organized.