Gifts from Uncle Sam

I have a lot of family I don’t exactly enjoy spending time around (except the wonderful aunt letting me use her computer to post this!).  Probably my favorite family member right about now is dear Uncle Sam who, while he forgot my birthday, made a big splash at tax time!  Thanks to the hellish circumstances surrounding living arrangements from Uncle JackAssintheBox, I bought a house and the government decided I needed $7,500 tax free in a loan for helping our fledgling economy.

Thanks, Uncle Sam!

And Monday the check arrived and I ran to the bank as quick as my Toyota would carry me.  I wrote a check for my tax preparer’s services, withdrew some moolah and did a happy dance in front of the bank employee.  Since I found out exactly how much I would be getting back I have made a mess of plans, begun 783 spreadsheets and tried really, really hard not to spend a dime.

Until Saturday.

Last Friday the check mailed and on Saturday I logged online to find Costco selling a 32″ LCD television for half of what I expected to pay in store.  Only problem was lack of internet at home and my unwillingness to enter credit card numbers and passwords on the library terminals. So here at my aunt’s house I put in the order and did a happy dance.

Since Monday the money has been systematically funneled into accounts that were finalized, uh, Tuesday. I like to keep my options open.

Here’s the breakdown:

$3,727 to pay off my car 2 years early

$332 to Emergency Fund #1

$500 to car maintenance savings

$200 to Emergency Fund #2

$420 to Emergency Fund #3

$500 to furniture savings

$50 to Doggy Emergency Fund

$300 for Vegas in 09

$350 for the new tv

$250 to get my computer hard drive and memory upgraded

$371 toward paying off my student loans

Personally, I think it’s a great balance between things I need (computer, furniture), want (television, Vegas) and plan for the future (Emergency Fund and car savings).  As you can see over half the $7,200 is going directly to paying off my Toyota.  My car is rapidly approaching 50,000 miles and the tire thread is wearing down. So I got quotes today for replacing 3 of the tires and it came in $200 less than I budgeted. That makes me happy. (Note: one of the tires is fairly new due to a flat last year and will not be replaced yet).

Another note on my Emergency Funds.  My “magic number” for the EF is $15,000 and represents 10 months worth of expenses, 12 months if I go bare bones budget.  I want at least $1,500 to be readily accessible in local accounts and cash since it takes 3 business days to transfer money from my online savings bank ING.  My friend Brittney told me about an experience last year when she needed to rush to her Mom in the hospital two days before payday with no gas in the car or cash for tolls.  After that I knew I should start hiding money in the house, easy enough to know where I put it but hard enough I won’t raid it for just anything. 

After the flurry of transfers I am more than pleased with my progress.  The two year old car I drive will be paid for in full by Monday. Which means a change in my car insurance rates too.  Due to a tax refund from the county I’ve also got close to $2,000 in another savings account for home maintenance expenditures. We’re debating buying a working dishwasher, lol. 

Much of the credit to my financial progress is due to the Women in Red.  This group of women (and some men) really showed me the dedication it takes to save, plan and prepare for the unexpected.  If I lost a job tomorrow I’d be sad but safer.  If a car accident meant paying out my deductible I’d be covered. I never knew just how peaceful it can be to be prepared, financially and mentally, for whatever may come.  And yes, I know that’s an open invitation for God to smite me but I have faith I’d make it through!

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