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Archive for February, 2007

Have you ever seen this in an obituary?

February 22nd, 2007 at 12:03 pm

I never have. "In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the funeral home to defray the cost of X's funeral expenses."

This is was an elderly friend of my MIL's, not a homeless person or some poverty-stricken victim of violent crime who's been in the news. There were 23 surviving relatives listed, including two children and two brothers. The rest were grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Very sad, of course, that she didn't have enough at the end to pay for her own funeral expenses. But doesn't it seem rather tacky that such a large family is asking for help paying for it? I wonder how fancy a funeral it was. Too embarrassed to have a really simple funeral, but not too embarrassed to ask for money?

I never, never want to be in that position where someone has to ask for help paying for my funeral. I think I'd be embarrassed even if I were dead!

Resolution of weird bank problem--kind of scary

February 12th, 2007 at 07:21 am

OK, here's what the bank said happened. The other person was paying their credit card bill by phone and by mistake, put in my account number instead of theirs. It's only one number different. The $19 should be returned to my account later today.

I'm assuming it was an honest mistake. OTOH, one could assume that if someone is paying $19 on a credit card by phone, it might be because they have to make the minimum payment at the last possible minute. If someone knew they didn't have enough in their own checking account, and felt desperate, I can imagine how they might try using a slightly different account number in hopes that the other account would cover the payment, if only temporarily. Then they could just say Oops.

Kind of like when people used to mail the phone company check to the electric company and tried to pass it off as an honest mistake. (I actually read that as a suggestion in a book once!)

I'm glad it's fixed, and I'm glad it was such a small amount that it didn't make other checks or debit charges of mine bounce. BUT...

I would have thought that when someone pays by electronic check, the software would look to see if the name or address and the account number go together. But apparently not. As long as there's money in the checking account, no matter whose checking account it is, the payment will go through.

People worry about debit cards--there seems like plenty of opportunity for fraud with plain old checking accounts.

8-week report, or, Why I Hate Carrying Cash

February 11th, 2007 at 09:43 am

For my "13th month", the 4 weeks ending January 13, I went over budget on Everyday Expenses by about $50. It came to $595.42.

For the first full 4 week period in 2007, ending February 10, I went over by about $36. I thought I was going to come in under budget, and even things out. But it didn't happen, and here's the main reason why.

My mother paid me back for something in cash, rather than by check. I didn't get to the bank with it right away, and started to spend it rather than using my debit cards. I did remember to record some things, and may have more receipts somewhere. But the fact is, right now I have no idea where $63.95 went, and no way to reconstruct it. If the purchases had been with a debit or credit card, they'd turn up on my statement and I'd know.

Since I have a category "cash unaccounted for" in my Everyday Expenses reports, it now all gets counted against Everyday Expenses no matter what it was for. Gosh darn, but I hate using cash!

On the plus side, our savings is starting to grow. I'll be keeping updated totals under Author Info at the top right of the blog.

Weird bank thing!

February 10th, 2007 at 05:27 pm

In all my years of banking, this is a first.

I go to reconcile my little "spending money" account, and see a small check I didn't remember writing. I went online to see the check image--they've taken the money out of my account, but it was written on the account of another person. In fact, I haven't even used that check number yet. When I looked closely at the check image, it sure does look like the account number was the same as mine. Is it possible they mistakenly gave the same account number out to two people?

I can't imagine it is identify theft or fraud--who would bother for that amount of money? But you can be sure I'm running right over to the bank tomorrow morning.

Long distance, again

February 9th, 2007 at 04:38 pm

Has anyone else tried to add minutes to their AT&T prepaid calling card lately?

I just went to do so, and discovered that their rates for in-state calls in NJ are tripling! It's even worse in some other states--up to 8x the cost of out-of-state calls. Be careful out there!

Text is www.consumer.att.com/prepaidcard/fy/terms.html and Link is

I've had a system going, with Pioneer Telephone for out-of-state calls, and the AT&T phone card from Sam's for in-state calls as it was a bit cheaper per minute than Pioneer. Now I don't know whether to bother getting a different phone card, or just make all the calls through Pioneer. It's 4.5 cents/minute instate, and 2.9 cents for out of state calls.

Is it worthwhile to sign up with OneSuite to get 2.9 cents in-state, and save a mere $10 to $15 a year? Another account to worry about, another set of user names and passwords. Still debating, but right now I'm thinking not.

Second Successful Sunday

February 4th, 2007 at 05:31 pm

For the 2nd Sunday in a row, I managed to have noplace I needed to go, which means a full day to putter around the house getting ready for the week. Smile

I've done some cooking, which has made me feel a bit warmer, even if it's just psychological. Made beef stew, pumpkin bread, and then Yummy lured me into making some yellow split pea soup. None of this is exactly diet fare, but I'm trying to use up what I have around the house.

Also exercised, did a lot of laundry, and ran the dishwasher twice.

It's really helped to make my shopping list on Friday mornings, based on what we actually need. When Saturday morning comes, I just head out the door and start my errands. If I spent time going through the newest coupons and circulars first, I'd get out much later. And if I tried to take advantage of sales at too many stores, the errands would run over into Sunday. I like it this way much better!

Darned if I do, darned if I don't

February 1st, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Any tax preparers out there?

I'm working a split day today, and since a few more tax statements came in, I decided to start working on the taxes in earnest. I got so far as to go through the "review" feature in TaxAct, where they give you warnings about things you might have left out or done wrong.

"Please note that the IRS has implemented new review procedures for returns reporting more than $400 in other income. The review process may slow the processing of your return." They recommended making sure the income shouldn't fall under business income, and isn't subject to the Self Employment tax.

Naturally, my mind jumps ahead to "more likely to be audited" as well. So I moved my Election Board income onto Schedule C, figuring I could be called an Independent Contractor like DH was when he delivered newspapers some years back. (And doing it this way will be costing us an additional $79 in Self Employment tax.)

But that still leaves about $562 in other income from doing surveys, test drives and trial offers. I don't want to leave it off, because I wouldn't be able to sleep nights worrying that we'd get in trouble over it later. (My fear of the IRS is right up there with public speaking and death!) But if I report it, I'm liable to have trouble anyway because it's over $400. And I honestly don't see where else it could be reported but "other income."

It really reinforces the feeling I have right now, that I want to go to work, get my grocery shopping done with the least fuss, and live my life--instead of looking for deals all the time. The aggravation at tax time is one of the things that make it more trouble than it's worth.