Doing a Little Tax Planning

Since I have been able to get my Christmas shopping done early this year, I have decided that I am going to spend what little time I have before the holidays working on some tax planning.  While I know that it is certainly much earlier than the deadline to file 2014 tax return, it never hurts to  be prepared, right?

So, I have been going over my forms, calculating my income for 2014 (which isn’t quite over yet), and estimating the taxes I will be owing.

Unfortunately for me, the key word here is “owing”, so there will be no big purchases for me with my refund.  But at least I have an idea of what I will owe, so I can create a plan to save enough over the course of the next four months.

After I am done my tax planning, I think that I will have to look and see if I put more money into my IRA if I will reduce my tax bill or even eliminate it altogether.  I know that I would rather save some money for retirement than pay the tax man, so I will have to see if the software I have will figure it out.

Looking at Building a Storm Shelter

Living in Oklahoma comes with some challenges, particularly the weather.  I would like to think that nothing will ever happen, but considering the lack of control we have over the weather, there is certainly a good chance that something might.  So, instead of dealing with the aftermath and the chance that something might happen to our family, we have decided to be proactive about things and build a storm shelter.

At first, my husband suggested that he could build the shelter himself.  But I quickly killed that idea as most of the stuff that he has built over the years falls apart very quickly.  When safety is really important, I want to make sure that the roof stays over my head and doesn’t blow away.

We decided to consult with a company that specializes in tornado shelters in Oklahoma.  They were able to come out to our acreage and do some measurements to find a suitable location for us to build a shelter.  It was good that we had them out as the location that we thought would be good for the shelter turned out to be a very bad idea.

They are going to crunch some numbers for us and come up with a plan and a quote for us.

Hopefully we can get everything built early in the spring so that we are ready for tornado season.

Getting Help with my Pool

While we have owned a pool for years, we really haven’t used it a lot until this past year.  Our kids were too small, and I didn’t want to risk their lives having the pool full of water so close to their play structure.  But now that they are a little older, we have decided that they need to learn how to swim, and learn the importance of being safe around the pool.

We filled the pool, added some chlorine, and thought that we would be done.  But after our first dip in the pool made our skin feel really itchy, I knew that we were doing something wrong.  I didn’t want to call a serviceman in to help us out, so I decided to try and find an online pool service that could help answer our questions at a reasonable cost.

As luck would have it, we found a site whose administrators operated a pool servicing company, and they were quick to answer our questions.  They also had some helpful tutorial videos that really helped us to get our pool setup properly.  We could just follow along with their instructions, and we were able to do all of the work ourselves.

It is definitely a great resource if you own a pool.  To see what I mean, check out: http://www.poolserviceonline.com/

Reupholstering Our Patio Furniture

I love winter.  Since there is so little to do in the yard except for shoveling, it is a perfect opportunity to catch up on little jobs that you just didn’t have time to do in summer.  Some of the jobs that I have done include cleaning the garage, repairing the garage door opener, and even sweeping out the garage.  This weekend, my project will be reupholstering the patio furniture.

We bought our patio furniture about five years ago, and all of the chairs have padded seating.  The covering has become brittle and faded over the years, and it is time for it to be replaced.

Instead of covering it with regular material, I have bought some Sunbrella fabric that is perfect for patio furniture.  It is UV resistant, which makes it more durable for outdoor applications.  We have a few friends that have furniture covered in this material, and they are all very happy with it.

I will have to bring out the sewing machine to the garage to do all of the work, but I figure I can have it done by the end of the weekend.  If I do get it done, that will be another thing I can cross off my list.  Hopefully I will be able to get all of the items on the list done before next summer.

A Gift from My Aunt

One of the things that I have noticed as I have aged is that people don’t necessarily know what to buy you for a gift anymore.  When we are kids, it is easy to buy the latest toy, or a book and we are happy.  But once we are adults, it becomes more challenging as most of us would just buy the items that we want to get instead of waiting until it is gifted to us.  Sometimes, we do receive something that we had not thought of and it puts a smile on my face.  That is exactly what happened when my aunt bought me my birthday present.

For the last couple of years, my aunt Joanne had just bought me a card.  Honestly, that is okay as all I really care about is that she remembers my birthday.  But this year, there was a gift included with my card.

I opened it.

Inside I found this:

Halskæder til mænd

On the box, it said  – Halskæder til mænd, which translated from Danish, means necklace for men.

That is exactly what it is.

In fact, it was the nicest gift anyone bought me this year – better than what my parents picked  out.  It was definitely a good surprise that I will have to thank my aunt Joanne for the next time that I see her.

Getting my Truckers License

After playing around with a number of different careers over the years, I have decided that I want to be a truck driver.  Actually, it was my best friend Bradley that suggested that I give it a try.  He has been driving truck for the last five years, and honestly, he is the richest person I know.  He really thinks that I have what it takes to make it in the business, so I am giving it a shot.

I have enrolled in training through a private school to become a truck driver.  They have us using a driving simulator for training to drive a semi.  The simulator takes us along a course where we have to achieve certain objectives and follow a specific route.  Of course, there are obstacles in our way, and there have been times where I have crashed my rig.  But the best part of a simulator is that it isn’t real life, so you can learn from your mistakes, and then do better the next time. 

I just hope that I will be ready for the real driving test in a weeks time.  I think that my worst enemy would have to be myself, as I tend to overreact, but I will just have to remain calm.  I know that I can do it.

Integrating Captcha Services with RankWyz

If you are a serious online marketer, chances are you are using RankWyz.com to help you manage, create and post to your own content network.  This site provides many tools that can help you as an online marketer to create instant social buzz around your product or service.  But one of the biggest challenges is that many web 2.0 networks that RankWyz uses need CAPTCHAs solved from time to time.

Unfortunately, their cheaper packages don’t include captcha solving, so you are left to your own means.  Many marketers stop right here thinking that it will be too hard to get past these challenges placed online to help stop your online marketing efforts.

But you can beat them.

You see, Decaptcher has been added as one of the service providers that you can use with Rank Wyz to solve captchas for you.  All you need to do is add your credentials for your account on the following page: Integration.  To find this page, all you need to do is click on the gears icon on the left side of your dashboard, then click on “Integration”, and then look for captcha services.  Put your account information in there and then you are in business.

Integrating these two services together is pretty easy.

Picking Out a New Work Computer

One of the reasons that I picked the company that I work for is because it is important for their employees to have the latest technology.  Unlike other firms that only replace their computers every five years or so, our company buys us a new computer every two years.  For sales people who travel on the road (like I do), they provide us with laptops.  Instead of buying the same computer for everyone in our organization, they also give us the freedom to pick out our own computers.

It is nice to have the freedom of picking out our own laptop, but we are constrained within the budget set by the company.  So, I have been looking for the best laptop under 600  in 2015.  At this price point you can find many very capable laptops, so I have been trying to look for the one with the best features for the price.

Historically, I have been a big fan of Dell laptops, so I will be checking them out first.  But I also have a lot of coworkers in the office that swear by Lenovo, so at this point, I am not quite sure which route to take.  I know that I need a machine with a good processor and good battery life, so I will base most of my decision on those two factors.  I do have a couple of weeks to look over my options, so at least I won’t be rushed into a choice that I don’t like.

It will be nice to switch to a newer and faster laptop.  The one that I am using right now is getting too slow for my needs.

How I Bought an Engagement Ring

When my wife and I first met, it was love at first sight.  Ours was a whirlwind romance that has lasted for more than fifteen years now.  But fifteen years ago, we were in a different financial situation than we are today.  I look back on those days, and sometimes I really wonder how we made it.  We lived in a tiny, two-bedroom apartment, and we both were working minimum wage jobs.  Frankly, we were lucky that we were even able to keep food on the table.  Just three months after meeting my future wife, I decided that I wanted to marry her, so I had to figure out a way to buy her an engagement ring.

If you have ever gone engagement ring shopping, the one thing that you will notice is that they are very expensive.  The one that I had picked out was actually worth more than what I earned working for two weeks, so I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to pay for the ring all at once.  I did have some savings, but it was still going to take me six months of saving, plus using what money I had stashed away to buy her ring.

It was quite a commitment.

I wanted the timing to be right, so I bought the ring and proposed to her on valentines day.  But, I didn’t have quite enough money, so I got one of those payday loans to make up the difference.  Sure, I paid a little interest, but proposing to her on Valentines day was worth it.

Now, fifteen years later, I am happy that I made the choices I did.  If I had not, I wouldn’t be married to the beautiful woman that I am with today.

Your Shot at the Green Card Lottery

While many of us are blessed to work in this great nation of ours, many people wish they had the opportunity.  People from around the world each year enter their names in the Green Card lottery in hopes of getting the one thing that allows them to live and work in the US: a Green Card.  I know that my cousin Steve has been trying to get one for five years now, and he still hasn’t had a shot.

You see, if you are someone that is looking to get a visa that allows you to live and work in the US, your name must be drawn from the Green Card lottery.  Unfortunately, they only issue just 50,000 cards per year and with more than 10 million applicants each year, your shot at winning is slim.

But it is still a shot.

To make sure that you do have a chance, it is imperative that you fill out your US Green Card application properly.  Sure, you could try to do it on your own, but if you make any mistakes or omissions, you run the risk of your application being denied and you miss your shot at the lottery.

And no one wants that.

So, if you are seriously looking at moving and working in the US on a permanent basis, consider hiring an expert that knows how to fill out your Green card application right here: http://www.usgreencardoffice.com/