Monday, July 29, 2013

Budgeting--Are you doing it right?

Why Budget: According to studies, the most powerful predictor of successful weight loss is TRACKING what you eat. So it shouldn’t be a shock to realize the best way to ensure healthy spending is to TRACK WHAT YOU SPEND. Take frequent and honest looks at your spending habits. For anyone who’s ever kept a food diary, you may be surprised by what and how much you are eating (FIVE bowls of Frosted Flakes! Really?!). Spending money is the same way—we’ve all developed some nasty habits. The first step to making those corrections is to track your spending so you can identify where you can “trim the fat.”

How to budget in three easy steps: 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Ultimate Way to Store Baby Clothes

Lisa's mentioned before that switching out kids' clothes is her least favorite chore. It was mine too (although I think "least favorite chore" is an honor that many chores can share-- putting on fitted sheets, I'm looking in your direction). Finally I decided to revamp my baby clothes organization, and, I have to tell you, it's been marvelous. No more fumbling through plastic bags to find the one you're looking for. No more trying to shove all the clothes into the dresser. No more digging through closets. Awesome.

In my opinion, here are the basic tenets of a good baby clothes organization system.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DIY Home Makeover: Living Room

I made a special blog post when we redid the bathroom so I thought it only fair the living room get the same attention. I've been putting this off because there's a lot more I want to do, but I feel like decorating is always a work in progress, so think of this as more of a snapshot in time than a finished product.

This is what our living room looked like when we bought our house.  In one word: fusty.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tax Series #6: You mentioned bunching of itemized deductions—I want in! Tell me how!

This is the last post in our tax series! Not going to lie-- as much as we love taxes, Lisa and I were really just trying to power through this tax series so we could build up our reference (read: slightly less exciting) material before we do our first giveaway (as in, before people really start reading our blog).

But, this actually is a pretty awesome tax tip, and it has saved my husband and I literally thousands of dollars (but I have used made up numbers in our example). This tip works primarily for people who don't already itemize (typically people who don't have a mortgage) and have large charitable contributions (like tithing, if you're a Mormon).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

DIY Home Makeover: Bathroom

Our old 1970s home was in need of a lot of TLC when we bought it three years ago. Wish we had the time and money to redo everything, but we're slowly making it around to each room. Can't believe it's already been 2.5 years since we redid our bathroom. Thought I'd post the writeup of the transformation.
Such a huge project for such a small room, but we're not talking putting in a new vanity and mirror. The floor had water damage down to the subfloor and it only had a tub (no shower), so we ripped out *everything* and started from scratch. No professionals whatsoever. Just my husband Bryan, my father-in-law, and me. It was unbelievable. When we started, I barely knew how to use a screwdriver. Now Bryan and I know how to demo, install a new construction window, stucco, remove a bathtub, plumbing (sewer and copper), repair a subfloor, install a new bathtub, install new drywall, texture, tile, wire a light fixture, install a toilet, vanity, etc.

This story is best told through pictures. I'd do just the before and after, but you really can't appreciate the after unless you at least glance at what it looked like in between.

Before.



Friday, July 12, 2013

Tax Series #5: Can you tell me more about FICA and self-employment tax? I’m really intrigued…

"FICA" is one of those acronyms that gets tossed around a lot, but not many people could actually explain what it is if you asked them. (So if Jay Leno picks "What is the FICA tax?" for his next question on Jay Walking and interviews you, you will feel super smart.)

Most people's interaction with the FICA tax consists of looking at their pay stub and seeing yet another tax being taken out of their gross pay. So let's take a look at a fancy pay stub I made up in PowerPoint because I love you all so much.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Favorite Things (#6): Discounted Shipping, Better than Evite, Free Online Classes, and Book Recommendations

1. Coursera- Free

This highly rated new startup has impressive online courses from "legit" universities. Lauren and I took Stanford's Child Nutrition class (thoroughly enjoyed it), but they offer classes in a variety of subjects--science, humanities, design, business, and so on. Basically, the same kind of stuff you'd see on campus. Ever wanted to improve your public speaking? Study up on composing classical music? Take an intro to psychology? Maybe something you regret not taking while you were in college. They really have an impressive array of classes from actual professors. This is nice for when you're in one of those "learning" or "self-improvement" kicks, which should ideally be everyday of our lives. Check it out at coursera.org.

My Favorite Things (#5) Best Airline, Cleaning Tips, Discount Jamba, etc.

----------Techie----------

1. Fotor.com--Free!

Please tell me if you've found a better (free!) web-based collage creator, because I haven't. This isn't the first one I've used, but it is by far the best. Fotor.com

2. PBS App--Free!

This free app has a library of clips from PBS's kids shows. It updates weekly. So if your little one loves Sesame Street, Curious George, or basically any kids' show on PBS, this may be the App for you.

My Favorite Things (#4) How to Pin from your iPhone, Etc.

Okay, I've really gotten into these My Favorite Things Top Ten Posts. This 4th Edition is particularly long-winded, so may I recommend only reading the descriptions for the things that interest you (like you need me to tell you that) lest you swear off this blog forever in annoyance of my looooong posts. But seriously, this is a big 'un.

TECH TIPS

1. Remove Word Verification - Free


My Favorite Things (#3): Pomegranate, Navigation App, Ebates, etc.

1. Pomegranate trick - FREE

 
Love pomegranates (and their superfood properties), but hate picking all the seeds out? Most people know the water in a bowl trick, but do you know how to make the seeds just fall out with little effort--no picking involved? It's a four-minute YouTube investment, but once you successfully execute this move, you will never ever go back. My only other nugget of wisdom is if you're paranoid like me, wear an apron in case the pomegranate is extra juicy and squirts you.
http://youtu.be/jJ7dk9nDR-k 

My Favorite Things (#2): Jeans, Mattress Pad Heater, and Mom Products

It's time for another edition of Ten Tips/Tricks/Products/Recipes I love.  These will pop up on the blog at random because I just started keeping a list by my computer and only add things to it that are truly worthy of such a list. So whenever the list is full, I post. So here goes:

Products for Everyone 

1- Colgate Optic White Toothpaste - $3

 
This is another steal from mormon in manhattan. I tried it for myself and really like it. Think of it as whitening strips, meaning it didn't replace my usual toothpaste (which I also love), but this removes stains that other toothpastes don't. It says it takes a week to notice a difference, but I feel like I notice a difference every time I use it. I use it daily, including when I'm sprucing up before going out.

My Favorite Things (#1): Costco Prints, Cleaning Products, and Makeup

The best tips/tricks/products are always recommendations from a friend or a blog (from people who have actually used the product, not some beauty magazine editor who maybe tried it once), so I thought I'd compile a list of some of my favorites as of lately.

Tips

#1 Costco Prints - Hey Costco members, did y'all know you can order prints online and have as few or as many 4"x6" prints shipped to your home (or grandma's home..or whomever) and the shipping is free? So sweet! No need to pick them up. Suddenly, getting prints is so hassle free. Uploading is fast, prints are cheap, and as long as you don't need the prints immediately (it takes 6-9 business days to ship), you're set.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Tax Series #4: What's the deal with tax brackets?

Okay, it's time to clear up a myth about tax brackets.

Say you're at a cocktail party and your friend, Judy, starts complaining about how her bonus is going to push her into a higher tax bracket this year (life's rough). 

Judy: "Because I do such an amazing job at work my boss wants to give me a bonus. He really wants to keep me, I guess. I make $77,851 right now, and he's giving me a $10,000 just as a way of saying, 'Judy, you're awesome!' Getting the extra money is nice, but because the 25-percent tax bracket ends at $87,850 and now I'm making $87,851, all of my money is going to be taxed at 28 percent instead."

You: "Ummm.... That's not really how tax brackets work." *Proceed to amaze everyone present with your knowledge of tax brackets and money-hip-mama-ness.

So what is the truth about tax brackets?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tax Series #3: What are some easy ways to file my return?

Tax time. It rolls around every year. How are you going to get that pesky return filed? Here at Money Hip Mamas, we're here to help. There are a million different tax preparation services, so I polled my friends (many of which are tax accountants themselves) to get the scoop on the best options out there.

Do-It-Yourself Software

For A Basic Return


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