How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund (And What We’re Doing With It)

Have you done your 2018 taxes yet?  Are you one of the unfortunate people who are seeing a smaller tax refund this year?  If you are, I hope that it won’t impact your finances in a negative way.  Thankfully, we were able to avoid a smaller tax refund this year.

tax refund checklist

How We Avoided A Smaller Tax Refund

When we got our tax forms back, we were happy to see that we’re getting a little more back than last year.  While many people think getting any sort of refund is bad thing, I actually welcome a refund.  We don’t count on the refund.  For us, it’s just nice to have money that isn’t a temptation to spend during the year.  The removal of that temptation is worth the small interest we’re foregoing.

So, how did we avoid a smaller refund? There were two main reasons.

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Review of Great Wolf Lodge Mason, Ohio – February 2019

Great Wolf Lodge is one of our favorite family places.  It’s become a tradition that we go during the kid’s mid-winter break.  We’ve even snuck in a couple of extra trips.  This year’s trip was to be our 7th experience at a Great Wolf Lodge. So, we decided to try something new and stay at Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio.  Here is our review.

Great Wolf Lodge Is Our Jam

For some reason, Great Wolf Lodge has always worked for us.  Our kids love to swim.  The parks are fun and family friendly.  We make the experience affordable.  We usually stay at the Sandusky location, which is great for proximity, but it’s one of the older resorts and the number of attractions is on the smaller end.

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10 Free Things To Do On A Day Off

If you have a day off, you might be looking for something to do.  But, not everything has to cost money.  Sometimes you can find free things to do that give you as much satisfaction as things that cost money.  That’s a bonus, plus you have money in your pocket.  Who doesn’t love that!

Free Things To Do On A Day Off

Here are some free things to do on a day off.

popcorn movie free things
Watching a favorite movie is one of many free things to do.

Watch An Old Movie

If the weather doesn’t present you the opportunity to leave the house, find some entertainment.  Nothing is better than an old movie that you haven’t watched for awhile.  Pop it in, grab a snack, and enjoy some comfort time!

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10 Ways We Plan To Get Rid Of Clutter Fast

Sometimes looking around our house stresses me out.  And it’s not just the house, either!  Clutter can take over very quickly.  Even after you reduce your clutter, it comes back.  Clutter is something you have to stay on top of.  As I’ve looked around my house, and my life, I’ve found a few ways that I can get rid of clutter fast.

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The Problem With Clutter

Some people don’t mind clutter.  If you’re one of those people, good for you, I suppose.  But even if it doesn’t bother you, clutter still has many negative effects.

  • Takes Up Space.  Clutter takes up space that you could use for other things.  Or, in some cases, like if you have to rent a storage locker or have to buy a bigger home, it can increase the space you need.  Space costs money!
  • Wastes Time.  If you aren’t sure where something is, it’s going to take you a lot longer to find it if you have a cluttered life.  Every minute you spend searching for something is a waste of time.  This is time you could be doing something more productive or enjoyable.

Clutter won’t ever stop, but it can be addressed.  Here are some ways that I plan to get rid of clutter.

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Don’t Pay With Cash Unless You Have To

Do you pay with cash or swipe a card?  Some will swear that paying with cash can save you money.  After all, you’re only spending what you have on hand.  This is definitely true, but that doesn’t mean cash is king.

Why We Don’t Pay With Cash

For our spending purposes, we rarely pay with cash.  The only times we do is when we have no other choice.   We don’t think paying with cash is necessarily a bad idea.  It just seems that using a card works better and offers us a few more advantages.  Here are a few.

Credit Card Rewards

We do most of our spending on three different cards. They all provide different rewards.  We pick the card we use in order to maximize our rewards.

credit card rewards
Reward credit cards can give you freebies.
  • Costco Cash Back Visa Card.  We use this card primarily for gas, restaurants, travel, and Costco shopping.  The reason is simple.  It provides 1% for all spending, but provides between 2-4% cash back on all of those categories.
  • American Express Blue Everyday Card. This is the card we use mostly for grocery shopping.  Same deal as the Costco card, in that it gives 1% on everything, but for grocery shopping you get 3%.  With our family of four that includes two very fast growing children, that extra amount adds up.
  • Southwest Visa Card.  Most of our other spending goes on our Southwest card.  This gives you one mile per dollar spent.  I’ve done the math, and at least last time I checked, the standard ‘cost’ of a flight using miles works out to be about 20% cheaper than paying in cash. We took an anniversary trip to Cancun a couple of years ago with no cost whatsoever.

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What The Polar Vortex And A Gas Explosion Taught Me About Human Nature

Last week, Michigan and much of the Midwest went through the coldest spell in 25 years when the polar vortex blew arctic air upon us.  It was a brutal stretch.  We saw high temperatures barely above zero.  Low temperatures were in the minus-teens.  Factor in the wind chill, and it felt like 40 or 50 below-zero.  It sucked.  Luckily, it was only for a few days, and temperatures like this aren’t regular occurrences.  But, as much as the cold weather seemed to be ‘the event’, it turned into something more.  And I learned a lot.  I learned about human nature. About good people and unfortunately about selfishness.

frozen pipes

Our Polar Vortex

It got cold last week.  Really cold.  The last time it was this cold was 25 years ago.  I remember that because I was a student at college doing an internship where I had to drive 50 miles one-way, five days per week.  So, walking to my car and starting it each morning was a nightmare.  I didn’t have an app to start my car back then.  Remote start was still a dream.  It was walk to the car, put the key in, hope it started, and wait for it to warm up.  So, yeah, I remember the last one.

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3 People Who Beat Their Debt (And How)

Debt is a scary thing. Every year, out-of-control debt causes about 770,000 individuals to file for bankruptcy. But this is a last resort option that can destroy your credit and make life more difficult; often for years to come. Fortunately, there are ways for people to reduce, or even completely eliminate their debt without having to resort to this.

These are three real-life people who beat their debt.

Zina Kumok

Many young people feel the pressures of having to pay off student loans. In fact, the average borrower has over $37,000 in student loans when they graduate college. That’s a sum that can stick around for a long time—especially if you don’t have a plan for paying it down.

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12 Easy Ways To Save Money

Everybody wants to save money, right?  Saving money gives you opportunity and financial security.  If you want a few ideas on how to get started, here are a few.

how to save money
Save your money!

Our Tips For Saving Money

Before we get started, let me just point out that these are things we do to save money.  They work for our household, but they may not be for everybody.  In any case, I hope they give you some ideas to get started.

Brew Coffee

I can’t tell you the last time I set foot in a coffee shop.  If we get gift cards for Starbucks, we usually sell them.  We either make our own individual cups or pots of coffee.  This saves us big time.

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