Thursday, February 17

Become a Superhero!
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Hey all!

My good friend Amy (Bennett) Eck is campaigning for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Woman of the Year. LLS Woman of the Year is a contest that runs from March 8 through May 20. The goal is to raise as much money as possible in 10 weeks. Each dollar raised is a vote, and at the end of the 10 week campaign, the winner is the person who earns the most votes.

But the reality is every competitor is a winner, because every dollar raised is donated directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to fund research to find a cure for blood cancers. Our plan is to hit as many avenues that we can think of over the course of the 10 week period. My favorite fundraisers so far: A Wedding Dress Auction and a Triathlon and Sports Equipment auction, in addition to more traditional direct donations and local events.

A little bit of background on Amy:
Amy was a marine for several years, before leaving the marine corps to pursue a career as a US Navy Port Engineer (keeps Navy ships afloat and underway). She founded Camp Bennett - a triathlon and athletic training clinic to get people outside and active, to create long, happy, and productive lives.

Amy established a weekend adventure race event (Freedom Fest - you may have read my post about scoping out the course) in 2009. The race is entirely organized and staffed by volunteers, and all proceeds are donated to charities, including Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. As the race grows, Amy wants to ensure that a minimum amount goes to each charity, so if profits don't meet the mark, she donates out of her own pocket.

When Amy learned of the LLS competition for Man and Woman of the Year, she jumped at the chance to raise money for a great cause.

The point: We are blogging the adventure. Of course, if we can raise even more money through sponsorship of the blog, EVEN BETTER! The fundraising doesn't start until March 8, but in the mean time, we are trying to get the word out and build the blog. So please consider following, subscribing, grabbing a button (included above) to show support, and maybe, oh maybe, reposting on your blog about the competition? Pretty, pretty please?

Thanks so much and if you've got any suggestions, definitely let me (us) know, by posting here, posting at, or emailing!

Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!
:-) Barbara

PS. In case you miss this, I'll more than likely be emailing all of you individually if you have visible emails :-) I hope all is well, and I have some projects that are done (Yay!) but not posted (boo!) and more projects on the way (Yay!). :-) I'll be back around to check out your projects and send some comment love. It's been a crazy busy month for some reason.

PPS. If you question whether Amy wear's her Wonderwoman costume around town, or if it was rented for this picture: Nope - she wears it regularly. I've seen her teach a triathlon clinic as Wonderwoman, run a half-marathon as an elf, run a full marathon as She-Ra Princess of Power, and come to work in a full blown Turkey suit. She occasionally gets her hubster to dress up as well, which you can see if you hit up the Superhero Home Page. Just make sure you continue on to Amy's Blog afterward!

Monday, February 14

LGO #4: Record retention!

A day late and a dollar short. Or in my case, two weeks late and $14 short? Anyway, I am proud to announce the arrival of Let's Get Organized #4, Record Retention!

So once you've developed your paperwork file, you're done, right? No such luck. Even without considering the upkeep involved with continued filing of paperwork, you still have to consider what to keep and what to purge within your paperwork files after a certain period of time.

Some of this is personal preference. I like to keep my Roth IRA account statements, because even though I don't need them, I like to look at them and give myself a pat on the back for saving. My hunky hubster likes to keep his schoolwork and notes, because he is still in school and wants to be able to reference them if necessary.

On the other hand, some of this retention is "required" based on tax laws and audit periods. I put "required" in quotes because you aren't actually "required" to keep the paperwork, but the IRS, for example, can audit back a given number of years based on your situation. Listed below are periods of limitations for various tax situations. The period of limitations is the period in which you can amend your tax return or that the IRS can assess additional tax. (courtesy of the IRS).

1.     You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
2.     You do not report income that you should report, and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6 years.
3.     You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
4.     You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
5.     You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
6.     You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
7.     Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
Some other good information (courtesy of Good Housekeeping):

1.     Keep Investment Records as long as you own the securities, plus 7 years. You need them to prove capital gains and losses. .
2.     Keep Bank Statements one month, unless they are the only record for a tax-related expense. Otherwise, bank statements are only needed to check the accuracy of the charges.
3.     Keep Retirement Plan Statements for one year (tax purposes). The exception to this rule is that you should keep Roth IRA statements until you retire to prove you already paid tax on this income (Note from Barbara: Yay! I win by default :-).
4.     Shred credit card statements IMMEDIATELY after checking for accuracy (unless they are your only record for a tax related expense.) Credit card statements are prime source for identity theft.
5.     Keep pay stubs for one year until you receive your W-2.
6.     Keep bills for one year for tax purposes.
7.     Keep W-2's until you begin claiming social security. They are your best estimate of your earnings and entitlements.
Now there are many different interpretations for all of the above information. Unfortunately, there is no real hard and fast rule. Fortunately, many of these documents are available online these days.

Again, this is one of those systems that you will need to develop based on your personal situation. If you currently have a financial advisor, they might be a good source of information to develop a system that works for you.

Check with your bank. Most banks offer online banking and electronic statements. Your bank can also tell you how long you can access statements online. You may decide to download them and keep a copy. You may find it helpful to know how to access this information, whether you use it or not.

So, that in a nutshell is a starting point for record retention. Here is a snapshot of the system I use at my home:

1. Bank statements - I get these online and only retain them online. I also follow my bank account regularly online to ensure that all of the charges are correct.
2. Credit card statements - again - I get these online and only retain them online. I also follow my credit card regularly online to ensure that all charges are correct.
3. Roth IRA & Other Investments - These I keep forever, because I like to look at where I started and where I am. I am working on switching over to e-statements, and at that point, I will keep an electronic file.
4. Home Loan and Ownership Paperwork - I am currently keeping these forever. Definitely as long as we own the house. We currently sold a house, so I am in the process of figuring out what needs to be kept and what needs to be shredded.
5. Educational Records - Transcripts and diplomas go into the career catalog to be discussed on Wednesday (yes - I will keep to that schedule - career catalog is a much earier subject for me.) Schoolwork and notes go into record boxes and hanging files until my hunky husbster finishes school. At that point, certain coursework will be maintained in a more permanent file, but the general notes and homework will get purged.
6. Tax Records - Right now I am of the 7 year purge mentality. But 7 years ago, all I had was a job. Now I've got a job, a husband, a husband's job, school payments, house payments, investments, etc. I will probably reevaluate my system in a few years when those things start to fall into the chopping block.

So that is kind of a snapshot of how my system works. Again, everyone's system will be a little bit different, depending on your situation. Best advice I can give is talk to your financial advisor, if you've got one. Do a little research with your bank to see what they maintain. Think about what you have and how it affects your life.

Does that help? Or just make it worse? I think next week after the career catalog post, I am going to focus on life skills. Because that is what I need to develop :-) For instance, we are trying to learn to menu plan, with the ultimate goal of being one of those once a month cooks. It may be a while before we get to that point, but maybe at least once a week or once every two weeks (fingers crossed!).

You should see our home. We live in 599.92 square feet. Yes. Less than 600 square feet. I know because I measured, because I am trying to find a better furniture layout. So the house is a SHAMBLES! Which is why, next week - moving on up to life skills. I might even share some pictures of the shambles!

Anyone have any pointers on what works for them for managing the paperwork beast? I'd love to hear them!

:-) Have a great Monday! Barbara

Monday, February 7

Isn't she lovely?

I kept singing this as I looked at my fancy schmancy new(ish) antique sewing machine. :-) Yay! Here's a little before and after love:

I bought my machine in Virginia about 4 years ago. She was a little bit water damaged and rusty. We lived in harmony until I decided that I could no longer live with this:

greeting me as I come and go into the house. To be fair our original plan was to use this as a shoe rack/mud room of sorts. When you live your entire life in two (yes, two!) rooms, beggars can't be choosers.

So I pulled Sue the Sewer out of the corner where I had hidden her (since I had given her a few extra water marks) and went to work.

First, I used Centsational Girl's mayo trick to pull up most of the water marks. I smeared the mayo on the water rings and let it sit while I sanded the drawers.

I was seriously impressed by the difference that just adding the mayo made. Really. Check it out:
Granted - there is still some damage. But HUGE improvement.

After I wiped the mayo off, I sanded down the rest of my sewing machine. I thought about just giving her a coat of wax or poly but once I got into it, I realized that the finish was too damaged and so I went ahead and sanded down the rest of the finish.

I chose the Minwax Red Mahogany stain, because my antique window is also finished in Red Mahogany. I rub the stain on with a rag, and I recommend wearing gloves. I forgot. I also forgot mineral spirits. So today I went to work looking like I hadn't showered in years. Awesome.

Anyway, we are having a super duper rain storm here in Hawaii and the humidity is preventing the stain from completely drying. So I cheated and stopped here. I am going to see how the rest of the week turns out because I don't want to put the poly on while the humidity is so high. I also still plan brush off the base and spray gloss black on the base. But for now, I am so impressed with the change that I keep singing the Miss America song every time I look at Sue the Sewing machine.

How about you all? huge rainstorms? Snowstorms? Fun with no gloves for staining? Whoopsies! Thanks for stopping by!

PS. Did you know that you can look up the year of your sewing machine at the Singer website? You can look up your sewing machine's serial number and find out what year she was manufactured and where! Yay!

PPS. I am headed over to Thrifty Decor Chick's Before and After Party and the Funky Junk/Miss Mustard Seed Copy Me Challenge
Copy Me Challenge

Sunday, February 6

Mayo and Vinegar - Green Living

So I've been MIA for over a week now but I am trying to catch up!

Meet my new friends Mayo and Vinegar:

You might remember these guys from french fries, ham sandwiches, and deviled eggs. Or whatever recipe you've got.

But what you don't know is that mayo and vinegar can be some of your best friends for green living! Here are just a few things that I've used mayo and vinegar for THIS WEEKEND ALONE!
1) Mayo to remove water stains from my antique sewing machine (I learned this trick from Centsational Girl and her DIY: Salvaged Dresser post
2) Diluted vinegar to clean some windows - this is the first time I've done this and while I was skeptical because they took a LONG time to dry, once dry they looked great.
3) 1/8 cup of vinegar diluted in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener (this also cuts down the soap residue that can cause allergic reactions)
4) Diluted vinegar to disinfect and clean my kitchen sink
5) Vinegar (plus baking soda) run through the sink drain.

Other things I've heard of or used may and vinegar for in the past:
1) Mayo to remove stickers and sticker goo from furniture
2) Vinegar mixed with rubbing alcohol (half and half) to clean and dry ears after swimming
3) Vinegar to remove hard water stains (you can also soak your shower head and faucet with a diluted vinegar solution - this works especially well if your shower head is clogged and the flow is all off balance)
4) Mayo as a conditioner (really? um....)

Anyhoo, here is a link with more great uses for vinegar and another for a few uses for mayo

What about you? Any crazy uses for household items?

:-) Barbara
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