<span>Monthly Archives</span><h1>March 2020</h1>

    Quick House cleaning

    March 18, 2020

    Some tips. First thing in the morning when my baby is eating her breakfast,
    I unload the DW. Then it is ready for me to load up during the day. Nothing
    sits in the sink. And every evening right before bed, if the DW is full– it
    gets turned on. If not, it waits one more day. Then I sweep the floor after
    baby has gone to bed and I am settling down to rest!

    Also, when I get the mail, I open and sort it right away. Bills go in the bill drawer (that I take care of at the end of the month – 24th or 25th and I pay for the whole month). Magazines get put in a pile to go into the L.R. or Bedroom for browsing. Junk mail and envelopes from bills get filed in the
    trash. Why save them for another time. I might as well make it one clean sweep!

    Ugh–it’s so true! I might try this one by making a 15-minute playlist for
    the iPod and filling it with fun songs. Hopefully this will keep it fun and
    brief–so I’ll actually get that initial cleaning done.

    Too often I start a “quick” cleaning and end it a few hours later. These cleaning jags make it seem like if I wipe down the kitchen counter now, who
    knows where I’ll stop. The toilets? The floors?

    I really like your idea of setting limits. We’ll see how it goes!

    I’m a therapist and have been “assigning” this to my clients for years. It makes a huge difference in many of my clients’ lives.

    When I go to wash my hands I run my wet hands over the surfaces of the sink. Then I wash my hands. I dry my hands with a hand towel and then use the hand towel to dry the sufaces of the sink.


    Checkwriting with Vanguard Money Market Funds

    March 12, 2020

    My fiancee and I have some money in a Vanguard mutual fund account that we’ve earmarked for future use (some of it is for a wedding, but mostly it’s for a rainy day) and one feature I like about the account is that it has free checkwriting. This isn’t anything special, many brokerages offer this feature, but it does require that you keep the some money in a bond or money market asset. You can’t write a check and have it auto-debited from a regular mutual fund account.

    To set this up, you have to first select a money market account to give checkwriting privileges to. I took a quick look at the money market funds offered, there are four taxable money market funds and six tax-exempt money market funds (plus close to two dozen bond funds of both taxable and tax-exempt types), and at first couldn’t really see much of a discernible difference among them.

    The only obvious difference is that the returns on the taxable money market funds are higher than the returns on the tax-exempt money market funds, which makes a little bit of sense because they’ll be much closer after taxes are concerned. The one year average of the four taxable funds ranged from 4.88% to 5.22% compared to 3.50% to 3.6% for the tax-exempt funds. When you consider the underlying construction of money market funds are that they invest in short term market instruments like CDs, commercial paper, bank notes, etc; the differences between one money market fund and another will just be in the level of risk it accepts.

    Either way, I think I’m just going to pick Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund (VMMXX) because it has the highest return. All of the taxable fund expense ratios are 0.29% and the minimums are all $3k with the exception of the Admiral Treasury Money Market fund. It has an expense ratio of 0.13% but a minimum of $50k.

    If they offered a Maryland Tax-Exempt money market fund, I probably would’ve chose that one but they don’t. They only offer California, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The beauty of those funds are that they are tax-exempt in those states plus federal income taxes. If you live outside of those states, you would only be shielded against federal income taxes.

    After you pick a fund and add some money to it, setting up the checkwriting is a cinch. Simply go to your Account Profile and click on Checkwriting underneath Manage my accounts. They will ask to confirm that you want to establish Checkwriting. Click Yes and a separate PDF will open up containing a form you must fill out and mail in (because it contains signatures maybe? I don’t understand why it can’t be faxed).

    Just some quick rules about the checkwriting, the check must be greater than $250 and Vanguard doesn’t withhold any taxes, even though it’s considered a distribution. It’ll be reported on a 1099-R. By setting up this checkwriting, we can avoid the need to transfer money from Vanguard to our Bank of America account before writing a check – thus saving ourselves a 3-4 day wait. Checkwriting is awesome!


    Can You Cut Back on Any of These Expenses?

    March 6, 2020

    Cable TV. Most of us spend too much money on our cable service. Either cancel some (or all) of your premium channels such as HBO, STARZ or SHOTIME or better yet, cancel cable TV all together. The most expensive Netflix plan only costs $16.99 a month (this allows you to have 3 DVDs out at one time and free streaming to your TV). You have to buy a device (one time $99 fee) to get the streaming videos but it will most likely still save you money. Or you can watch them on your Mac or PC. Better yet, most TV programs are online.

    Almost all major networks have entire episodes online. These are completely free with less advertising! If you live close to a video store, such as Blockbuster, ask them what deals they have. They also will send you DVDs for free, $17.99 for 3 movies out at once, plus you can exchange them in-store. They also have an on demand player, just like Netflix.Hint: Feel like you can’t live without your on demand? Make a list of the shows you regularly watch and see if you can find them online for free. Try all the major network websites and do a Google search for your favorite shows. If you can find them all then you have nothing to worry about: search Netflix and/or Blockbuster to rent DVDs of your favorite shows.

    Phone service. Does anyone really need a landline anymore? If you have a cell phone, this is something you can most likely cancel without ever noticing it’s gone. Cut back on your cell phone extras like texting and internet. You can always go pre-paid.

    Internet. Do you use your computer mostly at home or at work? If you answered work then maybe you don’t need a super high speed internet connection. Try switching back to DSL and saving money.

    Memberships. How many memberships do you have? Gym? Dating service? Costco? How many of these do you actually use? If you’re not using one, cancel it. Simple.

    Food. Bringing your lunch to work can save you a lot of money. When I switched to bringing my lunch I saved an average of $6 a day. That’s $30 a week and $1560 a year! Eat at home more and you’ll save a lot of money, and, most likely, eat healthier too.

    Coffee. Sorry, Starbucks but you are definitely on the CUT list. There is no reason to spend $4 on a coffee that you can make at home for 20 cents. Sure, that white chocolate mocha is a nice treat every once in a while but make sure it’s only once in a while. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save on just cutting out coffee!

    Beauty treatments. Hopefully you are not living in the ‘80s and going to a tanning salon. Besides the chance of getting skin cancer it adds up. You can get the same effect (and much safer too) by buying a $6 bottle of self tanner at the drugstore. Love getting your nails done? Buy a bottle of good nail polish (like OPI) and do it yourself or take turns giving and receiving manicures with a friend.

    Books. Cut back on your Amazon spending and hit up your local library instead. Most libraries allow you to browse their selection online and place your order that way. All you have to do is pick up the books and drop them back off. If you read a lot this can translate into mega savings. You can also read DVDs at the library for free.

    Trade what you don’t want for what you do. All of us have stuff we no longer use, now you can use the internet to trade them for what you want. Even if you do have to pay for shipping it’s still way cheaper then paying for new books or CDs.

    Cut coupons. You will be surprised at how much money you can save by taking a few minutes each week to clip coupons. When you shop be careful of buying too many perishables. Don’t let anything go to waste. You can also use Diskonio.com and craigslist for free or cheap things.

    Clothes. If you really need something new search online for sales before you shop and don’t impulse buy. You can find unique pieces at local thrift stores. Or, have a clothes swap party with your friends.