The simplicity of uniforms

Department stores and clothing stores rely on the female shopper. We girls/ladies/women are supposed to be into shopping for our clothes and all the accessories to accompany the outfit.  And think how gracious fashion designers are with the multitude of colors used.  Then, of course, we need to spend more money to find shoes, a purse and other accessories to accentuate the outfit.

I, The Money Heifer, am  in the minority.  I detest spending time trying to find all the right combinations of colors to go with a pair of pants or a skirt, or jacket.  I look at my closets in frustration that I have, for instance, a pair of slacks, but not a shirt or blouse that quite accentuates the slacks.

During these periods of frustrations, I long to wear a uniform.  I wore a uniform while attending both Catholic grade school and Catholic high school.  In first grade through about fifth grade, I wore a jumper.  From sixth grade onward I wore a skirt (and later allowed to wear pants for the winter months).  I had to wear a certain blouse, sweater, shoes and socks.  Life was simple.  I knew what to wear each day.

When I arrived at college I didn’t have a lot of clothes because, hey, I wore uniforms.  To disguise the fact that I didn’t have many clothes and further so it wasn’t obvious that I was wearing the same clothes each week, I wrote down what I wore (and made sure I varied the articles of clothing).  Unfortunately I had one rather bright yellow sweater.  No matter how I tried to vary what I wore with the bright yellow sweater, my fellow classmates were too familiar with the bright yellow sweater.

Joining the military (USAF) I returned to wearing a uniform.  What a relief!  I had two uniforms.  And, life was simple.  No time spent trying to determine what to wear for the week.  No concern about did this pair of shoes match this outfit, what about the purse, can I wear this blouse, etc.

I know many girls/ladies/women are more concern about expressing their individuality with their clothing.  I am at times too.  But, nothing compares to the simplicity of uniforms.  And, I don’t spend as much money on clothing when my job requires me to wear a uniform.





On May 24, 2012 I wrote a post entitled “Learn from my mistake:Don’t Pre Pay Balance of a Medical Bill.”  I wrote a follow-up post that same day.

Today I received a check in the mail from Providence Hospital in the amount of $215.34, the amount the hospital owed me since the hospital failed to credit my pre-payment.

What’s funny is last week I received a 2nd notice from the hospital informing me that I owe $212.55. I had planned to write to the hospital that I don’t owe it, but it owes me.

Not sure if it was the Better Business Bureau, my credit card company or the Attorney General for the District of Columbia or a combination of all three, but I now have my refund.

Look forward to depositing check with my credit union tomorrow 🙂

Power Outage

This past Friday evening, within 5 minutes of the start of a powerful thunderstorm, I lost power. Yup, that sucked.

The following morning, with power still out, I removed some items from the freezer and took them to my mother’s house.

Power wasn’t restored until 1:00 pm Saturday afternoon (from what I was told).

Then you know what comes next: tossing out food. Luckily my refrigerator wasn’t packed with food. But still that’s money down the drain.

An this time of year, it’s always dicey – how much or how little to store in the refrigerator? I say – as little as possible.

This morning $3.29 per gallon, this evening. . .

$3.27! With stagnant wages and increases in other consumer necessities such as food, the only relief is the declining price of gasoline.

Let’s hope it continues.

$3.29 per gallon!!

How low can you go?

Monday & Tuesday = $3.33 per gallon.

Wednesday & Thursday = $3.31 per gallon.

Today’s price drop brings a smile to my face.

Let the slide continue.

What one never wants to receive: a notice from the IRS

About April 26th or so I received a notice from the IRS.  The notice concerned my 2010 Form 1040.  The notice states I owe $6,548.

I  knew almost instantly why I received the notice.  As I read through the 12 page notice, my suspicions were confirmed on page 7.  The IRS noted I withdrew $14,375 from a retirement account in 2010 and failed to claim this gross income on my Form 1040.

So why wasn’t I surprise?  Because I specifically informed my tax preparer about this withdraw and had included all of the paperwork I received from Vanguard.  What did my tax preparer tell me?  You don’t need to include this income on your tax return.

To provide more background information, I withdrew $14,375 from my Roth IRA in 2010.  In speaking with the Vanguard representative I was careful about what I was withdrawing (earnings, not contributions).  During my extended conversation with the Vanguard representative I was cautioned to make sure I file Tax Form 8606.

In early 2011 among the tax related records I received was a 2010 Form 1099-R from Vanguard stating there was  a gross distribution of $14,375 from my Roth IRA account.  As you can probably guess I, The Money Heifer, am very meticulous.  Each year I prepare a binder with all my tax related documents for the tax preparer.  I make things easy for him, for instance, by listing all my charitable contributions on an Excel spreadsheet and printing out reports from my Quicken Rental Property Management software.  I have also developed the habit of including a letter to my tax preparer at the beginning of the binder noting any changes  or bringing specific matters to his attention.  With regard to my Roth IRA Distribution I wrote

$14,375 w/drawn of contributions I made over the years.  These contributions were made more than 5 years ago.  Funds received were strictly my contributions, no earnings.  The distribution is tax free & penalty free.

I did not mention Form 8606 because, hey, he’s the tax preparer and has been doing this for years.

When the tax preparer completed my 2010 Form 1040, he told me did not include the $14,375 distribution from my Roth IRA.  I asked why.  He said from what he reviewed there was no need to declare this income.  I responded, are you sure?  He said yes.  I then mentioned the Vanguard representative was insistent that I file the appropriate tax form regarding this distribution.  My tax preparer again stated I was not required to list this income.

So you can imagine how steamed I was when I received the notice from the IRS.

Of course I promptly called my tax preparer.  I subsequently hand-delivered a copy of the notice to him.  BTW, I had to respond to the IRS by May 23, 2012.

In a follow-up conversation my tax preparer, he asked me to bring certain additional paperwork for his review.  I complied.  He then prepared a response.  When I stopped by his home to review the response, my tax preparer commented, maybe the Roth IRA distribution should have been disclosed (hmm, a johnny come lately).

On April 28, 2012, by certified mail/return receipt requested, I sent my response with accompanying paperwork to the IRS.

On June 1, 2012 I received correspondence from the IRS acknowledging receipt of my response on April 30, 2012.  The first full paragraph of the IRS correspondence states,

We will contact you again within 60 days to let you know what action we are taking.  You don’t need to send us anything further or take any other action now on this matter.

Yesterday I received the following correspondence from the IRS.

Your 2010 Form 1040 inquiry is closed.  Amount due:  $0.00

Thank you for your response to the notice we sent to you about your 2010 (Form 1040) taxes.  We’re pleased to tell you that the information you provided resolved the tax issue in question and that our inquiry is now closed.

A happy ending, indeed.  But all of this could have been avoided if my tax preparer had listened to me.

So now I assessing whether to continue with this tax preparer.  The previous year he made a mathematically error [who doesn’t occasionally].  My federal refund was $1,000 less than he had calculated.  Okay, that’s not a big deal.

My tax preparer has remarked on a few occasions that I am so organized that I really didn’t need to have him do my taxes.  Over 10 years ago when I owed money to Uncle Sam, this tax preparer saved me $200.  I was pleased.  I didn’t need his services again until tax year 2005, when I began to rent my condo.  This tax preparer has handled by taxes ever since then.  The idea of reading the instructions about depreciation or repair versus replacement really turns me off.  But, I think it’s time for The Money Heifer to prepare her own taxes.  Plus, I’ll be saving $165/year.

Time for The Money Heifer to buy new shoes

This qualifies as a necessity!


An appreciation for nonprofits

Earlier this year I was invited to join the Board of a community-focused 501(c)(3)  nonprofit organization.  I accepted.  So far, a pleasant experience.

I’ve spent some time over the past week and a half seeking sponsors for the nonprofit’s upcoming event in September.  Soliciting donations during this Great Recession – yikes!  So far, I’m 0 for 2.  For one local grocery store our activity does not “match” the store’s mission.  As for the other possibility, I spoke with the owner of an independent hardware store yesterday. Although he would love to be a sponsor, he told me business has been slow and his concern is making payroll (now, that’s reality).

Today and this evening I have contacted four other local businesses and nonprofits [yes, a nonprofit soliciting a nonprofit].  I hope one to two will agree to be sponsors.

The government (at every level) talks about things being tough.  For profit business whine about things being tough.   You want to know what’s truly tough: the non-profit world.

If you have some spare change, please give to a worthy nonprofit.  These organizations work hard to provide a service.

Why student loans are no longer “good debt”

The three paragraphs quoted below are from the April 18, 2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal. The article is entitled To Pay Off Loans, Grads Put Off Marriage

“Between the ages of 18 and 22, Jodi Romine took out $74,000 in student loans to help finance her business management degree at Kent State University in Ohio. What seemed like a good investment will  delay her career, her marriage and decision to have children.

Ms. Romine’s $900-a-month loan payments eat up 60% of the paycheck she earns as a bank teller in Beaufort, SC, the best job she could get after graduating in 2008. Her fiance Dean Hawkins, 31, spends 40% of his paycheck on student loans. They each work  more  than 60 hours a week. . . .

They can’t buy a house, visit their families in Ohio as often as they would like or spend money on dates. Plans to marry or have children are on hold, says Ms. Romine.”

Need The Money Heifer Say More?

Storage Wars

Have you watched Storage Wars on A&E?  There is a regular cast of characters: Dave (Yuuuup), Barry, Darryl, Brandi & Jared looking to buy low and hopefully find “diamonds” in storage lockers that have been abandoned.  My brother-in-law got my mother hooked on the show and I have to admit I have seen more than a handful of episodes.

But have you ever wonder – what about those people who “abandoned” [lost] their storage lockers?  I wonder if someone has ever watched a show and realized Dave, Barry, Darryl, or Brandi & Jared was pilfering through his/her abandoned storage locker.  What emotions does that person experience: anger, embarrassment, resentment?

Here’s my advice:  first don’t get a storage locker (what a waste of money – unless the military or some other employer pays for your items in storage while you are out fo the country).  If times are tough (yeah, like right now) sell your stuff rather than but it in storage, lose it and watch someone else make negative comments about the contents of your locker or watch someone find that “diamond in the rough” and make money off of your abandoned stuff.

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