Saturday, January 30, 2010
1. $1,000 child tax credit (per child). this is my fav. benefit because it is a CREDIT not just a deduction. so if you owe $5,000 in taxes this year, this reduces your bill to $4,000. sweet! plus the AGI limit is $110,000 so most people qualify.
2. $3,650 personal exemption (per child). this helps reduce taxable income, but is not as nice as the child tax credit because it is a deduction. if you are in the 15% tax bracket, this saves $3,650*.15 = $548 back in your pocket . not too shabby!
3. 20-35% of $3,000 (per child) childcare tax credit. if you paid for childcare in 2009, part of it will likely come back in your pocket (making the financial burden of childcare a lil' more bearable). the income brackets are pretty tight for this with AGI>$43,000 only receiving 20%. so if you paid the maximum $3,000*.20 = $600 back in your pocket. obama is looking at widening the range for parents getting the 35% credit to $83,000. right low the maximum AGI for that bracket is $15,000, and i have a hard time believing there are many people out there with joint income < $15,000 who pay $3,000 in childcare costs every year.
4. $3,043 earned income credit. if you are in lower tax brackets, this can be a huge credit, but the AGI for mfj is around $40,000 so most working couples do not qualify. i'm not sure exactly how the calculator for this credit works, but turbo tax or taxact crunches the numbers and yields $0-$3,043 of money back to you.
in total, a baby will likely yield $1,500-$5,000 cash when you file taxes. definitely not a reason to have a baby, but a sweet chunk of change for helping raise a lil' one :).
another way to lower state income taxes is by opening up a qualified 529 college savings plan for your child. for parker, we opened up an account called "The Gift Plan." it has the lowest annual fee of the accounts i researched (i.e. versus Arvest or Fidelity 529 plans) and it is sold directly from the state, which is why contributions are deductible up to $10,000 for married filing joint. also, if your AGI < $60,000, you can apply for a matching grant of up to $500. (i'm not sure how hard it is to get accepted).
if you live outside arkansas, i recommend this article that recommends the best 529 plans by state: http://www.kiplinger.com/features/archives/2009/06/best-529-plans.html (i know there are a lot of readers from oklahoma and kiplinger recommends the Oklahoma College Savings Plan that is sponsored by the state. and for all you texans out there, texas does not have state income tax so you should just pick one of the top performing funds that is not state sponsored. Kansas--you can invest in any state's 529 plan and still deduct it from state income taxes)
well that's plenty of numbers for one day. we have been snowed in for two days and have nothing better to do :). love you all and hopefully happy tax time for all new parents out there!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
for our first experience, we made:
*sweet potatoes (his absolute fav!)
*pears (liked as well)
*avocado (eh, so so)
*carrots (not really a fan. i mixed them with cereal and formula and he liked them much better)
*mango (not so hot either)
*(bananas...i usually just mash up part of a banana every morning when i eat one. he LOVES bananas)
the website http://wholesomebabyfood.com/ has some really good starter recipes. james just happened to have a few friends over, so i organized them into a baby food making assembly line. here is mark peeling and chopping the fruits and veggies:
it was really funny peeling the mango, pears, etc. b/c these are all foods that we do not enjoy (but parks is going to like them! i am determined :)). and here is a pic of my husband who was not so thrilled about making baby food, but obligingly smoothed the purees with our mini food processor:
they didn't have icecube trays at the neighborhood market by our house so i bought little 3oz cups instead and they work perfectly! and this entry wouldn't be complete without a picture of our love bug eating his appetizer puffs in his high chair!
love! if you haven't tried making baby food, i highly suggest having fun with it!!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
1. lose 10 lbs (i'm 10 lbs. heavier then when we got married 2 years ago). actually there are days when i care, and other days when i tell myself there are more important things in life. however, i'm afraid that if i shrug off 10 lbs. then i might gain more, and i do have a lil' bit of a belly that would be nice to flatten before summer & pool season. then again, i'm probably going to get pregnant again soon so i go back and forth. if i replaced my daily dr. pepper with skim milk, i could probably lose 10 lbs, but d.p. is a highlight of my day and i don't know if it's worth giving up.
2. go to the gym more. if i go during my lunch break 2-3 days a week, that's a good start. then maybe once during the weekend and voila. james is doing p90x at home and i might do a few of the workouts with him after parker goes to bed. i love biggest loser and am going to try to do jumping jacks, crunches, pushups, etc. during the commercials instead of fast forwarding them. every little bit helps!
3. do more romantic things & acts of service for james. maybe clean & cook more often, too (maybe).
4. get to know my neighbors more. actually went to 2 neighbors homes last week so i'm off to a good start!
5. plan ahead for friends' birthdays, showers, etc.
6. make more baby food. not only does it save money, but homemade food has many nutritional benefits.
7. save more money. i might write a post about this soon, but i plan on putting more $ toward our house, upcoming car fund & parker's college fund.
what's not on the list:
*blog more (i love blogging, but there is just not enough time working full time and being a wife, parent, daughter, sister and friend)
*go out more
*take more road trips. we'll road trip for family but other than that i am all about getting to know the people who live close (fayetteville is often further than i want to drive).
*start a home-based business, j/k. actually, i plan on calling out on my blog anyone that asks me if want to "make a little extra money from home" or "have a mary kay facial." this year 10-15 peoplecome to mind--let's hope that number goes down in 2010.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
hope everyone is having a great weekend! love yall!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
reasons why date night is overrated (for us):
1. we are extremely
2. neither of our families are within 4 hours. see number 1. (our families are very willing to watch parker when they come to visit and we are thankful).
3. it is exhausting to prep parker for time at someone else's house...pack his diaper bag, explain feeding & sleeping schedules, bring a pack & play, etc.
4. it is hard not to think about parker and wonder how he is doing while we are out. actually i don't really worry about him that much, but knowing he is sweetly sleeping at our house brings a feeling of peace.
5. it is easier to keep parker's routine consistent when we are watching him.
6. parker goes to bed around 7:30 or 8:00 every night and that leaves 2+ hrs of quality time every night.
7. we try to make a point to turn off the tv and computers after parker goes to bed (at least for a little while) to spend time together. the other night james lit a bunch of candles in our room and gave me an awesome massage, and i loved that (free) night much more than an expensive night on the town.
8. i have to dress up for work every day. when i come home, i just want to put on sweats and relax.
anyway, here are a couple fun dates we've gone on in the last few months...
razorback football game! my mom was in town, my neighbor gave us tickets for $1 and my sis and bro-in-law to be came along! go hogs!
my birthday! we had a coupon for ruth chris' and enjoyed the treat! (the place was packed on a thursday night...do people really frequent this place in this recession? i couldn't believe it! must be expensable or something)delish!we might have to make this an annual event!out to eat after james' fire school graduation. his parents took us and parker!and then i dyed my hair brown, ha. david and sarah's wedding! great food and open bar, whattttt? so much fun!work christmas party. free food and drinks again!razorback basketball game. went with james' friend who had free tickets (and sat in j.b. hunt's wife's box! free drinks again!)hope everyone has a lovely night!!! the high tomorrow is 8 degrees here, eek! windchill -20 thursday. definitely not taking parker to a babysitter's house in this weather! :) love yall.
p.s. GO JAYHAWKS!!!! way to sneak one out tonight--you had me worried!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
today you turned 9 months old! wow your first year is almost over! i am not ready for you to be a toddler. i still browse the newborn aisles of every retail stores just to look at all of the infant items even though you are too big for them. guess we'll just have to have another baby sometime soon :) (no we are not trying...very much still have an iud).