Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

In honor of Ben Franklin who focused on one virtue a month each year (plus humility, which he worked on all year round on the advice of a detractor),  I’m working on one  life principle each week from Sunday to Saturday.  Will you join me?

This month we’ve been focusing on counting pennies, which is definitely rewarding.  But there is another currency we should be counting.  And it is even more rewarding.

Counting miracles is a way to demonstrate, first of all, that we expect them.  You don’t set about to count something that you         don’t ever expect to encounter.  But also, it’s a way to look back on a day and focus on the good parts of it.

So this week’s life principle is to keep a journal by your bed or under your pillow.  Right before you nod off, list the date and the day’s miracles.  Here’s where you will experience another reward of miracle counting:  you’ll be going to sleep with the best of the day on your mind – a recipe for sweet dreams.

At the end of the month, or whenever you need a pick-me-up, flip back through the pages.  You will be continually amazed at the number of little moments of joy you experience.  On even the most ordinary day.

Tip:  Ask the kids for a moleskin journal.  The big bookstores all have them.  They are soft little books worthy of keeping your miracles.  Each year start a new book.  Save your books in a place where you keep treasured family souvenirs.  Your children, whose names will surely be part of their contents, will cherish them long after you are gone.

What’s a miracle?  We probably won’t be doing much counting if we limit our miracles to those happenings that involve claps of thunder, bolts of lightning, and common objects transforming into nuggets of gold.  But, if you are an adult who drives and has a tendency to leave a few minutes later than you should, and you score a parking place just outside the building in which you have an appointment that took six weeks to book, you know right off the bat.  That is a miracle.

Some of my favorite miracles – that occur just enough times to maintain their miracle status, after all if they happened all the time, they would not be miracles, would they? – include:

  • Finally remembering a person’s name right at the second you are forced to use it for the first time at a party
  • The dog being able to “hold it” even though I’m home an hour late
  • Finding a little piece of pumpkin pie in the frig after all the kids are packed and gone
  • The test that came back negative

Sold the unused treadmill in a week?  Finally cleaned out the hall closet?  Your teen offered to do the dishes?  Smiled when you wanted to strangle?  Miracles, all!

But, who’s keeping track?  That would be you.

Week 8:  Tally your miracles

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Actually, you should do this every few months, but absolutely, positively, toward the end of each year.

1.  Do a quick estimate of this year’s federal income tax.

2.  Consulting your most recent paycheck, compare the estimate you did to the total federal income tax you have had withheld to date.

3.  Ask your human resources department for or download an online Form W-4.  You will use this easy-to-complete form to adjust the number of allowances you  are claiming.

The more allowances you claim on your Form W-4, the less tax is withheld from your paycheck.  You can claim any number of allowances you wish, but I don’t recommend more than nine (doesn’t change much above that).  And you can change your Form W-4 any time you wish.

4.  Over-withheld? Raise the number of allowances you are currently claiming.

5.  Under-withheld?  Lower the number of your allowances.

This is one of those “yin and yang” things.  Do not use the IRS as a savings account.  But be conservative.  You don’t want to end up paying penalties or interest.

As Tim Gunn would say, “Make it work.”

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You can use Price Protectr two different ways to save money.  When you are contemplating a purchase, you can use the site to track prices.  But, and this is where it gets really cool! – you can also save money after you make your purchase.

Lots of stores offer price protection policies.  When the price drops on an item you’ve purchased, these stores will refund the difference between the lower price and your purchase price.  But there’s a catch.  It’s up to you to track the price change.

Price Protectr tracks price changes for you.  It alerts you that prices have dropped so you can request rebates on your purchase from over 160 of your favorite stores.

Who’s watching your back?  Price Protectr.  And your mom, of course.

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What’s ahead for you?  New baby going to take you from two paychecks to one?  Starting a new business?  Moving into a new house with a big monthly payment?  Retiring in a year or so? Big changes all.

Your plan is all in your LIFE LAYOUT, but it’s going to take a tight budget.  You’re convinced it’s doable.

Want to be sure?  Start living on the new budget now.  Yes.  Now.

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Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
Image via Wikipedia

In honor of Ben Franklin who focused on one virtue a month each year (plus humility, which he worked on all year round on the advice of a detractor),  I’m working on one  life principle each week from Sunday to Saturday.  Will you join me?

Yes, you’ve seen this one before.  In fact, it was the very first life principle we worked on a couple of months ago.  But with the Thanksgiving holidays coming up, I thought we should re-visit the whole “laugh, kiss, hug, and praise” thing.

It’s only four days and they’re not getting any younger you know…

Week 1:  Laugh, kiss, hug, and praise

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This is a trick I learned many years ago when I was on a young housewife on a very tight budget.  At that time my “discretionary” amount for miscellaneous expenses was $50 a month.

I reserved half, or $25, for unexpected expenses.  And in some lucky months that $25 was carried over to create a mini-savings account, or “crisis cash” as I called it then.  I did say it was a long time ago.  Now my crises seem to come in $200 packages!

I would cash the remaining $25, and when something I routinely purchased went on sale, I would buy $25 worth of it.  Shades of what Nadia taught us in her guest blog Slash Your Grocery Bill (No Coupons Needed!).   Always buy what you’re going to end up buying anyway at a discount.  (An added bonus:  you never run out of deodorant or toothpaste.)

Nowadays I don’t carry my “miscellaneous” amount in cash, and I don’t generally follow the ads as I did in those days, but if I see my favorite brand of hand lotion in Walgreen’s or Target, I know I’ve allotted space in the budget to buy $50 worth (or up to the allowed limit).  So I stock up.

So my miscellaneous budget item has mushroomed from $25 – 100 from 1979 to 2009.   What else is new?!

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