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We Cruised Through Hurricane Harvey…Others Weren’t as Lucky

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You may have noticed that I’m from Houston, Texas and haven’t posted for more than 2 weeks.  We are safe.  Heck, we were more than safe during Hurricane Harvey’s flooding because we were on a 7 day cruise that lasted 13 days. We Were Extremely Spoiled Hurricane Harvey Refugees Hurricane Harvey closed the port of Galveston, so the Carnival Freedom sailed around the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River to New Orleans a couple of times while we waited for it to be safe to go home.  The first time on Saturday, August 26, was a quick day trip.  The second time, August 29-30, was an overnight stay in that port.  So our Western Caribbean cruise turned into a Mississippi River Boat cruise to New Orleans for the second half.  😉   We had tons of food, lots of fun with Dive-In movies like La La Land and Guardians of the Galaxy 2, enjoyed a couple of hilarious comedians, and had all the regular cruise fun. Our Total Cruise Cost The total cost for our 13 day cruise ended up being less than $2000. $1500 for the 7 day cruise tickets, taxes, fees, and insurance (more than usual … Read more

Our Income Shell Game to Avoid Tax Drama

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Disclosure:  This is a personal story from my point of view.  Don’t mistake this for advice.  Ask a professional for tax advice.  I’m not a professional. In short, don’t be an asshole and blame me for anything.  😉 We DIDN’T Owe the IRS $67,000 If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that we went through a 2 year saga from 2014-2016 with the IRS to prove we DIDN’T owe them nearly $70,000.  To summarize – after some tears, shit tons of frustration, some sleepless nights, and a classically AWFUL experience with a tax lawyer, the IRS agreed with us.  Yep, cost the IRS some paper and stamps for automated scary letters.  Cost us unnecessary stress and $5600 of expenses between the money-hungry lawyer (somehow magically was able to use ALL but $112 of our $5000 retainer to literally file two sets of papers and take 2-3 phone calls) and our new, actually helpful, CPA. Our New System After that total bullshit, we started paying that CPA to file our taxes every year (CPA-filed taxes get picked on less).  We also pulled the trigger to set up both of our main businesses officially (Budgeting in the Fun Stuff and … Read more

6 Things Couples Can Do To Fix a ‘Broken’ Relationship

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It is common for couples to face problems in their relationship brought on by misunderstandings, a crisis or some other reason.  Ask yourself if you want to spend some time away from each other to rethink your relationship or simply give up. If you feel that your relationship deserves a second chance here are six things you can do to mend it and start afresh. Recall the Humour you Shared in the Past Remembering the good times you shared in the past is bound to release the tension between you and your partner. Have a frank discussion with your partner about the issues you are facing. Time and again, relationships hit a rough patch due to a lack of adequate communication. Have Faith Anguish with the state of affairs at hand does not in any way indicate that you or your partner is a flawed or intolerable person. Even if the current problem is undermining your relationship it does not mean that your partner is unworthy of your basic respect or affection. Spot and then strengthen the strong aspects in your relationship. If you are unable to identify them by yourself why not ask a proficient observer (it could be … Read more

10 Budget-Friendly Moving Tips

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Today’s post is from writer and commenter here on BFS, Kate (Mrs. COD).  Thanks to slaying her debt demons, she’s now able to stay at home raising her two rambunctious little boys. Kate blogs about lifelong habit changes and “finangelism” at Changing Our Default, which she started early in 2016. Hi, BFS readers! Since my family and I recently moved from Illinois to Kentucky for my husband to pursue his university teaching career, I’ve got several great tips for moving on a budget. Here’s what we learned during the moving process about keeping the budget in line! Research Before even deciding to move anywhere, do some research! Check out the new town or area online or in person. Learn about its faults as well as its attractive features. For example, if your prospective job there will pay more, but the location also brings a hefty cost-of-living increase, you might want to think twice about it. For us, the housing prices in our new city were MUCH more reasonable than where we previously lived. Ask About Relocation Funding If doing on-location job interviews, be sure to ask about travel or relocation funding. Some employers reimburse travel expenses (hotel, gas, flight, etc.), … Read more

I’m Having a Good Week!

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This has been an amazing week here in Crystal-land! 😉 Here, let me list the ways in which life is being awesome since I feel like I haven’t truly been able to share great news for a while without it being tinted with super crap. I’m Losing Weight! My weight loss and strength training is chugging along really well. I’m down 10-11 pounds since mid-June.  I started at 177-178 pounds and was at 167 by last weekend. I joined a few more Dietbets, and am even hosting a $10 one, so I’ll be motivated to continue losing weight even during our upcoming cruise. I won about $60 total from the 4 last month, so my “meh” feelings got pushed aside by the holy-hell-this-is-working feelings. Cruise Time Again! About a week ago, we booked another 7 day cruise that leaves at the end of the month. I booked us for another Chef’s Table experience onboard too. I’ll be taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible and eating lots of small meals instead of pure binging. That combined with some swimming and walking-the-track time should equal fewer pounds packed on during that week. But gorging on food or not, we … Read more

I’m Hosting a $10 Dietbet – Starts August 1!

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UPDATE July 31:  JUMP ONTO THIS WEIGHT LOSS TRAIN NOW TO GRAB A PIECE OF THE FUN!!!  You can join in late though it gives you less time to lose the 4%… I know, I know.  I won a whopping $12 on my first Dietbet and wasn’t extremely impressed.  But, my annoyance with the small payout actually motivated me to refuse to lose my other 3 Dietbets.  That meant I stayed on track last weekend even though truly wanted to take a break from calorie-counting, and I won $46 on the 3 Kickstarters.  Soooo…I guess I am indeed money-motivated. I also have been mentioning my Dietbets to a few friends, and they wanted in on the action too. My neighbor friend and strength-training buddy, Debbie, wanted to try it out with a $10 bet.  I didn’t see any of those starting soon, so I decided to host one myself. You don’t receive any kickbacks for hosting small games, but that just means we all have to win so Dietbet gets nothing too.  😉  We can motivate each other to stick to our respective diet and workout plans.  And $10 is cheaper than a month of many other weight loss programs. … Read more

How to Start Saving For Your Future Today

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There are plenty of problems that you can run into when attempting to save money for your future. When you put money aside, it seems like it is only a matter of time before some disaster comes along that requires your attention and finances. While this seems to be how it goes in life, there are some easy ways that you can go about the process of trying to save. If you are wise about how you put money aside, you might be able to completely transform your future for the best. To get started, you might want to explore some simple and efficient tips on how to make your personal financial journey into one that is a bit more enjoyable. Look over these words of wisdom and see which bits of advice can help you the most along your way. Discovering New Plans Routine can be a powerful force. The more that you have been stuck in the same motions, the easier it will be to forget what it is that you are doing. For example, you could be spending way more than you need to on your insurance plan. Unfortunately, when you pay the same amount each month, … Read more