Category Archives: Life Skills

Essential life skills and useful information.

How to Sell Your Car

Due to our recent move, I have sold two cars in the last 3 months.  Both cars were sold private party (not to a used car dealership or reseller), and as luck would have it, to women.  Sell Car

I was in a bit of a time crunch for both cars, and probably could have held out for a bit more money, but both cars were sold to good families and everybody was satisfied with the transaction.  In fact, both women buyers gave me a HUG and thanked me after buying my car(s).

Selling a car to private individuals is a very different process than car trade in to a car dealership or used car lot.  Here are a few tips and recommendations to get the best deal when you sell your car, and to make this as easy and quick as possible! Continue reading How to Sell Your Car

How to Get a Driver’s License in Puerto Rico, 4 Easy and Quick Steps

Getting a driver’s license is pretty easy, right? (Many years ago) In Phoenix, Arizona I read the driver’s booklet, passed my written test, then demonstrated basic driving skills for the practical exam.  I have been a licensed driver ever since.

2016_PR Drivers LicenseSo, why would I be nervous or hesitant to become a licensed driver in Puerto Rico?  All the paperwork and instructions are in Spanish (which I barely read, and am learning to speak).  Driving in Puerto Rico can be a challenge.  And multiple trusted people and websites told me how difficult it is to get a driver’s license in Puerto Rico.

THEY WERE WRONG!

It was easy and quick to get a Puerto Rican Driver’s License (for licensed US Citizen). Continue reading How to Get a Driver’s License in Puerto Rico, 4 Easy and Quick Steps

Tale of Mommy Hibernation

You’re Pregnant?  Congratulations!  I’ll call you in 15 years.

Many of my friends went into Mommy Hibernation when the first Baby was born.  This is the reality that your entire life is now focused on feeding schedules, naptime, and poop.  This phase can last a few years, or in rare cases it can be permanent going from helicopter Mommy to helicopter Granny.Baby feet

2015-12-24 16.49.42At first, it was really emotionally hard to lose my friends.  I did not realize it was a hibernation, I thought it was permanent!  I tried to stay connected, making the effort.  I endured horrific Baby showers, Smash cake for 1 year olds, and overall lack of topics for conversation.  I tried to look interested in the latest diaper genie and poop disposal systems, but it was obviously not a topic that I could contribute to.  I enjoyed shopping for pretty dresses and cute tee shirts, but it is hard to feel engaged over a few outfits.  Every time I was shown Baby pictures, I eagerly whipped out cute photos of my Dog, apparently it is not the same. Continue reading Tale of Mommy Hibernation

Choosing a Gym Membership that is a Good Fit for You

 

9-tips-and-strategies-for-choosing-the-right-gym-membership-for-you

Cost, commitment, location, and options that fit within your budget are just some of the factors that should be considered when choosing the right Gym Membership for you.  Here are 9 criteria for you to consider.

  1. Let’s start with the Monthly Price – Unlimited or pay by session? Many gyms do not advertise their rates deliberately, so this may be the LAST piece of information provided about a specific gym.  They want you to come in and speak to them, and many go into high pressure sales.  Look for free day pass offers and do not feel pressure to sign-up that day.  Negotiate to reduce or eliminate one-time sign-up fees (I have never paid for the privilege to join a gym, above the monthly fees).
  2. Location– Close by, or on the way to/from work or home will encourage you to go.  Take distance out as an excuse not to go.
  3. Childcare options– Many gyms offer childcare while you workout.  Getting that hour break to workout away from your child may help your mental and physical state.  What, if any, is the additional price for childcare?  Do you need to make a childcare appointment, or are there set drop off times?
  4. Operating Hours–  Do you need a gym open 24 hours a day or just during certain times?  It is nice to know the gym is always open, and may be worth the extra price.
  5. Is an Appointment required? Certain fitness studios require appointments for each session.  There are hefty fees for late cancellation or missed appointments.  This may be the extra motivation that you need to workout, or it may cost you dearly. Know your workout style and schedule, and be honest if this is good or bad for you.
  6. What is included in the membership price? Is this just access to the cardio equipment and free weights?  Are group fitness classes included?  Is there an additional fee or rental gear for the rock wall?
  7. Compare amenities between multiple facilities, and really consider if you currently use or realistically will use a feature, and how much is that worth to you? Whatever facility you choose, it should be clean, well-maintained, and a safe environment.  
  8. Before you sign any contract, make sure you understand the duration and cancellation policy. Some shady places sign you up for a very difficult to cancel multi-year gym membership.  The contract duration locks in the monthly fee for that entire time (or it is a really bad contract).  Month to month membership allows you to leave at any time, including as a response to a rate increase.
  9. After addressing all the important points above, you may decide the best gym is your home. There are some great at home workout programs, pop in a DVD anywhere, anytime you want a workout.  Or stream your workout on demand from any internet connected device, there are plenty of options inexpensive and FREE options.

Compare everything above to find a workout facility or Fitness program that is a good fit for you!   Fitness options are not one size fits all.

5 Easy Steps for Income Taxes DIY or Hire a Professional

5 easy steps for doing your own taxes, plus advice on when to hire professionals.

Doing TaxesWhen I started filing taxes decades ago, it was a tedious process of convoluted tax tables and writing the information on the correct tax forms by hand.  There were separate instructions on exactly how to staple the W-2 income statements correctly to the exact page.  Annual returns were manually entered into the IRS system, introducing another person to make a mistake.  I remember double checking everything I had written before sealing the envelope, mailing my return, then waiting weeks and weeks for my refund check or correction letter.  While attending University for my Finance degree, I took many accounting classes, and worked for several accountants over the years, including an independent tax firm.  Admittedly, I have a complex tax return, and I pay a professional (after I have completed a preliminary return on my own) to file my taxes.

Today, tax preparation software makes the entire process less error-prone and much easier thanks to the software performing all necessary calculations, plus extra help from the questionnaires.  All information entered is automatically reviewed and anything the software detects as out of the ordinary is flagged for review and possible correction.

DIY Tax preparation can be completed and submitted in 5 easy steps.

  1. Gather all of your tax Forms mailed at the beginning of the year.  W-2 Employment income forms and 1099’s must be sent to you by the first week of February for the previous year income and tax withholding.
  2. Select tax preparation software. The big 3 programs are: Tax Act (usually the cheapest option), H&R Block (tiered pricing, easy to use, great user reviews), and TurboTax (tiered pricing, consistently ranked highest for ease of use, integrated mobile app, excellent customer service).  You will need to purchase Federal and State forms for every state in which you have an income.
  3. Start entering your information and follow the prompts. Register your account and save frequently.  You may need to take breaks and gather more information (or your sanity).  Health care costs, car insurance, student loans, new spouse, new baby, charity donations, interest earned and other major life events will have a section or form to complete, based on initial questions and prompts.
  4. If at any point there are too many forms and you feel overwhelmed, save and take a break. Maybe you entered something wrong and now it is asking for your Texas farm revenue, but you are not from Texas nor are you a farmer!  No problem.  There are review options and you can go back and correct or start over.
  5. Perform the double check and read any alerts, flags, or errors from the tax software.  When everything checks out with the software and you have entered all your information, submit your return.  The software will provide IRS Federal & State receipt confirmation, progress reports, and refund/payment information.

Continue reading 5 Easy Steps for Income Taxes DIY or Hire a Professional