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Posts by sunflower.mama

PS here in the northeast I pay a 12-14 year old $10 an hour.  That's bare minimum but of course it's very regional.
I'd be paying her for every hour they are in her care, since those are hours that she can't run out and do errands with her own kids only, etc.  Even if the 5 year olds play a lot, you would never have a kid over every morning of the week, so I wouldn't treat them all like playdates.  In fact, her flexibility and availability (you'd never find a sitter on short notice who you trust with this perfect availability) would make me want to round up after calculating the hourly...
If you have significant equity in your home, how about tapping into it in the form of a HELOC for  your budget shortfall instead of cashing in retirement? It would be more flexible to repay that when your income increases, and would not have a penalty. While you are at it, you could refi your main loan while your income is high and reduce your payments, even if the interest rate is similar to what you have, if you have paid down significant principal since you last...
We put a tankless water heater in when we converted to gas last year.  The savings have been amazing.  We've had no issue with water being cold.  We are a busy family of 5 and we can't have three sources of hot water going at once - shower, washing machine and dishwasher for example (at least that's what we were told - I did it by accident the other day and it was fine.)  The tank holds about 4-5 gallons I'd say?  When you have a big old water heater, as we did before,...
These threads always make me a tad nervous, because I worry that someone who really needs an extra $150 in instantly spendable cash a month might be very adversely impacted by a change in tax laws that suddenly increases their income tax.  The "fiscal cliff" almost eliminated the child tax credit.  That would have increased people's average tax bill by $1000 per child.
We use the refund for summer camps, so it works out well for our family to receive it when we do in a lump sum.  If tax laws did change and we received less, it would be annoying but not critical to our budget.
Just so you know, plenty of people can get large refunds without paying a lot in. So the tax refund is a windfall from the federal government for some of us.  We have a minimal amount withheld, but because of our hefty deductions, (mortgage interest, state income tax) 3K for 3 kids child care credit and dependent care credit, we get a lot back.  We have about $1500 withheld, owe about $1500 in taxes, yet generally get a refund over $3000.  I view what is withheld as...
Can you sell your house and pay cash for a smaller one, using the difference to pay down debt and back taxes? I would worry about renting and going through the $ too quickly too.
So so sorry for your loss. Devastated for you actually.
If I were in your shoes, and valued the relationship as I think you do, I would not be upfront and risk embarassing her.  Can you say that your accountant (or your dad, or some outside source that you trust) has advised you not to take a check in case you get audited?  I do know a lot of people who sit and don't want to get paid via a check.  That to me would be the simplest way to handle it.
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