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The Tax Man cometh

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Filing income taxes is one of the things I have never procrastinated about. By this time in January I am usually ready to file and just waiting for the final tax forms to be released. I've been like this since the early 90s, when I first started filing when I got married, as my now ex-husband's tax philosophy was have too much taken out of (my) check so we would get a ginormous refund every year...and he wanted the $$ as soon as possible.

Since the divorce in 2008 my philosophy is I'd rather have my money as I earn it and not give extra to the government to muck around with interest free during the year so I've been gradually dialing in my withholdings to try and achieve a no refund / no tax bill balance. I still took care of it immediately, just in case, because if I were to get a refund I wanted it immediately and if I were to owe I wanted as much time as possible to prepare for it.

But now I am "behind". I was on vacation from 12/28 - 1/8, and then sick all of last week and most of this. So I have not even started my taxes yet. This has been making me a little crazy.

My deep dark dirty secret is...I like doing taxes. If a parallel universe were to exist my counterpart is probably a CPA or tax accountant. Back when I started filing (in the years before tax software was available) I would do them by hand. I considered it a personal challenge to understand the forms well enough to "beat" the government at its own game and get back every penny owed. Even my first year of marriage when my ex insisted on having his CPA sister do our taxes I still did them by hand to compare mine to hers (about the same so I know I could trust my numbers).

Even after we got a computer and I used the tax software for the first few years I would double check and prepare a set by hand, which were always pretty darn close to the software. I don't do that anymore, mostly due to not wanting to spend the time for no additional benefit.

So today I am starting the process. I will likely still be delayed by the government not having all the federal or state forms released yet, or one of the banks or loan companies deciding to be stupid and not make information available until the last possible legal second, but I will have my part done. No procrastination here.

Although you'd think that if the government delays in releasing forms it would push back the April due date by a corresponding number of days so people would have the alloted amount of time to prepare adequately.

Yeah, I'm not holding my breathe either.

And one of these days I'll get around to taking a formal training class and become a tax preparer for real, probably when I retire for extra income or something to do. And to keep my brain sharp, staying ahead of the legal crooks we elect.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GETFIT2LIVE 1/20/2012 12:47AM

    When I first got married, my husband and I had someone do our taxes. Then we realized that we were doing the bulk ofthework in gathering everything, so I started doing them by hand. Way to go on getting them underway now; we usually start the process early to know whether we owe or get something back. It is time to do that!

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    Neither Drex nor I feel confident enough to do our own taxes. You are to be commended! That's just great that you do your own! emoticon

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ANJAYS-JOURNEY 1/19/2012 5:43PM

    Way to go, we do our taxes ourselfs too!!
Have a great day

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SARAWALKS 1/19/2012 3:39PM

    Oh, I hope you will qualify one of these days! Tax preparers make good money! I couldn't get along without mine. I used to do it myself but it caused me great anxiety so now I am more relaxed about it...but I do put off getting my stuff together... emoticon

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KKINNEA 1/19/2012 3:16PM

    Oh, you totally should be a preparer! A smart, personable preparer really helps those of us that just want it over with :)

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DOGSTARDADDY 1/19/2012 3:05PM

    You have a crazy dark secret. I will try to move past it... look beyond it... but I'm not so sure.

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SWAYDE 1/19/2012 1:30PM

    My secret is that I am 35 years old and have never prepared my own taxes lol. My parents had their own accounting & tax business so ever since I got my first job they always prepared and filed my taxes for me. My father passed away, but my mother still does taxes and still does mine *well my husband's really*. I just have to gather up all of the paperwork for her, take it to her, and she lets me know the results, which is usually a refund because my husband doesn't like me juggling around with the withholding to get it close to $0 like you try, even though that IS my preference, but since he's the only one earning an income I go with what he wants. I think he is afraid because he was self employed for a few years and did not file correctly or on time and ended up having a nightmare of a time with the IRS and owed back taxes and garnished wages. Fortunately we got all that worked out a long time ago and ever since he's known me, he's been fine =)

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On being green

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This is not a brag blog, but rather a give me your suggestions & ideas request. I try to be environmentally aware in my choices and reduce my carbon footprint. I think I do a good job although I know I could always do better. I'll list the things I do but what I am looking for are those *smacks head why didn't I think of that* suggestions.

*reuseable grocery bags
*recycle paper/cardboard/metal/glass/plastic
*mend when I can before replacing
*try to avoid buying things with extra packaging (i.e. pre-portioned anything)
*donate or freecycle as much as I can instead of tossing
*use the library or e-books or on-line movies instead of buying new
*swap books, music & movies through sites like &
*re-use or re-purpose items from the thrift store (depending on the item) instead of buying new

I had a *smacks head* moment a few months ago from a suggestion from another SP member. You know those little plastic bags you get at the grocery store to put your fruits & veggies in? Did you know they (and the plastic grocery bags if you use them) are recyclable? Did you know that there is no reason you can't take those little plastic fruit & veggie bags and use them again the next time you go to the store?

*smacks head*

I never thought about it but it was obvious once someone pointed it out. So now I have a number of them I've saved and just take them with me to the store to re-use. I'm also on the lookout for mesh or net bags to replace the plastic ones but I have not seen them in the store yet.

What ideas do you have for me?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SARAWALKS 1/18/2012 10:15PM

    Use both sides of the paper when you print out stuff...I use paper that has been single-side printed to print out stuff like coupons, online receipts etc.
this paper makes great scribble paper too, I tear it in quarters and keep it in a little magnetized box that hangs on my fridge door.

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HEALTHY4ME 1/18/2012 6:47PM

    I know about the mesh bags, when I was a kid we lived overseas and even back then ( was 4-13 overseas now I am 55) they used reusable bags.
Can't think of anything right now........ I use vinegar, baking soda etc for cleaning. Man I am drawing a blank. Our city recycles everything and also we have compost bins that go out every 2 wks in winter and every week in summer. We usually don't even fill 1 garbage can a week.

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CODEMAULER 1/18/2012 5:25PM

    If you have a CVS near you - and you shop there - they have a "bag tag" that you can buy for a dollar. Every time you bring your own reusable bag to the store, they scan the tag. After 4 scans, you get $1 to use at CVS.

I also use a reusable hemp filter (or my French press) for coffee, and then put my coffee grounds in the garden. I also put egg shells and tea leaves in my garden. During the cold months, the tea leaves keep my houseplants company.


I've also repurposed a glass jar (from pasta sauce) to grow my own lentil sprouts. If you want more info, it's sure easy and I'm happy to share the details.

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ANJAYS-JOURNEY 1/18/2012 4:50PM

    Awesome recycling ideas, keep up the great work!!

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MADZOE 1/18/2012 4:43PM

    I've actually bought my mom a few packages of the reusable produce bags at Fred Meyer, not sure if you have that in your area or not. If you would like i could always send some to you. Let me know if you are interested.

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    My daughter, Kali, makes her own aundry soap! She says it smells wonderful, is VERY inexpensive and easy! I'm going to look into it, so let me know if you're interested! emoticon

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RUNNER4LIFE08 1/18/2012 3:14PM

    I make some of my own cleaners. I use vinegar to clean my hard wood floors. It is also great for cleaning windows and mirrors.

You have a great list going though! Keep up the good work being emoticon

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VYVIENN 1/18/2012 2:02PM

    Please remember that cloth bags need to be washed on occasion and plastic baggies cannot be reused indefinitely. They do, however, make nice trash bags/cat poo bags/doggie waste pickup bags...

I used to actually use a reusable coffee mug I got from work to put my takeout coffee in. I hear they now make them to look just like styrofoam cups, meaning they have the exact same measurements, meaning you shouldn't get any crap when you use them at the gas station or other coffee place of choice.

Also, if you're interested, research making your own cleaning supplies. It's amazing what all you can get sparkly with just baking soda and vinegar.

Nice thread, I'm eager to find out what other people have to suggest!

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SLIMMERJESSE 1/18/2012 1:06PM

    I keep my cloth grocery bags in my car so that they'll be handy whenever I decide to stop by for food shopping. After using them, I put them back right away. Sometimes I still forget and go into the store without them. It takes practice. I've been recycling for years. My city has a separate bin they collect every two weeks, so for the past decade (or more) I've felt good about glass, plastic, tin, etc. getting re-used. I don't compost, but have thought about it. Doubt I'll do that. I donate tons, and also download library ebooks although there are so many free ones for my Kindle that I've already got more than I can read in a lifetime. (smiling) As far as thrift shops, I find I can buy very inexpensive stuff at stores like Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc.

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Not a lot to report today

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just getting my daily blog done for the Winter 5% Challenge - Go Cats!

While I was on vacation Scout Dad, he painted most of the house last spring, came back and finally finished the ceiling & walls in the last 2 rooms. He's not a slacker, he was working his regular jobs over the months and finally had the free time over Christmas break to finish. And since he's not charging me anywhere near what a painting company would charge I'll work with his schedule. So now my ceiling is no longer textured, the light fixtures are once again properly installed and the walls are painted instead of paneling and the whole house flows together. Before he started every single room had a different look and feel which really dated the house and kind of created a low level of background stress for me.

I actually started on my daily housekeeping goal last Monday when we were back from vacation. That, plus having the kitchen area ceiling & walls finished, has really left me a lot less tense. That background stress again from when things aren't quite right but you're so used to the situation that you no longer notice it gone and finally noticeable by its absence.

Purple Heart finally called again tonight to schedule a pick up time for this week when they are again in the area so I can get rid of several bags of stuff I've been waiting to donate. More background stress eliminated.

I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll finally be over the worst of this cold, it has completely wiped me out the past week. Today was the first day I felt almost OK energy wise...but was completely congested so couldn't breathe well. I miss exercising especially as being sick seems to increase my appetite (or at least it completely disables the stop switch).

Today it rained a lot, and now it is very cold, so I'm guessing there will be ice in the morning. Yay - NOT! The commute will be horrible if there is ice. It was bad enough this morning with everyone stopping to look at the water falling from the sky, whatever could it be, they've never seen such a thing before! Driving tests should be mandatory to weed out the stupid drivers. That would also do wonders for my stress levels.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCJULIEO 1/18/2012 11:11AM

    With all that stress gone, you should be about ready to start floating!

In the meantime, I surely hope that your cold quietly slips away... I SO understand that "being sick seems to increase my appetite (or at least it completely disables the stop switch). "

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    emoticonI hope you feel better fast! emoticon

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CELIAMINER 1/18/2012 8:40AM

    Glad you are feeling better and also glad you are getting rid of bits and pieces of stress that add up. Thank you for reminding me I need to start bagging up the piles of clothes that are littering my bedroom. Because I'm anal about logging donations and estimated value for a tax deduction, it's not a simple task of just throwing stuff into sacks and calling [Lupus, DAV, Vietnam Veterans...pick one]. Sigh. Another goal to set.

Comment edited on: 1/18/2012 8:41:06 AM

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BUTEAFULL 1/18/2012 4:15AM

    colds are no fun, so I'll just say keep drinking that water to flush the system

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VYVIENN 1/18/2012 2:24AM

    Glad to hear you're finally starting to feel better emoticon

Uncluttering and restructuring sure can give you a great sense of relief! We've been working on our junk areas here, organizing the storage area, etc. and I can tell every bit makes a difference. And you know what they say in France: vive la difference! emoticon

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INIT2LIVEIT 1/18/2012 2:23AM

    "Driving tests should be mandatory to weed out the stupid drivers..." LOL
just imagine how many more people would be alive if it weren't for the stupid drivers!

you are such a ROCK star, setting goals and going after them. emoticon

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Goal progress

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just a quick update on my progress on my 2012 goals.

Yes, I know I only posted them yesterday. But it is now yesterday's tomorrow, time to banish some procrastination tendencies and I've made significant progress on at least one goal.

It's been about 6 months since I've paid close attention to my accounts. I made sure I was paying the bills and not overdrawing my checking account but that's about it.

Bad me.

So I spent a few hours today getting all my receipts entered and account balanced (and I was only $2 off after 6 months which is a minor miracle and a probable typo which is now adjusted for) and updating my budget. I changed up how I was allocating payments and assumed my ex will pay me his half of our son's school fee this month as promised...and discovered I will be able to pay off 4 debts this year, not the 3 I was going to go after.


And IF I actually follow the budget and no unexpected large expenses hit (furiously knocking on all wood and wood like substances) I will have my car and student loan #1 paid off before the end of next year. Which only leaves my house and a few thousand on a Visa going into 2014, and the Visa would be gone that year.

Finally! Debt freedom has appeared on the horizon! It is still a ways away and I have to stay committed to the budget, which is going to be an extreme challenge for me, but I can foresee the end.

Just in time for the kiddos to start college.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MIQUEY73 1/20/2012 10:36PM


We're in the same situation where we see the end of the line in 2014. I'm so excited! We have two school loans getting paid off this year and one other personal loan. It's a fantastic feeling to know that the hard work is paying off.

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KKINNEA 1/17/2012 11:00AM

    Awesome - way to tackle the difficult task and get a goal completed!!

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GOLOPTIOUS 1/17/2012 10:56AM

    That's fantastic! I too hope to be out of debt one day, but it's going to take me much longer.

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FUNKY5RED 1/17/2012 9:32AM

    You are accomplishing your goals and doesn't it feel good? Good job!!!

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CELIAMINER 1/17/2012 9:15AM

    Way to go getting conquering your debt!

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DOODIE59 1/17/2012 9:04AM

    To be able to see that the end is in sight is very satisfying, not to mention awesome. You control your life when you are debt-free. All power to you! Your discipline on a number of fronts is very inspiring. WOW.

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FANCY-PANTS 1/17/2012 6:56AM

    Debt free is a worthy goal. Congrats to be closer! emoticon

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VIBRANTVIC 1/17/2012 6:54AM

    we're doing the same thing right now! It actually feels better to atleast have a plan...even if it was a bit painful to look at right now, it can be accomplished. Here is to a great and prosperous 2012! emoticon

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SAHARASUE 1/17/2012 6:32AM

    emoticon Going debt-free is awesome! You can see the end now so you can do it!

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VYVIENN 1/17/2012 4:08AM

    Whoopee, that sounds like 2012 is indeed looking bright!

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BUTEAFULL 1/17/2012 2:49AM

    emoticonsoon to be debt free how wonderful that feels

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HOPEFULHIPPO 1/16/2012 11:35PM

    I have to do mine too....ugh! LOL

can we go back to procrastinating now? LOL JOKING Actually, you make it sound very promising. Maybe I should relook at mine real quick and see what I can come up with.

gonna go do that. Thanks for the inspriation!!

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/16/2012 11:23PM

    Great job and's a liberating sense of power and freedom to know you can make it too!

Keep it up!

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MARISPHERE 1/16/2012 10:49PM

    Thanks for sharing this one! I also have some financial goals for this year and I appreciate the inspiration.


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123ELAINE456 1/16/2012 10:21PM

  I want to congatulate you on accomplishing this one huge goal. Im trying to do the some thing. Just keep going and you will make things happen. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week.

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Procrastinators unite...tomorrow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Procrastinations is the theme for my 2012 goals. Or rather to stop procrastinating, as many of them have been around for awhile, if only on my mental to-do list.

Here it is, already the middle of the month, and I realized I have been procrastinating starting work on my goals to reduce...procrastination. It is a vicious circle.

So without further delay, and in no particular order, my goals for the year:

1) Maintain my weight at +5 / -14 pounds, putting me in range from 120-139. This should be very doable as I have been maintaining since September.

2) Become a half fanatic by the end of August. This will require a minimum of 3 half marathons in 90 days (I think that is one of the ways to qualify, I will have to double check).

3) Do some sort of housecleaning or maintenance daily. This can be as simple as cleaning the sink, I just need to start a new habit of doing a little bit every day so I'm not faced with a seemingly insurmountable housecleaning task by letting it all pile up. Track in Other Goals.

4) Break my dependence on Splenda. I drink 4-6 cups of tea daily, each with 3 Splenda packets. I want to reduce this to a maximum of 1 packet per cup, if not eliminate its use entirely. I will do this by the end of March. In January I am down to using 2 packets per cup, February will be only 1 packet, and March will see if I can do without.

5) Finalize my budget by the end of January so that I will pay off at least 3 loans by the end of December. These will be my furnace loan, student loan #2, and personal loan #2.

6) Earn my black belt! Somehow this has slipped my priority list as other things came up. No more! I will detail the steps I will take to do this in a separate blog; I intend to be ready to test by the end of June.

7) Finish replacing all the light switches and wall outlets by the end of March. Then focus on completing 1 room at a time instead of jumping all around the house and never really finishing anything. Complete the 3 in use bedrooms by the end of December. Completing a room involves replacing all moldings & trim, doors, light/ceiling fan and drapes.

8) Run my first marathon by October 21. This is the date of the Detroit Free Press Marathon, so it will be this one if I don't decide to run something earlier in the year. I probably won't because I will be focusing on black belt training the first half of the year and I don't want to distract myself and take up my time by also training for a marathon.

9) Other goals as they occur to me.

10) Have fun and stress less!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MADZOE 1/18/2012 5:11PM

    Other than the black belt and full marathon training, I'm pretty much with you on most of these. Including finishing (remodeling) rooms in my house. And I too am such a procrastinator. I have a one "elephant in the room" a week project. So far I've gotten rid of an unused bed frame (free on craigslist), and reduced our VHS collection. This week is to paint the ceiling in the bathroom we are currently remodeling.

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    I was going to comment on this blog, but I'll get back to you on it....

TOMORROW! emoticon emoticon

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KKINNEA 1/16/2012 2:21PM

    Great goals! For #2, yes, 3 in 90 days is the entry level and the one I'm working on. Good plan to focus on black belt the first half of the year then a marathon. You should have until July to work on the black belt goal before you pick up marathon training. Let's rock it in 2012!

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MCJULIEO 1/16/2012 1:51PM

    You're ON A ROLL!
And I know that you can do this! ALL of this!

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BUTEAFULL 1/16/2012 1:23PM

    post your list and check them off as you complete them or better yet find gold stars to mark them that will inspire you even more

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HOPEFULHIPPO 1/16/2012 1:16PM


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EMMANYC 1/16/2012 1:09PM

    Ooh - I'm a procrastinator as well. It's interesting to see that some of your goals are similar to mine. For example, your housekeeping goal (#3) is like mine, in that it focuses on frequent but time-limited tasks. I know there are other people who can only get and stay motivated if they start and completely finish a project (e.g., I will clean my house top to bottom and keeping going until it's done). They get stressed out by something being incomplete and it drives them to finish. It's the opposite with me. If I set that kind of goal, I'm guaranteed to never get started because I can't bear the thought of having to keep going until it's done. On the other hand, if I commit to tidy my apartment for 20 minutes, 3 times a week, and to shred mail for 10 minutes, 3 times a week, I can do it.

To take my goal-setting one step further, I've promised myself a major "gift" if I can firmly establish the tidying habit. I've promised myself a new camera, but I can't have it until I achieve a lengthy "Sparkstreak" with my tidying habit. If I can keep my streak running for 30 weeks, then I can buy a new camera. The concept of a "Sparkstreak" prize for one of your hard to achieve goals might be something for you to consider as well.

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CBAILEYC 1/16/2012 12:59PM

    Excellent! I like your timeline for your goals as well - quite doable!

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HOLLIEWALLY 1/16/2012 11:00AM

    Such a great blog! Rock those goals, girl!

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123ELAINE456 1/16/2012 7:47AM

  Great goals worth accomphishing. You can do it. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week.

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NYKIMMIE 1/16/2012 7:03AM

    great blog

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INIT2LIVEIT 1/16/2012 3:24AM

    Sounds like you have a plan. Strong, set goals for the whole year. I like # 10 - maybe you should move it to #1?

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CODEMAULER 1/16/2012 2:32AM

    Ambitious and do-able; I can't wait to read and learn more about how 2012 goes for all of us!

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GETFIT2LIVE 1/16/2012 12:35AM

    Those are all great, achievable goals! I have been procrastinating about my goals as well, I had best get to it before the month is out. Way to go!

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IMREITE 1/16/2012 12:34AM

    I did a lot of puttering today so i did not get much done, but i am going to try to break down my goals and to -do lists so i can knock some stuff off and enjoy that it is done.

i am going to try to do 5-10 minutes at a time to see if that helps me get to what i wanted,

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EUPHRATES 1/16/2012 12:08AM

    Great goals!

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SARAWALKS 1/15/2012 11:19PM

    Awesome goals! Sparking has helped me become a reforming procrastinator.
The organization necessary for healthy eating and exercise has spread to other things and I truly am procrastinating less. emoticon emoticon

I can truly identify with your housecleaning/maintenance goal. I am doing just the same and adding a goal of cleaning up one area which I have allowed to FESTER. You know those areas...

so thanks for the reinforcement! Let's rock in 2012! emoticon

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DOODIE59 1/15/2012 10:50PM

    The best plan is a clear plan. Sounds like you've got it right. Good luck!

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SWAYDE 1/15/2012 10:33PM

    You've got very detailed goals that are certainly attainable. You can so do this! GO GO GO! emoticon

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DLYNN122 1/15/2012 10:12PM

    procrastinating is one of my worst traits! working on that sounds like a great idea...since most of my goals have something to do with it anyway :P

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