SAVE more this year with $25 or $50 bonus cash

Ten years ago, our family opened our first online bank account with  We started simply with a savings account and were impressed by their website and simple online interface.  We were also impressed at how easy it was to set up the account and to use it for various savings goals, online payments, and investments.  Today we have multiple savings accounts, an online checking account, savings accounts for the kids, and an online investment account — all easily managed within one use account.  The interest rates are likely much better than you’ll get at a local bank too.

Right now INGdirect (soon to be renamed Capital One 360) is offering a referral program that provides new account holders with either $25 or $50 in bonus cash for each account you open. Savings accounts (.75% interest) are rewarded with $25 bonus cash, kid’s savings account (.75% interest) and teen checking accounts (.25% interest) also net you $25. Set up an online checking account account (.20% – .85% interest) and you’ll get bonus deposit of $50.  Of all these various accounts the only we haven’t tried is the teen checking account (it’s a new offering and we just haven’t checked into it yet).  I recommend INGdirect to anyone looking for an easy solution for managing their finances.

Click here to learn more about bonuses paid to new account holders.

Happy saving!


SAVE on tax prep software – a friendly tip or two.


Congress and the Administration may not have a clue yet as to what taxes we will or will not pay for the coming year, but we can pretty much guarantee that the IRS will want a love note from each of us by April 15, 2013.  For many years, I’ve used software from H&R Block to do my own taxes (and tax returns for family members). I tried the more expensive TurboTax once, but went back to HR Block (or TaxCut as it was formerly known).  For what I need, it is more than adequate.  The mid-range “deluxe” version serves me well.  If you have less complex financial matters you can get by with the “basic” edition; more complex and you might need “premium.”  I have found the software easy to use and the HRB employees helpful when needed.

I believe in being a good steward of the resources God has given me. Why overpay when you can save?

Today, I found an online discount for downloading this software and as a result paid the least I ever have – only $29.22 (regularly $44.95) for the deluxe version.  Here’s the link to save on all of the versions.


PS:  If you’re looking forward to a big refund you might want to rethink your withholdings.  Remember, a big refund is NOT a good thing. I basically means you’ve given the government an interest free loan all year long.  It may be fun to get a big check, but a much wiser choice is to shoot for break even if at all possible.  Just another friendly tip…

Assignment No 17: Sunrise, Sunset…

SEPT 1-SEPT 15… SUNRISE, SUNSET. We use minutes and hours, God marks the days by sunrises and sunsets.  I think he intended that they bring him glory and are to be enjoyed.  After all, they are in limited supply.

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

These lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof are a bittersweet reminder that our days are precious and few.  For this assignment I’ll be attempting to take in a sunrise or sunset each day, assuming the skies are clear!

LOCAL loco

Shopping local is simple at times and impossible other times.  Here’s a recap of my local shopping attempts for the week.

Tuesday lunch found me at CityGarden in downtown STL in search of a food truck. I had seen them there on other days and figured there was a good chance of locating one.  The ultimate in local food has to be a food truck, right?  The truck named “Two Girls, 4 Wheels” has a pretty limited menu.  Given the fact that I was also trying to keep my food intake to one cup, I ended up having a grilled cheese sandwich. It was made with two kinds of cheese and came with a marinara dipping sauce.  Not the best I’ve ever had, but the experience was good.

Wednesday, I was back at CityGarden again for a lunch appointment.  This time we dined at Joe’s Chili Bowl at Terrace View.  It’s the new restaurant that occupies the space once held by Terrace View Cafe.  Joe’s is operated by St. Louis’ own Pasta House Company.  Given that it’s the only one of its kind and given that it’s run by a local company, I felt pretty good about my choice.  I had a cup of white chicken chili and some slaw.  Someone else at the table had a chili dog and wasn’t too impressed, but I’d go back for sure.

Friday night, after a funeral visitation, we were in search of a spot for dinner as a family.  We decided on our favorite local pizza place – Jonny’s — in Fairview Heights.  It’s in the same strip mall as Bandana’s and across the street from Target. We had a good dinner and a nice conversation with Dustin, our regular server that we’ve had many times before. When he’s not serving tables, he’s a second grade teacher for Riverview School District across the river.  Nice guy for sure. He just received a contract to teach again in the fall, but is feeling a little stressed by all the pressure of working in this district. It’s great to see a young guy teaching second grade in an inner city school.  Do me a favor and pray for Dustin when you get the chance. Also, pray for Lea Green and her kids Tyler and Emily as they mourn the loss of Jeff (husband and dad who died at age 51).  Thanks.

Saturday, I was in search of new shelving to hopefully regain some sense of order in our garage and be ready for the arrive of all of E’s college dorm contents.  I had seen what I wanted at Lowe’s, but figured that would have been anything but local.  So, I started my search at Home Brite in B’ville.  It was my Dad’s favorite hardware store.  I must say I enjoyed walking through the tightly packed store, listening to the squeaky floor and thinking about Dad making his way around the displays with his cane.  Alas, the only had two metal shelving units – neither of which was the right dimensions.  So, I reluctantly moved on to Don’s Hardware – another local favorite. Don’s carries no shelving of any kind – strike two.  I then made my way north and thought I’d try Rural King.  In know they are a chain, but they seemed like less of a big box and a little more local.  After all, where else in town can you buy horse bridles?  Can they really sell that many?  After wandering all of the store and picking up my free back of popcorn, I was told they carry no shelving either.  Strange.

I returned to the parking lot and felt the magnetic pull north to the FVH shopping mecca.  I ended up at Lowe’s after all.  After about 30 minutes of measuring and trying to figure out what would work in my garage, I then discovered that half of the items I needed were out of stock.  I could mix and match different colors, but I wasn’t wild about that idea and decided to head east to the orange guys.  I really don’t like The Home Depot; I can’t seem to find anything there.  It’s just so chaotic feeling.  But…. as it turned out they did have shelving that would work.  So, after being told to go to the garden shop to find a flat bed cart only to find none, I had to go out on the parking lot and bring one inside to load up my own merchandise, haul it to the front and then load it in the van. About that time I was really wishing that Home Brite would have had what I needed.  So, I TRIED to buy local and support the smaller businesses in town, but it just wasn’t going to work this time. I sure burned up a lot of gas trying!

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening up until 8:00 assembling the shelves and taming the chaos.  Come by and check it out!