The IRS Tax Credit on New Cars May Make New Cars a Better Deal Than Used

The US Government really, really, really, REALLY wants  us to buy cars.

To help stimulate the industry – and our economy as a result – the IRS has reinstated the tax deduction for sales tax paid when purchasing a car.  I recall that when I bought my first car they’d just taken this deduction away from taxpayers, and if not so happy for having my first ever new car I’d have been a lot more peeved.

According to the IRS website, taxpayers who buy new passenger cars between Feb. 16, 2009 and Jan. 10, 2010 will be able to deduct their state and local sales and excise taxes on their 2009 returns. The deduction is limited to the state and local sales and excise taxes paid on up to $49,500 of the purchase price of a qualified new car, light truck, motor home or motorcycle. The deduction phases out for individuals with modified adjusted gross income between $125,000 and $135,000, and joint filers with MAGI between $250,000 and $260,000.

The special deduction is available regardless of whether a taxpayer itemizes deductions on their return. The IRS reminded taxpayers the deduction may not be taken on 2008 tax returns.

So, this won’t lessen your tax bill this year.  But  if you’re facing a large car repair it might be worth it to get a new vehicle.  I’ve been reading that used car prices are increasing because people are unwilling or unable to take the plunge with a new car.   Between cut-rate pricing, very favorable financing and the new tax break it may make more sense to buy new – something I said I’d never do again.

Of course if you don’t need a car then it’s not frugal to buy one, no matter how good the deal. Thankfully our cars are in good shape.  Let’s hope it stays that way…

Garage Sale Finds Make My Day But Leave Me in a Frugal Conundrum

There is so much to do to get ready for this move, and so much we still need.  It’s somewhat ironic that after spending lots of time and energy to get rid of things from my Dad’s house – like a microwave oven, a kitchen table, televisions and a patio set – what we most need to replace are the microwave oven, kitchen table, a television and a patio set.  I don’t feel the need to fill all the rooms, but there are some things we’d need and/or want right away.

My community’s annual garage sale was today, and since I decided not to participate as a seller that means I was free to be a shopper!  I love to go “garage saling”.  Son and I will get up early, go to Dunkin’ Donuts and make the  rounds.

We’ve not gone in awhile – part of my campaign to divest us from clutter instead of collecting more – so this was a treat.  Heck, this move has almost made it imperative that I hit the garage sales.  Snort.

Son and I were up and ready to go by 7:15 am.   I put a huge “FOR RENT” sign on our front door as we left (hey, you never know), armed with cash,  my cell phone and my huge Vera Bradley tote.  Son was armed  with a Hotwheels car.  Priorities…

There are 300 homes in my community, but only about 40 owners participate in a good year.  At 7:30 this morning I only saw a handful, but from experience I know that some people skip the professional garage-salers (or sleep off one too many Cosmopolitans) and set up as late as 10am.

In my first (of four) tours of the property I found someone offering a microwave oven for $25.  I was going to buy a new one, but after pricing them at the size we need I realized it was going to cost over $100 – something I was not doing. The oven being offered was white, it was clean, it was big enough.   The owner had never even removed the protective plastic covering over the keypad, making it seem in worse shape than it was.  I bargained down to $18, and the first thing I did when I got it home was remove the plastic covering.  The darn thing looks brand new! Cha-ching!

I needed to take Son to his Karate class, and after we returned I took another tour.  This  time I found a 19″ television that will be perfect for either Husband’s office or Son’s playroom.  They were asking $25 – I got it for $15 and they threw in a VCR for free.  Cha-ching!

On my third tour I picked up four DVD’s  – two Thomas the Train and two Spongebob Squarepants for $5.  That’s better than the usual going rate of $2-$3 per DVD, but I think I got the “cute kid” discount.  Whatever works!

On my fourth tour I came across a kitchen table and chairs that may work for us.  It’s  from Pier 1, made of Brazilian  wood and I could  probably get it for $150 or less.  Here is a very lousy photo showing some of it:

Garage Sale Table

It’s very rustic looking, and  it comes with 4 chairs.  The table is marked up a bit, but it is a great deal.

I didn’t buy it, but I did get the owner’s phone number.  Why not?

Well, I don’t love it.  I love this:

dining-set

But THAT set will likely set us back $750 – $800.  But it does include the hutch and 6 chairs.

But I love it.  It’s so preeeeeeeeeeetty.  And well made!

I want to make a good decision, and sometimes that’s hard to do.

We may only be living in my Dad’s house for 2 years.  Do I spend an extra $600 for something I love, something that won’t  fit well into my townhouse (if we wind up moving back), or do I buy the inexpensive, not quite as nice rustic set?

That’s a good question.  What would you do?

Friendly Fire

On a much happier note than the past few days post, here’s a special treat!

reeses

When I was in high school we’d go to Friendly’s and I’d get a Reese’s Pieces Sundae.   I’m not even that big of a fan of Reese’s Pieces, but these are to die for.  Yum!

Sign up for Best Friends of Friendly’s and get a FREE three-scoop sundae.   It’s not the Reese’s Pieces, but how bad can it be?

Click here to find a Friendly’s near you. Thanks to My Good Cents, and the other blog (I don’t recall which one – sorry) that I also saw this on.

Lying, Justification and Farewell (or some other F word) You

Well, it’s over.

Husband and I walked into Son’s school to withdraw him, where I was told in no uncertain terms by the administrator that I was unprofessional for talking with other parents about what I had seen, that the teacher in question was not unprofessional and was in fact justified in confronting me in the parking lot because I was pointing at her and talking about her (I was talking about her,  but certainly not in tones loud enough to be heard by her when she was thirty feet away, and I was certainly NOT pointing at her, thankyouverymuch).

And even if I was doing all the things I was accused of, would not the teacher still be the unprofessional one?

And I should keep it quiet, especially when I completely disagree with how it was handled?

Anyway.

So now I am feeling sad and weepy because I feel ineffective in my communication with these people, because Son had to be removed from an environment where he was thriving, and because that lying, manipulative, cruel teacher is still around children.

She did WHAT?????????????

After much thought about the events of the past few days Husband and I decided in the end that it wouldbe better for Son if we kept  him in his class until the end of  the year.

So, this morning I brought him to school. The administrator was not on site, so I walked Son directly to his class.    I asked his teacher if she’d heard what happened and she didn’t want to talk about it – referred me to the office.  That was fine because I didn’t want to talk about it with her, either.  I just wanted to make sure she knew so that when I told her what a good  teacher she is and  how much I appreciate her, and specifically the way she handles the difficult child in her own class, she wouldn’t just dismiss it as a platitude.

We both got tears in our eyes, and as I started to walk away another mother asked what I was referring to.  So I told her.  And she told me about other things she’s seen this offensive teacher and others at the school do that disturbed her, and we discussed how lucky that our kids had the great teacher they have.

We continued to talk in the parking lot when the offending teacher from Monday approached me and said, “Hey, you’ve caused me a LOT of trouble.”

Alarmed, I still could not stop myself from retorting, “I caused trouble?  No, YOU caused the trouble.”

She kept approaching, accusing me of  “spreading rumors” to the other parents and making her and the school look bad.  “I told what I saw.  That’s not spreading rumors.  And there were three other women who witnessed what I did.”

When she  started to get in my face, talking about how I didn’t see what led up to what I saw and that I had no right to interfere or tell her what she did was “cruel,”  I  walked a few feet away and said, “I have nothing to say to you. ”

She then proceeded to tell her story to the three other parents standing with or near us.  About how she and the child’s mother were “like this” as she crossed her fingers, about how what she did “was cruel but his mother agrees about the way to handle him”.  About how everyone looked at the video and said she was justified.

Funny she never mentioned what the  administrator told me – that she admitted that she was wrong and was told never, ever to hold the door preventing a child from entering.

I stood there not saying much of anything – though doing a few eyerolls as she painted herself in the best possible light.  She said quite a bit, about how much she has studied and suffered and worked to become a teacher, and why would she do that if she didn’t care?  That is really a very good  question.

And about how she is a mother herself to a one year-old who acts out and she has to discipline him, and how she’s not putting up with anything like that.  Gee, that’s a big old surprise, isn’t it?

And what really got me was that two of the  parents thought I should not have intervened – that the teacher is the one trained and we should trust her judgment, and if  “people  thought they were perfect they can take their kids elsewhere”.

Yes, next time I see your child on fire I’ll go to the office first to have them determine whether or not it’s a justified fire…

I do support teachers.  Son has been disciplined  at school three times this year, and I completely supported the appropriate measures his teacher chose to take.

But there’s a difference.  A biiiiiiiiiiiiig difference.

I’m just disgusted.

So I called Husband and we agreed to remove Son from the school.   He’s very angry that I was confronted by this teacher and insists on accompanying me to complete the withdrawal, and despite his reluctance yesterday he wants to report the entire incident to the authorities.

I certainly don’t need teachers confronting me, and even if I am the only person in Florida that thinks this was inappropriate, cruel and uncalled for – no matter what the child did – then I’m really okay with that.  And it’s obviously not the place for Son.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Yesterday I saw a teacher at Son’s school do something I consider to be truly awful.  This teacher locked a three year-old child out of her class as a form of discipline, leaving the child sobbing and me livid.

I did speak to the administrator yesterday afternoon.  She agreed that the teacher made an error in judgment and told me the teacher promised not to do this again.  She then proceeded to explain to me that the teacher often had unruly children walk out of the room and come back in when they were ready to be “a new John”.

As if that’s appropriate either.

Perhaps it’s me that’s crazy.  Granted, I don’t know the first  thing about early childhood education.  But in my thinking you don’t ever have a child leave a schoolroom as a disciplinary measure, especially a pre-schooler.  How this could not be against the state rules is beyond me.  It’s one thing for a parent to have a child leave the  room within their own home.  School ain’t  home.

And to me the whole concept of asking a three year-old to come back as a “new” version of themselves is a very poor redirection indeed.  Three year-old children need specific instruction – “be a calm John”, or “be a listening Suzie”.  A three year-old cannot possibly fathom what it means to be a “new” them.

For some reason this administrator feels there is nothing wrong with the way this teacher handles this often-challenging child other than the fact that she locked the child out of the room.   I don’t profess to know the best way to handle a child with frequent behavior challenges, but there is such a child in Son’s class and Son’s teacher handles this child beautifully, always staying calm and giving the boy appropriate guidance.   And positive attention.

The administrator said the parent was going to be notified, but I’m completely positive that the whole incident will be whitewashed.  I’m fairly certain that the administrator didn’t tell the parents that their son was inconsolable, crying hysterically.  And honestly I’m more angry about the damage too the boy’s psyche.  I’d not be surprised if he remembers that incident for the rest of his life.  I know I will.

As you can imagine, this conversation with the administrator did not go well.  This isn’t  surprising, considering this is the woman who still thinks one child biting another is an “accident”.  Her defense of this poor excuse for a teacher (and the fact that this is a very …hormonal… time for me) had me absolutely incensed on the phone, talking about calling the state and considering pulling my son from the school.   I’d already planned to keep Son home today (we had a planned toured of the school where he will start kindergarten this August), and I have spent a lot of time today discussing this with Husband.

If this was Son’s teacher there is no doubt that I would have pulled him out of the school immediately.  No doubt.  At all.  Immediately.  Never to return.

However.

Son has a different teacher.  A good teacher.  He is thriving in her classroom and with less than three months to go he is learning so much.  His teacher – a first year teacher – is committed and excited and steady and thrilled to see the progress her students are making.  The children love her – and  they respect her.

Do I pull Son out of a great class because the school and it’s other teachers are lacking?

This is what I need to decide.  Soon.

Who’s Watching Your Children?

I’ve had a few issues here and there with Son’s schools, but most of the issues have been dealt with and we’ve moved forward.   I very much like Son’s teacher, as she is committed and engaged with the children and just the perfect amount of strict to keep Son on task.

After all, having a good teacher can make up for lots of poor administration issues.  Heaven help us all if Son ever gets a poor teacher, no matter how good the school is rumored to be.  I’ve noticed a few other teachers at this school that I’d not be happy with, and it has made me wonder about the availability of good employees, the level of  supervision by the administration and the involvement of the parents.  Do they know ???

There is one teacher in particular who has always concerned me.  I walk by her class every day, as her class is the only one directly off the lobby.  She always looks bored, disinterested.  As if she’d much rather be watching Jerry Springer.   She either has the kids watching a DVD, or she’s just sitting there staring off into space while the children (three year-olds) play on the computer.  I shake my head and walk on,  and get involved with what’s going on in Son’s  class.

Today when I was dropping Son off at school there was a little boy clutching his mother and sobbing.  The mother was dressed for work, tears in her own eyes as she tried to calm her son.  He just didn’t want to be at school today.   We all threw sympathetic looks at her, and I did a silent prayer thanking G-d that I didn’t have to put Son in daycare – that school is a choice for us.  The mother led her son into that class – the only one right off the lobby – and I left before she came out.

I came to pick up Son three  hours later, Nana in tow.  I’d just picked her up from the airport and she got a welcome every Nana wishes for when Son raced into her arms.  We were on our way out when I saw a boy, alone and  sobbing, trying to open a classroom door from the outside while pleading, “Let me in!”  He was trying to turn the knob, but the teacher – the same teacher I said always looks bored and disinterested – had her back to him and was not letting the boy in.  I glanced at the other mothers in the area and they all looked disturbed, and I walked over to that boy and put my arm around him and knocked on the door.

She opened the door and said, “He’s okay.”  Furious, I said, “No, he’s not.  You can’t leave him out here! It’s  cruel!  Let.  Him. In.”   She pulled him into the room while trying to reassure me.

“It’s okay,” she said,  “We do this every day.”

I was apoplectic with fury and disbelief at this point.  Talk about inappropriate punishment!  He was ALONE outside the classroom!!! Being excluded.  Crying.  I know, I don’t have to explain it to YOU…

I walked (stalked, really) over to the reception area, where the attendant (the owner’s daughter) was trying to explain school enrollment to a woman who was considering enrolling her child.  I interrupted to tell the attendant what was happening, and she  excused herself from the prospective customer and immediately went to “handle it”.

I plan to talk to the owner about the incident tomorrow.  The more I think about it the angrier I become.  In my opinion this is cause for termination.  I certainly hope that they will notify the parent of this incident, and if they don’t I’m seriously considering telling the parent myself.

That woman should not be permitted to work with children.  She compromised that child’s physical safety, and his psyche.  Add that to her general attitude of disinterest, and I’m thinking that perhaps she should just get a job where she can do no harm.  Perhaps a cemetery groundskeeper.  Or a port-a-potty cleaner.

It didn’t occur to me until I got home that this could have been the same boy that was crying this  morning.   I was honestly so horrified that I can’t recall.  But no wonder that kid didn’t want to enter that classroom.

No wonder.

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