My Journey to Financial Independence and Retiring Early

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Find Out Your Lifetime Earnings

Find Out Your Lifetime Earnings

How much money have you earned in your lifetime? Here’s an easy way to find out! Check out the SSA.gov website! Once you create an account and login you can view your earnings records from every year that you’ve filed taxes. You can also see how […]

February 2016 Spending Report

February 2016 Spending Report

Here’s everything I spent money on this month! Note, this looks different from last month’s post. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to show this. Car: Gas & Fuel: $103 – Slightly more than budget, but not by much. I came in under […]

Summer in Paris – $570

Summer in Paris – $570

Summer in Paris - $570 | www.thefiredrill.com
Hi Folks! This is a new feature of The Fire Drill for my Detroit folks. Since I can’t take all the trip deals that I find, I’m going to plan a cheap trip for you! 🙂

Let’s go to Paris, France for a week for only $570! Including flight & hotel.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using links in this post.

Flight – $412 (August 21-August 29) – Book Here

Hotel – $165 (August 22-August 29) – Book Here

And it even comes with free breakfast! Don’t want to share a room with strangers? Go with 3 friends! I stayed at a hostel during my Amsterdam trip. It’s a great way to meet new people to hang out with while you’re there.

What are you waiting for?! There are more dates available for the $412 flight price, poke around and see what you can find!

All information is current as of this posting. If this post is more than 2 days old, the deal is likely gone.

Things I did in Paris

  • Visited the Eiffel Tower
  • Went thrift shopping
  • Got some sweets from Patrick Roger
  • Wandered around the Louvre
  • Took a boat ride
  • Visited Notre Dame
  • Went on a tour of the Catacombs

 

My $100 Trip to Amsterdam

My $100 Trip to Amsterdam

Hi folks! My schedule has been pretty crazy lately and I haven’t found much time to write. I figured it would be easier/faster to do a report of my very first trip with credit card rewards. About 2 years ago, I went to Amsterdam for a […]

January 2016 Spending Report

January 2016 Spending Report

Here’s everything I spent money on this month! Car: Auto Insurance: $82 – This is greyed out since I pay that every 6 months, so it holds over a portion of my monthly budget to account for that payment. Gas & Fuel: $84 – Under budget, […]

How to Remove Excess HSA Contributions

How to Remove Excess HSA Contributions

After my last paycheck of 2016, I realized that I over contributed to my HSA. I was scheduled to max out the full $3,350, but my calculations didn’t take into account the prorated employer contribution I received. Because this is a tax advantaged account, you can’t just withdraw the excess contributions yourself since it would count as a distribution. You also cannot just leave the money in there without incurring some penalties. First, the excess amount is not deductible. Second, you will pay a 6% penalty tax if it is not corrected by the tax filing deadline. If you need to remove excess HSA contributions here’s what you need to do.

1. Find out how much you over contributed

My HSA administrator is HSA Bank. Under the account summary, you can click a link to view your HSA contributions by tax year and it will show you a little table like this:

Excess HSA Contributions | www.thefiredrill.com

Other HSA provides should show something similar. As you can see, I contributed about $133 more than I was allowed to. The Contributions column shows my 2016 contributions and the Contributions from Future Years column shows the contribution from my last 2016 paycheck, which didn’t hit my HSA account until 2017. Since you can contribute to an HSA for the previous year up until the tax filing deadline, it still counted for 2016 putting me over the $3,350 limit.

2. Contact your HSA administrator

You can call or send an email to your HSA provider and they will send you an Excess Contribution Removal form or you can try to find it online via their website.The form requires you to provide some basic information like your contact information, account number, and excess amount contributed. You will have the opportunity to either refund your excess contributions or apply it to your current year’s contribution. Applying it to the current year, however, means that the 6% penalty tax will apply, so it’s probably better to just get a refund. Once you return that form to your HSA administrator, they will send you a check for the excess amount plus any interest earned on that amount (which they will calculate for you).

3. Report the removal on your tax return

You will have to report the removal of the excess contributions on for 1099-SA when you file your taxes. You will put the total amount removed (i.e., excess plus the interest) in box 1, interest amount only in box 2, and distribution Code 2 in box 3.

That’s it! You have until April 18th to get those excess HSA contributions removed, so it’s not a huge deal as long as you catch it early. In the end, it is your responsibility to make sure you’re adhering to the IRA HSA contribution/withdrawal rules, not your employers. Don’t delay correcting any mistakes so you can reap the benefits of the Ultimate Retirement Account!

Have you over contributed to your HSA Account before? Was this information helpful?

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How to Make Money as a Brand Ambassador

How to Make Money as a Brand Ambassador

A few years ago I learned of a whole new job community where I could make $15+/hr with no experience! I fell into the world of brand ambassadors over Memorial Day weekend in 2014. My first job paid $20/hr and all I had to do […]

2016 Financial Recap & 2017 Goals

2016 Financial Recap & 2017 Goals

Happy New Year! I’ve decided to do something very scary for me, but I’m excited to share. I’m going to break down all of the my savings and expenses for 2016. In 2017, I’m planning on doing monthly reports so that you can see how I […]

Saving Money on Purchases All Year Round

Saving Money on Purchases All Year Round

Saving Money Online | www.thefiredrill.com

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using links in this post.

For you last minute shoppers, here are my top tips on saving money on online purchases all year round, not just during the holidays. I only use these money saving methods on things I would be buying anyway, so don’t go out of your way to buy things you don’t need and try to shop ethically, when possible.

Cash Back Sites

Before making a purchase I always click through a website that offers cash back first. These websites get commission for sending you to a website and pay you some of that commission back! There are many types of merchants available including top department stores, travel websites, electronics, etc. I always google “storename cashback” to find out which sites have the best cash back percentage at the time. I find myself using TopCashback, eBates, iConsumer, RebateCodes, and Upromise most often. If you click through and sign up via these links eBates will give you a $10 cash bonus and Upromise will give you a $20 bonus after your first purchase. I also combine Upromise with their credit card which makes many purchases eligible for 10% cash back! In addition to that, if you have them sweep all your earnings into their high-yield bank account, they give you a 10% bonus on all your earnings for the year.

There are a couple of downsides to shopping through these sites. It takes a couple of weeks for them to pay out and some require a minimum dollar amount to cash out your earnings. Sometimes, your purchase doesn’t track properly so if you realize that you’re missing some cash back, most sites have a “missing cash” back form you can fill out to have them look into it. Lastly, if you use a coupon code, that could invalidate your cash back, so you should only use coupon codes that are available on the cash back site itself when clicking through to purchase. Speaking of coupon codes…

Coupon Codes

If you aren’t already using them, you should be! I also always look for a coupon code before checking out. If a coupon code offers a better amount off or the same amount that I would get from using a cash back site (and I cannot stack them), I go for the coupon since it’s instant savings. I use the Honey extension to automatically search for coupon codes for me. And they recently started their own cash back program embedded in the extension, so you can get more bang for your buck there. It’s not compatible with all stores, but the extension lights up when you’re on a website where it can be used.

Credit Card Deals

Not only do many credit cards offer their own percent cash back on each purchase, many of them have their own referral sites where you can get additional cash back or dollars off your purchase. Some you have to click through just like the cash back sites or others you simply add the deal to your card and make your purchase. I like the “add to card” deals, so that I can combine them with a cash back site or coupon code to stack savings. This is something I’m not so great at remembering to check for before buying stuff. Some of these deals can be used in-store as well!

Discover has Discover Deals, Bank of America has BankAmeriDeals, and American Express has AMEX offers. Other credit card companies have these too, just look for it after you’ve logged in to your credit card issuer to see what’s available; it’s usually under the “rewards” or “benefits” tabs.

Discounted Gift Cards

This is something I haven’t done very much in the past, but if you’re a gift card giver this is something to look into (or if you’ve received a gift card you don’t want, you can sell them on these sites). Basically, those who have no use for a gift card they’ve received can sell them at a discount to people looking for a deal. One downside is that some gift cards are physical only, so you have to wait for them to be mailed to you before you can use them. Also, you don’t get the purchase protections that buying with a credit card can provide. This option can be great if you’d like to buy a few gift cards for your coworkers for a lunch place you all visit together or a store that you know your niece likes to shop at often (I’m looking at you Forever21 for only allowing refunds via gift card). If this is something you’re interested in, check out Gift Card Granny to see what’s available.

 

Those are my top tips for saving money when shopping online. Do you have any other tips that I can use? Share them in the comments!

Why I Chose a High Deductible Health Insurance Plan

Why I Chose a High Deductible Health Insurance Plan

It’s open enrollment season and many of you will be making the choice between different types of health insurance plans. Earlier this year, I turned the big 26, which means as of the end of my birthday month I could no longer be covered under […]