Ask Madison: Reader Mail

Posted by Madison on August 21, 2008

I love replying to each and every one of you. Although, as some of you noticed, and I admitted recently on twitter, I really suck at email! I’m not sure why, but I often like to think about a topic for awhile before I respond.

And then I find that after I finally reply with a well-thought out response… I get a similar question. So I’m starting a new series of answers to reader mail. Hopefully this way the answers will help more than one person, and you’ll get a more timely response.

I want to keep track of the mileage used for my business, how detailed do my records need to be? Can I just figure out the miles to and from locations or am I required to log mileage? – Margarita

I checked with my partner from the IRS and here was the response:

You should record the date, location to which you traveled and the number of miles round trip, and the business purpose. Do not count the commuting miles which are miles between your home and your main or regular place of work. A log that you keep in the car may work or your calendar of appointments with the mileage noted on each date would do.

Hope that helps! Sounds like to you can keep a log, or just jot down the miles in your calendar.

I was wondering if you have any grocery shopping/ cooking ways to save a buck. Oh, and energy conservation too. – Alexia

Here are a few of my articles on energy conservation:

I also detail some of my past strategies for grocery shopping on the cheap in Guide to Couponing.

What happened here? I went on vacation and lost the story. Did it all work out? FMF [Referring to our digging adventure]

We have a new pipe, new concrete, new front stoop, new landscaping, and new sod. We haven’t received a bill or had any other communication about the cost yet. I’m guessing that’s not the end of it though. Each day we get the mail, I get a little nervous.

I keep hoping the plumber just decides to cover it since it was their work, but I’m smarter than that. They know and I know that we had a one year warranty. I’ve also been in communication with our insurance company. We’ll wait to see what happens before we decide if we will file a claim.

Have you read the Four Hour Workweek? Ferriss has a good chapter or 2 on this. – Blake [Referring to me leaving the workforce at 29]

I haven’t, but you aren’t the first person to suggest it to me. I’ll add it to my ever growing list of books to check out!

I’m sure I’ll enjoy it though, as I’m a fan of his site and a lot of his ideas.

Why so many S&P 500 index funds? Is it because you have so many different types of accounts?- MITBeta

Exactly. We have a 457, 403b, 401k, 2 Roth IRAs, 1 traditional IRA, 2 pensions, an investment club account, and taxable DRIPs. In order to meet our asset allocation goals, I needed to hold some of the same index funds in multiple accounts. I did try to make it as efficient as possible though, and always used the one with the lowest expense ratio to the max.

Where did you take the houseboat vacation? What was the houseboat like (bedrooms, space, etc)? How was the motion (vis a vis someone who gets motion sick on boats). Was it like a floating house or a luxury yacht or something else completely? – AnnMarie

We went to Lake Cumberland, which is considered the “houseboat capital of the world.” However, the houseboat vacation is actually pretty funny… we ended up on a Pontoon boat during the day and at a cottage at night. Partly because my brother-in-law didn’t get back from Iraq in time for the vacation (so we were short 1 whole family) and partly because there seems to be a “slight” communication problem between my husband and my mother-in-law.

However, we did scope out the situation and we are planning to try to do the houseboat vacation again next year (actually on a houseboat this time!) We’re going to rent from State Dock Houseboats which got great reviews.

There are still plenty more questions and answers to come. Don’t worry, if I didn’t get to yours yet, it’s coming. In addition, feel free to leave more questions in the comments or email them to me.

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Comments to Ask Madison: Reader Mail

  1. Your reader with the mileage inquiry should also consider using a portable GPS unit to track and store her mileage and routes between locations.

    Mr. ToughMoneyLove

  2. Your readers may be interested in a device that automatically creates a perfect mileage log. It’s at Great value if you’re driving a lot of business miles. Never worry about a mileage log again.


  3. Thanks for answering my question!

    MITBeta @ Don’t Feed The Alligators

  4. I hope the someone (plumber, insurance company) comes through for you. What a nightmare!


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