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The Transition

August 13th, 2018 at 07:50 am

We've traveled across the US this past week and have managed to drop off our oldest daughter at college. She is beginning band camp this week. And tomorrow we drop off our youngest daughter at her University. The emotions of all this are everywhere, excited yes, but I'm a mess...I'm just going to miss them both so much. It seems sending the last one off is almost harder than the first.

So much spending buying supplies and dorm needs. I have yet total it all up. We probably have more than some, but definitely less than others who move into a dorm. We bring enough to create a comfortable environment, but not enough to fill it up.

We did find a great long, yet lightweight coat, at the local Columbia outlet mall here. We had our youngest try on her sister's LL Bean boots and she liked them, so will buy those in one size smaller in a few weeks and have them mailed to her dorm room.

We had two hotel nights on our way here. We have been staying at my parents place now for almost a week. We expect three more nights of hotel expenses on our way back. Another $350 at least. I've noticed that when you book a hotel in advance that you can no longer cancel up until check in on the night of the stay. You must cancel 48 to 24 hours in advance or be charged! We have one booked that we know we will use, but I think on our return trip we will book around noon on the day of our stay, this is helpful in case we think we can drive further or need to stop sooner.

Oh and we have had a lot of fuel and restaurant expenses. Since we have been using credit cards, and payday is in two days, I expect that little float will help. And when we return only need to buy groceries for two people rather than four as we have been doing all summer.

My neighbor has been checking on our 14 year old cat, usually twice per day. When we return, we are going to get her a restaurant gift card. We are so grateful for the help and her extra care and attention to detail.

More later, but prayers and good vibes for our peaceful transition and travel are appreciated. Smile

Withdrawal from ESA

August 2nd, 2018 at 05:37 am

I know it may seem odd, after just finishing our ESA contributions, but we are now making a withdrawal for our youngest daughter's tuition and housing bill.

I completed the buy order on Tuesday when the market was up and the money, $5,375, was in our account today. This money will cover the room and board portion of her bill (yes, for just one semester!)

Her bill is due on the first day of classes, August 20. The total due is $6,859.20. I did find out that books will not hit the account until next month, so I have time until I need to make that payment, which if I remember from orientation was $475!

Once all is said and done, I'll need to update you on the cost of things we bought for her dorm and just life as a college student. Hope to find her a warmer coat once we get back to the midwest, possibly at a Columbia outlet mall, they are very hard to find in the summer in the southeast! Lol.

The First College Bill

July 30th, 2018 at 05:48 am

...for our youngest daughter has hit her account.

There were a few extras that I didn't expect. A one time records charge of $130. And some small dues for the residence hall, broken down into two charges of $15 and $22 respectively. There is also a charge of $25 for her German class. This is not really a surprise, but also didn't know ahead of time.

Other fees that I did know about.

$60 Honors Program (they actually go on a field trip this fall).

$350 for a Chemistry class (long story, but basically she NEEDED Chemistry in high school as a prerequisite for the first Chemistry in college. University only required two sciences for admission and only two for high school graduation...so thought we were okay) that is a high school equivalent and not included in tuition. Found out about this at Orientation this summer.

Also fees for Engineering Technology, Activity Fee, Health Fee, adding up to $724.20. These I did know about.

The full bill is $10,459.20. This does include room and board. Actual tuition portion is $3,870. Scholarships for the semester equal $3,600. So after those, the amount I need to send in is $6859.20. I'm going to use $5,375 from her Educational Savings account, and the remaining $1,484.20 will come from our checking account. Books will also come from our current cash.

Despite the large bill which by itself is very overwhelming, it is very gratifying to make it happen without loans. So thankful we saved as much as we did along the way.

Retirement: 5.5 years ago

July 26th, 2018 at 06:31 pm

Yesterday we met another milestone in our retirement. We exceeded $550K! At the beginning of the year we were at $500,483. With contributions, and market appreciation, we have increased our totals by over 10%.

I decided to look back and see where we were nearly six years ago, or specifically the end of 2012. Our total retirement balances were $188,290.

In five and a half years...okay 5 years, 7 months, we have another $368K

I post this for my information but also for you! It's not to brag at the amount. I'm sure many have less, and many have more. The real point is that making a regular contribution to your retirement adds up. If you make the commitment to spend less than you earn and invest the rest, you absolutely can save for retirement.

We have always saved at least 10% of our income. We are now close to 18%. We save automatically through my husband's paycheck AND automatic deduction towards our Roth IRAs from our checking account EVERY single month. No exceptions.

Saving for retirement is your key to freedom in your later years. Freedom to chose where you live and the type of care you may be able to receive.

Pay off your debt and save for retirement. It works!! You will not regret it!

Big Goal Update

July 25th, 2018 at 07:49 am

Jenn asked how the Big Goal was going after I made a reference to adding more money to our Big Goal fund. So here's a quick update. I'm doing it fast, so I think it's accurate, but possibly missing something.

I found in our second checking account we have stashed away $1057 since the beginning of the year. There was big $515 travel reimbursement that helped make a difference in that account.

In our main checking account I show that our current Big Goal funds equal $2927.32. Now this amount would be larger if I hadn't moved $877 in June out of there to cover some medical expenses. I should make a point by the end of the year to add this back in.

I'm not sure if I've been consistent at adding interest we have earned on our CDs and money market accounts to the Big Goal, but I will report the amount of interest earned through June.

First National Bank of Omaha $125.33
Navy Federal Credit Union $454.83

And because I just looked at Navy Federal, I remembered that we have $131 from my husband's paycheck deposit there each month towards the goal. $131 x 6= $786

Total year to date towards the Big Goal is $5,350.48!

I'm actually surprised! I really only notice the total in the YNAB account and forget about the rest most of the time. Last year I reported our full contributions to this goal to be $6,836.39. So if we can keep up the good work we are already accomplishing, we should exceed last years savings.

The ultimate goal is $200,000. We started with $40K at the end of 2016. $46,836.39 end of 2017. And now mid year 2018 we are at $52,186.87. So I guess we are are at 26% of goal.

I'd love to add a ticker for this goal. But this site no longer supports them well. Eventually I can look into another way to graphically represent the progress.

We've been super busy this summer, so other than paying bills and credit card charges (before interest accrues), I haven't had much time to tweak the goals. Something to look forward to when things calm down.

Edited to add: The monthly average we are saving is $891.66. That just floors me!

Found Money

July 22nd, 2018 at 05:25 pm

I'm not sure what compelled me to check my PayPal account, but I'm glad I did. I found $100.27!

My sister sent me $98 to cover groceries during our trip last month. That money has been there since June 20th! The remaining $2.27 was from a very small eBay sale on the first day of June.

For now, I will put this towards the Big Goal. It may need to cover some travel expenses next month, but for now, I'll stash it aside and try to make those things work with money we will get next month.

I have claimed some credit card rewards in the last few days, which I put towards our Big Goal fund also.
US Bank $25.80
American Express $26.69
Chase Freedom $9.76

If we had debt, you know I would be tossing these funds right there. Now for the most part we save our found money and credit card rewards. They do add up!

Still Spending

July 21st, 2018 at 02:10 pm

We returned from our mountain trip a day early, so saved $118, plus tax by checking out of the hotel early. We overestimated the time we needed to do what we went there to do. And we all just felt ready to be home.

But we are still spending! College expenses. Today we bought some plates, cups, bowls and a paring knife at Target and spent about $15. At Kohl's with our Kohl's cash we bought bath and hand towels, a backpack, a laundry bag, silverware, chip clips and a cutting board. I paid $4.75 out of pocket after the Kohl's cash.

Earlier today I ordered 2 two packs of surge protectors with eight foot cords for our daughter's dorm room. Those were a decent deal, considering I could not find long cords in any of the stores! We also bought a USB C connector for our daughter's tablet/laptop, it will have additional USB, HDMI and an ethernet port. That along was $54, but it sounds like she will definitely use the USB ports and possible the ethernet connection if the wireless is bad in the dorm room.

We told our daughter's roommate we would bring the television, primarily because we already owned a tv (32") that we were not using. We have the HDMI cable, coaxial cable and an ethernet cord on hand too. At least there are some things I don't have to buy!!

We leave in about two weeks to drive back to the midwest. It is a 20 hour drive that we will likely do in three days (maybe two, but that is a long time in the car!) And yes, pay for hotels. We will be back in time to help our oldest daughter move back into the dorm, but we will have five days to hang out and see family before we travel east a bit to drop our youngest at college. This is where I will get very teary...leaving my baby!! And the next day my husband and I will drive back east to home, where I'm sure our cat will be super mad at us for leaving her! She will be visited by two of my friends while we are gone, but it will be the longest we have ever left her. And she didn't really like that we left to the mountains which was a short trip. Poor baby.

So that's a brief update...definitely been busy this summer!

Too Much Spending at Kohl's

July 13th, 2018 at 01:11 pm

We just returned from Kohl's where we ended up spending over $375! Yes, this was a shopping trip primarily for our youngest daughter to get dorm room supplies. I'm not going to go into a full breakdown, but we primarily bought bedding, shoes, socks and underwear, a wallet and a several new shirts. My husband decided he needed jeans and my older daughter picked up a shirt and a body pillow and cover for it. I bought nothing for myself (can you tell who is the most frugal?)

We 'earned' $105 in Kohl's cash that we can spend next week. I think we will go back for towels and a couple other clothing items. I had purchased towels earlier this week at Target, but she has changed her mind on the colors, so those will end up being returned.

And in good news her future roommate texted that she has a microwave, fridge, Keurig (my daughter could care less) and a rug she can bring. She also has some organizers she can bring later (just not on move in day). We offered to bring a television and a couple more rugs, and likely something to put the television on. Oh yes, and a toaster! More than likely we will buy those items once we arrive as the back of our van is going to be packed as it is!

The spending is overwhelming, but I do know we have the cash and in the end it will even out. I expect our grocery, water and probably electricity bills to be lower once both girls are out of the house.

Spending, College & Vacation

July 7th, 2018 at 09:29 am

These next six weeks are bound to be expensive!

We just book three nights at a hotel in the mountains. We are getting the government rate. No points to use because I used them all up on the last trip! Cost is $400.02. We will have gas and food expenses, and possibly a museum entrance or two...but would like to stick to exploring and hiking in the mountains.

I just ordered vitamins, water filter replacement cartridges, and hair products for my oldest daughter. She had this on her list of things she needs to stock up on before school starts. It's still about a month before she leaves, but I went ahead and ordered them and had them mailed to my parents house! They will be there when she arrives and can take to school. I don't want to load up her suitcases too much for the return trip!

We are going out today to find some of the 'lighter items' on her list (clothes primarily). I'm hoping we can get my older daughter's needs taken care of in the next week and then focus on our younger daughter AFTER the trip. It's really overwhelming the things you need to buy to send your child to college. I know the first time I definitely didn't think of everything, and there were extra trips made on the day of move in, and lots of packages sent those first few months. This time, I know even more what is needed, so will do our best to get it all ahead of time!

And I need to make a flight reservation for oldest daughter. I book this one way in the fall and one way in the spring. The rest of us are driving back to the midwest since we expect to have a lot of stuff for our newest college student! Although I think it could be possible to fly, and simply buy everything there on arrival...but it sounds more stressful.

I did use Ebates to get 2.5% cash back on my Ulta order. Here's to at least finding some deals along the way! Smile

Trip Costs & More

June 29th, 2018 at 09:29 am

I entered all of our receipts into YNAB yesterday after returning from our Midwest trip for our daughter's orientation. My husband was going to do some of it before we returned, but I offered to do it so I could get everything categorized correctly! He has a habit of putting the charge on one card into the list of expenses on another card. Ironically, I did that once yesterday myself! A reason to have just one card I guess. Smile

I can tell we spent over $1000 on a rental car ($246), one night in a hotel ($121) and food! There were some college t shirts purchased, a calculator for calculus, and a few personal care items needed. We were in hotels five nights. We used Marriott points for four of them so that was very helpful. We had free breakfast everyday, but because we ate out for lunch and dinner we easily spent $80-100 each day. If it was a more relaxing type of vacation we probably could have grocery shopped and eaten that way, but we really were on the go most of the time.

I had saved money for these trips, so we were not scrounging to find the funds upon our return. The remaining balance in the vacation/travel fund is $649. We may take a short three day trip in July as a family. Those plans have not been made, but the hope would be to make sure these funds do cover that trip. I will need to add more funds soon for August traveling to the colleges. One daughter may fly, and the rest of us drive. Not sure yet, but will need to save for those...along with all the new college student expenses. That part is feeling pretty overwhelming!

It's payday, so I will pay off the cards and start budgeting for July! I would like July to be low in the grocery budget, so I need to put some effort there for some simple but healthy meals. After eating out so much on the trip, I really want lighter meals. What do you like to eat that is light in the summer?

First Semester College Books

June 25th, 2018 at 02:49 pm

Oh wow! I can tell books for my youngest daughter majoring in engineering are going to be far more expensive than my other daughter in music and art. My daughter preordered her books today, and the total was a preliminary $475! We were able to rent most used, one for Calculus will work for all three semesters so that isn't too bad. It's also one of those online type books, so it can't be resold. And get this, two classes didn't yet have books yet determined, so the cost is going to go up.

We will likely take a look over the summer to see if we can find these used for less than the rentals. I guess I'll just keep setting aside that $333 each month to cover books! Smile

College Investing Complete

June 22nd, 2018 at 10:35 am

We made our final college investment contribution this week. We have been sending in $333.33 each month to our youngest daughter's ESA. She turns 18 in July, so we increased it from $166.66 we have done monthly in previous years in order to meet the maximum contribution for the year. Once the child turns 18 you can no longer contribute to their Educational Savings account.

I'd really like to send this money to the Big Goal. But I may need to be realistic and save it for out of pocket college costs that may not be covered with what we have saved.

I'll run some numbers soon and see what we should do, since it may not need to be an either or decision. In the meantime it does feel good to check off that goal! Invest for college complete. What baby step would that be on the Dave Ramsey plan?

Returned The Rash Guards

June 21st, 2018 at 10:37 am

We purchased five rash guards before our trip (on sale, clearance and with a military discount). My husband bought two at the time?! Short and long sleeve. He wore his short sleeve one almost the whole time. I probably had mine on for a couple hours, and the girls didn't wear theirs at all. It was a nice idea that wasn't entirely needed for this beach trip. My youngest niece did wear hers the whole time, looked super cute and considering she was practically rolling in the sand as the waves came in it had to have been helpful!

Anyway, I returned the three that had tags that we didn't wear. I may try to sell mine on eBay when we get back from our next trip. I don't think I will wear it again.

Amount back to our charge card $43.30. I'm thankful that things can be returned!

Eating Through the Pantry

June 21st, 2018 at 07:56 am

After guests our fridge and freezer are nearly bare. I did buy a few things on Tuesday night to have for dinner. Last night we simply ate grilled cheese, sweet potato fries from the freezer and apples for dinner.

I would go to the store for groceries buy we leave again here shortly for five nights. So I don't want to do a big stock up.

Tonight I have potatoes, carrots, onion and milk, so I think I will make potato soup. I probably need to get cheese and maybe celery. That uses a few more things up without buy a lot extra.

I can make a grocery list and meal plan while we are away and be ready to hit the grocery store when we return from our trip.

At least being a little frugal with meals helps offset the dining out we will be doing.

Whirlwind Update

June 19th, 2018 at 08:22 am

It's been a very busy week after having my parents, sister and her two girls visit primarily to see our youngest daughter graduate high school! I'm exhausted this morning after taking them to the airport at 4am. I have had a chance though to process my husband's paycheck, add transactions to YNAB, move money around, and pay off the credit cards.

Just prior to my parents arriving my husband was out of town for work for three days. I haven't yet taken the time to figure out his actual expenses, but we did receive $515.85. Some of that is per diem, and the rest is mileage on the truck he drove. I'm sure he didn't spend that much. That money for now is sitting in our second checking account, and I think I'm just throwing it towards our Big Goal. Smile

I spent $220 on food when guests were here, but my Dad also spent ANOTHER $230 on food and some alcohol. So $450 for 9 people for 7 days. We did eat out for five meals, which was additional money spent. We went to the beach for three nights so most of our time was spent sitting on the beach or at the resort pools. Not a lot you can spend money on...unless you venture out and get towed!

Yep, we parked in an expensive lot for three hours, but came back about thirty minutes early to find our van had been towed. The truck, which we also drove, was still parked. In the end it was a bit our fault. The lot has these machines where you pay and then put the ticket on the dash. My husband started the transaction and at some point I looked down and saw a ticket, so I pulled it and handed it to him. Turns out that was the ticket for the person BEFORE us and that ticket expired two hours before ours would have. They didn't even tow until it had been expired for an hour. The cost to get the van out of the impound lot...$160 CASH. Big mistake on our part to not actually look at the ticket. So embarrassing. But we weren't the only ones that night that were careless, the man at the lot said six other cars were towed that night. A bad chain of events for all of us. We thought about pursuing a refund of some sort, but in the end the security guard, and tow truck driver were only going by the information on the ticket...and they were within their duties to tow based on that information. We are not happy about losing that money, but it is just money and we were determined to continue to have a good time and just let it go.

The good news is that today when I was paying off credit cards I redeemed $71.89 from American Express, and $45.95 from Chase Freedom. I also have three rash guard shirts we didn't end up wearing that still have tags. I will return those for at least another $40 to $50. Money flows out, but it also flows back in.

Oh, and my sister is going to give me about $100 to cover food and gas. She is giving my dad some money as well since she didn't contribute while she was here. She had the cash on her this morning, but we both forgot about during the early rush to get to the airport. She will send a check or send me money by Paypal. That will help the budget, too!

I'm exhausted, but we leave in a few days again to go to our youngest daughter's college orientation. Hotels are covered with points, we already paid the airline tickets, but will have a rental car, food and gas to cover while we are there. I think we can also buy the first semester books after she has enrolled in classes. I still have over $1,500 in our vacation fund. Smile

That's all for now! Stay cool and frugal.

No Loans! Six Semesters, Two Summers

June 8th, 2018 at 05:35 am

This morning I paid the balance of my daughter's summer tuition in full out of our checking account. Today's amount due was $1,613.26, which was far less than I estimated.

Originally, my estimate was just under $3,700 without books. I was a bit off on my estimate. One class is a business class and thus carries a premium tuition rate, which added another $534! I also didn't add in the fees, which seems odd that I failed to do that. Books (specifically access codes for online instruction) were added to the tune of $245. The finally tally was $5013.26 for six credit hours. Reminder this is out of state tuition.

But we were blessed with a scholarship of $2,800. It was part of our daughter's main scholarship, but somehow was not applied last year when she took one class. So we didn't know that it would cover summer classes. So at this point I was expecting to pay $2,213.26.

But when I went to pay there was a credit of $600, leaving the balance at $1,613.26. We can't tell online specifically what the $600 is, however we think it is likely one of the music scholarship she received this spring. She was expecting a check for it. I think the University would cut a check if there was not a balance due. So instead the credit goes towards the current tuition owed. In the end it is all the same.

Sometimes I'm just amazed at our ability to have paid tuition and housing in full without loans. Let's see if we can continue the trend! Oldest daughter has three more semesters with intended graduation date of December 2019. And of course, our youngest is starting this fall, so another four years and we should be done!!

Medical Expenses

June 7th, 2018 at 04:29 am

I don't budget for medical as we are rarely ill and our insurance covers pretty much everything when we are. We also have a rather large emergency fund.

One of my daughter's and I are now seeking care from a provider who cannot be reimbursed by our insurance. Our insurance simply doesn't cover this common treatment. So out of pocket it is.

Our initial exams with diagnostic tests were $199 each, or $398. I had nearly all this in our emergency fund set aside at the beginning of the month. So that was easy.

I paid $1152 for a series of visits that will cover both of us through the summer. This was a 30% discount offered for paying in one full payment. That is a significant savings. So on the charge card it went. And since we never pay interest on credit cards, I went looking for funds. I found $300 set aside for eyeglasses, but we aren't in current need of those. And finally, the easiest thing to do was to use some of Big Goal Savings we had accumulated this year that was still sitting in our checking account.

I would have preferred not to pull from the Big Goal money, but I think our health needs are a bigger need. My goal is to pay ourselves back, we may have extra vacation funds later this summer, or after I evaluate the funds I have for tuition and housing I may have some to throw from there.

Cash saved gets you the medical you want that the insurance companies will not pay for. Cash is freedom!

Free Shorts

June 2nd, 2018 at 04:16 pm

I bought a cute Columbia Skort from the Exchange a couple weeks ago for $31. I was able to squeeze into a Large. I went looking on eBay to find another color for less. I found one for $20.99 in grey, size Large. Turns out the seller had an error in their inventory and didn't have what I ordered. So their solution was to refund my money and send me a pair of Columbia shorts in the same size. Amazing!

I received the shorts today, new with tags. They are black size Large. I can squeeze into them, but they are actually a little small. I guess I will hold on to them for awhile and see if I can lose some more weight to make them comfortable...otherwise, I have some shorts I can sell and make some money!

I'm impressed with the seller. I would have been fine with simply a refund. I didn't need them to spend money on shipping and send me another item from inventory they could have sold for cash.

I did give them a good review! Smile

More Money for College!!

May 30th, 2018 at 06:29 pm

Our youngest daughter graduated from her Engineering Academy at her high school tonight. It was such a wonderful ceremony, where the strings played music before and after the event, the Jr ROTC posted the colors, sang the national anthem, former students spoke, as well as current students (one being our daughter), and of course, graduation certificates were presented.

But the highlight was the scholarship money presented! Half of the students received scholarships (9 students out of 18). Six received $500, two received $1000 and our daughter received a scholarship given in the name of the founder of this school's engineering academy in the amount of $1,500.

Our daughter did have to officially apply and complete among her peers. And there was some scoring given to the board to decide as well. One thing they had to do during the entire time in the academy was to check in on Tuesday mornings wearing their uniform. Apparently, that was what pushed our daughter's score to the highest level because she ALWAYS remembered to wear her uniform and check in. But in the end I think the essay is what convinced the board, at least that is how they made it sound. We are very proud of her and thankful for the monetary acknowledgement of her efforts.

The tuition portion of her first year is going to be very minimal. I swear that in our experience the cost of room and board is the most expensive part. But a few costs at home do go down at the same time to help offset a little bit of it, primarily groceries!

Pay Day Approaches

May 30th, 2018 at 06:48 am

For the most part I deal with finances twice a month. Yes, we enter receipts in YNAB as best we can daily or every few days. Lately, it seems there is a transaction missing, but it ends up that it was entered on a different card. It seems to be my husband not paying attention, which is frustrating when I go to reconcile the accounts. I do usually figure it out, but takes much more time than it should if it were just entered correctly the first time!

So pay day is two days away. Today, I went in and paid off all balances on our credit cards. There were seven payments! I had a balance on two Amex Cards, Chase Freedom, Southwest, Kohl's, Target Red card AND Discover! That sounds awful doesn't it? But the balances on four of them were less than $25 each, including something for $5.99 on our Southwest card which we are not really using much. I think the purchase was charged to that card since it was what was on the account for an online purchase. Our tires were on one Amex card, and the other two larger payments $631 and $547 were charges for everyday expenses.

I also had to move some money around in YNAB to keep the budget categories from being negative going into next month. We've spent a fair amount on clothes recently, some for graduation and some for the beach vacation. I pulled $200 from the vacation fund to cover these. I'm still over in household expenses by $75. I just stocked up on toilet paper, paper plates, dish detergent, hand soap and other things to have at the house for guests here in a few weeks. I will just cover that overage in June. This is the beauty of having extra funds in your account...can be over in one category, but not actually running a deficient in the checking account.

I'm really looking forward to June being over. It is going to be a whirlwind with graduation, guests, going to the beach and then also flying out of town for five nights for college orientation. Maybe July will feel relaxing? Of course, we have to prepare for getting the girls ready for college, one will need more than the other since it is her first year.

Thankful the cash to do what we want and need to do!

Family Pictures

May 26th, 2018 at 10:45 am

Our younger daughter graduates the middle of June from high school. We have my parents, sister and her two daughters arriving from out of state to celebrate. We are keeping it to this small group. No fancy open house party, in fact no announcements were ordered. No big cake or decorations.

I have purchased at Dollar Tree purple plates and gold napkins. We will have Angel Food cake (from a mix), strawberries and whipped cream for dessert after the 8pm graduation. This is a favorite dessert that will be easy to whip out late in the evening. My daughter is completely fine with this. She and her sister don't like a lot of extra attention put on them.

This morning we have been going through her school photos since preschool. Our plan is to put these out for our family to see on the day of graduation just for fun. We may also put together a binder with certificates that she's received and possibly other photos. We just haven't made it that far yet. She's still in school and has lots of projects and homework to work on this weekend!

While we have had the school photos out we have had the best time looking at other photos of our family and extended family over the years. The girls are laughing at pictures of me in dance class, and my Glamour Shots of from about 1990. And we all have the awkward middle school photos. It just feels good to laugh and appreciate the joy in having family. What's even better...it is free entertainment! So if you are looking for something to do over this long weekend why not take a trip down memory lane with your family by looking at photos.

Under Budget!

May 25th, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Our tire purchase came in under budget. Yesterday, I estimated $750 based on their estimate and a discount. Turns out the total came to $681. That means we still have money in our car repair and maintenance fund to the tune of just $72. I think I may just let my husband get his windshield wipers replaced. Smile

We are up to date on all maintenance for awhile. The hope is there are no repairs needed anytime soon. I clearly need to keep adding to it. Although we do have a regular emergency fund that would take the hit if something major were to happen.

Have you come in under budget for a major purchase lately?

Getting New Tires

May 24th, 2018 at 05:08 pm

I'm getting new tires on my van tomorrow. This will be the third time we have replaced the tires on our 2007 Honda Odyssey, which has 135K miles.

Cost of four tires and an alignment after the military discount should be around $750. Maybe less. I think our original quote has a warranty of some sort on them with the tire store. Since we will be moving and this store doesn't exist there, what's the point?

Not sure we exactly got our money's worth on this last set. I thought they were rated for 90K miles. Do tires actually ever make it to their mileage rating? This is the only time I noticed that they didn't even come close.

The good news is I have this amount in our car maintenance sinking fund. No debt! Not that we have been in debt for quite some time, but we are still rocking being debt free!

Oh, and to be more specific we are adding $225 each month to our sinking fund for car maintenance and repairs. This was the average of what we have spent on two vehicles in the last two years. As they get older they do have a little more repairs needed. We are determined to hold these vehicles until our daughters graduate college. Just four more years to go!!

The Next Move

May 19th, 2018 at 05:52 am

Well, it seems we may know where we are moving next. It was not on our list once again. We had hoped to get much closer to where our girls are attending college. And on some level I'm still holding out that hope, as we have had changes to our move in the past. Nothing is official until we have orders from the military.

So while we are disappointed our choices weren't possibilities, we are trained to be resilient and we will embrace the next adventure.

The good parts. The location is very close to major metropolitan city, with a lot of culture and things to do. It is still in the south, so we can skip the snow, which I think we have come to enjoy. And the airport with lower fare airlines will be closer too. We are still near a major installation with access to the commissary for discounts on food.

We have done a little looking at the housing market. Rentals are not as plentiful there as where we currently are. The military is very dominant where we live, so lots of rental homes and options. It takes time for homes to sell here, so people who have purchased often turn into landlords. We have seen the benefit of renting over the last three years. If we had purchased this same house and then sold it we would have paid even more due to the commission and upkeep expenses. It just not worth it for a short stay. I expect we will rent again.

We may consider living on post. We do give up our entire housing allowance (BAH). We currently give our BAH plus $15 to our current landlord, but pay electricity, gas, water and trash on top of that. Living on post all of those utilities would be included. Effectively saving us nearly $300 a month. My husband's commute would be super short, thus saving on fuel costs. We haven't had a gym membership in the three years we have lived here, but we could use facilities on post for free. Lawn care would be included, no need to own a mower or other yard care items.

For reference our BAH currently is $1785 per month. The new location would be $2046. It is very tempting to find something off post for far less than that amount, but utilities, commute, safety and type of homes are all a factor. And it's possible we would stay on post for one year and then move to another off post rental.

We are still in the very beginning stages of figuring it all out. We don't expect the orders to be cut for awhile or at least not effective until after October 1. Thank goodness!! We have graduation in three weeks, a visit to the college our youngest daughter will attend for orientation and then we need to get both girls moved to school in August.

Once all that happens and we have orders, I expect we will fly there to look at our housing options. The one thing I don't have to figure out is schools for this move! That is what kept us off post this time. High school that those on post attend here is awful. And prior to this location, we have never lived near a major installation to have on post housing available.

Exciting times!

I will not be disclosing actual locations at any time. My husband feels strongly that this is not something we share for our own safety.

Snowflakes As of Mid May

May 15th, 2018 at 09:22 am

Yesterday, I noticed we had received our $150 statement credit from American Express. They do it very strangely though were it looks like the credit is from a recent merchant you did business with. An online search did confirm this was our credit card bonus for spending $2K in 90 days for opening the Blue Cash Preferred account.

We received $48.74 from Chase rewards. This is higher than usual, but I expect that is because we are using the card at Grocery stores which is offering 5% cash back for the second quarter.

We received $16.39 as a statement credit with US Bank. We charge our cell phone and electric bill and receive 5% cash back on each of those.

I think I mentioned this before but I did add Ibotta and Ebates proceeds to our snowflakes or Big Goal balance. Those together were $48.84.

I also made a small sale on eBay, so will add that into snowflakes once I know the net proceeds.

Overall, it looks like for half the month we have accumulated over $250 in snowflakes to save towards our Big Goal. Not shabby at all. Have you found any snowflakes this month?

Spending Season Begins

May 13th, 2018 at 01:26 pm

Spending season seems to have arrived at our house. And I don't expect to exactly stop it. It's just that time of year where are expenses are higher.

Our oldest daughter is home from college. Grocery bill is up. Her three instruments needed to be serviced for the year. I bought her new shoes, considering one pair we replaced was from when she was in eighth grade it was a definite need! Oh, and she needed new music, books for summer classes. We also received the bill for her Xray, just $36 after insurance paid. The office visit itself was included in school fees we already paid for.

Our youngest daughter's high school graduation is in one month. And we have company coming and we will go with them to the beach for three days. This is causing us to buy some needed items to make that event happen. Clothes primarily. I found my graduation dress for $39 at the Post Exchange. I won't need shoes, so a pretty decent bargain. There will be lots of food spending in June as a result of company.

It's also PCS season. PCS means Permanent Change of Station for military members. My husband has coworkers who are leaving for other jobs, and it always involves a final goodbye lunch at a restaurant. Each person pays for their own food. A couple of those a month seems to add up.

It's just that time of year. I have to simply expect and embrace it. It doesn't mean we are out spending money we don't have or spending without thinking. It's just that time of year where there are more things going on and the spending is up.

Do you feel you have a season of the year where you spend more than other times of the year?

Ibotta

May 7th, 2018 at 07:45 am

I just cashed out at Ibotta again. This time the amount was $20.96. It seemed to take about three months to accumulate that cash. I really only buy what we normally would. Only occasionally am I influence to change brands due to the rebate. Some weeks I only have enough on my receipt to redeem for $0.25 on an any item rebate. But as you can see it does add up.

Here's my link, if you want to try it out.

I'm sending this money to our Big Goal. In the past, when we had debt, this would be the kind of money I would send to the current debt we were paying off. Any extra you can find and use to pay down debt helps!


Ebates Money

May 6th, 2018 at 12:17 pm

It looks like I'm scheduled to get an Ebates payment tomorrow in my PayPal account for $27.88. This is the cash back from the purchase of our daughter's Dell computer. I'm socking it away in the Big Goal fund.

I've made two recent purchases using Ebates for cash back. One for the purchase of flowers I ordered my mom for Mother's Day. I don't always send her flowers or even a gift for that matter. Total for delivery of 15 tulips, a vase and a small box of chocolates was $35.97. I will get $4.80 back from using Ebates. The second purchase was for my husband's vitamins that he likes to get from GNC. I linked to GNC through Ebates which gave free shipping on the order, I applied a 15% off coupon code and will get 5% back on the order, approximately $3.00.

The cash back is paid out quarterly, so I will have another rebate to look forward to in August, which I will also set aside into our Big Goal fund. Smile

Do you use Ebates? If you are new and want to use my link to sign up, you can do that here. I receive cash back if you use my referral and spend $25, and you receive $10. I'm sure not encouraging you to spend, but if you do anyway and want a discount Ebates is easy to use.

Big Goal Savings: April

May 1st, 2018 at 05:26 pm

After writing my two previous posts about interest earned and snowflakes saved in April, I wondered to myself how much we had saved in total to our Big Goal this month.

Interest $101.24
Snowflakes $209.20
2017 Raise $131.00
2018 Raise $216.00
April Big Goal Savings $657.44

Not every month is as fruitful for snowflakes, but if we could save this every month, we would save nearly $7,900 per year. That's not chump change!

If we didn't have college expenses, we could definitely save even more, but we are committed to the least amount of student loans as possible. So far we are on track with zero! Smile

April Snowflakes

May 1st, 2018 at 05:14 pm

Extra funds we find I call snowflakes.
This is the total breakdown for April.

$_43.73 eBay proceeds
$100.22 Gift
$_10.00 Claim settlement
$__3.93 USAA rewards and rebate
$__8.33 US Bank Rewards
$_22.99 Chase Freedom Rewards
$_20.00 Amex Boxed Reward
$209.20 TOTAL

All snowflakes have been saved towards our Big Goal.


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