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Another Retirement Milestone

July 20th, 2017 at 04:51 am

Stock markets hit highs yesterday. As a result, our retirement accounts also hit an all time high. And that made us hit a milestone. Our retirement accounts are over $450K! Specifically adding up to $450,539.97.

At the end of last year we were at $392,814.02, so there has been some good growth this year along with our retirement contributions.

For a little perspective, and encouragement if you are just starting out, in May 2003 when I started tracking our retirement our accounts were valued at $25,742. I know we started far before that, likely in the mid 90's for me, slightly early for my husband. We were married in 1996 and we both were contributing a small amount of our small incomes before that.

Just like exercise, you never regret, putting money aside for retirement. You might regret how hard you worked or if you put to little money in for investment, but the effort you do make you never regret.

Start contributing as soon as you can, and increase along the way, such as 1% every year.

Guests Left

July 19th, 2017 at 12:41 pm

My parents left this afternoon after visiting for nine days! It was great to see them, but that was a really, really long time. I now feel like I need a vacation.

I don't think I spent too much money while they were here, as they took us out for several meals and even bought some of the groceries. We limited our trips out of town to two, which I purchased gas for. The museums and the beach were free, we also played a lot of games to keep ourselves out of the heat.

I do know some food was thrown out, but I now intend to use of the leftovers in the coming days. My meals may be a bit odd! The most frugal snack I bought was a large 2 pound bag of popcorn that cost me $1.79 at the commissary. We didn't use it all, but it made a lot of popcorn just using the pan on the stove. I had forgotten how fast and easy it is. That is a huge savings over microwave or pre popped popcorn.

I hope to have more updates soon, but for now a little rest before I get back into the routines!

Grocery Shopping & Using Up More Food

July 11th, 2017 at 07:28 am

I spent $139 at the commissary yesterday for food. I'm not sure this will cover all the days my parents are here, but it is a good start. I was hoping to keep it to $100, but I did put some extras in my cart. I do expect these items may help stretch my initial meal plans. We have a lot of fresh food we need to make sure to use up so none of it goes to waste.

Speaking of waste, I had to throw out two things yesterday that were past their prime. One was some milk that according to the package only expired on the the 9th, but had clearly turned days before. So glad no one tried to drink it! The waste probably amounted to 1 cup of milk. The other item was some sour cream, maybe two or three tablespoons worth. I was going to use it up in our taco dip last night but it definitely wasn't worth eating any longer.

Curbing food waste is a sure way to avoid wasting money and food. I know I toss out far more than we need to, so this Uber Frugal Month is a reminder to keep up on the expiration dates, and make an effort to use up before things go bad. Part of that starts with buying only what you know you will eat before something expires.

Yesterday, I ate the abandoned pasta micro meal that was in the freezer. I added the zucchini from the night before to it, so it was very filling. This morning I ate the waffle no one else would claim. I added peanut butter to it that I scraped out of the jar with a spatula. A lot can come out of a jar when you scrape it out. Today, I will eat the leftover taco dip we had for dinner last night, along with the last of the watermelon.

Looking back at my original list of foods to use up it seems I have used up almost half of the items, with portions of others. If I can get rid of the sauces and marinades this month that will help quite a bit.

And....my neighbor just stopped by with produce from her garden. I now have a large pepper, two roma tomatoes, a pint of cherry tomatoes, three jalepenos, two banana peppers and four of some other kind of pepper! What a wonderful blessing. My mom and I will have to figure out how to use up all the peppers while she is visiting.

Have a frugal week! Use it up before it goes to waste!

No Spend Sunday

July 10th, 2017 at 05:16 am

I didn't spend any money yesterday, although my husband did. He needed some groceries for his hotel room, and he bought gas for his vehicle. I will be glad when his class is over, so we can combine grocery expenses again. Just seven more weeks I believe.

I found signed up for Redbox texts and sent in a code to get a free movie. We rented Hidden Figures and watched that last night. Movie is just as good the second time!

Food is getting very slim around here. My oldest daughter was going to eat the waffle in the freezer, but realized we don't have syrup. So she refused to eat it. Ugh. I will probably eat that for breakfast tomorrow with some peanut butter.

Last night was pasta and sauteed zucchini. There is leftovers so one of use will likely have that for lunch. I actually need to get to the store before lunch as we will be out of bread before that!

I'm eating the last serving of steel cut oats this morning with some strawberries. Since we will have bread after I have been to the store, I will likely have a sandwich for lunch, unless no one claims the zucchini and pasta. Dinner will be taco dip, unfortunately this won't really use up any old food, but it will be inexpensive. I will use one of my Frito Lay coupons for a free bag to buy the Tostitos.

I'm expecting to buy lots of veggies and beans as my parents and my girls all lean to being vegetarian. The goal will be to eat all the food that I buy today.

Less Frugal Saturday

July 9th, 2017 at 05:02 am

Saturday was less frugal because three of us went to see a matinee showing of Spiderman: Homecoming. Amount spent $17.50. It was an 11:30am showing. I made a point to say I didn't want us spending any money on food and drinks, so we ate lunch at home before leaving. I know that saved us about $10-11.

My husband used a $10 gift card to get a wash for my van. We did purchase the gift card earlier in the year, as a fundraiser for our daughter's school. But at least no money out of pocket this weekend. We really need to be washing our vehicles at home, something to discuss with my husband. Smile Do you wash your cars at home?

We had homemade pizza for dinner. I used up the turkey bacon, the remaining tomato sauce in the fridge, and the pepperoni. We did buy mozzarella cheese and more turkey crumbles. I thought I would be using the turkey crumbles up on the pizza, but my husband had used those up for breakfast and wanted more for the pizza. He also bought a 24 oz package of mozzarella when one 8 oz package would have worked, and decided we needed shredded parmesan cheese as well. So a little overspending on food, but it will all get eaten at some point. I may need to make lasagna or something to use up the cheese.

Did I mention I was going to make chia pudding? I made a double batch with the last of the almond milk. It makes for a great healthy sweet snack.

Other spending: my husband's haircut, gas for my van (don't think it needed it quite yet, but he filled it), and alcohol. I've definitely cut back on the alcohol, we are both not drinking while we are apart. But it seems to be the go to on the weekends we are together. I was able to limit the amount I had, so progress for me!

The best part of the day was listening to our youngest daughter sharing the pictures she took on her Europe trip! That was a couple of hours of very enjoyable entertainment.

My parents arrive on Tuesday, so I think we can get through today with out shopping and I will go tomorrow to stock up for while they are here. I hope to incorporate some of the items I need to use up into the meals we have. I also need to be mindful of what I buy; making sure to buy ingredients that won't get pushed to the back of the pantry.

This morning I'm eating my steel cut oats for breakfast, with some of the frozen strawberries. For lunch I will likely have a sandwich with watermelon, and a very small side of the rice and lentils I had leftover. Dinner is likely pasta with a side of zucchini from the garden!

I didn't mention a couple items in the freezer we need to use up. One pasta microwaveable meal, that was bought for my girls but they don't like. A frozen homemade waffle. And several cups of frozen grapes. I do like these food challenges. Not sure the family does! Oh well. Smile

Living On A Dime

July 8th, 2017 at 05:30 am

I've been watching some videos from the YouTube channel Living on A Dime. It was especially interesting to hear the mother, Jill, talk about living on $500 a month with two teenagers in the 1990s, after her husband left her. She had to be very frugal with her cash. Her experience reminds me a bit of what you hear about people doing during the Depression. Oh, and she was making $12,000 a year and paid off $35,000 worth of debt in five years at that same time!! Very impressive.

Yesterday, I did end up at Target to stock up on my hair mousse and feminine products for the girls. There was a cartwheel coupon that save me $2. While I was there, I bought one bag of chips, lunch meat, tomatoes, sliced cheese, two loaves of bread, and jam. My total bill for all of it was $31.45. Oh and I did buy some M&Ms and gum...two items I should have skipped and now regret buying and eating.

Yesterday, I used up a shallot, tossed the ginger that was growing mold (ick), cooked the lentils and ate them for lunch over rice, ate fried rice for dinner which used up the frozen carrots & peas and some of the frozen corn. We also ate sauteed zucchini and summer squash from the garden on the side. Yummy!!

Today I will eat the second serving of the steel cut oats. We will eat sandwiches and watermelon for lunch. Tonight we will eat homemade pizza. I did forget to buy mozzarella cheese at Target, so will stop by the store for that later. The pizza will used up the bacon, pepperoni and some turkey crumbles in the fridge. I wouldn't be making pizza if my air conditioning wasn't working, but it is! Smile

What will you do today that is frugal?

Frugal News

July 7th, 2017 at 04:30 am

This morning I'm eating my steel cut oats I made overnight in the crockpot. It usually makes enough for four breakfasts. There are no more steel cut oats in my pantry, and I have now used half of the almond milk I wanted to use up.

Yesterday, I harvested two nice size zucchinis, a summer squash, one cherry tomato and a bag full of romaine lettuce. I could have harvested more lettuce, but I will wait until I have finished what I harvested. When I'm out mowing in a bit I will fertilize all the plants again. It is very satisfying to have a garden even if small. I really may need to consider that we need to rent a smaller home with a yard, rather than an apartment next year.

The last two days were no spend days. We only left the house once and that was a trip to the library where one of my daughter's picked up two books, and I borrowed a DVD (The Help).

Tonight we are having fried rice for dinner, so I will use up most of the frozen veggies that have been in the freezer a little too long. Does anyone freeze rice? I saw that some people do that to save time.

A book we had listed on eBay sold last night. That will drop a couple dollars into our bank account. Adding it to the Big Goal, of course!

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card. I hoping it arrives soon as I would like to buy a food processor. I don't need high end at this point, just one that is reliable enough to do shredded cheese and make hummus (my blender doesn't do that well). I'm sure I will use it for more things, but until I'm using it regularly, I'm not spending a lot.

I joined back up with Ibotta. I stopped for awhile as it seemed to take forever to get to the pay out threshold. I do want the savings on the things I buy anyway. I don't get as many as some would as the rebates are on a lot of products I don't buy. Anyone else still using Ibotta? If you are new to this savings and want to sign up, my referral code is here.

The really good news is my lower level air conditioner is working! I didn't pay for the service call because that is a landlord responsibility. The bad news, it isn't technically fixed. The technician couldn't find a leak, or any other parts that weren't working. So added freon and said it should keep cooling for three months. So annoying! I'd be really irritated if I were the one paying for the service calls.

That is the frugal news of the day!

Use All The Food

July 6th, 2017 at 05:36 am

I'm the one that usually eats the leftovers. Occasionally one daughter will eat leftover and pasta. So use all the food that Frugalwoods referenced yesterday feels overwhelming. But I know in January I did make a point to use up things we had in our pantry. In fact, I don't think my pantry and fridge have not been as full since then.

So the goal is to use all the food. Or at least be using the stuff we have at the back of the fridge and pantry. Here are the items I have noticed should be used up this month:

1/2 c red lentils
3 inches of fresh ginger
3/4 jar of Hoisin sauce
1 pound brown rice
2 pounds white rice
1 c steel cut oats
1 box of unsweetened almond milk
8 oz Kerrygold butter unsalted
1 can tuna
2 fresh bananas
1 pound frozen strawberries
1/2 bottle of Herb & Garlic marinade
1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce
1/2 c frozen corn
1/2 c frozen peas and carrots
3 potatoes
4oz of whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 bottle of poppy seed dressing
four strips of turkey bacon
nearly full jar of tahini
chia seeds

We have two other pastas in the cupboard, but I know these will get eaten, so not too worried if they are around by months end or not.

I do plan to make a batch of steel cut oats in the crockpot tonight for the next few days of breakfast. I usually like to use apples in it, but those bananas are looking like they would make a good topping, or the strawberries!

I already used the three potatoes to make a batch of potato soup. I expect to eat that for lunch the next couple of days. Maybe with a tuna sandwich on the side. The peas and carrots will get put into fried rice that I already planned to make for dinner tonight.

I do not have any meat on hand now, but I'm going to check the ads for a good price. If I find some, I will use the marinade and barbecue sauce (separately) to season some meat for the crockpot.

I also could probably buy some spinach and have strawberry spinach salad with the poppy seed dressing. Not sure, but I may be the only one that would eat it. Although my parents might when they visit next week.

Since I started this post, I already used the Kerrygold butter to make a batch of butter cookie dough. It's in the freezer to bake when our air conditioning is working again (hopefully today), or when the weather is just cooler in general.

The chia seeds were bought to make a chia pudding that actually is quite tasty. It does use almond milk, so I expect to make that with any leftover that doesn't get used making the oats.

The tahini is definitely prime for using to make hummus. I've only tried it once years ago. I'm kind of interested in trying again. As we do like hummus and this could save some money making fresh batches. I bought the tahini originally for use in some new recipe I tried. Anyone make their own hummus?

I'm definitely going to need to buy a few things in order to use some of these items up. But I hope to come back at the end of the month and report that I have used all these items up! Or most of them...the tahini make take some time to use.

Four Days of Meals

July 5th, 2017 at 12:26 pm

My daughter and I did have refried bean tacos for dinner last night, after I purchased a can for $0.54, regularly $1.09 but I used a $0.55 coupon. There is enough for two more tacos which I'm having for lunch!

Today is our youngest daughter's birthday (she made it home safe from Europe), so I was up early to make her favorite spice cake in the oven (remember no A/C on the level with our kitchen) so I didn't want to heat the house up in the middle of the day. Tonight we will have spaghetti with Alfredo sauce and corn on the cob. These were requested by her.

Thursday night we will have fried rice. I'm making sure to use up the frozen corn, peas and carrots. I also have plenty of green onion to add.

I made potato soup yesterday so that will likely be eaten on Friday, although it may also become lunch this week. If we eat all the soup, we may just eat grilled cheese and watermelon.

On Saturday, I will probably turn the oven on and make homemade pizza. I have the sauce, the items to make the dough, as well as some meats. I may just need to buy the cheese.

When I was at the store I did pick up a few other items and paid $13.24.
1 dozen eggs
1/2 gallon of milk
celery
1 lb of carrots
three ears corn on the cob
pretzel sticks
refried beans
large watermelon

Birthday cake, watermelon and pretzel sticks should help tide us over between meals. I expect this will get us through Friday, maybe part of Saturday before we go to the store again. Saturday's shopping list will have to include groceries to feed my parents while they are here, so I expect it could be a bit inflated.

My next post will be about the things we need to use up in the month of July, which what the Uber Frugal Month post is about today on the Frugalwoods blog.

Frugal July Thoughts

July 4th, 2017 at 09:33 am

I currently have our lower level air conditioner off, as it is not cooling properly. Why force it to run overtime at more expense if we don't need to? The landlord did call for service which is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. We are definitely in a heat wave so I don't think this can be a long term solution given the humidity we are currently experiencing.

The lack of air conditioning on this level, where our kitchen is, did force me to cook chicken in the crockpot yesterday. Today we are eating out of the fridge and cupboards. The oven will not be turned on. I suppose that will save some energy too. I wonder if I could go nearly oven free for July?

We went grocery shopping on Friday and spent about $65. It did include my daughter's birthday cake (she arrives home tonight and her birthday is tomorrow) mix and frosting and her preferred meal of pasta. I think my other daughter and I can have bean tacos tonight if I make a run to the store for the refried beans. We have everything else, so that would cost me less than $1. I'd like to get through at least Thursday or possibly Friday (shopping on Saturday) with what we have on hand. Oh, just remembered I have everything on hand for fried rice, too! And I have three potatoes I could make into soup. I think I can make it! We do have salad greens in the garden. But I might pick up three ears of corn on the cob to accompany the pasta. That should be just another dollar. I'll post a food plan tomorrow.

Not sure what my husband's plan is for food. He is traveling back to his school location today. The commissary there may not still be open by the time he arrives. Thus I can imagine he will pick up some fast food. He only plans to be there 2.5 days before he comes back this coming weekend. He wants to see our daughter soon after her trip to hear all about it! I'm hoping he picks something from the commissary rather than going out for every meal before he returns.

Another reason it may be hard to have a frugal July that I don't think I mentioned is that my parents are coming for an eight day visit. That means more food and possibly gas and admission for some outings. I will do a search for free activities. I can currently think of just one. And it will be so hot outside, I'm thinking we need indoor activities! But I did have one frugal idea concerning their visit. I can use some small travel shampoo/conditioner containers and fill them for myself to use while they are here and they can have access to my nearly full bottles. Normally, I would go buy another set and then use it up later.

I printed off a coupon for my contact solution. I did just buy some, but winced as the price has gone up. The coupon will reduce the next purchase by $1.50. I need to make an effort to look for a coupon to print every time I need to make this purchase.

I also need to make July the month that we cancel cable. i'm just being lazy about going into the store to drop off the digital adapters. I need to remember this should save us at least $30 a month.

My van did not end up needing repair at this time. They charged us over $100 for the diagnosis, testing and clearing the check engine light that was on. Our bill did include the 20% discount we asked for. It wasn't the same as getting the full 10% on the truck we should have, I do wish we would have argued this, but it is done.

Finally, I scored two pairs of socks and a greeting card at Kohl's for $0.70 yesterday. I had a $10 reward and a $1.34 Kohl's cash that I applied to bring my original bill of $12.84 to just $0.70. They don't charge tax on the reward portion, so that did reduce the tax as well.

More frugal thoughts later! Happy Independence Day!

Free Cat Food & More

July 3rd, 2017 at 06:49 am

On Friday, I stopped by PetSmart to pick up a free bag of cat food with a coupon that had been mailed to me. I could pick any brand as long as it wasn't more than 3.5 pounds. The one I picked would have been $10.99 normally in the store. But it was completely free.

The last time I bought dry cat food was in December when our other cat was ill. It was a large bag and it is taking awhile for my other cat to eat through it! We also supplement with wet cat food now as well. But we will use this new bag when I run out of the other that is already open.

Today we have my van in for service. We noticed we didn't get their 10% military discount on Saturday service for my husband's truck. We inquired and their solution is to give us 20% off today's service. We'll see if that works out in our favor depending on the cost of the repair.

Our outing yesterday did allow us to visit a museum for free as a Blue Star family. The admission would have cost us the three of us $28. It was a beautiful art museum and grounds. I was especially intrigued with one artist who used old items and added glass. For example one was an old wood desk, but the drawers had been made out of glass, a frosty type. There was also a wagon, a chair and an umbrella.

We did take our own water and lunch to eat in the car on our road trip. We did stop to eat ice cream near the beach to tide us over. We also found free parking twice in the little beach town, once while we bought our ice cream and another time while we walked the beach for about 30 minutes. The only other expense besides fuel was the purchase of three or four waters/sodas. Each time we stop to use the restroom, my husband feels obligated to buy something. It's hard to harp on him for it, but I do personally feel it isn't an obligation. I'll guess that cost us another $6-8.

Oh and I overhead a couple speaking with the cashier at CVS yesterday about a $100 bill. This is what the couple said that the cashier agreed with. "If you break it, it's gone." Obviously I don't know these people, so I don't know exactly what they meant. It seems like an odd way to look at money. Once you have $85 in smaller bills for example, you should just consider the money gone? You can't save $20 bills? Every purchase we make with or without cash should be considered right? It doesn't matter what size bill we paid it with. Just my thoughts. What do you think about it?

Not A Frugal Month

July 2nd, 2017 at 06:04 am

I just don't see this being a frugal month for us. We are trying to enjoy the time with our college daughter home and my husband is traveling home most weekends from his school. Thus there is fuel for cars, and money spent on some activities. We do embrace free as much as we can. In fact today, we may go visit an art museum that we can get in for free (Blue Star Museum participant). We do have to drive to get to it however.

We spent $352 on my husband's truck yesterday. He needed brakes badly. Can't say no to maintenance that is important for safety. He also got an oil change. He later picked up new windshield wipers at AutoZone (not the most frugal store to purchase from in my opinion) as he was overdue for those as well.

My van is being repaired tomorrow as I have a check engine light on. I'm expecting it to be an oxygen sensor. I checked my blog and it was over $300 for that repair last time.

Yes, all this money being spent is a good reason to watch the budget in other areas. And I will. I expect the grocery budget would be the best one to focus on.

I am going to follow along with UFM though here and on the Frugalwoods blog. As I know it will be inspirational. I may be able to do a Ultra Frugal Month in August or September.



June Interest

July 1st, 2017 at 07:59 am

Interest for June on our savings tallied up to $90.52. A little less than last month, but there was one less day!

Upon logging into one of our bank accounts, I found out there is a new interest rate! It's higher. Moving from .95% to 1.10%, not a lot but sure is a step in the right direction.

Have your savings interest rates increased?

18% Gross To Retirement

June 30th, 2017 at 04:30 am

We save 18% of my husband's gross pay to retirement. I'm starting to wonder if it is too much. Only because I've been watching YouTube videos of people following Dave Ramsey and saving 15% gross on Baby Step 4.

Our plan is for my husband to retire from the Army with a full retirement pension. This is equal to 50% of his base income, which if calculated today would be about $3,840 per month. It will be higher as he will get promoted at least one more time before he retires. He might also be eligible for more than 50%, but not sure. If so that will make a huge difference in pay as he will have over 32 years of service.

Obviously, there is risk that something could happen that he won't get to full retirement. He is already eligible for a reserve retirement check that would pay out beginning at age 60, possibly sooner. That check would be far less.

I think part of me is wanting to adjust to 15% so I can use the other 3% (which is just under $300) towards the Big Goal. And I suppose I don't have to change anything, as more than half of our retirement is invested in our Roth IRAs. I can take those contributions out any time.

Just thoughts. How much of your gross income do you/did you save for retirement?

Money News

June 29th, 2017 at 05:41 am

I redeemed some Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards this week. I would have like to have waited for the beginning of the month to get the discount, but I needed them to buy my daughter birthday gifts! Luckily, Swagbucks have been fruitful with a lot of good surveys and nCraves this last week. In total I redeemed 2800 SB for $28 worth of Amazon gift cards. They arrived within two days, too, so that made me happy!

My husband and I both need to get our vehicles in for repairs. My husband's is just an oil change. My van now has a check engine light on. And no it's not the gas cap. It is driving well, so I expect it is just an oxygen sensor that has failed. That usually seems to be the case for us, if the car is running properly. I have an appointment for Monday and he will stop in for an oil change on Saturday morning.

We earned just over 3100 miles on our Southwest Visa this last month. Yep, that means we charged nearly $3000! We currently have about 20K miles that we can eventually redeem for a flight. I'm planning to use them for my daughter to fly home during Christmas break. I could use some now for her one way ticket back to school in August, but the cost is minimal and December is always a more expensive month.

I wanted to write a blog post yesterday, but there were site issues. I don't think what I wrote above is what I wanted to write. I wish I could remember! I should have written it in a word document. Hopefully it comes back to me, so I can tell you all. Smile

Frugal Wins

June 25th, 2017 at 02:37 pm

I just harvested a bunch of lettuce from our garden. Maybe for the last time this season...it seems a bit on the bitter side. We will still eat it mixed with other greens or add to a smoothie. There was also one cherry tomato and a summer squash ready. I do need to do some fertilizing as the soil here is awful!

I used one of my Frito Lay coupons today at the store. The price of the chips was $3.20, so received that off my bill. I also used two other coupons, that I found in the store, for another $1.50 off products I purchased. I have moved $4.70 from the grocery budget to the BIG goal.

I probably saved more money today, as I made a list and later crossed a few items off. I would guess another $5 to $10 worth of savings by skipping some items that were not needed. I also don't think I added anything extra into the cart...oh actually I did. But both were less than $2 combined. I also had a couple times where I picked up an item I needed only to find the same thing, different brand in another aisle for less!

We have been able to keep our irrigation system from running all but one time in the last two weeks because we have received so much rain! Maybe the water bill will be a bit lower next month.

What are your frugal wins?

In other news...

We have been hearing from our daughter each afternoon. Evening for her. She left the UK yesterday and arrived in France. I know she will be in Paris tomorrow evening. She isn't saying a lot because it seems to be moments before she dives into bed. I think the trip is going well. We have seen pictures on Facebook from a teacher who is posting. I will be interested to see how much of her money she spends!

Frito Lay Coupons

June 23rd, 2017 at 10:20 am

I received three coupons in the mail from Frito Lay after discovering something like black mold on some bite size tortilla chips. I sent pictures and explanation through some form on their website. We basically had to throw the entire bag out, so I was asking for a cash refund. The coupons work too, as that will buy us three bags of chips which will save me far more than the cash refund.

I received $3 from Pinecone and it is now sitting in my Paypal account with a little money from a small eBay sale not long ago.

I'm working on Swagbucks here and there. I have not been focused enough everyday to meet goal until this week. It has helped to join the Swagbucks Swaggernauts page on Facebook to find a few quick ways to earn. I would like to get to 2500 by this weekend so I can get an Amazon gift card and purchase a few items for my daughter's birthday at the beginning of July.

Trying to stay frugal in this next week. It felt very spendy in the days leading up to our daughter's trip. So far no meals out, and the only spending were some sports bras, which we did need.

My Baby Girl Is Off to Europe

June 21st, 2017 at 12:28 pm

By midnight eastern time, my youngest daughter will be arriving in London for her first international trip! She will be gone 14 days. I will admit I did get a little teary eyed at the airport. I'm going to miss her. I guess a good trial run for next year when she leaves for college.

I'm glad my older daughter is home this summer. With my husband away I would probably be quite lonely!

I'm not sure how much we will hear from her, but we did buy her a very small data plan which included some texts for a whopping $40 with Verizon. One teacher on the trip plans to send at least one text a day, while another teacher is posting pictures to Facebook. As long as I know she is alive each day, I will survive. Smile

And if you are curious, she is in London two days. Four nights in France. One night in Belgium. Four nights in Germany. And finally one night in Austria. I think she is hoping to use a little of the German she has learned while she is there. The theme of the trip is WWII and the Western Front.

I guess I will save on groceries a bit during these next two weeks, with one less mouth to feed.

High Summer Utilities

June 18th, 2017 at 06:26 am

It's just that time of year. More watering of the lawn, which is very large. And the cooling of our home. Because of the high humidity and heat of the southeast, I cannot set the air conditioning too high or mold will grow.

Last month the water bill was $88 and this month it is $114. Not super happy about it, but the lawn does look better with more water on it. The good news is our neighborhood has put a ban on irrigation temporarily because one of the water pumps isn't working, thus some residents are having low water pressure. It helps those residents with better pressure if we don't irrigate. It has been one week so far and I expect that will result in a slightly lower bill next month.

The electric bill was $122.88 last month. This month it jumped to $220.90. I did compare that higher bill to last year at this time and it was $252. So I kind of feel that there is an improvement in using less electricity in areas we can control. I'm still hanging my own clothes to dry, but I know my girls are still using the dryer. And I do use the dryer for towels and jeans. Reducing the use of electricity is still on my radar. We will keep trying despite the weather!

Returns

June 13th, 2017 at 07:43 am

I returned a shirt to Kohl's this morning. I received $9.97 back to my Kohl's card and $1.34 in Kohl's cash. I find it odd to get Kohl's cash because the Kohl's cash I received had already been used in full. So a mini bonus I guess. At least I have 30 days to use it.

I have a pair of jeans I bought in April from JC Penney's that I need to return also. That will bring $20+ back to our budget.

The money is all going back to the clothing budget as there has been more spending there as of late.

Do you have anything at home that you purchased, but have now decided not to use? Return it and put that money back in your budget!

Snowflakes to Big Goal

June 10th, 2017 at 05:58 pm

Small amounts add up. I'm pretty sure I have said that before!

Our bank reimbursed us for a $3 ATM (incurred while my husband is away), plus gave us $0.07 for interest.

I sold four CDs of an older band on eBay earlier this week for a net profit of $1.67. Considering the used book/music store wouldn't even buy them, I'm happy with the small amount.

Just tonight I listed two books on eBay and one on half.com. One already sold! I expect a net of $4.90.

I think I mentioned in a past blog post that I was using up my change while out doing my normal purchases. I had $5.09 in coins, with over a dollar in pennies. I did get it spent. What I found to be a great place to spend it was at self checkouts that accept cash! Five dollars in coins is heavy in my wallet, so I didn't have it all with me initially.

Last night on a trip to Target, I made a point to take it all so I could get rid of it! Luckily there were no other people waiting while I inserted nearly $2 in coins in the machine. My balance was far more, but the machine lets you pick Pay With Card if you don't have enough cash, so that is what I did. I have moved $5.09 from our spending budget to our savings! And while I would have liked to have just deposited directly to our account, we bank online, so that isn't an easy option for us.

I'm gathering all the snowflakes I can while we rack up the cash towards our Big Goal, which you can get details on the sidebar if you don't know what that is. Smile

Eating Out Costs Since January

June 9th, 2017 at 04:26 am

OMG!

I say we don't really eat out, but I did a report on YNAB to see how much we have spent since January 1. We have spent $1,158.51 in restaurants. I was shocked. I feel like we only go out once, maybe twice a month.

Here's the monthly breakdown:

January $153.03
February $142.71
March $254.90
April $428.35
May $159.73
June $19.79

I know that in March my daughter was home on spring break, and my husband was off work, I know we ate out as a family at least once and took her to lunch at couple times. In April, we were traveling for eight days and we did buy food out many times during that time.

January, February, and May seem like they may be more normal spending amounts.

In May, there were 9 restaurant transactions. Four of those were my husband eating out for lunch. One was for pizza when I thought a friend of my daughter was going to eat with us. She didn't but I had already ordered it. The other four were restaurant meals for two to four of us. I would say two were for convenience and two were for enjoyment/entertainment.

I'm sure people spend far more than we do eating out, but even basic grab and go at Subway adds up!

Do you know how much you spend eating at restaurants on a monthly basis?

Cancel Basic Cable

June 8th, 2017 at 02:18 pm

We have basic cable here. Before we moved we had an antenna in our attic to receive over the air channels. I did the research here hoping to do the same, however, the signals are not great in our location for over the air. The cable portion for very basic channels is $30.48 which includes two digital adapters and taxes.

But guess what? We don't watch television. We end up watching things on our phones, tablets and computers. And what we watch doesn't require a cable subscription. I did think of one show my husband does often watch on Sunday mornings, but after talking to him he said he could watch it later online. He seemed to think that was a perfectly fine solution.

So I just need to make the change. I need to call the cable company and cut the cord! Once I do, and turn in the adapters, I will save at least $30.48 each month, that is $365.76 a year.

Do you have cable? Did you have it in the past and cut it? Do you rely on just over the air reception?

All The Things I Want to Say About Money

June 7th, 2017 at 06:33 am

I came across this blog post today. I feel like I could have written this post. I think these things. And I usually don't say anything unless I would be asked advice.

I do find it interesting that people don't see the disconnect between their actions (the spending) and the way they talk about money.

If you want to go on vacation (where you fly somewhere) and you earn $100K, you can make it happen. It doesn't have to happen every year. I know people who buy excessive (not necessarily expensive) clothes, eat out frequently, get their nails and hair done professionally, have children in MULTIPLE activities, yet don't have the ability to make a trip happen.

Now everyone has the right to choose how they spend their money, but don't speak as though you don't have control. The majority of the time we have much more control than we think we do.

Retirement Up Since Last Year & More

June 6th, 2017 at 01:35 pm

Retirement is definitely up from last year at this time. In fact, we had just met a milestone of $350K. But now, a year later our retirement accounts at last check totaled $439,848. A nice $89,000+ difference. That change is due to the market rise and our contributions over the year.

I sold an item on eBay yesterday. I only netted a small amount, maybe $2. But the items are gone. That money will go to the Big Goal.

I found a nickel in a store parking lot yesterday. Unfortunately, it didn't cover the costs of what I spent!

I used $30 worth of Amazon gift cards (earned through url=http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/creditcardfree] Swagbucks[/url]) to cover some phone and travel expenses for my daughter. A phone case and screen cover, a travel adapter, a book for her AP Literature class (she has to do a project over the summer!), and a travel wallet for cash and passport that she can wear under clothes. Out of pocket I only spent $6.52!

Today has been a no spend day! Happy about that, since it has been a very spendy June so far.

Paid Summer Tuition in Full

June 5th, 2017 at 03:59 pm

I paid my daughter's summer tuition bill in full this evening. A whopping $1,855.18 in cash out of our checking account. This money was saved since March of this year.

I've also paid for the books she needs. Two were purchased used for a combined total of $14.23. I'm nearly positive she will not want to keep them after the course is over, so they will get resold. The third book we rented for $17.76 on Amazon. I looked everywhere to buy or rent cheaper. The cheapest to buy was $24.99 for an eBook. When you rent a book, it is nearly always free to ship back, at least that is our experience with Amazon.

Feels fantastic to still be student loan debt free!

Big Savings Goal: $2,093.73

June 3rd, 2017 at 07:11 am

I'm not sure when I announced our Big Savings Goal, but it has been at least two months. I thought it would be good to share how far we have come.

The Big Savings Goal is $160,000.

We have saved $2,093.73 as of the end of May 2017.

I wish it was more, but I also am pleased that we have a decent start. I didn't put the goal out there to forget about it. I also expected progress to be a little slow in the beginning. We have a daughter in college, and some of our cash goes to tuition. We have a rent payment of $1800 for another year (hope to move and lower that amount).

I posted our interest for May in yesterday's post. Yes, that interest is going to our Big Savings Goal!

May Interest

June 2nd, 2017 at 05:39 am

The interest earned on our cash savings came to $92.26 in the month of May. We do have several 2% CDs where a lot of our money is parked, so that helps a lot.

In fact, I remembered when checking the interest, that at least one of the CDs allows new deposits added to it. I transferred $430 I had in a savings account at the same bank to that CD. I think it is actually two of the CDs that have that option, but the rate is the same, so it didn't really mater which one I picked.

Did you earn any interest in May?

$75 to BIG Goal

June 1st, 2017 at 11:45 am

We found out last night that my daughter's flute teacher is no longer going to be doing private lessons. As a result her last lesson with this teacher is in two weeks. As it turns out we have credits for three weeks of lessons. The store gave me a refund of one lesson back to my credit card last night of $25.

I had already budgeted $50 for the two lessons in June (the later half of June she will miss lessons due to her trip to Europe) not knowing we had credits. I decided to look at the money as a windfall and put it towards our Big Goal.

We aren't sure when my daughter will restart because a new teacher recommended by her teacher is currently going through the hiring process. So it all ends up as good budget news, but a bit sad my daughter has to start with a new teacher.

Sinking Funds

May 31st, 2017 at 03:55 am

I'm on FB group where there has been a lot of discussion about sinking funds. The definition they gave is 'saving a small amount of money each month for a certain amount of time before you make a purchase'. That definition is true, but a bit vague since it doesn't really explain the types of things you use sinking funds for.

I have used sinking funds (sometimes I call them escrow funds) for car registrations, Christmas, auto insurance for a very long time. I established these pretty early on. I wanted to get a discount for paying insurance semi annually. The only way to make sure I had the funds was to save for it. A little each month.

Specifically, I save $50 a month for Christmas. I guess I do have a birthday fund now too. I save $42 a month in that one. I also save $152 a month for car registrations, auto insurance and renters insurance.

Now that we use YNAB, I have quite a few more sinking funds. I don't always add to them all every month. For example, I know that my daughter has a fair share for band expenses due in the fall when marching season starts. It's usually around $300. I could save $25 a month, but that feels tedious to do all year long. So for the last couple months, I have been just putting various amounts in knowing the goal is to have all the money by August. I actually need to make a $75 payment to them tomorrow. And I do have that.

I established an eye care fund, as nearly all of us are due (over due actually) for eye exams and will need glasses. And I also established a cell phone replacement category. So far I have funded it well enough to purchase two new phones. My older daughter and I are holding out even longer with phones we bought 3 years ago. My does randomly turn off and on by itself sometimes, but she hasn't had any problems with hers.

Do you have sinking funds? What do you use yours for?


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