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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.

April Interest

May 1st, 2018 at 04:43 pm

We had a CD earning 2% that matured about a week ago. Luckily, we had another CD paying the same amount that we were able to roll the balance and accumulated interest into. That one matures in June. I hope at that time an even better rate is available.

In total our accounts earned $101.24 in the month of April.

All interest is saved towards our Big Goal. Smile

I Sold A Box

April 28th, 2018 at 09:12 am

Did you know that empty boxes for electronics and other collectibles are bought and sold on eBay? I just sold one for a console game. My net proceeds are $8.27 for something that was taking up room and I was considering recycling.

I know some people who buy and sell would say to keep the box, but honestly, we keep electronics so long that by the time we are selling for a few dollars the box isn't going to make a big difference in the price we gain.

I decided this one was taking up too much space and since I have no idea when we would sell or get rid of the actual electronic game, it was time to go.

More money in my pocket!

Money Magnet

April 26th, 2018 at 03:22 pm

Geez! Our oldest daughter is a money magnet as of late. This afternoon she was presented with a $600 scholarship for leadership in marching band. It was the first time this particular scholarship was given out. Smile

We feel so very blessed.

In other news, I gave away $50 to ethical science research. I'd like to give more and likely will, but I did this on a whim. I need to discuss future donations with my husband. Smile

We ordered our tickets in advance to see Avengers:Infinity War on Sunday morning. We have never ordered in advance, but noticed it was $1.00 surcharge per ticket which seemed reasonable to save time. When Black Panther came out we went nearly an hour ahead of the time and that showing was already sold out. This time we'll go early to get good seats, but we will already have purchased tickets.

ANOTHER Scholarship

April 23rd, 2018 at 04:27 pm

Wow! My daughter is a money magnet. She has now received a scholarship for summer classes. It has the same name as the big scholarship she currently has, but she didn't receive it last summer. It is possible that was because she was half time, just one three credit hour class. This newest scholarship is worth $2,800. The total summer bill is $4,768. I was expecting just under $4,000, and have been saving monthly to pay this. I figured out that I didn't remember to add up all the fees, or to figure that one of the classes (a business class) is a higher tuition rate. So now our portion to pay, due June 12 is $1,968.

I also had her apply for a summer grant worth up to $1,400 for summer. I'm not sure she's actually eligible as an out of state student, but it let her apply. That, or a portion, would be very helpful.

I will keep the extra $2000 I will have saved by mid June for future college expenses. Although it is honestly tempting to put it into our Big Goal. Smile

A Gift and an Injury

April 21st, 2018 at 06:44 am

My parents send my husband and I a $100 check every year for our anniversary. This year was no different. We usually save the money, rarely making a purchase. So yes, we deposited that money into our savings account to count towards our Big Goal.

As far as other snowflakes, I redeemed Amex rewards equal to $25 this week. I also transferred $3.49 from a small eBay sale to our savings account. I have two items I need to list to hopefully bring in a few more dollars.

I got a call from my oldest daughter yesterday with concern she may have fractured a bone in her foot. It was a goofy thing where her foot got trapped between her chair and her desk, so a bit crushed on the side of her left foot. She iced it and went to bed. Woke up and found it very painful to even walk. Somehow she managed to hobble around campus, and late in the day went in for an xRay. Luckily no break or fracture, just a bone contusion. So she has instructions to rest, ice, and elevate. My mom gave her some Ace bandages to use for compression. And the doctor said she could take up to three ibuprofen for pain. My daughter was shocked at the dosage suggested. She is one to stay away from all drugs as much as possible.

About two weeks ago, we realized our daughter was dropped from our insurance because she turned 21. Luckily we got right on it and updated her information to show she is enrolled full time in college. But then yesterday, I questioned my husband that it really did take effect. Initially, it seemed that no it had not. He did some sort of online enrollment and then did get a letter emailed to him before she arrived at the clinic. The visit is free at the University Health clinic (up to five per year), but the xRays will need to go through insurance. She has a $150 deductible so that will need to be met before insurance pays. It is worth it for piece of mind, knowing she didn't break it...just felt like it!

It's a beautiful day here, were going out for a hike! Enjoy your weekend. Stay frugal and healthy.

Another Scholarship!

April 17th, 2018 at 06:24 am

My oldest daughter has a four year scholarship worth $14K per year, along with a $500 Honor's Scholarship. She also had another scholarship her freshman year (worth $1-2K). These have helped tremendously the first two years since we pay out of state tuition. This year, her third year, the Post 911 GI Bill has paid the difference after scholarships, along with a book and housing stipend. We have paid very little out of pocket this year. I need to do an update on that here soon.

We have been notified she is receiving an art scholarship next year worth $1500. This will be divided in half, so worth $750 per semester. This is most significant for the spring semester, as she will not have Post 911 GI Bill benefits to use, thus everything after scholarships is ours to pay.

We expect our daughter will be going an extra semester (Fall 2019) because she is a double major. That semester will be the most expensive, or possibly the least expensive. Scholarships will have run out (unless awarded a new one), thus the entire out of state tuition will be on our shoulders. She has been averaging 17 credit hours a semester, so the cost could be almost $20K. We do not have the money now and expect her college funds to be depleted by then. We are starting to think it would be in the best interest to move more of my husband's Post 911 GI Bill benefits to our oldest daughter just in time for her final semester. And then that benefit covers the entire tuition!

Our youngest daughter will be receiving in state tuition. Yes, her college is in another state. Smile Her tuition after scholarships is $3500 PER YEAR for the first two years, for 12 credits or more. The remaining two years will be higher as an engineering student, around $1500 per year, or $4500 TOTAL per year. Again, this is not including housing. Honestly, we can totally cover tuition out of pocket for her even in those higher cost years.

Our thinking now is to move more of the GI Bill benefits to our oldest daughter because the benefit to us financially is much higher.

At any rate, just excited our daughter was awarded a scholarship! Part of it will benefit our us directly, the other benefits the US taxpayer...paying less out of the GI Bill funds to the university.

In other news, received $10 Diamond Class Action settlement. Apparently enough leftover funds from several years ago to make another payout! I also sold a book on eBay last night, so few extra dollars there.

I sort of felt like a money magnet yesterday!

Rewards, Sale, Savings

April 16th, 2018 at 04:39 am

I've added some more cash to our Big Goal. Our plan is to add $108 per pay period. I keep forgetting when I do our budget in YNAB, so then I have to go back in and make adjustments for it to work! This is money from my husband's raise this year. We also save last year's raise. So we are still living on 2016 income!

I think I will switch this to an automatic savings transfer, then I can have automatically set up to record in YNAB as well. I can't let this money disappear into our spending!

I made an eBay sale last night. Net proceeds about $11 on something we no longer need or use. It had been listed for awhile, but I was okay waiting for the right person to come along.

I redeemed $22.99 from our Chase Freedom account. Cash will be deposited into our bank account in the next day or so.

Happy to have cash flowing in and the ability to save it.

March Snowflakes

April 10th, 2018 at 04:54 am

I just reviewed the snowflakes we received in March. Here's a breakdown:

$3.53 eBay proceeds (our portion, daughter received more)
$25.00 Amex reward
$20.00 Amex offer
$18.00 Rooms to Go settlement
$66.53 Total

Not much but it does add up!

On that Amex offer, we made a purchase at Boxed.com and received a credit on our Amex statement. I simply moved money from the Household Expenses category that would have been spent without the offer and put that money in the Big Goal category.

For anyone new, snowflakes is just a term for extra money. Since many people snowball their debt payments, finding extra money to add is a like adding some snowflakes to the snowball. We are debt free, so we simply add our snowflakes to our savings goals.

Over $100 in Interest

April 9th, 2018 at 11:32 am

I'm a bit behind reporting!

Our March interest earned on our cash savings was $105.96! I actually think this was the first time that has ever happened. We've been close, but not over. I think it's because I moved about $16K to an account earning far more interest. Wise move I made it seems. Smile

We have a CD that comes due this month. I need to think through about rolling it over. We could move this year (as early as October). I expect we will rent, but if we don't...might need that cash accessible. Something to be thinking through in the next couple weeks.

Edited to add: We can roll this money into other CDs we already hold at Navy Federal. They accept new money at any time. I think it may be worth rolling it into one that matures in June at the very least. I think this was my plan all along. Smile

Spent Some of That Vacation Budget

April 6th, 2018 at 07:15 pm

I finally got my rear in gear and made some airline reservations! I booked my daughter's trip home for the summer. We always do this one way since we don't know exactly when she plans to arrive on campus for the fall. This usually works out in our favor with decent one way tickets. This one cost us $155.

Next I booked our tickets to travel back to the last state we lived in. This is where our youngest daughter will go to college in the fall. I don't disclose exactly where we live because my husband is military and has asked me not to. Smile Our daughter has orientation at the end of June for two days. We will leave on a Friday, have a free Saturday, orientation on Sunday and Monday, and then a free day on Tuesday before flying home on Wednesday morning. Our oldest daughter is coming with us in hopes of seeing some old friends. The airline tickets cost us just over $1,600! Now you can see why I needed to be adding to the vacation budget this year!

I will need to book hotels for five nights AND get a rental car. I think at least three of the nights we may book at a hotel with a kitchen, so may just eat in those nights for dinner and have breakfast provided by the hotel. That will help quite a bit. The good news is I have one free night at Marriott as well as points we can redeem. So it appears we may only need to pay for one night out of pocket. I also looked briefly at rental cars. I have some discount options to consider, but guess at least $150-$200.

We may also do a test run of the shuttle my daughter will take to get to and from campus to the airport on her visits home. She will not have a car. We expect a trial run, may help ease any anxiety about the process. This will cost us about $59 for two of us one way. Not exactly frugal, but helpful. We may change our minds on this, but right now seems like a good option.

Vacation Budget Status

April 2nd, 2018 at 11:55 am

I think I mentioned we are likely to need to do some travel this year, primarily to visit our youngest daughter's college for orientation in June and later in the summer to move her in. I also need to buy our older daughter a plane ticket home in May. I should do that any day now. And we are also planning a small trip to the mountains this summer as a family. We will drive, but will need to cover fuel, hotels, food and activities.

I was able to add $500 this pay period to the vacation budget. We now have $3,427.56!

I don't have an exact number we need. I suppose I should start estimating that! It's starting to feel like a lot of hotel nights! We do have some points with Marriott, so will likely use those for some of the nights we need to cover. May need to get creative for other nights to pay the least out of pocket, but within our comfort zone.

I expect to be able to add more money as the weeks go by!

Using It Up: Butternut Squash

March 30th, 2018 at 10:31 am

I guess it was January when I last made a point of using things up. I was doing an Uber Frugal Month with spending and using things we already had on hand was part of making that work.

I had some diced butternut squash in the fridge that I didn't even get to then! It's almost April! Late this morning, I threw the squash in a saucepan with garlic, onion, ginger and carrots to saute' for several minutes. Oh yes, there was salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. I added some chicken broth (made from bouillon) and simmered for another ten minutes. And then in the end added a cup of milk (I was going to use coconut milk, but it had gone bad, oops!). Finally, blended it with my immersion blender.

My food stores are still pretty limited from the Uber Frugal month. To me this means we are buying only what we will actually eat and use! Far less food waste or extra money spent.

I know it's a holiday weekend for many and could mean more spending on groceries, but be sure to check your pantry before you go shopping. Maybe you already have ingredients you need, or possibly you have something on hand that could be used instead of something you think you need to buy.

Yesterday, I listed six new items to eBay. These were items we found this month to let go. These were ones that may have a chance of selling for a few dollars. I'm hoping for some quick sales!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend! Stay frugal out there. Smile

My Blogoversary

March 27th, 2018 at 12:39 pm

A few random updates.

I returned an item I bought last week to Walmart. It just didn't work like I thought it would. That put $3.94 back in our pockets, which I probably did really spend again, because I needed several things while I was there. And I also bought my husband Star Wars, Last Jedi that came out today on Blu Ray. I lucked out that he never paid money to see this in the theatre, so only buying the movie is a win! Sometimes it seems we have to do both. Ugh!

I earned $5.10 from Ibotta this month. Not a lot, but I don't buy many of the things they offer.

I have not been doing Swagbucks much this month. I have 1490SB currently. I'll just keep accumulating them when I feel like it. I also have almost 2500 MyPoints, which seems to be owned by the same company as Swagbucks!?

We had our daughter home for Spring Break last week. We did some extra eating out as a result, which I expected and planned for. And guess what, next week is my younger daughter's spring break!? I don't think it will cause us to eat out more, but I'm thinking we may do some shopping for clothes, or even some college dorm room items!

Budget is getting a little tight as we near the end of the month, but payday is Friday, so I expect I can stay within the budget we put out for March.

I missed my TEN year Blogoversary earlier this month on March 12. I'm quite shocked I have stayed at it this long. It's been fun, and very rewarding to reach towards our goals, andcheer each other on in this community all while creating a log of our financial happenings!

Next Quarter Cash Back & Upgrade

March 20th, 2018 at 08:04 am

I was reviewing next quarter's cash back offers. Chase Freedom and Discover have 5% cash back on Groceries. I'm not sure I will be using them though because I have upgraded our American Express Blue Everyday card with the Cash Preferred (I think that's it) which will offer 6% cash back on groceries, and 3% on gas and department stores.

I've known about this card for awhile...but with all the churning of card offers over the years I just didn't dip into this one most likely due to the annual fee. I try to avoid those, but sometimes in the end it is worth it!

American Express made it easy to upgrade. My account numbers are the same. We will get new cards. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. If we spend $2000 or more on the card in the first three months we will get a $150 statement credit. I do not expect this to be a problem.

We've been averaging earning $25 statement credit each month just using the card for purchases at grocery stores. At 6% cash back, I expect we can double this amount. And I think there is a limit to the amount you can spend and still get the 6%. Eventually, we may need to turn to another card. We do have another Blue Cash Everyday card in my husband's name so we could at least get 3%.

Now I'm starting to wonder if I should use the 5% back on Chase and Discover for the second quarter. That would help me not meet the maximum for grocery stores so quickly on the American Express. I guess I have a little more to ponder, as I would still need to spend $2000 to get the statement credit.

I'll get it figured out eventually! Smile

Oh, I did change our Electric bill to be charged to our US Bank Visa for 5% cash back. All set for next quarter...and hopefully all quarters following.

Rewards & Spending

March 19th, 2018 at 11:57 am

In the last week, as I have paid our credit cards in full, I found that two of them had rewards I could redeem. I redeemed $22.11 in cash from our Chase Freedom account. We have been using that card for fuel, cable, phone (Ooma) and Netflix purchases this quarter to earn 5% cash back.

Our American Express card had earned another $25 in rewards. This is applied as a statement credit, but I did put that same amount towards our Big Goal.

Today was a little spendy! My husband is home from work while our daughter visits. We ran to Target to pick up a sympathy card, light bulbs, shaving cream and packing tape. We decide to make this our day out to each lunch. We will eat at home the next few days, with more eating out to celebrate her birthday later in the week. And finally, we picked up some hair product our daughter uses from Ulta (did have a coupon). That was $83 of spending! I'm glad I added extra to our budget accounts.

My husband is going to get the oil changed in my van tomorrow. We have been saving for car maintenance, so no worries about finding cash for that! We are set.

Tonight I'm making this for dinner. Some of us will add chicken. I'm also going to use some hamburger buns to make a garlic bread. I've made that recipe with green beans instead of asparagus with good results...even more frugal.


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