There isn't much financial news going on here, thus the lack of posts. The good news is there has been minimal spending, gas and groceries primarily.
I did get an email offer from Discover card for $10. I had to make the card my 1-Click setting on Amazon and was given a $10 credit. I already used it to pick up a book that is normally $15. I don't like to purchase books, but this topic is one I find hard to get at the library.
I've been decluttering more of our paper files this week. I was motivated after dealing with some old tax files. I did a very large purge of papers in January 2015. Bags and bags of shredding went out. When we moved later that year we had two very stuffed file boxes. Those are a pain to move. It is not recommended to send personal or sensitive information with the movers. So you hand carry them. My goal is to get our files down to one box or even less preferably. So much can be kept digitally now, however I also do not want to spend a lot of time scanning. So I'm being very intentional with what paper I keep.
I listed a couple more items on eBay to earn a few snowflakes (found money). I've spied a couple books I could likely list, but need to review them first to make sure. And there's a DVD my mother gave me, that I need to watch and then sell for a few dollars. I think I will watch that today. It's raining and I can sort some more papers while I do so.
There isn't much financial news going on here, thus the lack of posts. The good news is there has been minimal spending, gas and groceries primarily.
I just booked our oldest daughter's flight home for spring break. She will fly Southwest Airlines. I used points we accumulated on our Southwest Visa during 2017 to cover the cost of the flight.
I did pay for Early Bird Checkin, which is $30 roundtrip. If I were flying alone, I'd skip it, but as a young adult she does like the ability to pick her seat early so she can get off the plane quickly to get to her connecting flight on time. It basically is paying for her to have a little less stress during the process. And I had to pay the TSA Security Fee as well, $11.20.
Grand total $41.20. Can't beat that!
Our US Bank Visa sent me an email to pick our 5% cash back categories for second quarter beginning in April. I always pick 5% cash back on cell phones which saves us about $8 per month or $96 a year. I'm picking that again!
I'm picking 2% cash back for Restaurants. I could have chosen Grocery Stores or Gas Stations, but I have other cards that provide that or more. I also rarely remember to use this card for the 2% categories because I'm not usually carrying this card in my wallet.
There is a new 5% category...Utilities! According to US Bank this includes electric companies, gas utilities and waste management companies. We don't have gas in our home that we pay regularly. Probably will only fill up once right before we move. The payment for our trash service is paid out of our checking account and is not worth switching to a credit card as there is a fee that would offset any savings.
As you know, we spend way too much on electricity in this home as I have mentioned in the past. And I do pay with a credit card...so that means I WILL be switching cards to take advantage of the cash back. This month's bill is $250...so we would have received $12.50 back if it were in effect. I'm not sure if this benefit will last more than one quarter, but I expect it may be a regular option. If so I could possibly receive $300 just by paying our electric bill with this card.
Do any of you get 5% cash back on your electric or other utility bills?
I cashed out my Ibotta account last night. The funds were immediately transferred to my PayPal account. Just this morning I moved those funds to savings, not sure why I waited! I was able to cash out $41.38.
I also had proceeds from an item I sold on eBay yesterday as well, so I transferred those to savings. In total I added $49.56 to our Big Goal funds.
It does take awhile for Ibotta coupon savings to add up and you need a $20 balance to withdraw, but I find it easier than cutting or printing coupons. If you are interested in saving this way, you can sign up under me here.
I mentioned in my post yesterday that I was waiting to hear back from US Bank about earning 5% cash back on our daughter's computer purchase with Dell. I had selected 5% cash back on Electronics and Cell Phones (I always select this one) for the first quarter of the year.
Turns out Dell does not designate themselves as an Electronics Store but as Computer & Computer Software retailer. I really should have asked this question in advance. I took a chance. I had even considered buying Dell gift cards at a discount site, but then figured I wouldn't get the 5% back since that would be a gift card purchase. In the end that is what I should have done because those gift cards were at a 4% discount.
I did get 1% back on the purchase with Dell, so saved $14.61. I also clicked through Ebates for 2% cash back or $27.88. I will get that money in May when Ebates send me my Big Fat Check (that's what they call it). I see now they have 10% cash back on Dell. Ugh. I have to trust that I got a good deal on the site at the time. If I remember right the computer was discounted by 10%.
My husband was paid today. I put $108 into our Big Goal Fund since this is the amount of his paycheck that is over what he was receiving before. So important to save as much of our raises as possible, so we don't get the creep of lifestyle inflation.
I also sold another item on eBay. Net is probably about $7.50. It will go to the goal too. It adds up!
I found some cash yesterday! I made sure to get all of it deposited into our savings accounts to go to the Big Goal. If you are new here, I call found money snowflakes. It's a term that comes from adding small amounts of money to your debt snowball to pay the debt off quickly. I also use the term when adding small amounts to my big savings goals.
Here's what I found:
$1.33 Discover Rewards
$4.59 Ebay Proceeds
$19.10 Chase Freedom Rewards
$3.11 USAA ATM rebate and interest
I also have some rewards with US Bank, but I'm checking with them about the amount. I think I'm owed more after purchasing a computer from Dell and having 5% cash back on electronics chose for this quarter.
Not big money, but I'm telling it where to go so it will make a difference in our goals. I share so that if you have any snowflakes you might be inspired to put that money towards your financial goal, whether that is paying off debt or saving. The small amounts add up.
Where do you find your snowflakes?
I was checking to see if I have the Boxed.com offer on my American Express card today, after Ceejay mentioned it the comments of a recent post. Yes, I do. I will likely take advantage of stocking up on household items so I can get $20 off the $75 purchase. I will check prices of course to make sure they make sense.
I have the American Express Everyday Cash Back card. Apparently I can refer others, and earn $75 per referral. If you also apply, you can earn $200 statement credit after spending $1000. There is no annual fee. Always read the fine print and don't open credit cards you don't have a way to pay off before interest accrues.
Oh, and I do have a referral for Boxed.com too if you are interested in buying in bulk.
You get $15 off your first order and I receive a $15 credit.[/url] Check it out and see if it make sense for you.
Thanks in advance for anyone that uses my links!
Wow, the first half of the month is nearly over! My parents were here for 12 days, and boy does it show in the grocery budget. We spent $202 on a full grocery trip three days before they arrived. And then proceeded to spend $276 more in groceries while they were here! We did eat very well and I know there are leftovers I can still use up in the coming days.
And believe it or not we even went out to dinner a few times. We picked up the tab for my mom's birthday at a sushi place. They bought me lunch at a Indian restaurant, Panera and another lunch at the sushi restaurant. Otherwise all meals were cooked at home, but I guess we picked all the expensive ingredients!
So maybe we can get the grocery bills lower in the second half of the month. I do know my daughter and I will be eating leftovers for dinner while my husband is at a work event this evening. I will need to take stock of what I have and make use of it as the month progresses!
So finally, after many issues last month, I was able to log on to the free version of H&R Block to file our taxes. We are able to file free as military members through the Military One Source website. The filing was free for Federal and State. We owe $91 to the federal government, which is better than the expected $400 I had in mind. And we are exempt from state income tax in our state of legal residence, since they do not tax Active Duty Pay. I have already schedule payment from our checking account to take place on March 1st. I could have waited longer obviously, but I just want to get it done!
I think for now I will keep our withholding allowances at 9. Dido made me aware that there will be a $500 credit per dependent over age 17 beginning in 2018, so that reduces the tax owed by $1000. I may actually increase it later in the year, but I will wait until we know what the actual college expenses we pay are. Right now it could be as much as a $2500 American Opportunity tax credit and maybe $400 Lifetime Learning Credit. As it stands now, we will have $3918 withheld for 2018, and likely actual tax would be $6900. So we are in the right place with withholding.
And I can see that our next paycheck is higher due to the new withholding tables. The amount is $45.70 more per pay period or $91.40 per month. We were already getting an additional $63.15 per pay period due to my husband's raise. So since December we have $217 more in our pockets each month. And more going to retirement because of the raise! Can't complain about that.
In other news, I sold three more items on eBay in the last week. Not big money, but it all adds up. It goes to the Big Goal...as should that extra income above.
I have calculated the new withholding amounts we expect to see on my husband's paychecks going forward after the new tax law was passed. I used paycheckcity.com to do the calculations. We currently withhold 9 exemptions every pay period. That means the withholding in the past for us has been $409 per month. The new amount based on the same withholding will be $319 per month. An $80 difference, or $960 a year.
Sounds great right? Well, if I'm understanding the new tax laws for no personal exemptions, but higher standard deduction for married couples, and lower tax brackets, we will definitely have lower taxes, but the withholding we are currently at will be deficient by $400, and maybe more if we cannot take the full American Opportunity Credit for college expenses in 2018. I don't mind owing, but I'm now working to decided if I want to change our withholding to 8, or even add more to retirement to offset income.
I will get it figured out. I know how to do it all, I just need more time to decide what we want to do. Sending more to retirement when we already invest 18% and expect a pension equal to half my husband's pay is starting to seem like overkill. Again, just decisions to be made. I also need to figure how much we may actually pay in college costs out of pocket this year.
Oh, and a note slightly related to figuring taxes. When you claim the American Opportunity Tax credit you can only do it for four years per child. So if you claim it their first semester of their freshman year, that is one tax year. Therefore, once you get to spring semester of their senior year, you are into a fifth tax year...which you cannot claim. In our case, I did claim it for our oldest daughter for that first semester. Although, we didn't use the full amount, but my guess is as tuition increases through the year and our educational savings options run out we would benefit more in that final semester. I think there is still the Lifetime Learning Credit that can be taken indefinitely and combined even if you have another student still eligible for the AOTC. (There are income limits, so don't assume you are eligible based on the information I provide here. Do your own research for your specific situation)
I also have to remember that I can adjust withholding later in the year as we have more information...such as the amount we have actually paid out of pocket for college expenses that could be claimed.
Hmm...another thought I may actually take the Lifetime Learning Credit for my youngest this year, since it will be for just one semester. Then finish up using the American Opportunity Credit for our oldest daughter for 2018. The following year we could swap these. I think that could work. That would lower our taxes even more. I sure would rather the money go to pay tuition, than to the government who is overspending as it is with our tax dollars.
Have you done the calculations for your 2018 taxes? Did you have to change withholding? Will your taxes be less?
After a low spend January, we had extra funds to allocate. I finally took care of that yesterday, by adding $1000 to our vacation budget. We are definitely going to be on the move this year, so the budget needs help.
We potentially have a small beach vacation with family that will visit in June. The beach is about two hours away, so no airline tickets, but contribution to a rental for sure. And food!
We are going to need to travel to our youngest daughter's college for orientation in June. We likely could skip it living so far away, but we think since we can make it work, it will be helpful as part of the adjustment living away from us to have more experience on campus. We will likely fly for this event. Hotels also needed.
We also want to fly with our daughter and help her move in to her dorm in the fall. Ironically, while typing this message a parent online was asking about storage and moving solutions for out of state students. In helping her I found two that we may be able to use to have her items transported so we don't need to drive 20 hours! We think we will send her bike, so that is bulky. Although maybe it's better to sell it, and buy another one. All things we need to figure out.
Then we would like to visit both girls in late fall, maybe for Thanksgiving. The point is our budget for travel is going to start to be a bigger expense than ever. So it felt good to add $1000 in just one month.
I think I can cover spring break for our daughter with Southwest points. Yay!
Totaled up January interest for all of our accounts today. Grand total earned was $92.79. We have more money earning higher interest, but the amount earned is a little lower, primarily because I missed moving a matured CD immediately to a new CD. Lost out on about 10+ days of interest. Probably only lost $5...too lazy to figure out the exact amount.
I transferred $131 that went to a savings account from my husband's paycheck into a CD earning 2%. I make a point to do this every month. Not all CDs let you add new money, but we currently have at least two that do!
I also made sure to add $63.15 to our Big Goal. Currently this is the amount of increased pay after my husband's raise. This is twice per month. Once I figure out the new withholding I will probably add this money to the $131 we send to savings...so around $250 a month.
I sold some scissors that had been hanging out in my sewing box for years! I probably used them once or twice, but since I really had no use for them, I put them up for sale. My net proceeds were $5.93. All sales of our unused items go to the Big Goal.
Yesterday, I donated a large box and bag of items I have decluttered from our home this month. There were easily a few things that I could have tried to sell, but being bulky and heavy, I decided it was better to just donate and be done. My husband isn't a fan of strangers coming to our door or meeting them in this town we live in so that limits what I can sell. I know that we are blessed with plenty, so it is only right to simply pass things on when we no longer need them.
I paid the University $4,383.69 yesterday for spring tuition and housing. It's primarily housing and books since tuition was covered by the Post 911 GI Bill benefits. So grateful once again that we have been able to provide three years of college expenses without loans. Once we get to 2019 for our older daughter it will get a bit more interesting. Not sure yet exactly how we are doing that, we have just under $5K saved in her ESA, but loans may be involved. I'll have to write a whole other post on that later.
Feeling very blessed!
Last night we ordered a Dell laptop for our youngest daughter. She is heading to college in the fall and we found with our older daughter it was nice to have it purchased well before the first day classes.
Originally we tried to purchase one direct through the University to save on sales tax, however, the one they recommended and were offering was no longer available. It would have been $1299, including a 4 year warranty. Apparently, it was a special deal the university was able to get in cooperation with Dell last year. (I'm sure there will be on again in the early summer or fall, but we decided to just get what we need now to be done with that decision making process...it was stressing us all out for some reason!)
We basically got the same laptop we originally ordered through the University. We did downgrade to a 3 year warranty because that saved us nearly $250. We upgraded to a 2 in 1 version, so that it has a touchscreen available and can be flipped and used like a tablet.
Our daughter will be an engineering major, so the laptop does have higher specs than some students may need in college. We did get an older version and an older processor, but again the same one the University was suggesting that we thought we could still purchase.
The University did give us some other options to purchase but they were more expensive than the one we ended up purchasing directly with Dell. They were having 10% off select computers (slightly older models it appeared). The warranty was three years for the price of two. We did get free shipping, but had to pay sales tax of 7%.
The final total charged to our US Bank card was $1,481.65. I had selected electronics stores as one of my 5% cash back categories for this quarter. That will amount to $74.08 off the total. I went through the Ebates shopping portal for 2% back (better than Swagbucks 1% offer), and that will give us $27.88 back in cash (should arrive in May). Both of those more than cover the sales tax we were charged.
I did have to move another $184+ to the computer category as this is the amount over what we originally thought we would pay to the University for the laptop they offered. Luckily, a low spend month help me know we have that amount covered!
Computer arrives on Thursday, and my daughter is excited. She and I no longer have to share!
For the purposes of this blog and January Uber Frugal month, I am closing out our budget. We went grocery shopping today, but I am not including it since most of the food will cover more days in February than January. I did include the fuel we bought for the van, which was $41.96.
It doesn't show in my screenshots, but we were over our budget by $36.05. Not bad at all considering several things were not planned, such as the dinner on Friday, buying vitamins for our daughter or buying a new fridge water filter. And yes, our groceries are probably inflated, not for eating more food, but for buying high quality food. We are dieting so we are actually eating less..and have both lost weight!
I zeroed all the categories out. This is how I end each month in YNAB. The remaining amount that we didn't allocate to anything this month $1,648.89! Lower spending does pay off! I will add the money to various long and short term goals. Some may go to the Big Goal, most of it will go to bigger expenses that we expect later this year.
Just so you know we are very unlikely to have spent all of that $1600 in a regular month. Compared to December 2017, we spent $1200 more than we did this month. And we spent $450 less than last January. I feel we were very successful this month.
We had a very nice time eating out. We did really good considering it was a brewery...we didn't drink! And I only had water with my meal. We spent three hours there and spent $38.61 on our entrees and DH's diet coke. He tipped generously with $8, for a total of $46.61 spent. So we are definitely over our frugal January restaurant budget. However, you really can't say no to an invite by friends that you don't see that often.
We stopped by the grocery store last night before coming home because we needed eggs. I did remember a few other needs(flour, turkey crumbles, cheese) as well, along with two requests from our daughter. We spent another $29.94 in groceries. We are now over the Uber Frugal budget in groceries too.
Despite going over budget in a lot of budget categories this month, we have done really well. I purposely put the budget low to keep us thinking about our spending. We have months where we just don't monitor it as closely. That's why I find these low spend months so helpful.
Here's what the Everyday Spending categories look like right now. I will probably end our reporting of our spending and Uber Frugal month after today. We have guests coming and I need to get some things purchased (specifically groceries) tomorrow. Notice how there's just $10 left! That's cutting it close isn't it?
The good news is there is plenty of cash to still be allocated to savings. I'll share that amount tomorrow!! It's a pretty big number.
Yesterday, I spent $3.50 to mail my sister her lanyard that I made. All items I used, including the mailer and card were items I had in my home, so no other out of pocket costs. We decided a few years ago not to exchange gifts, but she is my sister and since I felt inspired to make something I just did it!
I also spent $2.12 on a birthday card for my mother. She will be here next week and her birthday will take place during her visit. I'm not sure if I'm buying her a gift yet. I'm thinking of buying flowers to have during her time here as I know she doesn't NEED stuff. I know we will likely go out to dinner, too.
Speaking of dinner, I just got a phone call that a former coworker of my husband is in town and wanted to know if we want to go to dinner tonight. I guess we are...people before money, right? I could offer up dinner at our house, but since the plan is for this evening...I don't feel prepared in the least.
I went to FreeTaxUSA to work on filing our taxes since the free option we have as military members is currently not working. Ugh. Our taxes are pretty simple at this point. We no longer itemize since we do not own a home. In fact the last couple years we owned a home, our interest rate was so low in addition to taxes, itemizing was less than the standard deduction. So we took the standard deduction.
I have not filed our taxes yet, not sure if it is even open to do so. (I checked. The IRS begins accepting returns on January 29 this year.) But the final result is that we owe $91. This is really my perfect scenario. To owe just a little. I can come up with $91 any day of the week, so no big deal to figure out where the money owed will come from.
With FreeTaxUSA, federal filing is free. They do charge $12.95 for state filing. However, I'm pretty sure you can get that cut in half using a coupon code. I know Swagbucks is offering 50% off, or 50SB per dollar paid. Ebates is offer 25% cash back it looks like. So for a net of $6.50 I think it may be worth it to just file with them rather than spending time re-entering all the data. Sometimes the money spent is worth the time saved.
Somehow this year, taxes were even more simple than usual. We benefit with lower taxes due to saving in my husband's TSP, which are pretax contributions. We also took advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit this year. We spent $7,565 on qualified tuition and expenses. This does not include housing. Of course, only $4,000 of that amount is eligible for the AOC, which provided us with $1,500 tax credit and a $1000 refundable credit.
Next step is to start figuring out our tax scenario for 2018, so I can get close to even like I did this year.
Have you figured your taxes yet? Are yours complicated or more simple?
We have $122.76 left to spend through the end of the month based on the budget I made to be Uber Frugal. We bought groceries on Sunday, so that definitely made a dent in the available cash.
Oh, look you can see that we contributed to our retirement, specifically our Roth IRAs.
My husband also bought fuel since the last time I posted this snapshot. Otherwise I think that is it for spending! I will likely need fuel in my van before the end of the month, but we may come under budget in fuel.
We usually shop for groceries together on Sunday's. I intend to do the same this week. We will go over budget because I will be purchasing food for guests during that trip. The guests arrive on Wednesday. After our shopping trip, I may be able to estimate the cost for foods to get us through mid day on Wednesday. That is what would count for January. The remaining will count for February. It is what it is. Hard to get budgets to match up perfectly with a calendar and unusual events such as visiting guests.
How are you doing with your spending goals this month?
I personally did no spending today. I stayed home and sewed a lanyard for my sister who is a kindergarten teacher. This is her birthday gift. I made it from what I already had on hand in my sewing stash. I will need to mail it to her but I expect that to be only a couple dollars.
My husband received a $10 gift card from AutoZone in the mail today. He purchased new headlights for his truck that had a $10 rebate, thus the gift card. He went to AutoZone to use it for new map lights, which he thinks now wasn't a need but a wiring issue that has come loose. He attempted to get me a battery for my truck key fob, but they didn't have it. Oh, actually he also said he may have stripped the screw that holds the key fob together so we may not even be able to get a battery in it. At least the key still works!
I have some tax documents coming in including my husband's W2. I planned to use whatever the software the military has available, however, the site we need to go through Military One Source is having issues. I'm not able to log in. It seems others are having similar issues. I hope it is corrected soon. I probably could go find another site to use to at least get an idea where we stand, pay or refund. I remember last year doing a projection and expect we may need to pay $400.
Yes, we did go to the grocery store (commissary) yesterday, but we did use up more food in the cupboard and fridge last week. I thought I'd list a few of them:
Can of tuna
Can of chickpeas
5 Halo tangerines
Refried beans (in the freezer)
Leftover pork chop (in the freezer)
I did have to toss some tomato sauce. It had been in the fridge too long. It was about 1/4 cup. Food waste happens.
This week I'm going to make chicken in the crockpot to use up some Pineapple Siracha Jam we received as a gift. Trying to limit sugar, but this is probably the best way to use up and also create flavor for the chicken.
Other items I aim to use up this week:
One hamburger bun
Two whole sized pita pockets
Can of pumpkin
We have croutons, wheat thins and a can of Spaghetti Os that should get eaten but I'm trying to limit processed carbs and none of those seem worth it to eat while on this diet. Yes, I'm aware the pitas and hamburger bun are carbs...may push those off on my daughter. I think I need to donate the Spaghetti Os. My daughter was ill a few months ago and they sounded good to her. I bought two cans when I should have just bought one. We really don't eat that kind of thing anymore.
How are you doing using up what you have? My stash is pretty limited but I'm making a point of using up those things that seem to just keep sitting around longer than usual.
My husband and daughter considered going to Jumanji yesterday. I did remind them it was a no spend month. In the end we did some clothes shopping for our daughter, which was more of a need. We also visited the kitties at the pet store. So cute...and tempting!
Three shirts were bought at Target, spent about $60 on those (not frugal), in addition to lotion, laundry detergent and windex. I had a $50 gift card, used two cartwheel offers and there was 15% off clothing if I used our Red Card. So, out of pocket we spent $25.80.
Today we went grocery shopping. Final total at the commissary was $151.26. Pet food was $21 and Vitamin C was $8.77. The rest was food. We bought salmon and chicken this week, so that wasn't exactly frugal. We also needed lots of veggies which are key to our healthy diets.
Still no alcohol has been purchased! That's three weekends in a row. My husband did mention it last night, but he is committed to the diet for the month.
I thought I'd throw another visual snapshot of our Everyday Spending up for you all to see since it is Uber Frugal Month. Not sure our month is exactly that, but I think we are very aware of the spending that is happening.
I think I mentioned the vitamins purchased for my daughter. That is why Personal Care is already showing over budget. Still have the money in our account to cover it.
And we've spent more on groceries. I picked up eggs and spinach today for $6.10. I do buy organic eggs, thus the higher prices.
And I did send my college daughter a package. It had to go Priority Mail and cost $10.55. This was budgeted and came from the Gift category.
How is your spending going during this Uber Frugal Month? Staying frugal? Or is spending high?
I sold 9 books on eBay last night and this morning. Net amount to our bank account is $32.60. I'll take it and put it towards the Big Goal.
Another snow day because of ice on roads in the northern part of our county, so no school again. I will get out today though because roads are dry here and I need to go to the post office to mail the books!
I will also stop at the store, as we are out of greens and eggs. We will need both for tomorrow.
We will all need to get out of the house this weekend. It is going to be warmer and we've been cooped up for too many days. I don't want to spend money, so I'm not yet sure what we will find to do. I don't need ideas...I know that we'll find something.
We are on our second snow day. Yesterday, could have been a school day as the snow didn't start falling until after 7pm. Yes, rain earlier, but temps didn't drop until much later as well. I guess other northern areas of the county did get snow earlier. That means no driving for me or my husband to go into work. Of course, since the temperatures dropped the heat pump is running constantly.
My husband picked up some more Diet Coke and snacks at the store. Husband and I are limiting snacks and he was just suppose to get one thing for our daughter. Instead three snack items came home. He spent $17+ at the store. Snacks should last awhile because we are not mindfully putting our hands into the package. We measure it all out.
I did purchase several kinds of Vitamins for my oldest daughter. I buy a couple different ones for her and she was basically about out of all of them. I spent $49. That was not budgeted, although she did mention needing them soon. I was hoping to wait until February. It is what it is. We can afford it.
The other cash spent was on my husband's haircut. He spent $13.70. I had budgeted for this!
I'm losing track of what I have reported for snowflakes. Did I mention that I redeemed Chase Freedom rewards for $24.28? That was deposited into our checking account the other day. I listed some items on eBay. No luck on selling yet, but that doesn't surprise me as I'm sure many people are shopped out after the holidays.
I also added $63.15 to the Big Goal. This is the current after tax increase in my husband's paycheck each pay period. I expect the amount will change with the new withholding changes.
Oh, I received notification from Verizon that they gave us a $10 credit for recycling my daughter's old cell phone. Not much, but we'll take it considering it was a 3.5 year old phone.
Keeping busy on the snow days getting cleaning done, updating financials and tax planning, as well as decluttering. Oh, and watching YouTube videos for recipes! All free activities at home.
We have a bill that will be sent out in the next week for our University expenses. The final amount, including books that we were charged is $4,383.69. All of that is housing for the second semester. And we will get reimbursed from the VA over the next few months for just under that amount. Specifically we will receive $4,336.80 to cover housing.
I currently have $5,854 set aside in our college category in our checking account. So there will be no issue paying the bill when it is due in early February. After the bill is paid that will leave $1,470. I expect to need at least $3,700 to cover two online classes this summer. The bill will be due early June. My goal is to pay those out of pocket, and I have been setting aside $410 per month to make that happen. It does appear we are on track!
I increased our younger daughter's Educational Savings amount to $333.33 from $166.66. The maximum amount you can contribute each year is $2000. She turns 18 in July. At that time you can no longer contribute to the account. I increased it in order to get the full amount funded by her birthday.
You add those two amounts up ($410 +333.33) and we are setting aside $743 each month for college expenses. That is what saving and cash flowing look like. And if we had car payments like so many American's it would be even more difficult to make this happen. So happy my 2007 Honda Odyssey with 130K miles still looks and runs great!
We have had success on eating it all in the last week. I had made a big list before over a week ago of what we had in the pantry, fridge and freezer.
Here's some of what we used up:
macaroni microwave meal
two cans of pumpkin
box of cornbread
bits of mushrooms
cheesy broccoli rice (in the freezer)
frozen mixed veggies
frozen mixed berries
3 cups of diced butternut squash
2 veggies burgers
can of black beans
1/4 jar pasta sauce
The cupboard, freezer and fridge do look slimmer even after grocery shopping compared to nearly ten days ago.
What have you used up? What could you make sure to use up in the next week so there is limited food waste and less groceries to buy?
I added more money to our Everyday Spending Budget Categories for the month. I thought you might want a peek!
I do have these funded with frugality in mind for the most part and some reality in mind as well. The reality is my husband is very likely to spend money on coffee at work. And he will record it in the Restaurant category. I also put some more in spending thinking I might switch him to cash, so I don't have to see how he is spending that money $2 a time. I'm going to see what he does this week first.
And you may notice we already have groceries taken out for this week, so the remaining grocery money is from January 21 to 31. Although we shop on Sunday's so that may end up covering just through January 28.
We just put fuel in my van on Sunday. I don't expect to do much driving this month. Stay home and out of the stores! So maybe most of that balance will be for my husband to go to and from work. Maybe not all of it.
Clothing and Household were added with just in case money. I don't expect any clothing to be bought. Although my younger daughter mentioned more clothes for next fall when she is at college. And now would be a good time to look for long sleeve shirts and such as those will be going on clearance. We'll see if it comes up, but I'm not rushing out now to take care of it.
I added to gifts. I found a sweater for my older daughter at Target and paid for with a gift card, so will need to mail it. And my sister's birthday is at the end of the month. We have stopped exchanging gifts in recent years, but if something comes to mind that is right for her I may buy and mail it. I'm starting to think that may not happen, so less would be spent there.
I added $35 for personal care. I know my husband will get another haircut $13.70, I will buy shampoo and conditioner $10 and the remaining is just in case.
And finally the pet category. We usually don't spend $50 in one month on our cat, but we stocked up on litter and will need to buy a new bag of dry food, which is like once every six months. And I will need a few more cans of wet food before the month is out. But we don't usually splurge in the pet category so those are all needs.
So after spending on Sunday, we have $490 left that we budgeted for January. Let's see how we do!
I had a fun chat with my best friend last week! She and her husband have been in debt for a long time. I know there is mortgage debt, student loans, credit cards and car leases. Exact details I do not have.
Her husband is quite interested in upgrading their home. She is as well. However, while the bank would no doubt loan them the money because they have excellent credit, she knows they are in over their head with payments. She knows they need to pay off some debt and get some cash in the bank.
I'm not sure her husband is entirely on board yet, but her goal for the next 18 months is to pay off 1/3 of their debt. I believe this is all on credit cards (the portion she is looking to pay off). She would also like to save $10K. I think these are excellent goals. They may not be what you or I would do exactly but they are a start in the right direction and thinking.
Their youngest son will be graduating high school at the end of that time and the possibility of moving to another town in their state is high. So really buying a bigger home now doesn't make sense anyway. She has a large extended family and does want a larger home than the 1900 sq ft they have now, but she probably needs to talk her husband down from the 3700 sq ft homes he is looking at.
I think I'm just excited that she finally seems to see that they can't keep going forward the way they have. She knows that buying furniture on credit isn't smart. Thus she also would want to save cash for furniture for any new home. Yes, that is the right way to do it!
Now I just really hope she can get her husband on board!
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