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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.

Daughter Arrives Home Today

March 17th, 2018 at 05:46 am

Our daughter arrives home today for her spring break! We have to drive a little over an hour and half to pick her up. Southwest doesn't fly into our town and we love that airline! It's also less expensive. Smile And yes, I realize there is gas and parking and often lunch after she arrives.

I have added extra money to our budget accounts while she is home. There is definitely more groceries to buy. And we have plans to go out for sushi and pie. Not on the same day! Smile My husband will be home most of the time as well, so we hope to get out and do some things together. Many will likely be free, but a movie out is a possibility too!

I think she may want to go spring clothes shopping too. Another budget category I added extra to for the remainder of the month.

Oh, and her birthday is next Saturday....so I need to finish shopping for that as well. I have a couple items and if I don't pick up anything else I will likely give her cash. She does have savings goals! Smile

We are excited to see her!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

$18 to Big Goal

March 15th, 2018 at 05:22 pm

Are you signed up to receive notices about Class Action Lawsuits? I get my notices from Class Action Rebates. It does pay off.

Today we received a claim check for $18 from a class action suit with Rooms To Go. We had purchased furniture with them and qualified as a claimant. We do not file claims that we have not purchased since that would be illegal.

This money is going to the Big Goal. Cash adds up!

Lower Electric Bill

March 14th, 2018 at 11:03 am

With the warmer weather a couple weeks ago here in the Southeast, the furnace and air conditioner were not running much at all. The weather has cooled again in recent days, but the end result is a much lower bill from last month.

Remember my bill in January (due in February) was $350?! Last month it came down to $250. And this month, the bill is $161. This is still higher than I like, but for this home it seems to be the near minimum for running everything. I think I will start funding the electric account with a minimum of $250 each month to help level out the larger bills sure to come this summer. It's easy to do this in YNAB and let the money keep rolling over from month to month.

Payday is tomorrow. I will pay all credit card accounts in full, reconcile any accounts in YNAB (did some today) and fund everyday spending for the second half of the month. I will also fund the bills and withdrawals (such as Roth and college investments) and our sinking funds.

I'm more hands off with finances than I once was. Once you have excess funds, you don't have worry about overdrawing your account, or finding money when a larger bill comes in because you have funded it in advance (sinking funds). And YNAB helps keep track of all that as well.

Happy Pi Day!

An eBay Sale & More

March 12th, 2018 at 05:33 am

I sold a set of eight books on eBay Saturday morning. These were my daughter's, so I decided to offer her the $50 proceeds. I usually don't give the girls the money since most items I sell are a couple dollars at a time...and we are still supporting them.

This time the amount was more significant and these were purchased with her own money. She (oldest daughter) has been talking about wanting to save for a new flute and becoming more aware of the need for money! She was very happy to hear she will be getting $50.

Not much financial news here at our house. The weather has been colder in the southeast and we are just enjoying a little more time being hunkered down and relaxing. Busier times are ahead!

We may be spending $200 for the four of us to attend a music concert this summer. We will probably decide this week. It's a week night, so need to really see if my husband is up for a late night with work the next day. The concert is 1.5 hours away.

I continue our paper purge, following Marie Kondo's advice, which is that very little needs to be saved. I have converted some items to digital versions. This weekend my husband created a spreadsheet to track our vehicle maintenance, and then entered years of data from receipts we had been keeping. We now know exactly what has been done, when and how much it cost us...all at a glance. The receipts are going out today! It feels so good to lighten the load of paper.

Pay Day Savings

March 3rd, 2018 at 06:14 am

Payday occurred on Thursday. We have $131 automatically deposited into our Navy Federal Credit Union account from my husband's paycheck. We have been doing that amount for over a year now.

Because of my husband's raise and the new withholding tables, we are now able to save another $108 per pay period, or $216 a month. This is all in addition to our retirement, college and other short term savings.

After I filled in all the budget categories on YNAB, I still show $750 left to budget! For now I'm just leaving it that way. At the end of March I will put whatever EXTRA we have to our Big Goal savings.

I don't know what it is exactly, but it feel like there's a lot of extra money lately. I'm pretty sure I'm not missing anything. Overall I think it is just us not overspending, which of course, is a very good thing!

I usually report interest for each month in a separate post, but I think I will report it here. Total for February was $92.85.

Were you able to save something this month? We are further along on our journey of savings, so don't feel bad if all you can save is $5 this month. Save it!! There are always rainy days in our future.

Question About Employee Records

March 1st, 2018 at 07:37 am

Just curious what everyone's thoughts are on this topic. I'm weeding out old paperwork from our home filing cabinet. I haven't worked since late 2000. I have a file that is fairly small with three different copies of resumes. I have notes on my pay for every job I've had, dates, addresses and phone numbers, and supervisors.

I also have letters offering employment, start date, and pay, as well as a letter where my employment was terminated (laid off, not fired).

I also have a sampling of reviews I was given for the work performed and description of my jobs. Oh, and I have a copy of the application, testing and termination for my Series 6 Investment license. It's not current as you have to be employed/contracted with a Securities Dealer to maintain.

I know no one is going to ask for any of these documents, but I'm trying to decide what information I need if I were to fill out an application or make a new resume. Everything is so dated, some of these employers no longer exist!

I'm thinking in addition to the resume details, I could make a document with the pertinent info (mentioned above) and toss all the papers I'm keeping to get that infomration. I appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

New IRS Withholding Calculator

February 28th, 2018 at 04:34 pm

The new IRS Withholding Calculator is now available. You can find it here. I have yet to double check ours, but I know a few of you JUST updated your withholding allowances. So check again!

It is important to check for your current paychecks and filing for next year since the tax laws have changed for 2018. I personally like to try to get as close as possible to what I will actually owe at tax time. In fact, I don't mind paying as long as I'm not off by more than a few hundred dollars. This year we owe $91, which I set up for payment tomorrow.

Let me know...did you have to adjust your withholding allowances for the new tax law?

Snowflakes and More

February 27th, 2018 at 06:31 am

I redeemed Swagbucks recently for $25 deposit to my PayPal account. I sold two items on eBay and netted just over $15. I just transferred the money to our savings account. This is Big Goal money!

I did a ShopTracker for Pinecone Research, but I have not seen the credit to my account yet. That should be $3 when it arrives. And I JUST got the email that it has been credited as I was writing this. Timing is an amusing thing!

Payday is on Thursday, so I just paid off all credit cards and they are now back to zero. I do this twice per month, no interest is ever paid on the credit cards we use. Our February spending actually ended up being only $75 more than in January! I was surprised, as we had guests and we weren't trying.

I'm looking forward to adding up our interest for the month of February. I noticed that one of our accounts has increased the interest rate to 1.60%. Such a relief to us savers to see interest rates moving in a favorable direction.

I will balance and reconcile all accounts in YNAB later today or tomorrow. Some accounts are simple as we use them for just a few transactions a month. Other accounts take a little longer. Once they are all up to date, then I toss nearly all receipts, keeping only those that I may need for a return or for long term reasons, such as insurance claims or taxes.

Not Much Going On

February 22nd, 2018 at 05:22 am

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.

Spring Break Trip with Miles

February 17th, 2018 at 03:21 pm

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.

Almost Free!

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!

Cash Bank on Utilities

February 16th, 2018 at 03:48 pm

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?

Cashed Out My Ibotta Account

February 16th, 2018 at 06:55 am

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.

Computer Not Electronics

February 15th, 2018 at 09:19 am

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!

Snowflakes In February

February 14th, 2018 at 06:18 am

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
$28.13 TOTAL

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?

Cash Back Amex & Boxed.com Offer

February 13th, 2018 at 09:48 am

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.
[url=https://www.boxed.com/invite/QV6LX
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!

Higher Grocery Bill

February 13th, 2018 at 05:27 am

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!

Taxes Filed & More

February 8th, 2018 at 02:15 pm

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.

Withholding...Trying to Figure It All Out

February 7th, 2018 at 05:51 am

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?


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