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Archive for May, 2011

Checked Our Credit Reports

May 31st, 2011 at 01:13 pm

You know that you can get a free copy of your credit report once each year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, right? If not, there is a central site called annualcreditreport.com that provides access to all three credit reporting companies.

Today I was reminded by my online calendar to check our credit reports at Experian. I will get the same reminder in four months to check another one of the credit reporting companies. In one years time, I will have checked our credit reports at all three agencies. You can look at your report at each company all in one day if you prefer. However, you will have to wait another year to get free access.

Please be aware that the site is secure and that it is perfectly okay to enter your social security number at this site only.

It appears all the information on our reports is fine, as expected. However, I was reminded of two revolving credit accounts with two retailers we rarely do business with. I think it is time to close those.

Do you check your credit reports regularly? If not, why?

Schools Out For Summer!

May 28th, 2011 at 07:29 am

My girls wrapped up the school year yesterday. My youngest finished 5th grade and around here that is the end of elementary school. I can't believe how fast it goes!

So far our only summer committment is one week of vacation bible school that my youngest will attend with a friend. Cost $10. I used earnings from surveys to pay for this out of my paypal account.

I'm sure more things will come up. However, we will try to keep the costs minimal. The library and the neighbor's swimming pool will come in handy.

Right now, we are not planning a big vacation. It is too expensive to go while getting DH ready for his summer move. We'll fit one in sometime later in the year or next summer when things settle down again.

What summer plans do you have? Are you spending more or less than last year?

Rebates Received

May 27th, 2011 at 02:15 pm

We have officially received two out of three rebates back from Verizon Wireless. We updated our phones and three of them qualified for $50 rebates. A total of $150 together.

Verizon sends the gift cards as a Visa debit gift card. It is definitely not my preferred method. It just encourages more spending in my opinion. However, on payday I will simply transfer the $150 to our slush account to replace the money we put out for the phones. I will use the Visa debit cards for our regular spending during the next pay period. It all works in the end!

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My dad has a birthday this weekend. I bought him three XL tall polo shirts for $32 a Kohl's yesterday. And I'm sharing the expense with my sister, so it's an even better deal on my pocket book!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and don't spend too much!!

Hunting Expenses

May 26th, 2011 at 07:03 am

DH is going on a house hunting trip soon. Okay, apartment hunting. We have booked the airline ticket at a cost of $438.20. Not bad for a trip that is short notice.

DH also booked a three night hotel stay for $77 a night, which is $231 plus tax. And a rental car for $175. I told him we could do better.

I searched online for member discount codes and coupons for the same rental car agency. I was able to book the same car for $148. Savings: $27. I will keep watching the rates up until the moment he goes. It does pay to shop the rates. Often you can get a better deal closer to the travel date. Not always, but sometimes.

The hotel. I gave him two alternatives. The same hotel he booked at $40 a night using earned points. Which would save $37 per night or $111. Or another hotel which we have earned rewards for free. He chose free! Wise man. The second hotel includes free breakfast and is closer to the airport and the area he will likely be looking for apartments. Savings: $231 plus tax.

Right now, without food and gas the trip will cost us $586.87. Without making the changes I did, we would have spent at least another $258.

I just thought of another savings idea. We might be able to use some airline miles towards the rental car. The air miles weren't an option with the short notice trip and the dates of desired travel. I'm off to check into that.

DVD's Turned to Cash

May 25th, 2011 at 05:32 pm

Less than a month ago, we cleaned out our entertainment center and found about 20 items to get rid of. Mostly DVD's. I listed them all on half.com. Only one sold in the last few weeks.

I guess I didn't have the patience to wait for the cash. Today, I boxed up 11 of the DVD's and mailed them to secondspin.com. I will receive $38 plus credit to cover the shipping cost. I requested the deposit to my paypal account.

There were 8 items that were not worth more than $0.25 each. I left them up on half.com. If they don't sell, I'll donate them.

I'm slowly working on getting rid of the clutter. The girls rooms need major help! I'm just sure there is something to sell in there.

Saved the Government Money

May 23rd, 2011 at 07:03 am

What a weekend! We were required to attend a post deployment event in Colorado this past weekend. We drove because of lack of flights at our needed times. It's a 10 hour trip each way from where we live. We left Friday and returned last night. Quite exhausting!

We saved the government $4,600 by driving and leaving our girls at home. My husband's unit made last minute (specifically Wednesday) flight arrangement for all four of us to leave on Thursday and return Monday...total cost of the weekend would have be over $5200 for the four of us. Actually more, since I'm not including the hotel stay. However, with the girls still in school and one headed into finals we did not want them to leave on those flights. The alternative was for the two of us to drive out and invite my Mom to stay with the girls, which she was happy to do. She was only available Friday through Sunday.

So we drove. The government paid for a rental car, will cover gas, the hotel and some of our out of pocket food cost. The cost to them less than $600!

It was a nice time with DH. We could see mountains from our hotel room. Wished the girls could have been with us. Now I need to recover!

First Truck Payment

May 18th, 2011 at 05:51 am

Our first truck payment was made yesterday. We paid $311.29 to principal. The interest was $17.84, which is a partial month worth of interest. We bought the vehicle at the end of April.

Our new loan balance is $14,465.39.

I could complain that we are paying off debt again, but I won't. I'm completely aware that this was a choice and a purchase we feel very pleased and confident about.

I'm editing to add: I actually think we could call this the second truck payment. Wasn't the first the $12,000 we put down? Yes. I think so!!

Long Distance Searching

May 17th, 2011 at 05:47 am

Searching for an apartment long distance is hard. Pictures online always look pretty good. Then you read reviews about mice. What? Who wants to live in a gorgeous renovated warehouse if mice are an issue?

Trust me. There are some very nice apartments with some awesome benefits, but man those are pricey, upwards of $1200 or more for a one bedroom. I would feel better with an apartment for $800 or $900.

That said. I think someone, likely DH, will be traveling to the east coast to apartment hunt for a couple days. Likely by airplane.

A furnished unit would be ideal, so he would not have to move very much stuff. However, we may be looking at unfurnished to save money. The only big outlay I can think of for furnishing a home for him is a bed. We'll want another one for a guest room at our next home anyway. We have an extra tv, a chair, even a couch he could take. There are extra towels, sheets, kitchen utensils that we can do without here.

Interesting enough, I'm the one thinking about this more than him. Why is that? Ugh. Beyond stressful.

Please don't comment that DH should live on post. It is not an option for many reasons. If he could live there for free or cheap he would. He can't. This arrangement is our choice in lieu of moving our girls two times during the next school year.

Added a Ticker

May 15th, 2011 at 08:39 am

I updated the sidebar to include our new loan for the truck. Our initial loan balance is $14,776.68. It is a four year loan with a monthly payment of $329.13. The first payment is due this Tuesday, so we will see the balance start to fall very soon.

I have left the truck savings ticker up since we were a little short on our $12,000 goal. We did put $12K down in cash and borrowed the amount we were short from savings. I will pay back the $78 at the end of this month.

Don't expect to see lots of extras going to pay down this debt right now. We are in status quo mode for at the least the next year since we expect extra expenses due to maintaining two households. We are still researching places for my husband to stay. I don't think we will know the impact this has to our finances until at least one or two months after he moves for school. Yep, I'm stressed about it to say the least!

Free Sink!

May 12th, 2011 at 08:27 pm

The last two days have been full of home repairs, some more major than others. We exchanged out two toilet seats and a flapper (an internal toilet part). We replaced an outdoor light fixture, put mulch around all of our outside beds, replaced wood hand rails on our deck, as well as a few other rotted boards. We still need to stain or clean the deck in some way.

The biggest change was our kitchen sink. We went for a mid grade stainless steel sink and faucet. This cost us about $275. The old one was almond colored and no longer matched the white cabinets the previous owner created. Knowing we will sell in a year, we needed to get it out of there.

I noticed this morning that a neighbor was having a garage sale, so I put that old sink on the curb with a free sign. It was gone within 30 minutes! DH could not believe I would put out such a beat up sink. Ummm...it was still functional. Probably in better shape than many people have. I'm sure I could have made $10 to $20 on it. I really just wanted it gone fast. And it was gone fast!

Hae you ever set things out on the curb for free? Tell me about it.

The Estimate

May 12th, 2011 at 06:14 am

Our siding and window man came back with an estimate to remove and replace siding on the front of our house and replace our sliding glass door: $2,779.

It's about $1200 more than I wanted to shell out. However, I do trust that this man will fix the leaks we have been having. This has to be done to eliminate issues when we go to sell the house next year. Apparently, the leaks are very common with houses as old as ours, since the builders didn't wrap houses the correct way then.

We just need to let him know that we want to proceed with the work. The work does not include painting the new siding, but it might be something we can do ourselves. Of course, he recommended someone too. Last year we had the whole house painted...so it is a bit ironic. At least we have some paint to work with.

Ah, the joys of home ownership!

For Sale By Owner

May 11th, 2011 at 05:53 am

Just thinking ahead to next year when we have to sell our home. DH will already be living in our new location (still yet to be determined).

I'm pondering the idea of selling our house without a real estate agent. We had really good success in selling our home in 2006 with an agent that was awesome to work with. Of course, we sold the house in 5 days too. But those agents cost money. In our case, we would pay over $10K to sell this house. I would love to be able to bank that money.

Has anyone personally sold their house without an agent? What tips would you give? What would you say the negative aspects were? The positive?

Cool Air

May 10th, 2011 at 11:44 am

It's over 90 degrees here today. And it's humid. I should know, I just spent two hours outside for my daughter's field trip. Thank goodness for air conditioning. It is now running at our house. I think it was only 3 days ago, that the heat was coming on in the morning.

Have you turned on your air conditioning yet?

Getting an Estimate

May 9th, 2011 at 10:31 am

We have leaking windows. Well two, one of which is a sliding glass door. We are now looking at getting estimates for windows.

One man was just here and indicated that it may not be the window, but how the house was built. Apparently without adequate house wrap. This is likely true. A neighbor had a similar issue and the house wrap seemed to be the fix, too. So instead of window replacement we are looking at some siding replacement. We are having him price the sliding glass door replacement.

I am hoping for about $1500 to $2000. Of course, this was before I knew he was going to replace siding instead. I wonder what the result might be. I'll let you know, of course!

Selling DVD's

May 8th, 2011 at 01:16 pm

We decided to clean out our entertainment center last night. The girls and my husband found over 20 items to get rid of!! I checked an online site that pays cash. Their offer is about $42.

For now, I will list the items on half.com first to see if I can get a little more with a direct sell. Anything left over in a few weeks will get sold to the online site for cash.

I'm on to declutter other areas. No plans for a spring garage sale, but I might consider a summer of fall one if I find enough items. Otherwise, those items will also be donated.

I think I have some possible ebay items that I would like to get posted by next Sunday. I need to find where I put them!

Happy Mother's Day to all my SA friends!!

Waiting for Travel Payment

May 7th, 2011 at 11:07 am

My husband sent in his travel voucher for his time on deployment the day after he returned, which was over three weeks ago. Just today we found out that it is being kicked back because it has the incorrect line of accounting. It is being sail mailed back for revision.

So...we wait.

This travel payment is worth over $1200 to us. So, I'd like to see it sooner rather than later. It seems every little drop off cash is more important lately. Which means I should probably start looking for things we can sell around here. At least it will keep me busy while we wait.

Negotiated a Lower Price

May 5th, 2011 at 05:52 pm

Did I tell you I lost a contact lens? I can't find it anywhere. I opened my case one morning and it was nowhere to be found. Down the drain? Eaten or played with by a cat? I'll never know. I've worn contacts for 24 years and have never lost one.

Yesterday I made an eye exam for today, since I was long over due as it was. I went and was prescribed my regular gas permeable lenses. My eye exam was covered by our insurance, but the contact lense measurement was $58, since it is not covered. My eye doctor is independent, but operates out of Pearle Vision. On my way out, I got a quote of $75 per lens. And a promise to match any other quote I might find. Since I was in a mall, I inquired at JC Penney optical, who quoted me $60 per lens. The representative there mentioned a sale starting the 15th of the month for 20% off per lens ($48). She wrote this on a business card for me.

I decided to make one last stop. Target Optical. They also quoted me $60 per lens. I asked if they could price match the sale that JC Penney will be offering later this month. Answer: Yes. $47.99 per lens. I was sold and ready to purchase. I used my Target Red Card for an additional 5% off, bringing each lens to $45.59!

By shopping around today for my contact lenses, I saved $58.82!! Not bad for about 20 minutes of my time. And did you notice that savings makes up for having to pay for the contact measurement fee?

I have found out that I could have ordered them online for even less, about $35 per pair. It seems like more of a hassle since I don't have a fax machine to mail my prescription from. Someday, I might try it.

Did you know I can make one set of lenses last nearly four years? Very cheap over time.

Do you wear contacts? What kind? How much do they cost you?

Skipped the Membership

May 3rd, 2011 at 06:15 pm

I had been contemplating a Costco membership recently after an offer arrived in my inbox. A basic membership costs $50. The offer was for points through MyPoints. There are definitely things I could buy there, specifically, generic zyrtec. For a years supply it would cost me about $16!

However, Costco is on the other side of town. I find pretty good deals at regular stores and don't have to store the bulky items.

Today, I found the same generic zyrtec on Amazon for the same price. No shipping either (not sure why). I decided to skip that Costco membership, save the $50 and avoid buying large bulk items just because they are a good deal.

Do you have a club membership? Do you think it is worth it? Can you find the same deals in other places?

Paychecks Going Lower

May 2nd, 2011 at 01:43 pm

Since my husband is now home from deployment we expect to see his paycheck amounts go lower. He no longer qualifies for tax exemption, or combat pays, worth nearly $1100 per month. Boy, it sure was nice!

I will need to rework the budget in light of lower paychecks, a new loan and an upcoming move for DH. I expect the next year to be tight particularly because of the move.

It seems I will need to start watching those pennies a little closer. I might need to decide about canceling the newspaper and the landline. So hard to give up, especially when those would only save us $50 or so a month. I would expect the groceries may be the bigger issue. It seems everytime I go to the grocery store in the last month some item has increased dramatically. Yesterday, it was shredded cheese. I will need to watch for these items on sale and stock up!

I know some of you reading have already cut back in light of job losses and paycheck reductions. It now appears to be our turn. Any advice?