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Archive for June, 2011

Thank You For The Swagbucks

June 30th, 2011 at 08:20 pm

Wow! I recently checked my Swagbucks account and was quite surprised. After months of not using the site, it seems I had earned quite a few points. In fact enough to redeem a $5 Amazon.com gift card.

It seems a few of you may have signed up using the link on my sidebar. And while you have been earning points, so have I. It's part of their referral program. Someone is earning points from me when I earn points I guess too. To those of you who did sign up under me, thank you! I appreciate your support.

I think I'm going to make more of an effort to use Swagbucks again in the coming months. I could use more Amazon.com gift cards for Christmas shopping. I mean it is more fun to shop online than in crowded stores in the cold of winter (although it sounds good today, since we reached over 100 degrees here).

Anyone want to join me in earning Swagbucks for Christmas? If you are not already a member, feel free to sign up using my link. Or not. No pressure. It is free to join.

I definitely don't sign up for all their offers. In fact, the fewer the better, since I don't want to receive junk emails from every company on the planet. I do use the search function, visit the survey page, the daily poll, and then skip through the No Obligation Offers page. I will occasionally watch a video or two for points. It is pretty easy and only takes a few minutes per day.

What do you do to earn Swagbuck points? And what do you spend them on?

Packing and Marking

June 29th, 2011 at 03:50 pm

I officially packed about three or four boxes for my husband's move. Again. Very weird. However, I like packing and organizing, so it is kind of fun. All of his stuff is taking up a huge amount of our basement at the moment. In addition to excess furniture, bikes and garage sale items, our basement is packed full!

Youngest daughter wanted something to do, so I had her write garage sale stickers and start marking things for our garage sale. The date is still yet to be determined. We marked three bins of items and there are at least two more that could be marked. After that it will be a matter of going through the house for more stuff to get rid of.

My basement will be very empty by the time DH moves his things and the garage sale is over. Then it will be time to organize what is left. I'm kind of looking forward to that part, too!

Dislocation Allowance

June 28th, 2011 at 09:21 am

As a result of my husband's move, he will receive a Dislocation Allowance (DLA). It will be lower than if we moved with him, but we expect him to receive $2,283.16 which is based on his rank. This allowance is non taxable and put in place to help offset some costs of moving such as deposits for utilities and so forth.

He could have received this as an advance, but as I stated yesterday, he prefers not to take advances from the government. So we will wait until he submits his travel voucher after the move.

We are actually still waiting on his deployment travel voucher payment which should be close to $1200. He made errors on the first two vouchers and they were rejected. It was submited just over a week ago, and I expect it to be paid shortly, if he didn't make any more errors. (Apparently, it is a third party contractor that processes these and receives $35 each time they touch a voucher, thus they are very picky and look for ways to reject, so that the voucher is sent back in, earning them another $35. Yuck!)

So, on the horizon, I see nearly $3500 coming to us. There may be a little more, depending on if he makes any money on the Do It Yourself (DITY) move. Fingers crossed he does.

Yes...We Will Rent A Moving Trailer

June 27th, 2011 at 06:47 am

A couple of you have inquired about my husband's need to rent a moving truck. The answer is yes. Actually, since he has a truck, he will rent a Uhaul trailer and attach it to the truck. I think he's arranging that today. The base price of that is around $250.

The good news is that moving expenses are covered by the Army. Of course, there are rules involved. He will have to keep track of all expenses, including the trailer, gas, hotel, food. It is also important that he weighs his truck and the trailer empty and full. Most of the reimbursement is based on weight.

Since he is moving household goods himself, he will receive 95% of the amount that it would cost a common carrier (moving company) to move the same amount of goods the same distance. Once the amount is determined, they subtract the actual expenses involved in moving. This can include boxes and bubble wrap, and of course, the trailer. The amount left after the expenses is considered an incentive payment and is actually taxable income! The Army automatically takes 28% out for taxes, which unfortunately is more than our tax bracket. I guess we'll get that back next year when we file our taxes.

So the costs of getting things to the destination should be covered. We could ask for an advance to help cover the costs as we encounter them, however, DH has reasons not to do that. In general it just complicates things. Luckily, we have resources to cover them in the meantime. I'm really hoping by this time next month, things will be sorted out from a financial standpoint. Fingers crossed anyway!

Lessons

June 26th, 2011 at 07:38 am

I signed the girls up for another year of dance and tumbling lessons. One 30 minute class each. Same day of the week, but nearly two hours apart. It will probably mean two trips there and back, so no savings on the transportation costs.

As usual, I prepaid for the entire year, which waives the family recital fee of $90. This is a saving of 10%. Our total for the year: $808. Not bad for a little year long fun.

Setting Up Another House

June 24th, 2011 at 09:17 am

It is the strangest thing: to set your husband up for apartment living. I don't think I will ever do this again. Once will be enough. Although, it does give me empathy for those who have sent children off to college. It can be a very hard thing.

We spent $180 at Walmart yesterday, for a couple of cooking pots, some utensils, basic cleaning supplies, a trash can, a toaster, cutting board, shower curtain and rod, glass cups, a clock. Oh, there more on the list, but I'm not going to list it all.

We also stopped at two other stores for a printer and a set of lamps. Another $90 spent there.

I am grateful for all the things we don't have to buy: sheets, blankets, towels, dishes, coffee mugs, and other utensils. We also have a loveseat, glider rocker, a dresser and a night stand that he will move with him.

There are still a few more things to buy: a twin mattress and an end table. He also wants a coffee table, but it is a cheap $20 item, so I'll probably give in.

My husbands desires and expectations of needs are a bit different from mine. I would be fine with garage sale items, but him, not so much. I would not need a coffee table. I guess he does. And really because this is a stressful time, I'm trying really hard not to rock the boat too much. It just irritates him. And the truth is, I don't have to live alone away from home, like he does. It is going to be hard on him, too. The least I can do is let him get a $20 coffee table.

My Favorite Black Beans

June 23rd, 2011 at 08:17 am

I have a simple recipe for black beans that I often eat at lunch, sometimes with a tortilla or chips. The recipe is enough for two people and of course, could be doubled. My sister adds tomato to her version.

1 can black beans, drained
1/4 c. feta cheese
1/4 c. chopped red onion
2 TBS of chopped cilantro
1 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 TBS balsalmic vinegar

Mix it all together! Easy, healthy and fairly inexpensive.

To Stay the Course

June 21st, 2011 at 06:58 pm

Hi. Me here. Reminding myself to stay the course for the next year. It is likely to be hard. There is not much wiggle room each month. Maybe $800. Maybe. It seems like enough. It is just far less than we are used to.

We will have to be mindful of ALL spending. This will require heightened communication between DH and myself. We need to start communicating about how that is going to work now.

I commit to look for sales and coupons. I commit to selling things we no longer need for cash. I commit to reviewing our current expenses for ways to cut back. I commit to thinking further ahead for items I will need to purchase.

Staying the course means we don't take on additional debt. Staying the course means minimizing the amount of cash we use from our emergency fund. Fingers crossed we can keep that emergency fund intact!

Payment to the Truck Loan

June 18th, 2011 at 06:16 am

Our truck payment posted yesterday. We paid our regular payment of $329.13. The interest portion was $41.70. The remaining $287.43 went to principal!!

Our new truck loan balanace is: $14,177.96

It looks like next month the loan will be under $14,000. This is one balance I like to see going down. It's those bank accounts with falling balances that are hard to watch!

Something For Free

June 17th, 2011 at 11:05 am

A free haircut. From Great Clips.

My daughter has been growing out her hair for over a year. Maybe two. There have been some trims here and there. She recently decided to cut it short and donate the hair to Locks of Love. Apparently, Great Clips provides a free hair cut when you donate. I tipped the stylist $5. I should have probably given more, since I realized after we left that she spent nearly 45 minutes on her hair! Nice surprise to no be charged.

I suppose someone could grow out their hair and every two years donate the growth to locks of love and never have to pay for a haircut (if you use a salon that doesn't charge)! That would be one way to save some cash. Smile

Today's Spending: Van Maintenence

June 16th, 2011 at 08:42 am

Today, I took the van in for a routine oil change and tire rotation. We are also having them look at the power steering. The service advisor thinks a flush of the power steering fluid should do the trick.

My estimated total is at $157. I did give them a coupon for $10 off if the total is over $100. I hope it counts. The service advisor didn't know. Now I wait for the call. Hopefully, we don't need anything else done!

Do you see the trend here? Spending. Everyday. Large amounts of money leaving our bank account. Can't wait for it to stop!

Now We are Computer Shopping

June 15th, 2011 at 06:04 pm

DH has a laptop computer that is over 5 years old. It is so so slow. I want to rip my hair out when I use it. I can't believe he has the patience to use it. I think he must have built up a tolerance when the internet connection speeds were slow in Iraq!

It is just time to get a new one, especially with the upcoming school work. If he wasn't moving, we could share mine. I think this seperate living stuff is going to get old quick, especially with the added expenses.

So tonight we are shopping online. Well, I am. He decided he wanted to look at Best Buy first. I think we will end up ordering from Dell. We have had two laptops from them and had no problems.

All this spending is tough on me. We just don't spend large amounts this fast. I just need to keep reminding myself that it will slow down and more money will come in.

About to Write a Large Check

June 14th, 2011 at 12:40 pm

For the last two days I have had workmen at our house replacing some siding and a sliding glass door. They probably could have finished yesterday if it were not for the huge downpour of rain yesterday afternoon.

I'll be writing a large check soon for about $2800. It will come from our money market fund. Better than a credit card, right? I knew saving that extra $7K last year would be worth it.

It's all good. And I'm thrilled with the work performance. Some of the best money ever spent.

Spending....

June 13th, 2011 at 06:44 pm

We are getting DH ready for school. Tonight we ordered four dress shirts for his uniform. I guess the uniform shirts have changed since the last time he needed to wear it. And he so rarely wears it! And don't ask me why he needs four. Two are short sleeve and two are long sleeve. Cost $115!

Right now he is getting ready to order a new ribbon rack for his uniform, too. He's earned another Bronze Star and another ribbon for recent service. Time to get it all updated in time for school next month. Price of the ribbon update:

I bought my Dad a gift certificate for a golf store for Father's Day. My sister is splitting it with me, so my cost is $30. Now to figure out what to get DH. I think I have a $10 cash card to Sports Authority that will help cover a pair of shorts or a workout shirt. I will be checking with the girls to see if they have a good idea.

I have an appointment with the Honda Dealership to have the oil changed and tires rotated this week. More money will flow out then.

I really feel we are going to be in a spendy place until fall, when we are all settled and back in our routines. I think I'll just go with it and know that it will work out in the end.

Made A Little Money

June 12th, 2011 at 07:46 pm

We went out of town for an Army family event. That sounds more fun that it was, but it also wasn't as bad as it could have been.

The Army scheduled us to ride a bus on the six hour trip, feed us all meals on Saturday and breakfast this morning, and paid for our hotel. We actually skipped the bus and drove ourselves.

Our allotted per diem was $111.50 for each of us to cover meals on Friday and Sunday. That is $446 total. We knew this would be plenty to cover gas and our food expenses, thus the reason we drove ourselves. We spent about $80 in fuel, $40 in miscellaneous expenses and $80 on a dinner out including tip. Thus we came out ahead by about $240.

Can you tell, I'm just ball parking those numbers? It's been a long day, but I'm still pretty close. We could have banked more, but it was nice to take the girls out to a nice dinner and spend quality time together on the drive to and from our destination.

I just wrote a check towards DH's new apartment application/deposit. It was $185. Thus the money we made on the trip can cover this expense, too. Smile

A Swarm of Money Thoughts

June 9th, 2011 at 01:48 pm

I seem to have a swarm of money thoughts running through my head. I'm not even sure if this post will make any sense.

I know of money coming in: approximately $1200 from DH's deployment, which should have been paid by now, but is being rejected for payment for a second time. Long story. Also, travel reimbursement for a trip this weekend for the Army. Maximum amount $440 allowed. We'll have to keep our expenses low to end up with extra funds.

I have $65.95 in my paypal account from the sale of dvds, and survey payments. I've noticed that MySurvey has been offering quite a few surveys recently. Nice! We have $50 in rewards from our debit card that are tempting me. My plan at the beginning of the year, I told myself that I would not redeem these until the holidays. Must hold strong!

DH has decided on a place to live. It is an apartment rather than a weekly extended stay hotel. Obviously, it should feel more like home that way. We will need to buy him a twin bed, and a coffee maker. Right now, we think we have enough extras of things in our home that can be moved with him.

The rent will be $945 a month, prorated for partial months. Utilities should be less than $120 per month. The deposit is only $150. There are allowances provided by the military for moving. Once these funds are paid we can use them to cover some of his living expenses.

Some of the payments from the military for moving might be taxable. I need to see if this is going to be an issue for us. I don't think that it is since four months of this year our income was tax free.

It's about time to sign the girls up for tumbling and dance. One year total for the entire experience is $808. I pay in full each year, because they waive the $90 recital fee if you do. I should save up for this expense, but for some reason I don't. I just pull funds from our account when it is time to pay it. This might be the last year since will be living elsewhere the following year. It just depends what they want to do.

I should list some items on ebay. I have an ipod, teva shoes, a very nice film camera and flash, and a router that I think could be sold for some nice cash. But right now, I'm just not motivated. It feels like there is just a lot going on.

See? My head is swarming with thoughts.

Apartment Hunt Costs

June 8th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

DH returned home from a three night trip to check out housing options for his five month school. There are two options he is willing to stay in. We will be discussing those and making a decision over the next couple days.

This quick trip cost us: $710.22. This included airfare, car rental, fuel, food and hotel (which was actually free with Marriott Reward points). Of course, I would have rather spent the money on something else. But not bad considering!

Decluttering: Done

June 4th, 2011 at 07:16 am

The girls rooms have been decluttered. Well, as much as one can actually declutter a 10 year olds room. They do love their trinkets.

I did shop garage sales yesterday, but came home with empty hands. I enjoyed the outing despite the heat. I did see some things I might look for in the future, but nothing that needed to be bought at that moment.

I came home quite energized to work with my girls on clearing out their rooms. We filled three traditional sized Rubbermaid bins with stuff to get rid of. Yipee!! Some will get tossed or recycled. Some will get donated and the rest will be sold in some form or another.

I moved those bins to the basement and will plan to sort those this weekend. Amazingly there are at least four more bins in the basement with stuff to sell. I really need to get stuff listed on ebay. For some reason I'm procrastinating.

Oh, I did receive my $38 payment from secondspin.com for the DVD's I sent them. Obviously declutter can pay off!

Shopping Or Selling

June 3rd, 2011 at 06:30 am

I'm conflicted this morning. Deciding what to do with my day. Part of me wants to hit some garage sales. Part of me wants to declutter and find things to sell. Hmmm...

I don't need anything specifically from the garage sales. I'm not even a big garage saler. I get burned out pretty quick after looking at other people's stuff. I just like get out once a season and I know of two neighborhood sales. Last year, I found some weight watcher books that I resold online and made $10. So, it can be profitable. Hmmm...

I already have a small swimming pool listed on craigslist and a pile of 13 items I should really start listing on ebay. I still need to declutter the girls rooms where I'm sure to find more things to get rid of. Hmmm...

I guess I could do both, right? Yep. That's the plan I'm going with. Thanks for listening. It's nice of you to lend an ear.

Still Investing

June 2nd, 2011 at 06:50 am

I know the market is all haywire. And likely due for some sort of correction. However, here in the CreditCardFree household we are still investing. Every month.

We contribute 15% of our gross income to our Roth IRA's and my husband's TSP. Why not buy on sale? We have more than 25 years until we need the money!

We are also still adding to the college funds. This is a little more iffy, since the time horizon is shorter. The earliest we would need the money is 4.5 years, but we could hold on to most of it for up to 9 or 10 years, when the youngest is in her last years of college.

For now, we keep investing. Automatically. Every month. On sale! Are you still in the market for the long haul? If not, why not?

Paid Ourselves Back

June 1st, 2011 at 06:33 am

Finally, I get to post that we paid ourselves back the money we pulled from savings for the downpayment on the truck. Yipee!!

We borrowed $78. In May we earned $89.62 in interest, so without much effort we are back to a full emergency fund. Not sure how long that will last. I expect that we'll have to use a portion for a rental deposit. At least it is there.

It is payday, and I can definitely tell that our income has dropped. It doesn't seem like there is anything left over. I think it is that we are in a spending place right now. That is how things go sometimes. Other than the truck loan, no additional debt has been incurred. For that, I am grateful. I expect I will adjust to the income in due time.