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Archive for July, 2011

Temporary Stop to College Fund

July 31st, 2011 at 11:15 am

My husband and I are contemplating a temporary stop to the college fund investments. Right now we fund each daughter's ESA account with $2,000 per year, which is $167 per month. Each month that is $334 allocated from our budget.

While running two households our expenses are tight. We are not yet clear what all the new expenses will be, as some utilities bills have not arrived. Gas usage is still up in the air. I'm on the low side right now, since school and activities are not in session. DH seems to be using more money on food than I expected. He is working on it though. I think some of it comes from boredom.

If I showed you a proposed budget with our investments and required expenses and cash we have budgeted for groceries and fuel, we would have about $330 extra, which is an average of $165 per pay period. It feels really tight.

I'm aware of upcoming expenses that I'm just not sure where the money would come from except from the emergency fund, if we don't stop the college investments. Examples: at least airline tickets for return visits and eye glasses for two.

I'm not decided yet. But it seems that if we stop the contributions we could set that money aside for these bigger expenses on the horizon with out dipping into our emergency fund. Now, if at the end of the year, we have some of that money left we could still make a lump sum contribution.

One idea would be to simply reduce the amount of contribution to $50 each. And make up the difference later.

I actually thought of reducing retirement, but changed my mind when I remembered we can't borrow for retirement! We can borrow for college if needed. Although, we think we will have access to GI Bill funds for our kids, scholarships, and more income at the time they attend where we could cash flow some expenses. We also aren't against them working during college, too!

Some expenses have already been reduced around here: cancelled the newspaper (but miss it), gym membership is going down by about $25 since DH isn't using it. I'm also considering cancelling the netflix discs that come to our house and just go with streaming.

Any thoughts? Would you stop college investments temporarily to keep from raiding your emergency fund, knowing that the reason you are running two households is for the stability of the kids?

Ah...Money Flowing In!

July 29th, 2011 at 06:19 am

The money is flowing in. So very grateful.

Paycheck $3,426.11
Travel Payment $3,042.59
Debit Card Rewards $100
Paypal Deposit $61.55

I guess there will be a small interest payment in our money market account tomorrow. Probably only $10. It does feel good to have the money flowing in. Of course, much of it will flow back out. But for now, it is all good!

Box Tops For Education

July 26th, 2011 at 07:21 am

Did you know you can collect Box Tops for Education and sell them on ebay? Yep. I just did. Received over $9 for 100 of them.

I have in the past given them to our elementary school which collects them, however...I don't have elementary aged children any longer.

On a whim, I check ebay. And they are a hot item!

Now, I wouldn't go buying products you don't normally buy just to sell the box tops, but if you buy them already then it is just a bonus to cut those things off!

Do you know of other interesting things that sell well on ebay?

Sold 7 Out of 8

July 24th, 2011 at 04:52 pm

Eight of my ebay listings ended tonight. Seven sold. My sales total $51.72. I'm thrilled with the outcome. The item that didn't sell, will be set aside for the fall garage sale. I have at least two, maybe three, items I could still list for auction. Those will wait for another time.

I have two more listings. For books. That end tomorrow. One lot will sell. The girls will receive that money. They are up to $15.50 on that auction!

So now to collect payments and get those items mailed off to the buyers. I hope they all pay tonight. I have to say this set of items was well worth my time to sell. Yipee!!

General Updates

July 23rd, 2011 at 07:20 am

I have 10 items listed on ebay. Four have bids, another 4 or 5 have people watching the item. The auctions end tomorrow night. And those last seconds are when most of the activitiy occurs! Fingers crossed for high bids.

We have learned in the last week that our housing allowance will go down, since my husband is now stationed in another state. It will go down from $1521 per month to $1422, a drop in our income of $99 per month, or about $50 per pay period.

I did decide to cancel the newspaper subscription. It became effective this week. We are very aware that it is missing. It is one expense we got a fair amount of enjoyment out of. But, it's a trial for now. The cancellation saves us $17.39 per month.

We have $100 worth of rewards from our debit card that can be redeemed. I'm resisting at the moment since it seems it could be worth more as we get closer to the holidays and that money will come in handy.

I was invoiced this week for our sliding door, siding repair and painting. Total outflow for those expenses was $3,209.45. It was a necessary expense that will help avoid issues when we go to sell. I do really like the new sliding door. It works so well!!

With the repair and recent expense for my husband's move we have nearly depleted the extra $7000 that we saved last year. That is really hard to watch, but I know without saving that money it would have been far worse! The good news is that we will receive money from the Army for the move. Right now, I'm estimating we will receive about $4100. Not bad, huh?

In other good money news, DH's paycheck will be about $225 more than usual next week. This is a result of taking vacation or leave that he earned in a combat zone. Those days were non taxable earnings, thus less money was taken out for tax withholding.

It seems most of these updates are good. I'm starting to feel much better about our cash situation. It is all going to work out! Whew.

Loan Goes Down

July 19th, 2011 at 11:31 am

The truck loan payment posted yesterday. Of the $329.13 payment, $289.57 went to pay down principal.

Our new balance is: $13,888.19

We are under $14K!!

It's one money thing that seems to be going right. I wish I could say that about our cash on hand. It seems to be flying out the window.

There is a season for everything, right?

Posted To Half.com

July 18th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

This morning I posted 17 books and one DVD to Half.com. Most are children's chapter books and not worth much. One daughter wants to make some cash on her books that didn't sell at the garage sale. So we'll try for now on Half.com. After awhile, we'll take those that don't sell to a used book store.

I tried posting two items on craigslist. It gave me a warning that my ad could not be posted because it was either similar to another recent post of mine, or included a phone number, url or email address. None of them were true. I'm a bit perplexed about why I cannot post.

In the processing of writing this ad, I realized that I could probably use Ebay's classified ads (Kijiji) instead of craigslist. I just posted those two items. Fingers crossed that site gets hits so I can sell my $60 worth of items.

I'm using the cash earned on these recent sales to pay for back to school supplies and needed clothing for the girls.

Posting On Ebay

July 17th, 2011 at 02:43 pm

I'm getting ready to post about 8 items on ebay. It's been awhile since I listed anything. I might average about $5 an item, but I'll take $40 or more if I can get it!

I'm hoping I get get them up and running quickly, so that the time I invest is worth it. Ebay can be time consuming sometimes.

Anyone else using ebay these days? Right now, it is free to list up to 50 items, including adding a buy it now option. Seems like a good time to try to sell a few items.

The Army Finally Paid

July 16th, 2011 at 07:09 am

The Army finally paid my husbands travel voucher for deployment. We were expecting around $1200, but it was for $1631.50! Over $400 more than expected.

We have been waiting for this to be paid since my husbands return. He initially mailed his travel voucher the day after he returned. It was rejected weeks later. We mailed it again. Rejected a second time. Then it was faxed and emailed. Apparently never received. And finally about 10 days ago it was faxed again. Success!! It was paid.

Friday was pay day, so it is definitely time to start working on paying ourselves back for some of the expenses that have been incurred due to the move. We can't pay them all back...there are more payments we are due from the Army due to the move. Fingers crossed those arrive quicker than this last one!

Garage Sale Results

July 15th, 2011 at 08:47 pm

Total sales for our one day garage sale with three families participating were $406. And it was free to advertise using well placed signs, leftover from previous sales, and an ad on craigslist.

Personally my sales came in at $150.50. I think that is a pretty good one day total. I have things left over to sell in the fall! When does one ever sell every last item, right? There are definitely a few items that are going to be listed on ebay soon, too.

I don't have specific plans for the cash. It will come in handy at some point.

Netflix Increase

July 12th, 2011 at 07:22 pm

Netflix prices are increasing per the email I received today. Specifically for the service we use, unlimited streaming and unlimited mailed dvd (two at a time) it is increasing by about $4.

It seems everything is increasing these days. My life insurance went up. Food prices are increasing. And of course, fuel is higher than last year or even earlier this year.

In light of the Netflix increase, I may cut back to one video out at a time...or cut it out all together. I've noticed we have rented at Redbox recently when the movie wasn't available right away through Netflix.

I've also thought about cancelling our newspaper subscription. We definitely get a lot of use out of it. Or most days. We receive it everyday and pay almost $18 a month. It doesn't save much just to go to weekends or Sundays since most of the cost is the Sunday paper, which come with coupons. However, I think I could get the coupons online for most things I use them for. The girls would miss reading the comic strips.

It's small amounts of money, but we all know those add up pretty quickly. Are you canceling or changing services as fees increase?

Am I Insane?

July 11th, 2011 at 03:37 pm

My neighbor and I just now decided that we will have a garage sale on Friday! Yep, a one day only sale. It will probably be all we can handle with the high heat anyway.

Luckily, I have marked quite a few things even before making this decision. I will make a quick run through the house tonight. I will mark those items tomorrow, along with the things that are currently set aside but not marked.

I have a sleepover to throw Wednesday night for three of my daughter's friends. It's pretty well planned. We need to clean and make a trip to the grocery store, but I think we can make it work.

It's going to be a busy week, but I have my fingers crossed that the investment in time will be worth the proceeds. Wish me luck!!

Moving Money

July 8th, 2011 at 06:27 am

My husband leaves today for school. We are sad here. He's leaving too soon after returning from overseas. However, it has been in the cards for awhile.

I came across a form he filled out requesting a Do It Yourself Move (DITY). He estimated he would move 1000 pounds. The estimated payment for that amount is $1141.68.

Yesterday he weighed the truck and trailer, empty and then full. The packed amount weighed 980 pounds. Of course, in the meantime, he's packed a vacuum, winter coats and his final suitcase. Thus more weight. I guess he should have waited to weigh it right before leaving.

So those 980 pounds are very close to the estimate, and I now feel confident we will make some money off the move. He already spent $396 for the trailer rental, a dolly rental, purchased a hitch, a couple of boxes and minimal insurance on the trailer. It also cost $10.50 to weigh the truck and trailer twice.

Although the estimate is for just a little over the amount we packed, I expect the amount to be very close to the estimate. So maybe we'll make $600-$700 that will be taxable. It depends on a few other expenses that will occur on the way.

In other news, I bought a tv from Goodwill. We have a plasma tv in our living room and one tv in our bedroom, that we turn on for weather information. Yesterday, my husband packed that bedroom one up. On a whim, I decided to check Goodwill and found a 20 inch tv for $7.99. We hooked it up to our antenna and digital converter and it works great. DH should not need the converter or antenna as the apartment complex he is moving to provides cable free of charge.

Checked Our Goals

July 6th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I looked at our 2011 goal page on my sidebar. It seems we have accomplished just about everything listed. Savings for college and retirement are on auto pilot. We paid off the van and saved the $12K for the truck. We even paid for our Las Vegas trip in cash.

One of the goals was to pay for two vacations, but in light of my husband's move, we have decided to reevaluate. Right now, taking a vacation is not financially feasible, and the time available is very limited.

The other goal is to consider converting more money from my husband's Rollover IRA to his Roth. This amounts to just under $6,000. It seems this would be a good year to do this, with the lower income from deployment, but it could also be a good year to qualify for the Earned Income Tax credit and receive a nice refund. The extra cash is a bit tempting. I will probably wait until the last minute to decide.

Ten Percent Interest is Over

July 4th, 2011 at 05:14 pm

While my husband was deployed we deposited $10,000 into the Savings Deposit Program (SDP). This is available to service members serving in a combat zone. We earned 10% interest on the principal portion while he was deployed. Unfortunately it ends 90 days after leaving the zone.

In total we earned $975 on the money!! Not bad interest. I would love to earn that much in our money market account, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

We requested the money to be returned to our checking account so that we can have access to it again. No point in the government holding it any longer if it isn't going to earn any money.

To other service members, I would highly recommend putting as much in the SDP upfront to take advantage of the high interest rate on the most money you have right away. The entire process has been very smooth and without error.

Back To An Allowance

July 2nd, 2011 at 05:08 pm

Right now all our money is pooled in one account and we both spend out of it. I handle the paying of bills and recording spending. His part in our finances is earning and spending. Don't get me wrong. We do talk about these things, but often in an abstract way.

Later this month, we are going back to the allowance method for his spending. He will write the check on the first of the month for his rent and another check for utilities when they are due. This will come out of our regular account. Each pay period, I will transfer money to our second checking account for his fuel, food and miscellaneous expenses. The beginning plan is $340 per pay period. This is his to manage and track. And, if he needs more, we'll talk about it. It is a very rough estimate to start with.

We think this is the best way to handling our spending since we are in different cities. It worked pretty well to give him an allowance while he was deployed. Of course, he didn't have too many needs for spending.

I personally like this way, so that I don't have to nag. I know the amount per pay period that is his and I don't need to worry about recording it, or even judge what he spends his money on. I also think it holds him a little more accountable with the money he has available. Right now, because I record everything, I notice how quickly the money dwindles. I don't think he sees that.

We will both still have access to both of our accounts, but the second one will be set aside for his spending only.