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Archive for December, 2011

Free Frozen Yogurt!

December 31st, 2011 at 05:05 pm

I received an email from Groupon today offering $5 off any purchase. I didn't exactly need to buy anything, but it was worth a look.

I chose to buy the TCBY (frozen yogurt) offer which provides $10 worth of yogurt for $5. After the $5 off a Groupon purchase, I received that $10 Groupon for free.

Free frozen yogurt here we come!

Are you a Groupon user? What is your best deal? If not, you can click here to join. It is my referral link. And it's free to receive offers.

Serve Check Arrived

December 31st, 2011 at 07:38 am

I did receive my $20 Serve check in the mail. It's now in the bank. Right now the plan is to save it for Christmas 2012.

It did seem to take awhile to get the check. But it did arrive. Is everyone else getting their check?

Life Insurance Changes

December 30th, 2011 at 08:57 am

Yesterday, I received notice in the mail that my life insurance premium is increasing again this year. I have had term insurance, but the term ended last year and the premium increased from $295/year to $675. Ouch. Last year I paid it and planned to change policy holders for new term insurance. However, I totally forgot about it until the notice arrived.

The premium for the next year on my current policy is going up to $720 for the year. Don't like that one bit. I have already filled out an online application with USAA and hope to have this new policy in place before the next policy is due at the end of February. The current estimate for similar coverage is $280 per year!! It may go up once they complete the medical portion, but fingers crossed it won't go up too much.

I have just about saved the $675 for the upcoming premium. It will be nice to have a little extra cash saved for something else.

$100 Gift & $25 Donation

December 28th, 2011 at 07:51 am

On my side of the family we agreed not to exchange adult gifts since my brother in law is currently unemployed. It worked well for us; saved money and time. Turns out my parents decided to keep on giving! We received stocking stuffers with chocolate, smart wool socks, coffee, and vitamin C packets. And then a card with a $100 check. We were definitely not expecting that!

On my husband's side of the family we gave to our neices and nephews, his mother and exchanged gifts with two adults. Perfect. Except his sister was put on house arrest for a DUI and unable to attend our gathering.

My mother in law decided we should take up a collection, since SIL is unable to work, thus pay her rent and so forth. MIL started the envelope with $20. She asked if we would have cash to donate. Normally we don't have any cash on us. We use our debit card all the time. But I did have cash. Frown So with mixed feelings we donated $25 to SIL.

We have mixed feelings because we feel this is an area of personal responsibility. SIL chose to drink and drive on more than one occassion, was caught, went to court and in house arrest and all that comes with it (unable to work) is the penalty. And if she can't pay rent, then that is part of the penalty too. Not our problem.

I'm sure our $25 and whatever amount was collected won't amount to making a huge difference. DH also doesn't think she will appreciate the thought in anyway. Or that we will ever hear a thank you. But giving $25 won't hurt us a bit either. It is what it is.

What would you do?

Will Earn $75 on $100

December 27th, 2011 at 02:37 pm

I opened a Sharebuilder account today. I heard of an offer to earn $75 by just opening an account with $100. It does seem the $75 takes a few weeks to show up and must remain in the account for around 120 days, but it seems like a great rate of return on such a small sum of cash. No need to make any trades, either.

I learned about the offer from My Money Blog.

You do need to complete this offer by December 31, 2011. That's just a couple days away, so if you are interested get click on the offer now!

Merry Christmas!!

December 25th, 2011 at 06:30 am

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays to my Saving Advice readers and friends. I hope you can feel peace today.

I'm especially happy to have my husband at home for Christmas. Last year he was on the other side of the globe.

What are you grateful for this season?

Honda Reimbursement

December 24th, 2011 at 11:50 am

We had our power steering pump replaced on our Honda Odyssey this spring. It was covered under our Honda Care Plan...well the pump was, but not the replacement fluid and labor. We were just glad to have it fixed.

About a month ago or more we were notified by Honda that power steering pumps would be covered under warranty longer on certain Odyssey's, including ours. I decided to fill out the claim form and send in documentation of our repair. I asked them to reimburse the labor and fluid. I believe I asked for about $98.

Yesterday, a check for $116.92 arrived from Honda. Just the check. No explanation letter. Fine by me. I deposit the check.

Earlier in the week, we had our van in for an oil change and replaced our battery as well. Our charge for the day was around $123. It feel nice knowing that the reimbursement on the power steering pump just about covered our most recent expense.

Christmas Nearly Free

December 23rd, 2011 at 02:36 pm

I finally totalled up my receipts for Christmas spending. Not bad and definitely less than last year.

Total spent on gifts and miscellaneous related items was $611.68. This total already includes some gift cards and store coupons that were offered. That amount equalled about $144.54!! So I guess closer to $750 in gifts purchased.

We also accumulated cash from craigslist and the fall garage sale in the amount of $211. We sold on ebay, too. Funds from surveys added to a Paypal redemption of $74.32. One item had a rebate for $8.99. We accumulated another $95 in Target gift cards. We redeemed debit card rewards for $25. And I have to add in the $100 cash my MIL gave towards gifts, since those gift totals are included above.

The total above is $514.31!!

Soooo....Christmas was nearly free at a cost of $97.37. We paid just under 13% of the total cost of gifts out of our own funds. Amazing!

And I have to laugh a little because my first run through with the numbers led me to believe Christmas was free. I forgot to include the cash we are giving to nieces and nephews which equalled $105! Darn kids. Just kidding!! Smile

So for those of you doing the Free Christmas 2012 Holiday Challenge, I definitely think it can be done. And I'm in for next year, too.

Christmas Spending

December 23rd, 2011 at 10:04 am

I've been wanting to tally my actual net Christmas spending, but I have to say it has been a bit daunting to try to go through all those receipts!

I used so many coupons, cash and gift cards to make purchases in stores and online that it is hard to back track and come up with a total. I know I did get some good deals and some of them are on my blog earlier in the month.

It seems like I spent quite a bit less. Especially since I bought for fewer people. I didn't buy for teachers, my sister and her husband, my parents, or my two neighbors. I did sew something for my neighbors but just from my stash. I also didn't buy or send Christmas cards.

I might still get around to getting a total together. If I do, I'll be sure to let you know.

Do you know what your Christmas spending was? Was it more or less than last year?

Money In

December 22nd, 2011 at 10:33 am

Looks like a little more money is flowing in:

We just sold a new in package camping air mattress for $25 to a man who saw our ad on craigslist.

I received notification that Pinecone deposited $3 into my Paypal account.

I also was notified that the Mastercard (debit) account we registered met the online threshold for the $20 Mastercard gift card. That will arrive in 1-2 weeks. I believe we met the $200 minimum once our phonebill was posted for payment. Cool! Otherwise I didn't nearly spend that much online.

Now...if only that Serve check or any of the rebate checks I'm waiting for would arrive!

Truck Payment

December 20th, 2011 at 08:28 am

Our automatic payment on the truck loan posted. We paid $35.45 in interest last month, but a whopping $293.68 to principal.

The new principal balance is $12,412.06. It looks like another two months before we will drop below the $12K mark.

I will actually look forward to the day the principal portion is over $300 each month. I should figure out when that might occur.

Less debt. Always feels good!

Serve Card No Check

December 19th, 2011 at 01:34 pm

I did sign up for my Serve.com account last week and received my ATM card today. I'm still waiting for the check to arrive in the amount of $20

I don't have any particular plans for it. I guess that means it should be saved. Although that would be just enough to cover our outing today. DH and I went to see Sherlock Holmes matinee. Not too bad. He purchased a large soda, while I brought my soda can in my purse. I would have carried one in for him, but he declined and spent $5.

Swagbucks! Get Ready For MegaMonday

December 18th, 2011 at 02:42 pm

I've been earning quite a few swagbucks by watching videos while I'm doing other things online. I'm here anyway, might as well earn some points.

I even had a search yesterday that earned me 25 points. Tomorrow, MegaMonday, is suppose to be a great earning day on Swagbucks. Which means now would be a great time to sign up!

If you use my link, I'll actually earn the same points you earn tomorrow. If you enter MegaMonday (just the way I typed it) when you sign up you will receive an additional 60 bonus bucks, too.

I generally use my swagbucks to purchase Amazon.com gift cards. They have everything there!! It could pay off towards a much reduced Christmas next year. Smile

Are you already a swagbucks user? If so, what is your biggest reward you have snagged? Did you just sign up? Let me know if you have questions!

The Next Month

December 16th, 2011 at 11:05 am

DH graduated from his first course today!! He's on his way home. He will only be home for a month and has to go back and finish another 4.5 month class.

His January rent is paid. His utility bills are recently paid and most things unplugged at the apartment. The airline ticket is paid. We will combine our flexible spending/allowance money for the next month for groceries and fuel. We will only drive one vehicle, since the other is parked out of state!! Maybe we can save a little by being in one household for a little while.

I'm Done

December 15th, 2011 at 06:14 am

I'm done Christmas shopping. Sure, I could probably pick up a few more things to stuff the stocking. But really, the girls have enough. They are blessed with many people who will be giving them gifts. I don't see how one or two more things in their stocking will improve their holiday.

All that is left to do is wrap their gifts and, of course, stuff their stockings. I could wrap today and be done in 30 minutes or less, but I do want DH to see what I've bought. He will arriving home in the next couple days for a month long break!!

Today, I'll sit back and enjoy the peace of the season. Are you done shopping or are you still out there braving the stores?

Payroll Tax Cut

December 14th, 2011 at 06:04 am

I'm not sure if you remember but this past year wage earners had a decrease in payroll tax of 2%. Instead of paying 6.2% in social security tax withholdings, the rate was cut to 4.2%.

This is set to expire at the end of 2011. Congress is attempting to extend this cut. As of yesterday, the bill has passed in the House, but is not likely (per media reports) to pass in the Senate. Feel free to Google your preferred media source for more information.

This is just my heads up to those of you looking at how your net income might look in 2012. Remember to add in an extra 2% in payroll tax witholding as one scenario.

No Gift Wrap To Buy

December 13th, 2011 at 05:23 am

I've started wrapping gifts. Most things are going in gift bags. Gift bags I never bought. I've just accumulated quite a few over the years from other people.

It looks like I can get everything wrapped with gift bags and wrapping paper on hand. It seems I even have two rolls of NEW wrapping paper!

This actually might be the second year in a row that I have not bought gift wrap. I think this has to do with stocking up a little too much on paper one year!

How do you handle gift wrap?

More Simple Gifts I Made

December 12th, 2011 at 07:18 am

I made (along with my daughters) some more simple gifts with fabric and ribbon we had on hand. Another key chain with a basic key ring I found in a drawer. A zippered pouch with handle. A small tote bag for my 3 year old neice. Fabric bookmarks for our young reader friends and relatives (we made about 20!). Coasters. And bean bags (which are actually filled with rice).

All free with what we had on hand!







My oldest daughter had the idea of bookmarks. The fabric pieces were 2 inches x 7 inches, with about 1/8th seams. We didn't put any interfacing in, but one could for a stiffer bookmark.

What item is your favorite?

Our Estimated Tax Refund

December 9th, 2011 at 05:49 am

I estimated our taxes awhile back. I did both Federal and State. We had a low income year because combat earnings are not taxable. As a result we actually qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Kind of odd really.

Current estimates are:
Federal $3,867
State $1,075
Total $4,942

This works out great, since we suspended our Roth contributions to make cash flow easier while running two households. We will use this money to get our contributions to maximum by April 15th.

Right now we are each short $2,083.31. Or $4,166.62 for both of us.

The only reason I was willing to suspend the contributions because I had estimated the tax refunds to be large enough to cover our shortfall.

Of course, my estimates are approximate for now. There is another day and half of combat pay that will be used before year end bringing our income down. We also have made a few more donations.

Oh and the 'extra' will just be saved in our emergency fund. We expect to be moving in 2012.

More Money Flowing In

December 8th, 2011 at 05:51 am

I sold my last item listed on ebay last night. Only another $5, but it counts! It's already out in the mail box for delivery.

We also received our annual deposit from USAA. I believe it is a return of premium for members. Our amount this year was $25.16. It was deposited directly into the emergency fund.

I have a few more things I may list on ebay, but I do have to get some cleaning done today. One daughter is having a friend over tomorrow and I can't let the house stay in the state that it is in.

Free $10 Target Gift Card

December 7th, 2011 at 08:13 am

Okay the deal is on again. If you are on Facebook and you search for Target's home page, there is a link for a coupon. The coupon gives you a $10 Target gift card when you purchase $50.

I personally shop there quite often since it is 3 minutes from my house. I was going to get groceries today so it works well. I can use the gift card towards a couple more gifts I will need to buy.

Last time the promotion was out, I was able to roll the gift cards as payment for the next purchase. I was able to print 4 coupons at that time.

And if you use coupons for things you are buying anyway and give the gift card coupon first, you end up spending less than $50 and still receive the gift card!

Let us know me know if you use the deal and how it went.

$1.66

December 7th, 2011 at 06:26 am

One dollar and 66 cents spent at Old Navy on my new Chase Freedom Card. That's it. I made my one purchase and now it is time to reap the rewards!!

I feel a bit evil about this. Smile Earning $300 from one measly purchase. But not too evil!



An Unexpected $255

December 6th, 2011 at 06:04 am

In the mail yesterday. A check for $255. Somewhat unexpected. My older daughter officially decided to stop tumbling. She loves it, but doesn't love the recital part. And it is a big part for this studio.

The check was for prepaid tuition (which is stated as non refundable in their policies). I thought maybe we would get the costume deposit back since we cancelled early enough. Nope...we received 5 months of tuition plus the costume deposit.

Can't complain. It seems cash it just flowing in!!

My Chase Freedom Card Arrived

December 5th, 2011 at 03:42 pm

My Chase Freedom card arrived in the mail today. I have activated it. I also enrolled in the bonus categories to get 5% cash back.

The woman on the phone confirmed that I will receive 30,000 bonus points after one purchase. A purchase of any amount. The points then can be redeemed for $300!

Exciting! Now to decide what my purchase will be. I might just do our annual charity donation since it is one of the bonus categories.

Ebay Update

December 5th, 2011 at 08:58 am

After I went to bed, I sold two more of the five items I listed on ebay yesterday. Only one remains available. The sales totaled $102.40. I made $100 in a very short amount of time. I would say that was one of my best sales ever.

Of course, I will need to pull ebay's fees from that, which are getting higher everytime I list something! And my daughter probably netted about $30 from that total for her camera.

Good luck to those of you who said you would be listing this week. My tip...add the Buy It Now option. It is free in most cases and if you make it reasonable, people will snap the item up.

Listing on Ebay Today...One Item Sold!

December 4th, 2011 at 05:11 pm

Late this afternoon, I decided to get a few things listed on ebay. I have a fair number of items lying around that should be sold rather than donated.

Right now is a pretty good time of year to get up the gift type items and the holiday clothing.

The first thing I listed was an old iPod. I listed at an auction price and a Buy It Now...I don't think it was listed for more than 10 minutes before it sold!! Maybe I under priced it, but my research said it was a fair price. And I'm happy for the cash it brought.

Four auction items still up and running. They all have a Buy It Now option too. We'll see how it goes this week. Anyone else selling on ebay this holiday season?

Update: I sold another one already. A camera. This is fun!!

Goodwill Run

December 4th, 2011 at 11:32 am

On Friday I finally gathered up all those items I found during the recent purge and made a run to Goodwill to drop them off. The store is only five blocks away so I'm not sure why it took me so long to make it there.

I always make a note of everything I donate and even go so far as to take a picture. I attach the receipt given by the charity to my list and file it in with our tax documents for the year.

Yesterday, we gathered up our pennies and other coins and dropped them off at a local Salvation Army kettle. We went to a specific location since our neighbors were ringing the bells. They were bringing in quite a bit of money even in the brief time we were there.

You have just a few weeks left to make your final charitable donations for the year. Anyone want to share a unique way you give to others? Time or money?

Another Gift Made (Pic Included)

December 3rd, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I made a cosmetic bag last night for my sister in law. She is the one receiving most of the Bath and Body Works gifts.

Here's the cost breakdown:
Zipper (40% off coupon at JoAnn's) $1.05
1/2 yard gray fabic (inside) $1.74
1/2 yard print fabric (outside) $2.44
Ribbon purchased at a garage sale for $0.25

Of course, I didn't even use all the fabric or the ribbon, but if I did it would have cost $5.48. In reality it cost much less.

I did use interfacing to attach to the inside part of the outer fabric to make it stiffer. I already had that and the thread on hand as well.

Here's the picture:

Gifts for a Family

December 3rd, 2011 at 07:12 am

Our family always gives gifts to my best friend and her family. We don't live in the same city any longer so generally we mail them to each other. She is married and has three children close in age to my girls.

Buying gifts for five people could be a financial drain, but I usually buy their gifts with coupons or on clearance. This is what I'm getting each of them this year:

Friend: Hallmark ornament worth $9.95, used a $5 off coupon. Out of pocket: $4.95 plus tax.

Friends Husband: A wallet on sale for $9.99, used a $10 off a $10 purchase coupon at JC Penney's. Making this item FREE. (Yes, I did purchase one other item for my daughters stocking to get to the $10 limit)

Teenage Son: A $10 gift card to a gas station. It was free with my renewed newspaper subscription. I'm still waiting for this to arrive in the mail. Fingers crossed it does.

Teenage Daughter: $10 Aeropostle gift card. My daughter has had this for a year and isn't going to use. I'm exchanging my last $10 Target gift card with her. Thus another free gift!

11 Year Old Son: I bought him a small lego set at Target for $9.99 and used a $5 Target gift card. My out of pocket cost was $5.32 on my Target Red Card.

Did you notice most items were free? I only spent $10.57 to purchase gifts for five people!! I'm not sure if these will be mailed or not, but it should only cost another $5 if I needed.

Target On Facebook

December 2nd, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks to My English Castle for pointing out the great deal at Target that can be found on their facebook page. Spend $50 and get a $10 gift card.

Once you find the link on the Target facebook page, it takes you to a page where you can print the coupon for the gift card.

Umm...I did this twice today already! The coupon expires tomorrow, December 3rd. I also used coupons for the items I was buying and used my Target Red Card. These were given after I qualified for the $50 spending. One of my totals came to $43.92 after coupons. Smile

I only bought items we normally buy, including cheese, walnuts, toilet paper, pop, crackers, milk and a few other items I needed for holiday baking.

I know for sure that I'm using the two $10 gift cards to purchase alcohol for my brother in law. It's like getting his gift for free!!


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