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Archive for July, 2012

Final Snowflake Tally for July

July 31st, 2012 at 07:37 pm

Here are the snowflakes accumulated in July:



I'm in shock! I had no idea that I added so much to our Christmas fund this month. Nearly $100. I guess I was motivated. It sure helps to have goals on Swagbucks everyday too. Apparently, I'm a sucker for quite a few of those!

Our Christmas fund is so close to our $700 goal with $682.86. Or was our goal $750? Either way we are close! I'm guessing I'll exceed it by quite a bit. Smile

How is your Christmas fund coming along? Have you started saving yet? Something saved is better than nothing. Start today!! And join Swagbucks if you need a way to make a few dollars. Yes, that is a referral link. Good luck!

Sprucing Up with Paint

July 28th, 2012 at 09:35 am

As a way to help our girls adjust to our new home we promised to paint their rooms. I did one yesterday and the other is half done at this point. One daughter picked the same color she had in the last house, which does remind us of the old house. The other picked a bold aqua color!

We needed to buy two gallons for each room. After the first room we did end up with half gallon left over. I expect the same for the second room. We always do two coats, but this paint from Lowe's seems to be covering pretty well after one. But since we bought it and can't return it we are using the second gallon. Lesson learned with this paint, we might just need one coat in future rooms! Sure saves time and money.

Do you do your own painting? Or do you hire it out? Or do you decorate in another way?

Snowflakes from Swagbucks

July 25th, 2012 at 10:57 am

I redeemed my accumulated Swagbucks in the last two days. Here's what I redeemed them for:

3 $5 Amazon Gift Cards
1 $10 Banana Republic Gift Card

I also donated 100 Swagbucks to the chariy of the month which is charity:water. I hope to accumulate some more before the end of the month that I will donate as well. This is the first month I felt motivated to donate to the charity. I think it is such a good one. Who doesn't need clean water to drink and bathe with?

I'm adding the gift cards to my snowflake balance for July. I will update the increase for July at the end of the month!

Money In and A Couple Cat Pictures

July 23rd, 2012 at 03:28 pm

My husband received a check in the mail from the apartment complex. His deposit was $125 last July. They deducted $45 for carpet cleaning, even though he left the carpet in clean shape. The check that arrived was for $80.

We are happy with the amount considering that the apartment complex seemed to nickel and dime everything. Finally, we are done dealing with them!!

My daughter also received a $25 birthday check from her grandma. She seems to have quite a bit of money now. She went through some old papers recently and found cash in one birthday card and a Target gift card in another. I believe it was $35. We are pretty sure that money is from her birthday prior to the one she had this month!

A couple of cat pictures since everyone liked the partial shot in the bedroom pictures in my last post:


Sleeping in the kennel at the hotel.

Big yawn captured by my older daughter.

A new favorite sleeping spot.

The new spot is on a ledge between the window and our couch. Cozy!

Sleeping upside down on my youngest daughter's bed. My cat knew I was taking the picture. She doesn't mind!

The Guest Room

July 22nd, 2012 at 05:35 pm

The guest room was put together pretty quickly, but we think it turned out great for a first time visit. After all we just moved in just over two weeks ago!

Here are the pictures:







We bought the bed, sheets, bedskirt, gray blanket, comforter, two pillows and shams all new. Cost was nearly $1,000. The bookcase and items on it, lamps, black dresser, sheet as a curtain, knick knacks, cedar chest with blanket and white blanket also on bed were from our current stash of things.

My parents enjoyed their visit and said the bed was terrific. Firm, just like they like and apparently better than their current bed. Smile

0% and Zero Balance Fee

July 21st, 2012 at 04:56 am

I read My Money Blog with some frequency. Today's post is about an offer by Chase for 0% interest for 15 months and a zero balance transfer fee. How often can you transfer for free?

Here's the link for further details. Definitely read the fine print for all the requirements. This is something you might want to look at before Monday if it interest you, since the balance fee may be changing!

It is a tempting offer for me to move our truck balance, however I'm not sure I'd have it paid off in 15 months!! I have guests arriving today, so I may look into it more on Sunday night and talk it over with DH, who will likely be opposed to opening a credit card. Smile

Does anyone think they might pursue this deal to save some money on debt? Or would use consider the deal to make some money? Or would you avoid it completely?

1.35% Interest FNBO

July 19th, 2012 at 07:46 pm

We received an offer by email from FNBODirect (First National Bank of Omaha) that we can receive 1.35% APY interest on new money above the amount we currently have in our account. This rate is a promotion rate for just six months. After that the money earns the current rate of .65%.

I was keeping my eyes open for good rates. I did see several CD's that were a similar rate, but lock the money in for two year or more. I think this offer seems like a good idea for at least the next six months for our house proceeds.

I'm more likely to get the money earning some cash with an account I already have open. In the meantime, fingers crossed, rates may go up a bit! I'm also willing to move the money before the six months are up, if I see an even better rate.

So, that's the plan for our excess cash for now. Is anyone else a FNBODirect investor? Did you get the offer?

I believe this offer is for current accounts, rather than a new offer on new deposits. Check the website to be sure!

Truck Loan Balance Is Lower

July 19th, 2012 at 07:28 am

This tends to happen when one makes a debt payment, your principal balance is lower! Yipee!!

Our regular truck payment posted this week. The principal portion was $299.44. We paid $29.69 in interest, just under $1 a day.

Our new principal balance on the truck is $10,336.61. We are close to being under 10K. Since next months principal payment will not bring the balance under $10K, I might just make an extra principal payment. It's always fun to make the extra effort.

In the upcoming months, I will be evaluating the idea of paying the truck off in full with the cash we have on hand. We are paying about 3%, which is more than we could earn in interest. Will need to decide if it is the right thing for right now.

Bring on the Guests!

July 18th, 2012 at 06:37 am

My parents love to visit us. Unfortunately, at our last house we didn't have a guest room. They often slept on the girls twin beds and the girls would sleep on the floor. The girls didn't mind at all. My parents always felt bad about displacing them.

At our new home we have a fourth bedroom in the basement right next to a full bathroom. It will be a perfect place for guests. However, we needed a bed for our guests.

We purchased a queen mattress and boxspring Monday night, which is being delivered for free today! We did splurge a bit to get a firm mattress with extra padding. Total cost was just under $800 with tax, bed frame and a mattress cover. I expect we will have it for many many years!

Of course, I will need a set of sheets and a comforter or quilt too. The sheets I need as soon as possible, but I have blankets and pillows that can work until I find something I like!

What kinds of amenities do you appreciate in a guest bedroom at someone's house? Extra blankets, a place to sit, a mirror? Tell me about it. I want to make this a relaxing and welcoming place to stay!

Homeowners Insurance Overage

July 17th, 2012 at 06:46 am

In the process of moving, we cancelled and bought homeowner's insurance. We previouslly paid our insurance directly. We know will have an escrow account with the bank.

Luckily the new homeowner's insurance premium is about $300 less than before. It seems this is attributed to the house being new primarily.

We paid our new homeowner's policy at closing and that has been applied to our account. It seems we now have a credit balance of $291.08. Our statement says they will hold the balance towards future installments, but we can request the money to be sent to us. Ummm...yes. Please send our money back!!

I'm not sure when it will arrive, but I will save this money as part of our house proceeds.

We Have Library Cards

July 16th, 2012 at 01:24 pm

We now have library cards for our new town. We actually have a very small library in our town, but we have access to the library in the big town right next to us. That's two cards and about four libraries we have access to!

It was hard to go so long without checking out books particularly for my oldest daughter. She reads so much so fast, we would spend a lot on books if it were not for the library.

Do you use your library? Does anyone not have access to one? What do you do to keep your book spending down?

Starting Our Automatic Investments

July 15th, 2012 at 01:29 pm

We put our Roth IRA and college fund investments on hold while DH was living in another state. We did fund our Roth IRA's in full for 2011, but have not started on 2012 yet.

I just set the investments up to begin auto withdrawing from our checking account again. It feels good to get this back on track. Right now we are six months behind if I want to fund everything by December 31st.

I may end up making a few lump sum payments to get us caught up, but I will determine that in the next month or two. We are still waiting on travel money from the Army, but I expect it in the next couple weeks. It also seems we will have to get a water softener for this house. The water is VERY hard. We can rent that, but may also buy one outright since it would be good to have one to leave with the house for resale purposes. I'll keep you posted!

How are your investment deposits going this year? Behind, on track or ahead?

House Proceeds

July 12th, 2012 at 03:13 pm

It shouldn't be unexpected, but it was. We received a check from our previous mortgage company for $41.79. It says it is an escrow refund, but I believe it is actually excess interest. We did not have an escrow account with them, as we paid our own taxes and insurance.

I think the closing agent asked for a payoff date that was a few days out from actual closing, thus the excess interest.

I'm going to add it to our home sale proceeds since technically that is what it is. I'm going to keep that money separate for the time being. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a good interest rate on a CD! Anyone know of a good one. I'm looking for something over a year, but no more than 3. I don't want to lock it all in to low for too long. Aren't rates suppose to go up at some point?! Wink

Found Twenty Dollars

July 10th, 2012 at 06:33 pm

My husband did some yard work this weekend and found a $20 bill. It was stuck under some rocks and dirt. It did rip a bit as he pulled it out, but it is basically intact. I just washed off the dirt and let it dry.

Of course, this is another snowflake towards our Christmas fund! Clearly free money. Smile

Have you ever found a $20 bill or another large denomination of cash?

First July Snowflake

July 10th, 2012 at 06:53 am

We purchased a new internet router for our home on Saturday. We bought it at Target and used our Red Card to receive 5% off. There was also a sale on the router that offered a $10 Target gift card. That gift card is our first snowflake for July. I will save it for Christmas shopping!

We received a check in the mail yesterday for $56. It appears to be a refund of overpayment for internet services DH was using on the east coast. We'll take it. Right now, I'm not planning to add this to the snowflake account. Although if we weren't in the middle of moving in and many new expenses I probably would!

Anyone going to start saving snowflakes for Christmas that hasn't started yet? It is not too late to save something!

Ordered Blinds

July 9th, 2012 at 08:35 am

Our new house is actually new. We are the first owners. Therefore, there are zero window coverings. We currently have sheets taped up to the windows for privacy in the bedrooms.

We purchased faux wood blinds for a few of our windows at our previous home. We really liked them. While we were waiting to get into the house, we ordered samples, so we could decide on a color right away.

We ordered blinds for 11 windows from JustBlinds.com in a chestnut color that matches the woodwork in our house. One window is very large and required an additional charge to ship. It is actually three blinds on one headrail, too.

Our total order was $908. It seems like a lot, but seems pretty reasonable for 11 blinds, with many of them being large. No regrets on that purchase. I think any bigger purchases will wait several weeks while we get settled and used to the space we are in.

Everything is out of moving boxes. I'm thinking of attempting to sell them on craigslist. We are not centrally located in town, so it may be a long shot. I will inventory those and put up an ad this week. If they don't get bought, I will have the moving company pick them up to free up the space.

When you move do you use a moving company or pack yourself? Where do you get your moving boxes? Do you pay for them or find them for free?

We Are In

July 8th, 2012 at 08:31 am

We are in our new home. Our beds and household goods arrived on Thursday. And I have to say that sleeping in our own bed after more than three weeks was bliss!

We have unpacked all but about 6 boxes. However, things are not organized in the least. I'm trying to figure out how to store the same stuff in fewer cabinets and closets. We do have a large storage room that I'm sure I will have to use!

Spending is at an all time high. I don't have meals planned. Our dryer isn't working since the move. And with a new home there are little things to buy, like shower curtain rods. We will be ordering blinds today for a majority of our windows. I expect to get a pretty good deal online for those.

There is still an inflow of cash to arrive. We expect to receive around $2000 because we used a Homes for Hereos realtor. Participating realtors discount their commissions for buyer and sellers. And then there is the travel money we expect to receive from the governmnet. Some of that money will reimburse us for 10 days of hotel expenses. Fingers crossed that travel voucher doesn't get rejected.

Cat lovers will appreciate knowing that our cats have adjusted well to the new home. They are finding new places to hide and enjoying our wide window sills where they can hang out.

Any great tips for moving into a new home? How did you get organized? How long did it take? Any money saving tips that go along with the move?

No Longer Mortgage Free

July 4th, 2012 at 06:42 am

We did close on our house on Monday. Everything went smoothly. In the end we didn't need to bring money to closing. Thus I didn't need to wire any funds! That saved me $20.

The closing agent didn't originally have record of our $1000 escrow check that we provided when we made the offer on the house. Once that was confirmed, we got money back in the amount of $215. Smile

I'll go into more details about the loan another time. Today let's celebrate the independence and freedom of living in the United States!!

Closing and Wiring

July 2nd, 2012 at 08:12 am

We are scheduled to close at 2pm today! It should go smoothly, but as of this moment we are still waiting on the VA to approve our HUD settlement statement.

Once they do I will know the amount we need to bring to closing. Since we bank online, I need to authorize a wire transfer with our bank. This is going to cost us $20. We had the proceeds from the house we sold wired to our account as well. That wire cost us over $50!

It does make me question whether we should have a local bank. However, even if I had a local bank, I would have already moved and wouldn't be in town to get a cashier's check from that bank. So that doesn't really work either, unless I'm missing something.

Can't wait to get in the house! The cats will move in today, but our household goods are not arriving until later in the week, so we are doing a couple more nights at the hotel.