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Archive for October, 2012

October Snowflakes

October 31st, 2012 at 12:25 pm

The Christmas Fund is full of snowflakes. It's amazing what one can accumulate in 10 months! I would love to encourage everyone to pick a goal and track your savings towards that goal. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

For October, I accumulated $201.57. Not as much as September, but still more than August, so I'm happy!



The ebay proceeds, of $107.57, were sent towards the principal of the truck loan last week. The rest is still available for Christmas shopping. I hope to complete my shopping early in December, with all excess Christmas funds going towards the truck loan.

And in case you are curious, the total cash I accumulated this year is $1,301.71. That averages out to over $130 each month!!

A $10 Sale

October 30th, 2012 at 06:53 am

I sold an HD TV antenna on craigslist yesterday. It was an ad I had put up two weeks ago, that I renewed to bring to the top of the list again. The woman responded almost immediately!

That's $10 more in the Christmas Fund (excess to go to truck loan)!!

Keep your eyes open for things around you that someone else might want...and list them for FREE on craigslist. It means more money in your pocket!

Redeeming Miles

October 29th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

We have Delta miles that are expiring. These were awarded when we took our last Disney vacation in July 2009 and flew on Northwest. Delta merged with Northwest some time back. The miles don't expire if we have account activity...but I haven't flown since then and don't have plans to fly anytime soon. I think DH tends to fly American for Army travels, so he also has expiring miles.

Our only options are magazines and newspapers. We have over 21,000 miles. I redeemed 1482 miles for 3 months of service with our local newspaper. I wanted to try it anyway. I also redeemed another 1700 miles for one year subscriptions to Health, Prevention and Coastal Living magazines.

Now we still have nearly 18,000 miles to redeem. I sent my sister an email to see if she is interested in a magazine. I will also ask my husband if he wants any. Unfortunately, there aren't any good options for kids.

I will end up dontating the rest to charity, since I can't possibly read any more magazines than I already signed up for!

I wish I could get cash back, but alas it is not an option at our member level. It would be nice if airlines just lowered their prices instead of inflating them to reward us with magazines. Do you have miles to use? Do you redeem them for things other than airline tickets?

Be Safe!!

October 28th, 2012 at 06:48 pm

I'm in the midwest, but I know many of you on the east coast are facing Hurricane Sandy in the next few days! Please stay safe and let us know once the storm passes/have power that you are okay.

My tip, that I gave my husband last year in Virginia, is to turn the settings on your fridge and freezer to their coldest settings. It will help maintain cool temperatures longer.

See you on the other side of the storm!!

Eye Glasses Purchased.

October 28th, 2012 at 09:02 am

Our insurance covers the eye exams with no out of pocket copay. The glasses are not covered and we pay out of pocket. In the past I have gotten good deals on eye glasses for my girls. This year, not so much. And I admit, I didn't look for a good deal.

The girls are older and much more picky about their frames. Once they find one it is a relief to be honest. They both ended up at Target Optical and found frames they were happy with. They charge for frames and lenses. There is an extra charge for thin lenses as well.

So what did I pay for two pairs of glasses? A whopping $429! We have the cash to pay for these. If we were really struggling, I would have had to make a different decision and find glasses online or another optical center with better deals.

Where do you purchase your glasses and how much do you generally pay? I know I've paid as low as $49 in the past. I believe at JC Penney.

Vehicle Maintenance

October 27th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

We took our van into the Honda Dealership today. Routine maintenence of an oil change and tire rotation. Taxes and fees brought the total to $43.88.

We opted to change the air filters ourselves. We purchased them on Amazon.com for a fraction of the cost the dealership would charge. We haven't changed them before, but found some YouTube videos explaining how to easily make this change. I love free information!

Have you used YouTube or another online source to help you save money?

First Gift of Christmas

October 25th, 2012 at 08:15 pm

I bought my first gift for Christmas yesterday. Socks! For my neice. Crazy socks were specifically requested, so the two pairs are bright purple and pink with stripes.

I went to Kmart, since I had a merchandise credit for an unwanted gift we returned last year. A pair of slipper socks my husband didn't want. No receipt, but we got a credit of $4.23, which I saved.

This set of two knee socks was priced at $4.99, with tax $5.34. After the credit, I paid $1.11 out of pocket. Of course, both will be deducted from my Christmas Funds! Smile

By the way, are you familiar with Socks for Christmas by Andy Andrews? It's a great story about the meaning of Christmas. We received a CD of the story years ago from a friend along with socks for each of us. It does make one thankful for a nice pair of socks. My girls actually find it to be a tradition to receive socks for Christmas. I think my neice would love the book with her socks! Smile

Anyone else start Christmas shopping this week?

Brainstorm

October 25th, 2012 at 11:03 am

I'm doing a brain dump on ideas of ways to save. I want to help my sister. My sister works as a first grade teacher. Her husband has been unemployed for 15 months. Unemployment has stopped, although he has asked for an extention. He has been denied, and is currently appealing.

From what I've been told by my sister, they have reduced spending. Only recently did she cancel Netflix, but not cable. I did talk to her on the phone while she was in a drive thru the other night. She had just finished an 11 hour day and didn't want to cook. She mentioned getting her eyebrows waxed, apparently only twice a year.

Our husbands both had their birthday this last weekend. I asked if we should skip birthday giving this year. She had already bought an iTunes gift card. It was worth $25, but she used a $10 Target gift card she received free when she could a flu shot, so spent less. I sent my brother in law a $40 check since he turned 40.

I did tell her about the Chase Slate card with the zero balance transfer fee and 0% interest. She did apply and transfered a credit card balance. I mentioned that she might consider selling some old landscape rock that has been piled in her back yard. She said she thought that too, even though her original plan was to put the rock in other areas of their yard. Not sure if that plan has any legs.

They are a couple that seem slow to move on things, but I'm concerned that they will get futher in debt if they don't make some more drastic changes. So I'm just brainstorming for now based on what I know about her. I will let her know of things I think of when the situation arises.

Make own laundry detergent.
Don't buy greeting cards.
Skip birthday and holiday gifts.
Color her own hair.
Make a meal list, and a grocery list of low cost meals. Make meals ahead and freeze.
Buy a DivaCup (look it up if you want to know).
Ask for medication samples from doctor.
Sell things on craigslist (they have plenty to sell).
Stop drinking soda.
Refinance mortgage, if they can qualify on her income alone.
Sell one of their cars (husband bikes nearly everywhere anyway).
Sell used books.
Cancel newspaper, recycling pick up service.
Cancel cable.
Make own cleaning products.
No car washes.
Cancel landline (think it's bundled with internet though).
Skip all pedicures, manicures, and eyebrow waxes.

Okay...my brainstorm is done for now. I may add more later. I know you don't know my sister, but do you have any good ideas for the average american who's income has been cut in half?


An EXTRA Principal Payment

October 24th, 2012 at 05:59 am

I found some extra funds for the truck loan. The paypal proceeds from the last four sales for $107.55, and an excess in our escrow account for auto expenses of $33.50 are making this happen.

I just sent a total payment of $141.05 to the loan, which will bring our principal balance to $7,219.00! I will have another regularly scheduled payment after payday on the first of the month, which will bring the balance under $7K!

Things are moving right along and the little amounts do add up and make a difference. I can't wait to see how fast we can get this loan paid off.

More Than Halfway to $400!

October 23rd, 2012 at 07:47 am

I added up the purchases we have made on our Chase Sapphire card. We have spent $1,591.85, which puts us more than halfway to our goal of spending $3000.

Chase Sapphire will give us $400 in rewards for reaching that amount. We will definitely be putting that $400 bonus towards our truck loan payoff!

It looks like I just activated this account at the beginning of October! Geez...that is a lot of spending, but we are putting EVERYTHING on the card, including utilities, hair cuts, auto registrations, gas, and food. I will actually be running a couple errands today and putting more money on the card!

It feels odd to be promoting spending, but we do spend anyway, so the cash bonus at the end is a great incentive to get our loan paid off. I have a feeling I will have my husband apply for this card after we reach this first goal.

And by the way, for those of you who also have the Chase Sapphire card, what do you think that card is made of? It seems heavy and a bit like metal! It feels different than any card I've ever had.

Snowflake Update

October 22nd, 2012 at 08:28 am

My ebay auctions have ended. I sold four items in the last two weeks, netting me $107.57! Can't complain there. I think this money is heading to the truck loan. I will decide when the money arrives in my bank account later this week.

For the month of October, my snowflakes are $25 in Amazon.com gift cards, a $10 Gap gift card, a $10 iTunes gift card (all from Swagbucks) and $6 from Pinecone surveys.

Grand total of snowflakes so far for the month of October $158.57. Happy dancin' in my snowflakes! What snowflakes have you accumulated this month?

Sales In Sales Out

October 19th, 2012 at 04:15 pm

The good news is that I have two items on ebay with bids and one with 16 people watching it. There is another one listed, but may not pan out to anything. Those auctions end Sunday. I will likely have a couple more things to add at that time.

The rest is money out of our pocket, but a result of some great sales. I browsed Eddie Bauer yesterday and found XL Tall polo shirts that my Dad loves for $9.09 each! These retail for $32.95. I will give to him for Christmas or more likely his birthday in May. He usually wants some of them by then.

We found weed killer in the brand and form my husband prefers marked 50% off at Target. We snagged five for the next weed season. It should last longer since we don't usually put down that much in one season. It never goes on sale that cheap.

I pointed out a candle in a scent I LOVE at Target to my husband. I also pointed out that it was on clearance and that he should buy it. Of course, he didn't want to buy in front of me! I hope he snags it. I may swing by and get one for my mom and sister for their birthdays, but I'm going to think on that one. I don't want to buy just because it is on sale. I want the gift to be something they would really want.

Have you snagged any great deals lately? Are you holiday shopping yet? Have you sold anything?

Truck Loan Balance Lower AGAIN!

October 18th, 2012 at 06:03 am

Our regular payment of $329.13 was applied to our loan yesterday. We paid $22.11 in interest and for the first time ever paid over $300 towards principal. Actual principal reduction was $307.02!!

The new balance of the truck loan is now $7,360.05.

I'm getting excited at how fast things seem to be moving on reducing this debt. The recent things I sold on ebay will be applied once I have the cash in my bank account. I'm also considering another lump sum that we don't currently have allocated to anything (although it is tentatively set aside for furniture). I also think the rewards we have earned from credit/debit card rewards may also be applied to the loan. I have lots of ideas! We'll see how they play out in the next few months. Smile

Sold A Coat

October 17th, 2012 at 10:02 am

I sold a coat on ebay last night. I may have under priced it, since it sold within two hours of listing it! Oh well, I tried to sell it for the same amount at a garage sale and it didn't go then. If it sells online for the same, I shouldn't care really. Smile

Right now my two ebay sells have netted me $71.42 that will get sent to that truck loan!

So far no luck on those items I have listed on craigslist...as PatientSaver mentioned in the comments it may be a sign of the times. I don't even feel the items are listed high at all, but if you are watching pennies these items are likely wants rather than needs.

I still have three active ebay listings that have Buy It Now options, but the auctions are scheduled to end on Sunday.

I noticed recently that I have been a member of ebay since December 2001! I don't think I started selling right away, but I know I've been selling our used stuff since the girls were little, so it could be close to that date. How long have you been on ebay? Longer than me?

Sold The Costume

October 15th, 2012 at 07:01 pm

I listed three items on ebay last night. The costume I made two years ago sold tonight with the Buy It Now option. It was listed for nearly $70 including shipping. Not sure what the profit is yet, but I'm pleased that my hard work paid off. It did take hours to make!

Only minor interest in the couple of things I have on craigslist. Someone may be over tomorrow for a tv and antenna, which would put $20 in our pocket. Not real sure how interested this person since they are bit slow responding to email.

I have some more things I will get posted to ebay tomorrow. I have books, a coat and a jacket. Oh, and a pair of shoes that was discovered as outgrown this weekend. I do like that you can list items for free on ebay now (actually a limit of 50 per month). That way if you only waste time putting something up rather than fees on top of it.

I will be hemming a pair of hand me down pants for my daughter tomorrow to be ready for her first band concert of the year. It is always nice when I don't have to buy something for an event...of course, this is where we needed new shoes. So money was spent.

I'll keep you updated on the sales, of course, but what do you think about the profit from these sales going to the truck loan? I think it would be a good idea considering I seem to have plenty saved for Christmas at this point.

Selling On Craigslist

October 13th, 2012 at 03:46 pm

I finally got around to listing several things on craigslist this afternoon. If all items sell, we will net $110.

One of the items has a short listing, since I really think it will sell better on ebay. I indicated the short listing in the ad, so that if someone who sees it is interested they will act fast!

I also realized a homemade Halloween costume I made my daughter two years ago will likely sell fast on ebay. As it turns out this costume doesn't really exist at a retail store. That's why I made one!! The current one listed is selling for $47. So with DD's permission, I'm listing that costume tomorrow along with some other outgrown clothing items.

Fingers crossed for a week full of sales! Are you selling anything right now?

Financial Updates

October 11th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Roth IRA Contributions: We didn't contribute in the first half of the year, so I'm now playing catchup. I started the regular contributions of $416.66 each in July. Those automatic payments will add up to $2499.96 by the end of the year. This leaves us short of maxing out our Roth IRA's for 2012. Today, I authorized a purchase for each of us in the amount of $850. I will make more lump sum purchases in November and December to get us up to the $5000 maximum contribution limit for the year.

Snowflakes: Surprise! I have accumulated more snowflakes for the Christmas fund. So far this month, I have earned $48 in gift cards and cash. I really need to get some craiglist items up!!

Chase Sapphire: We have started using our Chase Sapphire Card. Already we have charged $1,018.27 towards the $3,000 spending limit. Auto registrations and utilities have been the bulk of the spending so far. All just regular stuff! I can't wait for that $400 bonus. Smile

Truck Loan: Payday is Monday, so watch for our regular payment to post soon after and see the balance go down for the second time this month!

Groceries and Meals: We had company at our house for four nights over the weekend. I think we spent over $200 stocking up for guests! Turns out we over bought. And my husband did say, "Don't you think this is too much food?". Not that it is an excuse, but I think my desire for fall comfort foods kicked in and I bought them all! It seems like we have a nice variety and plenty of things to eat. I just look in the pantry, fridge and freezer to determine what should be made. I think there is enough on hand to last through Monday!

Charity Contributions: I wrote a check to charity today. We are actually participating in a Walk N Roll for Spina Bifida later this month. A good friend's daughter (and our former neighbor) has this disability and we are walking to raise awareness.

Very thankful for all that we have including our health. What are you thankful for today?

How To Put Links in Your Blog!

October 11th, 2012 at 05:40 am

I've noticed there are quite a few people on the Saving Advice blogs that do not know how to put links in their blogs. Sure you can just copy and paste it in, but to make it cleaner you need to add some tags before and after the actual address link.

There is a list of tags you can use right above the text box where you type your blog entry. If you click on the hyperlink vB Code it will take you to a post in the forums explaining how to use these tags in more detail. They are very easy to use. And it makes your blog cleaner and more professional!

If you have questions...just ask! I'd be happy to attempt to explain. Smile

New House Expense

October 5th, 2012 at 03:32 pm

On Tuesday, we had a whole house humidifier installed on our furnace. We went without one for many year early in our marriage and for one year at our last house. Not fun! Dry air is awful.

This humidifier will put out 12 gallons of warm moist air each and every day this winter. It should make the house feel even warmer, too.

The cost was $350. I only wish my Chase Sapphire card had arrived by that time, but it was two days late! We have the money set aside...so not a big deal.

Do you use a humidifier in the winter on your furnace? Does the air get as dry in warmer winter areas as it does here in the midwest?

Dipping In for $400

October 4th, 2012 at 08:25 am

In light of the Slate card mishap, I decided to go a different route. Make money from spending, rather than save money from paying down debt. Odd I know!

I applied for the Chase Sapphire card and was approved. I haven't received the card, but I can see the account online. Odd also.

We will need to spend $3,000 in the next three months to earn $400 worth of rewards that can be redeemed for cold hard cash. Guess where this cash will go? Yep, a nice drop in the bucket on the truck loan when it is all said and done.

We need to pay our auto insurance premium ($420), vehicle registrations ($480) this month. We will also put our regular bills on the card amounting to about $400 per month. I expect we will also use it for everyday spending...so that we aren't tempted to buy something just to meet the $3000 minimum. It should go just fine.

After the rewards? Closing the account ASAP! It has a $95 annual fee after the first year. I may have my husband open one early in the next year, but it will depend on the offer at the time, how this dip works out, and if we think we can meet the minimum again at that time.

I don't really like messing with credit cards, but when you pay them off and earn some snazzy rewards at the same time...it's hard not to! Bring on the $400!!

ETA: It came in the mail today. I activated it. I have changed all the auto bills to be paid with it and charged the electric bill already! I told my husband to use it for everything he normally would use it for until I tell him not to.

Extra Principal Payment to Truck Loan

October 2nd, 2012 at 07:32 am

As planned, I made an extra principal payment to our truck loan in the amount of $230.05. This is the difference in our mortgage payment because of the lower escrow withholding.

The new balance is 7667.07!! Moving right along.

September Snowflakes

October 1st, 2012 at 07:47 am

I think I did even better in September than I did in August in accumulating little snowflakes to add to our Christmas Fund. Fun!!

Here's the break down for the month:


A total of $252.28 more money in our pocket to be used to pay for Christmas. The ebay sales this month made a big difference. I sold a couple of cameras, two routers, a digital converter box, two pairs of girls jeans, box tops for education, a halloween costume and a pair of dance shoes.

The total 2012 Christmas Fund balance is now at: $1,104.14. Again, I expect this to be more than enough for Christmas. Once I determine the amount of leftover Christmas funds, I will be adding those to the truck payoff!!