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Archive for January, 2013

Financial Musings

January 31st, 2013 at 07:40 pm

We have a credit card that my husband uses for work expenses. He had charged about $25, and the other day I noticed the balance was under $10 on that card. I looked it up and found a credit of $15.56. I inquired and this goes all the way back to July when we noticed some odd charges on the card that were not ours. They switched card numbers for us, and moved the balance over, but did not get to the credit for one of the charges until this week! This was shortly after our move, so I was not keeping track that closely. Nice surprise!

Payday is tomorrow. We were left with just over $12 from our regular budget money. I will make sure to put that money where it counts!

I had an offer from Sharebuilder to deposit at least $10K and get $75. Deposit $25K and get $150. Tempting, but I could not tell how much interest their accounts pay in addition to the bonus. I have some cash I could put in the account but I would like to know the interest rate. I did some searching, but was only coming up with margin interest rates. I know I will not pay those fees. I do not expect to be using the money to buy any investments, so the money would just be sitting in cash. I did put the promotion code in my account, since it expired today. I have until late March to put the money in. In the meantime, I think I will skip it, since I cannot find the interest rate.

I renewed our newspaper subscription. I purchased our first three months with airline miles. Unfortunately, it seems to be a one time offer. I paid nearly $65 for 13 weeks of the daily newspaper. The girls love to read the comics. My older daughter watches for local high school news and pictures. I glance at it everyday. I think it is helpful to have the local paper when you first move to a new town. It helps you understand the issues in the community, as well as, local events. It was hard to make that payment though. I will revist the need for the paper when it comes up for renewal in May.

We are having an artic blast here. The roads are very icy, the wind is blowing and drifting the snow from Wednesday. It was negative 17 degrees with the windchill earlier today. It will get even colder tonight. As you can guess our furnace is running quite a bit!!

And that my friends are my financial musings for the day. You all come back again!

Hit $200K

January 30th, 2013 at 10:56 am

The market has been zooming in January, along with all of last year. It appears to be down today as I write this, but yesterday was a milestone. The total value of our retirement accounts has reached just over $200,000! It has only taken 37 months to make this second 100 grand. We will take it, and watch to see how long it takes to get to the next milestone. Smile

You might check your retirement accounts today, to see how much as changed recently. You might be surprised. And don't forget to keep investing! Or start now, if you have not started yet.

January Snowflakes

January 29th, 2013 at 04:33 pm

At this point, I think I have a finalized total for January snowflakes. I can't say I tried to hard to accumulate them. I only sold one book and that was already listed before January on Half.com. I have not been motivated yet to get my Ebay sales listed.



Pinecone Surveys and Swagbucks were instrumental to my total this month. The Target gift cards I accumulated for stocking up on some good deals like toilet paper and laundry detergent were a nice bonus too.

Again, I didn't try to hard, but yet I found nearly $100 to save for next years Christmas gifts. Did you find any snowflakes to save this month?

It Has Entered My Mind

January 28th, 2013 at 10:49 am

This thought has entered my mind several times in the last two weeks: We have enough money in cash that we could pay off the truck today. It would still leave us with plenty of cash for other emergencies, too.

I think the thought comes from impatience. I want to be done with the loan. I spend too much time making calculations as to how soon I can pay it off. I'm annoying myself!!

The pros: We own the truck free and clear. We pay no more interest on the loan. I don't have to make calculations and record the loan. We still have plenty of emergency fund money. We will have only mortgage debt.

The cons: We have to use emergency cash. We lose interest on the cash (although it's very little). I have to focus on paying ourselves back...which will require calculations, too. Smile

I suppose I would need to consider any risk to this payoff scenario. I did read on USAA's website, that with the fiscal cliff negotiations looming, there is a higher probability of a government shutdown. This could lead to a delay of pay for the amount of time it takes. It might be nice to have that truck loan cash on hand if that occurred.

I won't decide right away. Payday is later this week. I expect to send in close to $450 to the truck loan at that time. Once mid month rolls around I expect the loan to be under $3K in a very short time.

I'm off to do more calculating. What would you do if this option was open to you? Pay off with cash on hand, and repay to your savings? Or just keep working to pay it down and off fast?

ETA: Interest rate is 3.39%, balance is $3706.02, regular payment is $329.13, and we have about $900 extra a month to send to the loan.

Owe $161 in Taxes

January 27th, 2013 at 01:10 pm

I've been using HR Block online tax software to file our tax return today. I'm not real thrilled with their set up. I'm using them because it is free to military personnel. I usually use Turbo Tax, and I would highly suggest it to anyone who isn't tax savvy.

I had estimated we would owe over $600 when I realized we received a 1099G from our state for last years tax refund. We did itemize, and generally this would be taxable. However, we used the sales tax method rather than income tax on our Schedule A. Sales tax deduction apparently isn't taxable the next year, like it would be if we used our state income tax. We use the sales tax because my husband's income is exempt from income tax in our state. This changes the amount we owe to about $161. I have one more interest income statement to add, that is only for $75, so it won't change too much.

I was most annoyed with HR Block's state return portion because it asked for type of employment. I clicked military. Yet, the calculator was still showing his entire income as taxable, even though it should be exempt. I had to change it in an adjustments to income part of our return. It wasn't obvious at all. I did find it, but I think it is confusing to the average user. I even had to fill in the amount that was tax exempt. I think Turbo Tax handled it better last year if I remember right.

I like that the amount is much lower than I thought. I hope to have the return finalized in mid February. I'm always jumping around from different software options to get the best deal. I prefer free! Do you use the same software every year, or jump around to get the lowest price?

Frugal Happenings: Beauty Edition

January 24th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I think I'm pretty frugal when it comes to my beauty regimen. Part of it comes from what I'm willing to put on and in my body, and the rest come just from being frugal.

I use the following everyday:
Bar Soap
Shampoo
Conditioner
Deodorant (happens to last nearly a year)
Mousse
Lotion
Toothpaste
All in one contact solution

I use a razor and make the blade last. If I start getting small cuts, I know it's time to replace. I have the same razor handle since college.

I wear makeup only a couple times a month. I have one of each in my makeup bag:
Eye shadow
Eye liner
Blush
Lipstick
Liquid foundation
Loose powder

I used a hair dryer. Pull my hair back in a headband, or pony tail. I never use hair color or have my hair dyed. It's natural (and yes, there are a few gray hairs). I have two nail polish colors that I will wear on my toenails in the summer months. The rest of the year, nothing! Yes, I own a metal nail file, handed down from my mother.

I have a body spray my husband gave me a couple years ago. I wear it a couple times a month. I don't know if you have read, but 'fragrance' as an ingredient could be anything. Companies don't have to disclose where it comes from.

I probably won't win a beauty pageant, but I haven't scared anyone away with my looks or my smell yet! This routine does cost money, but by many women's standards it does tend to the low end. Do you have a frugal beauty routine? How much do you think you spend on your hygiene? Could you find a way to spend less, or skip part of your routine?

Waiting On One Form

January 23rd, 2013 at 09:26 am

I'm waiting on one tax form now that my husband's W2 showed up on DFAS today. I'm waiting for an interest statement from Sharebuilder.

Way back in December of 2011, I opened an account with them for a bonus of $75. I earned the money in 2012. I withdrew the money and did something with it...it's probably on my blog somewhere. I don't think I put in the Christmas fund though. Anyway......it's now 2013 and I'm waiting for that tax form. The Sharebuilder website states it will be available by February 15. I'm hoping sooner. I don't know why I'm so excited to do our taxes. I already know we have to pay. Smile

I'm planning to use an HR block website this year. I found that on Military One Source it is free to file our Federal return and up to 3 state returns. I like free!

How do you plan to do your taxes this year?
If your adjusted gross income is under $57,000 you are eligible to file your Federal tax return for free, per the IRS.

Stock Market Is UP!

January 22nd, 2013 at 03:31 pm

I don't follow our retirement accounts too closely, but I did record the values at year end and then looked again last night before the markets opened up again today. And they were up again today!

We have a good portion in the S&P 500 index fund and it is up 4.65% since December 31. That doesn't seem like much, but once you reach that century mark of $100K, things start moving up pretty fast. We are closing in our next $100K...so will be watching for the day that it does that.

We are dollar cost averaging our purchases in every month with automatic investment and payroll deduction. It makes it so easy to invest and not think too much about it. How do you invest for your retirement? Payroll deductions, auto invest, mail a check? Lump sum or dollar cost average?

Negative Wind Chills

January 21st, 2013 at 11:41 am

We are experiencing cold cold weather here in the midwest today. We have wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour which makes for negative wind chills. My husband and girls are home from school for the holiday. We watched the inauguration this morning by the gas fireplace. But it is now off. The furnace is running at it's regular temperature of 69 degrees. I ate leftover mushroom barley soup for lunch and actually feel toasty warm.

The cold weather will keep us inside, except to go to my daughter's flute lesson, where I'll drop her teacher a $20 bill. We are keeping ourselves entertained. My husband is has been taking an online class for work. The girls have been drawing, writing, reading books and generally hanging out. I can hear them laughing in one of the bedrooms.

A low spend day, no needs or wants. It's all good!



Frugal Happenings: Sunday Edition

January 20th, 2013 at 06:27 pm

I've been trying to pay attention to the things I do that are frugal. I know I do them, and often take them for granted. I figure someone may find them useful.

I made my grocery list for the week while taking inventory of my cupboards. I found cream of wheat,barley, frozen onion/celery, refried beans, pasta, and ground beef. Luckily, I won't be using those for one dish! I'm going to use the cream of wheat up for my breakfast this week and maybe even next! I will add a pound of mushrooms to make mushroom barley soup, which will include the onion and celery. We will have taco dip. I had to buy sour cream, tomatoes and tortilla chips. The pasta and ground beef will go together. I picked up fresh green beans to eat with it. It does help to use what you have on hand!

I cut open a tube of lotion this morning. It was enough for one more rub down after my shower. I also scavenged the bottle of lotion my husband threw in the trash. I will use the remainder he failed to use for tomorrow. I will also recycle the bottle rather than throw it away. (He does have some bad habits.)

I combined trips today, to save on gas. I went by the library to drop off books on my way to the grocery store. I noticed on my way to the library there is a dry cleaner nearby. I like that we don't have dry clean clothes, thus no money needs to be spent there.

I did three loads of laundry. I used half the amount of soap, and half a dryer sheet for each load, since we have soft water.

Other than coffee, I drank water today. Straight from the tap. I even took my own water bottle to the gym.

We have spent part of our evening listening to music we already own, watching broadcast television and one quick show on Netflix. Simple, inexpensive entertainment. I will probably read my library book right before bed, too.

What did you do today that was frugal?

Flute Upgrade

January 20th, 2013 at 08:22 am

My husband, daughter and I went flute shopping yesterday. We have upgraded her from her first flute to an intermediate flute, which has the silver head joint and open holed keys. She was very excited.

The flute is a brand new Yamaha. We paid $1,478 plus tax. We asked our daughter to pay 10% (before tax) of her own money, just so she would have a little skin in the game. Her portion was $148. Our portion ends up being $1433.46.

We did put the purchase on our Chase Freedom card. We will earn 1% on the purchase in rewards. We will pay the balance from our savings account. My plan is to pay ourselves back over the course of the year. I thought of opening a card with 0% interest, since I have seen a few offers for 18 months financing. However, I didn't want another card, or the hassle of making the payment on their terms. We have the cash and are not earning much of anything on it, so might as well just pay ourselves back as the year progresses.

We did not trade in her original flute because she will have two more years of marching band. Marching band is hard on instruments, since they are out there sweating while they play them, laying them on the turf, the sidewalk, and so forth. The new flute will be her concert flute. The sound is so pretty and will be awesome to hear her play her solo piece in the acoustic friendly concert hall our district has.

Did you play an instrument in high school? Do you still own it? If not, what did you do with your instrument after you stopped playing?

Estimated Taxes Owed

January 19th, 2013 at 08:53 am

I did a rough estimate of taxes owed to the US Federal Government this morning using Turbo Tax TaxCaster. As I expected we will owe money. The estimate is $623. I can handle that.

I did an estimate this summer and came up with $262 that we would owe. However, as with many estimates, it didn't include a few things. I did not include last years state tax refund, which was over $2K, or some of the interest we earned. I just forgot about these when I did my estimate.

We also paid far less in real estate taxes this year because we moved into a new home where the full value of the home has yet to be taxed. This means we don't have enough expenses to itemize. Usually we have about $13,000 in expenses we can itemize, but not this year, just under the standard deduction of $11,900 by a few hundred dollars.

Since I have three months until this money is owed. I will be setting aside $100 for the next 6 pay periods, including the last one on April 15th. I will make payment that day.

I feel better knowing the amount. I realize it could change slightly, but I think this estimate is right on target and includes everything this time around. We shouldn't have to owe as much next year...unless my husband gets promoted. In that case, I will likely have to change his withholding, since we will be in a different tax bracket.

Maybe I can find a credit card to charge this payment on and get a cash bonus! Or does the government charge extra to process credit cards over debit cards? What is the most you have ever owed the government at tax time?

Less Truck Debt!!

January 18th, 2013 at 05:32 am

Our regular payment to the truck loan was processed yesterday in the amount of $329.13. We paid only $13.67 in interest; $315.46 went to principal.

The principal is now under $4K, with a balance of $3,706.02. Yipee! More progress. Always makes me happy!!

On a side note, I remembered a frugal happening from last week. I used the ends of the bread to make my toast. I hate to admit I often throw these out. I have saved them in the past to make bread crumbs, but we don't really make anything that needs bread crumbs anymore. Do you eat the ends of your bread? If not, do you throw out or reuse?

Tax Forms In the Mail

January 17th, 2013 at 12:46 pm

We are getting more tax forms in the mail. We received our 1099G from the state and W2 from the Army for taxable moving expenses. Our money market account posted our 1099INT online yesterday.

Things are rolling in. I'm not too excited about doing our taxes this year. I'm pretty sure we are going to owe money. The sooner I get them done, the sooner I will know the damage.

I think next week my husband's W2 should be available. Once it is I will start working. If we owe, I will be waiting until April to send in the money!

Do you have any of your tax documents? Do you have everything already?

Plastic Jungle Promotion

January 17th, 2013 at 06:05 am

I read on My Money Blog about a promotion to sell $200 in gift cards, get your cash, and get a $20 credit towards the purchase of a gift card on the site.

This promotion expires Saturday morning...so act fast if you are interested!

Chase Rewards Equals Less Debt

January 16th, 2013 at 10:24 am

Yesterday, while I disconnected from the internet, Chase kindly closed our statement for the month and award our account with the promised $400 in rewards!!

Our rewards balance this morning was 43,852, which included previous rewards, regular spending rewards and the bonus rewards. Those rewards equal $438.52 in cash. I decided to apply the rewards to our card as a statement credit, since the card does have a balance in excess of the reward amount. The remainder balance will, as ALWAYS, be paid off before the due date so that we don't accrue zero interest.

Now that I don't have to send in $438.52 to Chase, that money is sitting in our checking account. What to do? What to do? Of course, I sent it in to the truck loan! Are you kidding me? That has been the plan all along.

I actually sent in $478.52. The extra $40 is because of my husband's pay increase. Much of the pay increase went to increase our Roth IRA investments so we can meet the new $5500 limit this year. But the leftover, will go to debt.

The new balance on the truck loan is $4,021.48. After tomorrow's regular payment posts the balance will be below $4K!! Thanks Chase for the rewards bonus or as we like to call them here on Saving Advice...the snowflake.

Did you send a snowflake to debt this week?

Disconnect Day Results

January 16th, 2013 at 07:13 am

I had a disconnect day, or a day unplugged from my computer yesterday. Looks like it was a good day to be off the computer with the site not running correctly! I did try to post Monday night about my plans for my disconnect day, but the site didn't accept my post. I did learn SA was changing servers.

The morning was productive. I did get to the gym. I did get meal planning done, and a grocery list made. I then made it to the store before lunch, which is rare for me these days. The rest of the day wasn't as productive, but probably needed rest time. I spent time reading a book and took a nap! I did talk to one of my daughters for what seems like quite awhile in the evening...she was in a good mood and I was 'available'. That is a positive!

I did run into a few minor problems without my computer. First thing I realized as I made my breakfast, was that I could not log into the computer to record my calories. I did write them down in the morning, but failed to write the rest of the days calories down.

I wasn't able to look up the ingredients for a recipe that I keep online, therefore, I wasn't able to purchase those items at the store. I will be making another trip later in the week for those items.

I had planned to work on my sister's lap quilt. I've never made one before, and the idea was from a blog online. I have the materials, but really wanted to look up the beginning steps. Since I didn't have access, I left that off my to do list.

We received a bill for our newspaper subscription in the mail. We originally signed up and paid with airline miles. I believe this is a one time offer. The prices seemed high for 7 days, so I wanted to see what the other options were...but one can't do that on a disconnect day.

Luckily, none of these were life and death emergencies. Life went one. It was calmer, more focused, but maybe less productive than I originally thought. Do you think you could disconnect from the internet and your computer for a full day? If you have done this experiment before, what did you think of it?

Frugal Happenings

January 13th, 2013 at 03:39 pm

I woke late. My husband off to a battle assembly weekend of work. My girls starting to stir awake. I appreciated that the newspaper, paid for with airline miles, had been brought in out of the cold.

I warmed up water on the stove for tea. This is the start of a new habit. Tea instead of coffee and sugar. I enjoyed the first warm cup while I read the paper and clipped a couple coupons. Since I'm still working on the coffee change, I did break down and warmed up a cup of yesterday's leftover coffee and still added sugar. I purposely didn't make a new pot of coffee, because I expect that would have led to more than one cup of coffee.

I did not take a cold shower, which is too frugal for me, but used the conditioner I bought a year ago, since I never finished it. Curly hair can be stubborn at times, and requires a change of product, before said product has been used.

I have spent an hour or so reading my library book. It's a chick lit book, in my opinion, and not one I would normally pick. This author has grabbed my attention with her story telling. This is the third one of hers I have borrowed from the library and she has a few others I hope to read. I'm grateful for access to a library and the savings it brings to many.

We stayed home today, so we didn't use gas! We have played games, video and board. One daughter is drawing and using Photo Shop; the other is enjoying listening to a movie soundtrack she purchased with her iTunes gift card.

I took some time out to use some of my sewing skills today, too. I repaired a couple seams on two tote bags the girls use. I also began and finished a repair on my husband's uniform. He purchased hook and loop tape so that I could replace it with some that had lost it's ability to hook! I pulled off the old, and replaced the new. I actually had to partially remove two sleeve pockets in order to attach two of the pieces. Kind of a pain, but the repair did save a uniform shirt, which retails for about $40.

The other frugal event at our home today was laundry. Two big loads washed in cold water, with half the amount of detergent. We get away with less soap because of our soft water.

The sun has set and I see a dinner of pasta and vegetables in our near future. While the water boils, I will chop up some leftover celery and onion, and flash freeze it for a future soup. No waste today.

What did you do today that is considered frugal?

Chase. Wait.

January 12th, 2013 at 09:19 am

I'm waiting for our most recent Chase Sapphire credit card statement to close in order to receive our bonus reward of $400. The statement should close on Monday.

Currently we about $30 in rewards. So with the bonus, we should have $430+ in rewards to redeem. My plan is to have the rewards credited to the account, rather than receiving a check. I will then use the money I would have sent to Chase towards are truck loan. It doesn't quite feel the same as receiving a check, but it really is the same thing. The checks just take to long.

I closed the first Chase Sapphire card this last week. They mailed a special envelope to return the cards since they have metal embedded into them. It's been so funny to hand the card to cashiers who clearly notice the difference in the card because of the metal. I actually inquired as to how to destroy the cards, which is when they offered the mail in option to destroy the cards. Now I have to find what I did with them!!

We will close the current Chase Sapphire cards next month to make sure we don't get hit with their annual fee. Anyone know of any decent reward offers right now? I did see one somewhere that was for $250 in gift cards, but can't remember which one that might be. I tend to like cash, so I did ignore it, but wondering if I should consider it.

January Snowflake Update

January 11th, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I know I've been accumulating snowflakes here and there this month, but had yet to put them in my spreadsheet or add them up. I did that today, and was surprised I have $55.85 already.



The goal for the year is a minimum of $750. This means I need to save an average of $62.50 per month in snowflakes. Snowflakes at our house are for our Christmas fund! It does help to start early.

I did a Pinecone survey today and expect I will be paid the $3 on Monday. Of course, I will add, too! Any one else have a snowflake update?

No Trip

January 11th, 2013 at 07:27 am

We were scheduled to drive out of town today, but have now rescheduled it because of fog. It's a two hour trip and the fog will not have lifted in time to make the trip and arrive on time for the appointment. No need to spend extra money on gas makes me happy!

The girls are home from school, so I think it will be a no spend day. Although, I will likely give my oldest daughter a little cash for the concession stand at tonight's basketball game.

Stocking Up...

January 10th, 2013 at 11:40 am

I know I said I was trying not to spend to much money, but there were some deals at Target that I thought would be good to take advantage of. Things we use anyway that were on sale and some I had coupons for. Although...I forgot to used two coupons...worth $3.50! Ugh.

I bought 12 Lean Cuisine meals, for about $2 each. I think one was $1.89. Bought 10 and received the $5 Target gift card. I should have used the $3 off coupon on this deal, but it got left in my purse. Still a good deal and we do eat these.

I bought ALL laundry detergent. Paid $11.99 for 110 loads. Had a $1 coupon. I generally buy the smaller containers for $4.49. I get more than three times the amount for only slight more than half the cost. And I purchased toilet paper with it to earn another $5 Target gift card.

The other 'deal' was Always pads. Three packages $5.49 each. Had one $0.50 off coupon, and three packages purchased earned a $5 gift card.

I'm saving all the Target gift cards for Christmas, of course. All things we buy normally, just in slightly larger quantity and for a little less out of pocket. I'm happy I don't need to buy some of these things for awhile.

Oh, the other coupon I forgot to use was for a pack of gum. We can use it another time, right? Target happens to be my preferred discount store. What is yours?

Anyone Having This Problem?

January 9th, 2013 at 07:34 pm

I have my blog settings set up so that I get an email when anyone leaves a comment on my blog. I have not been getting those for about three days now. I have checked my email spam folder and have nothing. I am receiving the updates from other blogs I have commented on. And my settings are still the same here.

I made a comment on the forums, but no response. Before, I contact Jeffrey and Nate, I thought I'd check with everyone here. Anyone else having this issue?

Use Your Frugal Stash

January 9th, 2013 at 09:04 am

I'm really trying not to spend extra money for the month of January. It's been a bit hit or miss, but I decided to start using up some shampoo/conditioner samples that came in the mail. I also have several bottles that simply have a little left in them that need to be used up. These bottles are ones my kids think they can't get any out of, but I can use for another 3 to 5 days! This will delay our need to purchase these items this month.

The bonus of using up these items is that I'm decluttering at the same time! I guess the point is, that it is a good idea to use up your stash once in awhile. What items do you have stashed away that you could use up that might save you money this month?

Paycheck Increase

January 8th, 2013 at 04:21 pm

Wow! So very very grateful, my husband's paycheck is actually increasing despite the increase to the payroll tax. It helps that he effectively received at 3.7% raise this year before taxes. After taxes and an increase to his TSP, we still have a net increase to his paycheck of $61.21 per paycheck twice per month.

I have one week to figure out how to divide up the net paycheck towards our goals. I debating between one goal at at time versus several goals throughout the year. It really comes down to my/our preference and how we would feel about waiting on the truck payoff for example. Don't worry though it will be paid off by year end!! I'll write all about it once I have the plan.

I intended to get some ebay items up this week, but it probably won't happen until Sunday. I decided my priority project is going through our paper and computer files. There is plenty to shred. Plenty of files to delete. I have new paper files to create...something about moving necessitates a few more! Paper sorting is one thing I do deeply nearly every year. Do you have a yearly date with your files? Any tricks or tips you want to share?

Weekend Spending

January 7th, 2013 at 09:37 am

I think I did pretty good this weekend with the spending. I went out of town, driving 2.5 hours each way and drove around in town.

I paid $66 for the Courtyard Marriott that my sister and I spent the night at. She covered coffee, lunch, dinner, wine, snacks and breakfast.

I bought fabric to make her a lap quilt for her late January birthday while we were together and spent about $22 on supplies. I did use a coupon and caught an error with the sale items!

I purchased gas for my travels, which was about $50 round trip. It would have been less if we divided the driving, but I knew where we were going, so better for me to be in the driver's seat.

We had a VERY good time. We thought we should do it two to four times per year. I think I might need to bring the kids to at least one of those. They seemed disappointed not getting to go, especially younger daughter who would have loved to spent time with friends.

I did purchase black ink pens for my artist daughter, using up some gift cards that all had less than $1 on one, and less than $0.50 on the other two. Out of pocket cost was $4.51. Not really trip related, but easy to get while my sister and I were shopping.

My husband was in charge of the girls and he did buy them snacks, a car wash for his truck, and supplies for oldest daughter's biology project. I guess he was somewhat frugal, too!

Today, I'm going grocery shopping to cover meals for the next week. I don't want to shop for food again until payday on the 15th. Target seems to have some possible good deals, like those free gift card deals. I will hold off on those until later in the week, so I have time to think about it and see if it is a good financial move.

Here's to a low spend week...well until Friday when I drive back to our old town again and need to purchase gas and lunch!

Sister Weekend

January 4th, 2013 at 01:25 pm

I'm traveling to my old town tomorrow to meet up with my sister. She lives five hours from me and we will meet in the middle. Three hour drive for her and two hour drive for me. I expect I will do the driving in town since I know my way around!

We are staying at a Courtyard Marriott for $59 for one night, which we will split, or I will pay and she will comp me $30 in food while we are together!

We will probably do some shopping. I don't need anything so I don't expect to be buying much. We will be at the fabric store, where I may purchase fabric to make her a throw sized quilt as a birthday gift. I'm taking my coupons!

We did see each other at Christmas, but we never get together just the two of us, so it will be fun to just be sisters, rather than aunt/mom when my kids are with us.

Happy Weekend! Keep your spending down if you can and I will do the same. Smile

2013 Financial Goals: Rough Draft!

January 3rd, 2013 at 06:37 pm

I did the same thing last year. I procrastinated on making our yearly goals. So, right now this is what I'll say our goals are:

1) Save 15% to retirement, which will max out our Roth IRA's and put the remainder in my husband's TSP.

2) Pay off truck loan...only $4500 to go!

3) Snowflake a Free Christmas, goal again is $750.

4) Save for college, minimum $500 for each daughter. However, I'd prefer $1500 each. Still working on the math for that.

5) Pay for new intermediate flute with cash, about $1500.

6) Save $2K for vacation. Not sure where we might go, so that is a pretty vague goal at this point!

7) Landscaping and furniture purchases. Pay with cash and decide on a limit!

I guess it isn't really the goals that I'm stuck on as how to approach the goals. One at a time? Get the flute, pay off the truck then attack the savings goals. Or do it all along the way? I'm so focused on that truck payoff that it is hard to not make it a priority. I'll get it figured out by the next payday and generally these are all flexible, so I can change things up if I need to.

Retirement Up Up Up in 2012

January 2nd, 2013 at 08:03 pm

I did a quick total of our year end retirement balances. And things are up, up, up!!

We contributed $15,153.88 in 2012 in the TSP and Roth IRA's combined. Our total retirement accounts went up $42,464.89. We are quickly approaching another milestone, too. It sure makes up for those few years back where it was hard to see the balances go down.

Did you do okay with your retirement contributions and investing this year? Did you contribute? If not, you still have until April 15 to do so for 2012!

Still Working On Goals

January 2nd, 2013 at 07:16 am

My husband went back to work this morning. My girls have one more day off from school. Because they have all been home, I haven't spent the time to focus on our 2013 goals. I have a vague idea, but I'd like to have them more concrete before posting them online.

I will say that I have a couple snowflakes. One was the book I sold on half.com for $0.83 profit, there was one Pinecone survey I was paid for late last month for $3 as well. I used a Menard's rebate of $3 to purchase kitty litter which I have a rebate to send in for a free bag. Eventually, a check will arrive to compensate for that.

I was not on Swagbucks much at all in the month of December, because I wanted to focus on the season and spend more time with family. It was definitely worth it! I still managed to accumulate enough points for a $5 Amazon gift card because I did just a few daily points here and there, search wins while online shopping, and search wins from a referral or two. I'm to attempting to meet the daily goal for the day and will start stock piling Amazon.com gift cards again for next Christmas!

One of my tricks last year, was to primarily purchase Amazon gift cards. If I bought something on Amazon during the year, I would use the gift cards in my account, but then deduct the amount from my checking balance to be held in our Christmas fund account, so that I had some cash to purchase gifts in stores or give the nieces and nephews.

Clearly one of my goals is to accumulate another free Christmas in 2013, one snowflake at a time!