My youngest daughter tried on her capri pants from last year and found that they were too small. Not surprised! So I listed them on Ebay tonight. Might as well get them listed now since the weather is beginning to warm up.
In other news, we found out my oldest daughter, age 16, was accepted to exhibit her art in the Emerging Artists pavilion at a nearby art fair this June. She is thrilled. She isn't really interested in selling her original work, but we hope to display many of the drawings and find a way to make prints that can be sold.
So...it seems like another avenue to earn a little college money! If this goes well, I hope I can get her going on Etsy. Anyone have any tips to suggest for a first time art fair participant?
Archive for March, 2013
My youngest daughter tried on her capri pants from last year and found that they were too small. Not surprised! So I listed them on Ebay tonight. Might as well get them listed now since the weather is beginning to warm up.
March was an exceptional month for snowflakes. I found snowflakes in our house which I sold on Ebay. I received a snowflake reward from our bank. There were lots of snowflakes from Swagbucks. And Pinecone sent two surveys for even more snowflakes. See what I mean? Snowflakes were everywhere!
Here's the breakdown:
Last month my total Snowflakes for Christmas was $216.07. Once I add in the $202.95 from March, the new total is $419.02. More than half way to the goal of $750!
In my opinion, one can snowflake their way to any goal. Savings or debt, they both work! How are you using your snowflakes?
I will be back on Monday to update where we are on our yearly goals since, the first quarter will be complete at that point. I hope you will consider joining me by commenting on my blog or posting to your own blog.
I said I wasn't going to list any more things on Ebay for awhile, but when I received the mail on Tuesday, I changed my mind. In the mail box, was a lunch bag from Lean Cuisine. I sold two of them last week, rather quickly, so I put this latest one up and it sold within 24 hours.
I received the Lean Cuisine lunch bags free by entering in codes from meals we purchased. Not exactly free because we did outlay money for the meals. A nice bonus for something we buy anyway.
Lean Cuisine just sold out of this years free lunch bags, so I suppose the price they may attract on Ebay will be higher. Maybe I should have waited!
At any rate, I have $8.37 to add to the Christmas Fund. March has been a good month for snowflakes. I will update you on my monthly results tomorrow!
Have you ever sold a promotional item on Ebay or elsewhere?
I'm still working on my whole 'save money for the next down payment' plan. I did calculate some numbers. I wrote them down with pencil and paper. I don't know where I put them!!
If memory serves we need to save about $800 a month to meet our goals of having enough cash to cover the real estate agent, and to accumulate the equivalent of 20% of the value of this home when we purchased it. I think. It could be I added something else in there to try to save.
All I know is that seems like a lot of money. The money we spent on vehicle maintenance last week is getting repaid when my husband is paid on Monday. I will be setting aside $300 towards property taxes. I expect they will increase greatly this year, likely in September, since this is a new home. I can't expect that taxes will stay under $1000 forever. My point is, I don't have $800 to save. Maybe next pay period.
I think this will all be possible and easy once my husband gets promoted and gets his raise, but that may not be until August. The government just moves very slow!
I still have it on my radar. I need to have a plan to accumulate more cash for the next house we buy. I'll update you when I get clear on it and find those calculations I did earlier this month.
I saw an advertisement around here on the internet that there are only 20 more days to fund your IRA or Roth IRA for 2012. That means tax filing deadline is that far away, too! Get get those things done, if you haven't already.
See? I could be a financial counselor!
I'm busy today working on my application for the Accredited Financial Counselor grant available for military spouses. There are only fifty available each year. Fingers crossed I could be one of them.
Thanks, BeAWealthyWarrior, for peaking my interest and giving me that little nudge to move that direction. I'm excited about the possibilities.
The application is not too hard. I do have to write a little bit about my skills, how it will help me professionally, and a difficult financial experience. I'm taking my time getting my thoughts together...much different from how I usually write my posts here. I'm more of an off the cuff writer here.
Want to give me a pep talk about my skills and abilities to be a financial counselor? Do you think I have what it takes? You can say no if you want...I won't be mad.
I balanced our checkbook today and realized we have spent all the money we set aside each pay period for groceries, gas and miscellaneous spending. Payday isn't until next week. Oops!
The last ten days have been spring break for my girls. One daughter had a birthday and we did make two out of town day trips. As you can imagine those things cost some money. And it is all good.
I did go grocery shopping on Saturday and spent $170 that will last through Sunday. That is good. We will need gas. That is bad.
Now we do have money...it's just that we are technically over budget. So my plan is to spend nothing in the next 6 days...unless I need gas, but I don't think I will. I think my husband will.
This is where it gets fun, weird and crazy.
I wrote my husband an email. Yes, I emailed him to tell him we were already over budget and not to buy anything. I said gas was okay. I also told him I had four dollars in cash he could have if needed.
He gets home from work and indicates he got the email and seems fine with it. He gets ready to go to the gym and we are discussing how his knee has been bothering him when he runs. We are talking about his newer running shoes compared to the last pair. As he leaves, I said 'If your knee hurts when you leave the gym, pick up Tiger Balm at Walgreen's.'
He arrives back from the gym with Tiger Balm and a receipt from Walgreen's. I ask about his knee and his run. His knee didn't hurt when he ran tonight!? What? Of course, this is good, but why did he buy the Tiger Balm? I said IF!!
Turns out he thought I said to buy it. Our discussion continues and he tells me he put it on a credit card since we only have $4 in the bank! What? I said I have four dollars cash in my purse.
I'm actually laughing about all this because this is how things seem to go with him and I when we communicate about money. I think we are both at fault. I'm either telling him too much, or not enough and he's not taking in what I'm saying either way. Agh! It's amazing we are in a good place financially or I'd be tearing my hair out.
Again we have the money. I'm just trying to keep us from going way over budget by not be conscious of our spending. The way I do that is to not spend money.
He's going to use the Tiger Balm anyway, which is probably a good idea as a preventative from future pain and inflammation. It's all good!
Did you find that story funny like I did? Do you have these types of miscommunication with your spouse? Any advice or tips to share?
We are actually getting snow here in the Midwest. It has been falling all day, but it is melting on the roads, driveway and sidewalks. My kind of snow!
I sold three items on Ebay this week for $15.93. I will net less after fees, of course. Two items didn't sell. I may relist those another time. For now, I'm taking an Ebay break.
I earned enough Swagbucks to redeem for another $25 PayPal deposit. The second for this month. The first one just arrived in my PayPal account tonight.
All of those snowflakes will be added to the 2013 Christmas Fund as usual! I will post an update next week to show the total of all March snowflakes and where I stand on this years goal.
Are you in an area with snow? Did you earn any snowflakes this week? What kind?
I'd rather be happy about money than sad and frustrated with it. Money is a tool. Not an end all happiness destination. Happiness comes from within. There are many happy, yet financially poor people. And there are many sad, yet financially rich people. I'd like to be both happy from within and financially rich. So far it seems to be working...not that we are rich in some circles, but definitely rich in many others.
I saw Suze Orman on CBS this morning. I'm not always a big fan of her, however, I did like her little video about how to be financially happy. Easy enough I'd say!
Are you financially happy? Are you on your way there? Do you agree with the three keys Suze laid out?
I spoke to a friend recently. She mentioned that she helped her sister find a washer and dryer. The sister made some reference that she should buy the washer and dryer now because her tax refund was arriving. My understanding was the sister's washer and dryer were still working, but yet instead of saving the tax refund it was being spent on something that may not work in the future.
Isn't this backwards thinking? It is quite possible the washer and or dryer would continue to work into the future. It seems like that kind of logic will continue to cause problems and replacing things needlessly just because the money is available and on hand.
If I were to advise her sister, or my friend who seemed to agree with the logic, I would suggest at a minimum saving the cash until the need for a new washer and or dryer was necessary. I would also consider using the tax refund money to pay other bills before making a purchase of needless items.
If one's washer or dryer were to fail and you don't have hundreds of dollars to replace, you have to look at options outside of individual ownership. In this case, it would be less expensive to do laundry at friend's, relative's or laundry mat, while saving up for a the new appliance. I also would look at used appliances from a store, which might provide a type of warranty, or looking on Craigslist.
Have you heard of others who think about money backwards? Maybe you have done it yourself recently or in the past? What could you have done different?
We are spending this week. And spending big. We are having routine maintenance done on our Honda vehicles. The van went in today for alignment, oil change, tire rotations, a couple of fluid changes, including the transmission fluid. The charge today was about $389.
It was suggested we do the timing belt for $775 since the vehicle is six years old. However, it is also recommended at 90,000 miles and the van only has 61K. I think we can wait a bit longer to hit that one. Maybe next year or late this year.
The truck goes in tomorrow. The charge is expected to be about $300. Seems like a lot of money, but we never have any problems with our vehicles...just the routine stuff that has to be done on any car.
Our new and current dealership seems to be really clear on what needs to be done when, and doesn't ask us to do extras. Love that!!
We don't specifically save for maintenance, but in recent years seem to have the money in our slush fund. If you don't spend it, it is easy to save it! This time we will put the charges on our Chase Freedom card, earn the rewards and then pay it off right away.
Do you keep up with your vehicle maintenance? What kind of plan do you have to save for these types of expenses?
I made a quick run to our Super Target today to get a few groceries. I made sure to grab my coupons. I buy a lot of off brand items, so coupons don't always apply. However, Target does have grocery coupons on their website that are easy to print off and often good for many of their private brand items.
These are the coupons I used today:
$1.00 off two packages of eggs
$0.50 off Annie's Macaroni, on sale!
$1.50 off six Lean Cuisine meals, on sale too!
Buy One, Get One Pantene products. I bought conditioner ($3.89)and mousse ($3.99). The coupon took $4.99 off this deal. I paid $2.89 out of pocket.
Buy One, Get One Edge shave gel. Each shave gel was $2.09. The coupon took $$3 off, which means I paid $1.18 out of pocket for two cans of shaving cream.
It's just nice to get a good deal on things you buy anyway. And I do try to stock up things like conditioner and shaving cream when I find a really good deal. However, I really don't stock up on things we don't use. I also don't stock pile more than six months worth of anything. It's just not worth it to me.
Do you use coupons? Do you make many trips to find those good deals? Do you skip the coupons? What is your take on them?
I sold three items on Ebay this week for a gross total of $20.46. One was earlier this week, and has already been mailed. The other two items ended tonight and I'm waiting on payment. I will add the net amount to the Christmas fund.
If you followed my snowflake accumulations last year, you noticed how small amounts of money over time became a large amount of savings. I believe it was over $1400 in 11 months! If that impresses you, I encourage you to read my blog post about compound interest as it applies to savings. I found a great calculator that you can explore, too!
Anyone else have Ebay or Craigslist sales this week? Have garage sales started in your area?
We have a new Kohl's store that opened about 7 minutes from our home. The closest one before was at least 20 minutes away. I received two $10 off any $10 purchase coupons in the last week or so. One by mail, the other by email.
As one was expiring last night, I took my husband with me to complete two transactions. We purchased two six packs of socks which were marked at $8.99 each. We also grabbed two packages of tissue paper for 1.99 each. We walked out of the store paying $2.10!!
The socks are bright fun, no show socks for our daughters. They will received them in their Easter baskets. They actually NEED these socks, so even better. The tissue paper will get used eventually.
I love to score those kinds of deals! Have you found any great deals recently? Please share.
I found a few snowflakes in the last two days and we haven't used the ATM again yet! All good news, right?
First, I noticed the rewards at USAA were enough to cash out for $25. I think there was a promotion a month or two back where if you made a certain number of purchases or a purchase at a certain dollar amount you received a reward. I think that is where most of those points came from...though I am not positive. At any rate, I'm taking the $25.
I also accumulated enough Swagbucks to cash out for my first $25 PayPal deposit this month. I wonder if I can get enough the rest of the month to get another one? I already have 500 Swagbucks towards it!
And finally, I added a $5.03 to the Christmas fund from our own money. The $0.03 is interest on our checking account. And the $5 is stupid tax for the ATM fiasco last month. If you read that post, you have to believe this is the first time I have ever paid an ATM fee without it being reimbursed later. Ugh...still at little mad about that one!
We added $953.60 to our savings this payday. Feels good to put quite a bit of that back to savings after pulling some funds from there to pay off the truck and an another withdrawal to pay for our daughter's flute. We still have a little ways to go to get back where we were at the beginning of the year.
Wow! Just realized that those snowflakes plus the savings deposit are actually over $1K. It fun to be able to save big chunks of money!!
Spring break begins just about now, as the girls are just getting out of school. I think there will be some extra expenses for fun, but low key overall.
What kinds of spring break expenses do you expect to have, if any? Did you find any snowflakes recently?
Wow! We had a financial oops this week. One I would not have expected. Ever.
I looked at our checking account on Tuesday morning only to notice a $10 ATM Service Fee. This was listed between the ATM rebates of $15 and an interest deposit of $0.03. I knew what those two were about, as our bank, USAA, refunds ATM fees we incur each month up to $15. This month we maxed out. I checked with my husband. He didn't know anything about a $10 charge. So, I quickly wrote an email to the bank.
Eventually, I realized by looking around on the bank's website, that we only get 10 free ATM withdrawals per month. We had 15 last month! The bank charges $2 for each withdrawal over 10, thus we were charged $2 for five of those.
My husband and I are both to blame. I blame him because he feels the need to spend money at the convenience store every day. He chooses cash so I don't have to record a debit card transaction everyday. For that part, I'm thankful. He also took cash out of our bank account twice for his spending money while on a work trip. This will be reimbursed. I blame myself because I've begun taking out cash for my daughter's flute lessons twice a month, and made two separate withdrawals in order to get the correct cash needed to pay my girls allowance. Yes, I found an ATM that dispenses $5 bills! It is just crazy to think we made 15 withdrawals in one month! That is technically a withdrawal every other day.
Guess how many withdrawals we have made since we found this out on Tuesday morning. Two! One each. I took out $60 for my lunch date and two flute lessons. He took out $20. For spending. I'm not sure why not $40 considering we just had a conversation about the ATM service fee we incurred. I sure hope we can do better with our cash withdrawals this next month.
Do you pay ATM fees? How much per month? How do you avoid them?
Over at Our Money Blog, I'm explaining three options for starting your retirement savings.
I'm off to another town today to meet a friend for lunch and social time, so this is a quick update.
I relisted two items on Ebay with lowered start prices. I added another three items. Since I started these on a Tuesday evening, I made the auctions just five days long, so that they end on Sunday. Sunday is my preferred end date, and tends to be a good day of the week for people bidding on auctions.
I'm still busy doing some mortgage calculations. My first order of business is to decide where I want us to be in 2.5 years. Once I know that, I will decide where to put the money. I'm leaning towards a combination of saving cash and sending in extra principal payments.
I wrote a little essay last night on saving for retirement on my other blog. I have deemed March Retirement Savings Month! I hope to write several more post themed around retirement before the month is out. You will likely see a few of them here.
I have enough Swagbucks to redeem for $25 in PayPal cash, so I will be cashing those in soon.
I'm looking forward to payday this Friday. It will be the first payday we don't have to pay on the truck loan! I plan to put most of the money in savings to help make up for that last big payment we made.
What are you looking forward to this week? Something personal? Financial?
Happy Blogoversary to me! It's been five years since I started my blog and now we have no debt except our mortgage. Our emergency fund has doubled in size. And our retirement accounts have increased 2.5 times. Based on my experience, blogging is a great way to make great things happen financially!
I transferred the net proceeds from my Ebay sales to our checking account last night. The four sales net us $35.77. This snowflake goes to the Christmas fund!!
The stock market it moving up fast! I still think there will be a correction this year, but I'm no expert. Just because the market is up, doesn't mean you missed the boat in investing. Now is always a good time to invest if you are in for the long term, 10 years or more. I hope to write a few posts on investing for retirement soon.
When did you first start investing for retirement? How did you start? Savings account, mutual fund, an IRA, Roth or 401K?
The title for the truck arrive in the mail today. We officially own our truck free and clear!! I asked my husband this weekend if he was excited that we had paid it off. He really wasn't. He thought it was likely because I'm the one who make the payments and keeps track of it. Yeah, probably so. It's all good either way!
My Ebay buyer did pay this afternoon. I will print the postage and get it to the post office tomorrow. I did a return of the Old Navy jeans to get the better online price and use my reward money. Now instead of $32.10 for two pairs of jeans, I actually paid $13.18 for two pairs. Pretty good deal!!
Here's a free Flavor Code off the A&W root beer bottle I bought last night for a pick me up: 6SFZ ZDA7 SFPQ. If it doesn't work, it probably has been used by someone else. Act fast! Now if I could just get a survey to credit on Swagbucks so I can meet today's high goal!
The two items I had up on Ebay did not sell. Darn. It could be I need to adjust the beginning price, or the items are not big sellers. I did not relist, but may do so next week.
I have one item from the week before that I'm still waiting payment on. I did hear from the buyer this morning, who indicated a family emergency and forgetting about their bid. The buyer has a good feedback score, so I think this is likely true. I wrote back to indicate family comes first and I can be patient until payment is made. The buyer indicated some issues getting the payment to go through overnight and I sure don't want this to add to any stress they may be going through.
Once I have been paid for the final item, I will pay my Ebay fees, and then have the proceeds in my PayPal account transferred to my checking account where I keep many of my Christmas snowflakes.
Any luck selling anything this week?
We are now debt free except for the mortgage! I really like saying that.
This mortgage was taken out on our brand new home in our new town in July 2012. It is our first VA loan, which did not require any down payment. This means we paid an insurance fee to do so. I can't say I'm too proud of those last two statements. My thought process was to get into a house without our equity, so that in the next move, we have the down payment ready to go in cash, without needing to sell the house.
Our rate is 2.75%. It is adjustable, but fixed for five years. After five years it can go up 1% per year, up to five percent. The maximum rate the loan could ever go is 7.75%, which isn't a bad rate historically. However, we won't be here for much more than six years and maybe only three. I'm also not too proud of buying a house considering the need to move frequently.
Were there houses to rent here? Yes. Did I see too many that met my standards, would allow cats and had a fair rent for the space? No. I actually did some calculations that put us at spending the same amount for housing whether we rented or bought. If we rented the rent would be high, but would equal our house payment, plus real estate agent fee when we sold. So, I chose the house. We get to deduct interest. We get to decide if we paint or not. We get to keep our cats with us. We are in control.
In the next 2.5 years, I would like to build our house equity and down payment fund to a total of 20% of the original value of the home. We had over 10%, but not the full 20%. I actually may increase that goal, but for now I think it is the most logical and obtainable.
The proceeds from our last house are in a money market account earning 0.85%APR. I'm on the lookout for a better rate right now. I have thought about sending it in to the mortgage, but that would not jive with my original thought process. Sending the money in would decrease the balance owed and decrease the amount of interest we are paying each month...thus increasing our equity faster. I do know that! And it is a little appealing.
I'm thinking that an additional principal payment every month to the mortgage would be the best. It increases the equity and reduced the interest paid each additional month, just not in the same way as sending in that lump sum. I will need to run some numbers to see where we might end up in 2.5 years and see what the difference would be. I know which will be better, but by how much is the real question.
So, the main goal going forward is to increase net worth, which will increase easily as we save and continue to pay down the mortgage. I will likely start tracking this soon on the blog, so stay tuned.
I think I opened up a big discussion topic here, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts and ideas. Be nice, but honest, please! What would you do based on the situation outlined above?
I added a ticker to my sidebar to keep track of the total of snowflakes I have accumulated for Christmas. I will update it monthly. The current total shown is through the month of February.
Yesterday, I redeemed the points I've accumulated from Lean Cuisine meal for a $15 Amazon.com gift card. It immediately arrived in my email inbox. I think quickly added it to my Amazon account. It's kind of nice, to a reward for something I buy anyway.
I'm always on the lookout for new sources of snowflakes. Do you have any ideas to share?
I just made an online payment to our truck loan that will pay the loan off in full. The payment was $1443.30, which includes the final $4.04 of interest due.
We originally took this loan out in May 2011 for $14,776,70. We made regular payments on it for 15 months. In the last 8 months we have made big, big payments to get the loan down to ZERO!!!
We are debt free, except our mortgage. Happy, happy, happy! I'm looking forward to getting the title in the mail. That always makes it seem real when you pay off a vehicle.
The question of the day: Do you have debt on your vehicle(s) or is it paid off? Do you have a plan to pay it off? Are you saving for the next vehicle?
Last week I put three items up for sale on Ebay. All items sold last night. Two buyers have paid, their items have shipped. Those three sells grossed $30.23.
After those sales, ended I put three more items up for bid. Amazingly, one of them sold right away with a Buy It Now offer!! That brought another $8.99. It sold so fast, makes me wonder if I priced it right...but its not a big deal.
Right now there isn't much activity on the other two items but last minute bids are most common, so nothing to worry about.
I received $3 from Pinecone today for a survey I took on Friday. That goes to the snowflake challenge for Christmas. It's a good start to the month!
My husband is up for promotion this month. He is in the group this year that is considered 'below the zone'. This means he is being looked at one year ahead of schedule. We feel he has a very strong chance of being promoted, as all of his evaluation reports give him top marks. One report says, 'best captain I have worked with', another says 'promote below the zone', and yet another says 'currently working at the level of a field grade officer'.
A promotion to Major will mean an increase pay by 17.5%. This includes the increase in our housing allowance. I've only done the math to calculate the gross pay. I've decided not to make a big deal about looking at the net pay, or figuring how to allocate the increase. At this point, I think most of it will be saved!
I don't want to get my hopes up too high, even though I'm pretty confident this will happen for him. I think we will be disappointed if it doesn't happen. And not because of the money. Only because of his very hard work. He really does go above and beyond. He takes the work very serious compared to so many of his peers.
Feel free to send good vibes our way. It all helps!
Two items on Ebay will sell tonight since they have bids! I'm still weighing your responses to the poll in my previous post.
Yesterday was payday and I did find some money to put on the truck loan. I sent in $593.81 to be applied to the principal balance.
Our new loan balance is $1,439.34.
We are under $1500. So, so close!
This loan WILL be paid off by the end of the month. Right now I'm just contemplating when that will be. It just has to feel right, I guess. The most likely scenario is to make another payment on March 15 (next payday), make a regular payment on March 17, and then take the final amount from savings to have it paid off just after that.
However, my other thought is....just pay it off now! I can then apply the same money mentioned above to savings to pay ourselves back. In the meantime, I save us some interest (a whopping $4).
So for fun, I'll take a poll. Pay off now, or pay off later in March? Let me know.
I'm looking for higher interest rates. We have FNBO Direct for our money market account, which currently pays 0.85%. I want more!
I did some online searching and found Everbank, which has a 6 month promotion of 1.25%, combine that with their ongoing rate, it works out to 1.01% APR for the first year. That's better than our current rate.
I just don't know if I want to move it. I'm not familiar with the bank. It feels like a hassle, but I know it is a matter of setting up the account and making the transfer. With more money comes more responsibility, right?
I do want the money to grow, so this would be one step in getting a little more cash flowing in there. Too bad interest rates are so very very low! Ick.
Has anybody used Everbank?
My previous post is about some snowflakes.
Our money market paid us $25.59 in interest for February. I just leave the interest in there to compound on itself. I don't really want to get in the habit of spending that money.
Our water bill was $4 less than last month. The electric bill was $30 lower. It's always nice when utility bills are less than the month before...if only that could happen all year long! Generally, when our bills are lower, the savings gets added into the truck loan repayment amount. After that is paid off, that amount will go to savings.
Swagbucks deposited the last $25 Paypal cash in my account today. I have already requested it be sent to my bank account. I have enough Swagbucks to redeem for 3 $5 Amazon.com gift cards. I will redeem two today and one tomorrow. That will give me the first $15 in snowflakes for March!
I guess I'll have another $3 snowflake next week. I just received a Pinecone survey to fill out. If I do it today, I should have that money in my Paypal account on Monday.
My three ebay auctions end on Sunday, so those will also add to my snowflakes in March. One has a bid, the other two are being watched. I need to see what else I can put up on Sunday when those end.
Try to keep your weekend frugal!