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Archive for August, 2013

August Snowflake Breakdown

August 30th, 2013 at 02:42 pm

I mentioned in my last post that I accumulated $557.48 in snowflakes this month. Those were all sent to pay down mortgage principal, so less debt. And this is BIG; we have sent in $1,361.87 since I started accumulating snowflakes for equity in late June of this year.

Here's where all the August money came from:


Not sure if September has the possibility of earning more snowflakes, but I'll give it a try! I know that we should be able to redeem the Southwest Rapid Rewards in the amount of $500. Since those come in the form of gift cards, I will use them for everyday purchases and use the cash I would have used to send in to the mortgage. I will only count them as a snowflake once I make a purchase. Does that make sense?

The good news on the Southwest Card, is that with a inquiry to customer service we have been given our Rapid Rewards number. I should be able to get that set up, so I can do a redemption next week. Happy, Happy!!

How did you do with your snowflakes in August? Do you have a goal for September?

Last Principal Payment for August

August 30th, 2013 at 01:17 am

I made another principal payment towards the mortgage today in the amount of $107.70. That is the last one I will make for August. That money came from a water utility refund, a Swagbucks cash and Ebay proceeds. A little work and a little luck!

I actually made five extra principal payments this month which reduced our mortgage principal by $557.48! That is more than a regular mortgage payment reduces our principal. Smile And yes, that is the total snowflakes for the month, too.

We are still waiting on our Southwest credit card statement to close so we can start redeeming gift cards. It should close on Saturday, so we are close to getting our hands on that $500.

I sent the OBi adapter for VoIP back to Amazon. Their estimate of shipping is $5.37. That is how much my refund will be reduced. Most of my family is not real excited about permanently giving up our land line. We do actually call home when we are out to check on our kids. So, for now, we are keeping it. I might still try Ooma, but I'll be looking for a good price. Maybe used on Ebay, but need to see how that works.

Screech.......

August 28th, 2013 at 07:23 pm

I've come to a screeching halt installing my Google Voice calling plan. They don't have ANY numbers in my area code. Or my last area code or the one before that. Clearly, this Google Voice things is not available everywhere. Too bad I didn't check before I bought the adapter!!

I bought the OBi adapter on Amazon for $39.00. Shipping was free with our Prime membership. No tax...thanks internet. I can return to Amazon and pay $4.99 plus $0.75 per pound. Since it is less than a pound, I expect the refund to be reduced by $5.74.

I could also sell it on Ebay. I see others listed for slightly more than I paid but those include free shipping, which means the shipping would have to come from the proceeds. And I would have Ebay fees on top of it. I think it really ends up being better to return it even if I get shipping deducted. Live and learn I guess!!

Now I need to search my other options. I'm leaning towards the Ooma, which is three times the cost of the unit I bought. This service will charge me the federal fees of $3.71 per month. I did notice I can use a Citi promotion for one day shipping from Amazon if I buy the Ooma unit from there. Tempting!

Or we could just skip the land line altogether. Oh geez, I really thought I had it figured out. More to come later. Smile

An Alternative?

August 28th, 2013 at 04:23 pm

My daughter is a Junior in high school this year. This means college is going to be upon us soon. I can tell by the mail we are beginning to receive too!

The school sent out information about a seminar for ACT test preparation. It's a 7 hour course on a scheduled day off of school and is $79.

My daughter is an all A student. She tests well on standardized tests. No test anxiety. She writes well, too. Does she NEED to take this seminar?

What alternatives are there for preparing for this test? There seem to be books available (library and Ebay), and a practice test for less on the ACT website. What is really necessary?

While I wait for those of you ahead of me to weigh in, I'll keep browsing the ACT website to see what I can find. Smile

OTA is Set Up!

August 28th, 2013 at 02:41 am

Our over the air antenna is in the attic and working! We get all the stations we are suppose to. The picture is so much clearer. My husband thinks we might need an amplifier, but we are going to wait and see.

The cable boxes are boxed up and set aside to return to the service provider. The next step, is to set up our Google Voice phone number through the internet connection. That will be done tomorrow. If all goes as planned, I can cancel phone and tv service by the end of the week!

If you are interested in knowing which broadcast television stations you might be able to receive in your area, check out the FCC website. We are receiving all the 'green' stations and one 'yellow' station. Since several stations broadcast more than one channel we have 23 channels plus a radio station. The last thing I will add is that we are receiving several stations that are over 70 miles away. We purchased an antenna that would pick up this distance.

I'm happy to report I have been using my gym membership after a summer lull. The girls have been in school for 5 days and I made it there four of those days. I really hope I can stop and ultimately reverse my weight gain. I feel pretty positive I can.

Are you exercising? Is your goal maintaining or losing? Do you pay for a gym membership? Or workout for free in some other way?

Sold All Three

August 26th, 2013 at 06:08 pm

I sold all three items I listed on Ebay last Sunday. Two auctions are paid and shipped. I am waiting on the last one. I expect to clear just over $22 for these items. Not bad, considering I have not used the items in several years and don't expect to ever again. One item was NEW...which is nice for that buyer.

This money will go to the mortgage once I have my hands on it. Probably by the end of the week!

A New Plan: Safety Included

August 26th, 2013 at 01:08 am

If you read my post this morning, you know we had abandoned the plan to put an antenna in our attic, primarily for safety reasons. The biggest issue was climbing IN and ACROSS our attic which has no floor boards to walk on to fish a cable across and down to our basement. We just didn't feel safe.

The new plan still starts in the attic, but goes outside and along the edge of our siding to the connection that is already available outside. This does not require us to get IN the attic. We can attach the antenna by simply standing on a ladder BY the attic opening. Safely!!

We are excited. We have put in some cash to make this happen, however, we will quickly recoup the money by cancelling our basic service from the cable company. And this is the same amount we would have spent by going IN the attic.

It's not hooked up yet, but we have the beginning plans for tv service that will cost us $0 per month. How do you receive your television service? How much do you pay?

Safety Over Savings

August 25th, 2013 at 01:46 pm

We were hoping to set up an over the air antenna in our attic to save on our television costs, which for us is $40 a month. We bought a ladder so my husband could attempt to get in the attic and check things out. The ladder worked great and we will use it for other tasks. Unfortunately, there are some safety issues in getting into the attic ourselves. Darn.

So for now, we put safety over savings. We'll keep thinking through other options in the meantime, preferably finding an installer. I know there are lots of times were money must be spent to keep us safe, have you run into one recently?

I See Snowflakes!

August 24th, 2013 at 03:28 pm

One of my Ebay items was bought last night on a Buy It Now bid. One items will sell Sunday night as it already has bids. The other item has about four people watching it, so I'm optimistic it will sell.

I guess that means more snowflakes in my future!!

Facial Tissue & Hand Sanitizer

August 23rd, 2013 at 03:05 pm

I was talking with my sister last night. She is a teacher. She has taught English as a Second Language students, first grade and now kindergarten. Her public school district supplies all kids with crayons, pencils, scissors and glue, among other things.

She teaches in a school where many children come from poverty. Not all, but many. The parent teacher organization is nearly non existent. Other elementary schools have very active and generous PTO's. Some teachers actually get a Starbucks coffee everyday by an active group of parents! Whoa.

You know what my sister wants? Not Starbucks. She wants hand sanitizer and tissues to keep her and the kids healthy in the classroom. She currently buys these out of her own pocket. And did you know first graders and kindergartners go through lots of tissues!! I have encouraged her to at least mention the need in a newsletter. Not all parents will respond or be able to contribute, but some will.

My youngest daughter (8th grade) actually had 3 boxes of tissues on her school supply list. This had always been the case for us in all three districts our children have attended. My oldest simply had a request from the band directors last year to donate. We did...happily!

I will pick up more tissues today at the store. I will give them to the band and my sister next time I see her. I will also get a couple large containers of hand sanitizer for her as well. I will likely spend less than $20 but it will make a difference.

I hope if you know any teacher, in any grade and any subject you consider giving a tissue and or hand sanitizer donation. They really can use these things...and they are often not provided by the school.

Does your child's school ask for these types of donations? Do you give? Do college level teachers (I think there are a few of you here) need these things as well? Let's discuss!!

The Mortgage Escrow Account Update

August 22nd, 2013 at 05:40 pm

I did hear back from the mortgage company about our escrow analysis. As I mentioned yesterday, our property taxes are increasing significantly. This was expected as the home is a new build.

I know some would say to contact the mortgage company only when they ask for more money, but in my experience this just leads to larger requested amounts. Either upfront or added to the payment. The first property tax payment is due before the end of September, so really I'm just sending in the money to get it paid on time.

I was pretty close with my numbers yesterday. I had based mine on an effective date of September 1. They ran theirs based on October 1. I suppose they need to give proper notification...even though I directed the change.

We need to send in a lump sum of $1,880.13 before October 1 to make up the shortfall. This is fine with me because I have been saving monthly for this increase in property taxes. By September 1, I will have exactly $1800 saved. And the extra $80.13 can come from that September 1 paycheck with no problem.

Our new payment will increase because of the amount they need to collect for escrow from $1083.56 to $1,311.28. The interesting thing is I've been saving $300 per month, and paying that lower mortgage payment. Once I switch to only paying the new mortgage payment, I will actual 'save' $72.28 each month. Happy, Happy!

I did find out that since this is a VA loan, we are required to escrow for the life of the loan. YUCK! But it's actually okay since we don't expect to be here for the life of the loan.

I received my $25 from Swagbucks in my Paypal account today. I just ordered it Monday! That was super super fast. I will transfer that to my checking account so I can make another principal mortgage payment. Smile More people are watching my Ebay items that end on Sunday. Bid high, I say!!

I'm not really watching the stock market, but I know it has been down. Glad it was down when our automatic investments were pulled to our Roth IRA and ESA accounts. More shares for us!!

That's my financial news. Now I think I may go shop at Kohl's with my $10 coupon...for something that costs just a little over $10, of course!!

Capital One Bonus = Snowflake = Less Debt

August 21st, 2013 at 07:33 pm

I did receive the $100 bonus on my Capital One 360 Checking account right on time as promised. I have sent it in to be applied to the principal balance reduction!! Ah, I love bonus money. Smile

One item I put on Ebay has a bid, so it will sell on Sunday night. That just means I'll have less stuff, and less debt because that snowflake is going to the mortgage, too.

I deposited a check into our account yesterday using the mobile feature. In my rush, I indicated the check was for $30, when it was really for $60. Oops! Luckily, the system caught it overnight and my account was adjusted for my error already this morning.

Our taxes on our home are increasing. I knew this would happen. Our home was a new build and valuation and taxes lag behind. I've been saving $300 a month in preparation for this. My calculations show I need to send in $1,654 to meet the banks standards for our escrow account. Our payment will need to increase as well to accommodate the increased taxes. I sent an email to the bank to see if they agree with my calculations and asked them to run the analysis. I'll update you when I hear back.

Did anyone else go for the Capital One checking bonus offered at the beginning of July? If so, did you get your bonus yet?

Time to Check Equifax Credit Report

August 20th, 2013 at 08:30 pm

I posted earlier today about making another principal payment on our mortgage...check it out if you want the details!

I had an automatic email reminder from myself earlier this month that I needed to check our credit reports. Specifically Equifax. I finally did that today. Everything looks just fine. All those new credit cards are showing up!!

I used the free service, AnnualCreditReport.com offered to everyone in the United States. You do have to provide your social security number, address and confirm some information about credit you currently have or had on the secure site. I had to identify our mortgage company, payment amount, the truck loan lender and that payment amount. We paid that truck off earlier this year and I already forgot what the payment was! I had to look it up.

I check one credit agency once every four months. You can choose to get all three reports now and then wait one year to look at them again. At least for free!

Do you check your credit report on a regular basis?

A Principal Payment

August 20th, 2013 at 02:14 pm

I just made another principal payment to the mortgage in the amount of $42.15. This was an accumulation of snowflakes in the last two weeks. There was an interest rebate, Ebay proceeds, Swagbucks cash, and a Pinecone survey payment. It really all adds up.

Tomorrow I expect the CapitalOne 360 Checking account bonus of $100 will post to my account. I'm looking forward to that big snowflake!

It feels good to be making a dent in the mortgage balance, even if just a little bit at a time. Smile

Redeemed $25

August 19th, 2013 at 10:07 pm

I was able to redeem some Swagbucks today for a $25 deposit in my PayPal account. I hope it arrives before the month end so I can count it towards this months snowflakes and send in to the mortgage.

I listed a few things on Ebay last night. Specifically a few Creative Memories items. I only made two small scrapbooks of our two Disney vacations. The last one was 4 years ago. If I make another vacation album it will be digital! Apparently this is the way Creative Memories is going forward too. They discontinued many items recently and thus there is lots of demand on Ebay. I figured I might as well get rid of them now while there is some demand. I'm hoping for about $20+ from my items.

I took the girls to Panera Bread for lunch. It was completely spontaneous, but fun since we don't get to do that kind of thing often and it is much harder to do during the school year. Spent about $20.

I think tomorrow may be a no spend day! Smile

Target Cartwheel and A Return

August 18th, 2013 at 01:10 pm

Yesterday I needed to get groceries. I tend to shop at SuperTarget as it is the closest and I'm used to their setup. I often, but not always, go online to clip/print coupons from their website. I did that yesterday and found two that I was able to use. At the same time, I clicked on information about Cartwheel, which I understood to be a smartphone app. It is that, but those of use without them can still use it!! I loaded coupons onto my Cartwheel and was able to print out my discounts which had the bar code the cashier needed. What is really interesting is that I ended up with discounts I didn't even load! Have no idea how that happened. I saved $2.36 because I printed off the Cartwheel savings. I did use my Red Card too and saved another $4.67. The other coupons were a savings of $2.50. And I got another $0.35 off for using my own bags. It all helps!!

We made a trip to Menard's to return an item we didn't end up using. When we bought it I was pretty sure we wouldn't need it. We should go with our gut on those types of things. At least we were smart enough to return it for a refund, which was $13.90.

I received a $10 coupon from Kohl's in the mail. I will definitely use this later this week for some new undergarments. I will try to stick to the $10 if possible.

Did you return or sell anything recently? Have you used Target's Cartwheel yet?

Surprise Snowflake and Google Voice

August 16th, 2013 at 02:02 pm

The only thing in my mailbox yesterday was a check! I wish every day was like that. Although I'd settle for a deposit into our checking account everyday, too. The check was a return of a utility deposit that we were required to pay last year to have our water turned on. A nice $60 back in our pocket.

I know they told me it would be returned. I just didn't make a note of it anywhere. My husband thought I was probably tracking it. Well no, once the money is gone, I don't expect it back.

I know you all will expect that I will put it towards the mortgage. I'd like to do that, but we have just spent quite a bit recently. There was also an unexpected expense of a rental car of $110 to get my husband to a school. The government won't reimburse as it was not authorized. The airline had to route him to an airport two hours away!! I'm sure he will check with the airline today about compensation on his way home, but I'm not holding my breath with the airline providing compensation. That $60 helps soften the blow on that charge. That's my thinking on it right now...I may decide to throw it at the mortgage in the end.

I received my $25 from Swagbucks yesterday and redeemed my $3 from a Pinecone survey, which should arrive in my PayPal account today. I will then transfer that money to checking. That money will go the mortgage as soon as I have it!

I'm about ready to make a change to our home phone. We will buy an Obi adapter for about $40 that will connect to our internet. We then plug our regular phone into that. The provider will be Google Voice so we can make local and long distance calls for free. Google Voice does not provide 911 service, but Anveo provides that for $12 per year, which is all we will pay after the initial hardware investment. That is a huge savings!

We currently pay $30.76 monthly for our home phone, which includes all those taxes and zero long distance. If we do use long distance we are charged $0.14 per minute. I use my cell phone if I need to call long distance. We get very few calls on it, but it is nice to have since all of our cell phones are based in another area code. We can't really port our current number to Google Voice without a lot of work around, but we can pick a new number for free which I have decided is just fine. I will need to notify family, schools, and service providers of the new number. A bit of a pain, but worth it for the savings.

We may also invest in a tool that crimps CAT5 cable so we can have our internet router, and OBi system upstairs rather than the basement. We lose some processing speed by having it in the basement. Our house is already prewired with CAT5 and coaxial cable, so we just need to pull out the cable from the wall and put on the adapter plug(RJ45). I might not be using all the right terminology, but I do know what the plan is! The tool is about $15.

I'm excited about all of our possible changes and reducing our bills. I now just need my husband to be home long enough to make these decisions and help me make the physical changes.

I know some of you have already ditched your landline which is a great savings! Does anyone use VOip at there home? Do you use Google Voice? Tell me about your experience.

Little Bit of Everything

August 15th, 2013 at 05:48 pm

Here's what I've been doing:

Volunteering my sewing skills to hem marching band pants. The band only has 180 members, so it didn't take long with many hands. Turns out to have been fun and free entertainment with some nice ladies.

Confronting the neighbors (2 adults and four kids) playing basketball after 10:30pm on a week night. The hoop and driveway are really, really close to my daughter's bedroom. I hope I don't have to do it again. Ick!

Earning my daily Swagbucks. I'm honestly getting a little tired of it, but there's an addictive quality that I can't yet let go of. Waiting for my last request of $25 to be deposited in my PayPal account. Only 500+ Swagbucks away from the next redemption.

Completed a Pinecone survey. I cashed out my payment earlier today. I think it should be in my account tomorrow.

Today is payday. I need to pay bills and get that Southwest card paid off!! I keep seeing lots of money going out in our future. Band picture (only $7), Band jacket(?), pictures for youngest daughter, fundraisers(!?), driver's ed, at least one tree for the back yard...I hope that is it. Not sure. I really would like to buckle down and spend NOTHING!!

I will keep today a no spend day since I have cleaning and bills to take care off. No need to do anything else, but make a trip to pick up my daughter from the last day of band camp.

I think I will also gather some items to take to Goodwill tomorrow. I know I have things in the basement that have already been set aside for that, I just need to do it!!

Little bit of everything, huh? Have a frugal day!!

Rewards Checking Interest Rates 3%+

August 14th, 2013 at 02:04 am

We have emergency fund money and some 'house' money that I want to earn better interest rates on. I have several possibilities I will be talking to my husband about. The biggest problem with earning these rates is the hoops we have to jump through to get them.

The best rate is 3.20% at a bank local to our state. It is a rewards checking account. We can deposit up to $25K. We will have to make 10 point of sale transaction with the debit card issued to us per month, in addition to 3 automatic withdrawals to third parties (or as an alternative one direct deposit). That interest rate would allow us to earn $800 on $25K in one year.

The next best rate is 3.0% at a very local bank, that I could walk to in five minutes. It is also a rewards checking account. The maximum amount that can earn that interest rate is $10K, with 0.1% for balances over $10K. This account also requires 10 point of service transactions, and one deposit or one automatic withdrawal.

There is also a deal with Bank of the West. No special interest rates, but cash bonus up to $150. To get the $100 we would need to direct deposit $250 each month for I think at least two months. To get the $50 we would need to use the debit card 10 times each month for two months, each transaction has to be $3 or more. This one seems a little complicated, for a low return, but I think it could be done.

And BeAWealthyWarrior has mentioned the NFCU offer on her blog that is also a possibilty to earn 3% on $3000 for 12 months. There are hoops to that offer as well, including a regular direct deposit for 12 months to a checking account. Although once set up that one would be easy. I'm just realizing that I actually do save $300 a month for property taxes. I could just move that plan there for the next year. Now that I thought of that I'm getting a little more interested.

The auto withdrawals that these account require are too big of an issue because we have plenty of things that are on auto withdrawal...investments, water bill, electric bill, gas bill, water softner rental, our mortgage payment, cell phone bill, and tv/phone bill.

I'm really not ready to give up our USAA account as our primary bank, part of that is because I know all the account numbers! Ha. However, to keep the initial principal intact and earning the great rate, I would need money to go into each account to cover the ten debit transactions and any auto withdrawals that are set up.

I was thinking we could take advantage of the first two accounts I mentioned and use one account for the first of the month and the other account for the second half. Or we could each be in charge of 10 transactions for one bank. I think the latter would be easier for my husband instead of all the switching of cards every two weeks.

I think I asked another time, but does anyone use a Rewards checking account? How do you keep track of your requirements? Do you think this method may be too much of a hassle or would it be worth the return? Let me know, as I'm not sure what I even think yet!!

Researching This Week

August 12th, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I'm using some of my downtime this week to research lowering some of our costs and increasing our interest income. I will be looking at cell phone service, voip home phone service, and tv service and ways to reduce those costs. I will also be looking at different banks, likely reward checking accounts as ways to increase the interest on our cash without the risk of the market.

I did find out we signed an 18 month contract last July for television service. We have thus used 13 months of the contract and would owe for service not yet billed on the contract if we cancel early. When we cancel, whether early or on time, we hope to use over the air service. We will need to install an outdoor antenna in our attic, so there will be some upfront cost. The antenna alone is $85, but we are paying $39.05 a month right now, so that will be recouped quickly. The hardest part likely will be crawling into the attic and connecting the lines already installed in the basement to the line attached to the antenna. This may require the purchase of some tools, which I hope to find a the best price possible. We hope to install BEFORE we actually cancel to confirm we get the reception we are expecting.

I'll update you later in the week with other research. In the meantime, I know about Ting and Republic Wireless, are there any other no contract plans anyone uses? Tell me what you know!

A Little Snowflake

August 12th, 2013 at 01:35 am

We were paid $0.04 interest on our checking account and had $4 worth of ATM surcharges refunded. I have added these to the snowflakes for the month.

I bought a newspaper and a cup of coffee this morning since I had to get up early to be at the airport. So I spent some money, but not too much. Smile

Tomorrow I will need fuel again, since a little out of town trip seems to have drained the tank again. I hope not to spend any other money tomorrow. I actually think it is possible.

I have an item I think can be returned to the store. I think we spent about $15 on it. I hope to get that done this week.

That's it...just a few drips and drops of money!

Finally Bought A Bike

August 11th, 2013 at 12:53 am

My husband, my older daughter and I have all had bikes for several years. My youngest had one and grew out of it and then went through a phase of not wanting to ride even though we offered the bike. We have Raleigh's which we really like. They aren't top of the line, but they aren't exactly cheap. The bike we bought my youngest daughter today was $535 including tax.

We went on our first family bike ride in probably three years. It was wonderful!! I could have gone longer but for a first trip out in awhile it was fine. Since we are in a new town since we last rode our bikes we will have plenty of trails to explore. We will have to drive to get to the trails...which we didn't in our last town. This part makes me sad. Of course, we can do some neighborhood rides, but those get a little old.

Yes, I did put the bike on the Southwest Card. We have officially met the $2000 spending limit. I don't have another card bonus in the works. Yet! I will work on figuring out the next best plan for that while I wait for the Rapids Rewards to post so I can claim the gift cards.

And while we were out today we stopped into a music store we haven't been in for awhile. We inquired about used piccolos as my daughter has been saving her money. The maximum she currently has is $500, we walked out with a very nice Yamaha piccolo for $250, plus tax. I put this on the SW card, too, since she didn't have her cash with her. So now, We really over the minimum spending limit. She has already given me the cash which I will likely apply to our Target Red card since I can pay that off with cash in the store. (We bank online so it is difficult to deposit actual cash without converting it to a money order.)

So today was...spendy! But so worth the deal on the piccolo and the time spent outside with my family.

The Equity Goal

August 9th, 2013 at 08:04 pm

I do have an equity goal. It just hasn't been firmed up in my brain or written here on my blog. The goal is $63,045 (or more!) The ideal goal will be to reach this by June 2015, which is 22.5 months away. This is the next possible move date, although we would like to stretch it out as far as we can. The Army dictates that so we'll see.

We have about $24,500 in cash. We have paid off $6,304 in principal since last year. I expect we will pay another $9,900 by the goal date with regular payments. This leaves $22,341 to meet the goal. On average we will need $1,015.50 per month.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I'm sending in all the extra funds (i.e. snowflakes) to the mortgage. Right now for 2013, I'm averaging $233 per month in snowflakes. That means we are still short $782.50.

I made a list of possible places to find some of this shortfall: lower our cell phone bill/plan, eliminate our home phone, eliminate the cable bill which allows us only local channels, find and actually move cash on hand to an account(s) with higher interest rates, sell more stuff on hand, and get a job.

I think finding a job will be easier once my daughter starts to drive. She has lots of places to be and they are always conducive to work hours. I also know my husband WILL get a raise next year. So while I may not be able to average $1000 this year, I will be able to easily exceed that next year.

And if home values in this area continue to rise, then I expect some of our equity will come from appreciation. Some online sites state this area should rise by 2%...not much, but something!

I also want to apply some money from our regular income to this goal. I have made a good effort. I know the money is there. I think I'll start with just $50 a pay period and gradually increase it each month.

I need to get moving to make the changes to the cell phones, home phone and tv. The sooner I get the changes made the more I can save towards the goal. And I need to start moving money around too to get the higher interest rates.

Yikes! This is really daunting. I know it's not a perfect plan, but it is a start. Any comments or thoughts on my plan?

A Mess of Updates

August 8th, 2013 at 03:58 pm

I have some random updates that are money related that I'll just throw out there for the enjoyment of those of you who like this kind of thing!

Last month a house just like ours, except for walkout basement vs daylight windows, sold for $5,500 more than what we purchased our home for last year. This is the amount ours was listed at but we negotiated down, but they didn't or couldn't. I'm thinking I can look at this as the current market value of our home, right? I like that kind of equity. Smile

I found out the information above when I went looking for our property tax amount online. Turns out they have not certified property taxes yet, thus no statement. I know the taxes will go up since this is a new home and we did get a reprieve last year. I want to know how much, so I can plan.

I sold those Box Tops for Education on Ebay. My net profit is $10.11, which I will add to the Snowflakes for Equity.

We had garage door issues recently. The opener wouldn't close the door. It would open, but not close. We tried all the trouble shooting tips for the sensors, but it was a no go. We purchased a new set on Amazon which arrived quickly with our Prime 2 Day shipping. We swapped out the sensor that was the problem and it worked!! Cost about $25. Annoying, but no big deal.

My daughter, age 16, finally decided to get her permit and is driving a little. We will need to get her signed up for driver's ed by the end of the month at a cost of $375. Steep, but probably worth the education she will get. Of course, I will put the fee on a credit card when the time comes to earn rewards and possibly a bonus!

I was notified by USAA that our next six month premium for auto insurance will be due in October. No change in the premium...just $433 for six months. This will go on a credit card, too! I'm sure once our daughter has her license the premium will go up...but by how much is the question.

I will try to make today a no spend day. I have paint I purchased last week that needs to be applied. Might as well take advantage of the cooler weather to get it done.

I noticed that iTunes gift cards are 10% off at Target this week. I hope to stop in to get at least one as a Christmas gift. I will use some of the Target gift cards I have to make the purchase.

Was that enough random updates for you? What was your favorite piece of information?


Southwest Card Update & A Deal

August 7th, 2013 at 08:19 pm

We opened the Southwest Rapid Rewards card on July 13. The first statement closed on August 1. The statement arrived in the mail today. This always surprises me since I track everything online!

Our purchases total $1553.14 so far. Yes, in just under four weeks. I know that I scheduled a utility payment of $128.33 for sometime this week. I have my van in getting an oil change right now. I will get fuel after I pick it up. Those two will likely total another $90. I estimate we only need to spend another $230. And I expect that will likely come from fuel purchases, as we seem to have made a lot of recent stock up purchases, paid school fees, and purchased shoes.

I am leaning towards simply redeeming the rewards for gift cards rather than airline tickets. Although the rewards do make it a very good deal when flying four people! We just don't have plans for a vacation, although there are things we want to do. It is a matter of setting aside the time to go!

When we redeem the rewards for gift cards, I hope to pick cards that we would normally use for purchases. I will use the gift card for payment and then move the cash we would have spent to the Snowflakes for Equity.

I need to start to look for another new card with a bonus. I was able to get the Citi Thank You Preferred card with a $250 bonus. That offer arrived in the mail addressed to me. I noticed they are offering $200 on their website now, but the spending amount is $1,500 rather than $1000. As you can see above, we seem to easily have money to spend. Not real proud of that, but we have the money and that is just where the money flows! My husband would apply for this card, if we decide this is the best offer. We will be deciding this soon.

I did get my Credit Sesame score update yesterday. It went down from 826 to 801. No big deal to me. Clearly still a decent credit score! And I would guess in a few more months it will be right back up there.

I went looking for discounted gift cards yesterday and ended up at CardPool.com where I found Petsmart gift cards discounted 12%. Turns out my cats will need cat food in the next week or two. I purchased an electronic gift card (which for this store can only be used online) valued at $37.12, and paid $32.66. Savings of $4.46! It gets better. I used the Southwest card for the card purchases, so the transaction helps earn rewards. The cat food I purchased had free shipping which is why I chose to order online than run to the other side of town. My total purchase came to $38.15. I put the remaining $1.03 on the Southwest card. Oh, and before I even started the transaction I went to Ebates so I could get 4% cash back. I like that type of savings!!

Using CardPool is one way to save money on purchases you make anyway without opening a credit card for bonus rewards. Any money you save could be put towards debt payoff or increasing your savings goal.

Anyone use discounted gift cards for purchases? Do you use them with regularity or just on occasion?

LAST DAY: Southwest Airlines Card Promotion

August 6th, 2013 at 05:26 pm

I looked on MyMoneyBlog this morning and saw that he updated the Southwest Airlines promotion with an expiration date of early August 7. That is tomorrow!

The link specifically for that is here. The link also shows how you can buy Chase Visa cards with no fee right now to meet the requirement. Good idea if you would have trouble meeting the $2000 in spending in 3 months.

I'm still not sure if we will redeem our rewards for airline tickets or $500 in gift cards. We don't have a trip planned right now. We also live two hours from an airport that serves Southwest. We've driven before to get better rates, so it isn't out of the question. Just not sure I ever wanted to do it again. Decisions, decisions!

As I stated in my early post, I'll update you on our Southwest Airlines card spending tomorrow...from what I can tell we are more than halfway there.

Another BIG Snowflake

August 6th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

The bonus of $150 earned on my husband's American Express Blue Cash Everyday card appeared this weekend. I redeemed it for a statement credit on the $150 balance that remained. As of this morning it has been applied and the balance is now zero.

I guess this means I have to send in another $150 to the mortgage! Smile Since I would have had to pay the balance if not for the credit, I will just use that money to send in to the mortgage. Simple!

I remembered to count out my Box Tops for Education and found that I had over 100. I put a lot of 100 together and listed them on Ebay. They have not sold yet, but I expect they will as I set a reasonable price. They ALWAYS sell. So, another snowflake is in the works.

Swagbucks deposited last months bonuses yesterday. I was just 28SB away from cashing out for $25. So I put in the time to get those 28SBs and cashed out for $25 cash in my PayPal deposit. ANOTHER snowflake on its way.

My chauffeur service has begun operating again. My oldest daughter who is just starting to drive is needing to get to school for band activities. This means more fuel will be used. Too bad I don't get paid for this service!

We are still in the process of meeting the $2000 in spending on the Southwest card. I know we are over $1000. I'll give a more in depth update on this tomorrow.

Snowflaking debt and savings works! Of course, it may seem easy with these large rewards from credit cards. However, the smaller amounts I find, earn and save still add up. You can do it too! Anyone just getting started with snowflakes? What was your first or latest snowflake?

Sending More Money to Mortgage

August 5th, 2013 at 08:14 pm

I seem to have racked up quite a few snowflakes since the beginning of August, so I'm sending them in to pay down more mortgage principal. Why wait, right?

Here's where the $157.63 all came from:



I took cash I had in my Christmas Fund to 'buy' the Applebee's gift card that came in the mail from MyPoints. It is a Christmas gift anyway. I used the Menard's rebate and Citi Rewards to make purchases, but am now taking the cash I would have spent on those purchases to send to the mortgage. Make sense? I hope so!! If not, ask me to clarify. Smile

This now means that we have paid a $6,153.91 down on our mortgage balance. Like! Like!


Lower JULY Electric Bill

August 4th, 2013 at 01:19 pm

It's been so mild most of July that we are barely running the air conditioner. We still are running it because of allergies, but we stay pretty comfortable with fans and keeping the temperature a semi high level.

This month's electric bill is $19 LOWER than June. Now the bill is still $121, but we are cooling a 2500 square foot home, watching tv, using the dryer and dishwasher and spending time on the computer.

Were any of your utilities lower than last month? Were you expecting a lower bill or were you surprised?

Received Payment

August 3rd, 2013 at 03:05 pm

I received payment from an Ebay sale that ended on Sunday. Finally! It is hard to wait when you have no communication with the buyer. If I had to delay payment I would likely tell the seller WHEN I expect to pay. It just seems like a courteous thing to do. My profit is likely only a few dollars. I haven't mailed it yet, or paid my fees.

I received 100 Swagbucks yesterday from customer support for sending in my complaint about the content on some of the videos. I was assured that they intend Swagbucks to be G rated, or was it PG? They gave me the bonus SBs for my time and effort. Nice, huh? Did anyone else complain and get compensated?


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