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Archive for October, 2013

Didn't Sell the Coat, But Got Cash Anyway

October 31st, 2013 at 06:02 pm

I've been decluttering here and there during the last week. I've done the master closet, my youngest daughter's room, a few kitchen drawers and a large -need to file- file. During the process I found the receipt for the coat I have been trying to sell on Ebay. I didn't think I had it!

The coat is from Land's End. I purchased it last year around this time. My daughter was going through a bit of a rebellion stage and decided that a fleece jacket was fine for the entire winter. As a result she never wore the coat I bought from Lands' End.

Once I found the receipt, I remembered that Lands' End has a generous return policy which states: If you're not satisfied with any item, return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price. I went to Sears today (they own and sell Lands' End) and did just that. I got a nice credit of $48.22 coming to my credit card. Much better than selling at a loss on Ebay!! Thanks ebay buyers for skipping over my item the last 10 days. Smile

I will count the credit as a snowflake for November! Have you ever returned an item over a year after you purchased it? Did you know about Lands' End return policy and that they are related to Sears?

Wrap Up October Snowflakes

October 30th, 2013 at 07:44 pm

I sent the final extra mortgage payment of $55.90 to the mortgage today. That snowflake consisted of $25 Swagbucks, $6 in Pinecone survey payments, Ebates of $15.76 and Southwest Rewards of $9.14. The Ebates and Southwest Rewards were earned Amazon.com gift cards that I used towards a purchase today.

My October snowflake earnings came to $479.20! Wow. What a great haul. It seems much of the earnings were because we used a majority of the gift cards earned from the Southwest Rapids Rewards Visa. I did have $50 from Swagbucks and a whopping $15 in Pinecone surveys.

Here is the full breakdown:

I don't expect November will be quite as lucrative. We are not currently working on a bonus reward, so there won't be any big credit card rewards. We are going to use our USAA card this month. If we spend $1200 (which I'm sure we will), we earn a $25 gift card. We will also earn points on those dollars that should get us close to another $25 in cash. Not bad for not taking out more credit!

I'll talk more about our credit cards, the rewards and any outstanding balances tomorrow. Using credit wisely has been a money maker for us this year...and we have used all those rewards to pay down the debt that is our mortgage. You know I love LESS DEBT!

How many snowflakes did you accumulate this month? It's not a competition, so share. Any snowflakes are a good thing!!

Talk of Snowflakes

October 29th, 2013 at 05:57 pm

It is not snowing here yet and I'm okay with that. It is sunny, but expected to rain later today. I will enjoy the long drawn out fall weather!

I did receive my most recent $25 PayPal deposit from Swagbucks yesterday. There was also $6 in my account from two Pinecone surveys. I withdrew the $31 and expect that to be my final extra payment to the mortgage this month. I will complete that task when the cash arrives in my checking account.

I also received the offer from Ebates to add $1 to my total rebates if I claim it as an Amazon.com gift card instead of cash. I debated for a bit on this only because I do prefer cash over gift cards. With the gift card I have to spend money I would anyway and then match it with my own funds toward the mortgage. It's just more complicated. I finally decided to go for it, as I know there will be several gifts bought on Amazon for the holidays.

I'm in the decluttering phase still. I have at least 3 grocery sized sacks full of items to donate. And there was another one full of trash. This is all thanks to my youngest daughter being motivated to declutter her room a bit last night. We pulled outgrown clothes for the most part, but there was junk to toss, too. I was actually shocked she was willing to dive right in as you know how moody teens can be. I think there is likely more in there that could go, but for now this is a win!

One item found in the room declutter was a brand new pair of ballet flats we bought about a month ago. She decided she didn't like them after all. I'm glad I asked because now I have a chance to return them. They were purchased with a Kohl's gift card, so I expect I will get a merchandise credit back. I can't remember if the amount of those shoes was closer to $20 or $30. I will need to find the receipt! If I can't put the credit towards a previous purchase, then I will do a little shopping for myself. I could use socks, a shirt or two and a new purse. I don't NEED all of those, but know that a few new items would be helpful!

I'm off to declutter some more. Do you have anything you could return to the store for cash? Are you expecting any more snowflakes this month? Did you get the Ebates offer for an additional $1?

Spending And Important Question!!

October 28th, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I ran errands today. In our town, some of the stores are only available on the other side. A twenty minute drive. I try to combine my shopping when I'm over there. I was hoping to do the Amex offer at Staples where you spend $75 there and get a $25 statement credit. I was going to buy gift cards for one of the stores I need to go to...Petco. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the Amex card!!

I bought three hair products for my daughter at Ulta. They are each priced at $16. But Redken is nearly always buy 2, get one free. I also had a 20% off coupon, so my total came down to $27.39. Each bottle lasts her one month, so an average of $9+ per month.

The cats were down to their last morsels of food. I went to Petsmart since I'm more familiar with that store. I would have gone to Petco, IF I had remember my Amex card!! I spent about $40 on food that I think lasts about 2 months.

I browsed around in Micheal's craft store, but didn't buy anything. Nothing I needed, even though I saw several things I liked!!

I spent less today because I didn't use the American Express card at Staples to buy gift cards, but the offer is still good for all of November. Maybe longer.

I noticed Walmart was offering the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 4S for 97 cents in our area. I believe both were offered with Verizon. That is who we have for our cell plans. My husband and I need to upgrade soon as we are losing battery power fast these days. If we all upgrade it will cost at least $120, since Verizon charges a $30 upgrade fee. Boo. I will have to go into the store to hear more about the offer in person.

This is probably a loaded question, but iPhone or Samsung Galaxy? Which is better and why?

Ebay Listings

October 28th, 2013 at 01:10 am

The coat I listed last week on Ebay did not sell. I lowered the auction price and I'm hoping for some bites this week. I also listed 7 other items. Some of these have been listed before. This past summer I think. I will relist and lower prices all of November. If they don't sell after the end of November they are going to Goodwill.

I might get two or three more items listed on Tuesday with five day listings, so they end at the same time as tonight's listings.

I'm just looking forward to moving these items on out of our home. Why keep stuff we no longer need and want, right? I have a very small bag of items to get to Goodwill by the end of the week. I hope to add to it and take it all in on Friday.

Have you made a donation of clothing or household items this month? Do you usually get a receipt and deduct on your tax return?

Gift Card Used = Less Mortgage Debt

October 27th, 2013 at 12:20 am

We used the Panera Bread gift card we earned from the Southwest Airline rewards tonight for dinner. Dinner for the four of us was $32.25. The gift card was $25. So we still paid $7.25 out of pocket.

As promised I am sending the value of the gift card used to the mortgage. So now we have $25 less debt because we ate out for dinner!

After our dinner we went to the mall to walk around. We didn't buy anything. This particular mall is dead. On the upper level there are only three stores still open, and there are less than 15 on the lower level. There are still two major department stores. There is a plan in place to revitalize the area, but they keep getting delayed. It would be nice if it happened while we still live here!!

Do you have a 'dead' mall in your town? Did you eat out for lunch or dinner this week?

Holiday Decorations: Want or Need

October 25th, 2013 at 04:13 pm

I've been in a few conversations recently about the need to get some Halloween decorations. This is surprising to me in some ways. Is Halloween decorating a needed expense? Is any holiday spending necessary? Or do you think of them as wants.

I took some pictures of my front entry cabinet (its officially a dry sink). This is where I store non Christmas decorations.

And you will notice that the Halloween decorations do dominate over Easter and Valentines Day. We accumulated a few extra Halloween decorations a few years ago when we hosted a Halloween party for my daughters and their friends. It was fun, but definitely not necessary. I did a good job keeping the costs down and having leftover decorations for future years.



This years Halloween spending should be less than $5 for two small bags of candy. Our neighborhood is small and the number of kids coming down this way was about 10 last year. I expect it to be similar this year. We have not decorated yet, and will likely just put something out on the porch or the door, so it seems like Halloween to the kids coming to the door. I doubt much of the items in storage will even come out this year. My girls are too old to trick or treat, so this holiday is becoming more and more of a non event.

Now I will admit that I found myself pinning Christmas and winter porch decorating ideas. Last year, we had a wreath out with a red bow on a tree shaped chair. I think I may have put a container of dried branches, too. I think I have some things here at home that will work...so I hope to not get sucked in to all the cool ideas on Pinterest.

How much will you spend on Halloween decorations? Candy? How do you look at holiday spending...want or need? Do you feel pressured by our culture or society's expectations to decorate?

In decluttering news, I pulled out my file of papers that need to be filed...I'm in the process of getting like papers together and tossing and shredding what I don't need. Here's a picture of that mess:

Travel Payment Received

October 24th, 2013 at 06:21 pm

Ironically, after I posted about the delay in the travel payments by the Army, my husband was notified he was overdue on making a payment to his government card. As a result he looked into it and found that he had routed the requests into a, to use his words, black hole. He resubmitted and it was paid today! Glad that is taken care of since he is going to start traveling again.

I used the money to pay toward the Citi card where we had some recent purchases. There is still a little bit on there...less than $100. Since I don't really want to pull from savings, I will pay that off with next week's paycheck. No interest being accrued as the charges are recent and the card does have 0% currently.

If you have an American Express card, you might look into this offer posted on My Money Blog. Get $25 for $75 purchase at Staples. Gift cards count, including those for other stores like Kohl's and JC Penney's! My husband and I each had it on our accounts. If I use it, I will likely buy gift cards, so that I'm simply shifting money we would use anyway. I find Staples VERY overpriced. I will stop in this weekend to see what my options are.

I haven't sold the coat I have listed on Ebay, but I did pull out some items that I hope to list on Sunday. A couple DVDs and CDs, as well as a few activity kits that are new. I did check SecondSpin.com but didn't have enough to where I would get reimbursed for shipping. I might get more cash with individual sales.

I hope to use this last week of October and first week of November to move some clutter out. Yesterday, I went through a stack of magazines(earned from airline miles) and pulled out just a couple recipes. The rest have been recycled. Some of our clutter will go to Goodwill for sure, but if I can make a few sales I will do that, too. It will be nice to start the holiday season with things cleaned up.

Do you like to declutter before or after the holidays? Or maybe both! If you are needing cash for gifts this season, starting selling things you don't need now. Don't forget to consider regifting if appropriate!!

BIG Milestone!!

October 23rd, 2013 at 07:03 pm

Yesterday, the market was up AND we made our regular Roth IRA contributions. At the end of the day, our total retirement accounts exceeded $250,000 for the first time!! Yippee!! I can't believe we made it there and I really look forward to seeing where we might be at the end of the year. At the end of last year we had just over $188K, so this milestone is amazing. It helps when the S&P 500 index is up over 22% for the year.

In other smaller money news, I recently completed two Pinecone Research surveys. I redeemed my $6 to be sent to my PayPal account. I also worked hard today to get my Swagbucks to 2500 so I could cash them out for $25 in PayPal cash. I hope to get it before the end of the month so I can apply it to this months snowflake total.

I listed a coat on Ebay yesterday. I put it up as a Buy It Now and maybe even a little high as it was only worn a couple times. I hope it sells!!

I bought my first stocking stuffers of the season today. I read MoneySavingMom on Monday and learned about $2 coupons on Lindt chocolate bars. I printed two off and made my purchase at Walgreen's this morning where the candy was on sale for 2 for $4. Thus, I only paid tax of $0.28 out of pocket!! Here's the blog link with offer details.

Have you reached a retirement milestone this year? Are you holiday shopping yet?

Waiting....Still

October 22nd, 2013 at 02:34 pm

In yesterday's mail we received a statement for my husband's government travel credit card. The balance is over $900, and due November 5. Generally we don't need to make payments to the card because the charges are reimbursed and directly paid by the Army. Of course, there is a process that involves submitting a travel voucher and having it approved before the funds are sent. We are now waiting on funds to be sent. And we have been waiting since several days before the government shutdown.

My husband says there is nothing he can do on his end to speed things up. So we wait and cross our fingers they make the payments by November 5th. I really, really don't want to cover for the government on that card. We will if we have to, but I don't want to!

We saw snow here this morning. It has now turned back to rain, and the snow didn't accumulate. As you can imagine, I have turned on the heat in the house. If it is cold enough to snow. It is cold enough for heat. I will wait to turn the gas on for the fireplace until at least November 1...longer if I can. Smile

Are you waiting for money owed to you? Have you turned your heat on yet?

The Not Free Couch and Loveseat

October 21st, 2013 at 05:12 pm

Our trip back to my parents house was fantastic...and fast as always. They have such a beautiful home and land that we have enjoyed for 17 years!! We took the opportunity to take family photos. I hope to use my immediate family picture for our Christmas card, if I decide to send those out this year.

The rental for the Uhaul trailer was about $83 with tax and insurance. They threw in six rental blankets for no charge. We were able to help my parents move some very heavy items to their temporary storage unit, so that was one trip. We came home with the couch and loveseat, a shop vac, a leaf blower, two bags of fertilizer, weed killer, a hoe, bug spray, a fern plant, four wall hangings, a plant stand, a hedge trimmer (that needs a battery), and a fire extinguisher!

Unfortunately, driving a four wheel drive truck nearly 500 miles while towing a trailer does use up quite a bit of fuel. My husband said we spent $160 in fuel! Yikes. Therefore, the not free couch and loveseat, plus all the other items cost us nearly $250. It seems like a lot, but we sure could not have found all those things used for that price.

We did move our old furniture set to the basement storage and it is taking up more space then I prefer. I will live with it for a little while and see if I can fit it in better down there. Otherwise, I think we need to sell it, rather than save for our daughter's future needs.

I made a snowflake payment on Friday to the mortgage company in the amount of $32.35. I love less debt!! Smile

'Free' Furniture & Social Security

October 18th, 2013 at 05:55 pm

MYTH: I don't need to save because Social Security will take care of me when I'm retired.

TRUTH: Social Security was never intended to be a person's sole income in retirement. The average monthly benefit for a retired worker in 2013 is $1,262.

I found that tidbit of information in our newspaper last weekend. I was reminded that the SSA no longer sends out benefit statements, which listed your employment record and expected benefits at different ages. This information is still available, but is now available at SocialSecurity.gov. You can set up an account to view your personal information. It is good to check this site once a year to make sure your earnings are being reported correctly.

My husband and I are not planning on social security in our retirement, but I was reminded that without 10 years of work experience, I'm not even eligible for my own social security. If I remember right, there is a spousal/widow's benefit that would give me some benefits. Not that I'm expecting or planning on it.

We are getting free furniture this weekend. Specifically, a sofa and loveseat. My parents are downsizing from a 4000 sq ft home with five bedrooms to 1400 sq ft apartment with just two bedrooms. They are trying to sell/give away much of their furniture. Since our living room set is about 17 years old, we figured it was a deal to take a set they have owned for five years. They are giving it to us, but we are needing to rent a trailer to hook to our truck. The rental for two days is about $60, plus an extra $10 for damage insurance. We know from past experience and inquiry that our insurance does not cover rental trailers, therefore worth the cost should a major accident occur. I won't count the cost of fuel in this purchase because we would have spent that visiting them anyway. A new to us couch and loveseat for $70 is a very good deal.

We could sell our old couch and loveseat. Right now I think we have the storage space to set it aside for awhile. It could be a really good set for an apartment. And since our oldest daughter is a Junior in high school, it isn't that far off to think she might want it in a few years. She doesn't care whether we keep it or not. She said it is up to us. So we'll see how storing it goes. If it gets in the way or takes up more space then I'm expecting then we will sell it.

So are you planning on Social Security? Do you know anyone who believes in the myth above? Was your couch purchased new or used? Do you think I should save our old set or sell it?

Tree Pictures

October 17th, 2013 at 07:04 pm

I did take a few pictures of our new trees. They were half off of $150, so $75 each. We planted them ourselves, which we got done in less than two hours, including clean up.

After you are done browsing the trees, check out my post from earlier today. I have coupon link there!


Celebration Maple



White King Hawthorn, we planted two of these, which is shown in the first picture above. That extra sod will likely be tossed out with the yard waste, since we don't have any open spots to replant it!

Vitamin Discount

October 17th, 2013 at 01:25 pm

I buy most of our vitamins from iHerb.com. Currently, they are offering $5 or $10 off your first time order depending on the amount you spend. The link above is a referral link that I benefit from.

Not much money news here. I did earn $3 from Pinecone. I expect to send that into the mortgage along with other cash that is a match for spending on Amazon.com. I'll likely do that tomorrow.

Last night, my husband was looking through the Target advertisement. He noticed wiper blades where on sale and the store was offering a $10 gift card when you purchase two. It was raining yesterday, and he noticed he really did need new wiper blades. Great timing! We did pick those up last night. We also purchased weed killer that was on clearance for half off. We did the same thing last year and it worked out well to have stocked up for less. I'm going back to Target this morning to pick up a few items we forgot and use that $10 gift card towards a gift card for a birthday gift.

Glad this government shutdown is over, but I have to say I'm annoyed that Congress can't get a budget deal to last even a full year. This has now been a problem for years where they do these short term agreements. I find it very immature and childish they can't get their job done. They know when the fiscal year ends. It's the same day every year. Just like planning for Christmas!

Do you consume vitamins? Are you relieved about the government deal? Any great deals at Target I should look for?

Family Pictures

October 16th, 2013 at 12:04 am

I traveled to meet two good friends today. A little gas, and about $12 for a latte, sandwich, drink and brownie. Well worth the money and time spent to be with friends.

We also stopped in a Hallmark store, where I realized that I do have three birthday's to recognize next week. I bought three cards for about $5. Not too bad. I will use some of our recently earned gift cards to purchase gifts, although one may need to be cash.

We have an upcoming trip as a family where we hope to take a picture with extended family. We need to start looking in the closets to see if we have coordinating clothes in decent condition for the picture. I'm hoping only one or two of us need something. And I hope we can find those fast and inexpensive!

Do you take a family picture with any frequency? What kind of clothing do you opt for? Casual, or dressy?

Snowball Sent to Mortgage

October 14th, 2013 at 07:49 pm

I think I'll refer to any payment I make over $100 to the mortgage a snowball. Therefore anything over $500 is likely a blizzard. And if it were to ever happen that I'd have over $1000 to send at once, well I'm thinking an avalanche seems about right!

Today's snowball payment towards the principal balance of the mortgage was $192.84. Much of the money came from those Southwest Gift cards: $67.82 that I used on Amazon, and $8.47 at Walmart. We also have earned $59.77 in Chase Freedom rewards, which I redeemed towards a statement credit today. I probably mentioned earlier last week that I had $25 from Swagbucks and $9.78 in interest and ATM refunds from our bank. And last but not least, after paying all our irregular bills for the year, I had a surplus of $22 in our escrow account. I'm throwing that towards the mortgage as well.

All those little snowflakes add up. I've already accumulated $275.97 since the beginning of the month! And we have now exceed $8000 paid toward the principal of our mortgage. Less debt makes me happy!!

In other news, we purchased three trees for our backyard at a nursery yesterday. They were 50% off for cash and carry. We paid $75 per tree. All are over 7 feet tall and a couple inches in diameter. We picked up a Celebration Maple tree which is already showing off it's red leaves. The other two are White King Hawthorns, which have some orange berries that will stay on the branches even after the leaves fall. Those will make for some nice winter color! We used our credit card for the rewards, but we have the cash on hand for that purchase, as it was one of our goals this year. We got them planted pretty easily after we brought them home yesterday and now I can't stop looking at them! Smile

Do you plant in the fall? Do you prefer another season for planting trees? Any new snowflakes for you?

Government Paycheck...Early!

October 11th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I can see my husband's mid month pay pending in our bank account. It seems so early! However, I realized that Monday is Columbus Day, a government holiday. Therefore, the next business day is October 15, the official payday. So it is really on time. Just as promised. Now I just need the government to fully open so his travel payments from September can be paid.

I did purchase my running shoes on Amazon. They should arrive today. My body can't wait. I used Ebates to connect to Amazon and I have earned $2.18 cash back on that purchase. I like cash back...only wish we didn't have to wait so long to get it from Ebates.

It will be another spendy weekend. We have to pay admission for another band competition. We also will have guests again. It means more spending on food, but both sets of guests are helping with that, which is much appreciated. All meals will be here at our house, so that keeps things less expensive than if we went to a restaurant.

I've noticed our dryer isn't drying as efficiently as it should. And it may have been a fluke last night, but the washer didn't seem to be spinning things as dry as they could have been. Those were sheets and towels, so maybe that was the issue. I need to pull the vent house off the dryer and see if it needs to be cleaned out. That is usually the issue and I hope it is this time. However, I know our dryer (and washer) is over ten years old. Fingers crossed I don't need replacements...although I will consider a repair first.

How old are your washer and dryer? Do you clean out your dryer vent regularly? Did you know lint is a common cause of house fires?

Eating the Cupboard Bare

October 10th, 2013 at 03:17 pm

Since Monday, we have been eating from the pantry, fridge and freezer. No run to the store for extras or preferred meals. I spent so much money last weekend getting ready for guests, I thought we needed to rein it in. There have been a few complaints but for the most part everyone has had their preferred food for breakfast and lunch. At dinner, we have been eating different things since we don't have the quantity to feed all of us, or we want to use something up.

Today for lunch, I'm going to finish some soup and have some refried beans with sour cream and lettuce on the side. My husband is coming home for lunch and will have eggs and toast, which is what I ate for dinner last night. It feels good to stretch the grocery budget and actually use up what we have already purchased!

I am going to the store today since we really are out of options for dinner. I will also be buying another round of groceries for visiting guests! This should be the last weekend for that for awhile at least. My mother is bringing the ingredients for the meal on Friday, so that helps with the planning and spending.

What is the oddest thing you have eaten for a meal when using up your food on hand?

Investigating and Fixing

October 9th, 2013 at 03:06 pm

I'm still a bit interested in a VoIp phone line, rather than a land line. My youngest daughter is very insistent we keep the home phone, primarily for safety reasons. I sure don't want to make this an issue where she feels unsafe. Not worth that. My Money Blog has a referral for the Ooma, which would be $99 plus free shipping. This would save nearly $30 over the price on Amazon right now. The monthly savings to our phone bill would be about $25/mo, as we would still need to pay the taxes. Ooma does include 911 service, so that is a positive. The offer ends at the end of October. I'm sure I can make a decision by then. I was all up for it a few months ago, when I was thinking of using Google Voice, but it was a little less expensive.

The fixing issue has to do with our toilets. They aren't running, as in filling up with water, but they are bubbling inside the tank. It's odd, and very annoying. We think the mechanisms are probably cheap and need to be replaced. A bit irritating since it's a 'new' house. They should be a relatively inexpensive fix since DH can replace them. However, he's been so busy I might actually attempt it myself! I'll follow the directions and look for a You Tube video that shows me exactly what to do. So much cheaper than a plumber.

I'm also going to buy those running shoes on Amazon today. The pair I have is over a year old. My back has been sore, my feet are sore while I work out...it is just time! I'll use my Amazon gift cards and then make ANOTHER payment to the mortgage.

Have you done your own plumbing repairs? How often do you buy new running shoes? Anyone else enjoying VoIP telephone service?

Snowball Sent

October 8th, 2013 at 03:45 pm

I sent in the snowflakes, or really a snowball, to the mortgage today. I mentioned these yesterday in my post. The actual amount sent in was $83.13. Less debt makes me happy!! Have I said that before? Sorry, if I have. Smile

Our mortgage is with Wells Fargo. While I was online making the payment, I saw once again that they offer a credit card with 5% back on grocery stores, gas stations and drugstores for 6 months. We would likely get the best return on the gas station expenses. We shop at Super Target which I don't think counts as a grocery store and we rarely do any drug stores either. If we spend $400 a month on fuel, which is a high estimate, we would get $20 back per month for 6 months or $120. Not a bad snowflake for just charging gas to this card. I'll ponder it a bit more and talk to my husband.

I see another snowflake in the future. Ebates cash back should be deposited mid November. I recently made a purchase of printer ink and earned 16% back, that was $8.88 on that purchase alone. The total cash back I'm expecting is $14.76, not bad for purchases I do anyway.

I'm about ready to do a little shopping with my Amazon gift cards. My husband has a birthday this month and wants a movie, as does my daughter for a Christmas gift. I also need new running shoes...and I think I found a great price on a pair I will love! Even though I have gift cards, I know I have to pull that money out of the checking account and send to the mortgage, so I'm hesitating a bit there. Silly me...delaying a payment to the mortgage. I can't help it. Sometimes it is hard to spend.

So should I go for the Wells Fargo card even though I will only get 5% on our gas purchases? Do you use Ebates, or other cash back service for your online shopping? Should I shop for my items today, or wait? I'm interested what you think. Smile

Return of Annual Fee

October 7th, 2013 at 04:43 pm

The annual fee we paid on the Chase Southwest card was refunded in full. We received the check this weekend. It actually included a $5.75 return we made after the account was closed and at zero balance. The full amount returned to us was $104.75. I will add the $5.75 to the snowflakes for equity. The $99 will go back into our account for now as I know there are a few bigger bills to pay.

Our auto insurance finally posted to the USAA credit card that also had a credit balance of $10. Instead of paying $433 for insurance, I will only need to send in $423. I will send the $10 to the mortgage as well.

I redeemed Swagbucks this weekend for my favorite $25 Paypal cash! We know where that money always goes, right?

We did more Kohl's shopping this weekend. I didn't get a discount because I didn't use my Kohl's card. That part is a little disappointing. We spent $60.96 there, using those gift cards we earned on the Southwest card. That means I need to match that money with a principal mortgage payment. Smile

I earned $6 in Pinecone surveys last week. That money arrived in my Paypal account. It is in the process of being moved to checking, and then I will send that little snowflake to the mortgage.

Did you noticing the theme, here? Many, many snowflakes!! It looks like I have over $80 to send to the mortgage right now. Yippee!!

The Cost of Guests

October 4th, 2013 at 08:08 pm

We are having guests this weekend. This is the second of three in a row. All guests are coming to visit and see my daughter perform with her marching band. It is a good show!

Having guests is just about as expensive as it is to drive somewhere. This set of guests suggested we go out to eat. Even if we split the bill, I would guess our portion would be equal to the amount I will spend on groceries for the whole weekend. Okay, maybe not. It will be cheaper to eat at home.

I'm making a double batch of chili for tonight. Leftovers will be frozen, and used another time for dinner or lunches. Tomorrow morning, we can have toast or banana bread and fruit. I also have eggs as an option. My sister likes cream in her coffee, so I picked up half and half and some more coffee....my brother in law drinks a LOT of coffee. Smile

Tomorrow afternoon for lunch before we go to the performance, we will have sandwiches. I bought three types of lunch meat, probably not necessary, but I knew we would eat the remainder for lunches in the coming week. I also picked up cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Darn. I forgot more mustard. Mayo it is.

Saturday night we will have tacos. I have all the fixings. I picked up extra ground beef, so I will make this up and freeze the taco meat for another time. Sunday morning will be a repeat of Saturday morning. More basic eating.

I seem to have followed in my mother's pattern with guests where I want to have plenty of options. I have nuts, chips and crackers for snacks. I also bought beer and wine. I bought twice the amount that I would normally buy on a weekend with two extra people. Geez, I must think they are super hungry people. They aren't.

I shopped at SuperTarget with coupons and my cartwheel and saved $18! But my bill still came to $102. Boo. I hope we can extend our leftovers for many days after the visit.

How do you plan for guests? Wing it? Plan out each meal? Do you eat at home or go out to eat? Do you have a go to meal that you think works great for guests? I love to know!

Principal Paid On The Mortgage

October 3rd, 2013 at 07:43 pm

I used more of the gift cards we earned from the Southwest Airlines credit card in the last few days. Today, I spent $41.53 at Walmart for kitty litter, laundry detergent, soap, a few name brand food products, and a large hand sanitizer for my sister classroom. We also made a shoe purchase at Kohl's for $45.46. I also let my daughter rent a move for $2.99 from Amazon.com to watch on their day off from school. (Those count as October snowflakes, in case you were wondering!)

As I have said several times before, I am matching the money spent on the gift cards and sending it to pay down the mortgage principal. Those purchases equal $89.98 less debt on our mortgage. I just sent the payment off earlier today.

We have now spent just over $265 with the gift cards we earned and all of those funds have been matched and sent to pay down our mortgage. Including our mortgage payment that posted yesterday, we have paid $770.21 on the principal balance in the last 15 days. Yippee!! Less debt makes me happy.

I already have $6 from Pinecone, and a little interest from my Capital One 360 account to add to the snowflakes for October as well. It's a good start.

In other news, I did find out that many of my husband's civilian coworkers are applying for unemployment since they have been furloughed. This is allowed in our state, but maybe not in others. Unfortunately, one man just moved here from another state and has not met the 18 month resident requirement. He is still going to apply to see what happens. He may need to apply in the state he moved from as he still has a legal residence there. I hope the shutdown ends soon for all those families affected.

I also heard in our city that a group of women are collecting baby formula and food to hand out to those who were counting on WIC checks this month and don't know when they will receive them. Have you heard any good stories like this in your town?

September Snowflakes

October 2nd, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I accumulated $236.66 in snowflakes last month. A combination of interest, rebates, Pincone surveys, Swagbucks and gift cards earned from our Southwest Airlines credit card.



This amount is far more than the early months of the year, but less than the last couple. We are not currently in the process of earning any more credit card bonus rewards, so that makes a difference. Of course, I'm not complaining! This is all bonus money that is making a difference in paying down our mortgage debt.

We still have gift cards from the Southwest credit card bonus to use. As we use them, I will add them to the snowflake list and send an equal amount to the mortgage.

My goal for October is to earn some snowflakes from selling our stuff, primarily Ebay sales. I'd also like to find another source of snowflakes. Not sure what that might be yet, but I'll let you know when I do. I'm open to ideas as well.

What was your snowflake total for September? What did you do with your snowflakes?

Insert Title Here

October 1st, 2013 at 02:17 pm

I seem to have a few bits and pieces of financial information to share. Most of it good!

I sent $26.99 off as a mortgage principal payment. This money was from Swagbucks and $1.99 usage of one of those Amazon.com gift cards. Yes, I could have rounded up, but I thought it might mess with my tracking of the gift cards. I will update my snowflakes for September tomorrow.

Remember we cancelled our tv service last month? Our bill arrived with the expected $40 credit for service we paid for but did not receive. I was also expecting the bill to include a cancellation fee of about $99, but it wasn't there!! I'm not going to call them about that. So we have a nice low bill for internet and phone this month.

Our credit for the $99 annual fee showed up with the new billing cycle on the Southwest card. I had also made a return of $5.75 that had been charged to that card. I requested a check for the credit balance in the amount of $104.75. It should arrive in 10-14 business days. It will be nice to see that money back.

My youngest daughter has a band concert next week. They are to wear black pants, white shirt, and black shoes. She tried on the pants and shoes and they still fit. The shirt was outgrown this summer. We will stop by Kohl's today to find one and use our gift cards. We will also take a look at coats, but I don't expect we will buy today.

My husband is not going out of town this week due to the government shut down. That trip will really just get delayed. It will still need to happen at some point. I'm kind of happy about that though, since he has been doing so much traveling lately. I think pay will now continue on schedule as there was a law passed yesterday ensuring pay for military during a shutdown. That is how I understand it anyway. That means I can invest and pay bills as normal.

So what do you think I should have titled this post? Do you have some lower bills this month?