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Archive for December, 2013

Wow! Retirement in 2013

January 1st, 2014 at 04:23 am

Did you know the S&P 500 Index was up 29.6% this year? That is not normal, but it is good! We've been investing for over 20 years. It actually seems we should have more, but only in recent years have we been able to contribute the maximum amount to our Roth IRAs AND contribute to a work retirement plan.

This year we each invested the full $5,500 to our Roth IRAs. My husband also contributed 7% to his TSP. Our total retirement contribution was $16,241.60. This is 17.3% of our gross income.

Our retirement balance at the end of December 2012 was $188,290.18. This year with our $16K+ in contributions and the growth of nearly 30% in the market we end the year with $265,208.05!! I'm humbled. Truly humbled. That is an increase of $76,917.87. Over $50,000 in growth.

I have records of our balances all the way back to May of 2003. At the end of that year we only had $33K invested for retirement. I disclose this so you can see how continually investing can change in a relatively short period of time. There have been ups like this year, and some really bad years. In fact, I did check once in 2009 and our balance had dropped to $67,000. Yep, there wasn't even a 1 in front of that number back in 2009. Stocks are volatile, but retirement is a long term goal. In my short experience, it seems better to be IN the market than out.

Were you invested in the market for retirement? Did you just start investing? Will you invest next year? I know we will!! Smile

December and Year End Snowflake Totals

December 31st, 2013 at 04:31 pm

December was a very good month for snowflake earnings. It seems there were lots of sources this month, too. All $311.99 went to pay down our mortgage balance as planned.

Here's where the funds came from:

I simply keep a running tally all year long in a spreadsheet. I will add a new sheet to track 2014, so I can compare this year to next year.

Oh and this year final total was over $3K, when I include the snowflakes I saved for Christmas and the snowflakes we sent to the mortgage. Grand total for 2013 is $3287.73. And the bulk of that did arrive in the second half of 2013, so I really think my $4,000 goal for 2014 is very possible.

What was your 2013 snowflake total? Share. Any amount is a great thing! Maybe next year you can exceed this years goal.

Snowflake Pending

December 31st, 2013 at 03:51 pm

Thanks to an SA reader here, I earned a $5 referral because they signed up for Ebates using my link on the sidebar. Thank you!!

That money won't actually be in my hands until February since Ebates only pays out four times per year. I'll take it when it comes though. In addition to the referral money I have another $24.35 pending in rebates for some recent shopping I did during the holidays. That extra step of going through the Ebates site does pay off.

Click the link on my sidebar, if you find yourself doing any online shopping today. I actually get a bigger bonus if one more person signs up today!! So I have my fingers crossed here, that someone has some shopping to do and wants cash back for doing so. Smile

Tip: Self Insure

December 30th, 2013 at 03:30 pm

This tip is not about health insurance. It's a little tale about a conversation we had with my husband's sister and husband on Christmas about cell phones.

They have a family plan with Verizon that includes themselves, two daughters with smartphones, a son with a dumb phone, my mother in law, and my brother in law's parents. I'm not sure what types of phones all the adults have. They have a contract plan and are paying $5/month...per phone for insurance!!

If you do the math on that, they are paying $40 ($5x8phones) per month just for insurance. They likely will pay that for the 24 month contract, which ends up being $960! Yikes. I did tell them about my sister's husband who needed a new phone while still on contract. He purchased a phone on Ebay that he could use with his cell phone provider. I think he paid about $100. Even if my sister in law need to buy a new phone for everyone on their plan at that price they would be better off then they are with paying the $5 insurance for everyone's phone.

Businesses make big money buy selling insurance for replacement products. The odds are usually low you will need it. I think it is better to simply rely on your savings if something happens to your device.

This is a bit unrelated, but an example of thinking outside the box when something breaks. My husband's laptop screen broke a couple days ago. He left his ear buds in between the keyboard and screen with the screen propped up. One of our daughters bumped into it and the lid closed with a pop. Oops. The computer works great even thought it is a couple years old. We went browsing online to see about screen replacement. Yep, sure enough, it is an option. It is pretty easy to replace a screen. There was a video on the site we purchased from explaining how to do it. We did pay just under $70 with shipping for a replacement screen, but that is far less than buying a new computer!

Do you self insure with electronics, or pay a fee for insurance? Have you replaced a computer screen, or other part to save from buying new?

The 2014 Mortgage Goal

December 29th, 2013 at 04:53 pm

Our mortgage is our only debt. My goal is to pay down more principal than if we just made regular payments. I've already mentioned that all my snowflake earnings for 2014 will go to pay down the mortgage principal. I hope to get $4,000 from that source alone.

Our housing allowance from the government is increasing by $102 tax free dollars. I will apply this money to the mortgage pay down goal, which is $1,224.00 for the year.

As of today, the mortgage balance is $X28,992.99. My goal is to get that balance to $X15,000. This means I need a total of $13,992.99 in principal payments to meet the goal by this time next year. If we just made regular payments we would pay off $5455 in debt.

Even with the sources of pay down mentioned above, we are still $3,324 short of meeting the goal. I either need to find plenty of other snowflakes or simply find room in the budget to pay off more debt. I think there is definitely room in the budget. I will work on this in the coming days to see how it might be best to go about this. Part of me wants to just wait until DH gets his raise, and then it is no problem, but I think that is me being lazy!

Another big goal, right? If I don't make a specific plan, I'm pretty sure the whole idea will be put to the wayside and forgotten. And that is not what I want. I want to make a big impact in our financial picture this year!!

Is paying down your mortgage a goal this year? Are you specific in how you will accomplish this? Maybe you have another debt you looking to reduce, do you have a clear plan for getting there?

The 2014 Snowflake Goal...It's BIG

December 28th, 2013 at 03:55 pm

I already know what my snowflake goal is for 2014. It is big! Last year, my initial plan for snowflakes, or money from non income sources, was just $750. I actually exceeded that goal by 4.5 times!! I just wanted that $750 saved for Christmas. I hit that amount in early June. It seems flakes snowballed from there. Smile I would say primarily from credit card bonus rewards. Who knew I would jump on that?!

So the big 2014 snowflake goal is $4000.00. No that isn't a typo! This will be about a 17% increase in my 2013 total, which I will disclose and update at year end. It does feel like a big goal. A stretch for sure, but I really do believe that big goals can be reached, and so often exceeded!

This year, I will be putting all snowflakes towards paying down our mortgage balance. I will still save for Christmas, but that money will come from our regular income. I didn't need $750 this year. Next year, I'm looking to save $600 for Christmas. I will just set aside $50 per month. Easy. Simple. Done!

I know some of you are going to start tracking snowflakes in the new year. Does anyone have a goal for the amount they want to accumulate? What will your snowflakes be used for?

Snowflake Update

December 27th, 2013 at 03:10 pm

I received $25 from Swagbucks and $25 in USAA rewards this week in our checking account. I used the $10 Target gift card towards groceries this week. And we spent $2.99 in Amazon.com credits to watch a movie online last night.

All the funds above total $62.99. I sent that amount to pay down the mortgage principal. That might be the last one for the year, but I'm open to a few more snowflakes if they fall before the end of the year.

With this last payment it has pushed our mortgage balance under another $1K milestone. So the balance is now like this $XX8,992.99. I think we will be able to get at least that $8K plus change paid off this year....and probably a little bit more. I'll update the goal and plan on that soon.

We are still working on getting our recent repair on our van covered and paid by Honda Care. My husband is going to walk into the dealership today to get it taken care of. Fingers crossed. We don't have any reason to think it won't be covered. They didn't have our Honda Care information, and just seemed to be too busy to handle it when we called last Saturday.

Any one new going to track snowflake money next year? Will you use it to pay down debt, save for a goal or both?

Good Money News

December 23rd, 2013 at 04:11 am

I sent $12.99 in snowflakes to the mortgage today. Nine dollars was from three recent Pinecone surveys. And $3.99 matches the money we used from an Amazon gift card from Swagbucks to rent a movie a couple nights ago.

I redeemed reward points on USAA for $25 cash. I expect it to be in our checking account in a couple of days, and then I will send it to the mortgage.

We had an interesting experience at Target yesterday. We were purchasing groceries. The cashier took a coupon, and scanned my cartwheel barcode. However, she forgot to give me the extra 10% off the store was offering or my bag discounts. I think when she tried to give those, after the cartwheel, it locked up her entire computer! We ended up at Guest Services with our cashier scanning our groceries again. We did get all of our discounts: Cartwheel, bag discount, coupon, additional 10%, and 5% for using our Red Card. We also received a $10 Target gift card for the inconvenience. We ended up paying about $108, with an original total of over $135. It was a very good experience overall in customer service.

I also went out spending a Kohl's last night. I was in need of a down alternative comforter for our guest bed in our basement. It gets cold done there! The original price was $89. We had a $10 Kohl's coupon, plus 30% off. I convinced my cashier to let me use my American Express card to pay for the purchase, even though I should have only been able to use my Kohl's card. An offer on AE, will provide me $10 since I made a purchase of over $50 at Kohl's. In the end I paid $59.91 with tax, and will get the $10 credit from American Express. I also received $10 Kohl's cash to use after Christmas. Not too bad!

I don't expect to be on the blogs for several days because of holiday gatherings. Happy merry making!

Automate

December 21st, 2013 at 04:57 pm

I set my modified 52 Week Savings challenge to fund itself automatically. I wrote about that and the benefits of automatically saving for a goal on Our Money Blog, if you are interested in reading about that today head on over there.

Today I wish I could automate my grocery shopping! We are hours away from getting a pretty big snow storm of up to 9 inches of snow. And this follows the ice storm we had yesterday. I need to get out to get a few days of groceries, plus the items I promised to bring to our holiday gatherings.

We attempted to call the Honda dealership about the repair of the oxygen sensor earlier this week. Honda Care indicated it should be covered, and that it is best to get the benefit through the dealership rather than be reimbursed. The dealership didn't seem to want to deal with it on a Saturday and simply took the information and said they would get back to us on Monday. This might end up being a bigger hassle then expected, but we are pretty sure it will get worked out in our favor. Our Honda Care warranty was purchased through another dealer in our old town, thus this dealership doesn't have our Honda Care information on file. The warranty is good through October or November of next year, unless we break 100K miles before that. We are only at 73K now, so I don't expect that to happen.

We rented a movie on Amazon.com last night. I have a gift card on my account. I will match the money spent with a payment to the mortgage principal, since that gift card was earned from Swagbucks.

I love that so many of us are planning our 2014 goals. I will be posting ours in more detail soon after Christmas. Maybe some of you lurkers will want to start a blog in the new year to keep track of your goals. I know we would love to cheer you on!

2013 Goals Completed!!

December 20th, 2013 at 03:10 pm

All of the goals below have been completed for 2013. I didn't realize we paid off the truck this year. I thought it was the year before! Funny how time distracts from the details.

1) Make maximum contribution to both of our Roth IRA's. And contribute 7% to husband's TSP.
2) Pay off truck loan.
3) Snowflake a Free Christmas with $750.
4) Save $4,000 ($2000 each daughter) for college.
5) Pay for new intermediate flute with cash.
6) Pay for vacation with saved cash.
7) Pay for furniture and landscaping with cash.
8) Increase equity in home by paying down debt and saving for the next down payment.

We do not have any debt for the furniture purchase, which was a new kitchen table and chairs, the vacation, flute or landscaping. We still have $300 on the American Express for my daughter's Washington DC trip in April. I just thought it easy to pay on it monthly since it was at zero percent and I knew I could pay it in full at any time. I'm actually waiting for a reward on the card to apply to the balance, so one reason I'm not paying it off too quickly.

I will do another post about our mortgage progress for the year before year end. Those snowflakes do make a difference!

I wrote a new post over on Our Money Blog...if you want to check it out. I really want to devote more time to that one, I might need to rebrand it and do different topics than I do over here. If anyone has ideas, or thoughts on it, I'd love to hear about them.

Reminder: Check TransUnion Credit Report

December 19th, 2013 at 10:51 pm

In case anyone is following along when I check our credit reports, it is now time to check TransUnion. I had a reminder at the beginning of the month from my email service. I still haven't done it, but I will. In four months I will remind you to check another report from annualcreditreport.com. That is the free service where you can check your report from each of the credit reporting agencies once per year. I check ours every four months, so that I'm effectively checking each agency once per year.

I noticed my ticker from tracking my Christmas Snowflakes has disappeared again. It seems if you don't update them they delete them. Boo. At least I tracked that information elsewhere, too!

I might have mentioned this in a post awhile back, but we had a van repair this week. The check engine light was on. It was an oxygen sensor. We had our oil changed and tires rotated. The total bill was about $377. We charged it to the Chase Sapphire card we are working towards a bonus on.

My husband has had some recent travel. He was reimbursed $178.50 for one. Not sure what his actual expenses were, but I'm pretty sure less than that. The other travel reimbursement came in the form of mileage and was nearly $340. That was way more than he spent in gas for three 150 mile round trips. Right now the money is just sitting in our checking account. I would count it as snowflake money if I knew his actual expenses, but he is spend happy when he travels and I don't have the patience to figure out the profit. I guess I should make a better effort to figure all that out.

We are going to be getting an ice storm tonight and a bigger snow storm over the weekend. I think we'll just stay inside as much as possible!

Quick Updates

December 18th, 2013 at 05:38 pm

I have enough Swagbucks to cash out for $25 in PayPal cash. I hope I receive it before year end so I can count it for 2013 snowflakes.

I received a Pinecone survey payment of $3 yesterday. I also completed TWO more surveys yesterday, so I should be receiving another $6 soon.

I found out our housing allowance is going up beginning in January by $102 tax free dollars!! I think I'll make sure to save this money to the mortgage each month since it is a housing benefit.

My Christmas shopping is pretty much complete. I may find one more thing for my brother in law's stocking, but it won't amount to more than $3-4. I need to make one final payment to my Target Red Card from the Christmas fund to cover one last gift and stocking stuffers purchased. I have wrapped everything and didn't need to buy one bow, bag, roll of paper, gift tag or tape! I did use about four small gift bags I bought on clearance at Target last year. I might look for a few of those when they start to clearance things. I think I paid $0.10 each!

I am going grocery shopping today for odds and ends and the ingredients for taco dip that my husband will take to work for their Christmas party. They are having a white elephant exchange. I think we have a DVD of something that we can give up for that. I will still have one final trip to make before the holiday for food and drinks we are taking to our gatherings.

I'm also picking up 1/2 yard of fabric to make a little bag for my daughter's friend. She wants to give a gift and suggested the idea, but specifying a zebra print! I don't have that, but the cost is small compared to what I might buy if we went shopping! I WILL get that done today.

I purchased a photo book for my parent's anniversary, which is December 27. It is a compilation of photos we took of all of our family members on their land the last time we were there before they moved. There are some house and land pictures as well. I'm expecting tears. The awesome thing is I got the book free and only had to pay sales tax shipping and, which I did upgrade to 2 day for an $1 more. Total out of pocket was $9.56! It was a deal that came with the school photos I bought of my girls. They will be thrilled with it.

Okay...lots of little updates. I've been wanting to write more about goal setting and tax planning, but I'm just busy! I will get those posts together when things settle down. Smile

Capital One 360 Requirements Met

December 17th, 2013 at 02:14 pm

Remember my husband opened a Capital One 360 checking account during their Black Friday sale? The requirement was to make at least 5 debit card purchases or deposits or a combination of the two. As of this morning those five debit card transactions have been completed! The average amount of the transactions was $4.61, with the total $23.05 for all five.

The bonus amount for all this hard work, which it wasn't, is $125. The bonus will not be deposited until mid January. Something to look forward to!

Did you meet your Capital One 360 checking account requirements? Did you miss the bonus offer? If you still want to open an account and receive up to $75 bonus cash, check my referral link here.

Discounted Gift Cards

December 16th, 2013 at 10:18 pm

If you find yourself with a gift card to a location you will not shop or dine at you might considered selling it for cash. You generally will not receive the full value of the card, but the cash in your pocket might be more useful for paying down debt or saving for that goal you are working on.

I suggest using Gift Card Granny to find gift card sites that will purchase your gift card. This site connects to many others so it saves plenty of time.

Today, I purchased a discounted gift card to Petco to make an online purchase of cat food. I stocked up and purchased two bags. I first went to Ebates to connect to Petco, where I hope to get 6% back on the purchase. Once I determined the amount of my order I browsed giftcardgranny.com for a card similar to that value. My order total was $67.39, with tax and free shipping. I purchased my gift card from giftcards.com at a 14% discount. The value of the card was $65.85, but I only paid $56.63. Smile And if you are following the math, I did have to pay an additional $1.54 to complete the transaction. I did notice that giftcards.com took a lot longer to send me the gift card number than last time when I used cardpool.com. It still arrived on the same day.

I made the gift card purchase and the final $1.54 purchase on Petco.com with our Chase Sapphire card, since we are still working on meeting our $3K spending requirement. I think we still have over $2K left to go, although it seems our van will have a part replaced tomorrow, so that repair will lower the amount we need to spend some more.

Do you make efforts to buy discounted gift cards? Have you ever sold a gift card for cash?

Pay Raise

December 14th, 2013 at 04:52 pm

It looks like the military will be getting a 1% pay raise. For DH this is an increase of $62 per month or $744 per year. Inflation, according to a quick online search, is at 1% for the year. I guess this is good enough to not be back tracking, but it sure doesn't feel like much of a raise for the hard work my husband does.

This really should be the year he gets promoted to Major. He has already been notified that the board is meeting in early March to determine those who will be promoted. I will focus on that, which will be $1,116 more per month than he is currently receiving in Basic Pay. That is a 17.8% increase. There would also be an increase in our housing allowance with the promotion as well.

I'm thinking this 1% raise will just be saved for retirement. I will simply increase his TSP contributions by that amount. That will leave our net paycheck virtually the same...except for the increase in any housing allowance change.

I do need to consider the promotion in our savings plan, as such a large increase in pay will change our tax bracket. And I don't want to pay more taxes! We maximize our Roth contributions every year, but I may need to put some of that in IRAs to take advantage of the tax deduction.

Kind of a rambling post about the pay increases we expect, but just needed to get my thoughts on this down. Will you be getting a raise of any kind this year? Will you save it, spend it, or pay down debt?

52 Week Savings Deposit

December 13th, 2013 at 09:28 pm

Yesterday, I paid all the bills in full. The only amount on the credit cards is the Washington DC trip, we are slowly paying the balance off at 0% interest. Only $300 left to pay, which means it will be paid off in February. Actually, I might just pay that off next pay period now that the amount is so low.

Anyway....while paying bills I made our first regular deposit to the 52 Week Challenge. I had a beginning balance of $10 and added $57. I will add $57 twice per month and by Nov 15th next year I will have the full $1,378, plus interest. I did send that money to my Capital One savings account for easy book keeping.

I was actually able to put $748 aside into savings, which is the biggest amount I have been able to set aside for savings in awhile. I hope I didn't miss something, but I think we just spent less. I still have over $200 in the Christmas fund. A little more of that will likely get spent, but maybe a good chunk can go to the mortgage before the end of the year.

We have made one purchase on my husband's Capital One debit card. Only four more to go to qualify for the $125 bonus!

My dad bought me a Mega Millions ticket today. I offered to pay him the one dollar, but he refused. It would be nice to win, but the odds are not in our favor. I really NEVER play the lottery, but it is fun to think about winning.

Do you play the lottery? How often? How much have you ever won?

Big Snowflake To Mortgage Principal

December 12th, 2013 at 03:33 am

Several snowflakes of money have come my way in recent days. I finally got them all added up and sent off to the mortgage to pay down more principal.

My big snowflake payment was $207.50. Yippee for big payments!! Smile

I did include some of those American Express offers. I would have spent that money anyway...so the cash credits are definitely bonus money! Here's where the money came from:

I am happy to report I have paid all the Christmas gifts we have charged to credit cards. Right now, it seems I am done shopping!! I may have another $5-10 of stocking stuffers to pick up, but I'm mulling that over.

Anyone else just about done with their holiday shopping? Anyone pay down some extra mortgage principal this month?

Snowflake From USAA & Used Books

December 11th, 2013 at 05:21 pm

It really did snow last night. We got about three inches. And it is bitter cold! It's in the negative territory with the windchill. Therefore, I am inside the rest of the day, with only one trip out to pick up one of my girls after school.

The big snowflake arrived from USAA today, which is a return of premium they provide to their property and casualty customers. It was $67.41, which is about $20 more than last year.

I also sold 11 books and cds at the used book store yesterday. These were only worth about $0.10 each online, so to get $3.50 for all of them wasn't much, but an improvement from what I could get elsewhere. I received a Half.com payment for $3.28. Only about $.50 of that is the profit, but I'm putting the full amount on my snowflakes anyway. Smile

Today, I'm adding up Christmas expenses, paying off the credit card purchases from Christmas and sending a snowflake payment off to the mortgage. I will post the total of that snowflake later!

Did you get any snowflakes today, the real variety or the money kind?

More Shopping...On Amazon

December 10th, 2013 at 01:35 pm

I bought a couple more gifts online last night. Two were purchased on Etsy. I feel good about those, since they are such unique gifts and benefit small business owners. One has already been shipped!

Two other items were purchased on Amazon. I purchased one with my American Express Blue Cash Everyday card. I had redeemed the offer for getting $25 back when you spend $75 on Amazon. And this item was over $75. The other item was charged to the Chase card we are currently using to accumulate a reward.

The unfortunate thing is this morning my $25 Amazon gift card I requested through Swagbucks arrived. A good thing really, but bad timing. I guess I should have waited. Although, honestly, I forgot I had ordered it. I'm sure there will be other purchases in the future, so not all is lost.

I'm getting really close to being done with my shopping for Christmas. I know there are still several things to get, but I'm now probably 80% done. I'd really like to finish up this week! Smile

Moving Money Plus 52 Week Challenge

December 9th, 2013 at 10:47 pm

My Christmas fund has been sitting in my Capital One 360 Savings account since July. Earning .75% interest. Today I transferred all but $10 back to my regular checking account. From there I will start using the funds to pay for gifts I have purchased on credit cards in the last couple weeks. I also moved $80 worth of referral bonuses, so I can send those to the mortgage.

I left $10 in the account as I had $10 cash here at home to begin my first four weeks of the 52 week savings challenge. My intention is to save this money separately in my Capital One 360 Savings account. Now the cash I have at home will likely be used to buy a few stocking stuffers.

I'm thinking of making a few adjustments for the 52 week challenge for me. I really just want to save some additional money from our regular income. My husband is paid twice per month, thus a weekly challenge is not quite right. The total for challenge at the end is $1,378. I already have $10. If I save $57 each pay period*24 pay periods I will have the remaining $1,368. I think I will start this right away with this upcoming paycheck on the 15th of December. I'm excited! Once I know my husband's pay increase for the year, I will look into saving that money specifically as well.

We completed our $500 in purchases on my husband's Chase Freedom account. Now just to wait for the $200 in rewards to post! We have begun putting our regular spending on my Chase Sapphire Preferred account. Looking forward to over $550 in rewards on that one, but probably not for a couple more months.

I made two stockings today for my parents, since we are only doing stocking stuffers this year and they didn't have stockings it was needed. I bought the green fabric. The red fabric, the lining, and the flannel layers, ribbon, and thread were all items I already had, so the cost was minimal.



Will anyone else be tweaking the 52 Week Savings Challenge? Did anyone meet a spending requirement for a credit card bonus? Do you have a stocking that you get gifts in each year?

Referral Bonuses Available & More

December 7th, 2013 at 04:17 pm

I ended up referring four people to the Capital One 360 Savings and Checking accounts. One of them was my husband. The $20 per referral showed up immediately, but stated it would not be available for withdrawal until January 1. I looked at the account again today, and they are all available now. That is an extra $80 in snowflakes that I will send to the mortgage next week!

I will also earn another $60 by the end of the month, because I made at least two referrals. A total of $100 for the first two referrals. That money is not yet showing up, but it will! Smile

Found out from Hip2Save that Bath and Body Works is having a sale TODAY only at their stores. Buy 3, get 3 free on nearly everything in the store. There is also a coupon that you can combine if your total is over $10, for an additional free item. So almost like buy two and getting four free in my mind. The link to the offer I read is here. I'm sure those stores will be packed! And, please don't go spending on this deal if it isn't something you need to buy anyway. I will use the items as gifts for Christmas and upcoming birthdays. I might have DH gift me a couple! Smile

Have a super weekend!!

Deals, Snowflakes, Repairs

December 6th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

I've been doing more shopping, in the stores and online. It's going well. I've used coupons, and have stayed within budget so far. I think Etsy is my next stop for unique items for my daughter's. They will likely browse first to give me ideas of what they like.

I used the $5 Amazon promotion discount for spending $35. On the same purchased I used my Citi Thank You card points to redeem $9.08 towards the purchase. I will pay that off and retire that card. I was glad to open it for the bonus, but can't say it is one I really want to keep.

I received a $3 Pinecone payment today in my PayPal account. Technically, I already spent it when I made an Ebay purchase. But I will be adding that $3 to my snowflakes. Smile

I used $75 worth of Kohl's cash in the last couple of days to purchase two infant clothing items for my new niece, a 3 pack of pairing knives, two scarves, a belt, pantyhose and two containers of lotion. Not too bad. More than half of those items are gifts. I'm splitting the knives between three people. The scarves and lotions are for two teen nieces. I received the Kohl's cash when I purchased a KitchenAid Stand Mixer on Cyber Monday. It was a great deal with free shipping, 20% off, $15 in Kohl's cash for each $50 spent, a $50 rebate from KitchenAid, and I went through Ebates for another rebate. I think the stand mixer cost me about $180 after all those discounts. The mixer was a splurge, but we have been looking at them on and off for over a year.

The check engine light in my Honda Odyssey has come on twice in the last two days. Boo. It's about time for an oil change. So my van has an appointment on Monday. Hoping it is an easy fix and inexpensive as possible. At least we are working on a credit spending goal, so that will help.

My Christmas cards are mailed. I found a deal online before Thanksgiving for 25 photo cards. Then I bought envelopes because the type I bought didn't come with envelopes. After Thanksgiving I pulled out the Christmas decorations and found a full box of cards (with envelopes) that I bought on clearance at Target. I'm guessing I paid less than $1 for those. I guess they wait until next year. If I remember to use them. Smile

I have joined the 2014 52 Week Money Challenge. I have ten dollars in my wallet, that I will put in an envelope to cover weeks 1-4. It's a beginning. I will likely put larger amounts in my Capital One 360 account. No exact plans for the money other than to find another way to save and accumulate money. This money will come from income, rather than snowflakes.

Enjoy the season! Stay warm. Eat light. Rest deep.

Offers if you have Ting

December 6th, 2013 at 02:59 am

I was browsing MoneySavingMom. She has a blog post about a Starbucks gift card if you have Ting. Read all the way down as it looks like there may be two offers.

Enjoy!

Buying Gifts

December 5th, 2013 at 03:57 pm

I've begun buying gifts. I'm not too far along, but at least I've started. Our budget is $750. We are buying stocking stuffers for four adults (approx $20 each) on my side of the family. On my husband's side we are buying for his mother ($30), two nieces and a nephew ($20 each). My husband and I will exchange gifts (maybe $50 each). We also bought a small gift for the flute teacher, a locally made soap for $3.50.

Oh, and of course, our two daughters!! We usually spend about $150 each. My oldest wants Photoshop CS6, which is over $600. She doesn't NEED it right now because she has it on her school issued computer. She will have it again next school year, too. She knows we aren't likely to buy it right now. She doesn't want much else, so I only have one gift bought so far. She may just get cash and stocking stuffers if she doesn't come up with any other ideas. It is nice that she doesn't want for lots of things.

My youngest daughter has a great list. I've bought quite a few things for her and have only spent $75. I will buy a few more things and likely give her some cash as well. We could actually come in under budget.

Those gifts, if I stay in budget, equal $570, leaving us about $180 left. I think I will hold this money for travel expenses back home and extra expenses that come with that, like wine and food. Anything left goes to the mortgage at the end of the month!!

Our list is actually a bit smaller this year. We aren't buying for as many nieces and nephews or adults on my husband's side, for multiple reasons. I told a friend that we were slimming down and not buying gifts for them. We never see them! I really don't know her kids anymore. We talk on the phone and that is the gift I appreciate the most. Don't worry I told her nicely and she was fine with it. It does take some stress out of gift buying to have fewer people on the list.

I guess that is still 13 people, including me that gifts are being purchased for. Not bad. How many people do you buy gifts for?

Snowing In December

December 4th, 2013 at 08:44 pm

I have some snowflakes for December already. I had my final Ebay auction end Monday. The sale net me $7.41 for a clothing item I would have been lucky to get $2 for a garage sale!

I also shopped on Amazon yesterday and used my final Amazon.com gift card we earned from the Chase Southwest Airlines Bonus a few months ago. The balance remaining was $21.10.

I just sent the total of those two snowflakes, $28.10, to the mortgage. We are officially over $3,000 in snowflake earnings this year. Yippee!!

I have some used books and cd's to take into the used book store for cash. They aren't bringing much, if anything, on the online sites so I'm going local.

November Snowflakes

December 4th, 2013 at 01:35 am

Here's the final tally of my November snowflakes, or small amounts of money earned. It was kind of a slow month, but I am thankful for what I could accumulate. I sent the entire amount towards the principal balance on our mortgage. So less debt!!



I only got $25 from Swagbucks. I met the daily goal most of the month, but I didn't do any extra. I've just been busy with other things. I might not even make goal today. Again, busy!

My Ebay sales were minimal, but I had three other sales that benefited my mom and daughter, so I actually had higher sales. I think I'm done with Ebay for the year, unless I come across something that is in demand this time of year.

I think December should be higher than November because some snowflakes are on their way. I think some of the big credit card rewards we are working on will not arrive until January, so I expect that to be the big month.

And I just have to add that my snowflakes as of the end of November are still under $3,000, but only by $24.23! I will make the goal. I really wonder how much I should make next year's snowflake goal.

How many snowflakes did you accumulated in November?

Thank you!!

December 3rd, 2013 at 02:04 am

Thank you to the person who opened a Capital One account with my referral. Much appreciated!! You earned me $80. Smile

I opened a Capital One 360 Savings and Checking account for my husband today to get the Black Friday special bonus offers. With the checking account, he will earn $125 on Day 50, if he completes at least 5 debit transactions before the first 45 days. I deposited $50 to cover some small transactions, which should be plenty. I deposited $500 in the savings account to meet the requirements to earn $75 in the next 30 days. We sure can't complain about an extra $200 in less than two months.

I was my husband's referral. I earned $20 for that referral and $20 for the second person who opened an account with my referral. Capital One was offering $100 total bonus for referring two people during the Black Friday sale. So make that $300 in less than two months. I should have the bonus money in full by the end of December. We have been very happy with all of our experiences with Capital One, including credit cards.

There are lots of snowflakes in the works. I can see about $1215 arriving in the future months, including the $300 above. I can't wait to see what else comes up!

LAST Day for Capital One Bonus Offers

December 2nd, 2013 at 03:31 am

Just bumping this up...in case you didn't see this Black Friday weekend deal. It ends today!

I know many of the regular bloggers already have Capital One 360 accounts, but if you are lurking AND want to earn $200, check out the Black Friday Sale at Capital One.

You can earn $125 by opening a Checking account. You must use the debit card five times within the first 45 days. On day 50 the bonus is credited. There is no minimum and you do earn interest on Capital One 360 accounts.

To earn an additional $75 you can open a Savings account. The minimum deposit required is $500 and will start earning interest on day one, including the bonus. The bonus will be available for withdrawal on after 30 days. No additional requirements beyond the minimum deposit are required.

These are taxable bonuses, as they will be reported to the IRS as interest. The links are my personal referral codes. If I refer two people, I can earn $100. I expect to refer my husband, so just one of you can help me get a bonus! Thanks for your consideration. Also, it is best to open the savings account first, then the checking account if you are doing both offers.

After having family here for Thanksgiving we were left with an abundance of leftovers. I think we will be covered for most of the weekend!! Yummy. Smile