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Archive for May, 2014

Chase Freedom $200 Offer

May 31st, 2014 at 06:20 am

I can't partake in this offer as we both already have the Chase Freedom card. For a limited time, you can open the account, spend $500 and get $200!! That is a 40% return. I have never seen an offer that high for the low spending threshold.

I read about the deal on My Money Blog, you can look into it here.

52 Week Challenge Has A Goal !!

May 30th, 2014 at 02:11 pm

It came to me while I was out driving today. A reason for saving with the 52 Week Savings Challenge. I've been saving $57 twice per month toward an unknown goal. But today, that goal hit me!

I will use the money to pay for my oldest daughter's band trip that will happen in March 2015. We have been told at this point the estimate for the trip is $1599. Interesting number, huh? I have sent the required deposit of $200. This means we will have at the most $1399 left to pay. We have participated in some fund raising for the last two years towards this trip. The student has been credited with 25% of the sale. I highly doubt we have even $50 in our account. We will get this information at some point.

The 52 Week Savings Challenge should end up with $1378, which conveniently is nearly the amount I will need to pay! I'm not clear yet if we can pay with a credit card or they want cash for the whole trip. If I can use a credit card to receive a bonus award I will do that and then pay off with the challenge money. Otherwise, I will just follow their payment schedule and send cash from the challenge as it comes due.

Our current balance, including the June 1 deposit is 694. I started this in early December if I remember correctly thus I'm pretty much at the half way mark. It feels good to know what I'm doing with the money!

How is your 52 Week Savings Challenge going?

My Turn for Southwest

May 30th, 2014 at 06:08 am

I applied last night for the Southwest Rapids Rewards card. My husband has applied and received bonuses for two of their cards. Now it is my turn. I was approved for $23K limit. The card has crazy high limits!

The offer is for spending $2K in 3 months to receive 50,000 bonus points, which is equal to $500 in gift cards if one doesn't use the rewards for airline tickets, which we likely won't. There is a $99 fee, which will be refunded if we close the account within the first two months.

We are still working on the Wells Fargo Propel Amex card. We have already spent over $1800 of the $3,000 needed for the $400 reward. I decided this time of year is our most expensive and expect it won't take much longer to reach that spending requirement. It will work out well to have the Southwest card on its way now, so it is ready to go when we meet the Amex spending. My husband has some travel this next month and that alone will help us meet both of these goals.

I'm about to close my Capital One Quicksilver. My husband will keep his open. I'm trying to make sure we don't have more cards open then we really need. I have been keeping cards open with 0% interest just in case. Probably not necessary since we don't really need it.

In other news, I now have my first smart phone. It has been quite amusing trying to get used to something new. It feels really foreign. I did figure out how to download My Fitness Pal so I can track my calories away from home. I might have to find one of the apps that lets me make money while I stay fit.

Did you apply for the Southwest card? Are you close to meeting the Amex requirement? Any tips for a first time smart phone user?

Mortgage Goal 2014 Progress

May 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I have mentioned before that one of our goals this year is to pay down our mortgage debt by over $14K. Specifically, I have a plan to pay off $13,992 which will bring our mortgage balance to an even number. Smile

This month I sent all snowflakes I accumulated to the mortgage, our regular mortgage payment, and two different principal payments that were planned. One of those additional payments is added on at the beginning of the month to our regular payment. The other one happens mid month when my husband is paid again.

Here's the specific breakdown:
_$461.58 Regular Principal Payment
_$103.72 Extra Principal Payment
_$275.00 Extra Principal Payment (mid month)
_$478.01 Snowflakes toward Principal

That extra money sent to the mortgage means we have now paid $6857.13 towards our mortgage pay down goal! That is 49% of the goal in just five months. We are ahead of schedule which feel really nice. Smile

If you want to see where I found over $475 in snowflakes, just check out my previous post. I'm still blogging some over at Your Organized Friend, including a few recent posts! And remember you can sign up by email to get notified when I put up a new post over there. I also love comments!!

Are you ahead or behind on any of your financial goals?

May Snowflake Total

May 29th, 2014 at 11:42 am

I'm closing the books on the May snowflakes. I don't expect anymore to arrive before Saturday and if they do I will add them to June.

In all we accumulated $478.01 in snowflake money from many, many sources. Rewards from our normal spending on credit cards has made a difference in how fast we accumulate funds. All snowflakes were sent to pay down the mortgage, so this means less debt, which I love!!

Year to date, I have accumulated $2,964.96 in snowflakes!! My goal is $4,000. Clearly I'm ahead on this goal. I suppose a revised goal may be in order. I will decide that later.

Are you tracking your snowflakes still? Do you apply your extra funds toward a savings or debt pay down goal? Do you use your snowflakes to help with everyday spending?

Spending Has Been High, So Here's the Plan

May 28th, 2014 at 07:31 am

Spending seems to be high for us right now. Band expenses, getting new phones, items for the yard, and a few spring clothing items.

I want to go looking for curtain rods for our bedroom and maybe new curtains. (I thought our old ones would work, but they are not wide enough...should have left them with the old house I guess). I also wouldn't mind some spring clothes for this smaller body I seem to be getting with losing weight. I decided that for this week, just this week, I can wait on those items. We have really already spent all the money we set aside to spend this month. I don't feel those items are worth using our savings for.

Instead, I have decided to work on things at home that don't cost any money. Already this morning I pulled out previously purchased paint and put one coat on one wall of our bedroom (it is an accent color). I will do the other coat in a little while. I will spend some time working out, which is free or already paid for. I have some organizing tasks I want to complete, which also require no spending. And I have an item I previously purchased at Target I need to get price adjusted, as well as return an item to Lowe's.

I think I have enough things to keep me busy this week and out of the stores buying things. I will still likely buy the items, but just wait until we have spending money again on the first of June. It doesn't hurt to wait.

In other updates, I sold a book on Ebay. And I have another Pinecone survey payment coming in. So a few more snowflakes to end the month of May!

Has your spending been higher than it was a few months ago? Do you find spring and summer to be more expensive than other months? Are you waiting to make any purchases?

New Cell Phones

May 27th, 2014 at 05:51 am

It's been over three years since we upgraded our cell phones and the truth is they still work. Although my husband's smart phone doesn't hold a charge too long. We have waited awhile to upgrade because my husband has had the grandfathered unlimited data plan with Verizon and he loves to stream radio while he is at work. His habits will be changing with our new plan.

Now I suppose some may wonder why we didn't switch to Ting or Republic Wireless. Trust me, I wanted to try it. In the end however, my husband travels EVERYWHERE and we needed a phone and plan that will give him the service he needs to do his job while away from home. It also seems that the Sprint network those companies use doesn't get very good reviews or service in our current area. It turns out we are willing to pay the premium for the service Verizon will provide.

In the end we signed a two year contract, and picked 'free' smartphones for all four of us. We tried to purchase at the store. However, the free phones weren't free at the stores. We left and came home to upgrade our phones online. For right now our out of pocket cost was $120 plus tax, since each phone had an upgrade fee of $30. We were aware of and expecting that fee.

We have picked a data package of only 4GB for now. We can switch it at anytime if we need more data. I checked with my sister and her husband and they used 1.7GB last month with two adults. The phones will try to switch to wifi when available, so I expect when we are at home they will be running of our internet connection which will keep our costs down. We do get a 15% discount on the price of data because of my husband's military affiliation.

So for now our cell phone bill is increasing by $70 a month, which is a result of adding three smartphones to our plan. I'm sure many of you on Ting are dropping your jaws. I know I completely get it. It is a lot of money. I know we can afford the costs, so I'm not worried. I'm hoping in two years, there will be new options for us that make better sense then the premium service we are paying for with Verizon. I will say we have had super service, rarely a dropped call or inability to connect when and where we want.

Oh, if you are curious we ended up with three LG G2 phones, and one Moto X. We have 14 days to try them and switch if needed and they should arrive on Thursday.

Do you think we made a big mistake? When did you last change your cell phone plan? Do you have a smart phone?

Thinking Ahead: Increase Salary

May 23rd, 2014 at 11:11 am

We expect my husband will be promoted sometime in the next four weeks, likely three. Smile It had been awhile since I had figured our net paycheck for the new pay rate. As it turns out we will net an additional $1043 per month. And I don't really know what we are going to do with it. And I realize this is a good problem to have. Smile

I do know that we will have our oldest daughter in college in the fall 2015. We do have money saved, but it will not be enough for the entire degree program.

I feel like I want to just squirrel it away for some known goal, to avoid the money getting spent without any thought. I talked to my husband about it this morning and his first thought was just to save it,too. Nice to be on the same page!

Although a new fridge would be nice...not a need at all, but an upgrade to the stainless steel is appealing. I sure wouldn't mind some new family room furniture. See I can definitely find things to buy, but I don't want to just buy to buy. My husband said something about replacing our two vehicles, but since they are Honda's with 80k and 60k miles on them and run great, I'm pretty sure that is not a good use of our hard earned cash.

Just to recap, we have a $20K emergency fund, we save nearly 17%+ for retirement, save $4000 towards college per year (currently have $37K+ saved), we have a mortgage of over $200K which we are paying down by $14K this year. We also have my husband's Post 911 GI Bill that can be used to cover up to 36 months of college education. This can be split between all four of us in any way if we choose. We expect to be moving AGAIN next summer.

There are some things we will want to buy in the next year. An Apple Mac, with Photoshop, for our daughter to take to college. An intermediate flute for our youngest daughter. We are also going to be paying for lessons for our youngest daughter, which is a new $80 expense for us. Maybe a car IF our oldest daughter decides to start driving. There are a few other possible expense, but all of them would be within our current salary capabilities.

It seems strange to be at a place where we will have excess money that we have no particular plans or needs for. What would you do with an extra $1K per month? Any better ideas for us, on what we should do with the money?

Ack! Expenses Popping Up

May 22nd, 2014 at 03:17 pm

In the last four days expenses have popped up, one I was aware of and two I was not. Marching band expenses to be specific.

First, band camp is $50 and covers various things. I knew this one was coming...although I was forgetting about it truthfully. This fee is due June 6.

The second expense is a result of my daughter being chosen as a section leader for band. She is required to attend a leadership conference in July as a result. This is $55 and due May 30.

And finally, the big band trip for spring break 2015 has been announced. They are going to Walt Disney World. A deposit of $200 is due June 2. The entire trip is estimated to be $1,599, with fundraising opportunities available. We also have a little money, likely less than $50, in her account from past fundraisers that will be applied.

Ack! That is $305, which I had nearly zero advance warning about. A little irritated. I have the money, but what about parents who might have an issue with the short notice. I suppose they may make accommodations.

Have you had any big unexpected expenses pop up this week? Are you expenses due soon? Did you go on a trip when you were in school?

52 Week Savings Update: May

May 21st, 2014 at 05:51 am

Although the challenge is 52 Weeks, I am participating by saving $57 every pay period. For us that is twice per month. I have made deposits that cover weeks 1-15 and weeks 42-52. If I'm calculating correctly that puts us halfway to the goal! I did start in December so that seems right.

Our balance is $637. Well, I have a $20 referral in the account and some interest so the true balance is $657.79. We are keeping our 52 Week Savings Challenge money in our Capital One 360 account, which earns interest of 0.75% and there is no minimum balance. You too can put your money there. Capital One 360 offers bonuses for opening different accounts. I like having it separate so we don't accidentally spend. I also like that I set up our deposits to automatically deduct each pay period so I don't forget. Makes it easy!

How is your 52 Week Challenge coming along? Are you still on track? How about your other financial goals?

Throw Back Post

May 20th, 2014 at 05:43 am

I was reading my old posts and found this one still applies. I posted it March 14, 2008. It's just a reminder that financial security and goals are a journey.

I recently went to my local indoor botanical garden. That experience made me think that gardening has many aspects that relate to money, budgeting and investing.

1. All plants start small...a seed.

It's okay to start saving with small amounts, because one day those savings will bloom.

2. A garden requires maintenance.

Just like pulling weeds to help the plants to grow, a budget needs to be tweaked to cut expenses or increase savings. Money maintenance comes in all forms, including reading your bills, bank and investment statements. Investments need to be rebalanced from time to time to keep your portfolio diversified.

3. A garden doesn't grow overnight.

Paying off debt or saving for retirement take time and patience. Little by little the garden flourishes.

4. A garden requires more than seeds.

A flower needs soil, water and sunlight. For money to work well in our lives, we need to have the right spending attitudes, cash flow, communication with our partner as well as the ability to know what our goals are.

5. Flowers and vegetables can be shared with others.

Some of your money is available to be given away. The smile and appreciation of others is worth the effort.

What else does a garden teach you about money and your budget? Do you have an old post that still applies today?

Reward Snowflakes, Less Mortgage Debt

May 19th, 2014 at 05:46 am

I finally got around to paying bills last night. When I paid off the credit cards I used the rewards available on the Capital One cards. Between the two cards, we had $31.89 in cash. I had the rewards applied to the accounts as credits.

I had a non paying bidder on one item last week on Ebay. It has now been relisted. Profits last week were $10.68 on one item. I also had $6 from Pinecone, with another $3 being deposited today.

I added those proceeds and garage sale profits of $141.25 to our regularly planned extra mortgage payment of $275. That is an extra payment of $464.82! Yea. I like less debt. In fact, including our regular payment we have paid down $1,238.21 on our mortgage debt since May 1!

We did spend some of our Lowe's gift cards yesterday. About $65 worth. I plan to match that money spent with an extra payment to the mortgage, too. We bought trash bags, lawn bags, a wheeled cart, four bags of salt and three furnace filters, a pop and a water. I may not need that cart. I have to decide if it is worth the $25 we paid.

Any big snowflakes for you recently? How much debt have you paid down so far this month?

Garage Sale Tally

May 17th, 2014 at 06:08 pm

I'm considering the garage sale a success!! We were open for about 5 hours and brought in about $185. Several big items left our home and plenty of little ones as well. My profit is only $140, since I did sell some items for a friend.

Traffic dropped off significantly after 1 pm, so we closed early by about three hours. Very worth it to me to get cleaned up and then be able to spend some time with my family today. We also dropped our garage sale leftovers at Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Goodwill...most of the clutter is gone!

I have not come up with a plan for the sale profits. I'm hoping the money will go to some new furniture, but it may just get thrown to the mortgage so it doesn't melt before I get the furniture!

I planned to pay bills on Friday, but I didn't get it done since I was setting up the garage sale. It will be a priority for Sunday.

Did you sell anything this weekend? Do you still have bills to pay? Did you buy anything at a garage sale?

Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Points Offer Back

May 16th, 2014 at 05:09 am

The Chase Southwest Credit Card is again offering 50,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 in three months. I read about the offer on My Money Blog written by Jonathan Ping. Those points equal $500 in gift cards if you aren't interested in apply the points to airfare.

I likely will apply for the card within the next week. My husband has had both cards Southwest offers, but I have not yet applied for any. I should review our spending plans first to make sure we can meet the requirement at the same time we are working on the Wells Fargo American Express card. I will skip it if it doesn't seem possible. It would be a waste to apply if we can't spend that much in three months.

I need to pay bills today and get some of those most current charges on the cards we have used recently paid off.

Free Decor Update

May 14th, 2014 at 08:04 pm

I have a new post on Your Organized Friend about making lists. And remember, you can get updates from my blog by email. I can't see your email address, so it is secure.

I have a picture that I love, but I have come to dislike, strongly, the original frame. The mat around the picture has also become discolored over time as well.

I inherited a frame last fall when my parent were downsizing their belongings that is just the right size. It even came with a mat that I was sure would work. But as it turns out it didn't.

When I took the original picture and frame apart it turned out the picture was mounted to a board. With the mat removed it was clear there had been some discoloration around the picture where the mat was. It seemed like any basic size mat would do, but that was not the case. It was a custom cut. If I used a basic cut, then part of the picture or specifically the artist name at the bottom would only partially show.

On Monday, I went to Michael's craft store to see about having a mat board cut down to the correct size. I wanted to use one I already owned. The woman stated they don't cut them unless purchased by the store, so they can't be responsible if something happens to an usual mat. The mat I wanted to use was free to me, so I was willing to take the risk. Still no go. So we talked about order a mat and having it cut to size. Cost just about knocked me to the ground. TWENTY FOUR dollars. But get this...if I purchased the mat and had them mount my picture and frame with it I would get a discount and it would be $21.

I only paid $30 for the picture about 8 years ago. So I left without buying the mat. I came home and eventually decided to try something daring figuring I had nothing to lose. I decided to paint the original mat that was discolored!

And as it turns out, it cost me nothing and is much improved. Sorry I don't have an original picture of the photo and frame. The frame was like a metallic gold color and sort of ornate looking. I think the original mat was off white or cream, but had come to have a pink tinge to it. Definitely not looking to good!

I will still need to find a piece of foam board to put behind this picture and frame to keep it in place, but that cost is minimal. Actually, as I write this I'm realizing I might have some large thin piece of styrofoam that could be put behind it. Even better, since that would be free, too!

Have you upcycled anything recently? Have you ever painted a picture mat to update it?

Other Updates

May 14th, 2014 at 09:04 am

I did get paid for one of my Ebay sales yesterday. I have already mailed it off. I still have one more that I'm waiting payment on. I really do try to be patient with these buyers, but it is hard to wait. I want the money and I want the item gone!!

I did send in a $131+ snowflake to the mortgage on Monday. Mid month is when I normally send another $275 to knock off more principal. Right now I plan to do that, but I do need to pay bills and see where we really stand and if that payment still works. It seems there has been quite a bit of spending lately!

I am prepping for the garage sale on Saturday. I will haul everything I have priced that is in the basement up to the garage today. I likely will not set up until Friday, since I have a trip planned for tomorrow. If you want to see my garage sale piles or the mess that it is making in my basement I have pictures posted here.

It seems I know many people moving and packing right now. And that always leads to people decluttering. I think that is why I have really been able to dig deep this time and pull out a lot of things we don't use. Clutter comes in all forms too. In fact after reading another blog post I was inspired to do some decluttering that would not have come up in preparing for the garage sale. I have a post on Your Organized Friend today about that!

This is my second post today. I did an update about the Wells Fargo Amex card in my previous post. I also keep thinking there is some else financial to share, but it is not staying with me. If it comes to me, expect to see a third post!! Smile

Wells Fargo Amex: Another Update

May 14th, 2014 at 07:35 am

As I stated before, I wanted to check in with Wells Fargo to make sure we would still be eligible for the rewards offer even though we already have an American Express credit card and have earned a reward through them. I do not have an official statement from them, but I did see these two screens on the Wells Fargo Rewards site for our account.

In my opinion this confirms the offer stands and should be honored if we meet the requirements stated. This is Wells Fargos program not American Express, thus the difference some people may have experienced not getting more than one reward bonus with American Express.

As soon as I hear anything else from Wells Fargo I will let you know. Smile

Wells Fargo Amex Arrived

May 13th, 2014 at 07:10 am

Our new Wells Fargo American Express card arrived in the mail yesterday. It was shipped from the next state over thus the prompt receipt. We have already used it!

Our gym membership was expiring. We paid $750 a year and half ago and our last day for the membership was yesterday. We finally got a sales person to assist us last night. I say finally because it seemed every time we inquired in the last month, no one was there to help. We had been mailed a renewal offer of $750 for 12 months, rather than 18 months like our original deal. The sales guy tried to offer us two years for $998. Sure that sounds like a better deal, but it is MORE money and the odds are very slim we will still be in this town for another 2 years let alone 15 months. After much discussion and indicating we would go work out and talk about it, the tune suddenly changed to adding 6 months to our current offer. So same deal we had the first time we signed up. Honestly, I was hoping for LESS than $750. I really tried with the guy and I think I did get us what is right for us. I won't need to pay any more money before we move...unless we don't move (but I think the odds of that are slim). At any rate, we charged our gym membership to the new Wells Fargo card. Well on our way to $3000 in spending, with something we needed to purchase anyway.

I do have an email in to Wells Fargo to confirm that previous Amex reward offers won't exclude us from this one. The card is in my husband's name, thus the email rather than a call. I could have him call, but he would just be confused about the whole reason I'm having him call! We decided to use the card even if we are exempt from the rewards. My gut says we will get the rewards since this is technically a Wells Fargo program, rather than an Amex program.

Do you prepay your gym membership? Or do you pay monthly?

Sales, Snowflakes, Spending and More

May 12th, 2014 at 07:07 am

I sold two items on Ebay yesterday. A pair of shoes and a CD set. I'm still waiting for payment though. The gross amount of the sales was nearly $26. I want my money!!

We did some shopping at Kohl's this weekend. I used the rest of our Kohl's gift cards, so I need to get that money spent on gift cards sent to our mortgage. In this case we have used up $100 in gift cards from Kohl's.

I have two Pinecone payments totalling $6 in my PayPal account. I am waiting for my Ebay sale money before I send all that money to my checking account and then on to the mortgage.

We are finding more things for the garage sale. My husband and I went through an older tool box and found several things we don't need. We even found a rechargeable drill that no longer charges...will anyone buy that? I think it's trash unless someone knows how to replace the battery. Why store something that doesn't work, right?

Since I am mostly decluttering and staying focused on the garage sale, my organizing blog, Your Organized Friend has taken a back seat. However, I did post a little trick I have for storing reusable water bottles today. You might also take a peek at my prior post, since there are pictures of my basement getting messy again!

I am waiting on our Wells Fargo American Express card to arrive. Fingers crossed it is today. Our gym membership expires today and we need to renew. We have been in talks with them hoping to negotiate a better deal, but the sales people are never there when we are to get things firmed up. I think they will let us wait a few days to pay on our new card if it doesn't arrive today. I also need to pay an electric bill and order photo prints for my daughter's art fair. It won't take long to meet that $3000 spending requirement!

Did you sell anything this weekend? Have you received your Wells Fargo Amex card yet? Did you do find any non working items in your recent decluttering?

Pricing for the Garage Sale

May 9th, 2014 at 01:41 pm

I spent a portion of my afternoon pricing all those items in my basement that I have set aside for a garage sale. The sale will be next Saturday. I will still need to price the pile in my garage. I also expect there will be a few more things we find in the house to let go of. I will have the girls look at a few things today after school that I think they have outgrown. I also have a toolbox I need my husband to look through.

It does feel good to be letting go of some stuff. It really does help to dig deep when getting ready for a garage sale. That is likely where the stuff you don't need is lurking!

This is the first sale I have had in our new home and since it is city wide, I expect a good turn out traffic wise. I don't know what kinds of things people buy around here. It will be interesting to see! I'm also curious about how much my snowflake will be. Smile

We have a music event tomorrow which will require about $7 or $8 to for admittance. I also have a feeling lunch out would be helpful for all of us because of the timing. Mother's Day will be low key. Just spending time together and getting some projects done is likely the plan for the day. I don't expect any gifts, as my husband has been out of town. I'm not sure it is even on his radar! I'm all good either way. Smile I might be able to get him to get groceries with the kids though.

Will you have a garage sale this year? Does your place get good traffic, or are you in a bad sale location? Will you celebrate Mother's Day, or are you keeping things low key, like me?

Home Insurance Up, Then Down

May 8th, 2014 at 05:39 am

We were notified of our homeowner's insurance increasing by about $100 for the next year. This so annoys me. I know prices of the replacement cost more, but without ever making a claim it seems unfair.

Our current premium is nearly $700, specifically $693.46. Even that is more than I prefer to pay. We do get several discounts just to get to that amount. Our deductible is $1000.

I decided to make some changes which I can do online with USAA. I increased our deductible to $2000 for all claims other than wind and hail. When you live in the midwest wind and hail are generally the most likely claims on homeowner's insurance. I also decreased the coverage on our personal belongings portion. You all have seen pictures of my house on Your Organized Friend. We really don't have a lot of stuff. So now we have coverage of $122K of belongings rather than $180K. I think this seems reasonable. Our new premium will be $668.19, which is saving us just $25 over the current premium, but over $125 if we had kept our coverages the same.

We have the $2K to meet the increased deductible IF something were to happen. I just think the odds, especially in a new home are pretty slim.

Did you have an increase in your homeowner's insurance? How about a decrease?

Applied for New Credit Card

May 7th, 2014 at 06:38 am

We applied for a new credit card. We were approved, too. I was tipped off by Monkey Mama in my last post. It isn't for everyone, but it seems like the right offer to jump on for us. It is the Wells Fargo Propel World American Express card. We need to spend $3,000 in three months to receive 40,000 bonus points equal to $400. We should be able to redeem our points for a credit to our mortgage which is with Wells Fargo. And we all know tha I have been putting ALL bonus reward money towards paying down our mortgage so this really is perfect.

We won't keep the card long term since it has a crazy high annual fee after the first year. I think it is $175! I would never pay that unless I was getting major benefits to offset it.

We have quite a few things we can charge to the card to meet the spending requirement. One is our gym membership which is due any day now (fingers crossed the card arrives fast) and is over $700. We are also in the market for a used/refurbished Apple computer for our daughter. We have a little mini trip coming up, and some home improvements. Those things along with our regular spending will sure have us meeting the requirement in no time.

I'm paying the small charge on my husbands Discover card today. Once that posts, I will be requesting a cancellation of that card. I will also request a card from my Discover account for him. We will need it when the 5% cashback on gas comes up in July!

The money my husband had in his Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts has arrived in our primary checking account. It will get moved to savings. I have sent a request to CO360 about cancelling the accounts. I was able to do the savings when I made the transfer, but that didn't happen with the checking account.

I have also decided that I will cancel the Old Navy card. Yes, it is my oldest card and could effect my credit score. However, I'm okay with whatever results from that. It will only get worse the longer I wait and I really, really don't want the card anymore!

It feels good to get some of these financial tasks done and have things more consolidated. I like things simple really.

Is anyone else applying for the new Wells Fargo Amex card? Have you cancelled any credit card or bank accounts recently?

I finally got to cleaning up and decluttering in my garage yesterday. I posted many, many pictures of my progress on Your Organized Friend!

Credit Cards Decluttered

May 6th, 2014 at 06:47 am

The stack of credit cards we have sitting around was getting out of hand. It really helps to just focus on one card when you are working the reward bonuses. Lately, we have been using more than one card for various reasons. We are both using our seperate Capital One Quicksilver cards for everyday expenses to get 1.5% cash back. However, we also bought paint recently and I wanted the 5% back the purchase, so I used our Discover card.

We have open cards with Chase, Capital One, Discover, and American Express, USAA, Old Navy and Kohls. We also have debit cards with Capital One for our 360 accounts. And I have a PayPal debit card.

Yesterday, I started the process of figuring out which ones we can eliminate. I have cancelled the PayPal debit card and Chase Sapphire Preferred. I requested a new card for me from my husband's Capital One Quicksilver account. This way we have one account to manage. Once I have that card, I will cancel my Quicksilver card.

I was about to cancel (or attempt to cancel) my husband's Discover card, when I noticed $2.51 in rewards. I decided to use those first. My youngest daughter's birthday is in about two months and she has a birthday list going. I used my rewards on Amazon to purchase a cover for her new tablet. I also used some Amazon gift cards I earned from Swagbucks last month! So I will make the final payment on the Discover card and then cancel that one. I haven't completely decided whether to cancel my Discover card yet. I see they have 5% cash back on gas stations for third quarter. So tempting!

I'm also in the process of transferring money that my husband has in his Capital One 360 Checking and Savings accounts. We opened these for a bonus during the Black Friday event I think. The money has been just sitting there earning a little cash. I decided it might as well get moved to another savings account where we earn a tad more interest. Two less accounts to think about. I am leaving my accounts with Cap One 360 as I am currenly adding my 52 Week Challenge money there. I also have my referral information out on the web and have the opportunity to earn a little cash by referring people. I don't want to pass that up!

We have four cards that currently have 0% interest. I don't generally hold a balance on a card, but summer can get expensive and I guess I just want to keep those lines of credit open while they are at 0%. Once they have expired, they will be cancelled. I am putting the dates on my email calendar to remind me to cancel. The first one will be in October of this year. The oldest one is May 2015.

I have decided that we will not open any new cards in my husband's name for the next year. This is because we could be moving a year from now at the earliest. If we purchase another home, I want his credit to look okay. I do realize that the cards opened in the last year or two will show up on the report, and we can explain why we opened them, but I think it might look better to have few cards opened prior to another major purchase.

Now the next big question in regards to credit cards is the Old Navy Visa card. I have had this card since 2006. This is my oldest card currently open. My next oldest card is the Chase Freedom that I opened in 2010. I'm guessing on the actual dates. I can't remember for sure. Anyway. I think I might cancel that Old Navy card. We don't shop there anymore. The rewards are for shopping at Old Navy. It is a Visa and I can use it anywhere, but I would rather use other cards that provide me a benefit. I don't think closing the account will drastically hurt my credit score, which if it does than it is temporary.

It feels good to be getting a handle on these cards. We opened them to obtain cash bonuses. We have paid our balances in full. And we just don't need them. We will still have open credit, and more than we could ever need, so no worries about reducing our available credit.

Have you closed any credit cards recently? Why do you keep cards that you don't use? Has anyone opened a card with a good offer lately? I'm always looking more rewards!

I decluttered my desk recently on Your Organized Friend.

More Ebay Sales

May 5th, 2014 at 07:39 am

I have three items to take to the post office this morning that I sold on Ebay. My daughter profited $22.57 for selling a set of six books. I profited $16.12 for selling a book, three cds and two dvds. She did better than I did! But I will take that profit and send it to the mortgage of course.

I relisted one item and listed three new items last night on Ebay. I have two more items I hope to get listed today or tomorrow. I sure like that I'm moving much of this stuff on to others.

I had a $15 coupon from Ebay last week. Some promotion. I used it to buy a hair product for my daughter that is being discountinued. It was priced at $14.99 and free shipping. Which means it was really free for us. I suppose it is a bit like getting a rebate on some of the Ebay fees I have paid over the years!

If you are interested in how I organize my gift wrap, you can see a post about that today on Your Organized Friend. It is mostly pictures! And just another reminder, that if you want an email update when I post on my organizing blog, there is an option on the sidebar to sign up.

Did you get that Ebay coupon? Did you sell anything this weekend, or find anything to donate? How do you keep your gift wrap organized?

Cash In & Basement Tidier

May 4th, 2014 at 07:46 am

Cash in the mail yesterday! A check from Chase Southwest for the $69 annual fee we paid on a card we cancelled within the first two months. I also received an Applebee's gift card from a friend. It was her way of thanking me for helping her pack for her move. I will save the gift card for a night when I don't want to cook or a night out with my husband.

Do you save your receipts for items you purchase? I do. I wrote about how I keep them from taking over on Your Organized Friend. I also have a couple AFTER pictures of my basement shelves in today's post. I still have work to do, but things are improving!

I sold an item on Ebay, as did my daughter. I also have three auctions ending today. Two have bids, so those will sell. I expect to list at least another three or four items later today.

Did you get any money in your mail yesterday? Are you still decluttering and organizing this month?

May Snowflakes Arriving!

May 2nd, 2014 at 05:26 am

Wow, this month is starting off well for snowflakes already. I received $20 as a referral to someone opening a Capital One account. (Thanks for using my link, if that was you! Smile ) Our water bill was under budget by just $1.93, but I'm counting that as a snowflake. I used a $50 gift card at Walmart yesterday, so I'm sending the money I would have spent there to the mortgage as a snowflake. And finally, I used the Amex offers for a PetSmart and I'm counting that $5 as well.

That brings May snowflakes to $76.93! I'm sending that money in today so my snowflakes do not melt. This means less debt, which we know I love. As it turns out, with that snowflake payment, our regular payment yesterday and the extra we tack on, we have $642.23 less debt owed!

In decluttering news, I was able to drop a pair of eyeglasses at the donation bin in Walmart's optical. It helped that I put the glasses in my purse a couple weeks earlier. Smile I also tackled a pile of papers on my file cabinet this week. I wrote about it on Your Organized Friend, of course!

Are you continuing with the decluttering? Do you have a place to recycle eye glasses in your area? Have you received any extra funds for May yet?

Mortgage Goal 2014 Update

May 1st, 2014 at 05:06 am

Time is going fast! We have already made it through four months of 2014. Time for an status update on our mortgage goal. As a reminder the goal is to pay down $13,993 in principal by the end of the year. This would bring us to an even balance on our mortgage of $X15,000.

We are making our regular payment and rounding that payment up to include about $103 towards principal at the beginning of the month. At mid month, we are sending in an additional $275 towards principal. All the extra funds we find, which I call snowflakes, are sent to the mortgage to help us reach our goal. Those snowflakes really add up and make a difference.

Here's all the payments that were made to our mortgage in the month of April:

As of April 30, we have paid $5,538.82 towards reducing our mortgage balance. That is 39.5% of our goal so we are ahead of schedule right now! We have just another $8,454.17 to go in order to meet the goal.

Today on Your Organized Friend, I have another AFTER picture of my basement organization. But you also get to see another pile that is forming! Ack. Smile

What percentage of your financial goal have you completed during the first four months of the year? Are you on track or behind? How did your decluttering go for April? Will you continue in May?