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Archive for February, 2015

Paid off the Tires!!

February 28th, 2015 at 09:00 am

I got new tires for my van earlier this month. We charged them to our Citi Thank You credit card, which currently has 0% interest. With an alignment we paid $818. I'm happy to report that with payday yesterday, we paid them in full!

We do still have a balance on this card. It is currently at $1,109.59. We started the year with a balance of $636.27 which I plan to pay off with snowflakes. The difference of $473.32 is recent charges, primarily my husband new suit. I expect to get that amount paid off by March 15, our next payday.

In theory we could just pay this card off in full with cash we have on hand, but since it isn't an emergency, we are just cash flowing things. We are spending the money slightly faster than we are bringing it in, thus charges from over two weeks ago are being paid now. I may get irritated with this method and just pay this off, but it seems to be working for right now.

I will have a February snowflake update tomorrow. The eBay sales have definitely helped this month!

Another Sale

February 27th, 2015 at 07:04 pm

I had another eBay sale last night, which I promptly shipped today. There seem to be quite a few people watching items I have listed. I hope more sell over the weekend so I can ship on Monday! I have at least one item maybe more I need to list this weekend as well.

It's payday, but our day has been busy. I hope to get all bills paid tomorrow and pay down more on our credit card debt.

Have a great weekend!!

Two eBay Sales

February 25th, 2015 at 07:07 am

I listed four items for sale on eBay on Sunday, and then yesterday proceeded to add another 13 items. And as of last night, I sold two items. Gross proceeds were just over $68!

My husband got a speeding ticket yesterday. I had even said, "don't speed" before he left! Ugh. He got impatient with someone going below the speed limit. He went around, but way faster than the speed limit. The ticket is $114.

So I guess some of the sales will help pay off the ticket in addition to the credit cards we are working on (which are at 0% interest). And I just sold another item while writing this email, so make that $76 in sales!

I'm just excited to finally get some of these items listed. I have more, but need to find some big boxes to put them in! I'll check the free boxes at the post office today when I mail the sold packages.

Have you ever had a speeding ticket? Are you selling anything right now?

A Snowflake

February 23rd, 2015 at 09:55 am

I earned enough Swagbucks to redeem for $25 in Paypal cash, and it arrived today in my Paypal account. I have already requested transfer to my bank account. This money will go to pay off the Propel Amex card we have a balance on. (No interest is accruing!)

I listed four items on eBay last night and expect to keep adding items everyday this week. Any sales will be considered snowflakes and will help reduce that credit card balance listed above.

I don't plan on opening any credit cards for bonuses until after our move, or at least until we have housing secure. This will likely keep my snowflake progress lower than in the past. At least for the first half of the year. I may also stop working on Swagbucks for a little while,since I have a lot of things to work on getting ready for our move.

Where are most of your snowflakes/found money coming from this month?

Retirement Prediction

February 20th, 2015 at 07:45 pm

Late this evening, after mentioning that stocks were at an all time high, I was thinking about where our retirement accounts might be at the end of 2015.

My prediction for 2015 is that our accounts will exceed $360,000. We ended 2015 with just over $311K. We expect to contribute about $18K this year and based on predictions of 8-10% return in the market, we could easily reach $360K.

So yes, that is my prediction we will end the year with $360,000 or more (of course preferably more!) at the end of 2015.

Do you know where your retirement accounts may end up at the end of the year? Care to make a prediction?

Markets High Again

February 20th, 2015 at 02:03 pm

The S&P 500 closed at a record high again today. I can't wait to look at our balances. I look when things are up and ignore it when the are down. So to me it seems like the market is always up when I look at our balances. Smile

My husband ordered another Army Service Uniform (Dress Blues) for work and a new pair of shoes. I was expecting over $400. I was wrong. Just $360 including alterations and the shoes. I like it when things are less than I expect, even if only by $40. Smile

Tonight we need to pick up cat food and maybe pick up more items at Lowe's with our credit. Otherwise we will stay in and stay warm and maybe catch a movie on Netflix. We signed up again, since my husband has found any things he likes during our free trial. I think it has been nearly three years since we had a subscription with them.

Will you check your retirement and investment balances now that the market closed at an all time high? Do you subscribe to Netflix or other services for entertainment?

Paycheck Changes

February 19th, 2015 at 08:31 am

I worked for an hour yesterday on how to adjust withholding and increase our retirement contributions. It took awhile because I didn't agree with the numbers the IRS Tax Withholding Calculator was giving me. The calculator said to withhold 5 to get a $300 refund next year, it's actually 6 I need to withhold for that type of refund. If I did six the refund would have been much larger and that is withholding far too much. They did have our expected tax correct though!

I was also using Paycheck City to calculate the various net pay scenarios with different amounts going to retirement. In the end we are going to increase retirement by 2% of my husband's basic pay, to a full 10% going to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). This will be an increase of about $150 a month. We are going to keep contributing to Roth IRAs since we are still in the 15% tax bracket for our taxable income.

We are now contributing 17.5% of gross wages. I think this is the highest percentage we have been at, up from about 16% at one time. I should consider increasing it again to start getting closer to 20%. Especially while we are in my husband's highest earning years. There are only about 8 years left before he retires from the military. We want to make it count, right?

I feel so much better having taken care of these changes now, early in the year. It would be so easy to just say I was busy and then find ourselves owing a lot to the government, or not taking advantage of investing more.

Did you have to change your withholding this year to avoid paying taxes next year, or even over withholding? Did you increase your retirement contributions?

Taxes Filed

February 18th, 2015 at 02:06 pm

I finally filed our taxes for Federal and State. They were both accepted within an hour of submitting them! We are even on State since military pay isn't taxed here. We owe $638 to Federal. I have until April 15th to mail the money but I expect I will do that the beginning of April. I'm saving $105 each of the next three pay periods to add to the $315 I already have saved for this bill.

The next step is to adjust our withholding! We are at 7 now, I think I need to adjust to six. I will double check and then make the change to my husband's paycheck online.

To make sure I don't forget to pay Federal, I put a reminder on my calendar for April 1. I have my voucher and envelope ready to go. I will just need to write the check...which I could probably do now and just record later. Smile

One less thing on my long to do list! One of our next big goals is to get at least two realtors out here in the next two weeks to talk about what we can list our home for. One just sold the house across the street and was the selling agent for our home when we purchased it, so she knows our builder. The other just sold a home identical to ours down the street. I think they will both have good information about what is going on in our neighborhood!

Did you file your taxes yet?

I Thought I Posted...

February 17th, 2015 at 07:48 pm

Hmm. I thought I posted today or yesterday. It's seems I was last here on my own blog on Sunday. Time is flying!

I earned enough points with Bing to redeem for 500 Swagbucks. I now have over 2100 Swagbucks, so I'm close to another $25 Paypal deposit.

I completed a Pinecone Survey on Friday and I was credited my 300 points for that today (three more surveys until I can cash out). It seems I may be getting a sample for that survey as I see FedEx is showing I'm getting a package from them soon. For the life of me I can't remember what the product was I did the survey on!

The bill for our garage door maintenance arrived. I was expecting about $60, it was $104! Honestly, I would have tried another company, but I left my husband in charge on that one. It's done now and I wrote the check. It will be in tomorrow's mail.

The money is going out much faster than it is coming in...at least from snowflakes! Smile

Equity Goal and 52 Week Savings

February 15th, 2015 at 07:38 am

I'm not sure I've been clear on my blog this year about our savings. I am still participating in the 52 Week Savings Challenge. And I do have a goal to increase the equity in our home (up until the point we sell).

We are saving $57 each pay period (twice per month) for the 52 Week Savings Challenge. Clearly I made my own rules. The end goal is the same saving over $1300 by the end of the year. Last years money saved in the challenge wasn't ear marked for anything in the beginning. In the end we used that money for my daughter's band trip this spring. It was perfect because we already had some money saved to put towards the deposit. Then when it was time to make payments we always had money in this fund to cover them. We make our final payment (from last year's savings) on Tuesday.

This year we don't have a plan for the money yet. For now we will save. If we don't have a need for it by year end, I may actually consider investing it! And just start again next year.

I think I may have mentioned the equity goal. Ha. Just went and checked and yes, I have mentioned it.

The paying off $5000 in mortgage equity will be a combination of things. I'm currently adding $104.94 to our mortgage payment towards principal. It makes for a nice even mortgage payment. This means we pay off more than $585 each month. For six months, that pays down $3510 on our mortgage. That means I'm short of the goal by $1490, or $248.33 per month. Last month, I set aside that amount and will continue to do so through June. By the way the end of June is the deadline, as I'm going to guess that is the month we will close on this house when it sells.

I'm making a point to save $124 each pay period for the equity/mortgage goal. I currently have $372 set aside. I will be setting up ticker on the sidebar soon to track our progress.

I will admit it was tempting to use some of this money to pay down my tires this last pay period. But I'm standing strong, knowing there will be more cash flowing in that can be applied to my tires. We did jump ahead on getting tires since it is the time of year where good tires are especially needed and my husband was around to do the drop off of the vehicle, while still getting my girls transported. Otherwise, it may have been better to wait for cash on hand. (We do have a healthy emergency fund...but this wasn't an emergency.)

It feels good to save each pay period for our goals. In fact I know we have to pay $638 when we file our taxes. I'm saving $105 each pay period through the beginning of April to come up with this money. I currently have $315 set aside, so we are right on track to have the money when the time comes.

These are just a few items I'm working on saving for, in addition to retirement and college. What kinds of things to do you save up for?

Retirement is Up and More

February 14th, 2015 at 10:42 am

I hadn't checked our retirement accounts since the end of 2014, primarily because the market was dropping. But I've also been busy. I noticed the markets closed at an all time high on Friday, so I checked our balances this morning.

We are up about $9,500 since the end of the year! And about $5,200 from our all time high back right before the end of last year.

I paid $22.75 in swowflakes towards the Wells Fargo credit card. New balance is $393.19. I have a large amount of items to attempt to sell on eBay. Maybe I will actually get those listed on Sunday. When they sell they should make a nice dent in that balance.

All other bills and credit cards have been paid, with the exception of my tires and the balance already existing on the Citi Thank You credit card. I did pay $715 of new charges off. I expect I can pay off the tires on March 1. I could pay them off right now, but since I have 0% interest I'm just waiting for more cash to flow in.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Need to Pay Bills

February 13th, 2015 at 08:28 pm

Today was payday. I thought all day that I would get them done! There were several other things that just took priority. I hope I get a chance to get it in tomorrow. I will also need to update some recent snowflakes!

I'd like to say it will be a low spend weekend, but we have plans to see a movie ($32!), visit the art museum ($10) and buy girl scout cookies ($24). I would also like to update our bath towels. Most of them are easily 10 years old. Several have bleach marks of some kind and at least one is beginning to fray on the sides. It's time for towels. Hope to keep to just four bath towels, 2-3 hand towels. The girls also need a new bath mat (again fraying!). Our future home sell has me motivated to get this task taken care of.

My husband bought me flowers ($15), we bought candy for the girls and will use two cards from a package we purchased to write some nice words to our girls. We will eat dinner at home and avoid any chaos happening at the restaurants this weekend.

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope your weekend will be more frugal than mine.

And the Winner Is...

February 12th, 2015 at 05:36 am

CB in the City

There were a whopping five comments on the contest blog. The random number generator picked number 3, which was CB's comment. I'm sure some of us numbers people are thinking it is also an average of the five!

Thanks for your comment CB about your thrifty ways. I throw out quite a bit of coffee here unfortunately, so I will have to try your method soon!

If the rest of you didn't see the other contestants comments I would encourage you to take a look. They are all really good!

Happy Thriftiness!

CB, I sent you an email. Please send me your address when you have time!

Tightwad Gazette Giveaway: Enter Now

February 11th, 2015 at 05:45 am

Today, is the day! I'm giving away the book titled, The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (a.k.a The Frugal Zealot). If you aren't familiar with the book, check out the description at Amazon.

To enter please leave a comment telling me something frugal you do in your home on this post before midnight Central time. One entry per person. US addresses only.

Please make sure when you comment that your email address is included in the field requesting it. This way I will receive your email when you comment. If it doesn't show up and you are the winner, I may need to ask you to private message me on the forum site portion of Saving Advice.

I will announce the winner tomorrow and get the book sent by media mail within one day of getting your address.

Good luck!

More Money Going Out

February 9th, 2015 at 03:39 pm

The truck repairs that we took care of over the weekend cost us $381. The tires and alignment on my van were $818 on Friday. I'd say the money is flowing out because there are more expenditures.

We made our first $200 deposit toward my daughter's housing contract. Another $200 will be due before May 1.

We had simple maintenance done on one of our garage doors on Friday in preparation for the move. It sounds much quieter now. We are being billed for that, so not sure what that total is yet...maybe $60 for a service call. I'd love it to be less. Smile

Today, we had a roofer stop by to check our roof because we had a leak last June when we had a really bad rain storm. We even had a little mold growing soon after, but a wipe of bleach put a stop to it. The wall is hard, so it doesn't seem to be a major thing. Since we are selling we wanted to get it checked. Turns out some flange was installed upside down on a vent up there, but of course the other three are fine! As a result it creates a well to HOLD water if rains and instead of just running off. He said it is usually only an issue in a heavy storm. And that was a really heavy storm back in June. So he will install the correct part the right way and charge us $125. And he can do it tomorrow! We only just called him this afternoon. And I will use caulk and some paint on hand to clean it all up so it will look like it never happened!

We also got notice that my daughter should take $150 to $200 cash with her on her band trip to Disney World. I'm pretty sure most of this will be her own money, but some of it is to cover meals, so we may fund that portion.

So...we are definitely spending money here! How about you is money flowing out fast for you, or are you actually able to keep some?

I plan to offer my Giveaway on Wednesday this week. And based on the interest of that post, you may have a very good chance to win!

Possible Give Away...

February 8th, 2015 at 01:23 pm

I own a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. I read it and referenced it for years. Now not so much. I've noticed in my home it has become clutter. However, I do think it has value to those looking gleam some more frugal tips and ways of thinking. Specifically, the cover states it is for 'Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle'.

I'm thinking of offering this book up free to one random contest entrant. I could sell it, but I would only make a couple dollars after shipping. If I mail it to one of you, it will only cost me a few dollars, which I'm fine with.

I've seen contests done on sites where they simply ask for comments as the eligibility to win, which is likely what I would do. I would set a deadline, likely only 24 hours or so. After the end of the contest, I would count the number of comments and use a random number generator to determine the winner.

The winner would be required to email me their address in order receive the prize. Specifically, I would post my email address temporarily for the winner to respond to. Eventually, I would take that information down. The contest would only be available to US residents, since shipping would be so much more overseas.

So should I offer a contest here? Any questions or concerns about how I would go about the contest? Any reason anyone can think of to not do this?

2015 Goals and More

February 7th, 2015 at 08:17 am

It is so strange for me to wait this long into the year to really post financial goals. However, this upcoming move has distracted me with other things to think about.

As of today, our goals for 2015 are:

Maximize our Roth IRA contributions.
Save 8% to TSP (may actually increase to 10%).
Save $2000 for each daughter for college.
Continue my 52 week savings (which is $57 per pay period, or $114 per month)
Pay down $5000 in mortgage equity end of June 2015.
Use snowflakes to pay off $1386 in credit card debt on two 0% interest cards.

The retirement and college investments are set up on automatic withdrawal, so those are easy. Right now I'm manually saving the $57 each pay period. I did it automatic last year, so that may work out again this year, too.

The paying off $5000 in mortgage equity will be a combination of things. I'm currently adding $104.94 to our mortgage payment towards principal. It makes for a nice even mortgage payment. This means we pay off more than $585 each month. For six months, that pays down $3510 on our mortgage. That means I'm short of the goal by $1490, or $248.33 per month. Last month, I set aside that amount and will continue to do so through June. By the way the end of June is the deadline, as I'm going to guess that is the month we will close on this house when it sells. I do realize that isn't a sure thing, but one can hope it goes that smoothly!

I've mentioned a couple times we have debt on two credit cards. They are at zero percent and resulted from some bigger purchases. From what I can tell the Wells Fargo balance was $700 at the beginning of this year. It is now at $415.94. The Citi TY card was at $686.27 and is now at $636.27. So I have already found $334 worth of found money/snowflakes to apply to this goal, leaving $1052 to go. I may get impatient with these debts and just pay them off, but for now this is the plan! I will try to get better at tracking them and letting you know the progress, too.

The truck is still in the repair shop this morning getting a sensor replaced and a new battery. We are looking at another $300 spent there. With my tires and alignment the day before, we will have spent $1100 in car maintenance in two days. Happy for savings for these types of things. (And thinking my 52 week savings will simply help the savings account recover from this expense)

Am I the last one to post my goals for 2015? How are you doing with your goals? Has anyone had to revise your goals?

New Tires

February 6th, 2015 at 10:35 am

We had new tires installed on my van today. We also had it aligned since it seemed to have been a few years. The damage to our pocketbook was $818. We did charge it to our Citi Thank You Preferred card which we currently have zero interest on. I expect I will the expense paid off pretty quickly however.

We also have the truck in this afternoon to have it checked for sensor that seems to be coming one while driving. The truck is also getting a new battery, as it is having difficulty starting in the really cold weather.

I did get my PayPal deposit from Swagbucks today. I have now requested a transfer of the money in my PayPal account to our checking. I'm going to make a payment (all from recent snowflakes) to the Wells Fargo card in the amount of $44.15. The card balance will be around $416 after the payment.

Ibotta Cash Out

February 5th, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Ibotta, a rebate app, requires a $10 minimum in order to cash out. I reached $10.75 today after getting a $1 rebate for something my husband bought. I debated about just cashing out for the even $10, but decided I didn't want to leave any money on the table, so I cashed out for my entire balance.

It does seem to take awhile to accumulate likely because I'm not always buying what they have rebates for. I do find Ibotta better than Checkout 51. With Checkout 51, the minimum to cash out is $20! I only have a balance of $11.25. I have a ways to go. This week the only thing I likely could get a rebate for is $0.25 for carrots or salad mix. If I decide to buy a cereal they have offered I could add another $1. Again...slow earnings.

The money for my Ibotta cash out was instant to my PayPal account. No waiting at all! I'm leaving it there to see if my Swagbucks money is deposited today or tomorrow. If so, I can make just one transfer instead of two.

We got our dishwasher part today! I just ordered it yesterday (paying only for standard shipping). It clearly was breaking apart and we do think it is quieter, just not quite as quiet as I was remembering or expecting. No regrets on the part change out which took about 25 minutes at the most from start to finish. I'm just hoping there isn't another issue. Smile

We spent just over $20 for some home maintenance items at Menard's today. Stain and poly spray for a door we are cleaning up, iron out for a stain around our water heater. grout for a small area that needs to be filled in our master bathroom, and some magic erasers (trying to clean up my laundry tub).

I'm thankful that we don't have big repairs to take care of. We will need caulk for some areas around the house. We will wait on that until it gets warmer. We will also be doing some painting (just touch ups), but we have all the paint we need for those!

Do you use a rebate shopping app? Which one do you like? Anyone else doing any home maintenance?

Cashed Out

February 4th, 2015 at 07:29 pm

I cashed out for $25 from Swagbucks into my PayPal account. It has arrived pretty quickly in the past, so I hope this time will be the same! Since that is a snowflake I will apply it to the credit card balance we are working on.

I could apply the money to the dishwasher part we ordered today. We are now pretty sure that the drain pump is causing all of our noise issues. We ordered one online for $52 (shipping included) that will arrive on Thursday. It seems we live fairly close to the company shipping it!

If it doesn't solve the problem, we will be able to return it and pay to ship it back for a refund. I'm pretty sure that is the correct fix. I suppose if it isn't than it may be time to call someone in. It runs and cleans fine. It is just loud! And it hasn't always been loud, so something isn't right. I want if functioning correctly before we list our home, so it is a non issue for the buyers.

My husband was home yesterday and we tackled quite a few maintenance and repair items. I have a blog post on Your Organized Friend that will be up at 6 AM Central Time on Thursday that tells more about what we have been working on. Including some that I thought would take much longer than I expected!

Have you ever repaired your own dishwasher? Are you a Swagbucks member? If not, here's my referral link. Be sure to read an older post that will give you a few tips on how to earn Swagbucks!

Ebates Payment

February 4th, 2015 at 07:22 am

I received my Big Fat payment from Ebates. That is how they refer to it. I only received $8.40 in my PayPal account, so I wouldn't exactly call it fat. Smile

I promptly requested the money be transferred to our checking account. I will ended up sending it to the credit card we are paying off. It is currently at 0% interest, so no worries.

The specific card we are working on is the Wells Fargo World American Express card. It has a balance of $460.09. I will have this paid off before May, as I believe that is when the assess the annual fee of $175! I am NOT paying that, so I will be canceling this card very soon after. Of course, I also would like to redeem any final points we have accumulated, as well. Smile

I'm in the process of dismantling my dishwasher. We are pretty sure now that the fix is not a simple O ring. Darn. It's probably some sort of pump. Not sure which one yet or what it will cost, but I really would like to fix ourselves, so save the labor. It could still come down to someone coming out, just not ready to admit defeat until I've looked around some more!

Did you get an Ebates payment? What will you do with yours? If you have a Wells Fargo Amex will you be cancelling yours before the annual fee is assessed? And has anyone done any dishwasher repair lately?

Saving Water and More

February 2nd, 2015 at 02:04 pm

As we get our house ready to sell, we are doing a few repairs around the house. One item we need to take care of is a loud noise our dishwasher makes several times during its cycle. The dishwasher still works and gets the dishes clean.

Since, I like to save money, my first instinct is to try to troubleshoot the problem myself. I found the manual today which didn't exactly point me to the fix, but provided me with some very enlightening information! The 'light wash' setting that I always use to save water actually uses MORE water than the 'normal wash' my husband tends to choose. I even get irritated with him when I notice he has chosen that setting. Now I will not because it will be saving us 4.3 gallons of water per cycle. If you like specifics, our dishwasher uses 7.6 gallons of water on the 'light wash' setting and 3.3 gallons on the 'normal wash' setting. I am shocked at the difference!

After some looking online for a remedy to our dishwasher noise problem, we have decided to try the cheapest route first. We will install a 5/8" O ring to the water inlet valve that attaches to the spray arm on the top basket. There currently isn't one there and seems to have been the fix for several people online. I'm not sure if we ever had one, but it there is a groove in the plastic indicated one should be there. If this ends up being the fix it will cost us a mere $2.

In addition to figuring out the dishwasher problem, we installed four puck lights under our kitchen cabinets. We have a pretty dark kitchen with dark wood and counter tops positioned in the northeast part of our home. While the overhead lighting is sufficient most of the time, we felt a little extra lighting would be helpful and a small selling point in some cases. The light set (for six lights) was about $35. We made quite a mess this morning to complete it, but it was well worth it! At least I will get to enjoy the lights for a short while before we move.

Do you know how many gallons each of your dishwasher settings use? Are you using the setting that uses the least amount of water? Do you have an under cabinet lighting in your kitchen?

January Snowflake Total

February 1st, 2015 at 11:32 am

I was surprised at our January snowflake total. I didn't think we had accumulated that much extra money. I guess that is another reason why tracking these things is a good thing!

We accumulated $290.35 in extra funds in January. The sale of the refrigerator was over 1/3 of the result. Just yesterday I received a $50 rebate check from the purchase of the flute. All those smaller amounts add up! I know I've said that before, right?

I did apply all these extra funds towards paying off two of our credit cards, so the balances are down by that same amount. This isn't as exciting for me as paying down the mortgage, but it works for right now since it isn't money from our pockets to pay these 0% interest cards off.

Do you have a total of extra funds accumulated for the month of January?