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Archive for April, 2015

High Deductible Insurance

April 29th, 2015 at 05:57 pm

I saw this blog post on My Money Blog about how homeowner's insurance should be painfully high. I do have to agree. And increasing it over time as finances get better is a great idea. I think increased ours last year to over $2K. If we weren't moving to a rental I'd do it again. Instead we will now need renter's insurance! I'll need to get a quote on that soon (we are signing that lease tomorrow).

My husband announced to me yesterday that he had a no spend day! It's a miracle. I told him I'd mention it on my blog so you can all congratulate him. He's been on a restaurant spending spree lately. So he is trying to reign it in. Smile

We are expecting another offer tonight on our home. The third one in less than 24 hours. It is exciting but it sure is stressful. Once it is all cleared up for us I will be sure to know. I can honestly say my agent is motivated and is definitely earning her money! And I'm also super glad we hired her. Smile





Released and More Offers

April 29th, 2015 at 04:34 am

Sooo...even though the buyers walked away things are moving along quite nice. The original buyers did provide us with the radon report and their home inspection report. We all released each other from contract and they get their earnest money back.

In the meantime, my realtor worked her contacts and since I last wrote we have received two offers, had one showing last night and two showings scheduled for today.

The first offer that came in was from our second offer people the first time around. A pretty good offer however, their home is going on the market this weekend in another town so they don't have a buyer lined up for their home, and they didn't want to close until August 28...120 days out! So unfortunately, they were rejected again.

A late showing last night (which irritated my kids) resulted in an offer. These buyers live like two blocks away and have their zero lot line home/condo pending sale to close on May 15. Their offer is just as good as the last offer we took and they are willing to close on June 12 (the day after our items are moved out). Because of my husband's work schedule we were given until 6pm this evening to respond.

We also have two showings scheduled today! One around lunch and the other just before we need to respond to the current offer.

How is that for a crazy day? Bad news that turns into good news. We just might be under contract again tonight!

Buyers are Walking Away

April 28th, 2015 at 10:23 am

Our buyer's have cold feet. They are walking away after having the home inspection yesterday and a radon test done. The excuse they are giving is a small roof leak that we have had repaired and are in the middle of having drywall replaced.

Our agent is going above and beyond to get them to even try to agree to any repairs. Apparently, these buyers have walked away from another home previously. So we are cutting ties with them and moving forward. We will return earnest money after they provide us with full inspection report and radon test report. At least that is what we are asking for. Keeping their money could cause us not to take another offer.

Luckily, our agent has some leads for other interested buyers! Send good thoughts. Smile

Paid Debt

April 28th, 2015 at 08:30 am

I've mentioned a few times how we are spending plenty of money. We've been putting it on credit cards to earn rewards and help with cash flow a bit. Today I paid off over $650 for hotel costs, and $340 airline ticket. I used savings to pay these off. Eventually, I'll pay ourselves back. It just might be a bit and I'm glad it is there for these unknown kind of situations. I also paid some other charges accumulated in the last two weeks with current paycheck funds to the tune of over $600.

We earned $31.72 in Discover Cash Back rewards. I requested a credit to our balance, but then used the money I would have paid on Discover to pay to the Citi card 2015 beginning balance . I also had $40 in Amex rewards for those Amazon purchases (I thought ahead and bought gifts for my daughter's July birthday!). Between those two rewards, I reduced our beginning Citi balance from $212.59 to $140.87. Progress!

So I'm down to $20 for the next two days. And then payday. I will then pay off some more debt! It feels good to get some of those balances to zero. Smile

Bad Service By USAA

April 27th, 2015 at 11:58 am

Wow. USAA has not done a good job this time. I've never once had an issue with their service, until now.

We inquired by email how to get our daughter set up with her own checking account since she is now 18 and will need one for college. The instruction was to send a money order for at least $25, along with a letter instructing to open a checking account and reference her USAA number (which is already established). They provided the address.

We mailed this in early April. While I was on my trip east she received a couple phone calls regarding the money. She didn't return the calls, but upon my return, we figured out they were trying to open a mutual fund, which she doesn't even have, nor do the instructions indicate this. An inquiry again, indicated they made an error and they would get the account established in 7 days. Turns out within 7 days they will mail everything back!

So frustrating! It's like they can't even read the letter. We will be inquiring why the original letter wasn't clear and trying one more time. Otherwise we'll just get a local account for her when she gets to college.

Have you had bad service such as this at any bank?

Made A One Cent Payment

April 24th, 2015 at 12:13 pm

First some home news. Our radon levels on the house came back lower than the amount that would have required us to pay for mitigation. This means we don't have to pay a $600 bill to have that kind of work done. That makes me happy!

We did have to have a roofer out AGAIN to fix a leak (same issue we had in the past). He said he's 99% sure that the problem has been corrected. Gee I hope so. That cost was $85. This was in our original disclosure, and this new issue is being disclosed as well. Buyers inspection is Monday. We may have a possible drywall repair, which I'm fine with...but of course not happy about. It's a pretty new home!

I have a penny in our US Bank Checking account. Since I want to close that account, I made a $0.01 payment from the checking account to the US Bank Visa. This seemed easier than have a check cut for a penny (not sure if they would even do that).

I have confirmed that future deposits of my husband's pay have been cancelled as I requested. Next step is to request cancellation of the actual account. I'm hoping a simple email will do it, but US Bank isn't exactly easy to work with online from a customer service stand point.

Have you ever made such a small payment to a credit card? Do you know about Radon Gas?

Snowflakes & Extra Money

April 22nd, 2015 at 07:06 pm

I accumulated $100 in snowflakes this week. I received those Target gift cards (total $75) in the mail this week from Citi Thank You Rewads. I have already used more than $50! The other one will get used up next time I get groceries, probably Sunday. I also redeemed $25 from Swagbucks with has been deposited into my PayPal account.

The girls flute teacher is not giving lessons next week, so that saves me $40. I figure this is money usually spent so I'm sending it in with the $100 to the Citi Thank You card balance. I'm considering it applied to the money we spent on my oldest daughter's glasses and charged to this card. The glasses were originally $354, but I now have those paid down to $237. There were other payments already applied to those previous to this one. I expect to pay another $117 on May 1 toward that portion of the Citi card balance, leaving just $120.

The original balance on January 1 for the Citi card was $686.27, with all the snowflakes applied to that portion recently the balance is now at $212.59! I really hope to have this paid off before we move. Smile

I can't wait to get some of this stuff paid off. I probably could be doing it much faster under normal circumstances, but there has been a lot of outflow recently of cash for home repairs, hotels and airline tickets. It is what it is. It will all balance out eventually. And the debt will all get paid off. I'm just glad we aren't paying any interest!

I do have some other sources of snowflakes on the horizon, so I'll have more to report in a couple days!

Another Plane Ticket & Financial Clean Up

April 22nd, 2015 at 06:51 am

My husband purchased a one way plane ticket home, the day before graduation for $320. He also bought travel insurance for $21. Not really happy about that. He also put it on our Discover card, but our I think our Citi card would have offered better rewards for an airline ticket. He gets so confused by all the rewards, so I just have to let it go. I'm looking forward to seeing him so that's the best part. He will be off work until our household goods are packed on the moving truck. We will all drive east together mid June!

I've requested that our Wells Fargo Propel Amex card be cancelled. I sent a secure email message. I need it cancelled before mid May to avoid being charged their hefty $175 annual fee. I did get that final reward of $25 and it just credited yesterday making the balance on the card $0! It was zero, but I accidentally make a charge to that card. All good now.

We have been having $500 deposited to a US Bank checking account each month from my husband's pay. I originally set this up to earn a $200 reward for opening the account. I'm pretty sure I'm going to cancel the account, but the first step was to get the deposit from happening. I made that request on the military pay site. It should be effectively stopped on May 1. So a cancel request will happen after that. The only other thought is to keep the account until after closing. Since there is a local branch our proceeds could just be deposited there, rather than a wire to our online bank (which often can cost $50!). A detail to look into and decide about.

It will feel good to lessen the number of credit cards and accounts we have open. Have you done a financial clean up lately?

Ooma: A Way to Save and Earn

April 21st, 2015 at 12:15 pm

If you are a regular reader you know I have Ooma as our home phone provider. It's VoiP system, so it uses the internet to take calls.

The Ooma telo is on sale again for $89.99 with free shipping. That is $40 off. I currently pay just $3.85 (the Federal taxes) each month for our home phone. If you dial international and don't have a plan they offer very low rates (which you can view on the website), and all calls stateside are free!

I actually make money by having this phone since I offer my referral code (which is in the link above) when they have a promotion every two to three months. Last time I earned $80 in referral money, $20 for each referral. I have earned far more by referring others than I have paid to have the home phone. I kind of consider that it helps offset the internet bill, too. Smile

It works great, although we don't even use it too often since our cell phones our are primary numbers used these days. It seems if I can't get my daughter to answer her cell phone at home I can usually get her to answer the home phone when I call! Smile

If you are interested the offer lasts until May 8th. Thanks!

Waiting for the Radon Professional

April 21st, 2015 at 07:25 am

Our buyers are paying to have the house professional tested for radon. The entire state is considered high for it. I'm waiting for that professional to drop off the necessary equipment.

We did our own quick test with a kit we purchased from Amazon for $10 back in February. It came back at 3.1 pCi/L. The level for corrective measures is another 4.0 pCi/L or above. Our test was below that but could be considered a health risk.

Our agreement with the buyers is if the test comes back at 4.0 pCi/L or higher we will pay to have the house mitigated. We already have a the basic passive plumbing in place that the builder added at the time the house was built. That alone keeps the levels down. A fan will simply be added if needed for $500, plus another $100 to have the radon levels tested again after installation.

Part of me is planning to have to pay the cost to mitigate since it is in our agreement, but I will be very happy if levels are low enough to avoid that cost. The test ends in 48 hours, I'm not sure when we will have the results.

Fingers crossed for low levels! Do you have high radon levels in your state? Does anyone have a mitigation system in their home?

Target Cards Have Arrived

April 20th, 2015 at 05:59 pm

I mentioned that I redeemed some Citi Thank You points for gift cards on Friday. They arrived in the mail today! They must be issued close by because that was super fast.

I'm sure all $75 will be spent on groceries at Target within the next 7 days. I already have a list of three items I need to pick up there tomorrow. I will send the $75 I would have spent on those things at Target to pay down more on the Citi card balance from Januray. And of course, I'm counting these gift cards as snowflakes!


Taxable Investments

April 19th, 2015 at 02:38 pm

Our only taxable investments are our money market and CD accounts. I think with the sale of the home it is time to put some money into some stock mutual funds (maybe ETFs).

I should have invested in VDIGX two years ago when I was writing about it. It would have appreciated. Of course that is easier to see in hindsight.

I'd like to consider this money downpayment/house money for the future, which could be three years, six, eight or ten years from now. In three years, we will no longer have a child living at home (kind of sad) and may be moving again. In six years we could be moving AGAIN, and eight years from now my husband could be retiring from the military. Buying overall has been good up until this point. This round we are renting and I can see our need for a large home dwindling during the next eight years. So instead of investing in a home and 'hoping' for appreciation and payoff I think we need to invest the money for when it is time to establish long term roots.

I'm only beginning to think about this. What do you have some of your taxable investments in? Do you have a fund or etf that you have been really happy with? (I'll do my own research of course).

$119.19

April 19th, 2015 at 05:38 am

My dad has been getting creative with his numbers in the past for birthday's giving us $100.40 to represent our fortieth year. My parents have gifted us every year for our anniversary also. It has almost always been $100. This year the check was written for $119.19 for our 19th wedding anniversary. He's getting a little more generous!

Our anniversary was last Sunday. We were actually together that day. It didn't really feel to special as we were looking a rental properties in our new state. But we were together and that always feels better!

The check was given to us just before my trip to the east. I tucked it into a drawer knowing we would be having showings for our home. Until last night I had completely forgotten about it which I knew was a possibility when I did it. Luckily, I happened upon it last night. I will deposit it this morning.

For the sake of simplicity and to make some more debt payoff progress I'm counting it as a snowflake. It will further reduce the debt we have on the Citi card, which is a good thing. The beginning balance on the card was $686.27. This snowflake will bring beginning year balance to $337.59.

What do you think of my dad's creativity with his gift?

Rewards

April 17th, 2015 at 08:46 am

I redeemed Citi Thank You points yesterday for $75 worth of Target gift cards. I shop there all the time! In the past I have used their rewards for a check made payable to our mortgage. I decided since we are about to sell that $75 wasn't go to save me much in interest. I will count them as snowflakes after I use them and send that $75 towards our Citi card. Oh, and Citi does offer a statment credit as a reward option, but the point values are terrible. Much better to do it this way!

I paid $75.24 on my Amex card today towards our Verizon wireless bill. That charge will reward me $10. I plan to make two more similar payments over the next couple of days to get $20 more. I did this same scenario last month using my husband's Amex. A small payment of $15 will go to the US Bank card to earn 5% back...doesn't seem like much on $15, but it does all add up.

I'm waiting for the Wells Fargo Amex to close in a few days so I can get my final $25 reward before I close that account for good. It has a heafty annual fee and we don't use it enough to get the rewards back on it.

I have some other pending rewards too that will add to the April snowflake total. I'll write more about those as they come around.

Have you earned any rewards or snowflakes recently?

About the Second Offer

April 16th, 2015 at 08:28 am

The second offer that came in Tuesday morning as we were preparing our first counter offer was interesting. It was a full price offer, asking for $2500 in closing costs. However, the buyer wanted it contingent on the sale of their home which had not even been listed. They indicated it would be listed by May 1 and requested a July 15 closing date. Our realtor didn't like that they weren't yet really in a position to sell. I do like their closing date, although really much farther out then we were looking for. It would have meant longer time away from my husband by another month.

The first offer already has a solid pending offer on the sale of their home which they close on May 28. This was the date they wanted for closing but did then change it to June 8 when we indicated our daughter didn't even finish school until June 5. We then countered back with a June 12 closing.

I think the buyers got a little nervous hearing another offer was coming in and agreed easily to our June 12 closing in order to secure the home. It sounds like the couple has four young kids. They will definitely fit into this neighborhood well as they are many young children around us.

So there was no bidding war exactly, but all potential buyers were notified that offers were coming in and given a chance to produce one. Which did prompt the second offer. While the offer was good or maybe slightly better financially, it wasn't as solid as the offer from the buyers that already have a pending sale on their home.

We are very happy with the outcome. The only caveat our agent mentioned was that at full price and a recent sale down the street we could have an appraisal issue. The comparable on our street sold for $260K is the exact floor plan as ours except they have a sunroom addition. Our home has sold for $255K. We priced it at $255K expecting some negotiation and more likely to land at $250K. Of course, I'm thrilled with an extra $5K! Fingers crossed it can appraise at that value. Smile

Time to pay bills!

Counter Offer Accepted

April 14th, 2015 at 05:36 pm

Our counter offer which basically changed the date was accepted. It did seem to help that we found we had another offer coming in at the same time that we were sending the counter over to the buyers. We made sure to let them know. Smile It was a fair offer too but in the end they were too late.

It feels good to have that piece hashed out. Next up are the radon test, home and pest inspections. We expect them to go well as the home is pretty new yet.

We did get full price, paying $2500 in closing costs for the buyer, leaving our new fridge, and paying $300 towards carpet cleaning. If the radon test comes in high we will pay around $600 to mitigate. The house is pre-plumbed for this. Our realtor sold nearly all the homes in this subdivision for the builder and has only had one come back high after being pre-plumbed, so the chances are slim we will need to pay. We also did a self test in January where the test came back under the limit that is considered hazardous. The closing date is currently June 12.

More later!!

Already Time To Counter

April 13th, 2015 at 08:42 pm

Our home went live on the MLS today. We had one showing Sunday after the sign was seen in our yard on Saturday. Today we had two showings, with one resulting in an offer!

We are in the middle of a counter offer primarily to move the closing date, since most of the financials are really good. I will share those later when it is all hashed out.

I have lucked out not to have to deal with the showings while I'm out of town. I will owe my mother a big hug for all her help while I was away!!

We think we have found a rental home being offered by a coworker of my husband who is moving out of town later this summer. Right now they think they can be out by July 1.

I will let you know more later! Thanks for all the good vibes and prayers...must have helped.Smile

Sign In Yard Tomorrow

April 10th, 2015 at 01:10 pm

I have signed the listing agreement with our realtor today. My husband will have to electronically sign after work. His work email has such high security levels that he can't sign from work.

There will be a sign in the yard tomorrow, but because of the late signing by my husband today, the listing will not be live until Monday. There is a chance a showing or two could happen as a house across the street is having an open house on Sunday. I'll be leaving those showings for my mom to prepare while I'm out of town. Lucky for me, I know she will handle it fine and is very willing to help.

We will have one open house a week from Sunday. My realtor says she has a pretty good track record for finding buyers during open houses. We'll see. I'm not usually a fan, but I'll give her a 1.5 hours to try it out. Smile

Boy it feels real when you sign! Send your best wishes, prayers and good vibes for the right buyer at the right price. Smile

Mortgage Pay Down Progress

April 9th, 2015 at 07:20 am

Although I knew we would be moving this year, I still made a goal to pay off $5000 before the end of June on our mortgage. I actually hope the house will sell and close in June, which will bring us to a zero balance rather quickly.

The balance is lower by $2,351.63 as of April 1. I expect another $1179.88 to be paid off as of June 1, which will bring the total to $3,531.51.

I decided not to send all the extra I could have been sending in. I have been setting it aside though. Right now that amount is $744. I also expect to set aside another $620 by June 15.

All together that is $4,895.51. I was surprised I was short! I might have missed setting extra money aside one week. I'm going to count it as close enough since I do expect to get our escrow funds back which will be at least $1900.

It sure helps to make a goal and stick to it. If I didn't we wouldn't be in as good of position selling our home. I'm definitely happy about that!

Debt Free In 2 Months with Cash in the Bank

April 8th, 2015 at 05:47 pm

If we don't take on a new mortgage when we move and our current home sells, we will be debt free in 2 months. Of course, it doesn't seem the same as if we were debt free owning a home free and clear. We will still have an outflow each month on a rental, so renting doesn't free up any cash.

Fingers crossed we get a rental. The area we want is in high demand. I expect we could easily find a home for sale, but we really don't see the housing market as being in our favor in three years in this particular area. And we don't want to be landlords. So we are going to be renters for the first time in 18 years.

The money we have set aside for a future downpayment and the equity we expect to walk away from with this house will likely be invested to keep up with inflation at least. It would be nice to get it into something that would grow. Once we get past the move, I'll start looking more diligently.

I mentioned to a friend that it was tempting to invest, but thought it seemed wrong to put it into the stock market for such a short time (three years). What if it goes down? Her thought was then we just keep renting and wait to buy when the money is at least equal or greater than our initial investment. And actually, that could be a good think to continue to do until my husband retires...just keep renting.

What would you do with our future house money?

A Bunch of Little Things

April 7th, 2015 at 07:15 am

I just activated our Discover Rewards for this quarter to earn 5% cash back on restaurants and movies. I wish I would have done this before the weekend because I had a couple restaurant charges. I do expect more in the coming months with the house on the market and the moving process. We might as well get a little back from those purchases.

I moved $4000 from our money market account to our checking account. It's time for a bigger accessible buffer since we may be putting up a deposit for a rental home. I expect to put this all back after we move, or before if it seems it won't be needed.

I haven't been doing Swagbucks or Bing with much gusto lately. I'm just to busy and have my mind in other places. I have done a little, and expect to have a reward before the month ends at least.

Our auto insurance was billed to our credit card today. Just $385 for two drivers for six months with a $1000 deductible to include comprehensive and collision. Not bad. I have the money set aside to pay the bill and will do so when it is no longer posting as a pending transaction.

My daughter is applying for a couple more scholarships. Not sure of the odds of these, but they were relatively simple to work on so she was willing. Every dollar earned is worth it to me!

Our water bill was under budget this month by over $17. I will be counting that as a snowflake and sending that difference to the Citi card balance.

I ordered cat food online through Petsmart late last week. And it just arrived this morning. I was able to get two large bags for $48.41 shipped. I easily spend $40 for one bag when I buy in the store. I think the food was on sale, plus I made sure to buy an discounted gift card through Raise first which was discounted farther because I had a $5 reward from referring someone to Raise. So a good deal turned into a very good deal and I didn't have to leave my house to shop!

Yep, there you have it. A bunch of little money tid bits from the house of Creditcardfree. Smile

Spending

April 5th, 2015 at 05:04 pm

Spent the weekend out of town. It was a mini vacation with extended family. We met at a hotel for two nights ($222 with taxes) I paid for one meal out for the entire group ($90 including tip). There was admission to one venue ($26 after our military discount). I paid for parking ($5). There was one other meal out for the girls and I ($20). And finally, the gas for my van ($40).

That is over $400! I think it was well worth the time to spend with family since we will be much farther apart in the future. And it could have been much more if we had picked a different location or different activities. We did have a visit to an art museum and a park that were completely free. There was a lot of swimming in the hotel pool as well. Smile

In addition to the above trip expenses, I did purchase a swimsuit for my youngest daughter ($40, good quality) so she could swim. She had outgrown her last suit. I also stocked up on three spices we use ALL the time at the store I purchase them from. That was $55! Again, I stocked up and expect these will last over a year.

Now, I'm hoping for a really low spend week for the days ahead. How was your weekend? Was your weekend spendy like mine? Or did you get away with a frugal one?

Snowflakes in March

April 1st, 2015 at 07:00 am

I guess March was a good month for snowflakes! My big fat total is $422.32. The eBay sales made a big impact as did the Ooma referral money. I make more money with Ooma than I spend. Smile



The point of all this snowflake tracking is to show that all money small and large do add up. I also make a point to use the money to pay down debt currently. This month the money helped pay off our Wells Fargo Amex and pay down a balance on our Citi card (both which have 0% interest).

The beginning balance on Citi at the beginning of the year was $686.27. Along with a couple of minimum payments and a snowflake payment today of $145.23 the balance is now $491.04. The entire balance of the card is much larger because of airline tickets, glasses and regular spending. I did make another payment of $860 towards all of those expenses today too. And I'm considering paying another $1000 from savings to get it in a more manageable place. Eventually (after our move) I can pay that money back.

Did you get debt paid off this month? Did you use snowflake/extra money aquired to help? What was your snowflake total?