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Archive for November, 2015

$40 FitBit

November 30th, 2015 at 03:55 pm

That's what my husband is giving me for Christmas. I found them refurbished on eBay today. The actual amount was less because I had a $2.28 Ebates payment in my PayPal account that arrived last week.

It does seem I often buy my own Christmas gifts. I was contemplating a FitBit, but knew if I said that to DH he would head to Best Buy and pay full price. (He doesn't shop around for the best price.) When I saw them on eBay today, I jumped on it. I feel better trying it at that price. And that puts it in budget for our spending!

I listed more items on eBay yesterday and have five items ending today. I'll sell at least $68 worth!

I'm going to buy the last two gifts, other than stocking stuffers, today! So excited to be nearly done with the shopping. And I think I'm on budget too.

Wow!

November 30th, 2015 at 02:00 am

I didn't realize I hadn't posted on my own blog for over a week! We did start traveling last Monday night, so that obviously had an impact.

We just arrived home today. I have not yet, caught up YNAB with all of our spending. Many things have been entered, just not everything. So I really need to go through and see what we missed. My husband is much better at logging these right away. I usually wait until I am home. I hope the damage wasn't too bad. I know I allocated some money to several of the expenses.

Tomorrow is payday, so the money will be there to pay anything we didn't specifically budget for.

I'm nearly done with Christmas shopping. I only made one online purchase on Friday, but it helped wrap up the items I'm getting my husband. He had added something I wanted to the cart, so I ordered my own gift! I used the American Express card and will get $15 back after our purchase posts.

Are you done with your shopping? Did you travel for Thanksgiving?

Dinner Out Tonight

November 21st, 2015 at 09:27 pm

We are going out to dinner tonight with the couple that let my husband stay with them for a few months before the rest of us moved here. It's a bit of a pay back dinner. They got to choose. It's a restaurant my husband and I have not been to, but the couple advise the bill could easily reach $30 a person for food and drinks. Not terrible, but not frugal either.

I don't really want to spend the money, but I'm hoping the time out will be enjoyable. And paying for a meal out is way cheaper than my husband paying for housing out of pocket while we still had a mortgage payment.

Are you eating in on this Saturday evening or going out to dinner?

Photo Gifts

November 20th, 2015 at 04:54 pm

I'm still doing eCards in early December, and skipping the traditional pictures and cards. However, I'm in the process of making two photo gifts. Neither one is specifically for Christmas.

The first one is for my sister and her family. They adopted a 9 year old girl this August. She had been placed with them in August of 2014. We don't live nearby so I wasn't in a rush to have a gift for the big day. I finally decided that a photo album of pictures from the first year would be welcome. My sister is extremely busy with her new life as a parent, and as a kindergarten teacher. I did have to tell her about the gift since I would need her help to obtain enough pictures. She was thrilled!! The book is over 40 pages at this point. I'm just waiting for a few more photos.

The second photo album is for my parents, the grandparents of my new niece and my children. Their album will be pictures of all the grandchildren from the last 15 months or so. I gave them a photo book two years ago and they LOVED it. It is always out on their coffee table. I've only just begun this album, but I think it will come together a little quicker because I'm limited myself to the basic 20 pages. I also chose a size that is on sale for just $9.99 plus shipping. We have come to the conclusion that since we won't be together for Christmas we don't need to exchange gifts. But since I have this idea that I know they will love and the price is right I'm doing it anyway. They also have an anniversary just 2 days after Christmas, so I can consider it an anniversary gift too.

I won't order the photo book for my sister and her family until I know for sure that I can get at least 40% off. I'm using Snapfish which currently has 50% off.

Do gift photo gifts or send photos with cards?

A Christmas Gift

November 19th, 2015 at 01:59 pm

My youngest daughter has wanted a Wii U for over a year now. There are some new games she wants to play. I've put it off since we already own a Wii. However, she asked for one AGAIN for Christmas. So this time, I'm giving in. She is willing to pay a portion, up to half actually. I'm doing my best to get the best deal...primarily by buying used.

I purchased an Wii U with several games for $300 the other day on eBay. My ballpark for just the Wii U was $200. I kept missing out on auctions and Buy It Now offers because other people were willing to pay more. This seller had six games (including one with lots of accessories) included. At least two of the games were ones my daughter wanted. And even used would have cost me $80. I plan to sell at least three of the games to help offset the cost. I think I can sell for $65.

Another way to get the cost of this new system down is to sell the old Wii. My older daughter needs to decide if she wants to have it for her dorm room. I think she is leaning towards no. It won't bring much money, but maybe $40. And then the girls need to determine if there are any other games we already own that they want to sell. The games will still work with the new system.

I also bought another game she was interested in for an amazing deal...Lego Dimensions. It costs $99.99 normally. Which is a CRAZY price for game!!!! I was able to get Target to price match it to Amazon for $84.99, then used a 35% Cartwheel offer for the game, and a 10% off gaming coupon, a $10 gift card and 5% off with my Red card to get the purchase price under $40. I grabbed the deal because I knew it was a super price. I'm not entirely sure that I will give it though. It may get returned if I decide it is too much (I normally only spend $150 on each child)! I may save it for her birthday in July. Or I could even sell it and make a little profit.

I'll have to let you know what the final cost of this gift ends up being after I do so selling in the next few weeks!

Does anyone else have a gamer in their family? Do you have ways to keep your costs down? Have you ever bought used for Christmas (I have!)?

It's My Birthday

November 18th, 2015 at 01:49 am

It's been a pretty good day for a birthday. I'm a low key kind of gal who doesn't need much to be happy. But I enjoyed phone calls from my mother and best friend. We ate dinner in tonight, but my husband surprised us with cupcakes! There were also a few gifts: a pair of slippers and a new CD of Christmas music. A couple items I asked for. Smile

I also received a $100 check from my parents. I'm not sure exactly what my plans are for that money. Maybe a new sweatshirt!

I redeemed my Swagbucks last night for a $25 Amazon gift card. It arrived today! I was a little disappointed to learn that my birthday Swagbucks were 55 SwagUps! I should have waited one more day to redeem. I'm sure there will be another redemption before my SwagUp expires.

I spent the Amazon gift card, plus two others worth $30 to purchase some Christmas gifts. I only paid $8 out of pocket on a $63 order. Very pleased with that!

If you want to catch up with my Christmas planning and preparations, check out my other blog, Your Organized Friend.

Damaged Goods

November 16th, 2015 at 01:52 pm

We got our claim check from the moving company's insurance. We agreed to their settlement amounts on all but one heavily damaged item which they offered no money for. Their reason was it was prior damage. Well it wasn't listed on the damage report at origin and we know it wasn't there when we moved. We have an appeal filed for that item, although we aren't holding our breath.

The check for our damaged goods is $1437. We are depositing it into our checking account and holding it for a bit. We are interested in getting a new set of furniture, so it may be applied to that purchase. For now no big rush to spend it. I do wonder if I should put it into our regular checking and put it into a category in YNAB. The other option would be to put into a second checking we have that I'm not tracking on YNAB (except for the balance). A good problem to have I guess.

At this point, I can get rid of the broken items and choose to sell others that were part of our claim. They expect we would use some of the money to fix the damage, but we're not sure which pieces if any are worth repair. The only item I can't get rid of is the item on appeal until that is finalized. We are using the item so no big issue there.

Electric Bill $50 Lower

November 14th, 2015 at 05:37 pm

The milder weather has meant a much lower electric bill. Our largest one was this August after moving in. It was over $300! I know much of that was the incredibly high heat, humidity and having doors open, going in and out many, many times.

I did unplug our second fridge that is in the garage within the last month. We used it rather full this summer, but we stopped stocking as many beverages. At times it was nearly empty. So unplugging made a difference I'm sure. Along with much milder weather!

I unplugged a few clocks, and have made a point of keeping some lights that I think are high energy users limited in use.

The new electric bill due at the beginning of December is $130.58. Last month the bill was $185.82. The month before it was $279! Can you see why I like these lower bills?

Are any of your utility bills lower this month?

Christmas Spending

November 13th, 2015 at 02:04 am

I got my flu shot today. I don't always get them even though covered in full by our insurance. We are traveling over the holiday and I feel there's an increased chance of catching it! My daughter will get hers in about 10 days when they have a Saturday clinic.

We purchased just one new strand of holiday lights this year. I recycled three at Home Depot last week that didn't work. I really only needed one more set for our second tree. I also picked up an automatic timer. Cost at Home Depot was about $12.

We stopped by Fresh Market to buy some food items for gifts. One is for a birthday. Another to include with a Christmas gift. And the others for stockings. We spent nearly $20 on those. The nice thing about food items as gifts is they are generally consumed and don't add to the clutter of someones home!

With some planning and creative thinking one doesn't have to spend much on Christmas. We have drastically cut our budget with fewer people to purchase for. I'm also using Swagbucks, Bing Rewards and credit card rewards to off set some spending as well. I would have skipped those new lights I mentioned as well as the pricier food gifts too if I didn't already have a plan to pay for them. This blogger has a list of ten free and almost free gifts to consider to reduce your holiday spending. I thought some of them were very clever!

Have you saved for Christmas? Will you make a budget? How do save on Christmas expenses?

Visited Veteran's Park

November 11th, 2015 at 09:19 pm

No work and school for my husband and daughter today in honor of Veteran's Day. We made a little outing for lunch to a local restaurant. Spent $40 for very yummy food!

Afterwards we ventured to the the Veteran's Park in our new town. It is technically a state park and honors all veterans from the state's 100 counties. It was really well done. And free. I took lots of pictures. It was really nice to be outside on this beautiful fall day.

The rest of the day we will spend at home eating dinner we planned from our pantry. We might need to sit out on our porch to enjoy a little more of the beautiful weather!

Back to the Grocery Store

November 9th, 2015 at 06:47 pm

We went to the grocery store (commissary) Saturday rather than our usual Sunday. We were wanting to combine trips, so we went early. I thought I had my list complete. It seems that was not the case. I've discovered about six things I still need. So I will go to a more local store today to pick those things up.

Prior to this trip, we have spent $207 on groceries. I would guess another $20 and we should be good through mid month.

I'm realizing I need to start using our Amex card for groceries. We have the Blue Cash Everyday which provides 3% back on groceries and 2% on gas stations. I know there is an American Express that offers 6% but I believe that one has an annual fee. I never used the American Express before because we did so much of our grocery shopping at Super Target and used our Red Card for 5% off.

I will talk with my husband about this and see if he is willing to work with two cards for purchases. We usually just work with one at a time, so this would be a change.

Do you forget things on your grocery list sometimes too? Which rewards card(s) do you use for groceries?

Amazon Prime Music & A Lot More

November 6th, 2015 at 02:14 pm

Did you know if you have an Amazon Prime membership you now get access to some music for free. This morning I was reminded of Harry Connick Jr's new album. I looked it up on Amazon...and it's free because of our Prime membership. I was originally going to tell my husband to get it for my birthday later this month. I guess not since it is free. Smile

Because of my birthday this month, I have been given some coupons to use: $10 to Kohl's and $5 from Famous Footwear (there's not even one in my state). I will use the Kohl's coupon because I have several I can combine. In fact, I think I'll buy myself a birthday gift with these coupons. My husband wouldn't mind being off the hook for the purchase. I also have $10 in JCPenney rewards to use this month as well. Time to shop...hopefully for free!

Our spending seems to be right on track this month for what we've budgeted for everyday expenses. Payday is actually next Friday already! Early since the 15th falls on a Sunday.

We're going to what I think is the last football game of the season...maybe more if they go to playoffs which is actually likely. The coach of this team is a former NFL player (isn't that cool?). So we'll spend about $20, $14 just for admission and at least another $3 for dinner as my daughter is starving by third quarter. This is budgeted under entertainment.

No particular plans for the weekend. We might get some new Christmas lights. I have a post scheduled tomorrow on Your Organized Friend about checking on our holiday lights.

We are trying to keep spending to a minimum because of our upcoming trip and recent car repairs. So far it seems to be working. I do credit YNAB for helping my husband and I be on the same page. Smile

My daughter's both have ideas for Christmas. And so does my husband. Our youngest daughter wants a Wii U. Those are nearly $300 new. That is twice what I normally spend on them. We already told her she may need to chip in, which she was fine with. I may be able to snag used on eBay or locally on Craigslist or Facebook, preferably under $200. The other daughter has a list of graphic t shirts she is interested in. She also wants a wireless adapter for the drawing tablet she got last year. Those things I can snag pretty easily. I guess I need to get back to Bing and Swagbucks and accumulate more Amazon gift cards.

Do you use Amazon Prime Music? How is your spending so far this month? Are you planning Christmas gifts yet?

Candy Canes & Fines

November 5th, 2015 at 03:39 pm

I was at Walmart last night to buy gum for my daughter. She paid for it out of her allowance. We stock up with three packs at a time, so her cost was $2. In the candy aisle I found my favorite flavor of candy canes. Wintergreen. I feel like I have been searching a couple years for this flavor. So I bought them for $2, along with the traditional peppermint flavor that was just $1. I had that item on my baking list, so I can cross one thing off.

My primary errand last night was actually the library. I had a book that was due. I had tried to renew it online, but my account showed expired. I vaguely remember there was a three month 'trial' or 'probation' period. I also had a feeling my daughter owed a library fine for two books we never got notice about their due date. So, I returned the book, renewed both our cards for three years (no charge), and paid her fine. The fine was $7.60! Two books that were overdue by nearly three weeks. I also got her account set up to send us email notification of due dates. We usually rely on those notifications. And these are newer accounts in our new town. We should be able to avoid any more fees in the future.

The reference to my baking list above can be found on Your Organized Friend. I'm doing a lot of planning for Christmas now, so I can be less stressed in December to enjoy the season. You can do it too!

Van Maintenance Costs

November 5th, 2015 at 02:02 am

Geez. It starts with needing an oil change. Then noticing the vehicle states a code indicating tire rotation, and spark plugs need to be done. Then my husband reminds me the back rear window has been getting stuck and the motor is probably out. Yep, confirmed by the dealership. Oh and yes, you need new rear brakes!

It's all done. And the bill was $946 AFTER our 10% military discount.

We only budget $250 for this pay period towards the first three things. Clearly the other two were more expensive! I did find $100 in a buffer emergency account and $30 in home maintenance that can be applied. There is probably more. Luckily next pay period we should have some 'extra' cash to help get it paid off.

And yes, we have a healthy emergency fund...just trying not to see this as an emergency!

I must say this makes me so grateful for our Christmas fund. I've been saving $50 each month to accumulate $600 by the beginning of December. I have no worries with this big repair bill that our Christmas holiday would be impacted. I do only have eight people (including my husband and myself) that we are buying for this year. We have cut way back. In fact, I'm telling others to keep their money and spend it on their own holiday rather than on us. We don't need anything. And if we do we can buy it ourselves. Smile

How much do you spend on vehicle maintenance each year? I actually have no clue. Time to dig out repair receipts for the last few years.

Van Is In for Maintenance

November 3rd, 2015 at 03:56 pm

We have our van at the car dealership for maintenance today. We needed an oil change and tire rotation. We are also doing a tune up (spark plugs). These were all suggested by our vehicle's on board computer.

We decided to have them look at a rear window that hasn't been able to roll up and down properly. In fact we sort of stopped using it since we didn't want it to get stuck in the down position. It was $50 to diagnose which they apply to the repair. The repair is $400 because new parts are needed. I don't want to pay for it honestly. If it were just me, I simply not use it. But husband wants to take care of it while it is there. It's not in the current budget at all. We do have plenty of cash in the emergency fund. But this isn't an emergency is it?

We are also getting our rear brakes replaced. We knew these were coming up, but have not kept it on our minds since we moved. Now is the time. $270 to complete that maintenance work.

I guess this dealership provides a 10% discount for military, so that will help shave some money off the costs of the repairs.

Why is car maintenance so annoying?!

E Cards for Christmas?

November 2nd, 2015 at 07:05 pm

If you have read my other blog, Your Organized Friend, in the last couple days you know I'm starting my Christmas planning. One thing I'm trying to decide on for simplicity sake is Christmas cards. I sent them last year. I probably spent $30 between photos and stamps for 35 cards. I bought the cards on clearance the year before, so that was the least expensive option.

This year I'm considering eCards. I can get a one month membership to American Greetings for $3.99 or Hallmark for $5. Each membership is unlimited cards for the period of the membership. I could also get longer memberships that would bring the per month cost down. Both sites allow the card to be sent to Facebook(and some other social media sites) and/or email. I would still have to mail one or two cards to a couple people who are not online (my mother in law, who is 80 is one).

I'm considering doing this to save time for me, the clutter for others, money for us and keep my stress level low. You can tell me if you think it's tacky, but I don't care entirely what others might think. I'm still making an effort to connect, just a different form. I could opt out of the Christmas card giving all together, but I don't think I'm ready for that.

What are your thoughts on eCards?

Extras Budgeted for November

November 1st, 2015 at 03:26 pm

When doing our budget in YNAB we made sure to think of some extras we needed to account for this next pay period. Specifically, we need to take our van in for an oil change, spark plugs changed and to look at the motor that controls one of our windows. It is also my birthday month, so some cash is set aside for gifts. I don't really want or need anything, but the money is there for now. We will use a little bit of that gift money to buy our niece a birthday gift as well.

I allocated $375 towards our November trip. We have already charged our expenses, but we need to pay those before the end of the month.

YNAB says that when budgeting you should think 'What do I need the money to do before I get paid again?' I've always thought this just not in those same words.

Have you thought ahead to what you need to plan for until you get paid again?