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Archive for February, 2016

February No Spend: $0 Spent Last Day

February 29th, 2016 at 05:42 pm

It was VERY tempting to go out today to run errands. Especially since I can see our paycheck pending in our account. However, I stayed in. We spent $0 today. I did some more spring cleaning. It was even warm enough to take the cats out in the yard for an adventure. I pulled a few weeds I found while they enjoyed themselves in the sun.

I'd like to say that I could go longer with a low spend month, but we have some things we want to spend money on (and have saved for). I'm not planning to buy more than a usual month, of course. I just know that if we need to spend we will. And some of it will be wants. There has to be room in life for wants!

Our Marriott Rewards card arrived in the mail today. This card will provide 80K bonus points(plus 7500 points for adding authorized user) after spending $3K in the next three months. The card does have an annual fee, but you get a free night as one of the perks. We expect to use our points for several nights in Washington DC this summer. If anyone recommends any Marriott branded hotels in the area, let me know!

February No Spend: Maintenance

February 28th, 2016 at 06:31 am

We did do some spending yesterday. Maintenance items for my husband's truck. He had a headlight bulb out, thus an actual need. We decided to replace both at the same time. We also picked up windshield wiper blades as well. That all added up to nearly $70! We did get some higher end blades, not sure on the bulbs. We basically used some of the money I set aside this month in our car maintenance category.

We are going grocery shopping today for the upcoming week. I'm counting this as March spending simply because most of the spending is for March. We have food for dinner tonight and tomorrow already in our home. It just happens to be our routine to shop on Sunday's for the most part.

We did rent two movies on Amazon this weekend. Clue and The Great Gatsby. I had Amazon gift cards, so no money out. Smile

February No Spend: Pent Up Spending

February 26th, 2016 at 06:55 am

LivingAlmostLarge asked in the comments of my post yesterday if all the pent up spending will be spent in March. No not really.

We have put $3,577 into savings (doesn't included investments) during the month of February. Some of this is money we usually save for car repairs, Christmas and a deposit into our emergency fund. But MOST of that cash is because we didn't have big January bills to pay and we spent far less this month than we usually do. Going out to restaurants, buying movie rentals, picking up a lot of snacks, alcohol, driving to store to get things, buying items because the coupon makes it a great deal adds up. A lot more than we realize.

The point for us to have a low spend month wasn't to deprive ourselves, but to make conscious choices about what we really need to live each day. Do we NEED to go out to eat to be fulfilled? Do we need to rent that movie, or are there other alternatives?

The other reason was to stash some cash. We need cash for airline tickets, vacation goals, college deposits, and furniture we want to buy.

As you can see the cash that was stashed probably will be spent at some point, but on things we want that are important. More important then other things we may have spent our money on this month.

We do have some pent up spending to do, but those purchases will come from March income. I also don't expect that we will suddenly eat out more than we usually did (twice a month maximum) because we didn't eat out at all this month. We will need to buy the toiletries we are getting low on, but we didn't use less toothpaste this month, we just avoided needing to buy those things because we already had those on hand. I used a small tube from the dentist to get by this month. I probably need a haircut that I might have done this month, but I won't get two next month. So yes, spending will be more next month, but it doesn't negate the savings we accomplished this month.

On some level it is just a shift in when the money is saved. We saved a lot in one month for things we need cash for soon, rather than saving a little each month by 'hoping' to reduce our spending each month. Again this was a very conscious effort to reduce outflow of cash to set aside for savings and future purchases.

I feel very confident that any future purchases (other than the large ones already mentioned) will be made with future income. If I find out different next month, I will be sure to let you know! Smile

In other news, I did make an eBay sale. It looks like the profit is $9.46. I have four other items listed that could each bring in a similar profit.

February No Spend: Stress Spending

February 25th, 2016 at 04:42 am

We survived the severe weather yesterday. We had four tornado warnings yesterday. No damage at our home. It fried my nerves by the time the day was done. And that stress led to spending.

I sent my husband to the store to get ice cream, because our daughter said there were no snacks, which was actually nearly true. And I wanted wine! And DH wanted chips, which were buy one, get one free. Total cost: $20.49.

Not particularly happy about the spending, but it has been a long month and we still had some cash budgeted. We've done really good, so will I guess I will look it as celebration spending! Smile

I may have mentioned it before, but today I'm finally going to get some Wii games listed on eBay. Time to bring in a little cash!

February No Spend: Severe Weather

February 24th, 2016 at 09:27 am

Our area is experiencing severe storm (tornadoes) weather today. It's even causing schools to close early. As a result, we will be staying in the rest of the evening so we can stay safe and near shelter.

We will save $25 because we won't be going to my daughter's flute lesson. I'm pretty sure they are cancelled if school cancels. Of course, I care more about being safe then the cash.

So I think we can call this a no spend day! Yea...I need all of them we can get through the end of the month.

February No Spend: Spring Cleaning

February 23rd, 2016 at 01:41 pm

Today appears to be free of any money being spent. The snacks in the house are getting low already. I thought I had a desert I could make, but I don't have enough butter. I'm pretty close though, so I may make it anyway.

I was going to make waffles for dinner last night and then realized I was too low on milk to make them. We ended up eating rice and beans instead. I think I will resort to pancakes tonight as those take far less milk to make. Basically, the same idea!

Tomorrow night for dinner, we are having three cheese tortellini and salad. I might be able to make some cheese bread, too.

I started my spring cleaning today. Primarily I have been dusting things that aren't dusted on a regular basis. I think I'm dusting off stuff that was here before we moved in. So far things are going faster than I expected, and the activity is free. I'm using micro fiber cloths and water (when needed). No special products were purchased. Smile

February No Spend: Errands In One Day

February 22nd, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I made a point to run two errands today that were in close proximity to one another. My daughter had a gift to mail to a friend (she paid for postage). I decided while I was near the post office I would pick up the two items I forgot at the grocery store on Saturday at Walmart. Those items: Clif bars, and mayo. We didn't need those items yet, but would have later in the week.

I had cash in my wallet to cover the $8.87 total. This leaves me with $5 and change. I expect that cash will go towards a tip the next time we are at the commissary. It sure feels better to combine errands and know that I didn't cave to more purchases.

I'm making plans to get some spring cleaning done here to keep me busy through the end of the month. The blinds are dusty and have been since we moved in. And I find that it is a free activity. Smile

I also have some items to get sold on eBay. These are a result of our recent decluttering! That is a free task I hope will earn me a little cash.

We continue to eat in all of our meals. I ate leftover tacos today for lunch. Tonight we are having rice and beans. I expect there will be some left for lunch tomorrow. Oh, and I made a batch of steel cut oats in the Crockpot last night. I divided it into four servings for the next several mornings.

My husband has received a Welcome Letter for Marriott Rewards card. It seems he was approved! Smile

February No Spend: $75 Left

February 21st, 2016 at 08:26 am

As it turns out, I set aside $885 for everyday spending in February. We are now down to the last $75 because we went grocery shopping yesterday. I have $15 of that in my wallet. And I have three items on my 'forgot to buy at the grocery store' list. I plan to use cash for those items.

There is still cash for one more fuel fill up (we are both on Full right now), a haircut for my husband, a bottle of wine, and $20 for groceries. I have nothing left in clothing, entertainment, gifts, pets, restaurants or household goods. Some of those never had any cash in them this month anyway!

I have a feeling next weekend might feel really hard! Although if absolutely necessary we will spend on what we need.

I can tell that it has been a pretty good exercise for all three of us here. My daughter has been aware. Although she isn't a big spender. I've been aware of the coupons, sales, and emails that tempt me to spend. I've kept myself out of as many stores as possible. My husband has been the most interesting one to watch. I'm not sure if he feels he has had to make too many changes. To me, it seems he has been given some extra passes to get things he wants, particularly food (snacks). And then it interesting to see that I let him! Is that because he is the bread winner and this experiment is just a game? It's all small stuff, but it does add up. I don't really know the answers. Maybe we'll have more insight if we discuss it at the end of the month.

I do remember that he suggested we get my van washed at least twice this month. Yes, it is a bit dusty. It should be cleaned at some point. But it's a no spend month. We are only spending on needs. A car wash is not a need! He has stopped asking. I wonder if he'll take care of it on March 1?

The really exciting part of this experiment is how much money we have saved. It seems that the three months prior our everyday expenses were around $2300. If we only spend $885 this month, then we have saved about $1415! Not bad at all. We've actually saved about $3000 during the entire month, some of which we normally save, but definitely more than we do some months. It helps there were not many outflows from those savings categories too.

ETA: Actually, set aside $785 for variable spending. I accidentally included the $100 we spend on flute lessons in my total. That was considered required spending, like our rent!

February No Spend: 46% Tip and More

February 20th, 2016 at 07:34 am

I've now seen the receipt from the dinner my husband went to on Thursday night for a coworker's retirement dinner. As I said before he paid for the retiree's dinner. The restaurant included a 20% tip, likely because it was a large group of 11.

So the total of the drinks and meals was $37.98, $3.65 taxes, $7.60 tip added by restaurant for a grand total of $49.23.

He added $10 additional tip because he didn't read the bill specifying that the gratuity was already added! So our out of pocket was $59.23. That is a 46% tip!!

In other news, we cancelled our Citi Premier card. We've had it since last May and have stopped using it. It has an annual fee that is waived the first year, but we don't want to pay for one when it is up for renewal. That was easy to do online.

I also closed my Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts. I had $0.06 in there. We weren't using it because the interest rate of 0.75% was lower than our other accounts. That was also super easy to do online. I did the withdrawal and it had a place to confirm I was closing the account. My six cents should arrive to our checking account on Monday.

We applied for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card finally. We received one offer a couple months ago. It expired before I could get that completed. So when it arrived in the mail again, I jumped on it. It appears to offer $50K points for spending $1000 in three months. I think there were some points for an authorized user too. Oh, and we were instantly approved.

We also applied for the Marriott Rewards credit card. There was an offer for 80K points after spending $3000 in three months. We would like to use these points for hotels this summer, when we hope to visit Washington DC. This card, offered by Chase, didn't instantly approve, but indicated we would receive notification by mail. Chase has changed the way they do business and approvals. We have never had this card in the past though, so hoping this is available to us.

My husband did make some purchases yesterday. Fuel for his truck $23.35, alcohol $19.10, and some snacks $21.03, which was more than I expected. We will need to pick up some groceries for the coming week today or tomorrow.

The cash is getting tighter! Trying to hold on until the end.

February No Spend: Dining Out

February 19th, 2016 at 08:39 am

We haven't eaten any meals out the entire month of February. Until yesterday. My husband had the retirement dinner for a colleague last night. I was mentally prepared for this since he mentioned it early in the month.

I don't know his exact spending yet, as he didn't enter it into YNAB and has the receipt in his wallet. He told me it was around $60. Turns out he ended up paying for the departing soldier's meal, since no one else offered or stepped up. What can I say? He's a generous person! I could have been upset, but there's really no point. I don't want to squash generosity, just for my little no spend game.

We are coming up on the weekend. I expect we will find free things to do. I don't know that anyone needs anything such as clothing or personal care (I might need contact solution before the month runs out, but trying to conserve). So as is usual for most weekends I expect our spending to be on food.

Just 10 more days of February! We have $230 that has not been spent, but is still in our budget. Hopeful we can get by without spending all of that. How much money do you have left in before the end of the month?

February No Spend: Needs

February 18th, 2016 at 08:34 am

I've spent some money. On needs. I picked up highlighters and a pencil sharpener for my daughter last night at Staples (who I feel is overpriced). Outflow was $5.34.

Today I went to Walmart and picked up pencil lead for my daughter, all purpose flour to make pizza, and shaving cream for my husband. Outflow was $7.28.

Now I suppose I could nitpick a bit and suggest my husband could use soap for shaving for the rest of the month, or that my daughter could use the one color of highlighter, or even I could make half a batch of pizza dough. But that isn't exactly the point. To go extreme. The point is to make conscious choices.

I was able to browse in both stores, but felt no real to desire to buy anything than I went in for. It is much more satisfying to leave knowing you only went in for needs and survived doing it!

I also have to admit I have a few things on a list, that probably could be considered needs, that I will probably purchase in March. Two of those are a new trashcan for my daughter's bathroom (it's cracked on two sides), and curtain rods for at least two bedrooms (we currently don't have any here, but can install if we remove and repair before we move).

Another free thing to do during a no spend month: delete old emails and computer files!

P.S. We received our tax refund of $359 today from the IRS. We're going to set that aside in savings.

February No Spend: Repairs

February 17th, 2016 at 09:39 am

We've spent some money on household repairs this month. But it doesn't count! The money is being initially spent by us, but we will reduce our rent in March accordingly and send our receipts to the owners. These are repairs authorized by them, so this isn't a surprise.

The first purchase was for a new supply line for the refrigerator, which we paid about $20 for, as it appeared to be leaking near the shut off valve. We installed this ourselves. Unfortunately, this was not the only leak.

There is a leak near the water inlet valve on the fridge itself. It's pretty obvious to us now that this was long term leak as parts nearby are corroded. I'm currently waiting for Sears (the owners desired repair service) to come replace the part. If I am correct on the part it seems to be about $65. At a minimum the charge is $115 to come to the door! I actually think I could have fixed this myself. I've seen it done on another fridge we had. So I currently don't know the full cost, but it will be charged to our card and we will reduce our rent by the same amount in March. How nice of me to float that expense for them! I do at least get a few reward points for it. Smile

So I think I'm going to file these charges under rent in YNAB since they are effectively reducing our rent. At least it makes sense to me.

No spending yesterday as expected. I think, in addition to the above repairs, we have a few items to purchase: shaving cream, flour, and a couple school supplies. And tomorrow is the day my husband goes out to eat for a coworker's retirement dinner. So the next two days have some small expenditures.

Edit to add: Sears was two hours outside their window of service, the cost came to $294.37! The labor was $211. And it only took four minutes to change out the part once he had moved the fridge. I then had to sign several 'waivers' of damage liability, which took longer than the five minutes print, discuss and sign.

February No Spend: Decluttering Is Free

February 16th, 2016 at 08:46 am

No spending yesterday. And I don't expect any today. I'm still staying out of the stores and eating meals at home.

I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I've been decluttering this month. The main purpose is to help keep myself busy and out of the stores! But the side benefit, is that when decluttering you realize that you own stuff you purchased at one point that you never liked or used. That alone makes me a little more careful about future purchases. I also have several things I could sell, but I'm not to that point in the process yet.

I haven't limited my decluttering to physical items. I'm deleting old emails, and documents on my computer also. And photos on my phone!

If you attempt your own no spend/low spend month, I encourage you to have some free activities or projects to do around your house. You will be spending significantly less time in stores. A few ideas: spring cleaning, decluttering, organizing, finishing a project that you have all supplies for, enjoying a hobby, watching movies, playing games, exercising, talking on the phone with friends and family, completing home maintenance, and cooking meals at home (with ingredients you already have).

February No Spend: Free Stuff

February 15th, 2016 at 10:29 am

We did finally see Bridge of Spies this weekend. For free! It was a really good movie. I wouldn't not have regretted spending $4.99 to rent online, but I found a code for a free Redbox rental. So it cost us nothing out of pocket. More free entertainment!

The code is still available. I found it here on Hip2Save. Once I had the promotion code, I went to the Redbox website (I didn't use the app) and reserved our movie to pick up later. Simple!

Today we are all home. We aren't planning to go anywhere. In fact, we are watching a movie this afternoon. One we already own. We are having tacos for dinner, so no eating out.

I did purchase some L-Lysine for our cat, along with a new computer battery from Amazon yesterday. The good news is no money out of pocket. I used $30 worth of Amazon gift cards earned from Swagbucks and Bing Rewards. The remaining $1.29 was covered by Discover rewards. I like when I can get stuff for free!

February No Spend: Groceries

February 14th, 2016 at 03:48 pm

We have moved into our next pay period of February spending. Monday would usually be payday, but because of the holiday my husband was paid on Friday. Today we went grocery shopping at the commissary. I would have liked to have waited one more day, but we may be getting some winter weather tomorrow that we would rather not be out in. We spent $92.45. This included $10.05 for litter and a couple cans of cat food. We have $74.29 left for groceries for the remainder of the month.

I feel pretty confident we have all the food we need to get through next Sunday. I think some of the things we bought, such as turkey bacon and cheese will extend into the next week for meals.

I paid balances on our credit cards in full on Friday. And made sure to allocate funds into categories for the remainder of the month, including savings for Christmas, Auto Insurance, and the minimum we save in our emergency fund. I did not add any money to restaurants, clothing, entertainment, gifts or pets. We still have nearly $1,700 left to budget. Since I did all of that other budgeting myself, I'm going to discuss that other money with my husband and determine which categories are important right now. I would guess Vacation, College, Furniture and maybe more to the EF. That excess is a testament to the fact that low spend months do result in extra money!

No Spend February: Valentine's Day

February 13th, 2016 at 08:13 am

We are not spending anything on Valentine's Day. We don't usually spend much at all most years, but this year no extras are being purchased. At most we can say I spent $8, $3 for a bag of candy, and $5 bill to mail to my niece. However, I technically used money for those in January. Smile

I have a box of chocolate caramels that were sent at Christmas and the bag of Valentine's candy that I purchased in January. That is our way of celebrating. Eating sweets!



I specifically told my husband not to buy any cards or flowers this year. That easily saved us $20 to $25. He usually buys a card for each of our daughters, and myself. And these are the $4 and $5 cards! That we look at for three seconds. And the flowers are a bouquet he picks up at the grocery store and puts in a vase when he arrives home.

We did send a homemade Valentine's card to our daughter in college that we all signed. I enclosed a $10 Subway gift card that I earned from MyPoints. She's not big into the whole Valentine's thing anyway.

I feel really good about this spending decision. Valentine's is one of those holiday's that seems so contrived. Will you spend any money on Valentine's Day?

February No Spend Month: Meals and Spending

February 12th, 2016 at 03:30 pm

The most recent spending was fuel for both of our vehicles. My husband spent $28.40 yesterday to fill his truck. Today he filled my van up, spending $27.25. Low fuel prices are kind of nice on the pocket book, but still thinking about those in the industry that it may affect. Frown

My husband also picked up a few groceries from the commissary to get us through the long weekend. No work or school on Monday due to President's Day. He spent $30.73 on the items I put on the list. And this time he didn't add anything! And it seems we are having an alcohol free Friday, and hopefully, the full weekend! We used up our alcohol budget already.

I did make banana bread yesterday. I didn't have milk for my traditional recipe and found one that would use sour cream! It tastes really good, too. That used up two of the eggs I listed in my post yesterday.

Today my husband had a couple egg burritos for lunch, while I had meatloaf and a salad. And yes, we are having homemade pizza. It's jazzed up a bit more since we purchased turkey crumbles and pepperoni today.

Our lunch and dinners include the following for the next three days:
Tuna melts on English Muffins
Lentil soup/tomato soup with Salad
Boca burger/Frozen pizza/Eggs
Pasta with sauce and salad
Chili/PB&honey sandwich/Eggs
Tacos (we bought a few things to make this work)

I may try making a frittata in the coming days. I've never made one before, but I wouldn't mind trying. We also picked up black beans to have with brown rice and salsa in the coming days as well.

Today is payday, but that is three days early because of the holiday. I will end up adding some more cash to our low spending budget for the month, but not too much, as I do want to save as much as we can. I'll have a post on the total savings at some point this month.

February No Spend: Torn Clothing, Credit, Pantry Status

February 11th, 2016 at 10:05 am

I seem to have torn a hole in a favorite pair of workout capris. And not in way that can easily be repaired. So into the trash. I have two other pairs I can wear to finish out the month of February. Although, I will say this tempts me to want to see if I can find any on clearance (usually a good time of year for that). But for now, I'm going to resist. As that is part of the exercise of a no spend month.

My daughter's flute teacher cancelled her lesson yesterday. We prepay to the store, so she informed us we will get a credit for yesterday's lesson. That means $25 back in our pocket at some point. Since this is the first that happened, I'm not sure if it will show up right away as a credit on our credit card or reduce the payment for March. I'm going to expect the latter, and be surprised if it is the other way.

My husband didn't get his hair cut yesterday, so it was again another No Spend Day. Two days in a row! I have done really well keeping myself out of stores. I probably would have popped into a store to pick up a couple school supplies for my daughter had we been to her lesson. So those will wait to be combined with another trip.

I ate Cream of Wheat for breakfast (only one or two packets to go!) Lunch was leftover taco dip on two tortillas and a side salad. We are having meatloaf for dinner tonight. There should be some leftovers for lunch on Friday. Tomorrow I will make homemade pizza, with a side salad planned for dinner.

It feels like our food supply is diminishing. But here is what we still have that doesn't have a plan: 6 apples, half bag mini peppers, two cans of tuna, 5 eggs, lentil soup (freezer), a half loaf of bread, two packages of ground beef, chili (one serving, maybe two), English muffins (frozen), one Boca burger, half bag hashbrowns, tomato soup (one serving), one frozen single serve pizza, side serving of risotto (frozen), can of beets, brown rice, barley, can chicken noodle soup, steel cut oats, quinoa, arborio rice, 1/4 jar of peanut butter, a few Wasa crackers, three slices of cheddar cheese, 1 c shredded cheddar cheese, 8 oz sour cream and large container of salsa.

I think I'm going to come up with a precise plan to get through most of the weekend on these items. I think I will have to allow a bag of tortilla chips at a minimum. I personally wouldn't mind some popcorn.

Hopefully, I can report back tomorrow how I'm going to use all these items! If you see a clear meal with the ingredients listed, let me know. I'm open to ideas. Oh, and I have two frozen bananas...I think I can make banana bread!

What do you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry?

February No Spend: Lower Time Warner Bill

February 10th, 2016 at 08:00 am

Our Time Warner bill came in my email inbox yesterday. It was higher than usual. It was $97.24 rather than the $90.80 that we have been paying for several months. I thought originally that there was a new $10 charge. But the math didn't make sense.

Turns out some of the fees connected to the TV portions of our bill had increased. There was information on our last bill about the increases. I didn't read the bill because the amount was the same...so thus a bit of a shock to see the increase this month.

I did an online chat with customer service and cancelled our Sports Pass. We added that in the fall to see our favorite football team, and maybe some glimpses of our daughter in marching band, but only saw three games broadcast on that station in the end. That was originally $8.99 a month and had increased to $10.

So instead of a $97.24 bill, I got a credit for cancelling the Sports Pass. Our new bill amount is $85.58. I can probably get this lower if we turn our HD Set top box in for a digital adapter instead. That should bring the bill down closer to $75 for basic TV and internet. We will need to go in to customer service to make that change.

Yesterday was a actual no spend day. No outflow of cash by any of us! Today my husband is going to attempt to get a haircut while on his lunch break. That is budgeted in our spending plan this month. It is required to upkeep his hair for his job. Of course, we could just shave it all off! But we won't. Smile

We all ended up eating waffles last night, so no leftovers for snacks. Usually my husband eats eggs when I make waffles, so now we have a few extra eggs for later in the month. Tonight we are having Bean Taco Dip for dinner. It's easy to have on busier evenings (flute lesson tonight). Tomorrow is the meatloaf! I think I'm having salad and a Boca burger for lunch today.

I also have plans to do some more cleaning today to keep myself busy. Bathrooms and vacuuming are my goals. I'm also going to watch one or two episodes of Mad Men on Netflix while I walk on the treadmill.

February No Spend: What We've Spent So Far

February 9th, 2016 at 08:27 am

Again, a no spend month isn't entirely no spend. It's more of a low spend month. We are trying to get by with just the basics. I think I'm following it the best because I personally have only purchased one item I didn't need. A diet pop. Actually ask my husband to pick it up for me when he was out getting other things.

My husband has insisted on alcohol, which I did have a little of, and extra snacks. My daughter insisted on Clif Bars (which I see as a luxury food item) for her lunch.

As of February 9, we have spent $238.10. And here is how that breaks down:
Groceries: $157.61
Fuel: $29.79
Alcohol: $50.70

Yes, over 21% of our spending was on alcohol. Trust me, I'm not proud to say that. The spending would look even better if that alcohol wasn't there. However, despite that, we are spending far less than we sometimes do.

My daughter came to me last night asking for highlighter markers. The ones she had were wearing out. I directed her to a couple in my desk drawer. Only one was acceptable. She said it should work for awhile. She is aware of our no spend month, so I think she means it will work until March. I'm willing to buy her a new one or two if she does need them, as I want her to have the right tools for school.

I'm going to spend some of my afternoon cleaning our home. These wood floors show every cat hair that has come loose! And it seems to be a free activity and will help keep me warm on this cooler day.

Only 20 days left of the month. I wonder if this low spending plan is going to get easier or harder?


February No Spend: Computer Updates

February 8th, 2016 at 12:07 pm

I'm keeping myself out of the stores as much as possible this month. I'm not much of a spontaneous spender, but it happens. And those costs do add up. It is so much easier to keep a low spend month really low by staying out of the stores.

I had the last yogurt and some Cream of Wheat this morning. Lunch was leftover meats(chicken and beef) and potatoes with cheese sauce. I also had a piece of bread and butter.

This evening we are having another soup from the freezer (Mushroom Barley) and cheese bread. We will probably have a small side salad as well. Tomorrow we will make eggs and waffles. We usually end up with plenty of leftover waffles that I freeze and use for a snack or another night of waffles for dinner. Wednesday is meatloaf. I haven't made that in years! We have a lot of ground beef on hand, so it will be a nice treat.

I have spent most of today working on some computer updates. Our computers have had Windows 8 operating systems on them, and we have been reminded many, many times we can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. My husband already took care of the computer he uses the most. Today, I upgraded mine to Windows 10. It did take some time, so I used some of that time to go through some papers in the file drawer in my desk while I waited.

After the Windows 10 Update, I went to Navy Federal Credit Union where I found a free one year trial of McAfee for our computers. It's one offer per member. We are each considered separate members, so if it is available next year, we will qualify again for another year. If I could not find McAfee for free, I would have used AVG that several of you had suggested. My husband seems to think McAfee is the only way to go for this kind of thing!

My daughter did inform me this morning that she will need more granola bars. I was surprised as I was sure there were at least five or six on Friday. I planned those would get her through this week. Turns out she ate some over the weekend. This means a trip to the store before Wednesday morning. I'm debate whether I should go or send my husband. We know what happened last time I sent him! Smile

We did spend each day over the weekend. It was all within budget. And in the grocery and alcohol category. And I personally did really well with my consumption of alcohol!

February No Spend: Free Entertainment

February 7th, 2016 at 08:57 am

On Friday night my husband mentioned that a movie I want to see (Bridge of Spies) is now available to rent on Amazon. I reminded him that it was a low spend month and that I did not put any money in the entertainment budget. I also reminded him it would still be available in March and we have a lot of other free options of movies to watch with our Prime and Netflix memberships. We found another option that interested us for free.

On Saturday evening, we decided to go explore the post my husband works on. We were looking for a training exercise we could view. We found one of the spots, but it seems we may have been on the opposite end for the best view. We did get to see a very pretty sunset while we waited. We will try again another time they have this exercise on a weekend. At least it was free!!

After we returned home from our adventure we ate dinner and opened up our newest board game, Ticket to Ride. It looked like I was winning, but in the end our daughter won. She was super excited! That is a very fun game. I may see if she wants to play again today. Smile

We will watch the Super Bowl tonight. I'm not a big NFL team follower, but these big games are pretty fun...especially with some great commercials mixed in. Will you watch the Super Bowl?

February No Spend: 'Groceries Don't Count'

February 6th, 2016 at 10:06 am

So my husband did go to the commissary yesterday after work to get groceries. I made a VERY SPECIFIC list. He did get everything on the list, but he ADDED to it. Ugh. He bought an extra bag of chips, another box of crackers, a second package of tortillas, and ice cream! I reminded him it was a no spend month, and his was reply was I didn't think groceries counted! Well the goal is to spend the least possible across the board, so YES groceries count. By the way those extra items cost us $10.52, which is nearly 15% of the total bill.

I really do appreciate that he went as it will keep us from making a separate trip over the weekend to shop. It's going to be crazy busy there with the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday!

He spent $72.37 at the commissary. I think except for a couple more items, this can get us through next Sunday, which is the day before payday. I set aside $175 for groceries for this pay period and we still have $39 left. I think we can make it. And the extra snacks might keep us out of the store just a bit longer!

He spent $19.10 on wine. The equivalent of four bottles. And earlier in the day he bought candy for the office because he had been eating quite a bit of it because he forgot his lunch! It would have been healthier to spend the $8.98 on an actual lunch.

He also bought fuel for his truck which amounted to $29.79. Last time he filled up was 10 days ago. This is about average for him. I still have half a tank, although we are going to take a little road trip late this afternoon for a free activity. We may fill up before or after. I budgeted $150 this pay period for fuel, but that is probably too high considering we range between $170-230 each month. Maybe we'll try to stay on that low end! It does help that fuel prices are low right now.

So far I feel really good at how we have done with our low spend month. I will say a lot of the groceries have been fresh vegetables since my husband takes salads for lunch everyday. We also use some of it some nights with our dinner. I'm just trying to use up with what we have on hand. Last night we had pasta with ground beef and sauce that we had on hand. I used up some fresh broccoli and got out a can of beets.

Original plan for dinner tonight was chicken breasts, roasted potatoes and salad, but we may end up postponing that to tomorrow night. We may be out around dinner, so instead we will come home and have our super bowl snacks a day early.

Next week we will be having some of these meals:
soup and cheese bread
eggs or waffles
meatloaf and beets
bean dip (need sour cream and can of refried beans)
homemade pizza and apples
tuna melts and apples
and one night will be make your own (ie leftovers)

I'm planning to eat a combination of leftovers and tuna sandwiches for lunch. I'm also currently using up the Cream of Wheat packets in our cupboard for my breakfast.

February No Spend: Wine

February 5th, 2016 at 07:21 am

Wine is NOT a necessity for me. However, it nearly is for my husband. He mentioned how stressed he was at work this week and wanted to pick some up last night. I didn't encourage or discourage him. In the end he skipped it. He had to be up early this morning for a run anyway. Turns out he didn't set his alarm correct and missed the run! And he didn't take his lunch to work (not sure if he will eat out or not).

I'm pretty sure he will be buying wine tonight though. I did leave money in the budget for it despite our low spend month. I think if I drink a little less we could get by with buying less, so I will let him know to buy accordingly.

And I think he will end up buying a snack or two for the weekend as well. He was looking for a snack last night and ended up making two egg burritos! I gave him several other suggestions, but he wasn't for those.

So all that to say, there will be some spending today. And I blame it all on my husband!! Smile I know I could get through the entire weekend without spending any money on food. There are plenty of things here to be eaten. Although, the cupboard and fridge do look sparse!

Four days in a row without spending. I'm pretty excited about that. Will you need to spend this weekend?

February No Spend: Free Tax Return

February 4th, 2016 at 08:55 am

We are on a roll so far! Wednesday was another no spend day for all of us here. I'm 99% sure today will be no spend as well. It's possible that coworker dinner is tonight, but my husband didn't think so. We are having leftover Five Bean Chili soup, salad and cheese bread for dinner.

I had my yogurt and coffee for breakfast. I opened a cat of tuna (shared some with the cats) and made a tuna salad sandwich for lunch. I may need an apple later to tide me over to dinner. My husband and daughter took their packed lunches.

I logged onto Military One Source, to get access to the free online tax preparation software. It's with H&R Block. It came up with a refund of $375! I thought we would OWE around $300. Apparently I'm not including something or calculating the American Opportunity Tax credit right. I do trust the calculations for the most part. To ease my mind before filing I may enter some things in another software program (for free) to confirm. Once I feel confident I have it all right, I will efile. Now that I have a refund I'm much more motivated to get our taxes complete!!

The refund will get saved initially. However, I may toss it at this years tuition bill, buy an airplane ticket or put it in our home furnishings budget. It will be useful at least!

Did you do your taxes? Refund or owe? Did you pay to have your tax return calculated? How much did you pay?

February No Spend: Temptation

February 3rd, 2016 at 11:11 am

I had breakfast and lunch at home again today. Yogurt, salad and two bean tacos thus far. We won't likely eat dinner together tonight because of flute lessons. I planned a make your own dinner night. In other words...find something to eat on your own! I'm not sure what I'm having yet, but I'm guessing my daughter will have grilled cheese and my husband will eat the leftover egg casserole.

I've stayed at home all day. I've accomplished various tasks around here as normal, including the first sewing project. I did watch a movie on Netflix, while I walked on the treadmill. All free!

Boy there are temptations out there you don't even realize sometimes. I was researching some natural oils for healing an ailment. I was curious and just getting information, until I found myself adding things into the online shopping cart. And then more stuff to get free shipping. Wait! What was I doing? I don't need to buy these things now. And I definitely didn't need to buy extras!

I'm going to make sure to bring a book to read while waiting at lessons tonight. The lesson is in a strip mall, so there is ALWAYS a store open to pop into. One of those is Plato's closet, which I saw an advertisement for today. I thought about going in there to see what I could find...but that would be spending. And we don't NEED anything right now. There will be items there in March, so I will wait.

In other news, now my husband's boss and coworkers are discussing going to dinner for the coworker who is retiring! So this means some sort of expense. I'd love to say no, but the cash is there. I don't want him to opt out just because we are doing a no spend month. Yes, I'd like to spend the least possible, but if this is necessary, then so be it. If we were really hard up it might be different.

I think I can get a free McAfee subscription through Navy Federal CU. Although, I may have used that offer in the past. The only way to know is to try. So that task is on my list.

So yes, another day with out spending! I wonder how many days we will get in a row?

February No Spend: Free Toothpaste

February 2nd, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I went to the dentist today. No cavities for me, just some teeth they are watching for various reasons. I walked out with the standard free toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. I was happy about the toothpaste as I know the tube I currently use will not make it through the month of February. So I'll use the little tube and scour the house for another if necessary. The cost was covered under our dental plan.

I have also eaten at home for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was yogurt and coffee. Lunch was leftover cheese pizza and salad. If I'm hungry later, we have popcorn on hand. Or maybe an apple, cut into slices would be more satisfying. I will probably be having both before the month is out.

I prepped our dinner for tonight. Egg casserole. I expect this will count for two meals. My husband and I are the only ones who eat it. My daughter will have scrambled eggs, which is super fast to throw together.

It's a bit frustrating to see coupons such as $10 off a $10 purchase come in the mail from JC Penney, or have Kohl's tell me I earned a $5 reward. I don't plan on purchasing anything at those places, because if I do I'm sure I would spend more than the coupon. They are clever that way aren't they?

I managed to work a little more on a sewing project. My daughter has the next step, before I do the final part. Although she may do that as well.

I think I'm about ready to start working on our income taxes. As I said before, I dread it a bit. I know I have to learn the new rules of the American Opportunity Tax credit. At least the software should walk me through it.

I'm also on the look out for a cheap and preferably free McAfee Internet Security. Our plan expires this month. Any suggestions?

And if you didn't notice, it seems that today is actually a no spend day! Yippee!!

February No Spend: Lunch at Home

February 1st, 2016 at 10:59 am

Of course, I had lunch at home today. I nearly always do. Today, I used two tortillas, refried beans, cheese, avocado and a dash of hot sauce to make two burritos. Yummy! My daughter and husband have both been taking their lunches in recent months, so I expect there to be zero eating out in February.

It's so nice here today. I went for a walk outside around the neighborhood. I talked to my mom on the phone. And I'm getting our sheets washed (sort of free, but there is a cost with water and electricity).

I'm going to keep myself entertained for free all month. I have some projects to do indoors, such as deep cleaning the blinds, and a couple sewing projects. I already started on one!

We have a new game that my friend gifted us last week. Ticket to Ride is the name. I expect this will be a source of entertainment this month as well.

There is already one snag. My husband's boss bought a junior coworker a retirement gift. Some sort of sword. He doesn't know how much the boss spent, but the gift is from five of them. He thinks he should put in $30-$40. I told him fine, because in the whole scheme of things it is fine. But ugh!! A policy from the Ethics Committee just came down saying no sales at work (such as Avon, or school fundraisers). This seems to be one of those areas too. Boss should have asked for donations before buying item before expecting others to pitch in. This was a big issue at my husband's last job too!

I am buying my mom flowers to be sent to her on her birthday, later this week. I always buy my mom a gift. It seems a little more difficult now that I'm farther away. I did budget for these. I had $50 set aside, but came away spending only $35.

So this no spend month really is about making conscious choices. I had considered sewing my mom something from my stash, but time got away from me and I don't think she would actually get quite as much enjoyment as she will the flowers. It is winter where she is so flowers can really brighten one's mood. I may keep the sewing idea I had for Mother's Day.

Tonight we are having homemade pizza. All from scratch! I expect there will be leftovers which I will likely have tomorrow for lunch with a side salad.