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Archive for March, 2016

Thinking of Doing a Diet Bet

March 31st, 2016 at 07:10 pm

After LAL posted about her Diet Bet win, I've been thinking that may be something to try. I have been super lazy and unfocused about my health. We have a treadmill in our home, so I can't use weather as an excuse. I wear a Fitbit which was motivating at first, but now has lost it's charm. Of course, last weekend my sister challenged me, so I was all over that...since sisters can be competitive. I won, but she had things come up and was distracted a bit from even trying.

I've stopped drinking pop again. I bought more tea bags and some stevia for sweetness. That alone will help with food cravings. I've lost weight in the past by counting calories. It does work, so some sort of motivation to just get back to doing so would be incredibly helpful. I can't imagine wanting to lose my bet!

The only issue is my knee. It can really hurt if I walk to much, usually the following day after a long walk. I think the primary issue is my leg and back muscles are too tight. It's a vicious cycle.

The bet I'm interested in starts Monday. It's a $35 Kickstarter, so I would need to lose 4% in 4 weeks. I'm going to ponder it the next few days. In the meantime, anyone want to tell me their experience with Diet Bet or just your own inspirational success with losing weight.

Matinee

March 31st, 2016 at 02:05 pm

My daughter is home this week for spring break. We are going to go see Zootopia this morning. On average we see a movie in the theatre about four times a year. We nearly always go see a movie during the matinee. To save the money, of course! For the two of us, it will cost us $11 to see the movie. It is around the lunch hour, so we may get popcorn...or I might pop some at home and put it in my purse. Smile

Do you watch movies in the theatre? How often?

Price of Stamps

March 29th, 2016 at 02:41 pm

Did you know that the price of a First Class Stamp is going down? As of April 10, the new price will be 2 cents less, at just $0.47. I only bought one today, since I don't want to stock up on postage at the higher rate. I don't mail too many things, but rent is one of them.

I took our youngest daughter in to have a cavity filled. The first one either of our daughter's have had! It was pretty small, but seemed a good idea to have it taken care of sooner than later. Hopefully, this can be the last one! It cost $19.80. I had cash to make the payment which feels good.

I'd like to think we are done spending for the the month, but apparently my daughter is now in need of shampoo. I buy this stuff in bulk, and it lasts nearly a year. I will pick it up tomorrow when we are near that store.

$275 Left

March 28th, 2016 at 01:26 pm

My new MacBook Pro purchase really helped move our spending along on our newest credit card rewards bonus. We need to spend $3K on the Marriott Rewards card to earn 80K points. There may also be a 7500 bonus for a second user, so there is that too. We have already spent $2,725 on the card.

There will be no issue making the threshold as we have nearly two more months to complete. I probably could pay the electric and cable bill and have it complete this week. Smile

We still plan to use our points for a Washington DC vacation this summer. If we pick a hotel in Alexandria on the end of the metro line I think we can easily get five nights. We will get that firmed up once we have the points.

Funds are getting a little tight this month since it is a longer month. We've been snacking too much again and eating out more. Money is still there, just not put into the right categories on YNAB. Luckily I can move that around!

Snowflake

March 26th, 2016 at 02:16 pm

I sold two Wii games on eBay this week. After shipping and fees I netted $8.99. For now I'm leaving that money in my Paypal account. I feel like lately my snowflakes just get consumed into our spending. I probably need to be transferring them to our savings account.

Of course, I like all snowflakes...even if they melt once in awhile.

Witnessed a Theft

March 25th, 2016 at 02:31 pm

I witnessed a theft from a store earlier this week. It was around 6pm. I was in a retail area to take my daughter to her flute lesson. I drove behind Bed Bath and Beyond to see a man with a full cart running. Then I noticed another man running after him. The thief was heading to a get away car driven by someone else. In the end he abandoned the cart and pulled a pillow off the top, hopped in the car and they drove away.

I stopped by the other man who had grabbed the cart. He was a worker at the store. I didn't offer to submit a report nor did he indicate he would call police. We just both agreed it was crazy and stupid. Apparently, this happens with some frequency there!

My only goal was to stay safe and maybe see a license plate number. The thieves were smart to have removed their plate...so I couldn't help in that way. I did notice the items being stolen were towels and bedding.

Have you witnessed a theft?

Getting a Refund?

March 24th, 2016 at 02:57 am

I ordered a Yamaha keyboard from Amazon. I received TWO! On different days from UPS. I notified Amazon that I received two. They offer, after two emails, to have UPS pick up the extra keyboard from our house. UPS picks it up today.

And now....

I get notice that Amazon is issuing me a refund for all but $29 of my original purchase cost. So while, I wasn't charged for two keyboards to be sent, they are refunding the cost of my original purchase minus the shipping fees to send the second one back. The original purchase with tax was $171.

I'm shocked that Amazon doesn't have a better handle on their inventory! Should I call and asked to be charged again? None of this is my fault. I could have easily keep the 'free' keyboard and sold it. I did the right thing and explained the second keyboard arrival and confirmed I had not been charged twice. Amazon agreed I was only charged once.

What would you do at this point?

Various Stuff

March 22nd, 2016 at 03:17 pm

Amazon accidentally sent us a second keyboard! It arrived on our doorstep last night. The original one I bought arrived on Thursday. The good news I wasn't charged for the second one. At this point, Amazon is providing me with a return label and wants me to drop it off at UPS. I don't think that is right. I shouldn't have to go out of my way to return something I didn't request. Especially such a large item! It's around 25 pounds and the box is about four feet long and pretty wide. Awkward to bring in from the porch let alone put in the car and carry into UPS. I want them to authorize UPS to pick it up from my house. If I try to arrange pickup it will cost me over $10.

We received a refund of some auto insurance premium going back to 2014 in the mail. It was for just under $16. Definitely unexpected. But I will take any money anyone wants to return. Smile

I found out our neighborhood is holding a community wide sale on April 9th. I think I'll be scrounging the house to see what I can find to sell. I like that we have just enough notice over our spring breaks to find the things to let go of. I will try to sell a couch and fridge at the sale too. Although, I realize those may not be items easily sold at a sale.

I briefly had a post up here to ask some of you how I could get my YNAB 4 to download on my new computer. I did some Google searching and found a link that took me to the download page. I saved the key code, so it was pretty easy to get it up and running again. I'm sure I will gravitate to the new version at some point, just not sure I want a yearly charge for it!

The Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal

March 21st, 2016 at 08:36 pm

I took our daughter to her oral surgeon consult today. She is all good to have have all four wisdom teeth removed, with an appointment in early June. I also got the estimate for our portion of the cost. The full cost agreed between insurance and the surgeon is $1,408. Our portion is $588.40, which is about 42%. I did notice that the sedation is covered at 50%, rather than 60%, so I think that adjusts our portion higher than the expected 40%.

I had to pay $95 in order to hold the consultation appointment. That fee is applied to our portion. So if the costs stay the same our final bill due will be $493.40. I can definitely handle that!

Per our estimate of charges, the Usual Customary and Reasonable charge for this same procedure is $2,230. I was willing to pay that much if it came to it, but it seems we won't need to.

Do you have your wisdom teeth or did you have them removed at some point?

Bought a MacBook Pro

March 20th, 2016 at 09:36 pm

We went to the Post Exchange today to look at their Apple laptop. I thought we would just end up looking despite knowing that we need to replace my computer desperately. In the end, because they were having a sale on the Apple computers we purchased the one I had been looking at for $65 less than retail, plus saved the tax because we bought on post.

The total was $1424. It's a lot of money, but I don't regret it. My last computer was purchased in January 2010. It's a Dell and for the most part has worked fine, despite a lot of work to keep it going this long. The screen has been replaced once. I'm on my third battery. I've even replaced the back to the screen. It could have failed far earlier than this!

The next step is to start converting things over. I don't want the migration assistant to move everything as I know that there is a lot of junk on my current computer that just needs to die with the computer! Hopefully, this won't take me too long to accomplish.

We were discussing how we are at the point financially where we know that a more expensive, yet quality purchase is worth it to us. In the past, we have not been drawn to the Apple's simply because of price. It wasn't worth it to us. Now it actually is and we have the cash and money to not make a big deal about it.

I put the charge on our Marriott Rewards card. We are now definitely half way to earning our 80K points! I will pay it off of course, with cash on hand. No interest or payments for us!

Might Need A New Computer

March 18th, 2016 at 02:09 pm

My computer is dying. My daughter says I don't realize how slow it is. I think I do, but just deal with it. It seems that as of last night, the sound card no longer works. Play videos with volume on high and hear nothing. Reboot doesn't fix it. And today, I can't seem to get my Fitbit to charge using the USB charger. I have it now charging on my husband's computer with no issues.

The plan has been to get a new computer, likely an Apple this year. Although, I was hoping for later in the year! We have two Dell computers now. It's tempting to think we could get by with one computer, but I've seen in recent weeks that my husband is using his much more for a class he is taking for work. He has to log in for class every other week. And at the same time he is working, our daughter is needing a computer to do her homework. We need two at this point.

The good news is we can probably pick up the computer we need at the Exchange on post for a slight discount and avoid paying taxes. We will need to do some more research to figure out which computer is right for our needs.

I do feel I need to start working on this fast, as I'm not sure how long the whole computer will even hold up. I don't want to lose any information! Much of it is backed up in other places, just not all of it. Something I will be working on as soon as I can.

Who has an Mac? Which one do you have? Tips on which one to pick?

Lower Cell Phone Bill

March 17th, 2016 at 12:54 am

We have Verizon for our cell phone service. And yes, I've been aware of the other options such as Ting and Republic Wireless. We seem to live in areas were the service those companies provide isn't as good. My husband feels strongly about keeping Verizon as a result.

I was aware of Verizon's newer plans. Today I received an email from them stating I could save about $9 each month. I checked it out and yes for the same 6GB on the current plan, we can switch to the new plan sharing the same 6GB and spend $9 less. But with the change comes reduced line access. Instead of $40 a line, it is $20...so a savings of $80 for the four of us. That is huge.

So instead of a bill of $240, it will be closer to $150. Verizon is quoting $131, but I don't think that includes taxes. I'll take the savings while I can get it.

I do think I looked at changing awhile back, but the access fees were going to be the same. I need to look and see if they have been reduced because of the time we been on our plan. Two more months and we could renew. I don't really want them to jack them back up again.

I just bought a portable piano (keyboard) online for our oldest daughter. She will be home for spring break and needs to practice keyboarding homework. We don't own a piano or keyboard! She will probably need to keep up the skills over the summer so she can be ready for the second semester of classes. I decided it was worth it. I spent $171 on a decently rated Yamaha. I figure it can probably be resold at some point to recoup some of the outlay.

Pay Day and Savings

March 15th, 2016 at 02:32 pm

YNAB really does make budgeting easier. For us, it seems that having a place to set cash aside for a specific category is motivating. And then to see the balance helps us watch the spending in that category a little better. I think that is what is happening. It's just better!

I finished paying all bills and current credit card balances, which are now all back to zero. No interest paid as always! I allocated cash into our spending categories as well as savings.

Savings seems easier too. For this pay period, I added $500 to our vacation fund and $513 to our emergency fund. My goal each month has been to add $336 to the EF. I have exceeded that amount every month so far this year.

Do you have a specific amount you are saving to an emergency fund each month or pay period?

8 Years of Blogging!

March 12th, 2016 at 05:03 pm

I've been blogging here at SA for 8 years! I was reading for a couple years prior. I'm definitely glad I started. I know that blogging helps me focus on our financial goals with much more clarity than if I didn't. And the encouragement from others helps tremendously too!

Since we are now renters, we have zero debt. I'm sure we will own a home again once my husband retires. Our retirement accounts are just a little more than four times the balance they were in 2008 (of course, the market was way down then).

The next several years will be about handling college tuition and housing. After one full year, we can say we have met that obligation without debt. And we are thankful for the scholarships and our savings for making that happen.

A lot can happen in eight years! Let's see if we can do just as good in the next eight. Smile

Sold Shares

March 11th, 2016 at 09:38 pm

I ended up selling $2200 worth of shares today from my daughter's mutual fund. The market is higher than it has been for a little while. I wanted to lock in some of those gains. I still need to redeem another $2200 at some point to pay ourselves back for this Spring semester.

I also received a check in the mail from a class action settlement with Templeton Rye Whiskey. It was for $23! We did buy that stuff at one time. I can't even remember what it was all about, but I'll take the cash. I put it into the vacation fund.

Marriott Rewards

March 11th, 2016 at 03:44 pm

We have just about finished the spending on the American Express Gold card. Only need about $50 left of spending to meet the $1000 threshold for earning the rewards. I think American Express takes a little while to get the rewards credited thus the reason we started this card first.

Next up is the Marriott Rewards Premier card. We'll need to spend $3,000 to get our 80K+ points that we hope to use on our Washington DC trip this summer. We'll be charging airline tickets soon, which will cover about 1/3 of the necessary spending.

Our oldest daughter has a birthday this month, so I have some shopping to do. She also wants to shop for some new spring clothes while she is home on spring break. There's more spending right there! In April I want to take my younger daughter to get prescription sunglasses. And it seems my husband may need eyeglasses soon too. I can imagine just those purchases will put a dent in that spending requirement as well.

Change of Filters

March 9th, 2016 at 02:02 pm

First of all, super happy to have completed two days this week without spending. This isn't too unusual as most of our spending is usually done on the weekends.

I will probably stop by the store today to pick up an item or two for my daughter's science teacher who needs donations for science labs tomorrow and Friday.

We changed a lot of filters around here last weekend. All of our furnace filters are swapped out every other month. It was time to change the water filter on the fridge. And we replaced engine and cabin filters on both of our vehicles. Those were really overdue. My husband and I sort of had a race...I did my vehicle and he did his. It was close on the engine filter, but then I got hung up on a clip that I needed to loosen to get to the cabin filter. He had to help me there.

The really nice thing was the filters were all free because of rewards we have earned. I'm going to make a point to put a reminder on our calendar to get the vehicle filters replaced once a year...it had been far longer than that unfortunately.

Fast Card Closure

March 7th, 2016 at 03:05 pm

My husband has had a Capital One Quicksilver card for about 2.5 years. The last time we used it was in December of 2014. I remember I tried to cancel it online one time, but their response was to call to cancel. We just never got it done. It's been on my list of things to do for months!

Today, I decided to log in to that account and see if I could take care of that online. And yes, this time there was an actual option to close account!! In less than two minutes I had that card closed. I feel so much better.

We still have the same number of cards open as we did before. We opened two recently and have now closed two (we closed Citi Thank You Premier a couple weeks ago).

The good news, as always, is that we don't have a revolving balance on our remaining cards. Thus no interest is ever paid!

I'm Timing the Market

March 4th, 2016 at 03:10 pm

Actually, I'm just watching the market right now. I paid our daughter's spring tuition/housing in early February out of our savings account. Her college fund is still invested in a balanced mutual fund. Thus with the market down and cash on hand I just couldn't bring myself to sell. This is really why we shouldn't have the money in the market at this point. I should have transferred it into a cash account. So for now, my goal is to wait and watch what happens. When it gets even better, I plan to withdraw the amount equal to what came from our savings. At some point, I'm going to start slowly transferring the balance to a cash account.

If we use my husband's GI bill for the next two school years, we won't need any of those funds. It would be nice to have it grow, but I also don't want to lose anything either. So cash it will be it seems.

In other news, I redeemed $12 in Pinecone Rewards yesterday, along with $17.90 from recent eBay sales. I'm using these funds, and Amazon gift cards, to buy a few items on Amazon. Needs. Primarily engine and air filters for our vehicles. I also bought a shower cover for our drain. It was clear it was needed after cleaning the drain recently. I like that I could make these purchases with non income cash!

February Interest & a Deal

March 2nd, 2016 at 01:15 am

We paid $0 in interest. No mortgage. No personal loans. No credit cards with balances. Yippee!!

We earned $59.44. Boy do I wish that was more! But it is better than nothing.

It may have seemed as though we spent $0 based on the original title to my post yesterday. I edited it. We did spend money in February on needs to the tune of about $900. And of course, we paid our bills like rent, electric, trash, water, cell phone, life insurance. And we saved around $3700 in cash, plus $1662.33 for retirement and $166.66 for college.

I picked up three large packages of toilet paper at Target. Each was $15.99 with 27 double rolls. I added on some Windex to get my total over $50 so I could use a $15 coupon off a $50 purchase. I think we are stocked up on toilet paper for at least half a year!