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Archive for May, 2016

Sold More Shares

May 25th, 2016 at 08:47 pm

I sold $2,200 worth of shares from my daughter's educational savings account yesterday. The market was up and the price of shares was higher than the last time I sold. Of course, they are up again today, too.

I have now withdrawn the funds we paid to the University for the spring semester in full. In another three months, we'll owe more money. Joy.

At one point, I thought we would use the Post 911 GI Bill for sophomore and junior years and use the remaining funds for senior year. If she goes beyond that, we were thinking loans. However, we did learn that the GI Bill will cover out of state tuition in full, thus when her scholarship runs after senior year, it may be best to use some of those funds for the fifth year.

Now we are thinking we should use our own funds (the ESA primarily) to pay for sophomore year. I would like to delay taking any loans out as long as possible, so I could see using the Post 911 GI Bill for junior year, then loans for senior year(likely in daughter's name) and finally use GI Bill for the final (fifth) year.

This college stuff is stressful! I can see why some people just take out loans and don't think about it. Smile Not that I really want to end up with that result.

High School Marching Band Fees

May 24th, 2016 at 05:22 pm

The fees for marching band are going up this year by $50. Last year we paid $250 for our Fair Share of marching band costs. This year, the price is $300. Our first installment of $50 is due by June 1st. The Fair Share covers a new summer uniform of shorts and t shirt, color guard uniforms, props, field paint, truck rentals, and the cost to transport our students to away games and competitions.

Last year we had to buy marching band shoes, but they are in fine shape and still fit, so that is one expense we do not have this next season.

I signed up to help sell apparel at home games. I believe this will get me into the games I help at free, usually cost is $7 per person. I might see if my husband wants to help to and skip that expense for him. We will still have admission for away games and competitions.

Van Maintenance

May 22nd, 2016 at 03:35 pm

We took our Honda Odyssey in to the dealership for some basic maintenance yesterday. Premium oil change (we are over 110K miles), tires rotated, and engine coolant flush. All were recommended based on the vehicle's maintenance minder. We had just changed the air filters a few months ago, so that wasn't necessary. We spent $225. And we had around $265 in our budget, so that was easy!

We've always felt that maintaining a vehicle is the best way to keep them long term. Our goal is to get another 6-7 years on our vehicles, when our youngest completes college.

Today, we need to get groceries for the days ahead. I'm only shopping for five days worth. We have company coming over Memorial Day, so we will shop again just before they arrive. I'm going to try to make simple meals this week as we have activities or meetings at least three nights this week. Simple usually is less expensive, too!


Renter's Insurance Adjustments

May 20th, 2016 at 01:12 pm

Our rental insurance is due for renewal in two months. I had received the most recent policy and was reminded that we had Valuable Property Protection attached for jewelry up to $2500. It is $28 a month. The only jewelry of significance we have are our wedding rings. And those probably cost us less than $2K when we bought them twenty years ago. The truth is we have cash to replace these if we were to lose them. We don't need to be insuring them. So $28 saved.

Our renter's insurance was $443 last year. I didn't realize our deductible was only $250! It is scheduled to renew at $432, so it did go down. However I changed the deductible to $1000, the highest allowed. Our premium will be now be $404. Not a large savings, but little amounts add up.

Overall savings is $67 a year!

I expect we will get a little refund for making the changes before the policy actually expires. I will count those dollars as snowflakes!

Beverage Costs Add Up

May 19th, 2016 at 01:12 pm

Last night we drove over 1.5 hours to go to an event put on by some famous You Tubers that my youngest daughter is a fan of. Excellent show!

We spent a lot on beverages I realized later. We all got a beverage at Noodles and Company where we stopped for an early dinner. Although I see from the receipt they only charged us for three drinks at $1.99 each our total was $5.97.

My husband and I each had a beer at the concert venue. Those were $7 each and we left a $1 tip. Total $15.

After the event it was nearly 10pm and we had all been up at 6am for our normal daily routines. We decided for the drive home we needed coffee to stay alert. All four of us ended up getting some sort of hot beverage, along with one water. Total $15.75.

Our beverage total for the evening was $36.72!! I don't really regret these purchases as they aren't usual for us. But remember small things add up!

$35+ In Snowflakes

May 18th, 2016 at 01:18 pm

I received credit for a Pinecone survey yesterday. I think I'm due for another one today. At least $3, but maybe $6.

My husband was also refunded for some conference fees, not sure why exactly. The amount was $32, and was sent to my Paypal account, since after 60 days the government can't send it back to the credit card account...or something dumb like that. Turns out better since he doesn't use that card much and currently has a zero balance.

I'm putting these snowflakes in our savings account. Savings feels good!

Brinks 5% Issue

May 17th, 2016 at 11:34 pm

I know I mentioned the Brinks Prepaid Debit Card recently and how it changed. It seems it is required to have $500 Direct Deposited in order to qualify for a Brinks Preferred account. And you can only get the Savings Account paying 5% if you have the direct deposit. So there is a much higher threshold for making this work, than I originally understood. I think I understood you just needed a small deposit from your own account, rather than from an employer. So, I think I'm opting out of this one, unless I can figure a way around.

I did find a link from Maximizing Money about the Brinks Prepaid Card that probably explains it better. It also seems to back up what I understand from the website and the inserts that arrived with the card.

Snowflake +

May 17th, 2016 at 01:53 pm

I redeemed $6.15 in cash from our US Bank Visa. I'm counting it as a snowflake and have added it to our savings.

I've been given a two week heads up that the first band deposit of $50 is due June 1. I'm always grateful for a little heads up on these kinds of things. I need to add a YNAB category for this I think. Right now I'm just stashing it in the slush account, but I think I would like to keep better track and it is pretty easy to set up another category.

Starting to make plans for when our next round of company comes over Memorial Day. Company costs money! Although, I can see my mother in law treating us to dinner if we go out to eat, so that will help. Smile

Whew...

May 16th, 2016 at 01:57 am

It was a long week, but awesome as well.

My college daughter is home for the summer. It is great to see her. Smile It's fun to hear my daughter's laughing together especially.

My parents were here and ended up leaving a day early. Since they drove 20 hours to get here, they are taking advantage of the trip back to stop at some 'must see' places on their way back. They decided a head start would give them a little more time to enjoy those places before they have to be home.

This is really the first time I've lived so far from my parents. And while I've seen them three other times in the last ten months, this had been the longest stretch and it was hard to say goodbye. I was a little surprised at this!

The week was a bit spendy with more groceries purchased, admission to a botanical garden, extra gas needed for driving around, and we did a quick stock up of cleaning and toiletry items for my daughter so my parents can drive it back and have it stored for when my daughter arrives back to her dorm. And I decluttered a few items to send back as well. A couple for the dorm room and several toys for my newest nieces (my sister and her husband adopted a nine year old girl and now her younger sister is about to be placed with them with the plan to adopt! )

The Week Ahead

May 9th, 2016 at 11:34 am

My parents are driving my college daughter home and they all arrive late today. And my parents stay for a week! I went grocery shopping with only plans for six specific meals. We spent over $200! That did include some cat food and cleaning products, but mostly food. I bought a lot of veggies!!

I'm sure there will be a little eating out and I know my mom enjoys cooking so will help me make a plan and a run to the store if we need more food for meals.

I lost 1.6 pounds this last week. That is 29% of my first month's goal. I think I will do pretty well this week despite my parents being here. They are willing to eat healthy and probably do a better job of it that I do! They also like to get out and walk, so I have some places we can check out to get some exercise in!

Oh in other news, I spent over $20 yesterday at Micheal's craft store for a diorama project for my sophomore daughter. She needed to depict a biome, or a large ecosystem. She was required to put in trees, plants and animals. One of the things she couldn't do was 'print' pictures as representations of these. They could use clay and paper. It was also suggested to go to Dollar Tree to buy plastic animals. (We tried that and found none). So we bought three plastic animals from Micheal's for $5 each!!! Since we used hot glue, I think it will peel off and we can return them. I'm sure there were other ways we could have made it less expensive, but our options were limited by availability and time. I think the teacher is out of line to limit how the biome is depicted, particularly if the child has limited resources! We have the money, others don't.

Have a great week...not sure how much I'll be around SA. Smile

Low Key Mother's Day

May 8th, 2016 at 01:53 pm

I'm a mom, yet I find Mother's Day odd and contrived. Sure I like to be acknowledged, but it doesn't need to be a specific day. I've decided to ban myself from Facebook today. It's too annoying for some reason.

I did receive a Mother's Day card from my youngest daughter. My husband bought the card. She wrote some very nice words, but said it was awkward. I told her I get it. I feel the same way about acknowledging my own mother who is terrific and I love very much. I will see her tomorrow and she will get a card from me. I think I'm also going to buy some flowers to have at our home for the week she is here. I think we will both enjoy them!

That's it an exchange of cards...that is enough for me. I know that my girls love and appreciate me. I guess gifts must not be my love language.

Transferred Funds

May 6th, 2016 at 01:30 pm

I initiated a $10K transfer from our money market account to the savings account at NFCU. The bank indicates that the money will arrive on Tuesday, May 10. At that point, I can put the application in for the 3% CD they are offering.

I requested a payout from Pinecone to my PayPal account two days ago. I thought I would receive it yesterday, as is usually the case. Once it does get deposited, I'm moving it and the Diet Bet money to our savings account.

I purchased matinee tickets for my daughter, husband and I to see Captain America Civil War on Saturday. Paid $16.50 with my Discover card. I will get 5% back in rewards for that purchase. A whole $0.83! It all adds up though. Smile

Military Navy Federal Credit Union Offers

May 5th, 2016 at 11:20 am

It's military appreciation month over at Navy Federal Credit Union. One of there offers this month, that I'm pretty sure we will take advantage of is a 15 month certificate at 3% interest. We can put up to $10K into the certificate.

If anyone is currently a member or has the eligibility, you can check out the other offers here.

There is some fine print that is important, including the need to have a DFAS allotment or DFAS direct deposit of net pay. We have another certificate that requires this so we have $25 deposited as an allotment to our savings account at NFCU each month.

We currently have two certificates at NFCU equal to $10,000. We are earning 3.5% on one through the middle of August, and 3% on another through October of this year. This will help replace those great rates that expire later this year. Hopefully, there will be another offer later in the year so I can get some more of our money into higher interest CDs.

I did order the Brinks Prepaid card with the intention of taking advantage of their 5% offer. Unfortunately, it seems the conditions have changed a bit since I read about it online. I can be more specific later (I just don't have the info in front of me at this moment). I'm going to try NetSpend instead, if anyone has a referral for that one, put it in the comments for me. Smile

40.5% Return

May 5th, 2016 at 12:32 am

Wow! I earned a 40.5% return on the money I bet with Diet Bet. That is amazing. The bet was $30. I received $30 back plus $12.15 because others didn't reach their goal.

There were 2280 players, only 1217 of us met our goal. Part of me is sad so many people didn't make it. They lost their money entirely. Some people have posted they still lost weight and were close, just not close enough to win. So they at least progressed on their goal!

I think I'll redeem my cash and put it into savings where I'm currently putting all money snowflakes!

More on Diet Bet

May 3rd, 2016 at 04:03 pm

I don't have the winnings of my Diet Bet yet, but I can't wait to find out!! And I'll probably count it as a snowflake when it arrives, so I will be sure to share.

I did sign up for another Diet Bet yesterday. It's a Transformer (which is six months). I did pay up front, which gives you the sixth month free, and paid $125. I do have 14 days to change my mind, but I really need to lose the 10% of my weight and then some, so I do think this will keep me going. And now, I want to win my $125 back and more!!

I did write a little more about what I did during the last Diet Bet on my Organized Friends blog, if you would like to read about it.

So now I'm back to talking about finances!

I wrote two checks today for graduation gifts. They are each getting $25. I'm also going to take out $40 cash later today for a couple that is getting married. I figured checks written to a couple can get complicated when they are first married. So cash it is!

I realized I have two more graduations to acknowledge later in the month. So I need to buy more $1 cards. One will get $25, and the other $50. I'm trying to be consistent with what I give based on relationships. Not that anyone else is keeping track! I've been giving $50 to those who are children of my husband's brothers and sisters. Smile And $25 goes to children of cousins or friends.

I hope to get my snowflake totals together from April and post those tomorrow! Smile

I Won!

May 2nd, 2016 at 01:02 pm

I won my Diet Bet. I bet $30, so I get that money back! The final winnings are still in the process of being verified, so I will know in a couple days what the return on my financial investment was.

I lost 9.4 pounds! I can see the difference and my husband can too. This was exactly what I needed to get moving in the right direction. I wasn't even sure yesterday if I would make it, as the scale was still .2 pounds away from the Diet Bet goal. I ate right, exercised and drank a lot of water. I also got eight hours of sleep. And today when I stepped on the scale I was down even more than I expected and with plenty of room to spare!

I'm now in decision mode about doing another bet. I feel like I really need to do another one to keep me moving in the right direction. Even during this last month I had some bad days where I didn't exercise AT ALL and several days where I was eating more than necessary. So without the bet, and the risk of losing money, I feel I may get complacent, which is definitely not what I want!

I think the only thing that is really getting in my way of deciding is knowing that I have family visiting two different times in May for a total of 12 days. That will mess with my routines and meal plans. And I don't want to fail!!

I think I need to do another Kickstarter and maybe start a Transformer(which is a six month bet) at the same time. If I don't try the odds are more stacked against me mentally, right? If we don't try, we don't get where we are going!

I did post about my hesitancy on the Diet Bet forum, and someone has suggested that I start a Transformer now, and then in month three do a Kickstarter. I think there is some validity to that idea. The Transformer would only require me to lose 3% of my body weight in May, rather than the 4% required if I did a Kickstarter in May. That gives me a little more wiggle room with guests, but would still get me to my ultimate goal by November.

I'm sharing all of this and realizing there is some similarities to paying off debt. If we don't have a goal we can't get where we want to go. If there isn't a consequence for failing it is much easier to give up. The consequence for holding on to debt, is less freedom, more interest paid, and if you haven't stopped the excess spending you'll have more debt! Gosh, you could say the say thing about holding on to excess weight...more health issues and likely more weight gain if we don't stop our bad habits.

I'll let you know what I decide to do. If any other Diet Betters have thoughts on how to plan my next bets let me know. I like to hear the ideas of others.