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Archive for September, 2016

Now $166

September 29th, 2016 at 07:06 pm

A little more spending today, primarily snacks and alcohol. Neither were needs. But we are down to $166 left through payday on Saturday.

I've already worked on October's budget. I've allocated the money for rent, flute lessons, water and electricity. I've funded money for groceries, fuel, entertainment and spending money among others. The latter categories were funded to the tune of $1,125.And that is for about half the month.

The good news is I added $730 to savings.

Turns out we may end up letting our daughter go to Europe this summer for a World War II trip. We knew about the trip last year, but hesitated signing up and then had some concerns about the safety of international travel. So we thought the option to go was gone. Turns out it isn't. Still need to get more details, but she was told it is $4600 for a 14 day trip plus spending money and the cost of a passport.

Down to $193

September 28th, 2016 at 02:21 pm

I posted a few days ago that we had $300 left in our budget until payday on October 1. We do have other cash, but we are saving that money! This is the money we can spend if needed.

Today my husband filled his truck with fuel for $34.45. I made a $25 donation to a charity. I paid the university for a book my daughter charged to her account for $28.73. I also asked my husband to pick up coffee at the commissary on post. He spent $23.38, which must be for more than coffee, but he's not home yet so not sure on that charge.

We are down to $193 and change left our budget for the next two days. I expect a couple more small expenses, but nothing major.

My daughter's flute lesson was cancelled so that will mean a credit of $25 on my account for next month. As a result of not driving to the lesson, it means I didn't get a chance to go into Kohl's looking for anything to buy with my $10 rewards coupon. So for now I have saved some money!

How much cash do you have left until your next payday? And when is your next payday?

Five More Days

September 25th, 2016 at 04:20 pm

Just five more days left in the month of September. The year is going by really fast!

We have just over $300 that was originally budgeted for the month of September expenses. If we can spend half of that amount or less I will be very pleased. I expect gas and maybe a couple personal needs expenses.

I will send the extra funds to savings!


A Snowflake & Bill Pay

September 22nd, 2016 at 02:40 pm

On Saturday, a check arrived in the mail from our old electric company. It was a co-op so it was a return of capital credits in the amount of $19.07. I added that snowflake to our savings account.

I went through all of our accounts on YNAB today to make sure I had all of them reconciled. It was pretty easy since I had recently paid all of them down to zero! We really need to close some of our credit card accounts....as I'm really liking the idea of simplifying those.

I sent a payment to my sister by Bill Pay last week for a fundraiser her daughter was doing. I honestly didn't want the stuff, so let her girls pick candy, figuring it was a consumable and wouldn't add to the clutter, but would still support the school. This made me realize, I should use Bill Pay for our rent! I've been writing out the check and envelope and slapping a stamp on it every month for over a year. I was always so used to a mortgage payment being automatically deducted. It was nice! So I'm giving the landlord a heads up that the check may look different. I don't think there will be any issue, and now I know I won't forget, which almost happened this last month.

I use Bill Pay for our trash service, but all other bills are automatically paid from a credit card or checking account. What do you use Bill Pay for?

Vet Expense & More

September 20th, 2016 at 01:49 pm

One of our kitties isn't feeling so well. GI imbalance the vet says. I did get my first visit free, but a test and meds cost me $80.92 today. I don't like that she isn't doing well or that I had to spend money, but that is how it goes. Will try to have this expense come from this pay period and avoid pulling what I put aside for savings a few days ago.

Yesterday was spendy. I bought some goodies to send in a care package and then mailed two packages. I wasn't exactly looking to spend more than $15 on the gifts, but ended up finding a few more items for another $15. Not a big deal really, and I don't have any regrets. It just all added up fast!

I sold an item on eBay. Look like I will net about $6. I almost gave up on that item even selling, so that was a nice surprise!

My List

September 16th, 2016 at 07:11 am

Here's my list of things to know about me:

1. I was born in 1972 in a midwest state.
2. I've been married 20 years to the same man.
3. I have two daughters age 19 and 16.
4. We move often with the military, currently living in the southeast.
5. I have a college degree in Banking and Finance, and worked for a major mutual fund company.
6. We started our marriage with $10K in credit card debt due to a failed business my husband started before we were married.
7. We have two cats Liberty and Riley.
8. I love tacos!
9. I have experience selling a lot of our used stuff on eBay.
10. My favorite season is autumn.
11. I'm considering raising honey bees when we retire.
12. I suffer from anxiety and dislike driving on the interstate (I blame it on military moves!)
13. I'm voting for a third party candidate.
14. I write another blog called Your Organized Friend.
15. I rarely watch television.
16. I don't wear make up or color my hair.
17. I've lost 23 pounds since April by walking a lot!
18. We have credit cards, but not credit card debt.
19. We are debt free (no mortgage, currently renting)
20. I love to be out in nature, but don't do it nearly enough.

And if you are newer and reading this blog, the reason my name is creditcardfree is that when I started this blog we had paid off credit cards and closed them all. We were literally credit card free. We have a handle on our finances now and have obtained credit cards for the rewards benefits. We always pay them in full before any interest accrues.

Payday!

September 15th, 2016 at 06:38 pm

For a brief moment in time, we have zero charges on any of our credit cards! I paid them all off yesterday. There were no pending charges and we haven't used them since. That feels pretty good. We rarely have more than $1000 in charges at any one time, and we always pay them off before any interest would accrue. Technically, we pay them off twice a month when we are paid. Easy!

We put $1100 into savings. I need to build that back up after paying tuition earlier in the month. I also funded car repairs, auto insurance/registration, birthday and Christmas gift categories. Oh and set aside another $200 for plane tickets. We tend to do most of our savings in the second half of the month.

I also paid our vehicle registrations. The cost has dropped about $100 since last year since our vehicles are getting older. I think we will be at the current rate one more year and then the fee to register is just $50 each per year. Some advantages to older vehicles! I should recalculate how much I set aside to pay this each month to account for the difference.

Snowflakes

September 14th, 2016 at 05:50 pm

I redeemed some credit card rewards this week. I had enough points to redeem a $50 gift card to Target. It's on it's way in the mail. I also redeemed just under $7 from US Bank (which is 5% off our cell phone bill each month). I requested this as a statement credit. I also intend to redeem $17 from USAA on our credit card account. Turns out that is the total cost for our Netflix subscription and Ooma telephone for the month! I will redeem for a credit and save that money in our savings account.

I used a Staples gift card (a previous credit card reward) tonight to buy a ream of paper. The cost was $0 out of pocket, but the actual ream is $2.99 (after rebate). Did you know that Staples sells one ream of multipurpose paper (500 sheets) for $7.99? There is no way I would have paid that with out the $5 rebate. The rebate won't arrive for 6+ plus weeks. It comes in the form of a Visa Prepaid card. Essentially, I shift some of the Staples cash for Visa cash, which is a much better deal!

Yesterday we only spent $10 on three items (all needs) and today $0 out of pocket since I used the gift card to buy the paper. Tomorrow is payday!!

Update From Last Post

September 12th, 2016 at 06:01 pm

Turns out the tire wasn't leaking air. We think I saw another warning light and didn't look closely to realize it wasn't warning me about the tire. So all is good. And the warning light has not returned!

And even better news, the air conditioning is working. In fact, we got it working on Friday night. We turned it off for several hours since it seemed it wasn't doing any good having it on. In the meantime, the temperature rose to 87 degrees. We decided to turn it back on and see if it would do anything. We left the house for about four hours and the temperature returned to 80 degrees. By Saturday morning it was cooling as expected! So our landlord canceled the appointment for service that was originally scheduled for today.

I did sell two small items on eBay in the last few days. I paid my fees and have the money being transferred to our savings account. I do like accumulating snowflakes.

Today was a no spend day! I don't expect much spending before payday on Thursday. Right now, I know I owe my sister less than $20 (waiting on the total from her) and I need to buy hair products.

Air Conditioning & Tire Leak

September 8th, 2016 at 06:15 pm

First of all, I paid tuition in full today! No loans. So happy with that. I honestly wasn't sure I could make it happen this year, but without trying it seemed to work out just fine.

The air conditioning on the upper level of our home has stopped working today. It's 83 degrees up there tonight. I wish we would have noticed earlier in the day. Now we have to wait until tomorrow to even get anything scheduled, and I fear that it won't be tomorrow that they come out. We sleep upstairs so it's not going to be pleasant. We do have a guest room on the lower level, so we (my husband and I or our daughter) could sleep downstairs. The only good news is the repair won't cost us anything since we are the renters!

Last Friday our Honda Odyssey notified us with a little light on the dashboard that the air pressure on one of the tires was low. We stopped by and filled it with more air for $1. (I remember when air was provided free!) Tonight I thought the light came on again. My husband was going to take it to get filled and the light wasn't on again...so maybe it's not a problem. I'm really not sure what light I actually saw then?! But for now, no repair needed.


How to Pay For College

September 5th, 2016 at 01:28 pm

I put in a sell order today, which will happen tomorrow because of the holiday. I'm selling shares of my daughter's Educational Savings account. We have been using the money primarily for housing, because the tuition portion is easy for us to pay out of pocket.

The housing portion for the fall semester is $5,641. I sold enough shares to cover $4750 worth of housing. The remaining $891 will come from our pocket. I likely can save that much this month anyway, so might as well apply it to that bill.

The other portion of tuition and fees (after scholarships) is $3,288. We are paying this out of pocket too. Our savings account has built up over the last several months, so not a big drain at all.

I've come to realize that not having any debt of our own, and thus any payments we are obligated to, helps so much in being able to pay for college out of pocket. I know people with two car payments which are easily in the $450 range each. If one could avoid those payments that is $900 a month one could apply to paying tuition...that's 10,800 a year!

We had been saving $2000 a year for our daughter in this Educational Savings account. One cannot contribute to them after the beneficiary turns 18. After those contributions stopped, I still saved the money. I haven't actually made it a line item in the budget, but I'm starting to think that I will so I can see the money available and set aside specifically for college.

I also noticed that we spend less on groceries when our daughter doesn't live with us. It's hard to tell exactly how much, maybe $50 a week or $200 a month. We give her $100 each month for miscellaneous expenses right now, so we may have another $100 we can set aside each month. There may be other impacts of expenses without her living here, such as a few dollars saved when we go out to eat, or pay admission to the movies.

The act of saving something every month for college all these years did add up. But continuing to save has definitely helped limit the burden of needing to take out loans as we enter year two of college. And wow, not having any car payments or other loans sure helps too!

If you are in the thinking about how to pay for college. I would definitely consider that they money can come from savings, student's income, current cash flow (at the time of college), scholarships and then loans if needed. The money doesn't have to all come from the same source!

I think I mentioned in a past post recently, that we had likely accumulated $1500 in snowflakes this year so far. I haven't kept exact track so that is a rough estimate. I could have been making a point to set it all specifically aside for college. So think side gigs along with the other sources I mentioned above.

Diet Bet Update

September 5th, 2016 at 07:58 am

I started a six month Diet Bet on May 3. I won round one, but did not win rounds 2-4! Ugh. I keep trying and have been making progress, just not at the prescribed pace. I have been great at exercise, and have even found a friend during the process! I walk the neighborhood as does she with her dog. We kept running into each other and saying hi, eventually we introduced ourselves and chatted a bit more. Now that school has started and we are going to walk and talk!

Now that I'm on month 5 I am determined to make it to my goal weight by October 3. I have just over 6 pounds to lose. I'm committed to walking more and adding in some squats and push ups. I'm going to drink at least 80oz of water (10 cups) everyday and I'm back to really watching my calories and food intake.

As I have learned AGAIN...I can't out run/walk a bad diet. One has to keep trying to reach those goals. Weight loss is similar to managing finances. If you don't try you are going to miss every time.

I don't regret doing the Diet Bet even though I have failed a few months. I think it has kept me going and more accountable than if I didn't do it. It is always there in the back of my mind reminding me of what my goal was: my health. I might even consider another one after this one ends, as I know I have more to lose when I finish this one.

School Expenses

September 1st, 2016 at 11:54 am

I've already mentioned how my daughter needed to buy a specific dress online for her choir class. That was $85.50. It may need to be altered too, so that adds to the cost. She also spent $114 on art supplies for her two drawing classes. I reimbursed her for those expenses since I will be able to claim those as required supplies for classes with the American Opportunity Credit.

My high school daughter came home with the picture order form. I do always buy these, but buy the smallest package that will provide the grandparents and a few aunts a picture. With tax I paid $37. Next up, the yearbook. They go all out at this high school with colored and glossy pages. I think the advisor is probably doing a disservice by allowing the yearbook kids to pick all the bells and whistles. It only make the yearbook an option to fewer kids. We have always bought them, and I did ask if my daughter felt she needed it and the answer was yes. I paid $68 plus tax for the yearbook. And finally, she needs a new academy shirt for the engineering program they have at school. That is another $28. I did also pay the Junior class dues of $35 which go primarily towards prom. At least I'm almost positive I will not have prom expenses, as she isn't interested in going.

I realize some of these expenses are not required, so I'm definitely not complaining. It just amazing how much stuff they throw at you at the beginning of the year.