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Archive for February, 2017

Money Flowing In

February 28th, 2017 at 11:39 pm

I've sold some more things on eBay in the last couple days. Not big items. A few dollars for things we could have just donated, is fine with me. I only have one item still listed. After fees, I have netted around $95.

I received 300 points from Pinecone. I rarely get surveys, but this is for allowing them to look at my Amazon purchases each month. Easy money! I'm not letting them have access to my email though to look at other online purchase receipts. So far it all seems okay.

I cashed out some MyPoints a week or two ago. I redeemed the points for a $10 Panera gift card. I will give it to my college daughter as she likes to go there to treat herself once in awhile.

Tomorrow is payday. The money is pending in the account and I have added it to YNAB and did a preliminary budget for the first half of March. My husband will be out of town some of those days. I hope we can save a little but sometimes it seems it is more expensive for him to travel despite the reimbursement for expenses. I will be taking him to the airport as his order doesn't cover parking a vehicle at the airport.

I did redeem 300 points yesterday on Swagbucks for a $3 Amazon gift card. That has already arrived! I currently have 3653 Swagbucks. I will be redeeming 2200 for a $25 Amazon gift card tomorrow. I may also get a $15 one soon after once I have enough Swagbucks. I'm going to use the Swagbucks for things we would be buying anyway. One item that costs about $15 will be for my daughter's birthday in late March. That means I can use birthday money I have saved towards other goals.

It's Swagbucks Birthday

February 27th, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I'm back on Swagbucks for awhile. I have some things I'd like to pay for with Amazon gift cards. And I'd like to get them for free!

Today is the 9th anniversary of Swagbucks. There are lots of extra codes and ways to earn Swagbucks today. So if you are already a member check it out!

If you would like to join, my referral link is here.

Micro Loans

February 25th, 2017 at 02:44 pm

I know we have discussed this before on somebody's blog: micro loans. Can those of you that participate let me know what companies or organizations you use? Also are any of these micro loans here in the United States?

I'm just feeling the need to spread the wealth to others. I have earned about $84 from my recent eBay sales. I could have just donated the items, but I chose to sell them. I'm thinking I may keep half for college books and miscellaneous and the other could be provided to a micro loan. I am expected that I will have more in eBay sales soon to add to that amount.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Snowflakes & Sales

February 22nd, 2017 at 04:59 pm

Good news! My husband actually was reimbursed for providing coffee to the Generals in the office last week. It's done on a donation basis. He scored $15 in cash for providing the coffee, creamer and sugar.

I've also sold four items on eBay since Sunday. I have one that has not paid yet. This always seems to happen when I accept a Best Offer. I'm almost to the point of not offering that, but I do like to make sales! This was just agree to last night, so the buyer isn't really late in making payment at this point. I would just like my money, so I can ship the items out!

Decluttering Means eBay Listings

February 19th, 2017 at 11:00 pm

I've been decluttering lately at our home. If you stopped by, you might think I barely have anything compared to the average American, but yet there is still stuff we don't use. I have been showing a bag of decluttering on my blog Your Organized Friend for the last week and there is more to come.

The decluttering has produced several items worth trying to sell. I'm not sure that they all will sell, but if I could get some money for most of them I would be happy. I have three items in the $40-30 range, and two items listed in the $8-10 range. I have one more item I'm washing first and hope to list it later tonight for at least $40.

I also came upon a few movies that might be worth listing, but I will need to find appropriate packaging for them first.

In other news, we had my van in for repair late last week. I had a situation where I went to pick up my daughter from school and went to start the van again and it wouldn't turn over at all. I was able to start it an hour later without a jump start. The repair shop eventually recreated the issue. It was the alternator that was bad, which then caused the battery to go out prematurely. We did get a free replacement battery as it was still under warranty. With military discounts an alternator with a three year warranty and labor cost us $530. We do have the cash to pay it for which I am thankful. I also feel much better knowing that I won't have a problem starting my van again in the future!

Recent Snowflakes

February 15th, 2017 at 12:05 pm

I finally redeemed our Chase Freedom rewards. I was waiting for the statement to close. The amount is $21.39. I will take it!

The other snowflake is from our US Bank Visa. We use this card for 5% back on our cell phone bill, which currently amounts to $6.67 back each month.

I do appreciate any extra inflows each month!

Since You Are Curious

February 14th, 2017 at 10:39 pm

We bought five roses at the commissary Sunday for $5.99. They are lovely on our dining room table and we have enjoyed them.

We skipped buying each other cards. Honestly, my husband likes to buy the day before and give to me in the morning. But he forgot, so he asked if it was okay to skip it, which was fine as I didn't buy him one either.

I made my daughter a card. My husband and I both signed it and wrote nice things. I gave it too her this morning. She forgot it was even Valentine's Day! She thanked me for the card, but then as a teenager is apt to do, she honestly said it wasn't necessary.

Valentine's Day isn't really a big deal in our family. None of us feel less loved or forgotten by not partaking it what seems a bit commercial to us at times.

We are about to sit down to dinner of fish, roasted vegetables, and couscous. I did buy strawberries for dessert. Yum! Time together is the best and doesn't cost a single penny.

Enjoy your Valentine's Day, however you chose to spend it and no matter how much you spend. If you are happy with your choices that is what matters the most!

Returning Shirts & More

February 13th, 2017 at 07:24 pm

My husband decided that two of the workout shirts, Nike brand, are too wide in the neck area. He wants them returned. They were each $18.75. With tax, that will net us $40.13 back in our budget. I will probably look for different shirts, preferably ones that cost half as much!

We bought a small bouquet of roses at the commissary yesterday when we were shopping for groceries. Those cost just $5.75! We also found valentine cards here at home for our girls. I'm sure my husband will still buy one for me.

We also bought five boxes of girl scout cookies. Those cost $20, but should fulfill our girl scout cookie needs for the season. I am sending one box to my daughter as a surprise.

I'm going to be doing a declutter series at [/url=http://yourorganizedfriend.blogspot.com/]Your Organized Friend[/url]. I'm decluttering one bag at a time. If you need some inspiration, stop on over!

Spending Yesterday

February 12th, 2017 at 02:36 pm

Yesterday, we did a bit of needed spending. My daughter needed a new purse as her old one had a broken zipper. I had a $10 coupon at JC Penney and the purse (leather) was on sale for $33. A very good deal. Unfortunately, my husband didn't do the best with his shopping. He picked up three workout T shirts, Nike Brand, that he told me were $11 each. One rang up as $21, and the other two for $18.75 each. He did get long sleeve shirt on clearance for $8.99. He went backed and looked at the display and didn't read it right. Ugh! I'm letting him keep them as it just isn't worth the effort to fight him on it. He is not a good shopper, luckily he doesn't shop for new things too often.

I bought a 10 pack of no show socks for $11.99 at Kohl's. I had a $6 coupon (for my 6 year anniversary with my Kohl's card) so I paid just over $6 out of pocket. Now that is my kind of deal!

We shopped at Fresh Market for some ingredients to make two meals. This one was yummy! I have a ton of leftovers, too. The cost of the food, including some snacks, was nearly $39. We also bought some other vitamins, so the bill was $65 exactly.

Today we go do our regular grocery shopping trip at the commissary. I think I may buy some Girl Scout cookies, if there is a troop selling there today. Otherwise, we are staying home and will enjoy some time outside. It's going to be 82 degrees here! Spring really is coming. I'm already seeing buds on trees, and some trees already put out pink blooms! I'm sharing for those of you up north. It really is just around the corner. Hang in there!

Oh, and I heard my husband mention picking up flowers and Valentine's cards for my daughter and I. Last year, I convinced him not too. I'm not sure what to say this year. It's hard to squash someone's nice intentions!

And finally, did you look at your retirement accounts? Probably at an all time high once again. It is nice to see!

What I Don't Buy

February 10th, 2017 at 04:07 pm

I like to revisit this topic once in awhile for new readers (and us oldies, too). Down below is a list of things many people buy that I don't as a more frugal spender. Now, of course, the list is not all inclusive as it is hard to remember things I don't buy since I don't think about them at all. I was inspired to write this post after watching a lot of decluttering videos on YouTube. It was interesting to see what people had purchased that they were decluttering. Many items were things I don't even own, or now no longer own as I don't buy them.

Scented candles
I noticed that a lot of people buy these in multiples and then never use them fully. If I buy a candle I use it all up before I would buy another.

Nail Polish
I own two bottles of nail polish. Both are almost gone, but I've been using these on my toes in the summer for quite a few years.

Make-up
I have basic foundation, one lipstick, one palette of eye shadow, one eye liner, and powder. That is it! Very simple when I use makeup which is probably less than ten times a year. I read about what is in makeup and decided I didn't like putting it on my face everyday!

Magazines
I have had a few subscriptions in the past, but over time realized I wasn't getting any satisfaction reading them. Saves me time and money.

Books
I use the library!

Jewelry
I'm simple. I own one pair of earnings, a pearl necklace, and probably four rings, although I only wear my wedding ring daily.

Newspapers
Got of of the subscription habit of newspapers when we moved the last time.

Scented Lotions
Same reason I don't wear makeup, too many chemicals. I'm lucky that I don't have very dry skin. I do have some chemical free lotions, but I take forever to use them!

Valentine/St Patrick's Day/Easter/July 4th/Thanksgiving decor
I've come to see these items put out in stores as just a way to part me from our hard earned money. I only decorate for Christmas and rarely buy new items.

Appliances and kitchen tools for only one purpose
My waffle maker, coffee maker, toaster are exceptions. However, have you noticed all the new gadgets for kitchens that come out when a simple tool, like a knife, could do the same thing!

Multiples of anything (such as excess sheets, blankets, towels, scissors, pens) particularly those that don't get used up quickly.
We have one set of sheets per bed. We have two towels per person, plus a set for guests. We buy what we need, nothing more.

Stickers
This was one I saw many people decluttering. This is one that people probably accumulate because they are inexpensive or cute, but then they don't use them up!

Containers
I avoid buying baskets and bins. I have some obviously, but I'm not of the mindset that I have to go buy a container to be organized. I've let go of so much in the last few years, that I have bins I could probably let go of!

Phone cases and Purses
Why buy more than one, when one will do? I have a simple black purse that goes with everything. And if it doesn't? Who cares!

The newest electronics
I still have an iPod Nano from 2006!

Collectibles and knick knacks
I don't collect anything. I don't get the satisfaction at all from this kind of accumulation. And it costs so much money. And I dislike dusting around these kinds of things!!

Clothes
I do buy them, but very rarely. I purchased one new shirt during the fall/winter time period. I wear things until they are clearly out of style or have worn out. I only buy what I need. I own two pairs of jeans for example.

Pajamas
I simple wear a T shirt and workout type pants to bed. I don't need specific clothes for sleeping in.

Lingerie
I stick to the basics with bra and underwear. And I only own three bras.

Movies
These are expensive too and add up! We love movies, so we do watch some of them over again. However, we only buy two to three per year...not every new release.

Alcohol when I eat out
I'm usually the driver as my husband does get alcohol at restaurants. I can't stand the expense!

Disposable products
I avoid paper plates, cups, silverware, wipes, dryer sheets, napkins, Keurig cups. We use paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, Swiffer cloths (have used flannel well in the past), coffee filters. I reuse plastic bags (unless they had a meat product in them) and my daughter has reusable sandwich bags for her lunch.

Gift bags
We been given more gifts in bags and have accumulated plenty to use for the future. I've also been know to wrap a gift in simple color tissue paper, as it is not too costly.

Greeting cards
I do send some, but I send fewer and fewer every year. The cost adds up as does the cost of stamps. I also then spend less time shopping and running out for a card.

Stamps to pay a bill
I now use Bill Pay with my bank to send checks, including our rent check. Most other bills are paid directly with the provider, usually by credit card.

Subscription boxes
I can't even think of the name of some of these subscriptions, but they are like Fruit of the Month club for makeup and organic products.

Traditional Phone Line
We use Ooma to save money. We may opt out entirely at some point in the near future.

Excessive Data Plans
I know compared to some of you we spend more on our cell phones as we use Verizon. The four of us share 3GB of data. My neighbor mentioned that three of them in her family share 10GB of data! I wonder if they have tried to conserve at all?

Excessive Cable Channels
We only have basic to have any signal at all. I did like when we had an over the air antenna at our last house. The cost was just the initial investment. I wonder if we need it at all. We rarely watch any tv.

High end brand name clothing
Do people not realize they are paying for the brand name? I know some brands are worth the investment as the quality is good, but most are just fashion statements...declaring to the world that you overpaid for your clothes!

Gym membership
We have a treadmill and a few basic weights and bands. In the past we did have a membership and did use the gym!

Extended warranties
We nearly always turn these down. They simply add to the cost of what you are buying. It would be better to save the money and set aside if the item ever needs repair. So many things don't break! We did have a warranty on one computer and the screen broke, that warranty did pay for that. Years later something similar happened with a broken screen and I bought a new screen and installed it myself for under $50.

Trendy shoes
I may have already mentioned I don't follow many fashion trends. I try to stick with basic or classic looks. I also don't have a need for lots of shoes.

Cookbooks (remember no books!)
I only own one cookbook. I find all other recipes online for free.

Vacation souvenirs
I limit these. I find pictures of family on vacation are the best souvenir.

New school supplies every year
We reuse markers, backpacks, rulers, pens, calculators, lunch boxes. We restock the items that get used up or worn out like binders and paper.

Coffee Mugs
I have a set of eight and I don't see a need for ones that have other graphics or new designs. Just let go of two snowman ones that my daughters used to drink hot chocolate out of.

Stationary
I think thank you notes are nice to send. And I'm not against writing real letters. But the truth is, I tend to email or call someone. I was seeing hoards of journals, notepads, sticky notes that some of these people were getting rid of. We still have more than we need in our home that the girls accumulated when they were younger.

Organizers
I only buy an organizer if it solves a very specific problem that cannot be solved in another way. In fact, at the moment I can't think of any specific organizers that would qualify that reside in my home. I mainly have bins, large and small. Some baskets. But my first instinct is not to buy new containers.

Bleach and other toxic cleaners
Air fresheners (plug ins and sprays)
Most of these items are just too strong to use in our home. And they are not safe to breath in.

Specialty trays and serving platters
Holiday kitchen linens
My basic placements work year round in our home. I don't buy aprons for each season, napkins for each holiday or even serving pieces when our basic china will do.

I suppose I really could go on and on with what I don't buy. I just thought of craft items. I do sew, but I only buy fabric for specific projects and if I have leftover, I use it for other smaller projects.

What things do you avoid buying? Think of all the money we save and time acquiring those things. I'm overwhelmed thinking about if I had to start buying the things I listed!

Fourth Semester Tuition & Housing Paid in Full

February 9th, 2017 at 08:07 pm

I just made the electronic payment from our checking account for the full spring tuition and housing bill. I admit it was a little hard to click the submit button!

The full amount was $10,426.56. Of that amount, $4,662.65 was for spring room and board. That includes a discount ($353) for being a second year student. Books and supplies were $267. The rest was tuition for classes after her scholarships. She is taking 17 credits this semester, so that bumps up a bill pretty fast compared to a 12 credit hour semester.

I've been really focused on getting this bill paid. I do need to consider how much two online classes this summer might cost and figure how we might pay for those. I think those classes may be the last ones we would pay in full out of pocket before we start using the Post 911/GI Bill.

I do feel blessed that we are able to provide a college education for our daughter. And to do it without loans thus far is a bonus. I know she is grateful as well.

A Settlement Check in the Mail

February 6th, 2017 at 09:59 pm

I love checks in the mail. They are rare as we do so much banking online. The check I received was from a class action settlement on a hair product I once used to use. The check was for $7.97!

My daughter's checks for her checking account arrived today. She is going to write me a check for $9. Long story on the amount, but she does owe me.

Guess what that all means? I found the final $10 to pay tuition in full sometime before Friday. Yippee!!

In other news, turns out our treadmill put a quarter size hole in the carpet of the room we have it in. Boo. We have since bought a treadmill mat that will arrive from Amazon tomorrow to prevent future damage. And at some point we will have to settle up regarding that damage with the owners of the property.

Anyone use Witch Hazel? My daughter uses it daily on her face and is a huge fan. She was recently out so I went to buy more at iHerb and found it is on clearance for $2. I bought ten bottles!

$38 From Travel

February 3rd, 2017 at 09:46 pm

My husband submitted his travel voucher today. He is getting $270.50 for per diem. I totaled up the transactions he charged to our card and the cash he took out for the trip. The total was $232.22. That means a profit of $38.28!

Remember, in my last post that I was short $48 for tuition. The goal has been to cashflow and avoid savings, so I'm that much closer to making it happen. Tuition is due next Friday, and now I'm less than $10 away.

My neighbor found baby portobello mushrooms on sale at Fresh Market this week for $0.50 and offered me a package. I think these might be yummy stuffed on Sunday for the Super Bowl.

I've found several things in the last week or so for donation. Enough to fill two basic grocery bags. I think I may start counting how many bags I fill this year.

Ima Saver We Miss You

February 2nd, 2017 at 04:32 pm

This post is for you Ima! We noticed you are no longer active on Saving Advice and we miss you. We are concerned about you.
Please post, or have someone who knows you post, so we can know how you are.

Here is my first inquiry earlier this year about you.

Would others please comment on this post when you see it? Please offer well wishes to Ima Saver (Julie). The goal is to get this post in the most talked about entries each month, so Julie will see it when she does visit here again.

Interest, Tuition Funding & More

February 1st, 2017 at 01:51 pm

We earned $79.08 in interest during the month of January. I hope to see that bump up a little now that more ($15K) of our money is invested at 2%.

I withdrew $4,750 from our daughter's Educational Savings account. That money will be used to cover most of her housing costs for the semester. She has $4839 left in her account. This is in a interest bearing account, so she is earning a little money on it each month.

Since it is officially payday today, I can say that I initially allocated $814 towards tuition. But I also didn't fund all of our usual everyday spending categories in YNAB specifically clothing and entertainment. That means I have another $100 to add to the tuition pot, and finally I decided that the electric bill (that really big one of $315) can actually be paid on our next paycheck on February 15. With those funds, funds saved from last few paychecks, the money from the ESA, and our tax refund, I am now only short $205.31!!

But as I'm writing this I'm also realizing that the books I bought my daughter for school have been allocated to that tuition category in YNAB. They were charged to my American Express card which I currently have 0% interest offer on. Therefore, I don't need to pay that off this pay period. That gives us another $153. Now I'm only short $48!!

I did realize that with my husband's travel reimbursement we might make a little money. It depends on how much he spends on food over what the per diem is. I think he will submit his request for reimbursement on Friday, and it should get paid within a week, maybe in time to pay the tuition bill! This would be a little less out of our savings that we would need to pay back.

I'm feeling much better about this huge tuition bill! I think I can likely shave $48 off our spending with some careful planning over the next 10 days.

I took our younger daughter back to Walmart yesterday to get more school supplies. ANOTHER binder, a 3 subject notebook, and dividers were required. We also bought a 4 pack of AAA batteries and a package of glue sticks to donate to two teachers. That was another $22. Why are office supplies so expensive? The 3 subject notebook was $4.24! The teacher did say they could use three regular notebooks, but my daughter did prefer the combined version for the easy of carrying around. I'm not going to make her sacrifice for a couple dollars.