During my husband's travels to school on Sunday, the windshield on his truck was hit by a rock. It eventually resulted in a crack as the trip progressed.
We won't claim this on our insurance as we have a $1000 deductible. I did start the process through USAA who contracts with Safelite for repairs which is where I saw that the windshield would cost $300. I was close to scheduling it, but decided to see if Safelite offered coupons or discounts. Instead I found a local shop that gave an online quote of $197! That is a huge savings.
I'm calling to today to see if we can get our vehicle in on Saturday while he is home, otherwise it will need to wait.
Of course, I'm not thrilled about paying for a windshield, but this is a reason to have savings! And it does pay to shop around when needing repairs.
Archive for May, 2017
During my husband's travels to school on Sunday, the windshield on his truck was hit by a rock. It eventually resulted in a crack as the trip progressed.
I found $5.09 in change this weekend. Most was from my husband, but I had seemed to collected some in my wallet as well. There was almost a dollar in pennies stashed in a small container, too.
Because we bank online I can't just deposit this money to savings. I have to spend it. So my plan is to spend it when I making some cash purchases this week. Once I have used it all up I will transfer $5.09 from checking to savings.
We used cash much more in our early days of marriage. We would toss all coins in a container and once filled we would take it to the bank to be counted and then deposit it into our account. When we got serious about debt this money would go to make payments on the debt.
Coins count and add up! What do you do with your coins?
My husband has found out his room while he is away for three months of training is a fairly basic hotel room. It doesn't have the stove and kitchen supplies we were expecting. It does have a microwave and a very small dorm refrigerator.
The good news he does get 'free' breakfast everyday. I hope it is somewhat decent as some of those breakfasts can get old after awhile. There may be a manager's reception/weekly social at least one night a week.
He will be back home for Memorial Day weekend, so we might have to figure out some options for food he can buy and eat from the commissary without eating out for every meal.
He is getting per diem to cover meals. Originally we were told it was $69 a day, but it is 75% of that because of the length of the training. That works out to $51.75 for each day. For thirty days, that is $1,552. I think the man can eat decently for that, even with some eating out.
The truth is I would love to keep as much of that money as possible. Even half or 2/3rds of that amount seems possible. I guess we will know more as it all plays out.
Our renter's insurance has renewed for July. And the rate has dropped! By $100 a year. Last year the amount was $404, this year our rate is $304. Seems almost unheard of that insurance rates go down!
I'm taking this saving and dropping it into the BIG goal.
I do find it interesting that as soon as I make a plan to save more money, money shows up! Some of it comes in the form of checks, and some comes in the way of savings on bills. I will take it.
We sold our treadmill back to Play It Again Sports, which is where we purchased it used 20 months ago. I used it a fair amount initially. My husband used it last on Sunday. And easily used it about four days a week.
I figured out that we originally spent $900 including tax and delivery. We sold it back for $200, and they came and picked it up and moved it (down the stairs no less). $700 net over 20 months was equal to $35 a month. Not bad.
We didn't really want to sell it, but we had it on carpet in our bonus room and realized a couple months ago that the treadmill had burned a hole in the carpet from friction! Well when you rent you do try to limit damage. So we bought a mat to put under it, but it didn't seem to help. We were seeing evidence that a new hole could develop again.
My husband is about to be away for a few months for training, and when he returns his job will have fewer hours, with more time for working out on post. And that is free!
I've been walking in our neighborhood, even during some of the winter months, so my exercise is free as well. I do need to start doing more weight bearing exercises, but those can be done with some small equipment pieces we have at home and with my own body...like pushups and squats.
The damage to the carpet is unfortunate. And we feel really bad about it. My husband thinks the landlord will have to replace all the carpet, therefore we will lose our entire $1800 deposit. My thought is to approach them in the month or so before our lease ends, and suggest a local company that will repair the hole using carpet from a closet. The hole itself measures less than 2 inches by 2 inches. We have a remnant of carpet from another home that could fill in the small amount of carpet from the closet. We would pay for the repair and expect all or most of our deposit back.
Our landlords are a bit hard to work with, so we don't know how they will respond. We are currently trying to get them to hire a new company to fertilize and spray for weeds. It is in our lease that they provide it. They fired the last company for unknown reasons last fall. Currently, they have simply not responded to our voice mail, a text or an email concerning the problem.
We have heard from neighbors that they didn't take care of the lawn very well when they lived here, so I think they aren't very motivated to provide the service when they can't see the weeds themselves.
In the past they have tried to have us call to make a/c repair appointments. However, if we call the a/c company still requires the owner to call to authorize. So I don't get why they can't just make the call when we are in need of service. Sometimes I wish we had a property management company, but then I hear my neighbor complain, and figure we don't have it too bad. They leave us alone most of the time and the house itself is in good working order.
As I get to the end of this post, I'm beginning to think we need to spray the weeds ourselves, and charge them for the cost and time. They seem to be fine with just deducting things from the rent. However, then I'm irritated that our lease states it is included and they aren't providing it.
Oh and by the way the $200 is going to the BIG Goal.
While I'm loving that lower electric bill, it seems our water bill has doubled! From $44 last month to $88 this month. It's that time of year where we are running our sprinkler system. It runs four mornings a week. I think it takes two hours to do all the zones.
Oh, and I should mention our lawn is huge! It takes us 1.5 hours to mow with a standard walk behind mower. Luckily the grass in the southeast doesn't grow too fast, so we don't mow every week.
If we weren't renting I'm pretty sure my husband would have convinced me to buy a riding lawn mower. But since we don't expect to have a huge lawn long term, the standard mower has been just fine. And walking is good exercise!
I just received our electric bill in my email inbox. I love bills that are emailed. They don't add clutter to my life that way!
The bill is the lowest we have had the entire time we have lived in this home (22 months). For a 2400 sq ft home our bill came in at $122.88 The highest was this past December, at around $315. Last month it was $167.
Now it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason for the cost savings, but I have to give some credit to not using the dryer as much. It still gets use twice a week, rather than four times a week or more.
I'm going to give some major credit to the weather. It has been very mild for many of the days of the billing period, April 10 through May 10. Not too hot to run the air conditioner most of the time. And no need for heating either. Unfortunately, we are going to hit the 90s later in the week.
We were also gone for one week during the billing period and I did increase the temperature before air conditioning would come on. I couldn't turn off entirely because the cat was home, but no lights, or tv use during the week can make an impact.
After we returned, my husband and I both came down with colds. And we both skipped our regular workouts, and for my husband that meant he wasn't using our treadmill. Since that uses electricity I have to think it made an impact also. (We are selling our treadmill this week and expect to make about $200, so no longer will that be an added impact to the electric bill. )
And finally, just this past week I did change the gaskets on the fridge. I do wonder how much cold air was escaping and causing the fridge to run more often. That would have only been for a couple days on this billing cycle, but it had to have contributed a bit.
I'm having fun working on reducing our electricity, even though it can feel I don't have much control over it at times. Thank you mother nature!
I'll keep this short as there isn't much detail to post about taking an online summer class. My daughter did originally sign up for 6 credits. But one of the classes she picked to fulfill a math credit was an engineering class...which is a much higher rate! Basically I told her it wasn't worth it, so she dropped it.
The class is online, so while it is still the non resident rate it is lower than the classroom rate.
The total tuition and fees for one 3 credit hour class is $1,751. She does not have scholarship money that is applied for summer classes. We will be paying this in full out of pocket. I currently have $1,285 saved. I think tuition is due June 12 (although the class doesn't start until July).
My husband gets paid on Monday, so I expect we will have the $466 available at that point. I should put a bit more in as I'm sure there is a text book she will need to buy.
My daughter still has money in her Educational Savings Account. I had considered paying half of tuition with the money in that account, especially when I thought she was taking 6 credits. However, I'm going to save those funds for later, since we are able to pay the full amount out of pocket.
So once again we will have paid some more college costs without student loans! Yea!!
Note: I wrote two posts today, scroll down to see the other one.
Get ready, this was the most expensive semester yet! My daughter took 17 credit hours!! Remember she is an out of state student.
$12,746 Tuition and Fees
_$5,063 Room and Board
$17,809 Total Before Scholarships
$10,559 Total After Scholarships
__($400) Advance Housing Deposit Paid out of Pocket
($4,750) Paid from ESA
($1,497) Tax Refund (also considered out of pocket)
($3,912) Paid Out of Pocket
I looked back at YNAB, where I now have a College Tuition and Housing Category and we did save all that money from December to February when it was time to pay the bill. Again, I have made the point to pay at least $4K out of pocket each calendar year to take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Housing cannot count towards the credit, only eligible tuition and required fees.
This is the semester our daughter just finished. And we have not taken out any loans. The ability to cash flow some of this at times does boggle my mind a bit, but we have pretty low expenses overall thus the extra cash cushion to apply to college. This is key to making it work along with having saved some money in advance. We have also known that we have the Post 911 GI bill for awhile now which has factored into all of the decision making.
Next Up! An online summer class!
As of my daughter's sophomore year, she still has her primary scholarship of $7,000 per semester. She still has her honors scholarship of $250.
The fall of her sophomore year she enrolled in 13 credits.
$10,350 Tuition and Fees
_$5,801 Fall Housing
$16,151 Total Before Scholarships
_$8,901 Total After Scholarships
($4,750) Paid from ESA
($4,151) Paid Out of Pocket
I don't have an account of book and art supplies costs for this semester. As a music major she often has to hire an piano accompanist for a couple practices and then the performance. She pays these fees out of her own money.
I'm remembering that the reason I pay at least $4,000 toward tuition out of pocket is to qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The maximum tuition amount you can claim is $4K. The maximum credit is $2,500.
I looked back at our bank account last year and can see we were definitely socking away between $800-1,100 a month early in the year. This is where some of that money went...tuition!
Another thing to note, is that she took 13 credit hours in the Spring and Fall of 2016. There was a cost difference in tuition and fees of $431. A small portion may be fees specific to classes, but an increase non the less.
Let's move on to my daughter's spring semester of her Freshman year in college. That semester she took 13 credits. This is down from the 16 she took her first semester.
_$9,919 Tuition and Fees
_$4,949 Spring Housing
$14,868 Total Before Scholarships
_$4,868 Total After Scholarships
__($400) Advance Deposit from Cash on Hand
($4,400) Paid from ESA
___($68) Paid out of Pocket
Looking back I kind of wish I paid less from her ESA, but overall I have no regrets. I mean couldn't I have come up with another $1000 towards it? But it did go to costs associated with attending.
I'm not entirely sure the book costs for Fall, but I do see she purchased at least $269 for books and supplies at the University book store. Some of her supplies would be art items, which are often pricey! And I know she bought some items at an off campus art store too. We paid for the books out of pocket, also.
I think you can tell that it is helpful to have room in your budget to absorb some of the costs, of at least books and incidentals that come up. Of course, I also think it isn't a bad idea to have students pay these themselves. And there are things our daughter does pay for, which I can put in another post at some point.
So let's go back in time. My daughter graduated high school two years ago, May 2015. At the time her ESA account was valued at $22,588.50. She also has a UTMA that was valued at $2,608.19. The total of the two was $25,196.69. All of that was saved by us, except for maybe $1000 worth of gifts from grandparents, and some market appreciation.
My daughter was enrolled in 16 credit hours (at the non resident rate) for Fall 2015. Tuition and fees totaled $12,044. Housing for first semester was $5,154. Yep, a $17,198 bill!
The good news is she had scholarships! That semester those came to $10,000 (current scholarship per semester is still at $7,250) Leaving us a balance of $7,198 to pay.
I had to look back at my blog to find what actually happened. But the plan was to pay the tuition portion ($2,044) out of pocket and pay the housing $5,154 from her ESA. But what actually happened was I paid the full $7,198 out of our savings account when the bill was due in early September.
I then paid ourselves back with two withdrawals later in the year from the ESA. The market was down at the time, so it was hard to pull the sell trigger! Those amounts were $1,718 and $1,436. Which together equal $3154. Which is less than I originally planned to withdrawal by $2000.
The remaining amounts did come from savings and cash flow that was not original designated for college expenses. I had also changed our withholding once I realized we would benefit from the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This netted us $259 per pay period or $518 a month that we made sure to put back into savings for four months ($2,072).
So in the end we did pay $4,044 out of our own savings for the first semester. The remaining $3,154 was from her ESA. No loans!
$12,044 Tuition and Fees
$17,198 Total Bill Before Scholarships
_$7,198 Total after Scholarships
($3,154) Paid from ESA
($2,044)Saved Withholding/American Opportunity Credit
($2,000) Paid from Savings
It's interesting for me to go back and look. I had no idea we actually paid more out of pocket that first semester than what we withdrew from her ESA. One thing I remembered is that we had been saving $166 a month ($2000/year) for many years into her ESA. I don't specifically save that money into our savings for education but that is where some of the money comes from. ESA's require you stop investing on the child's 18th birthday.
Questions? I'll post Spring Freshman Year next.
There is a lot to discuss when sharing the nitty gritty of college costs. I expect to break my posts down about this over several days. I even need to check with my daughter on how many credits she took each semester.
First here is a screen shot of the annual expenses for a full time undergraduate student taking 30 hours from the 2015-2016 Common Data Set at the school she is attending.
Living on campus is required at this school the freshman year if the student is under 19.
She is an out of state resident. She did receive a renewable four year scholarship of $14,000 per year. That is equal to $56,000. She also received an art scholarship her freshman year equal to $4500. And because she is an Honors student, she receives $500 per year towards books. Because the way the billing is, the Honors scholarship is really like any other scholarship and reduces tuition costs.
I do want to say that even I see areas where costs could be reduced. But we all make choices for our spending that are not about dollars and cents. I'm not going to go into justifying the decision. We are simply grateful that we have had the ability to pay the costs so far without taking out student loans.
In my next post I will try to break down actual costs for freshman year.
My daughter applied for her Post 911 GI Bill education benefits while she was home on spring break. Her certificate of eligibility letter arrived in the mail this weekend. We were expecting it to say 18 months of eligibility as that is what my husband transferred to her and we have documentation of. Instead it said 12 months 6 days.
My husband called the VA today and and it turns out that by law they are required to count educational benefits he already received and used for his bachelor's degree against the Post 911 GI Bill. He used 24 months of a 48 month benefit. He has 24 months and 11 days left. We are splitting the benefit equally between our girls, which means 12 months and 6 days (likely five for our younger daughter).
While this is a surprise and not what we planned I am okay with this. It make sense that the government would not give soldiers educational benefits totaling more than the time one degree would take to complete. My husband did get his bachelor's degree (it was an accelerated program and he had a lot of transferred credits that counted) paid in full. We did benefit from that. He wouldn't have well paying officer's job he has now without a college degree.
The original plan was that 18 months of benefits would have been worth at least four semesters plus housing for our oldest daughter. Each semester is considered 4 months. I hadn't figured out how the two extra months would have worked out, but now I don't really need to.
The current plan is to make use of 8 months worth of benefits for her Junior year, which starts this fall. This will cover the tuition and fees above her scholarship, even at the non resident rate (because of the Yellow Ribbon program). These benefits will provide a housing allowance, but will not cover the full cost of her room and board, and $1000 towards books.
The next question is what to do with the final 4 months of benefits set aside for her. We expect she may need to go an additional semester after the senior year (and some summer classes in between) since she is a double major. Because the scholarship ends after four years, the full out of state tuition will be billed for all credits she takes. I do think it is a full 15+ credit hours the way she has it mapped out right now. It may make sense to save that final four months of benefits for that final semester, since it will be the most costly. The two senior semesters are at least reduced by the scholarship.
Our oldest daughter's senior year is the same year our youngest daughter will be a freshman in college. It is possible, but very slim, we could be eligible for some aid. As always the government would be more than happy to offer us a loan! We also don't know at this point which college our younger daughter will attend, or know the scholarships she may receive.
We can adjust the number of months of benefits we transfer to our daughter's also. So if it seems our younger daughter will have lower costs, we could move some of the benefits to the older daughter. I expect we will know a lot more by the end of the year or early next year.
It is a little overwhelming to look at my older daughter's costs coming up and only see about $8000 sitting in her education funds!
I guess I should add that we aren't against taking a loan out at some point. Maybe for one of her senior semesters? While we support her getting two degrees, it doesn't mean we need to pay for it. I kind of have though the final semester should be on her, but if I could get that most expensive semester covered by the Post 911 GI Bill that would be helpful to her, to have less to borrow.
Sorry if my post is all over the place...this just happened this morning, so I'm still wrapping my brain around this. I hope to come back later today or tomorrow with another post that is a bit more detailed and responds to Monkey Mama's post.
Here's the chair I painted. That is not it's final resting spot, but did make for a good picture. I actually have a church pew I need to paint to put on that wall instead of the chair.
The fridge gaskets arrived today. Very easy to install the right side (less than two minutes). The left side took a bit longer because I had to briefly detach the mullion (yep, new word for me too). But including getting the tools and detaching it, I would guess that side took under ten minutes. Now no more mold! I do hope that the tighter seal helps holding the air and moisture in and keeps the seals free of mold.
I've been run down with a cold this week. My husband had it first. He even missed a day of work recovering, which he has never done while I've known him. So a few cold remedies and soups have been purchased to make it a little more tolerable.
My daughter is having a friend over tonight. I would normally make homemade pizza, but I'm ordering out, so that I don't pass on any residual germs to my daughter or her friend. Not exactly a cost I planned on, but there is cash in the restaurant category.
I will be writing a $54 check for the band banquet next week. It's $18 per person for a bbq pork meal. I'm sure the costs include some other things given out to students. I sort of wish these types of things didn't exist. They didn't at our other school and it was perfectly fine without a banquet.
And finally our college daughter arrives home by plane on Saturday. We will need to add fuel the van to make the 3 hour round trip to the airport for pickup. We might be able to get away without picking up food since she arrives mid afternoon. However, she may not get a chance to get lunch, so she may need something. I could probably make a sandwich wrap and take it along in a lunch bag if I'm feeling better to make it.
The fridge in this rental home is growing black mold on the gaskets that seal the door to the unit. It was here when we moved in and seems to be an issue in the Southeast. We have attempted to clean. One of those cleaning tries resulted in the gasket getting a tear in it because it was dry rotted. I finally decided I can't keep using the fridge unless these gaskets are replaced. I did my research, including price and how to install. I emailed the landlord and have approval to purchase and do the repair. The new gaskets (there are two because it is a French door unit) will arrive from Sears on Friday. The cost is $109, which I paid for but will deduct from the rent per the landlord. I was thrilled that the landlord responded so quickly. I'm hoping that replacing the gasket may save some more energy costs, but it's hard to know if it was leaking cool air or not.
I got a $14 bill in the mail from our state transit authority for using a toll road in a nearby town (no toll booths on this road) We've been using it for over a year, without being billed. Our guess was because we have out of state plates with a state that doesn't even have toll roads. Maybe there was no reciprocal agreement. But the state has caught on and billed us for trips we made in late March and early April. I have no problem paying the bill now that we actually have one! It is a very nice road. Now I have to decide if I want to keep using it or find another route.
I've decided the money I already saved up for tuition but don't need in full for our daughter's summer class will remain in that budget category. I know that we will owe around $1500 for housing that will not be reimbursed with the Post 911 GI bill. So I'm going to make sure we have that money ahead of time.
On Saturday, I bought a small wooden desk chair at a neighbor's garage sale for $5 on Friday. Today I used two cans of spray paint to spruce it up. It most likely will just be a decor piece, but it will function as a chair if needed. Such a deal to get a new to me chair for under $14.
I redeemed $35 worth of Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards yesterday. They have arrived in my inbox, and I have used $20 worth to buy my husband two new cell phone cases (one is for his work phone). I do like getting some things for free!
So an interesting thing happened today. I logged on to my daughter's payment account for the University because she said she ended up buying a book that she had rented this semester because she knew she will need it for some future classes. I thought maybe it had posted already.
What had posted was the tuition for summer. I had calculated the two online summer courses (at the online non resident rate) as $3,470. But the amount that was showing was $4,689.75! Over $1,200 more than I was planning.
I can only see the amount due, not any billing details. So I asked her if she had any information about it. She sends it to me and I realized this class that she has signed up for is an Engineering class (although specifically geared to non engineering students).
In the end we decided that it wasn't worth the money to take that class. She wasn't really interested in it, she was only taking it to fulfill one of the liberal arts requirement. And she wanted to take something online this summer. She looked for other options, but found nothing to replace it with. So unless something changes she will take just one class this summer, reducing tuition to $1,756.75.
I sort of feel like I won the lottery since I don't have to shell out cash for a second class. My daughter plans to add a math class instead to her fall course load which was already at 14 credits and will now be 17. This will fulfill the requirement she was trying to meet. And as another bonus to us, this fall is when we expect to begin using the Post 911 GI Bill benefits my husband transferred to her. It will cover her classes (even at the non resident rate) in full.
I do feel a little bad she has to take on 17 credits, however, she just did that this semester and seemed to handle it pretty well. She might spend some of her free time brushing up on French and PreCalculus this summer to hopefully help the transition to those classes in the fall.
I had planed to save up $1700 out of pocket to cover half of what I thought tuition would be. The other half was going to come from her Educational Savings account. I have $1400 saved already, but I'm considering sticking with the original plan to pay half out of pocket and the other half from the ESA. This means I would only need around $875, leaving $525 that I could put towards something else.
Maybe the Big Goal? I might wait a bit and see how much the textbook is and if there are other school related expenses that I'm not thinking about. Either way I'm excited about the financial aspect of this change.
My post last night chronicled the savings we made happen towards our Big Goal. Almost $900!
But guess what? We saved money towards other things too. We saved $845 in my husband's TSP account, and $500 each ($1000 total) in our Roth IRA accounts. We skipped a month for cash flow reasons earlier this year, but this will max us out in our Roth IRAs this year. This savings is all set up automatically, which makes it so easy.
We also set aside money in short term savings for upcoming purchases. We saved $250 for a cell phone, $982.50 towards summer tuition, $190 for band fees, $42 for birthdays, $50 for Christmas, $153 towards auto, renters insurance and car registration, and $200 for car repairs.
And I see I put over $900 towards emergency fund, but that may end up in another spot because we really do already have plenty in our emergency fund.
It's been a very good savings month! Now let's see what I can make happen in May.