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Archive for November, 2017

Not Much Spending

November 22nd, 2017 at 09:27 pm

I personally haven't spent much of anything the last three days. I did buy one Christmas gift, but that was paid out of the Christmas budget.

My husband did get his hair cut. I just now sent him to the store to get three food items. While he is there he is picking up the alcohol he wants for the holiday weekend.

We don't have plans to shop in stores on Friday...or likely any other day this weekend. If I know of a deal on something we were going to buy anyway I would likely pick it up online. The crowds are just more than I'm interested in dealing with.

We are having very nice weather, so hope to get out and enjoy the weather and maybe attend a free event downtown on Friday night. Otherwise, I'm going to be very happy watching a couple football games, watching a movie and playing games as a family. Oh, and we will probably decorate for Christmas at some point as well. Who has time for shopping with all of those fun activities?!

It's is my first ever Thanksgiving that I haven't spent with my oldest daughter or my parents! Seems a bit strange, but I'm also glad not to be flying this year.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Christmas Spending & A Raise

November 21st, 2017 at 07:13 pm

I'm not nearly done Christmas shopping, although I have made a pretty good dent so far. Our budget for gifts is $600. I haven't even made the final savings deposit of $50 yet. That last one will cover the check we are likely to mail my mother in law so she can get what she wants. It's hard to buy for someone that is 82!

Spending so far is $225.68. This has primarily been gifts for my daughters and nieces. That means I have just $374.32. I do plan to stay at or under budget. I will say Swagbucks has come to my rescue this year to earn Amazon gift cards to get all the books my daughter's asked for. Retail on those would be $220. So far, I think I have spent just $40 for eight books, but I do have three more to buy.

I hope to share actual costs and what I bought after my shopping is complete. Any extra left over is going to the Big Goal!

I think the President still needs to sign the Defense Authorization Act for this next fiscal year, but it looks like my husband is getting a raise. The best one in awhile. A 2.4% increase of his basic pay. That will amount to $200 per month. I probably should save this towards the Big Goal, too. Smile

Snowflakes & Holiday Shopping

November 19th, 2017 at 09:30 pm

I sold some Box Tops for Education on eBay today. I will net about $7 for some scraps of paper and cardboard. Easy money really.

We received our electric bill this week and finally it dropped significantly. I'm sure primarily due to cooler weather and having one heating and air unit completely off for a week. It was off because the compressor was bad, thus no point in using it. It has now been replaced. The drop was $80!! I'll make a point to put that money towards our Big Goal.

We went grocery shopping today for our Thanksgiving meal. Our meal itself actually isn't too fancy. I'm making Pot Pies, mashed potatoes (daughter's request), a salad and pumpkin pie. Even that sounds like too much food! I did however buy many of the ingredients we need for our holiday baking. And my husband has a meal at work this week he is contributing to. He bought rolls and I'm making cookies for him to take. We also bought some meat on clearance, coffee filters, and cat filter. We spent $200. I need to see how many Ibotta rebates I may qualify for...for a few more snowflakes.

My birthday was Friday and I received a check from my parents for $100. I added it to our Big Goal also.

Snowflakes add up!

Used Miles For Airline Ticket

November 17th, 2017 at 06:55 pm

I just bought my daughter's round trip ticket home for winter break on Southwest Airlines using the Rapid Rewards we accumulated this year on our Southwest Visa. The ticket was worth 20,520 points. Last years ticket cost me over 39,000 points. I think the difference was being able to purchase the ticket further in advance. She has been to a bowl game the last two years, and this year it doesn't look like it will happen. If it does it will be a miracle and I will need to change the ticket!

I still have 13,480 points. I may book her ticket home for spring break with those soon. Although right now the prices don't look so great! Probably too far out for the best deals.

I could redeem 13,000 point for $125 worth of gift cards, but considering I got a nearly $400 flight for 20K points, I think using them for flying is the better deal.

I did have to pay the Federal Airline fee of $11.20 and I did pay $30 for my daughter to get Early Bird check in. This is especially helpful for very early morning flights and when the time between flights is tight. Get a front seat on the first seat so you can get to your gate in time for boarding the second flight. I think she has just 40 minutes from landing to take off on one of the trips. That's worth the $30 cost to us.

Do you use airline miles for flights?

$56 Extra Income & More

November 16th, 2017 at 02:36 pm

I mentioned a few days ago that my neighbor asked me to make 6 more key fobs. A few days later, she asked to add one more on. I was quick to get the work done and yesterday she paid me $56 for the work. This goes towards the Big Goal.

In my planning November planning for Christmas, I'm making a point to stock up on things around the home. When we were at the commissary, I bought dish soap, laundry detergent, parchment paper, ziplock bags, vitamins, toothpaste and bar soap. I want to be stocked up through the end of the year, so that the only shopping I need to do in December is for food. The more I can stay out of the stores in December the easier it is to keep to the Christmas budget. I did notice I need coffee filters and toilet bowl cleaner, so I will pick those up this week.

Yesterday was pay day. All credit cards were paid off in full. I put $42 in the birthday category of our budget, $50 in Christmas, $940 in college and tuition (normal amount is about $410), and $272 for insurances and auto tags. There was money added to our car maintenance fund. It was negative after a having some recent maintenance done. Now it's back to zero. There was about $200 left, and I just dropped it into the emergency fund category for now. May need it elsewhere later in the month, but we will try without.

I have three items on eBay that I'd like to see sell soon. May need to drop the prices a bit, but a little extra cash would be nice.

A Recipe and Update On College

November 15th, 2017 at 12:27 pm

We had this for dinner last night. It was really good! Lots of chopping, but very healthy. I'm making two other recipes from the website later this week.

The VA Education department has continued to provide us a housing payment of $1112 per month for our oldest daughter. I just made a $200 deposit for next years housing contract. My daughter would like to move off campus, but is having a hard time finding a roommate. There are ways to find roommates, but she would like it to be someone she knows. If we go the on campus route again, she will get a discount for being a returning student. That discount for the fourth years is $1097. She packs her schedule full...18 hours on average, so living on campus saves a lot of time and hassle than living off campus.

Our youngest daughter applied and was accepted to her college of choice. She plans to major in Industrial Engineering. This is in our former midwest state that we are still residents of. We did however have to provide documentation to the school to get her classified as a resident. Luckily, we were approved. They do provide in state tuition for all military members, spouses and children. This college charges a flat fee for 12+ hours, rather than break it down by credit hour. Of course, as an engineering student she will have higher tuition in her junior and senior year.

Specifically tuition and fees for 12+ hours is $4,318 per semester, or $8,636 per year. She did receive two renewable four year scholarships. One is worth $8,000 ($2000 per year) and the other is worth $10,000 ($2,500 per year). Very reasonable in my opinion. It's the housing that adds up! I don't have the details on those costs yet, as we have not picked a housing option. I think housing will be less than we pay for our older daughter, so that is a plus! And she will be applying for more scholarships soon, so fingers crossed there is a little more money to assist.

Bought A Christmas Gift

November 14th, 2017 at 09:17 pm

I bought a Christmas gift for a neighbor today. She is a big nature lover, so I picked up an amaryllis bulb at Lowe's. It was priced at $5.98, and I was able to get $0.60 off with our military discount.

It was just the bulb in pretty packaging, so I thought I'd replant it and get it growing before I present it to her at the beginning of December. I found a dark green metal pot in my garage that is perfect for regifting! I added rocks from my yard to the bottom and then soil.

Simple gift, but hopefully meaningful to her!

Have you heard of the one and done concept? Make one gift and give to as many people on your list as possible. This is often good for neighbors or coworkers. I'd definitely do the amaryllis gift for more than one person but I keep neighbor gifts to a minimum. One other neighbor is getting cookies (she told me she is looking forward to them again, so I'm not going to disappoint).

Coupons Used Are Saved Money

November 13th, 2017 at 12:15 pm

I only use coupons for things I'm going to buy anyway. I do see how coupons can actually suggest to you to buy something that you wouldn't even have bought in the first place!

At any rate I did use coupons yesterday at the commissary. Seven coupons worth $7.25. Three coupons were ones I printed. One was found on the package. And three were on the commissary rewards app. Easy savings.

I also found a Any Item $0.25 rebate on Ibotta, so I claimed that too.

I'm actually going to move money from our grocery budget to our Big Goal savings. It's not much, but small amounts add up.

Did you use any coupons at the grocery store this week?

Socks For Christmas

November 11th, 2017 at 01:03 pm

Have you ever heard the story Socks for Christmas by Andy Andrews? I was given a copy of the audio version probably 15 years ago by a friend, along with a pair of socks. In fact, I think our entire family received socks from this friend. It made an impact, my girls still love to get socks for Christmas! As do I.

In my extended family, we adults have been known to exchange socks for Christmas. Smart Wool socks are a favorite. In the last couple years we have not been together on Christmas and have also ended our required gifts to each other. This year, however, I'm inspired once again to give socks for Christmas. These will go to my parents, sister and brother in law.

I got a very decent deal on socks at Kohl's last night. These are not our traditional Smart Wool socks, but a very nice Gold Toe dress pair for the men and a soft warm Cuddle Duds pair for the women. After three coupons applied, I paid $4.17 for the men's and $4.42 for the women's. I also picked up a new pair of slipper socks for myself for $5.21.

I plan to attach a tag with some words about socks and my memory of giving them socks in the past at Christmas. I told my husband my plan and he had a big smile on his face, because he knows how much fun we had giving each other socks in the past.

Small, simple gifts given from the heart often mean more than an expensive gift. What gift have you received that touched your heart?

Snowflakes

November 10th, 2017 at 02:48 pm

I have some snowflakes to report! The money kind. Small amounts of money coming into our household.

Ebates $6.56
Pinecone survey $3
Swagbucks $25 Amazon gift card
US Bank rewards $7.26 (5% back on cell phone)
Verizon $20 credit (old phone trade in)
Checking interest $0.08
Ebay sales $19.95

Total $81.85

My neighbor asked me last night if I could make six more key fobs. Her husband thought they would make nice gifts for the women at his work. I charge $8 each, so will get another $48 in my pocket next week after I complete them.

Thanks for all the kind words about my blog. I'm still in decision mode, but I know in the long run I would likely miss it. So more than likely I will still be around.

Thinking About Ending My Blog

November 9th, 2017 at 12:31 pm

The idea to stop my blog came to me last night. I'm not exactly sure why, other than I feel like I write the same things. But then again, maybe there are readers (lurkers) who want me to keep writing. If you are truly getting motivation from my blog, I'd love to hear from you, particularly if you are just lurking (not a regular commenter or blogger). What content do you like, what would you like to see more of?

I'm not leaving yet. I will let you know if I do.

Just Under $20K to Go

November 4th, 2017 at 02:50 pm

Wow! The stock market is on fire. Our retirement accounts totaled just over $480K yesterday. We are getting closer to $500K...just under $20K to go. Of course, I know there could be a correction at some point, but I'd love it if the accounts could rise to $500K by the end of the year. Another 4% or so. We started the year with balances totaling $392K...so there has been very nice progress!

I tallied up our interest earned in October. We earned $95.28. Can't complain about more money!

Christmas Planning

November 2nd, 2017 at 03:06 pm

I have aimed to have less stress during the holidays for several years now. The key to less stress is November. Yes, the month of November puts me ahead of schedule to complete the shopping, decorating and wrapping that comes with the holidays.

Yesterday, I printed off free November and December calendar pages to help me mark off all of the holiday activities, wrapping, shopping and planning that comes with the holidays. My first step was to meal plan for the month of November. I still have a few days left to figure out, but getting that task off my mind will help things run smoothly at home.

I'm Christmas shopping online already. My list isn't large and I have time, so I'm keeping eyes wide open to get the best deals. I also have a sewing project to do for a niece, so that will be one of the next things on my list. I want it done before Thanksgiving, so I'm not sewing at the last minute. That is definitely stressful!

Another thing I have learned over the years is to buy less. Buy for fewer people. Buy fewer gifts for those we do buy for. And spend less on the gifts. And guess what? Buying for fewer people doesn't take away the joy of the holiday! It does however save time, money and stress.

I know people will say 'well, I have to buy for....', but that is not true no one is forcing you to buy anyone a gift. It is all optional. Yes, you may need to give a reason, such as we are saving for X, so we need to cut our gift list back this year.

About three years ago, I asked my sister if we could stop exchanging with adults. So we no longer buy for her and her husband and they no longer buy for me and my husband. We give just to the kids. I specifically said, I'd rather you spend the time and money you would use for shopping for us on your own family. It does help that we aren't actually with each other at Christmas.

Our gift recipient list includes my parents, my mother in law, my daughters, two nieces, my husband and myself (my husband buys for me). I have other nieces and nephews, but that side of the family has gravitated away from the exchanges and we also are not there on Christmas anymore.

We will bake cookies and freeze, so if I need some for a work exchange or a neighbor they will be ready to give. This is along the lines of the One and Done concept. Give one gift to many and be done with it. No need to specialize every gift you give. I find nearly any food product to be great for this!

I'd like to hear your thoughts on planning ahead for the holidays and your gift giving plans.