My daughters wanted a series of books. There are 12 in the series. I was told I could skip purchase book two as it is a combination of two other books my youngest daughter already owns.
Each book retails for $20. Thus this expense could have cost me $220!! No way was I going to pay that much out of pocket.
I figured if I could at least pay half of retail I would be doing good. I started purchasing earlier this fall. Two initial purchases came from buying used on eBay. One book was $12.40 with shipping and another was $11.13.
I mentioned that I sold some things back to a used book store and was able to use a $13+ credit towards a new book they had listed at the $20 retail price. I paid $7.70 out of pocket for that one.
The deals get better because I found three ex-library versions on eBay from one seller for $21.40. Average about $7 each.
And I made two separate purchase on eBay using Amazon gift cards I earned from Swagbucks over the last couple months. The book prices offered on Amazon varied from $13.59 to $17.36. One purchase was completely covered by gift cards and the other cost me $2.30 out of pocket.
In the end new books that could have cost me $220 new plus tax, were just $54.93 out of pocket. An average of $4.99 a book. A savings of 75%!
No worries that my girls will be offended by used books. They are fans of the library and know that book costs add up. And the used ones that did arrive are in very good shape! The three ex library books do have tags and tape on the side but again in very good shape! They will be very pleased, and hopefully surprised that I found all of the ones requested.
I do sort of wish I started earning the Swagbucks a little earlier so I could have reduced the out of pocket cost, but it is what it is! Still a great deal.
Archive for November, 2017
My daughters wanted a series of books. There are 12 in the series. I was told I could skip purchase book two as it is a combination of two other books my youngest daughter already owns.
No spending here at our house today. I didn't go anywhere, except a walk around the neighborhood where I ran into a friend. We walked and talked while enjoying the nearly 70 degree weather. I'd much rather be chatting with a friend then out shopping!
The pay period is winding down. I did pull $50 that I put into savings as it looked like I didn't budget quite enough for our expenses. My daughter suddenly needed water filters (yes, that is a need), and we purchased a pair of workout pants for my husband. I thought the pants were going to be a present for Christmas, but no he decided to wear them before I could wrap them! So those came out of our current budget rather than the Christmas budget. I still have $18 of the $50 in our account, so may be able to move some of that money back.
I wrapped the gifts that arrived in the mail yesterday. I can't tell you the relief I have that my November shopping and preparing have paid off. I will get nearly all of December to enjoy the holiday season. No stress. The money spent will not be on credit cards held over until January like so many. In fact, the cards I did use (and never pay interest on) will be paid before Christmas!
I'm starting to wonder if December will be a low spend month? That seems like the rarest of possibilities, but I sure do like the idea!
I am so close to finishing my holiday shopping!
I should have done some of this shopping yesterday, as I'm sure I would have saved a few dollars more. Oh well, I'm still happy with my purchases.
Today I ordered a shirt and jeans for my husband. I also added a two pack of infinity scarves for a niece and the required christmas stocking stuffer of socks for my girls. I bought these from Kohl's using a 20% off coupon and a $5 Kohl's cash. I spent $65. The jeans were Levi's, so they didn't get a discount. Free shipping and I didn't have to browse through the store. I think I just saved myself a lot of time making those couple purchases online today!
I'm heading to Walmart to pick up an item I need for dinner, and will see if I can add a few stocking stuffers in my cart! Some are food items and would probably be less expensive at the commissary, so will wait on those and purchase next week.
After the stocking stuffers are complete, I just need to order a card/board game my daughter wants. It is $20 on Amazon. I'm going to earn more Swagbucks, then redeem for a gift card and make that purchase for free!
Right now, the Christmas category in the budget has $183 in it. I still need to make another $50 deposit in December, but will actually just send that to my mother in law. I also need to mail three packages using those funds. I think we may come in UNDER budget! I will do a detailed run down of gifts and cost once I have it all done.
After grocery shopping and making a run to Walmart for things the commissary didn't have, I was able to redeem $3.20 with Ibotta. I have now met the $20 threshold to cash out. I have decided to wait until the end of the year to cash out. I expect December and even early January will bring more options for rebates. Once you cash out, you have start again to meet the $20 threshold.
My daughter said no on one of the Wii U games I thought I could sell. That is okay. I will get three of them listed later this week. I probably should try for today with it being Cyber Monday.
I did purchase a cardigan for my oldest daughter at Target.com today. Their entire site is 15% off and this sweater was already on sale. Plus free shipping and 5% off with my Red Card. I think except for stocking stuffers, I'm doing shopping for her!
I bought my husband some new athletic pants this weekend. He was with so he could try on. I was going to make them part of his gift, but he already wore them!! I guess not. I think a couple new shirts may be just what he would like instead. Or even a new pair of jeans.
I'd really like to wrap up the Christmas shopping this week. The more I'm in stores, the more I see the deals which make me think I need things. And the truth is I don't. The quicker I'm done shopping the better!
Payday is Friday. Except for Christmas purchases, I don't intend to buy anything!
I'm looking for snowflakes! The money kind that I can add towards our Big Goal.
I have two items on eBay that I wish would sell. I must need to lower the prices. One could be the wrong time of year.
I came up with four items we have that we don't use that I could sell. Our china sugar bowl. An exercise foam roller (used twice so nearly new). Two very large black table cloths. And a Wii U game that I don't think my daughter will play again (I do need to ask). Make that five items...I could list a couple scrapbook tools.
Did you know that some old Hallmark ornaments sell? I have some that would fetch at least $5 each, but I'm not sure I want to sell them, but I will consider it. I'm sure I wouldn't miss one or two.
Will these add up to big money? No not by themselves, but the small amounts add up together to make hundreds of dollars. The more I can find the better for the goal!
I briefly browsed Target.com yesterday and found they were having a sale on some electric toothbrushes. I've wanted one for awhile, but haven't wanted to spend a lot of money.
It's a Phillips Sonicare that was priced at $34.99 on sale, but there was a $10 off coupon once added to my cart. I also used my RedCard for 5% off and received free shipping. My final price was $25.40.
I briefly thought about buying one for each of my daughter's, but I think I will try it out first and consider it for future gifts.
My husband had been asking me what I wanted for Christmas. The truth is I don't need much. I just had a birthday and I don't have a lot of ideas. This will count as one of my gifts. I'll try to leave the rest up to him. We budget just $50 for each of us.
I hope you get some great deals online or out shopping today! Just don't spend more than you have or have budgeted!
I am so grateful to live here in the United States that affords me and my family to pursue the life we want to live. I'm also grateful to Saving Advice as a place to talk about my life and share in yours.
I wanted to clue you into a coupon on Amazon.com. It's worth $5 off $20 worth of book sold by Amazon.com. The code is GIFTBOOK17 and is good through November 26th.
I had $47 worth of books in my cart this morning. I added the coupon code and $40 worth of Amazon.com gift cards (earned from Swagbucks and MyPoints) and paid $5.93 after taxes were added in. And these will be shipped free with my Amazon Prime membership.
Okay, back to your regularly scheduled Thanksgiving!!
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!
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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).
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?
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?
I have some snowflakes to report! The money kind. Small amounts of money coming into our household.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.