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Archive for March, 2018

Using It Up: Butternut Squash

March 30th, 2018 at 10:31 am

I guess it was January when I last made a point of using things up. I was doing an Uber Frugal Month with spending and using things we already had on hand was part of making that work.

I had some diced butternut squash in the fridge that I didn't even get to then! It's almost April! Late this morning, I threw the squash in a saucepan with garlic, onion, ginger and carrots to saute' for several minutes. Oh yes, there was salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. I added some chicken broth (made from bouillon) and simmered for another ten minutes. And then in the end added a cup of milk (I was going to use coconut milk, but it had gone bad, oops!). Finally, blended it with my immersion blender.

My food stores are still pretty limited from the Uber Frugal month. To me this means we are buying only what we will actually eat and use! Far less food waste or extra money spent.

I know it's a holiday weekend for many and could mean more spending on groceries, but be sure to check your pantry before you go shopping. Maybe you already have ingredients you need, or possibly you have something on hand that could be used instead of something you think you need to buy.

Yesterday, I listed six new items to eBay. These were items we found this month to let go. These were ones that may have a chance of selling for a few dollars. I'm hoping for some quick sales!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend! Stay frugal out there. Smile

My Blogoversary

March 27th, 2018 at 12:39 pm

A few random updates.

I returned an item I bought last week to Walmart. It just didn't work like I thought it would. That put $3.94 back in our pockets, which I probably did really spend again, because I needed several things while I was there. And I also bought my husband Star Wars, Last Jedi that came out today on Blu Ray. I lucked out that he never paid money to see this in the theatre, so only buying the movie is a win! Sometimes it seems we have to do both. Ugh!

I earned $5.10 from Ibotta this month. Not a lot, but I don't buy many of the things they offer.

I have not been doing Swagbucks much this month. I have 1490SB currently. I'll just keep accumulating them when I feel like it. I also have almost 2500 MyPoints, which seems to be owned by the same company as Swagbucks!?

We had our daughter home for Spring Break last week. We did some extra eating out as a result, which I expected and planned for. And guess what, next week is my younger daughter's spring break!? I don't think it will cause us to eat out more, but I'm thinking we may do some shopping for clothes, or even some college dorm room items!

Budget is getting a little tight as we near the end of the month, but payday is Friday, so I expect I can stay within the budget we put out for March.

I missed my TEN year Blogoversary earlier this month on March 12. I'm quite shocked I have stayed at it this long. It's been fun, and very rewarding to reach towards our goals, andcheer each other on in this community all while creating a log of our financial happenings!

Next Quarter Cash Back & Upgrade

March 20th, 2018 at 08:04 am

I was reviewing next quarter's cash back offers. Chase Freedom and Discover have 5% cash back on Groceries. I'm not sure I will be using them though because I have upgraded our American Express Blue Everyday card with the Cash Preferred (I think that's it) which will offer 6% cash back on groceries, and 3% on gas and department stores.

I've known about this card for awhile...but with all the churning of card offers over the years I just didn't dip into this one most likely due to the annual fee. I try to avoid those, but sometimes in the end it is worth it!

American Express made it easy to upgrade. My account numbers are the same. We will get new cards. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. If we spend $2000 or more on the card in the first three months we will get a $150 statement credit. I do not expect this to be a problem.

We've been averaging earning $25 statement credit each month just using the card for purchases at grocery stores. At 6% cash back, I expect we can double this amount. And I think there is a limit to the amount you can spend and still get the 6%. Eventually, we may need to turn to another card. We do have another Blue Cash Everyday card in my husband's name so we could at least get 3%.

Now I'm starting to wonder if I should use the 5% back on Chase and Discover for the second quarter. That would help me not meet the maximum for grocery stores so quickly on the American Express. I guess I have a little more to ponder, as I would still need to spend $2000 to get the statement credit.

I'll get it figured out eventually! Smile

Oh, I did change our Electric bill to be charged to our US Bank Visa for 5% cash back. All set for next quarter...and hopefully all quarters following.

Rewards & Spending

March 19th, 2018 at 11:57 am

In the last week, as I have paid our credit cards in full, I found that two of them had rewards I could redeem. I redeemed $22.11 in cash from our Chase Freedom account. We have been using that card for fuel, cable, phone (Ooma) and Netflix purchases this quarter to earn 5% cash back.

Our American Express card had earned another $25 in rewards. This is applied as a statement credit, but I did put that same amount towards our Big Goal.

Today was a little spendy! My husband is home from work while our daughter visits. We ran to Target to pick up a sympathy card, light bulbs, shaving cream and packing tape. We decide to make this our day out to each lunch. We will eat at home the next few days, with more eating out to celebrate her birthday later in the week. And finally, we picked up some hair product our daughter uses from Ulta (did have a coupon). That was $83 of spending! I'm glad I added extra to our budget accounts.

My husband is going to get the oil changed in my van tomorrow. We have been saving for car maintenance, so no worries about finding cash for that! We are set.

Tonight I'm making this for dinner. Some of us will add chicken. I'm also going to use some hamburger buns to make a garlic bread. I've made that recipe with green beans instead of asparagus with good results...even more frugal.

Daughter Arrives Home Today

March 17th, 2018 at 05:46 am

Our daughter arrives home today for her spring break! We have to drive a little over an hour and half to pick her up. Southwest doesn't fly into our town and we love that airline! It's also less expensive. Smile And yes, I realize there is gas and parking and often lunch after she arrives.

I have added extra money to our budget accounts while she is home. There is definitely more groceries to buy. And we have plans to go out for sushi and pie. Not on the same day! Smile My husband will be home most of the time as well, so we hope to get out and do some things together. Many will likely be free, but a movie out is a possibility too!

I think she may want to go spring clothes shopping too. Another budget category I added extra to for the remainder of the month.

Oh, and her birthday is next Saturday....so I need to finish shopping for that as well. I have a couple items and if I don't pick up anything else I will likely give her cash. She does have savings goals! Smile

We are excited to see her!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

$18 to Big Goal

March 15th, 2018 at 05:22 pm

Are you signed up to receive notices about Class Action Lawsuits? I get my notices from Class Action Rebates. It does pay off.

Today we received a claim check for $18 from a class action suit with Rooms To Go. We had purchased furniture with them and qualified as a claimant. We do not file claims that we have not purchased since that would be illegal.

This money is going to the Big Goal. Cash adds up!

Lower Electric Bill

March 14th, 2018 at 11:03 am

With the warmer weather a couple weeks ago here in the Southeast, the furnace and air conditioner were not running much at all. The weather has cooled again in recent days, but the end result is a much lower bill from last month.

Remember my bill in January (due in February) was $350?! Last month it came down to $250. And this month, the bill is $161. This is still higher than I like, but for this home it seems to be the near minimum for running everything. I think I will start funding the electric account with a minimum of $250 each month to help level out the larger bills sure to come this summer. It's easy to do this in YNAB and let the money keep rolling over from month to month.

Payday is tomorrow. I will pay all credit card accounts in full, reconcile any accounts in YNAB (did some today) and fund everyday spending for the second half of the month. I will also fund the bills and withdrawals (such as Roth and college investments) and our sinking funds.

I'm more hands off with finances than I once was. Once you have excess funds, you don't have worry about overdrawing your account, or finding money when a larger bill comes in because you have funded it in advance (sinking funds). And YNAB helps keep track of all that as well.

Happy Pi Day!

An eBay Sale & More

March 12th, 2018 at 05:33 am

I sold a set of eight books on eBay Saturday morning. These were my daughter's, so I decided to offer her the $50 proceeds. I usually don't give the girls the money since most items I sell are a couple dollars at a time...and we are still supporting them.

This time the amount was more significant and these were purchased with her own money. She (oldest daughter) has been talking about wanting to save for a new flute and becoming more aware of the need for money! She was very happy to hear she will be getting $50.

Not much financial news here at our house. The weather has been colder in the southeast and we are just enjoying a little more time being hunkered down and relaxing. Busier times are ahead!

We may be spending $200 for the four of us to attend a music concert this summer. We will probably decide this week. It's a week night, so need to really see if my husband is up for a late night with work the next day. The concert is 1.5 hours away.

I continue our paper purge, following Marie Kondo's advice, which is that very little needs to be saved. I have converted some items to digital versions. This weekend my husband created a spreadsheet to track our vehicle maintenance, and then entered years of data from receipts we had been keeping. We now know exactly what has been done, when and how much it cost us...all at a glance. The receipts are going out today! It feels so good to lighten the load of paper.

Pay Day Savings

March 3rd, 2018 at 06:14 am

Payday occurred on Thursday. We have $131 automatically deposited into our Navy Federal Credit Union account from my husband's paycheck. We have been doing that amount for over a year now.

Because of my husband's raise and the new withholding tables, we are now able to save another $108 per pay period, or $216 a month. This is all in addition to our retirement, college and other short term savings.

After I filled in all the budget categories on YNAB, I still show $750 left to budget! For now I'm just leaving it that way. At the end of March I will put whatever EXTRA we have to our Big Goal savings.

I don't know what it is exactly, but it feel like there's a lot of extra money lately. I'm pretty sure I'm not missing anything. Overall I think it is just us not overspending, which of course, is a very good thing!

I usually report interest for each month in a separate post, but I think I will report it here. Total for February was $92.85.

Were you able to save something this month? We are further along on our journey of savings, so don't feel bad if all you can save is $5 this month. Save it!! There are always rainy days in our future.

Question About Employee Records

March 1st, 2018 at 07:37 am

Just curious what everyone's thoughts are on this topic. I'm weeding out old paperwork from our home filing cabinet. I haven't worked since late 2000. I have a file that is fairly small with three different copies of resumes. I have notes on my pay for every job I've had, dates, addresses and phone numbers, and supervisors.

I also have letters offering employment, start date, and pay, as well as a letter where my employment was terminated (laid off, not fired).

I also have a sampling of reviews I was given for the work performed and description of my jobs. Oh, and I have a copy of the application, testing and termination for my Series 6 Investment license. It's not current as you have to be employed/contracted with a Securities Dealer to maintain.

I know no one is going to ask for any of these documents, but I'm trying to decide what information I need if I were to fill out an application or make a new resume. Everything is so dated, some of these employers no longer exist!

I'm thinking in addition to the resume details, I could make a document with the pertinent info (mentioned above) and toss all the papers I'm keeping to get that infomration. I appreciate any thoughts on the matter.