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Archive for May, 2018

More Money for College!!

May 30th, 2018 at 06:29 pm

Our youngest daughter graduated from her Engineering Academy at her high school tonight. It was such a wonderful ceremony, where the strings played music before and after the event, the Jr ROTC posted the colors, sang the national anthem, former students spoke, as well as current students (one being our daughter), and of course, graduation certificates were presented.

But the highlight was the scholarship money presented! Half of the students received scholarships (9 students out of 18). Six received $500, two received $1000 and our daughter received a scholarship given in the name of the founder of this school's engineering academy in the amount of $1,500.

Our daughter did have to officially apply and complete among her peers. And there was some scoring given to the board to decide as well. One thing they had to do during the entire time in the academy was to check in on Tuesday mornings wearing their uniform. Apparently, that was what pushed our daughter's score to the highest level because she ALWAYS remembered to wear her uniform and check in. But in the end I think the essay is what convinced the board, at least that is how they made it sound. We are very proud of her and thankful for the monetary acknowledgement of her efforts.

The tuition portion of her first year is going to be very minimal. I swear that in our experience the cost of room and board is the most expensive part. But a few costs at home do go down at the same time to help offset a little bit of it, primarily groceries!

Pay Day Approaches

May 30th, 2018 at 06:48 am

For the most part I deal with finances twice a month. Yes, we enter receipts in YNAB as best we can daily or every few days. Lately, it seems there is a transaction missing, but it ends up that it was entered on a different card. It seems to be my husband not paying attention, which is frustrating when I go to reconcile the accounts. I do usually figure it out, but takes much more time than it should if it were just entered correctly the first time!

So pay day is two days away. Today, I went in and paid off all balances on our credit cards. There were seven payments! I had a balance on two Amex Cards, Chase Freedom, Southwest, Kohl's, Target Red card AND Discover! That sounds awful doesn't it? But the balances on four of them were less than $25 each, including something for $5.99 on our Southwest card which we are not really using much. I think the purchase was charged to that card since it was what was on the account for an online purchase. Our tires were on one Amex card, and the other two larger payments $631 and $547 were charges for everyday expenses.

I also had to move some money around in YNAB to keep the budget categories from being negative going into next month. We've spent a fair amount on clothes recently, some for graduation and some for the beach vacation. I pulled $200 from the vacation fund to cover these. I'm still over in household expenses by $75. I just stocked up on toilet paper, paper plates, dish detergent, hand soap and other things to have at the house for guests here in a few weeks. I will just cover that overage in June. This is the beauty of having extra funds in your account...can be over in one category, but not actually running a deficient in the checking account.

I'm really looking forward to June being over. It is going to be a whirlwind with graduation, guests, going to the beach and then also flying out of town for five nights for college orientation. Maybe July will feel relaxing? Of course, we have to prepare for getting the girls ready for college, one will need more than the other since it is her first year.

Thankful the cash to do what we want and need to do!

Family Pictures

May 26th, 2018 at 10:45 am

Our younger daughter graduates the middle of June from high school. We have my parents, sister and her two daughters arriving from out of state to celebrate. We are keeping it to this small group. No fancy open house party, in fact no announcements were ordered. No big cake or decorations.

I have purchased at Dollar Tree purple plates and gold napkins. We will have Angel Food cake (from a mix), strawberries and whipped cream for dessert after the 8pm graduation. This is a favorite dessert that will be easy to whip out late in the evening. My daughter is completely fine with this. She and her sister don't like a lot of extra attention put on them.

This morning we have been going through her school photos since preschool. Our plan is to put these out for our family to see on the day of graduation just for fun. We may also put together a binder with certificates that she's received and possibly other photos. We just haven't made it that far yet. She's still in school and has lots of projects and homework to work on this weekend!

While we have had the school photos out we have had the best time looking at other photos of our family and extended family over the years. The girls are laughing at pictures of me in dance class, and my Glamour Shots of from about 1990. And we all have the awkward middle school photos. It just feels good to laugh and appreciate the joy in having family. What's even better...it is free entertainment! So if you are looking for something to do over this long weekend why not take a trip down memory lane with your family by looking at photos.

Under Budget!

May 25th, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Our tire purchase came in under budget. Yesterday, I estimated $750 based on their estimate and a discount. Turns out the total came to $681. That means we still have money in our car repair and maintenance fund to the tune of just $72. I think I may just let my husband get his windshield wipers replaced. Smile

We are up to date on all maintenance for awhile. The hope is there are no repairs needed anytime soon. I clearly need to keep adding to it. Although we do have a regular emergency fund that would take the hit if something major were to happen.

Have you come in under budget for a major purchase lately?

Getting New Tires

May 24th, 2018 at 05:08 pm

I'm getting new tires on my van tomorrow. This will be the third time we have replaced the tires on our 2007 Honda Odyssey, which has 135K miles.

Cost of four tires and an alignment after the military discount should be around $750. Maybe less. I think our original quote has a warranty of some sort on them with the tire store. Since we will be moving and this store doesn't exist there, what's the point?

Not sure we exactly got our money's worth on this last set. I thought they were rated for 90K miles. Do tires actually ever make it to their mileage rating? This is the only time I noticed that they didn't even come close.

The good news is I have this amount in our car maintenance sinking fund. No debt! Not that we have been in debt for quite some time, but we are still rocking being debt free!

Oh, and to be more specific we are adding $225 each month to our sinking fund for car maintenance and repairs. This was the average of what we have spent on two vehicles in the last two years. As they get older they do have a little more repairs needed. We are determined to hold these vehicles until our daughters graduate college. Just four more years to go!!

The Next Move

May 19th, 2018 at 05:52 am

Well, it seems we may know where we are moving next. It was not on our list once again. We had hoped to get much closer to where our girls are attending college. And on some level I'm still holding out that hope, as we have had changes to our move in the past. Nothing is official until we have orders from the military.

So while we are disappointed our choices weren't possibilities, we are trained to be resilient and we will embrace the next adventure.

The good parts. The location is very close to major metropolitan city, with a lot of culture and things to do. It is still in the south, so we can skip the snow, which I think we have come to enjoy. And the airport with lower fare airlines will be closer too. We are still near a major installation with access to the commissary for discounts on food.

We have done a little looking at the housing market. Rentals are not as plentiful there as where we currently are. The military is very dominant where we live, so lots of rental homes and options. It takes time for homes to sell here, so people who have purchased often turn into landlords. We have seen the benefit of renting over the last three years. If we had purchased this same house and then sold it we would have paid even more due to the commission and upkeep expenses. It just not worth it for a short stay. I expect we will rent again.

We may consider living on post. We do give up our entire housing allowance (BAH). We currently give our BAH plus $15 to our current landlord, but pay electricity, gas, water and trash on top of that. Living on post all of those utilities would be included. Effectively saving us nearly $300 a month. My husband's commute would be super short, thus saving on fuel costs. We haven't had a gym membership in the three years we have lived here, but we could use facilities on post for free. Lawn care would be included, no need to own a mower or other yard care items.

For reference our BAH currently is $1785 per month. The new location would be $2046. It is very tempting to find something off post for far less than that amount, but utilities, commute, safety and type of homes are all a factor. And it's possible we would stay on post for one year and then move to another off post rental.

We are still in the very beginning stages of figuring it all out. We don't expect the orders to be cut for awhile or at least not effective until after October 1. Thank goodness!! We have graduation in three weeks, a visit to the college our youngest daughter will attend for orientation and then we need to get both girls moved to school in August.

Once all that happens and we have orders, I expect we will fly there to look at our housing options. The one thing I don't have to figure out is schools for this move! That is what kept us off post this time. High school that those on post attend here is awful. And prior to this location, we have never lived near a major installation to have on post housing available.

Exciting times!

I will not be disclosing actual locations at any time. My husband feels strongly that this is not something we share for our own safety.

Snowflakes As of Mid May

May 15th, 2018 at 09:22 am

Yesterday, I noticed we had received our $150 statement credit from American Express. They do it very strangely though were it looks like the credit is from a recent merchant you did business with. An online search did confirm this was our credit card bonus for spending $2K in 90 days for opening the Blue Cash Preferred account.

We received $48.74 from Chase rewards. This is higher than usual, but I expect that is because we are using the card at Grocery stores which is offering 5% cash back for the second quarter.

We received $16.39 as a statement credit with US Bank. We charge our cell phone and electric bill and receive 5% cash back on each of those.

I think I mentioned this before but I did add Ibotta and Ebates proceeds to our snowflakes or Big Goal balance. Those together were $48.84.

I also made a small sale on eBay, so will add that into snowflakes once I know the net proceeds.

Overall, it looks like for half the month we have accumulated over $250 in snowflakes to save towards our Big Goal. Not shabby at all. Have you found any snowflakes this month?

Spending Season Begins

May 13th, 2018 at 01:26 pm

Spending season seems to have arrived at our house. And I don't expect to exactly stop it. It's just that time of year where are expenses are higher.

Our oldest daughter is home from college. Grocery bill is up. Her three instruments needed to be serviced for the year. I bought her new shoes, considering one pair we replaced was from when she was in eighth grade it was a definite need! Oh, and she needed new music, books for summer classes. We also received the bill for her Xray, just $36 after insurance paid. The office visit itself was included in school fees we already paid for.

Our youngest daughter's high school graduation is in one month. And we have company coming and we will go with them to the beach for three days. This is causing us to buy some needed items to make that event happen. Clothes primarily. I found my graduation dress for $39 at the Post Exchange. I won't need shoes, so a pretty decent bargain. There will be lots of food spending in June as a result of company.

It's also PCS season. PCS means Permanent Change of Station for military members. My husband has coworkers who are leaving for other jobs, and it always involves a final goodbye lunch at a restaurant. Each person pays for their own food. A couple of those a month seems to add up.

It's just that time of year. I have to simply expect and embrace it. It doesn't mean we are out spending money we don't have or spending without thinking. It's just that time of year where there are more things going on and the spending is up.

Do you feel you have a season of the year where you spend more than other times of the year?

Ibotta

May 7th, 2018 at 07:45 am

I just cashed out at Ibotta again. This time the amount was $20.96. It seemed to take about three months to accumulate that cash. I really only buy what we normally would. Only occasionally am I influence to change brands due to the rebate. Some weeks I only have enough on my receipt to redeem for $0.25 on an any item rebate. But as you can see it does add up.

Here's my link, if you want to try it out.

I'm sending this money to our Big Goal. In the past, when we had debt, this would be the kind of money I would send to the current debt we were paying off. Any extra you can find and use to pay down debt helps!


Ebates Money

May 6th, 2018 at 12:17 pm

It looks like I'm scheduled to get an Ebates payment tomorrow in my PayPal account for $27.88. This is the cash back from the purchase of our daughter's Dell computer. I'm socking it away in the Big Goal fund.

I've made two recent purchases using Ebates for cash back. One for the purchase of flowers I ordered my mom for Mother's Day. I don't always send her flowers or even a gift for that matter. Total for delivery of 15 tulips, a vase and a small box of chocolates was $35.97. I will get $4.80 back from using Ebates. The second purchase was for my husband's vitamins that he likes to get from GNC. I linked to GNC through Ebates which gave free shipping on the order, I applied a 15% off coupon code and will get 5% back on the order, approximately $3.00.

The cash back is paid out quarterly, so I will have another rebate to look forward to in August, which I will also set aside into our Big Goal fund. Smile

Do you use Ebates? If you are new and want to use my link to sign up, you can do that here. I receive cash back if you use my referral and spend $25, and you receive $10. I'm sure not encouraging you to spend, but if you do anyway and want a discount Ebates is easy to use.

Big Goal Savings: April

May 1st, 2018 at 05:26 pm

After writing my two previous posts about interest earned and snowflakes saved in April, I wondered to myself how much we had saved in total to our Big Goal this month.

Interest $101.24
Snowflakes $209.20
2017 Raise $131.00
2018 Raise $216.00
April Big Goal Savings $657.44

Not every month is as fruitful for snowflakes, but if we could save this every month, we would save nearly $7,900 per year. That's not chump change!

If we didn't have college expenses, we could definitely save even more, but we are committed to the least amount of student loans as possible. So far we are on track with zero! Smile

April Snowflakes

May 1st, 2018 at 05:14 pm

Extra funds we find I call snowflakes.
This is the total breakdown for April.

$_43.73 eBay proceeds
$100.22 Gift
$_10.00 Claim settlement
$__3.93 USAA rewards and rebate
$__8.33 US Bank Rewards
$_22.99 Chase Freedom Rewards
$_20.00 Amex Boxed Reward
$209.20 TOTAL

All snowflakes have been saved towards our Big Goal.

April Interest

May 1st, 2018 at 04:43 pm

We had a CD earning 2% that matured about a week ago. Luckily, we had another CD paying the same amount that we were able to roll the balance and accumulated interest into. That one matures in June. I hope at that time an even better rate is available.

In total our accounts earned $101.24 in the month of April.

All interest is saved towards our Big Goal. Smile