The spending has been pretty slim these first four days of the month. We had a snow day yesterday with my daughter home from school and my husband home from work. And school is closed again today, which is good as there is a lot of ice on the major road near us.
$6.40 for shredded cheese, sliced mushrooms, and a Diet Coke (DH)
$8.50 for snacks, more Diet Coke (DH again 2 days at work)
$4.16 Coffee at Work (DH)
$20 Cash taken out to cover airport parking and commissary tips. We have not spent any of that yet. The other spending money is allowances as mentioned before.
$31.02 Dryer part (see previous post)
$43.70 Three haircuts with tips
The dryer part was not planned obviously, and we are over budget in that category. I will eventually adjust that category, so it breaks even. I usually do this on PayDay. I like to see what I budget and if we go over or under until that point.
Yes, my husband is still doing his regular spending. I may talk to him about it and see if he wants to try to cut back. But I did put some extra into restaurants to cover the coffee spending. I wish he could plug in a coffee maker at work! When he worked on another floor in the General's office there was a private kitchen so he brought his own coffee to brew in the pot provided there. Others would also drink it (usually without compensation) but boy that was cheaper than $2 a day. He tried a thermos we bought for $40 for about a week when he started his new job on another floor. I think the issue was it was too much to make two pots of coffee here at home, in order to fill the thermos, have some for breakfast AND leave some for me. I think he really should just cut back on coffee!! I guess I could skip coffee if one pot would work. Sorry. I'm rambling just thinking out loud while I type.
And there are those three haircuts we budgeted for!
Just a reminder these budget amounts are just for the first half of the month. Next pay period I will add to them.
Viewing the 'Budget' Category
The spending has been pretty slim these first four days of the month. We had a snow day yesterday with my daughter home from school and my husband home from work. And school is closed again today, which is good as there is a lot of ice on the major road near us.
It may actually snow today where I live! They are expecting an inch, so school gets out two hours early. As a Midwesterner I have to laugh, but the truth is they don't have the equipment here, nor do people know how to drive in the stuff!
After school lets out, I'm taking the girls to get their hairs cut. We use Great Clips. I usually tip $2 to each stylist, so the cost is $15 each. My husband is getting his hair cut today on post. I think the cost is less than $10, but he usually tips $4! As a percentage, we are both overtipping, but we do think our service people deserve it. These were budgeted in our personal care category.
I received $3 from Pinecone Research yesterday. It is sitting in my Paypal account now. I was notified we will receive an $10 AutoZone gift card for a rebate on headlights we purchased. And after getting our daughter a new cell phone last week, I am sending her old phone in for recycling and expect a $10 bill credit on next month's bill. I love money snowflakes!
The first two days of the year were no spend days. I made the point of going to the library to check out some books to read to keep me busy and focused on healthy eating this month. I love the library for the fact that it costs nothing to browse a book. My sister just mentioned spending $100 at Barnes and Noble recently. I do think some were Christmas gifts, but wow that is a lot of money on books! She also purchased their membership which means she plans to purchase more books there this year.
Have you found any snowflake money this month? Do you use the library?
We did a big grocery store run on New Year's Eve. We were out of quite a few things, but it feels like we overbought. That may be a good thing as we go into the frugal month.
In some ways, I'm not really planning to start until our daughter heads back to school on Saturday. I did however put cash in our Everyday budget categories and it far less than normal. The amount is $783...and that's for half the month. I know, it doesn't sound that frugal. But yet, some of those are needs, and some have a little fluff in them that I hope not to spend at all.
Groceries are lower and I hope to come in lower than I budgeted. My husband and I are dieting this month, so I expect that will help our food budget. Less snacks!
Fuel is the about the same, slightly higher as we have one trip out of town. I also expect a toll bill this month. I hope to keep myself out of stores, thus only driving will be to school and grocery store.
Spending money is normal. Most of that is allowances for the girls. One gets $17, the other gets $125. The remaining $20 should be for the month to cover parking and tips to baggers at the commissary.
Restaurants is at $60 because I expect one meal out for four people when we are out of town. My husband is also using this category for coffee at work. Not happy about this, but the thermos plan didn't pan out, so he buys a cup for $2 almost every day.
Clothing is at just $25. I'd rather put something in there than nothing. If I find some clearance shirts within that budget, I may buy them for my daughter, but for the most part, I am not going shopping. In the end I hope it is saved.
Household goods is at $20. I know we will need dishwasher detergent and dish soap. Most other household items we should be stocked up on.
I did not put anything in Alcohol or Entertainment. We will not be paying for entertainment in the month of January. And I am committed to no alcohol in the month of January. I think my husband is as well.
Personal care is for haircuts and personal care products. We are well stocked at this point. The only thing that could change is the need for some vitamins, but I do have Swagbucks to redeem for Amazon gift cards, so those could be covered that way.
The gifts category would only be used for postage. I may sew my sister a gift for her birthday late in the month, so that is money I would need to mail it to her.
And the Pet category is a need. I bought our cat food for the month and we will need another box of litter.
Now as I said that is really only for half the month. I will replenish groceries and fuel at the mid month payday. And as you can see some balances are less than budgeted that is because some items purchased (like groceries) were bought on December 31 and but came out of the January budget.
It's cold here in the Southeast! Cold enough that school start times are on a two hour delay today. Cold enough the Army is on a two hour delay! As of 8am it is 14 degrees, and feels like 8. Now I know that those of you in the midwest are far colder, and you are still having school and work!
I'm not looking forward to our heating bill. I'm sure many of you feel the same. We were quite mild though for part of the month, so maybe that will help spread out the cost.
This post may be a bit all over the place...several money thoughts on my mind this morning that I simply want to share.
We bought a new camera just before Christmas. We have been without one for about two years. I personally could probably have passed, but my husband seemed very interested. He has made a great point of using it over the last several days, getting pictures and video of our family. We took a family picture to send out on Facebook. The cost of the camera was $299, plus tax. He also bought an HD SD card. I was mad about that part initially, but I do see it has some better features than some older cards we have, so I will deal. I applied my husband's birthday money that he hadn't yet spent, and the remaining Christmas budget to cover most of it. After that I just took some cash from other budget areas so we can make it work.
We shopped for some grocery and personal care needs at Target yesterday. I used a $2 coupon along with the gift cards I bought for 10% off after Thanksgiving. So no new money out of pocket for things we needed. I was thinking of going to the store again, but I think I'm going to see if we can make it through Friday or Saturday night and just get our regular groceries for the first week in January.
Our final 2017 education and retirement contributions have been made. We added $2K to our youngest's Coverdell account and maxed out our Roth IRA's. These are all on automatic investment from our checking account, so it's easy to make it happen. I will need to double our payment in 2018 for our daughter's final contributions. She turns 18 in July, after which we we can no longer contribute. I think I may actually just take $1000 from savings and put it in for January. and then continue our regular $166.66 for the first six months of the year as we usually do. I can pay ourselves back the $1000 to savings for the remainder of the year.
I'm working on financial goals for 2018, but I need more time to focus. It's a little busy around here this week, with both girls off school and my husband home from work!
Our Discover statement closed the other day. We earned $15.53 in rewards. I'm going to redeem those and put them towards the Big Goal.
I transferred $8K we had in a second checking account to FNBO Direct yesterday. They have 1.4% interest rate, which is far better than our checking account.
We are about to buy my daughter a new cell phone. Her's is 3.5 years old, barely holds a charge and the camera on it no longer works. She is going to get the same phone I have, it will cost us $13 a month for the next 24 months. Since I charge our Verizon bill to US Bank for 5% back we will also get that same discount on the cost of the phone as well, which adds up to $15 in the end. But we will take it!
And finally, we are very close to purchasing a new laptop computer for our youngest daughter to take to school in the fall. We are going to buy it from the university she is going to attend. They offer a four year warranty, a discount and no sales tax. It's a Dell that will work for her engineering study needs. Cost will be $1299. I currently have $1,047 in the budget for it. We should have the rest of the money on Friday when my husband is paid.
Thanks for sticking with me on all my thoughts!
I sold another item on eBay today. I net about $15. Not bad for a used clothing item I was no longer wearing!
That money will go to the Big Goal. More on that can be found on a page on my sidebar if you aren't sure what I'm referring to.
Spending has been minimal, except I ran to the store today to pick up some things to help my daughter cope with a cold. She arrived home from college on Saturday and was recovering from another cold. It seems she picked something else up along the way home.
In other news, we have had a few days of warmer weather, with rain coming tomorrow. I enjoy these mild days knowing it keeps our electric bill lower.
I'm working on some year end posts. More to come soon!
I just printed my USPS shipping labels for two packages that I will have picked up at our house on Monday. The cost was $32.05. It really does feel like shipping has increased a lot! Luckily, this did fit into my Christmas budget.
I've mentioned before that our Christmas budget is $600. I allocate half of that for our daughters. The remainder is split between my husband and I, my parents, two nieces, and my mother in law. This year I came in under budget, primarily due to using Swagbucks (redeemed for Amazon gift cards) for some purchases and buying some items used for my daughters. Both daughters are used to getting used. I did squeeze in a two pairs of socks for my sister and brother in law. See my Socks for Christmas post about that.
Here's what we spent:
Mother in Law $53 (check for $50 and $3 to ship it with pictures)
Sister's family $99.70 (includes $18.85 for shipping)
Parents $46.83 (includes $13.20 to ship)
Daughter 1 $115.94
Daughter 2 $44.75 (bought used and used Amazon gift cards)
Daughter's shared gift $64.65
Technically, I went over budget for my husband and he went over for me. We were suppose to only spend $50 each. I bought him an extra gift of a saute pan (since he uses one every morning and we had to toss our old one out).
Now I must not have accounted for everything correctly, as the balance in my Christmas budget on YNAB shows a balance of f$103.12. The numbers above come from receipts.Maybe I lost a few. I do know of $10 that was for paper plates and lights. And I think another $20 may be for gifts I bought with Target gift cards, but were not recorded as Christmas in YNAB. So I'm slightly off above in my total spending as YNAB has to be a bit more correct.
The good news, we are under budget! I have $103 to be used for something else. I'm thinking a donation might be a good idea.
I was balancing our checkbook on YNAB today and found a transaction that should have been recorded on our credit card. Turns out it was already recorded there too! So a double recording means that transaction can be deleted. That put $140.54 back into our budget.
I should probably put it towards the Big Goal, right?
It's tempting to throw it into a few other pots for some other short term savings goals. We are probably going to buy our youngest daughter a laptop (for college) here in the next month, if I can pull the cash together.
Heck, I will put it towards the Big Goal...I can always pull it out if needed.
We are doing really well this pay period with spending. Out of about $1000 budgeted for our variable expenses this pay period we still have $230 left.
We did get pizza takeout on Friday night for $15.10. We rented a digital movie from Amazon the weekend before last for $4.27. Personal care has only consisted of two haircuts and about $20 in personal care products. Household goods spending is under $20, buying paper towels, all purpose spray, an adapter for my car charger and a few other items I can't remember. Really good deals on all of those.
Most of spending was on groceries and extras for holiday baking, fuel, and allowances for the girls. I have been buying more organic ingredients and making things from scratch like soups. I think these are expanding my grocery bill some. Does anyone here use Better than Bouillon? I use pre made stock or broth for my soups. Yes, I know you can make it but that isn't the direction I want to go. Traditional bouillon is very salty, and I understand this product has less salt.
It remains to be seen if we spend much more before Friday, but I think the leftover cash will likely go in the clothing budget which currently only has $80. My oldest daughter says she is in need of winter shirts. She swears she only has three! I guess when they are away at college we just don't shop that much! We won't need all that money, but I will put it there to be prepared. I could also use a new pair of casual dress shoes. I expect there to be some good sales in the coming weeks after Christmas.
Wow! We spent nothing yesterday. It was a rainy cold dreary day. We stayed inside the entire day. It ended up being very restorative. We didn't have anything we HAD to do.
I know many people probably spent their Saturday shopping, possibly for the holidays. However, my Christmas shopping is basically done! I do have to return two items to Kohl's that I ordered online. They sent me socks in the wrong colors! What's up with that? These are socks I plan to put in my daughter's stockings (a tradition). So those will go back to the store and I will look for something else. And then I am done!
I did make Double Chocolate Mint cookie dough. It needed to chill overnight, so I hope today to roll dough and bake them. That was fun and festive to accomplish. Baking is one of the things I look forward to at Christmas. I had all the ingredients on hand as I planned ahead and purchased what I needed in November.
We watched the Army Navy football game on television in the afternoon. It was a tough game for those players as Philly was getting snow. Army did beat Navy 14 to 13. Very exciting!!
We ate fried rice for dinner. We put shrimp in it, so it was quite filling and satisfying on a cold dreary evening. Then it was time to settle down again and watch a couple episodes of The Crown on Netflix.
My planning in November paid off with a day of relaxation! I'm expecting many more as the month of December progresses. I'd like to spend some of the downtime in the coming weeks really getting a clear picture about our financial goals in 2018. There are a lot of changes next year we need to navigate.
How was your Saturday?
I'm making a point in the next week to use up some of the food items we have that need to be used up.
In the freezer I have about 1 cup of frozen blueberries, one serving of sweet potato fries, 1/4 cup of diced onion, and diced butternut squash (three cups).
In the pantry, there is a box of pasta with at least one serving in it. Raw popcorn, enough to make one batch for a snack. I also see we have a lot of pretzels! I think we are burnt out on those...need a way to season or change the taste. Oh, just remembered I have 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels that I could drizzle over some of them. I don't want to sweeten all of them. Too much sugar this time of year.
In the fridge, there's several inches of ginger that I need to use. I think I will make a ginger tea with that. I also have heavy cream, and almond milk to use up. Heavy cream can go in coffee. The almond milk need to be used up making steel cut oats in the crockpot.
This morning I used up three slices of bread from the freezer. I toasted them and used up almost all of the apricot jam.
I think we are keeping up with most of the fresh produce, so that is good! I think I need to get moving in the kitchen this morning to get some of these things ready for eating!
Spending is high this time of year. Look at what you have that can fill in for snacks or make a meal. You might save some cash at the grocery store!
I had an email this morning that our Netflix subscription amount is changing from $11.99 per month to $13.99 a month. Sounds like their will be more programs and the ability to download for later watching as benefits. Never a fan of price increases, but we will stick with Netflix for now.
Purchased my daughter some vitamins on Amazon today. I used the Discover cash back for a credit of $2.38. Final cost was $12.36. I think I will send that cash back amount to our Big Goal. I should add in the coupon savings from Sunday, too.
I had to take a mental health break today. I had some stress and anxiety pop up on me this morning. I'm feeling better already. To help, I called my mom, went for a two mile walk, ate a good lunch, and then took an epson salt bath. Later I added some relaxing oils to my diffuser while I listed to some very nice relaxing YouTube music. I also got up and got busy in the kitchen making some muffins and hummus (not to eat together!).
I share because this time of year can be stressful for various reasons. It is okay to take a time out and take care of ourselves. And it doesn't have to cost anything! And be kind to those you meet as you don't know what their current struggles may be.
I combined three errands together to save time and gas money. First I dropped off a large box of donations at Goodwill. I stopped by Walmart and picked up lotion that my daughter said I could give as a stocking stuffer. And then a quick trip to the military pharmacy to pick up a prescription. These were all within a mile of each other but about 15 minutes from my home, so it made sense to combine the errands for one outing.
The only fail is, I wish I knew I needed a lemon for the dinner we had tonight. I could have picked it up at Walmart, instead I had to run to the grocery store just before I started cooking. We had this Lemon Garlic Asparagus Pasta from the Budget Bytes site. Yes, we still have fresh asparagus in our area! It was really good, the only thing we did different was add parmesan cheese on top after serving. I will be serving it again, it was that enjoyable to us.
My Amazon gift card ordered from Swagbucks arrived so I ordered the final gift I needed to purchase. It was no cost to me after the gift card!
I received $3 from Pinecone. I'm transferring it to my PayPal account. Another snowflake to go to the Big Goal.
Still no charge from JC Penney for the pillow! I wonder how long it could take?! That was $10.69, so if it doesn't show up on by the 15th I think I'll add that as a snowflake to the Big Goal too.
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.
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'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 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.
Since my last post, I donated $100 to the daughter of an Army family we are friends with. She is raising money for a diabetic alert dog. She was super excited to receive the donation. I hope she can get the funding soon, as I know it will provide peace of mind to her and her mom.
I sold a Wii workout game online and made a couple dollars. After that transaction, I sent the profits from recent sales to our Big Goal. It's just $15, but it counts.
We spent Saturday at an RV show. Paid $30 to get in the door and $5 for parking. We also needed a snack before we left for lunch, easily over $10 at those concession prices. This activity was a picked as a birthday outing for my husband, so the money was budgeted. My husband is very interested in traveling in an RV after we retire. My biggest concern isn't the money, but the size of these things. They are huge, not that we would get the largest ones. Most likely the travel trailer versions. But I dislike interstate driving in my van, why would I want to drive something so large?! Truth is I probably would not be driving it at all. Only in an emergency situation. But all three of us really enjoyed checking out all the options and features of the RVs. Oh, and we drove 1.5 hours each way to check it out, so it was an adventure!
I recently had my wedding ring repaired. The main reason for the repair was it was cut off last time I was pregnant and ballooned up overnight and it was painful on my finger. The ring needed a new claw to hold the diamond. And I had to add gold to upsize it. In the end my repair cost me $172. If you are paying attention at all, yes, my youngest child is 17...so this is long overdue! I'm so happy to have it done though. It feels like a brand new ring.
Our entertainment budget has ballooned in the last couple weeks, as we have been attending away football games and competitions. I think we have just two more games and two more competitions. Admission and usually money for our daughter to get a snack add up! My husband and I are doing better about eating something before and holding our expense to a water if needed.
We are probably saving big on electricity this month. The weather has cooled considerably. Enough that we needed to switch to heat for a couple mornings. That switch to heat made us aware that our lower unit is not working at all. In fact, even with the thermostat on the wall off, the outside unit fan was still running! I turned it off at the main panel as soon as I noticed. Our landlord is aware and this is after a recent visit by professionals who have said the compressor is out entirely. So I think we are now waiting for a compressor to be ordered and then schedule. In the meantime, weather is mild and our electric usage should drop. At least I hope so!!
We've started digging into our stash of hurricane supplies. The season officially ends December 1, but I feel pretty confident our area is not going to be impacted this year. So this will help the budget a bit in the coming weeks as I make a point to use it up.
And finally, I purchased a new cell phone. Originally was leaning towards an iPhone, but decided the one I was interested based on price, the SE, was simply too small for my over 40 year eye sight! I ended up with a Motorola Z Play Droid from Verizon. Price was $335 or $14 a month. I will get a 5% discount each month on that portion ($0.70) by using my US Bank card. I made my last phone last 3.5 years, so If I can do the same with this one it will be well worth the money.
Busy month, plenty of spending, but it's all good.
I'm not sure why I haven't been posting! Everything is on auto pilot I guess. I have been around commenting and reading your blogs. I'll give you some various updates.
I did the first half of October's budget without my husband. I still have over $400 to allocate, so I will get him involved this weekend to figure those funds out. It seems like a lot of extra money for the first half of the month.
Retirement accounts are up big time with the recent stock market surge. Since January balances are up $80,000. That does include contributions. The more you have the bigger a 1% increase makes.
Interest earned on our cash in October was $92.04. Close to $100 a month in interest isn't anything to complain about. I did notice one bank increased their interest rate slightly (0.05%) again. We have $131 automatically deposited from my husband's paycheck to a savings account. I need to roll a couple months worth of those deposits into one of the CD's we have that is paying 2%.
My cell phone completely died on me this week. It is 3.5 years old, and some things have been failing so I've been working around them. In the meantime, I've switched my SIM card to my daughter's old cell phone. I have a VERY hard time deciding on phones. The newer ones Verizon offers seem so expensive!! I'm also debating moving to an iPhone since I have a Mac. Those are also expensive, but coming down a bit with the new release coming up. I would like the phone to have a good camera, too. I use it for my main camera. I have $195 in my cell phone replacement category and could easily find more money if I go with a more expensive phone.
I returned two pairs of shorts to Kohl's last week. That put $30 back in the budget which helped cover some new shoes we purchased for our older daughter.
We have saved quite a bit of money on high school football games recently. My husband and I have been volunteering in the concession stand for the band. This allows us to get in free (saves $14), and we get a free drink at the end which would cost us $4 if we have purchased. Last night even our daughter skipped buying anything to eat. Saving at least another $3. There have been four scheduled home games, and just one left. Overall savings is over $100. I wish we did this last year too. We will still have plenty of competition admissions this month, so the savings helps!
I've been purchasing some things recently too. It's part of my Getting Things Done series on my Organized Friends blog this month. Just yesterday I purchased two picture frames (both 50% off ) at Michael's for $29. This is something we have wanted to do for awhile, but I've put it off to avoid the spending. It feels good to get it done though. The amount spent is minor in comparison to our overall budget.
That's the money news!
Christmas is just 100 days away!
We have saved some money already. We spend just about $600 a year, and simply save $50 a month. It's nice to know the money is there. I don't include money for gift wrap, baking, or the occasional new decoration. The amount we spend on that is very minimal.
I wanted to bring this up now for anyone that often finds themselves scrambling at the last minute to find cash or pulling out the credit card. Remember now, how disappointing it is to get that big credit card bill in January.
My suggestion is to make a list now of who you buy for and what you can afford to spend. Add that up and then divide by the number of pay periods you have left until Christmas. Save that amount going forward. Now if that seems like too much to save, then you need to go back and adjust the amount you are spending on each person or eliminate some gifts. Look for deals while shopping to make every dollar count. The sooner you start shopping the more time you have to find the right item at the right price.
I'm going to do a little better this year buying my baking items on sale. Last year I divided the items up and bought them during two different regular grocery trips. This year I'm going to watch the sales, probably in the weeks before Thanksgiving.
How are you planning for Christmas (or other holidays) to make it fit within your budget? Do you have a budget?
I've started Christmas shopping! One item arrived in the mail on Tuesday and another arrives today from Hungary. I mentioned to my girls at the beginning of August that it was never too soon to give me Christmas gift ideas. And they have done just that. Their lists are not flushed out completely, but I figured these couple items would be good to get now. Later this month I'm going to brainstorm for everyone else on my list and start making a rough plan. We've been saving $50 a month since December, so will have $600 saved for gifts by mid November. Yes, $600 is enough, we buy for fewer people now, and buy less expensive simpler gifts. It really makes for a much nicer holiday season.
We did buy my husband his new speakers for our family room. Out of pocket cost for them, the stands and speaker was $457.88. This was paid for with the per diem he received from his summer travel. He is very happy with his purchase and I'm happy for him as he has wanted to replace our old set (which we received as a gift for our wedding) for awhile now.
For now the remainder of the per diem is in savings. I'm pretty sure it will go to the Big Goal, but next time we have a budget meeting, September 15, we will discuss again. We may use some to fund some short term savings, but then pay ourselves back. But it really ends up being saved either way.
We are prepared for Hurricane Irma heading to the southeast coast. We have water, batteries, a hand crank/solarweather radio and cell phone charger, cash, and plenty of non perishable foods. And yes a manual can opener, although we don't have many cans! The weather radio is new. I found one at Bed Bath and Beyond for $51, after my 20% off coupon. I feel lucky as many of these kinds of radios were not going to arrive until late next week!
I used quite a few coupons at the commissary yesterday while shopping. They totaled up to $8.20! I also submitted my receipt to Ibotta for another $1.50 in rebates. I will follow my own advice and transfer that $8.20 from my groceries budget line to the Big Goal. I'm not moving the $1.50 as that is a rebate I will get in cash once I meet the $20 cash out threshold.
I sold a book on eBay over the weekend. Only netted $0.92, but it is now out of our home.
This weekend our landlords drove nearly four hours to put new mulch down in the landscaping beds. It was so needed. In one bed, they changed it to rock. It was very overgrown and over filled with plants. Honestly it really always looked awful. Now it just has a crepe myrtle tree and three rose bushes (which are new) and it looks much better. They also agreed to leave one large backyard bed without much as it only has three trees in it and all the mulch had virtually disappeared and grass has almost filled it all in. This will be much easier to maintain...just mow the grass, no pulling weeds or spraying chemicals! It will save them money in the long term too.
Last Friday, the high school football game was cancelled due to a tornado watch and severe storms. They played their game on Saturday but the band was not needed. We would have been volunteering, thus getting free admission, but we saved the few dollars our daughter would have spent at the concession stand. Tomorrow's weather looks good, so a couple dollars for a evening snack is scheduled. This is how the band makes money, so our daughter does benefit when the money is spent at our home team's concession.
I'll wrap up the post to mention I'm making a photo book for my niece that was adopted by my sister and brother in law in December. I had made one for her older sister when she was adopted. I'm not nearby so I've been gathering the photos as the take them and send them to me. I'm about to wrap it up, order it and have it mailed to her in time for her birthday next week. I'm considering it an adoption gift, and sending money and a small item I'm sewing for her birthday separately.
A lot to do, so I must get back to it! Prayers to all in the path of Irma and those that love them!!
Did I mention my husband completed his training, graduated and is now finally back home after a very long summer? On Friday, within an hour of arriving home he submitted his travel voucher for the trip. And it arrived in our account today!
The grand total amount of per diem and some mileage for first trip and last trip came to $5,348.25! A very nice chunk of change.
We will spend time talking about how to handle these funds. I personally just want it to go to the Big Goal, but at a minimum we are going to replace an old set of speakers in our family room. They are going out and we talked about replacing them at Christmas, but then had a change of plans for that money. Now is the time to make it happen.
I'll let you know after our next budget meeting what the plan will be.
We had some good news today on my daughter's University Bill. The school has applied her VA tuition payments. I'm not entirely sure they have received the funds, but they have noted them on her bill, so it appears we no longer owe the money. So now a bill for just $6,073.51. Most of that is for room and board, about $250 of that seems to be additional housing payment for the week she was in her dorm during band camp. I think something else was covered that we didn't expect. It seems they allowed her Honor's book scholarship of $250 to cover books. It didn't count towards tuition, so that was another $250 from the VA that went towards tuition. All done correctly it seems, just not what I was expecting.
There have been a few more school expenses. My daughter needs a conducting baton for her conducting class. We bought it used on eBay. It was about $22. Hopefully we can resell after this class. My younger daughter needed more notebooks and I picked up some printer paper. Out of pocket for those additional items was $4.03.
Other high school expenses I see coming up are $40 for senior dues (these primarily go to Prom I think), and my daughter's year book for $73. The yearbook isn't a need, but we have always bought them...and this is the last year!! We can afford it, so we are buying it.
Not sure how long it will take for the school to start talking about cap and gown orders and so forth. We will likely only order the cap and gown. We didn't do announcements for our older daughter and it was just fine. That will save some money. We also won't be having any big party. My parents, maybe my sister's family, will be in town and we will celebrate simply with them.
And then at some point we need to get senior pictures.
I made a donation to the American Red Cross to help Houston flood victims. I doubled our normal disaster amount. I wish we could do more, but if everyone helps it will make a difference. Consider miles you have or even Swagbucks if you don't have cash you can assist with.
I received a $3 Pinecone payment today. I redeemed $2.50 in coupons for groceries this week. Two were physical coupons, the other two were rebates with Ibotta.
That's the money news for now! I will get another Emergency Fund post up soon.
I saw a headline recently that 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This makes me so sad!
And then I talked to a good friend of mine yesterday who lives in the path of Hurricane Harvey. I reminded her she should have some cash on hand. She had just taken out $50. I told her more would be better. In my mind I had $500, but said maybe $200 would be good. She said although she just got paid, that she didn't have that much money! I said well since you just got paid, don't pay some of your bills you would be paying until the storm passes. Take the cash out and put it back in after the storm and pay the bills. That assumes she doesn't need it.
I'm of the belief that having an emergency fund, even a small one of $1000, is the foundation of financial security. The feeling you get when you accumulate that much money for just in case is palpable. Particularly if you didn't think you could do it. It's a feeling of accomplishment, confidence and security all rolled into one! It's also a feeling of relief when an emergency such as the one my friend is dealing with arrives and you have that money to use.
Saving that first emergency fund changes your mindset to being proactive against the unknown expenses rather reactive. If you can see that emergencies do come along and you will need money for them, then you can also see why setting aside money for irregular bills is helpful. It opens you up to seeing that you can save for other things like a new dishwasher or Christmas. And then you have saved money because you aren't charging the expense and paying interest. A proactive mindset with your money lets you see that you should save ahead for house down payments, college and retirement. Like I said it is the foundation of a solid financial house.
I can't save that much money. I will spend it if I see that money in my account. We have too many bills. Those are all excuses that block your ability to even try to start an emergency fund. Nearly everyone in the United States has the ability to save $1000. Now you might not be able to save it all this month, but any income level would likely be able to save that much in a years time. I think that is a little too long (and so would Dave Ramsey) but I would give you the grace to get it set up in that period of time. And if you want the math on that it is $83.33 a month.
And now I'm just going to do a quick brain storm of how I could find $83 each month. And honestly, the first thought that came to mind was Swagbucks! I know many people don't like it and even I get annoyed with it sometimes. But it is definitely possible to earn SB to equal a $25 deposit to a PayPal account each month.
I see my husband pick up a bottled water or soda at the grocery store at least once a week. Okay, I do it too, just not as often. The last time I remember noticing the price it was $1.89. If we could eliminate those five sodas from our spending we would save $9.45.
And at our house you have heard me mention that we spend more on restaurants than I prefer. I like to think we rarely eat out, but we do eat out. If we eliminated one trip to Subway each month we would save nearly $30.
I've been lax about using coupons at the grocery store. I think I could probably find at least $5 worth of coupons to use each month, maybe even $10. In fact, just confirm I'm right, I checked Ibotta and found the following coupons that I would use on things I normally buy. $0.25 on any item, $0.25 on fresh zucchini, $0.50 on cheese slices and $1.25 on a specific brand of bar soap. So in one shopping trip I could have $2.25 in savings. That is savings I could set aside towards my emergency fund. Again, easily $5 a month without changing spending habits, but by just finding the coupons!!
This next one is personal, and I've mentioned it here before, but I invested in a menstrual cup and washable/reusable pads earlier this year. At this point the small outlay (which I think I actually used Swagbucks to purchase) has been recouped by saving an average of $7 a month on disposable supplies. Because of my investment that is $7 I no longer have to spend. If I was consciously saving for my first emergency fund I would set that $7 aside each month.
Another one that has crossed my mind lately as a way of saving in our own home is the food we buy our cat. We've been feeding more wet food. A can a day, which is at least $0.50, often a little more. That is $15 a month. Now we do feed her dry food as well, so by eliminating wet food the amount of dry food she eats would increase, but the cost for that additional serving is far less than $0.50. Probably under $0.10. So let's assume we would save $0.40 a day, that is $12 a month.
And finally, I think I would be looking for something to sell each month while I was saving up my $1000 emergency fund. Things I have sold in the past for at least $5 include DVDs, girls jeans, Bath & Body Works lotions and sprays, kids coats and boots, Box Tops for Education, and tools. I've sold many things over the years, some online, some at yard sales. Of course, the amounts vary based on the item. Most of our homes are bursting with stuff! If you could find 12 items in your home worth $5 to sell, you would have $60 towards your emergency fund. I'm guessing many people have far more than that!
At at minimum I just came up with $94 a month I could save!! It takes effort, commitment to the goal but it can be done. And anything you eliminate for the year can be added back in. Or if you eliminate restaurant meals one month, swap it out with putting your Netflix membership on hold for a month. Be creative with how you come up with your savings each month. It doesn't have to be an elimination for a whole year!
Let me know if you are inspired to try saving your first $1000 emergency fund? Do you think you could do this?
And I'm thinking tomorrow I may brainstorm how I would come up with $1000 in one month! That is usually the best plan. Saving the emergency fund as fast as possible.
We received our first VA Housing payment due to our college daughter using the Post 911 GI Bill. The amount was $370.67. I guess they counted this month as just 10 day. I think it should be 11 since it is a partial month and the number of days my daughter is in school is 11 for August. But I do know the government does base payments on a 30 day month. We will take it.
Now we are just waiting to see the Chapter 33 (Post 911 GI Bill) designation on our daughter's account at the University. The VA office on campus indicated that it should show up after the first week. And since this is the first week, I'm not too concerned yet. I just need it to show up BEFORE the bill is due on September 12 when the bill is due.
In the coming months we expect a monthly payment of $1,112. For the fall semester we will receive that full amount in October, November and December. In January, we will get a partial payment for the partial days of class in December. Each time these come in we will simply be paying ourselves back for the cost of the semesters housing.
And I've mentioned before these housing payments will cover all but about $1700 of the housing that is due for this school year.
So very thankful that our out of pocket costs are going to be far less this year. We'll still be saving some cash in the coming year in anticipation of future semesters that will not be covered. So this reprieve is very helpful!
I'm sure there are others reading that haven't heard of sinking funds, or know how to set them up. Hopefully, some of us veteran savers can help share how they work! Since I brought up sinking funds yesterday, I thought I'd point out some options for tracking and holding those sinking funds until you need them.
I just remembered that the first time I heard about sinking funds in the personal finance world was from author Mary Hunt. She wrote a book called Cheapskate Monthly Makeover (now titled Debt Proof Living) where she described Freedom Accounts. I actually like that term a little better, as that is exactly what it gives you. Freedom from living paycheck to paycheck because you are planning ahead.
Sinking Funds or a Freedom account are a place to hold the money for the irregular expenses that are known. Christmas is a great example. We know when Christmas comes every year, there is not reason we can't set aside money ahead of time for those purchases. This is amounts to be proactive (saving), rather than reactive (often credit cards) with money.
As I mentioned yesterday we also save ahead for car insurance, vehicle registrations, renter's insurance. And I'm working on getting a bit more clear with saving for tuition, band expenses, vehicle maintenance, membership fees, cell phones and eye glasses.
Currently, all of our sinking funds are in our main checking account. Yep, no interest being earned there. The reason we are able to do this is that we track all the money we are saving in sinking funds in YNAB, You Need A Budget, an online budget tool. I'm not really tuned into the amount we have in our checking account as a whole, because I don't look there. I look at YNAB. And YNAB has it all categorized.
So you might notice I mention we are all done spending because the cash is gone. For me, this means the money I allocated to spending in YNAB is gone. Our checking account still has plenty of cash because the sinking fund money is sitting there.
Before we used YNAB I would hold our sinking funds in a separate checking account at our same bank. Each pay period I would transfer the money to that second account, for later use. This worked really well to keep me from spending that money without realizing it.
I've seen online many people use Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts for their sinking funds. Apparently their online saving account allows for making categories for the money being held there. I think Lucky Robin may use this??
I know other people actually save the cash in envelopes. For me this would not work, only because converting to cash to save and then back to pay for things would be inconvenient.
So those of you who are using sinking funds, where do you keep your money?
Here's a link to Mary Hunt's explanation of a Freedom Account and how to set one up. This is really crucial to getting in control of your finances. I'd say this is step two after getting an emergency fund set up!
In our budget discussions this weekend, I explained to my husband that I get overwhelmed with the sinking funds. The fewer I have the better, but lately we seem to have many more that I'm trying to juggle. And my post here, is just to talk about where we are now, not necessarily to fix it, as that is still part of the process we are working on.
The sinking funds that work really well that we have had for quite a long time are for auto insurance, registration, renter's insurance, and Christmas. I recently added birthday's and that one works really well, also.
Some of the one's that aren't as easy for me are: car maintenance and repairs, eye glasses, phones, and college expenses. Now to be fair these are newer categories I have set up in YNAB as a place to hold funds for the above listed expenses.
In the past, before YNAB, we had sinking funds for the auto registration, insurance, and Christmas. The other short term saving money was put into what I called a slush fund. That money was put into a separate savings account. When a bigger expense like eye glasses came up we would dip into it. And this way worked for many, many years.
I know I could still go back and even set this up in YNAB. I just want to be realistic in the knowing how much to put into the slush fund or these newer sinking funds. Because anything above what we need to save for those expenses, I'd really like to go to our Big Goal.
The nice thing about YNAB is that I can look at each category and see what we spent in the last year or year to date. For example last year, we spent $1,900 in car maintenance and repairs. That is an average of $165 a month. So far this year, we are on track to spend more. We have spent so far $1,537 in eight months, which is an average of $192. I think I want to use an average of the two years and start saving that when we get to January. Our vehicles are ten years old, repairs and maintenance are a given in the coming years.
We don't buy cell phones or eye glasses every year (usually) so that one is different. Much harder to figure out a monthly savings. Although again, looking at past expenses, I could probably come up some average over the last two years and save that amount monthly.
And then there is travel expenses and vacation. This includes flying our daughter here to visit and us visiting here. Last year, our Vacation spending was $9,270. More than half of that was for my daughter's trip to Europe. We had a small vacation to Nashville, and a trip back to our home state. This year our spending for travel is already at $2,526, an average of $315 a month.
Again, not really looking for advice, just explaining some of the things we are looking at for cutting, saving and managing better. These are line items in the budget we need to look at closely, if we are going to make progress on our Big Goal.
Tell me a bit about what you do for managing short term expenses such as the ones I described.
We have decided to cut out flute lessons from our budget temporarily. While the decision effects the budget, it was not cut to influence the budget. We have figured out that a new flute teacher is not available on the days my daughter is available, which is only three days a week. The other four days a week all involve band practice, games or competitions. This makes her very busy this fall along with taking three AP classes (which at her school are all completed in one semester). We now have $25 a week to put back in the budget. We expect to start back up as early as December or as late as February depending on how the school classes seem to be going.
I went to the grocery store today and was able to purchase groceries for $59 for the week for my daughter and I. That seems super cheap. The meals are simple and I did find several of the things on my list on sale.
My older daughter (in college) started classes today. She already had to buy more things at the book store. A non graphing calculator to use on Calculus tests. She has a graphing one, but they are not allowed. And because she is in an 80 person class, she rented a Clicker. A Clicker is way for the professor to ask multiple choice questions and have the students respond on their Clicker and then be able to gauge how the class is doing. At least that is my understanding. As a music/graphing design major we don't expect her to be in any other classes requiring a clicker, thus the rental made the best economical sense.
I did get to see the eclipse. We are in an area where it was 96% covered. And it did not get completely dark. It was definitely a different kind of lighting and I did hear crickets chirping (apparently they think it's night). We had eclipse glasses that my mom sent. I invited two neighbors and their kids over to view using the glasses. The kids had made their own cereal box viewers, which kind of worked. I liked viewing through the glasses much better. I feel grateful to have experienced it.
Did you see the eclipse where you live?
My husband and I did a review of our budget that we track on YNAB yesterday. This really was a first step of our discussion and making new plans. For the most part we are on the same page, we both admitted areas we probably overspend. We discussed some larger ticket items we need to save for. We also talked about retirement and whether to keep saving at the same rate, about 18%, or lower it. We decided to keep it the same for now. We agreed to come back to the budget on September 1 when my husband is paid again and tweak some things. Around this same time we expect to be getting a per diem check for his summer school travels. We will need to make a solid plan on where that money goes.
We did go out to eat for lunch yesterday. I had a $30 gift card. Our bill was just under $20, so we still have more money to use there another time.
Other spending yesterday came to about $30, which seems very low for a weekend. Today will be grocery shopping for the week.
My mom sent me two pairs of eclipse glasses in the mail that she received for free. I appreciate her mailing them because I was having trouble finding any locally. I plan to invite my two neighbors with children over to share our viewing glasses.
My husband is getting close to the point of needing to have his timing belt replaced on his Honda Ridgeline. This is based on mileage and owner's manual suggested maintenance. Our local Honda dealership quoted $1200! This seemed high to me based on around $750+ that we paid for our van a couple years ago. My husband called another dealership 30 minutes away this morning and was quoted $899. He also wants spark plugs replaced and those were quoted less as well. We haven't scheduled the maintenance yet, but once we have a free day and the cash set aside we will be getting the work done at the dealership that charges less.
Groceries are slim here at the house today. I think we are going to use a gift card I received for some pet care to try out a new restaurant for lunch. There may be a little out of pocket, but far less than without the gift card! Tonight we will eat dinner in, but we will need a couple items from the store. And then tomorrow I'll hit the commissary for the upcoming weekly food needs. Right now the grocery budget is still looking really good considering how far we are into the month.
Today my husband and I are going to sit down and discuss the budget. I'm excited to see what comes of it! What are we both willing to do in the next year to make our money work towards our goals.
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