<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Page: 2
 

Viewing the 'Budget' Category

Summer Classes and eBay Selling

March 7th, 2017 at 06:17 pm

Scroll down two posts if you missed the post were I linked to some free debt pay off and saving charts.

My daughter signed up for two online summer school classes. Remember she's a non resident student. And her scholarship helps a lot during the fall and spring semesters, but will not be applied during the summer. In order to graduate with two majors in 4.5 years she needs to take summer classes. Those two classes will cost $3,470. I was expecting this but didn't put a lot of planning thought into it. But now I am!

She still has cash in her Educational Savings account. My current plan is to the money in that account but only for half. The other half ($1,735) I hope to cash flow. I have until June 12 to come up with those funds. Three months! This is $578.33 per month. I'm going to attempt $300 each pay period.

It is really hard to save 'extra' for my long term goal while paying tuition, but I am going to remember that we will have the GI Bill benefits starting this fall. And it covers the full tuition cost, $1000 towards books AND nearly all of the housing costs. I just figured out the housing costs and our actual out of pocket costs will amount to $2208. That is far less than we have been paying. We do have to pay the full amount upfront and then we are reimbursed monthly. Luckily we have the cash and this will work out just fine.

I added two more items to eBay this morning, and I have four more that I hope to add as soon as possible. These won't amount to a lot of cash, but each dollar counts. These items are easy to mail, too. Smile

Debt Free Charts & More

March 6th, 2017 at 11:34 pm

I came across a blog that offers free countdown type charts. There are numerous different ones. The charts look a big like a picture in some cases, say if you were saving up for a house. Smile The debt free chart is the words DEBT FREE. You fill the words from bottom to top, kind of like those thermometer charts when an organization is saving for something. Not sure if I'm explaining well at all. Check them out here. There are a couple YouTube videos on the page where you can see someone explain how they are using them.

No money spent by me today. My husband had breakfast and lunch provided for him at his training. Dinner was also provided but he was full from lunch and going to skip it. But in the same conversation he said he was going to buy some snacks. So not sure what the actual spending is.

I made a yummy rice dish with mushrooms. My daughter loved it. Very easy, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of you already make something like this. I will definitely make it again.

Today I washed the blanket our cat Riley had spent so much time on in the days before her death. I hadn't washed it yet, as our older cat, Liberty, seemed to be enjoying it since then. But it is now closer to spring and it was time to get it washed. It was kind of sad to pull the lint trap out and see if full of her fur. Frown I still so grateful for the time that she was a part of our family.

In other news, I have accumulated 1354 Swagbucks. Closer to my $15 Amazon gift card goal. But then I have found another item I may want to buy and that puts my total closer to $20. I may hold off though on that one, as it isn't a true need.

What I Don't Buy

February 10th, 2017 at 04:07 pm

I like to revisit this topic once in awhile for new readers (and us oldies, too). Down below is a list of things many people buy that I don't as a more frugal spender. Now, of course, the list is not all inclusive as it is hard to remember things I don't buy since I don't think about them at all. I was inspired to write this post after watching a lot of decluttering videos on YouTube. It was interesting to see what people had purchased that they were decluttering. Many items were things I don't even own, or now no longer own as I don't buy them.

Scented candles
I noticed that a lot of people buy these in multiples and then never use them fully. If I buy a candle I use it all up before I would buy another.

Nail Polish
I own two bottles of nail polish. Both are almost gone, but I've been using these on my toes in the summer for quite a few years.

Make-up
I have basic foundation, one lipstick, one palette of eye shadow, one eye liner, and powder. That is it! Very simple when I use makeup which is probably less than ten times a year. I read about what is in makeup and decided I didn't like putting it on my face everyday!

Magazines
I have had a few subscriptions in the past, but over time realized I wasn't getting any satisfaction reading them. Saves me time and money.

Books
I use the library!

Jewelry
I'm simple. I own one pair of earnings, a pearl necklace, and probably four rings, although I only wear my wedding ring daily.

Newspapers
Got of of the subscription habit of newspapers when we moved the last time.

Scented Lotions
Same reason I don't wear makeup, too many chemicals. I'm lucky that I don't have very dry skin. I do have some chemical free lotions, but I take forever to use them!

Valentine/St Patrick's Day/Easter/July 4th/Thanksgiving decor
I've come to see these items put out in stores as just a way to part me from our hard earned money. I only decorate for Christmas and rarely buy new items.

Appliances and kitchen tools for only one purpose
My waffle maker, coffee maker, toaster are exceptions. However, have you noticed all the new gadgets for kitchens that come out when a simple tool, like a knife, could do the same thing!

Multiples of anything (such as excess sheets, blankets, towels, scissors, pens) particularly those that don't get used up quickly.
We have one set of sheets per bed. We have two towels per person, plus a set for guests. We buy what we need, nothing more.

Stickers
This was one I saw many people decluttering. This is one that people probably accumulate because they are inexpensive or cute, but then they don't use them up!

Containers
I avoid buying baskets and bins. I have some obviously, but I'm not of the mindset that I have to go buy a container to be organized. I've let go of so much in the last few years, that I have bins I could probably let go of!

Phone cases and Purses
Why buy more than one, when one will do? I have a simple black purse that goes with everything. And if it doesn't? Who cares!

The newest electronics
I still have an iPod Nano from 2006!

Collectibles and knick knacks
I don't collect anything. I don't get the satisfaction at all from this kind of accumulation. And it costs so much money. And I dislike dusting around these kinds of things!!

Clothes
I do buy them, but very rarely. I purchased one new shirt during the fall/winter time period. I wear things until they are clearly out of style or have worn out. I only buy what I need. I own two pairs of jeans for example.

Pajamas
I simple wear a T shirt and workout type pants to bed. I don't need specific clothes for sleeping in.

Lingerie
I stick to the basics with bra and underwear. And I only own three bras.

Movies
These are expensive too and add up! We love movies, so we do watch some of them over again. However, we only buy two to three per year...not every new release.

Alcohol when I eat out
I'm usually the driver as my husband does get alcohol at restaurants. I can't stand the expense!

Disposable products
I avoid paper plates, cups, silverware, wipes, dryer sheets, napkins, Keurig cups. We use paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, Swiffer cloths (have used flannel well in the past), coffee filters. I reuse plastic bags (unless they had a meat product in them) and my daughter has reusable sandwich bags for her lunch.

Gift bags
We been given more gifts in bags and have accumulated plenty to use for the future. I've also been know to wrap a gift in simple color tissue paper, as it is not too costly.

Greeting cards
I do send some, but I send fewer and fewer every year. The cost adds up as does the cost of stamps. I also then spend less time shopping and running out for a card.

Stamps to pay a bill
I now use Bill Pay with my bank to send checks, including our rent check. Most other bills are paid directly with the provider, usually by credit card.

Subscription boxes
I can't even think of the name of some of these subscriptions, but they are like Fruit of the Month club for makeup and organic products.

Traditional Phone Line
We use Ooma to save money. We may opt out entirely at some point in the near future.

Excessive Data Plans
I know compared to some of you we spend more on our cell phones as we use Verizon. The four of us share 3GB of data. My neighbor mentioned that three of them in her family share 10GB of data! I wonder if they have tried to conserve at all?

Excessive Cable Channels
We only have basic to have any signal at all. I did like when we had an over the air antenna at our last house. The cost was just the initial investment. I wonder if we need it at all. We rarely watch any tv.

High end brand name clothing
Do people not realize they are paying for the brand name? I know some brands are worth the investment as the quality is good, but most are just fashion statements...declaring to the world that you overpaid for your clothes!

Gym membership
We have a treadmill and a few basic weights and bands. In the past we did have a membership and did use the gym!

Extended warranties
We nearly always turn these down. They simply add to the cost of what you are buying. It would be better to save the money and set aside if the item ever needs repair. So many things don't break! We did have a warranty on one computer and the screen broke, that warranty did pay for that. Years later something similar happened with a broken screen and I bought a new screen and installed it myself for under $50.

Trendy shoes
I may have already mentioned I don't follow many fashion trends. I try to stick with basic or classic looks. I also don't have a need for lots of shoes.

Cookbooks (remember no books!)
I only own one cookbook. I find all other recipes online for free.

Vacation souvenirs
I limit these. I find pictures of family on vacation are the best souvenir.

New school supplies every year
We reuse markers, backpacks, rulers, pens, calculators, lunch boxes. We restock the items that get used up or worn out like binders and paper.

Coffee Mugs
I have a set of eight and I don't see a need for ones that have other graphics or new designs. Just let go of two snowman ones that my daughters used to drink hot chocolate out of.

Stationary
I think thank you notes are nice to send. And I'm not against writing real letters. But the truth is, I tend to email or call someone. I was seeing hoards of journals, notepads, sticky notes that some of these people were getting rid of. We still have more than we need in our home that the girls accumulated when they were younger.

Organizers
I only buy an organizer if it solves a very specific problem that cannot be solved in another way. In fact, at the moment I can't think of any specific organizers that would qualify that reside in my home. I mainly have bins, large and small. Some baskets. But my first instinct is not to buy new containers.

Bleach and other toxic cleaners
Air fresheners (plug ins and sprays)
Most of these items are just too strong to use in our home. And they are not safe to breath in.

Specialty trays and serving platters
Holiday kitchen linens
My basic placements work year round in our home. I don't buy aprons for each season, napkins for each holiday or even serving pieces when our basic china will do.

I suppose I really could go on and on with what I don't buy. I just thought of craft items. I do sew, but I only buy fabric for specific projects and if I have leftover, I use it for other smaller projects.

What things do you avoid buying? Think of all the money we save and time acquiring those things. I'm overwhelmed thinking about if I had to start buying the things I listed!

Interest, Tuition Funding & More

February 1st, 2017 at 01:51 pm

We earned $79.08 in interest during the month of January. I hope to see that bump up a little now that more ($15K) of our money is invested at 2%.

I withdrew $4,750 from our daughter's Educational Savings account. That money will be used to cover most of her housing costs for the semester. She has $4839 left in her account. This is in a interest bearing account, so she is earning a little money on it each month.

Since it is officially payday today, I can say that I initially allocated $814 towards tuition. But I also didn't fund all of our usual everyday spending categories in YNAB specifically clothing and entertainment. That means I have another $100 to add to the tuition pot, and finally I decided that the electric bill (that really big one of $315) can actually be paid on our next paycheck on February 15. With those funds, funds saved from last few paychecks, the money from the ESA, and our tax refund, I am now only short $205.31!!

But as I'm writing this I'm also realizing that the books I bought my daughter for school have been allocated to that tuition category in YNAB. They were charged to my American Express card which I currently have 0% interest offer on. Therefore, I don't need to pay that off this pay period. That gives us another $153. Now I'm only short $48!!

I did realize that with my husband's travel reimbursement we might make a little money. It depends on how much he spends on food over what the per diem is. I think he will submit his request for reimbursement on Friday, and it should get paid within a week, maybe in time to pay the tuition bill! This would be a little less out of our savings that we would need to pay back.

I'm feeling much better about this huge tuition bill! I think I can likely shave $48 off our spending with some careful planning over the next 10 days.

I took our younger daughter back to Walmart yesterday to get more school supplies. ANOTHER binder, a 3 subject notebook, and dividers were required. We also bought a 4 pack of AAA batteries and a package of glue sticks to donate to two teachers. That was another $22. Why are office supplies so expensive? The 3 subject notebook was $4.24! The teacher did say they could use three regular notebooks, but my daughter did prefer the combined version for the easy of carrying around. I'm not going to make her sacrifice for a couple dollars.

Continuing Frugal

January 31st, 2017 at 04:42 pm

I think we are continuing our version of frugal through mid February. That is when tuition is due, so I want to keep the spending to a minimum. My husband and I discussed greatly reducing our alcohol intake primarily for health reasons, but that would be very good on our budget. I will let you know how that works out.

I just ate leftover mushroom barley soup for lunch today. I pulled that out from the freezer. It was probably two servings, but I ate them both! So yummy and really not very caloric. I think I may be having soup all week, as I have a can of soup in the pantry and another soup in the freezer (Moroccan Lentil).

I will need to grocery shop today. I need apples and crackers for my daughter's lunch tomorrow. I made a list of other items to cover the rest of the week. I will buy today, but count the purchase as a February expense.

I checked our bank accounts this morning. The tax refund and my husband's paycheck are both pending for deposit tomorrow! I plan to redeem shares from my daughter's Educational Savings account tomorrow to cover a portion of the tuition bill. At this point we appear to be about $600 short of what we need. As I have said all along, I will use our regular savings to cover the shortfall and pay ourselves back. No loans for her or us this semester is the plan, and I'm sticking to it!

Oh, I saw this on the SA forum this morning. It's under freebies, but it is more about spreading kindness and love. Check it out if you are interested!

More Credit Card Rewards

January 29th, 2017 at 03:52 pm

I redeemed $12 from our USAA Visa rewards. That money will be deposited in our checking account on Monday. I have designated those funds toward tuition, of course!

I plan to redeem rewards from our Chase Freedom account, but not until after the next statement closes which is on February 12. I will have already paid tuition at that point, but the rewards will help start building back up some of the savings accounts we have designated on YNAB. The thing I don't like about Chase Freedom rewards is that you can only redeem in full after you have earned $20. I currently have $21+ I can redeem. However, I expect with this next statement to have another $2. So I will wait and have that money added to the current balance and redeem in full, rather than have $2 I don't have access to if I redeemed now. We are going to stop using the Chase Freedom card for awhile, so there will not be any rewards accumulating in the near future.

We went to Panera for dinner last night. We spent $33.20. The movie tickets cost us $22.47. We enjoyed the movie, the meal and time spent with our daughter. After that spending our everyday funds account is down to $198. My husband needs to take $100 out for a work trip (reimbursed later) this week. So that leaves $98 for the next three days. I may need fuel, but I think we can get by with food on hand until payday on Wednesday.

The only spending that could come up is any school supplies my daughter might need to start the new semester. One teacher has already requested students bring ruler, calculator, spiral notebook and colored pencils. And I'm 99% sure we have all of those.

I think I'm going to keep myself busy the next couple days doing some cleaning around our house. That shouldn't cost me anything!

Used The Rice

January 28th, 2017 at 03:18 am

I used up the arborio rice this evening when I made mushroom risotto. I also used up the white cooking wine. Bonus!

I stopped at Walmart, after finally dropping off library books, and picked up the fresh parmesan cheese for the risotto. That was my only spending today. My husband picked up his usual Friday alcohol, although he did buy one less bottle. So that helped save another $10.

It's not particularly frugal but we may go out to dinner tomorrow night. Our daughter finished her first semester of her junior year this week, and it feels like our first free weekend where she has zero homework. We want to get out and celebrate!! I'm guessing she will chose something simple so it won't get too out of hand with the spending.

Payday is on Wednesday. We have $254. I'd be thrilled with at least half of that to apply towards tuition due February 12.

Taxes Filed & More

January 23rd, 2017 at 03:25 am

I went ahead and filed our taxes. All of our tax forms arrived. We take the standard deduction, since we no longer own a home. This was probably one of the easiest tax filing years ever, honestly. We are getting a $1497 refund. All of which will go towards the tuition bill due February 12. And as I said in my last post, I did adjust withholding to avoid the big refund next year.

We went grocery shopping today. I honestly didn't use any coupons at the commissary, however I spent $102, which did include several wants. Overall, this is a very decent grocery bill for us. I did inquire about the items that we paid for last week, but were left behind. I had my receipt and they had recorded the items I left. I was simply told to go get the items and they would sack them up. It was almost too simple! At least $10+ worth of stuff was not lost.

The week after next my husband will be gone for about four or five days. I'm going to consider skipping my regular grocery shop and see if I can't get my daughter and I through that week without buying much at all. If I can do that I just might be able to save the $83 left in the grocery budget.

My husband was going to get a haircut today as he primarily needed his neck trimmed. He did mention that we should buy a new trimmer as we have been without one for awhile. He even pointed out the trimmer might cost the same amount as one haircut! Well, the one we bought was $24, and his haircut is usually $13. So one more trim and we will have made the purchase worthwhile. We also talked about cutting his hair at home. We did try that at one time, and I now can't remember why we didn't keep it up!

We have $323 left in our Everyday Expenses category for the rest of the month, just nine days. I feel pretty good that we can keep more than half, maybe even $200 of this money to send in towards tuition.

We were notified by my daughter's flute teacher that she needs to take the next four weeks off from teaching as she has a gig at the community playhouse. We do have the option of another teacher, but my daughter who has been packing in two AP courses in one semester (finals are this week, exam in May) just would like a break. This is going to save me $100! More money I can apply to tuition!!


We Ate Subway

January 14th, 2017 at 08:44 pm

We were out of town this morning. Our event ended around noon and we were hungry. The three of us stopped at Subway before we headed home. We spent $20.65. This is where our habits and lack of planning cost us money. I'm not really upset about it. If I were being truly frugal we would have prepared a lunch at home and brought it with us.

I have updated YNAB with payday funds. We had about $111 that we didn't spend during the first half of the month. I put that in the college tuition and housing bucket. After allocating for regular investments, bills and spending categories, I had almost another $1700 from our current paycheck to put towards tuition. I now have $2935 set aside. I need about $4K total, so I'm still short. I think I can get pretty close on my husband's next paycheck. And since we do have cash, I can actually pay it and then repay ourselves once we do have funds.

Tonight for dinner, we are having fried rice with some of that chicken I made earlier in the week. We have some salad to finish as well. I need to make my meal plan for next week so we can get our grocery shopping done tomorrow! I hope to incorporate some more rice and some soups into our plan.

Amex Offer & StepBet

January 9th, 2017 at 04:07 pm

I paid our cable bill with my husbands American Express card last night. This charge still qualifies under the 10% back on satellite and cable bills that expires at the end of January. The maximum credit is $30 and our other bills have qualified us for $28.95 of that $30. So this bill will get $1.05 credit. I plan to use $25 in rewards towards the bill as well, so our final bill this month will be $55.03. If you remember we turned in a cable box and exchanged it for a digital adapter a couple weeks ago, that is saving us $10 a month now. We did get a $5-6 credit for turning it in mid billing cycle.

I'm debating about doing a StepBet. I know I could win. I have a treadmill, and I go on regular walks with my neighbor. The bet is $40. For those of you who have done these in the past, what have some of your payouts looked like? Is it a good return? I may do another 4 week DietBet, if I don't do the StepBet.

In pantry news, I've finished the english muffins, and the clementines. I plan to have a green smoothie for lunch to use up the romaine, frozen fruit and some of the chia seeds.

Eat It All

January 8th, 2017 at 12:26 am

Checking in this evening to give an update on my progress of eating it all, the food stores we have in our home. I've crossed off what I ate so far. And I actually ate a piece of leftover homemade pizza from last nights dinner, as well as some salad my husband didn't eat earlier in the week. I made fresh soup tonight for dinner. I'm going to freeze the leftovers for later in the month.

Freezer Finds
1 frozen banana
3 2/3 cup frozen strawberry servings
2 1 cup frozen blueberries
frozen tomato soup
1 boca burger
1 microwavable meal
1.5 pounds chicken breast
1 whole chicken

Refrigerator Finds
2 opened jars of salsa
8oz sour cream
balsamic dressing (used half of remaining amount)
celery
romaine
kale
1 c. refried beans (ate this in full)
feta cheese (whole package)
3 clementines (ate 2)
1.25 packages turkey bacon (husband ate the 1/4 package)

Pantry Finds
3 English muffins (ate one)
chia seeds
barley (2 servings)
2 c brown rice
2 c white rice
1 c. lentils
1 can black beans
1 can white kidney beans
1 can chunky soup
1 can tomato soup
1 pkg couscous
taco seasoning
1 c arborio rice
12 Wasa crackers (ate 2)
2 cans tuna
spaghetti 1 serving
fettuccini 2 servings

I plan to eat the english muffins or fruit for breakfast. I may also make some green smoothies with the extra romaine lettuce and chia seeds. I can eat the boca burger, tomato soup, and tuna for lunches along with some fresh salad to use up that dressing. My grocery list is much smaller for this upcoming week as I plan to incorporate the chicken, rice, beans, couscous, and the pasta into many meals for the upcoming week.

Do you have anything in your refrigerator that you need to eat up before the food goes to waste?

Snowflake Towards Tuition

January 7th, 2017 at 03:49 pm

I redeemed $62 from our USAA Rewards card yesterday. That snowflake of cash is now sitting in our checking account and has been budgeted for the upcoming tuition expense. I was able to put away $740 in January for tuition. So far this month I have saved $532. I'm definitely behind where I would like to be considering I would like to have $4000 by the tuition due date of February 12.

I raided the birthday fund and came up with $150. I think this was actually birthday money my husband and I received for our birthday's from my parents. Yet, tuition is more important than buying ourselves more stuff!

I evaluated the escrow fund we have for auto insurance, renters insurance, and vehicle registration. I was hoping we had excess there, but that was not the case. I guess I'm pretty good at setting it up correctly!

I may be able to find some things to sell, but I'm not very optimistic they will be big money makers or sell fast. But the little amounts do add up, so I will try.

The second half of the month is usually the most fruitful time for saving. We have fewer bills and expenses. In fact, I may delay our retirement investments one month just to make this all work without dipping into savings. I'm also considering using just a little more of her Educational Savings Account. But that has yet to be determined.

Rental Check Experiment

January 6th, 2017 at 12:23 pm

I mentioned a couple months ago that our landlord failed to cash our October rent check. That check was received as I have a text from one of the owners confirming it. It was the first check I sent them through bill pay, rather than writing my own check. She was kind of enough to confirm that it was received as I notified her of the change in advance.

The owners have now cashed November, December and January checks. January was cashed yesterday. December wasn't cashed until the 15th of December. I think November was cashed early in the month. However, October still has not been cashed!

Our rent is $1800. I sure don't mind the extra funds. And I still don't think it is my responsibility to notify them. We saw one of the owners on New Years Day as he was in town and wanted to take pictures of the yard (a whole other issue they have failed to properly address this year). There was no mention of the issue and he had no comments on the home and our care of it.

I'm considering this an experiment now. How long do people really go without cashing checks? I cash them within a day or two of receiving, so I find it quite interesting. And the experiment could land me $1800 in our pocket.

Oh, and I'm not spending that $1800 until we are free and clear out of this home. It is still technically their money. We do owe it and if they bring it to our attention I will have no problem paying it. I just find it amazing that you wouldn't notice that you didn't deposit a rent check!

Helpful Links

January 6th, 2017 at 03:40 am

I've been crunching numbers to prepare for 2017 taxes. Yes, now at the beginning of the year. Part of the reason is to not have a big refund if possible. I want the money in my pocket now!

One site I use to calculate how different withholding amounts affect net pay is PayCheckCity.Pick salary or hourly as appropriate.

And the IRS calculator may be helpful also to figure how much you should be claiming for withholding in the first place. It can be found here.

Just sharing in hopes that it helps someone. I've always done our taxes (well a couple years early in our marriage my father in law did them, but he passed away in 2002). I found it helpful to understand how they work. The more you know, the less scary it is. Smile

Undecided

January 4th, 2017 at 12:34 pm

I'm a bit undecided on our financial goals this year. I know we will continue to invest for retirement. I'm looking into how and if I want to adjust anything. Part of this includes running through our taxes. The free online tax software I used last year for the military won't be available until Monday, January 16th.

I will also continue our youngest daughter's college savings. We started investing earlier for her, so she has a bit more accumulated. She turns 17 in 2017 so I will no longer get the child tax credit for her. Another part of my planning.

I want to continue to avoid student loans for my daughter in college. The bill in February will be the biggest outlay this year. I'm using some of her Educational Savings Account. The remainder, over $5K, will come from our bank account. We have savings, so will use that, but I'm trying to get most of it from current income before it is due. Right now I only have a little over $1K accumulated. I think I can get close to another $2K by the end of January. I also will put any tax refund towards the bill. I just may not have that in time to make the payment on February 12.

I was thinking this would be the year we would get a family vacation in, but it is starting to look like my husband will be at some out of town classes this summer. I do think we plan to visit colleges in the spring, and that will involve airfare and a hotel night or two. As soon as I save for tuition, I will save and pay for airfare. Honestly, I expect airfare for daughter's spring break in March and then again to come home in May. That will add up!

Once we are to summer, I may be looking at some tuition for my daughter to take a couple online courses. I can use her ESA funds for these or part of these. Once we get to Fall we are finally going to start using the Post 911 GI Bill benefits. The tuition and fees are covered in full. There is also payment for books, $500 a semester, and housing ($1062/mo, prorated). The housing payment doesn't cover our entire costs, we will likely need to pay about $1500 out of pocket. This is something I can easily pay from current cash flow at the time.

So I'm thinking about what we need to accomplish, I just don't have it nailed down specifically yet. I will get there though!

Snowflakes

December 20th, 2016 at 12:35 pm

I'm trying to focus on snowflakes to keep me positive rather than focus on all the money going out. Of course, I'm not ignoring it.

Money going out includes the unexpected expense of the vet visit on Saturday which was $385. And today we have our truck in for 90K mile maintenance. I guess for everything they are doing it will be $750! I only have $100 set aside specifically for car maintenance as I thought we only needed an oil change and tire rotations. Bad planning on my part. We do have the cash, just need to move money around on YNAB.
Tomorrow we have appointments for passport application, including photos. That will be $450. I did set that money aside.

The snowflakes are minor in comparison.

I did get a $15 credit from Southwest for the Early Bird that my daughter didn't get the advantage of on her recent flight because of cancellation and rebooking. I was thinking $30, which is what I paid, but half of that is for the return flight in January.

I earned $3 from Pinecone. I'm currently having it transferred to my PayPal account.

My husband is home today. I'm hoping to have him call (his name is the only one on the account) the cable company and change out our set top box for a digital adapter. We don't have the channels anymore that required us to have it. And that has been a year, and we can save about $10 a month by making that change.

I had ordered my daughter three pairs of jeans from Kohl's and had them mail to her dorm. She only liked one. We are returning those today. We may order another one of what she liked. If we return both I will have nearly $80 back in our account, or $40 if we order another pair. We will try to find a pair in the store, but I'm not confident that will happen.

I have close to 1000 Swagbucks in my account. I earned $20 in Amazon gift cards this month, and will probably accumulate more before I cash out again. I'm not spending a lot of time on it, but it does add up!

I'm making myself a note that I want to try to figure out how much I accumulated in snowflakes this year. It won't be exact, but more like a ballpark figure.

Do you have any recent snowflakes?

Bills Paid, A Little Spending

December 16th, 2016 at 02:13 am

I paid our credit card bills off in full and allocated funds to our budget categories for the rest of the month. I feel like I didn't save much as I was putting extra aside to cover hotel, eating out and fuel on our little trip to Nashville later this month. I hope we spend less than I budgeted!

I spent $18.75 for shipping a Large Flat Rate USPS box. I printed the label online and will drop the package off tomorrow morning. So much easier than standing in line this time of year!

I also bought a new filter for our refrigerator and a 2017 wall calendar off Amazon today. I had $20 in Amazon gift cards that I earned from Swagbucks this month. My final cost was less than $3 and I paid it with my Discover card to get 5% cash back (which will be sooo much in this case).

I did a lot of desk work today. I cleaned up my email inbox. I keep emails as reminders, so later I need to go back and delete them when they are no longer relevant. I consolidated some lists, and then started new ones! As the year winds down, I'm starting to make appointments for the new year, as well as saving documents for taxes.

I think tomorrow's spending will be limited to my husband picking up the weekend alcohol. We were already gifted a bottle of German wine to add mulling spices to, however, I think we will save that for Christmas.

The first of the month has been limited spending and it did help to use up some of the food we hadn't been getting used up. So in addition to meeting a financial goal, it has helped our kitchen food clutter.

$74

December 13th, 2016 at 12:30 pm

The only spending yesterday was my husband's haircut and tip. He spent $13.70. As a soldier he gets his hair cut every two weeks and he tips generously. I think $4 of that is a tip! He's always been a generous tipper, and it used to bug me, but I've come to terms with it. Why should I be the one to squash his generous spirit?!

We are getting passports next week. I discovered last night that we don't have a certified copy of my husband's birth certificate. I'm shocked! I looked through a lot of paper (and I became aware of how much we have that we could still get rid of) We do have two copies of it, but not the ones with the raised seal. So I'm going to send a request for one to the county of his birth. That is $17 to the county. I'm going to send it Priority mail, which will be $6.45. I'm also hoping I can purchase a prepaid Priority envelope so the birth certificate can be sent back the same way. That will add another $6.45 to the cost, for a total $29.90. This definitely was not an expense I was expecting this week.

We have $74 before the birth certificate and postal costs. I think we are going to see a high school basketball game tonight. Depending how many of us go, it will be $12 to $18 for admission.

Only two more days to go on our limited budget!

$88

December 12th, 2016 at 02:09 am

Friday's spending was on a few grocery items and alcohol. I'm not a fan of how much we spend on alcohol. I'm sure it could be far worse. Total between those two runs was $55.

The only spending on Saturday was for a soda. We stopped into a gas station to use the restrooms. We also make a point to buy something in exchange for the convenience. Total spent $1.59.

Today our spending was on laundry detergent and groceries for the week. Grand total was $95. I did make a point to plan simple and frugal meals, so that did help keep the spending low.

So now we are left with $88 budgeted until payday on Thursday. My husband will probably need fuel and a haircut this week. There is plenty to cover both.

$239

December 9th, 2016 at 01:45 pm

As of today we have $239 left to spend before payday on the 15th of this month. Personally, I'm staying out of the stores, and limiting my driving. I'm also eating things from our fridge and pantry that wouldn't be my first choices, but that will help the grocery bill. I may revise our meal plan for next week to make sure we stay within budget as well.

Right now I feel pretty confident we can make it within our spending limits, but sometimes things come up that can't wait. So my fingers are crossed we can do it.

Since I'm doing Christmas shopping, I have been spending my time at home decluttering a bit. I always feel we are pretty pared down, and that is true compared to many, but I can always find something we no longer need and use. I have an update of my progress in this area on Your Organized Friend. Is anyone else decluttering this month?

Used Airline Points

December 7th, 2016 at 06:23 pm

I just purchased a roundtrip ticket for my daughter to come home for Christmas. And I used Southwest Airline tickets to cover the whole thing! I did have to pay that small Federal fee, but that amounted to $11.20. It is kind of nice to get that benefit once in awhile. I may need to start using our airline rewards card a little more often to rack up the points faster.

In other news we are traveling to Nashville to see my daughter's band march during the half time show for their bowl game. She needs to get there anyway, so thought we would drive and enjoy the game and city ourselves. We have paid $200 for tickets and parking, and the hotel for 3 nights is just under $500. I have Marriott points, but because it's a busy time for hotels, the points needed are outrageous! So we'll just earn more points.

So...my husband and I are going to make the trip our Christmas gift. We were looking at buying new speakers at the cost of $400, but we decided that can wait. Likely we can buy those in the spring, after we have paid tuition.

I'm looking to accumulate some Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards to buy some needed items, such as razor blades. I figure every little bit helps the bottom line.

And I'm grateful once again to be a renter. The disposal is leaking and likely needs to be replaced. So the plumber is coming to take care of it and it won't cost me anything! I am annoyed that the landlord asked us to call instead of doing it himself!

$500 For 12 Days

December 3rd, 2016 at 08:24 pm

We had a lot more spending in late November than I budgeted for. I just didn't think through our trip expenses and things we would end up buying our daughter while visiting very well. So to compensate we have about $500 for spending over the next 12 days.

We go grocery shopping tomorrow. I have a meal plan in place. I'm going to do my best to keep to the list. We need to be eating less anyway, so the lack of cash should help!

In other really good news, my sister and her husband adopted their second daughter (their older daughter's sister) today! A happy family of four. My gift to them is to make a photo book of her first year with them. That first year won't be complete until May, so I have some time to accumulate pictures and set some cash aside to get it made.

Uncashed Rent Check

November 4th, 2016 at 05:00 pm

We changed how we pay our landlord at the beginning of October. Instead of writing a check myself, and finding the envelope and stamp, I set up the rent to be mailed from our bank using Bill Pay. I notified the landlord and it was fine with them. One of the owners let me know by text message that the check did arrive.

But it has not been cashed! I checked this morning and our rent check dated November 1 has been cashed.

Edited to add: Our bank will void the check after 180 days. Thus on March 30, 2017 that check can no longer be cashed.

So...should I say something? It seems so odd. Part of me hopes they forgot and never cash it. I can't imagine they will never notice, especially at tax time.

No spending yesterday by me. My husband bought coffee for work $6.29 at the commissary. Tonight we have the last high school football game (we go to see the marching band) which will cost us about $14 to get in the gate and about $4 for our daughter to purchase concessions.

No Spend November?

November 1st, 2016 at 07:47 pm

Today, I came across an article where someone is doing a No Spend Month in November! And I see that Mrs. Frugalista is doing one also. I never thought that it would be possible to do in November. I'm not sure I can convince my husband, but it may be worth the try.

I made a credit card payment for our airline tickets that I charged last week. I had all but $200 of the cost set aside in our vacation fund. Between that purchase and the cost of my daughter's Europe trip, we earned 7500 Southwest Airline miles. I wouldn't count this as spending though for November, primarily because I did do it in October and it is essential to get home for a holiday when the money is available!

I just did our budget and basically after paying required bills, I was able allocate $1000 for spending through Nov 15. We could likely spend far less than that if we are super careful, but that amount is average for us. I also put $500 aside that will go towards paying the Europe trip. I'm going to see what else I can come up with next pay period before I make another payment.

I went grocery shopping on Sunday as usual. My parents were here visiting, so I didn't make a great menu plan and just told myself I could go back to the store later. I'm going to do my best to make it through Sunday without going to the store. I know I have soups frozen that I can thaw, and items to make pizza. We have lots of eggs to make breakfast for dinner. I believe there is rice and beans (and salsa). I think I bought some frozen burritos too. I bet we can make it! And that will help the budget quite a bit.

Do you think you could keep your spending down to just the essentials in November? Again not sure if I can, but I just might try it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Random Money Thoughts

October 23rd, 2016 at 03:04 pm

First, I don't shop much at all any more. I don't want to acquire more stuff! However, we were out of town yesterday. And I wanted to stop into World Market. I haven't lived in a town with that store for 4 years! Boy, I was amazed at how different it seemed. The styles of the merchandise, while similar, was different. I think we spent at least 45 minutes in there. Luckily, I only left spending $16. Half the cost was for Christmas ornaments for my daughter's (a traditions) and the other half a fun gift for my youngest daughter (she had a stressful week at school). I think it may be a good thing I don't live by that store any more though. I was very tempted to buy other things!

I just made the $1800 payment on the credit card for the Europe trip. I mentioned this plan in my last post. Not sure why the ticker isn't updating...maybe a delay. New balance is $2895. Goal is to have it paid off the card one month from today, November 23. I'd love it to be from current cash, but I'm pretty sure some will come from savings and we will pay it back.

My husband received his birthday check from my parents for $100. I've added it to the birthday fund. This year we are skipping giving gifts for our birthday's, but hope to buy some bigger needs (and sort of wants) for Christmas. My birthday is next month, and I expect I will get a check from my parents also.

Our water bill arrived in my inbox. Next month the bill is $57. Last month it was $71, and the month before that $110. Definitely using less water now that the lawn growing season has slowed down. Electric bill was also down by $55!

I'm grocery shopping later today. I think the bill will be a little larger as my parents are going to be in town, so a little different style of food and more of it. But they are easy to please, so it shouldn't be too much extra. Smile

And finally, we are about to book our flights home for Thanksgiving. Three of us flying on Southwest round trip is going to be between $1200 and $1300. We are flying on some less busy days so that helps the cost. I had this money in the vacation fund. I expect we will easily have enough points to cover my oldest daughter's flight home for Christmas. If not Christmas, definitely for Spring Break.

$1800 Saved & Spent

October 20th, 2016 at 12:48 am

Even after our recent van air conditioning repair (just under $200), we put away $1800 in our emergency fund this month. That is assuming we can stay within the budget we planned in YNAB, of course.

And realistically, that money is spent. I need to put it towards the Europe trip. I expect to do just that very soon. That will put the balance of that payoff at $2895. And that is a number so much easier on the eyes!

There are two more paydays before the full payment is due on the credit card I charged it on. It would be great if I could come up with another $1800 by then. Fingers crossed!!

Amex Offer and Europe Trip

October 7th, 2016 at 08:42 pm

I was looking at our American Express account today and noticed that there was a new offer providing 10% off a cable or satellite bill. The offer is good through 1/31/2017. Limit on credits is $30. So I think the offer can be redeemed for more than one bill. I plan to use the American Express card for three months and will be able to redeem close to the $30 limit.

We just enrolled our daughter in her WWII Europe trip for this summer. I paid in full. I did charge it to our Southwest card, but we have the cash on hand. I will get some miles and a little extra purchase protections. The trip is 14 days and includes a lot for $4719. We did add on a side trip to Versailles for $100.

My daughter is going to pay for some of the additional spending money she will need to cover at least one meal a day, souvenirs and a few other extra side trips that may come up. She will also need to pay for her passport.

I now need to come up with a plan to make sure we pay ourselves back for the purchase. If I had signed up for the payment plan I would have been paying about $569 a month, which is probably doable.

I had to laugh last night when we left the meeting about the trip because I was talking about the cost. He said, isn't there some card you can apply for and get $500 in rewards?! I guess he has come to see that is a way to bring in some cash. Smile And it probably wouldn't hurt to look around and see if any offers come up.

Boxed

October 3rd, 2016 at 04:35 pm

I mentioned a few months ago using an Amex offer for Boxed.com to buy a lot of toilet paper. Specifically, 114 double rolls!!

My husband and I each have a different Amex card account, so I decided to dip in again with his card. The offer is to spend $50 and receive a $20 credit. Shipping is free with the Amex card (or at least some promo code I found last time that is related). I bought to 36 count double rolls of toilet paper and added in two large bottles of sriracha sauce as I'm having trouble finding it at the commissary and my husband uses it on everything!

My total after a $2 rewards credit was $50.76. I will owe $30.76 after the Amex offer. This purchase will also get us closer to redeeming $25 in rewards on the Amex card as well.

Now I'm stocked up even more on toilet paper. And for what it's worth we haven't even used half of the 114 rolls I purchased last time.

If you want to try Boxed.com my referral offer is here. This gives you $15 off a $60 order. You may be able to combine this with your Amex offer for an even better deal.

Down to $193

September 28th, 2016 at 09:21 pm

I posted a few days ago that we had $300 left in our budget until payday on October 1. We do have other cash, but we are saving that money! This is the money we can spend if needed.

Today my husband filled his truck with fuel for $34.45. I made a $25 donation to a charity. I paid the university for a book my daughter charged to her account for $28.73. I also asked my husband to pick up coffee at the commissary on post. He spent $23.38, which must be for more than coffee, but he's not home yet so not sure on that charge.

We are down to $193 and change left our budget for the next two days. I expect a couple more small expenses, but nothing major.

My daughter's flute lesson was cancelled so that will mean a credit of $25 on my account for next month. As a result of not driving to the lesson, it means I didn't get a chance to go into Kohl's looking for anything to buy with my $10 rewards coupon. So for now I have saved some money!

How much cash do you have left until your next payday? And when is your next payday?

Five More Days

September 25th, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Just five more days left in the month of September. The year is going by really fast!

We have just over $300 that was originally budgeted for the month of September expenses. If we can spend half of that amount or less I will be very pleased. I expect gas and maybe a couple personal needs expenses.

I will send the extra funds to savings!



<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>