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!
Viewing the 'Budget' Category
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'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?
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.
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!
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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. And it probably wouldn't hurt to look around and see if any offers come up.
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.
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?
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!
$43.70. That is how much we have left of our budget until payday on Thursday. Our checking account still has $8K in it, so we aren't broke!
I did spend about $25 today at Walmart. Not a fan, but it is close, so we end up there occasionally. I bought a large umbrella, package of pens, composition notebook, ant bait (ants in my kitchen...not a fan!!) and a soda.
I also wrote the first check to the school for $35. Each grade pays dues. They are higher for Juniors and Seniors because of prom. Dues were only $5 last year and I think all the students get a spirit t shirt with the money. My daughter doesn't plan to go to prom. It's just not her type of things. But we pay what we owe. She can't even get a locker assigned until she brings in the money!
My older daughter had to buy a specific dress for her choir class this year. Dress, plus scarf and shipping was $85!!! She will wear it three times. I did tell her she should ask around if anyone from a previous class had one to sell, but she either didn't OR couldn't find anyone her size. Maybe she can sell hers next semester. I do get to count it towards required class expenses when figuring our taxes, so that helps a little.
The plan is to make the next two days no spend days! I feel pretty confident we can do it.
This probably won't be a well thought out post, but I just need to write out some thoughts. We have seven years until my husband can retire from the Army with a paycheck starting immediately. He will be 54. I will be 51.
According to military retirement calculators his retirement pay before taxes would be $4,572 per month or $54,863 per year. So, theoretically, our goal should be to have expenses less than $4,572 per month. At least if we didn't want to pull any money from our retirement savings. I'm pretty sure we could live on less than this, even while doing some traveling.
If he can get into a particular position in the next two years, he may be willing to continue to work until 60 for the Army. Which gee, at that point, isn't really early retirement! I'm not sure he cares, he does like to be busy. The retirement check would be $8746 per month or $104,959 per year. That's less than he makes now, but not by much.
One issue for me in thinking about retirement is our living situation. We have around $40K that came from selling two homes. Thus enough for 20% down on a $200,000 home. I would be fine buying a home in that price range or less. We are currently renting, so we are not building any equity. I can tell our savings has increased in the last six months, by around $7K. I think this is better than if we owned a home.
Honestly, I'd love to buy a house with cash at the time we retire. Of course, that feels overwhelming to think about when we only have $40K specifically set aside as house money. If I were to make that happen, I need to be much more diligent about saving cash to make it happen. It's not that I'm unwilling, I'm just not sure what I'm aiming for. I think we would move back to the midwest, which is where family is and likely both of our daughter's will be (although one never knows on that for sure).
We are currently in the middle of paying for college for our daughter's. We have some savings. Scholarships have been helpful so far. And we have the Post 911 GI bill that I expect will cover half the cost of each of them to attend college. The best case scenario is that they leave college with zero loans. Worse case is they leave college with one years worth of loans. Our oldest is going to be a sophomore this year in college. Our youngest is going to be a junior in high school. Thus they should both be out of college at the time my husband would retire at the earliest.
I feel we are currently living in a home with too much space for our needs and we are paying too much as a result. The home is 2800 sq ft, four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, two living areas, two dining areas, a kitchen, screened in porch, and very large yard. We pay $1800 per month in rent, which is the going rate for this size property. We are not overpaying for the property itself, but probably paying more because we have a home larger than our needs. Most of the time it's just three of us living here, with two cats. We could probably move elsewhere in the area, but I know that is disruptive to our daughter. It also costs some money to move, even in town.
Another thought I have, that may or may not be related to retiring early is buying rental property. Specifically, thinking about buying a home in the college town our daughter lives in so that she could live there rather than a dorm. Not sure if this would involve roommates or not. We wouldn't be living in that town thus as owners, that could be an issue. Although, our daughter would likely learn some things about home ownership through the process.
We max out our Roth IRAs, and put 10% in the tax deferred TSP. We would save 15% on taxes if we put that Roth money into IRAs instead, yet, I'm not sure that is really smart if we would want to use that money in early retirement. That would be $1650 in our pockets each that could go towards the saving for a home. I know we could easily save $1000 a month, which is $12,000 a year. In 7 years time, that would be at least $84K, preferably more if invested.
Again...random thoughts. I would really like to simplify overall and have some clear financial goals going forward. We save what we can for retirement and college, but I've been lazy about the plan for the next seven years. If I want to make something happen we need to start making it a focus. I don't want to only have $40K set aside in seven years for a home.
Feel free to chime in with thoughts or questions. I don't have all the answers yet.
It's been a bit since I've posted here, although I've been reading and commenting. I don't have any real exciting updates as of late. No new snowflake money to report. We haven't spent any major money. We are still saving what we don't invest or spend.
The market drop because of Brexit is a bit hard to take. I haven't actually looked at our balances because I know I won't like them! At least the market had an up day again today.
We have decided not to go to Washington DC this summer. Our youngest daughter is taking an online German class this summer. It started a week ago Monday. It goes through the first two weeks of August. We were hoping the course work would be light enough to work ahead. Unfortunately it doesn't seem that will be the case. We could shorten our trip to three days, but we feel that wouldn't be enough time to do what we were hoping to do. My husband is also in a class for work and has deadlines every week in July as well. He said he was relieved that we had changed our plans.
The vacation fund has $1100 in it. We were going to drive and use Marriott Rewards points for the hotel nights. This money would have been for transportation, food, souvenirs and any other admission fees. I think for now I will leave it there, as I know we will also have some plane tickets coming up in the next six months.
June has been unusually inexpensive. Not as cheap as our No Spend Month in February, but definitely closer. I like when we have less spendy months!!
We use our credit cards for all purchases that we can. Yes, at one time we stopped using credit cards (thus the name Creditcardfree). But we are super good about paying them off on time. In fact, I effectively make at least two payments a month when payday comes around.
Tomorrow is payday. All transactions since the last paycheck were posted on YNAB, thus the money is set aside to make the payments. Today, I logged on to each account we had a balance with and paid them in full. Easy!
I should mention that we don't really use YNAB the right way. We don't 'Live on Last Month's Income'. Part of the reason for this is we have more in our checking account than we spend each month. The other is we have an emergency fund in other places to count as a buffer. And finally, because we use credit cards and generally pay them off within two weeks of the transaction, we have a buffer with the due date of those transactions if needed.
What we do is count each paycheck as income for current month. In our case two paychecks each month. We then budget that money into categories to cover us until the next payday. We do fund variable accounts like car maintenance, vacation and other various savings at the same time. These accounts slow build up, and yes at times get depleted.
In YNAB we can still see how much we budgeted for monthly expenses and how much we have left. Usually we have plenty. I can also adjust the amount in each category if I didn't guess/estimate right at the beginning of the pay period. After several months, it gets easier to see how much you are spending in each area and the amount to budget.
We have $477 left for spending this pay period. Payday is on Wednesday. We will buy groceries before then, but those have been trending around $150 a week. I seem to be buying more since our college age daughter is home. I'm also buying more organic foods, as I have read how much better they really are for you.
Our big plan this weekend is to get our home cleaned up really well. The couple we are renting from is stopping by Wednesday to see the house and yard, on the way to their new duty station. Feel bad they just moved last year and are already moving again! The yard has some major erosion happening, so it will be good for them to see it in person rather just from our pictures. We do have a light bulb that is out that we should replace, and I may need a new grout brush by the time I have scrubbed the tile shower. Overall the house is in great shape, possibly better than it was when we arrived.
I'm hoping that we can avoid spending the full $477 before payday. I'd like to set some cash aside for other things!
Our rental insurance is due for renewal in two months. I had received the most recent policy and was reminded that we had Valuable Property Protection attached for jewelry up to $2500. It is $28 a month. The only jewelry of significance we have are our wedding rings. And those probably cost us less than $2K when we bought them twenty years ago. The truth is we have cash to replace these if we were to lose them. We don't need to be insuring them. So $28 saved.
Our renter's insurance was $443 last year. I didn't realize our deductible was only $250! It is scheduled to renew at $432, so it did go down. However I changed the deductible to $1000, the highest allowed. Our premium will be now be $404. Not a large savings, but little amounts add up.
Overall savings is $67 a year!
I expect we will get a little refund for making the changes before the policy actually expires. I will count those dollars as snowflakes!
I redeemed $6.15 in cash from our US Bank Visa. I'm counting it as a snowflake and have added it to our savings.
I've been given a two week heads up that the first band deposit of $50 is due June 1. I'm always grateful for a little heads up on these kinds of things. I need to add a YNAB category for this I think. Right now I'm just stashing it in the slush account, but I think I would like to keep better track and it is pretty easy to set up another category.
Starting to make plans for when our next round of company comes over Memorial Day. Company costs money! Although, I can see my mother in law treating us to dinner if we go out to eat, so that will help.
The interest on all of our accounts for the month of April was equal to $61.67. I'd rather have ten times that amount!
We saved $25 automatically from my husband paycheck last month. It's a requirement for one of the CDs we have to have a payroll deposit.
I have paid all credit cards in full since payday occurred on Friday. All spending and saving categories have been funded. The emergency fund received a boost by $458.
My husband bought two new uniforms, a pair of boots, t shirts and PT uniform this week. He's been putting off changing over to the new one since it isn't required for another year. He finally gave in to peer pressure primarily. Everyone else is switching over. Granted he has had his current ones for quite a few years now. It's just time. He is having new name plates and rank sewn on as well. In all he spent $528.12. I'm sure he'll be wearing all these items for several years, so we will get our money's worth.
We went shopping for new end tables for our living room. We bought the couches and chair in December. Last week we bought a rug (the room didn't have one before). Now we need tables, since we don't have any at all. It sure is hard to find exactly what you want at the right price!
Pinecone has awarded me another $3 for taking a survey last week. I may wait to redeem.
I made a $29.97 purchase on my American Express card. I will use $25 of the $45 rewards I have accumulated towards the balance. I will count the reward as a snowflake for April.
My parents gifted us with cash for our 20th wedding anniversary last week. The check amount was $120.20. I'm going to put this money into savings rather than setting it aside to melt away.
Our electric bill is down this month by $50! So nice. Clearly not using much heat or air right now. Still keeping windows closed most of the time because of my daughter's allergies. Beautiful outside though!
The water bill was up by about $45. It seems that we use more water when the sprinkler system is on. Funny how that happens.
And finally our cell phone bill is only $54 this month, thanks to changing plans last month. Part of our overage in charges last month, after the change resulted in a smaller bill this month. I think around $140 from here forward for four people.
No big spending going on right now. May buy some annuals this weekend for some of my pots that have been empty for more than a year because of our move.
I did reconcile our accounts on YNAB yesterday. I did find an error in a payment I recorded for our credit card. I showed us making a payment for $36 more than we actually did. That was because I transposed the numbers. Luckily, I did make the right payment and it's not a big deal in the end. No bounced checks or anything. I was also missing the recording of two transactions. Both were from the last week or so. All up to date now.
On Friday I will make payments on the all the outstanding credit card bills we have. Believe it or not, I have six with balances. The biggest one is Marriott Rewards, since that is the primary card we have been using. Three other cards have regular payments made on them, thus the balances until payday. I used the Southwest Visa to charge the airline tickets purchased for my niece and mother in law. And finally, I used my American Express card for a Amazon purchase that was around $30. I have enough points to redeem for $25 statement credit reducing that purchase to about $5. YNAB make it really easy to see what needs to be paid. And we always have the cash to cover our expenses! Yea.
I checked our retirement balances as of yesterday and we are looking much better than we were at the end of last year. I suppose most of that the contributions we've put in since the market isn't up much since the end of the year. I have a mental goal of where I'd like to see us end up, but it depends on how the markets go really!
I redeemed $6 from Pinecone recently. It was in my PayPal account. I made sure to transfer it to our savings account yesterday so it won't melt.
I'm posting here to remind myself to log into all of our accounts tomorrow so I can reconcile all of them on YNAB. I usually do it at the end of the month. It seems I forget to do it at the end of March. Oops!
I want to get it complete and get any errors corrected before payday on Friday. I'm pretty sure that I, not DH, have missed a couple of transactions. One of them may be the Diet Bet funds. Not sure.
I bought a book of stamps today. Saved a whopping $0.40 by waiting until the price dropped! I also avoided buying a $8 anniversary card at Walmart. I honestly didn't know such expensive cards existed at Walmart. I opted for one that was just $3.50, which still seems like to much. I recycled so many cards in the last several months, it just seems like a waste. I did suggest to my husband a few days ago that we go look at the cards together and pick one out for each other, read them and then put them back. He thought that was lame. I guess he's convinced cards are worth it.
Do you reconcile your checkbook or budget software? What do you think about the cost of greeting cards?
YNAB really does make budgeting easier. For us, it seems that having a place to set cash aside for a specific category is motivating. And then to see the balance helps us watch the spending in that category a little better. I think that is what is happening. It's just better!
I finished paying all bills and current credit card balances, which are now all back to zero. No interest paid as always! I allocated cash into our spending categories as well as savings.
Savings seems easier too. For this pay period, I added $500 to our vacation fund and $513 to our emergency fund. My goal each month has been to add $336 to the EF. I have exceeded that amount every month so far this year.
Do you have a specific amount you are saving to an emergency fund each month or pay period?
Our no spend month is around the corner. I did use some funds in January to stock up on toilet paper and a few other toiletries. And there was that ground beef on sale at the commissary. I've also been freezing extra portions of food.
My husband did get paid yesterday. I have paid all the current outstanding credit card balances. Only a few pending charges that cannot be paid until they post. I did budget the paycheck for February, specifically the first half since he will get paid again mid month.
I have to pay rent, water, electric, allowances, flute lessons, and trash at the beginning of the month. I have set aside $495 until the next pay day on February 15 for groceries, fuel, personal care, and a few other expenses. I did put a little money in clothing and some in spending. I really hope to keep them no spend, but I decided to put a little in to cover a need that could come up.
I set aside $1095 in several different savings categories for the month. Over half went to cover two airline tickets for mother in law and niece. They have not been purchased yet. But now the money is available! And in addition to saving for that I added money to our emergency fund, car maintenance, and home furnishings.
The cool thing is as I was writing this post, my daughter said a teacher was requesting donations for a science experiment. One item was Oreo cookies; another was plastic utensils. I picked the utensils since I have a significant amount of those on hand and that donation will cost me $0 out of pocket!
Who else is about to start a No Spend February?
Today seems to be the first day in recent memory that we have not spent any money. It seems one of us is always purchasing something. It could be gas, or a few items from the store, or buying something online. But today, nothing!
It's a small miracle.
Tomorrow though I'm going to buy canned refried beans. Mine didn't turn out. But I have been successful with cooking black beans, so I have hope to try again. Just not this week.
I also need to mail some items to my college daughter. A few items we bought while she was home, but need to mail. She ran out of room in her suitcase! I also picked up some of her favorite snacks, including a box of girl scout cookies!!
I also need to wrap the photo book I purchased for my sister's family. I'm going to try to be creative and use what I have at home. It will also need to be mailed. It's a book, so I'm going with media mail to save on postage. We already have a card on hand we can sign to send with it.
I didn't exactly budget for it, but I think I need to buy a new pair of sneakers. My back and feet have been very tight. I have been walking more (getting in my 10K steps). I think it is my shoes. This happened before, and new shoes solved the problem. It's only been six months since I bought my last pair, but I figure it is an investment in my health! I'll be shopping for those tomorrow too.
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