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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!

End of Budget

August 29th, 2016 at 11:36 pm

$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.

Early Retirement Thoughts

July 31st, 2016 at 02:43 pm

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. Smile 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.

Random Money Thoughts

June 28th, 2016 at 11:52 pm

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!!

Paid ALL Credit Card Balances & More

June 14th, 2016 at 02:20 pm

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.

$477 Left

June 10th, 2016 at 12:29 pm

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. Smile

I'm hoping that we can avoid spending the full $477 before payday. I'd like to set some cash aside for other things!

Renter's Insurance Adjustments

May 20th, 2016 at 01:12 pm

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!

Snowflake +

May 17th, 2016 at 01:53 pm

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. Smile

Interest, Savings and More

April 30th, 2016 at 09:37 pm

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!

Cash Related Updates

April 18th, 2016 at 08:23 pm

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. Smile

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.


April 13th, 2016 at 06:24 pm

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. Smile

Time to Reconcile

April 12th, 2016 at 12:18 am

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?

Pay Day and Savings

March 15th, 2016 at 02:32 pm

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?

No Spend Month Around the Corner

January 30th, 2016 at 07:08 pm

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! Smile

Who else is about to start a No Spend February?

No Spend Day!

January 20th, 2016 at 12:49 am

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.

Paid and Paid

January 15th, 2016 at 07:04 pm

It's pay day! Everyone likes those right?

My husband is home today, so we did the budget together. We added money to our vacation fund, emergency fund, and some of our other short term accounts (Christmas, birthday, and car repairs).

And because most of our spending is done on credit cards for the rewards, I also went online and paid off all of our balances. No interest paid, as usual. It's always nice to see those zero balances.

Now to get through until the end of January on the money we budgeted. It seems possible, especially if I do the meal planning right.

Interest, eBay Sale & More

December 2nd, 2015 at 01:50 pm

I'm terrible at remembering we have savings that earns interest. Maybe because it isn't much. One account earned $25, while two CDs earned almost $29 in the month of November. We also deposit $25 into a savings account as part of the agreement on one of the CDs. So we are accumulating $75+ each month. Not a lot but it counts!!

I sold another item on eBay yesterday. Already paid and mailed! That is another $12 added to the $63 profit. If the buyer of an auction that ended Monday would pay I have ANOTHER $12 to add. Hoping the payment is soon. I also have a bid on another item!

I mentioned photo books a few posts back. I did get one complete for my parents. It was $9.99 plus $7.99 shipping. It has photos of the grandchildren. It will arrive in time to wrap and mail for Christmas. I think I can fit it in a Flat Rate Priority envelope, so shipping should only be an additional $6. I debated about having it sent direct, but it seemed less personal. Nice gift for less than $25. Smile

I paid all the current credit card spending. One card had over $1200 on it! But since we use YNAB, I knew the money was there to pay it. Our available spending is a bit sparse for the next two weeks, since there was a little overspending on our Thanksgiving trip. I don't think it should impact us much, since we just plan to stay home and do minimal outings.

$40 FitBit

November 30th, 2015 at 03:55 pm

That's what my husband is giving me for Christmas. I found them refurbished on eBay today. The actual amount was less because I had a $2.28 Ebates payment in my PayPal account that arrived last week.

It does seem I often buy my own Christmas gifts. I was contemplating a FitBit, but knew if I said that to DH he would head to Best Buy and pay full price. (He doesn't shop around for the best price.) When I saw them on eBay today, I jumped on it. I feel better trying it at that price. And that puts it in budget for our spending!

I listed more items on eBay yesterday and have five items ending today. I'll sell at least $68 worth!

I'm going to buy the last two gifts, other than stocking stuffers, today! So excited to be nearly done with the shopping. And I think I'm on budget too.


November 30th, 2015 at 02:00 am

I didn't realize I hadn't posted on my own blog for over a week! We did start traveling last Monday night, so that obviously had an impact.

We just arrived home today. I have not yet, caught up YNAB with all of our spending. Many things have been entered, just not everything. So I really need to go through and see what we missed. My husband is much better at logging these right away. I usually wait until I am home. I hope the damage wasn't too bad. I know I allocated some money to several of the expenses.

Tomorrow is payday, so the money will be there to pay anything we didn't specifically budget for.

I'm nearly done with Christmas shopping. I only made one online purchase on Friday, but it helped wrap up the items I'm getting my husband. He had added something I wanted to the cart, so I ordered my own gift! I used the American Express card and will get $15 back after our purchase posts.

Are you done with your shopping? Did you travel for Thanksgiving?

Amazon Prime Music & A Lot More

November 6th, 2015 at 02:14 pm

Did you know if you have an Amazon Prime membership you now get access to some music for free. This morning I was reminded of Harry Connick Jr's new album. I looked it up on Amazon...and it's free because of our Prime membership. I was originally going to tell my husband to get it for my birthday later this month. I guess not since it is free. Smile

Because of my birthday this month, I have been given some coupons to use: $10 to Kohl's and $5 from Famous Footwear (there's not even one in my state). I will use the Kohl's coupon because I have several I can combine. In fact, I think I'll buy myself a birthday gift with these coupons. My husband wouldn't mind being off the hook for the purchase. I also have $10 in JCPenney rewards to use this month as well. Time to shop...hopefully for free!

Our spending seems to be right on track this month for what we've budgeted for everyday expenses. Payday is actually next Friday already! Early since the 15th falls on a Sunday.

We're going to what I think is the last football game of the season...maybe more if they go to playoffs which is actually likely. The coach of this team is a former NFL player (isn't that cool?). So we'll spend about $20, $14 just for admission and at least another $3 for dinner as my daughter is starving by third quarter. This is budgeted under entertainment.

No particular plans for the weekend. We might get some new Christmas lights. I have a post scheduled tomorrow on Your Organized Friend about checking on our holiday lights.

We are trying to keep spending to a minimum because of our upcoming trip and recent car repairs. So far it seems to be working. I do credit YNAB for helping my husband and I be on the same page. Smile

My daughter's both have ideas for Christmas. And so does my husband. Our youngest daughter wants a Wii U. Those are nearly $300 new. That is twice what I normally spend on them. We already told her she may need to chip in, which she was fine with. I may be able to snag used on eBay or locally on Craigslist or Facebook, preferably under $200. The other daughter has a list of graphic t shirts she is interested in. She also wants a wireless adapter for the drawing tablet she got last year. Those things I can snag pretty easily. I guess I need to get back to Bing and Swagbucks and accumulate more Amazon gift cards.

Do you use Amazon Prime Music? How is your spending so far this month? Are you planning Christmas gifts yet?

Van Is In for Maintenance

November 3rd, 2015 at 03:56 pm

We have our van at the car dealership for maintenance today. We needed an oil change and tire rotation. We are also doing a tune up (spark plugs). These were all suggested by our vehicle's on board computer.

We decided to have them look at a rear window that hasn't been able to roll up and down properly. In fact we sort of stopped using it since we didn't want it to get stuck in the down position. It was $50 to diagnose which they apply to the repair. The repair is $400 because new parts are needed. I don't want to pay for it honestly. If it were just me, I simply not use it. But husband wants to take care of it while it is there. It's not in the current budget at all. We do have plenty of cash in the emergency fund. But this isn't an emergency is it?

We are also getting our rear brakes replaced. We knew these were coming up, but have not kept it on our minds since we moved. Now is the time. $270 to complete that maintenance work.

I guess this dealership provides a 10% discount for military, so that will help shave some money off the costs of the repairs.

Why is car maintenance so annoying?!

Extras Budgeted for November

November 1st, 2015 at 03:26 pm

When doing our budget in YNAB we made sure to think of some extras we needed to account for this next pay period. Specifically, we need to take our van in for an oil change, spark plugs changed and to look at the motor that controls one of our windows. It is also my birthday month, so some cash is set aside for gifts. I don't really want or need anything, but the money is there for now. We will use a little bit of that gift money to buy our niece a birthday gift as well.

I allocated $375 towards our November trip. We have already charged our expenses, but we need to pay those before the end of the month.

YNAB says that when budgeting you should think 'What do I need the money to do before I get paid again?' I've always thought this just not in those same words.

Have you thought ahead to what you need to plan for until you get paid again?

Coupon Applied, Return & Purchases

October 29th, 2015 at 07:15 pm

I stopped by Best Buy today and was able to get customer service to apply the 10% off coupon I tried to use at the time of purchase last week. Last week they refused because they had priced matched the item. This week item is on sale for same price as we priced matched for. I did make note that if I were to return item and purchase it today they would take coupon because they were not price matching. Woman seemed to get that and took care of it. $40.67 back in our pocket.

I proceeded to go buy fuel for my van. I did buy the premium since we seem to get better gas mileage. I spent $37.09. This leaves us with just under $16 in our fuel budget through Saturday.

I realized my daughter really wasn't wearing the second pair of khaki pants to school. I asked if they could be returned and she agreed. I have a credit balance of $18.19 on our Citi card now.

And finally it was time to shop for some warm weather gear. It shouldn't get that cold here where we live, but we are going back to the Midwest and will be seeing an outdoor football game in late November...to see my daughter play and march with the marching band. We need to be prepared for the cold. I purchased one pair of long underwear pants and lightweight down coat for my daughter. After $20 of Kohl's cash, a $10 coupon, and a 25% off coupon my total was $35.29 for items that would have been over $132 if they weren't on sale. I'm thinking my daughter could actually layer her coats. Not sure what she will think though Smile

I ended up spending more than I returned or got back, but I'm still happy with the results. I wish I had thought to get gas after having the khaki's returned. I would have used that credit card! Oh, well there will be other spending at some point.

Bits and Pieces

October 27th, 2015 at 02:29 pm

After making the meal plan yesterday, I need to start working on the grocery list. I will start with ingredients needed for the meals and add on other items we need closer to my actual shopping trip.

My daughter lost the end cap to her flute head joint at the football game on Friday night. We looked it for it, but she was all over the school grounds that night. I found one on Amazon for this specific brand of flute. It is $8.98 with shipping. I had Citi Thank You Reward points and a gift card from Bing Rewards that I applied to it to make it zero out of pocket.

My husband received $100 from my parents for his birthday. He's applying those funds to his birthday gift(a sound bar) purchase which was over $200 after we used gift cards. My parents didn't send cash last year, so I thought they were done after sending us cash for many, many years. I need to go back to Best Buy and see if I can get them to apply a 10% off coupon. I tried when we bought it, but because they were price matching they wouldn't accept it. Now the item is on sale on their website for that amount we price matched for. So if I bought it this, we should be able to use the coupon. That coupon amounts to $37 and worth the effort I think! I let you know how that goes.

We currently have $20 worth of Kohl's cash because my husband and I bought running shoes earlier this month. A pair of jeans were also purchased. So now I need to decided how to spend our Kohl's cash. I even have a 25% off coupon and another $10 off a $10 purchase coupon I should be able to stack with the Kohl's cash. Right now I'm think of practical items: gloves, long underwear, shirts for my daughter. It seems I could get a couple of those for free or very little out of pocket.

I ordered an item from Amazon last week only to realize a day later we didn't need it. So I wrote refused on the package. Amazon has it and after I emailed said they would credit our credit card. It's only about $6, but I can put that back in the budget!

I was happy to learn from my daughter we don't owe any money to the University for this billing period. I do know she needs to put down $200 for her sophomore housing contract sometime in November.

I've already started talking to my kids about what they want for Christmas. Luckily they both have ideas! This helped me so much last year with shopping to ask early and get it done early! I'll be sharing a lot of my Christmas planning in November and December on Your Organized Friend. You might want to follow along for ideas if you want to get a head start on your holiday list.

We also made a purchase of college football tickets for the three of us. We want to see our daughter's marching band performance. And we do like the games, too. Other family members are going also. Tickets cost us $255! I charged them to our Discover card. The most recent statement closed just prior so we have quite awhile before we would actually HAVE to pay the balance. I noticed there is just over $9 in rewards I can use towards the balance, too. Smile

I took two library books my daughter checked out. We kind of think they may be overdue. Library wasn't open when I dropped off. Usually we would get an email reminder. Not sure if it went to spam or what. And we are having issues logging into her library account to check. So I'm planning we owe a few dollars to the library.

I'm excited about the end of the month. We get to budget again...and pay off all these cards we have been making purchases on. The cool thing is the money is already set aside! I love YNAB!

Thanks for reading my random post!

Spending Yesterday and YNAB

October 25th, 2015 at 03:32 pm

We spent $22 to fill our van before our trip. I would guess we have the same amount of fuel we had before we left. Luckily that should get me through the week. It seems it is also time for an oil change and other routine maintenance on my van. Will get that done in early November.

Admission to the band competition was $10 each. So a crisp $20 bill out of the wallet. They did include a program which many other schools sell for $5.

We left after my daughter performed and before the awards to eat at Subway. We spent $14 there. This was basically lunch and dinner for us.

Our final expense for the day was a trip to Trader Joe's. We bought two canisters of coffee, two pumpkin bread mixes, crackers, a red pepper spread, pumpkin butter, two frozen stuffed mushroom appetizers a cheese cake and ginger cookies. The total bill was $50. These aren't exactly items we put on our every day list, but they are some treats we like to indulge in when we get to shop at Trader Joe's. I think it has been nearly three years since we shopped at one. We already made coffee this morning and my daughter opened the pumpkin butter. I'm incorporating one package of stuffed mushrooms into a meal later this week.

All of our spending has been recorded in YNAB. My husband noticed yesterday when he recorded our Subway expense that we went over our restaurant budget. Yep. I didn't expect we would go more than once. But I did budget eating out for band competitions into the entertainment category. So the beauty of YNAB is I can adjust where this expense actually falls. I can either increase restaurants by the amount we spent (and decrease it in the entertainment budget) or change the expense to the entertainment category rather than restaurants. YNAB[/url=http://ynab.refr.cc/M52KHR8] refers to this as rol... working for you? Anyone about to start a trial or make a purchase?

Road Trip

October 24th, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Our daughter has a band competition out of town today. We were up early to get her ready. And that was after a late night of Friday night football. If the band does well today she won't be home until midnight! We sent her with $40 for food. Likely way more than she needs.

My husband and I will travel up to the competition. So we have the cost of fuel. And we will eat at least one meal out. I'm going to try to convince him to eat lunch before we go. Since we will be in the larger town we may stop at some stores we miss from our old town. Specifically Trader Joe's coffee is on the list. Smile

Admission to the event is $10 per adult. So there goes a $20 bill out of our pocket! I just took $100 cash out yesterday and it feels like it is being spent fast. We did budget for this though. Smile

Have a Super Weekend! If you are at home and looking for some decluttering or organizing ideas, read my 31 Days of Decluttering and Organizing posts Your Organized Friend.

Donated and Sold

October 23rd, 2015 at 12:37 am

I donated the money in my PayPal account today. The money was from snowflakes: YNAB referral money and Pinecone survey rewards. I donated to Momastery(look for the page on Facebook). I was inspired to give the $21 I earned away. You can read more about it here. Little amounts of money from many people add up. And this didn't even have to affect our budget! I was saving for something, but it can wait. I will earn more snowflakes. Smile

I sold shares from my oldest daughters mutual fund today. The market was up just enough that I didn't want to miss out. If it goes up more great, I have more money I need to withdraw. I'm paying ourselves back for covering her first semester of tuition out of our savings. I withdrew $1718 worth of shares. I will need to do this at two more times before the end of the year. I figure if I dollar cost averaged purchases, I can dollar cost average sales, too.

Are you ever inspired to donate when you least expect it?

Random Stuff

October 1st, 2015 at 02:33 pm

I feel so far behind here on this blog!

I have paid off all of the transactions we put on credit cards in the last two weeks off. It's so nice how YNAB just keeps setting that money aside and the money is there to pay it. I'm going to continue paying credit cards every pay day. I don't wait for due dates usually. Oh, and I will need to buy YNAB in the next two days. I did put the cost in the budget, of course.

I was able to make a $336 payment to our Citi card that we've had a monthly balance on, but no interest. The new balance is $650. I'm pretty sure I need to pay this by the end of the month so I'm not charged any interest! I think that will be no problem. We have over 20K points that we need to redeem too. Probably for gift cards. Once that is all complete I think I'm closing this one. Along with a few others that really aren't being used.

I accumulated quite a few snowflakes. I was hoarding Amazon gift cards in hopes of buying something I wanted. I did get there, but now the item is back ordered and won't arrive for a few weeks. Today I used $30 worth of gift cards to buy Tenzi, a dice game my daughter wanted. I paid extra to make sure it arrived tomorrow. We have company coming and may get stuck in the house while Joaquin goes by our area later this weekend. So my earnings for my want became earnings for my daughter's want. Smile

We have made airline reservations for the Thanksgiving holiday. I paid $882.18 for three of us to fly. The deal wouldn't have been as great if it weren't for that Southwest Companion Pass that my daughter has through the end of the year. So far we have only used it twice, but it sure has been a bonus! We also used hotel reward points to secure a hotel before and after the flights because one is super early and the other arrives pretty late in the evening and we have a drive to get back home since this airport isn't in our town.

I made sure to make a payment to ourselves for the tuition we covered from our savings account. This extra is really coming from the savings in changing our W2 withholding. It sure helps to have a plan!

In other expense news, my youngest daughter has been invited to go on a trip to Europe the summer of 2017. We have to pay for it, as it is two teachers going that are getting the tour together. It is definitely educational in nature. My daughter wants to go and other than the cost there is no reason she shouldn't go. The cost is $4345 for 14 days. We don't have to sign up yet...the latest we can decide is February 2016. Decisions, decisions.

I'll try to get a tally of my snowflakes posted in the next few days.

My 31 Days of Decluttering and Organizing has begun today. Go here to view.


September 28th, 2015 at 11:15 pm

$71.49. That's how much we have left of our spending budget for the next two days. The money is sitting in fuel, grocery and restaurant categories currently. I know I may need to buy another tomato for dinner tomorrow, and my husband will likely get gas in the next two days. Other than that nothing is planned to go out. We might end up with extra to throw at the Citi card!

We received a bill from our dentist in our old town. The girls and I had appointments in March. About six weeks ago the office our dentist merged with since then called asking about our insurance. Soon after there were a slew of insurance forms showing the insurance wanted additional information. Then this weekend we got a bill for $336! This got me to start investigating. Our insurance paid for all three of us in full about 8 days after our visit. A quick call today confirmed we didn't owe anything. I have no idea what that was all about other than probably getting record keeping straight on their end.

We sent a letter along with our membership cards to cancel our prepaid gym membership a couple weeks ago. They wouldn't cancel it unless we paid a maintenance fee of $29 each. This is a yearly fee they do charge normally and we have paid in the past. I first requested a refund, but was told no because you pay for first year and get a bonus year. Then my husband got a call from the gym asking why he hadn't been in lately...actually calling my husband 'big guy'! So now I was irritated. We moved. Halfway across the country for the military! We can't go to that local gym anymore.

Eventually things turned when I mentioned that our contract didn't indicate a bonus year, just a term of 18 months. And I asked about waiving the maintenance fee. And yes, I did mention that it is bad public relations to not waive a $29 fee for someone in the military. (I don't usually pull that card). In the end they cancelled the membership, so no more calls, but no refund because it was prepaid, and they waived the maintenance fee. What a mess. At least no additional money out of pocket!

It's been an interesting couple of days...thinking we might owe money to people. Glad we don't owe any more than we already know about. Smile

More Debt Paid and YNAB Update

September 25th, 2015 at 01:08 am

Sooo...we have been tracking all of our expenses on YNAB. My husband seems to have more transactions than I do! His are smaller though usually. We didn't actually budget categories until tonight. Yep. About nine days after pay day. But this was good for us, because we could see how much we had already spent in the categories and were able to determine/guess how much we would need for the remainder of the month.

As a result of us finally getting our budget in YNAB we decided we did have plenty to put towards our Citi credit card balance which I mentioned yesterday. After making a $1084 payment yesterday and then a $1432 payment tonight, our new Citi balance is $986.75. Ah, so much better to get that paid down to a much more reasonable level.

I also did a little tweak to our normally scheduled payments. I usually charge our Verizon bill to our US Bank Visa at this time of the month and then pay it in full with our paycheck on the first of the month. I decided to change that to the 15 of the month paycheck, since the US Bank Visa bill isn't due until the 7th of the following month (or in the case of the current bill, Nov 7). Making this change allowed me to change when I will pay our electric bill. I was going to pay it now with current funds, but realized it isn't due until Oct 10 and if I moved the Verizon payment I could pay it with our paycheck on the 1st of Oct. This freed up nearly $260, which I promptly sent to the Citi card. I like it when I can find extra cash.

We technically have $409 budgeted that we have not spent yet. And there are just six days left to go in the month. It feels we have finally turned a corner. It is possible some of it could be related to YNAB, but I think primarily it is just that our spending has come to more reasonable levels again after the move and college beginning. Whew! Feels so much better to have things under control.

I will add a little caveat...more spending is coming. We will be taking at least one trip by airplane this fall, maybe two. And then there is still a possibility of some new furniture. It does help to be caught up...or close to it at least. It helps make the trip(s) and furniture seem possible without pulling from the savings we have worked hard for.

I need to remember to budget to pay for YNAB next pay period. Smile

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