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Bummer, No Kitchenette

May 21st, 2017 at 02:44 pm

My husband has found out his room while he is away for three months of training is a fairly basic hotel room. It doesn't have the stove and kitchen supplies we were expecting. It does have a microwave and a very small dorm refrigerator.

The good news he does get 'free' breakfast everyday. I hope it is somewhat decent as some of those breakfasts can get old after awhile. There may be a manager's reception/weekly social at least one night a week.

He will be back home for Memorial Day weekend, so we might have to figure out some options for food he can buy and eat from the commissary without eating out for every meal.

He is getting per diem to cover meals. Originally we were told it was $69 a day, but it is 75% of that because of the length of the training. That works out to $51.75 for each day. For thirty days, that is $1,552. I think the man can eat decently for that, even with some eating out.

The truth is I would love to keep as much of that money as possible. Even half or 2/3rds of that amount seems possible. I guess we will know more as it all plays out.

Let's Talk College Costs...Part Two

May 9th, 2017 at 07:26 am

There is a lot to discuss when sharing the nitty gritty of college costs. I expect to break my posts down about this over several days. I even need to check with my daughter on how many credits she took each semester.

First here is a screen shot of the annual expenses for a full time undergraduate student taking 30 hours from the 2015-2016 Common Data Set at the school she is attending.



Living on campus is required at this school the freshman year if the student is under 19.

She is an out of state resident. She did receive a renewable four year scholarship of $14,000 per year. That is equal to $56,000. She also received an art scholarship her freshman year equal to $4500. And because she is an Honors student, she receives $500 per year towards books. Because the way the billing is, the Honors scholarship is really like any other scholarship and reduces tuition costs.

I do want to say that even I see areas where costs could be reduced. But we all make choices for our spending that are not about dollars and cents. I'm not going to go into justifying the decision. We are simply grateful that we have had the ability to pay the costs so far without taking out student loans.

In my next post I will try to break down actual costs for freshman year.

Let's Talk College Costs...Part One

May 8th, 2017 at 10:19 am

My daughter applied for her Post 911 GI Bill education benefits while she was home on spring break. Her certificate of eligibility letter arrived in the mail this weekend. We were expecting it to say 18 months of eligibility as that is what my husband transferred to her and we have documentation of. Instead it said 12 months 6 days.

My husband called the VA today and and it turns out that by law they are required to count educational benefits he already received and used for his bachelor's degree against the Post 911 GI Bill. He used 24 months of a 48 month benefit. He has 24 months and 11 days left. We are splitting the benefit equally between our girls, which means 12 months and 6 days (likely five for our younger daughter).

While this is a surprise and not what we planned I am okay with this. It make sense that the government would not give soldiers educational benefits totaling more than the time one degree would take to complete. My husband did get his bachelor's degree (it was an accelerated program and he had a lot of transferred credits that counted) paid in full. We did benefit from that. He wouldn't have well paying officer's job he has now without a college degree.

The original plan was that 18 months of benefits would have been worth at least four semesters plus housing for our oldest daughter. Each semester is considered 4 months. I hadn't figured out how the two extra months would have worked out, but now I don't really need to.

The current plan is to make use of 8 months worth of benefits for her Junior year, which starts this fall. This will cover the tuition and fees above her scholarship, even at the non resident rate (because of the Yellow Ribbon program). These benefits will provide a housing allowance, but will not cover the full cost of her room and board, and $1000 towards books.

The next question is what to do with the final 4 months of benefits set aside for her. We expect she may need to go an additional semester after the senior year (and some summer classes in between) since she is a double major. Because the scholarship ends after four years, the full out of state tuition will be billed for all credits she takes. I do think it is a full 15+ credit hours the way she has it mapped out right now. It may make sense to save that final four months of benefits for that final semester, since it will be the most costly. The two senior semesters are at least reduced by the scholarship.

Our oldest daughter's senior year is the same year our youngest daughter will be a freshman in college. It is possible, but very slim, we could be eligible for some aid. As always the government would be more than happy to offer us a loan! Smile We also don't know at this point which college our younger daughter will attend, or know the scholarships she may receive.

We can adjust the number of months of benefits we transfer to our daughter's also. So if it seems our younger daughter will have lower costs, we could move some of the benefits to the older daughter. I expect we will know a lot more by the end of the year or early next year.

It is a little overwhelming to look at my older daughter's costs coming up and only see about $8000 sitting in her education funds!

I guess I should add that we aren't against taking a loan out at some point. Maybe for one of her senior semesters? While we support her getting two degrees, it doesn't mean we need to pay for it. I kind of have though the final semester should be on her, but if I could get that most expensive semester covered by the Post 911 GI Bill that would be helpful to her, to have less to borrow.

Sorry if my post is all over the place...this just happened this morning, so I'm still wrapping my brain around this. I hope to come back later today or tomorrow with another post that is a bit more detailed and responds to Monkey Mama's post.

Money This Week

May 5th, 2017 at 10:03 am

Here's the chair I painted. That is not it's final resting spot, but did make for a good picture. I actually have a church pew I need to paint to put on that wall instead of the chair.



The fridge gaskets arrived today. Very easy to install the right side (less than two minutes). The left side took a bit longer because I had to briefly detach the mullion (yep, new word for me too). But including getting the tools and detaching it, I would guess that side took under ten minutes. Now no more mold! I do hope that the tighter seal helps holding the air and moisture in and keeps the seals free of mold.

I've been run down with a cold this week. My husband had it first. He even missed a day of work recovering, which he has never done while I've known him. So a few cold remedies and soups have been purchased to make it a little more tolerable.

My daughter is having a friend over tonight. I would normally make homemade pizza, but I'm ordering out, so that I don't pass on any residual germs to my daughter or her friend. Not exactly a cost I planned on, but there is cash in the restaurant category.

I will be writing a $54 check for the band banquet next week. It's $18 per person for a bbq pork meal. I'm sure the costs include some other things given out to students. I sort of wish these types of things didn't exist. They didn't at our other school and it was perfectly fine without a banquet.

And finally our college daughter arrives home by plane on Saturday. We will need to add fuel the van to make the 3 hour round trip to the airport for pickup. We might be able to get away without picking up food since she arrives mid afternoon. However, she may not get a chance to get lunch, so she may need something. I could probably make a sandwich wrap and take it along in a lunch bag if I'm feeling better to make it.

A Change Regarding Summer Tuition

May 1st, 2017 at 06:48 pm

So an interesting thing happened today. I logged on to my daughter's payment account for the University because she said she ended up buying a book that she had rented this semester because she knew she will need it for some future classes. I thought maybe it had posted already.

What had posted was the tuition for summer. I had calculated the two online summer courses (at the online non resident rate) as $3,470. But the amount that was showing was $4,689.75! Over $1,200 more than I was planning.

I can only see the amount due, not any billing details. So I asked her if she had any information about it. She sends it to me and I realized this class that she has signed up for is an Engineering class (although specifically geared to non engineering students).

In the end we decided that it wasn't worth the money to take that class. She wasn't really interested in it, she was only taking it to fulfill one of the liberal arts requirement. And she wanted to take something online this summer. She looked for other options, but found nothing to replace it with. So unless something changes she will take just one class this summer, reducing tuition to $1,756.75.

I sort of feel like I won the lottery since I don't have to shell out cash for a second class. My daughter plans to add a math class instead to her fall course load which was already at 14 credits and will now be 17. This will fulfill the requirement she was trying to meet. And as another bonus to us, this fall is when we expect to begin using the Post 911 GI Bill benefits my husband transferred to her. It will cover her classes (even at the non resident rate) in full.

I do feel a little bad she has to take on 17 credits, however, she just did that this semester and seemed to handle it pretty well. She might spend some of her free time brushing up on French and PreCalculus this summer to hopefully help the transition to those classes in the fall.

I had planed to save up $1700 out of pocket to cover half of what I thought tuition would be. The other half was going to come from her Educational Savings account. I have $1400 saved already, but I'm considering sticking with the original plan to pay half out of pocket and the other half from the ESA. This means I would only need around $875, leaving $525 that I could put towards something else.

Maybe the Big Goal? I might wait a bit and see how much the textbook is and if there are other school related expenses that I'm not thinking about. Either way I'm excited about the financial aspect of this change. Smile

Kitchenette and Phone

April 30th, 2017 at 06:38 am

It looks like my husband will have a kitchenette in his room while he is at training this summer. He is on a post with a commissary also, so it looks like he can eat almost as normal while away. I do expect he will eat out a bit more, just because of the change in routine. We will discuss this more before he leaves. Smile

He is going to be near Washington DC, so it may end up being a chance for the girls and I to fly up there (not a fan of interstate driving) and visit. It will depend on his availability on weekends. I will try to save a bit more in the vacation fund in the meantime.

We are about to buy our youngest daughter a new cell phone. Her phone is almost exactly 3 years old, but is acting up. She has been dealing with issues with it for quite a few months now. We want to her to have a reliable phone while she is in Europe. Although we don't really want her to use it for much more than a camera or to play a game on since the cost would be very expensive. We expect to use What's App to communicate with her for free.

We are currently looking at buying an unlocked Motorola G Plus (5th Gen) for $229. The best price seems to be at Best Buy for a new phone. My Dad is a Team National member so I'm going to see if they have any discounts before I buy it.

I Forgot About this Money

April 28th, 2017 at 11:30 am

I have some various topics I'm sharing today. And one is a bit personal and some may not want to read. I'll give a warning.

went to transfer the latest $3 sent to me from Pinecone from my PayPal account to our savings account today and realized I had far more money in there! The balance was $165.65! Now once I saw it I did know that the money was from my eBay sales and a few other surveys completed since the first of the year. I did go ahead and transfer the full balance to our savings and flagged the money in YNAB to go to our Big Goal.

I'm still hanging most of our laundry to dry. I say most because I have found towels really do need some time in the dryer. And today, I needed to wash and dry sheets and towels since my daughter had been ill last night. If I could dry outside, I would but I figured drying inside doesn't full kill any bacteria like a dryer would. So two loads have gone through the dryer today. Luckily that is not the norm!

My husband is going away to school this summer for some training on a new job for the Army. He will be about five hours away, so we think he can drive home few times. His housing is covered in full so that is a huge relief to me. He will also be getting per diem for food and incidentals amounting to $1966.50 for the first 28 days. He will need to get his own food, and because he is in a hotel we aren't sure if there will be a way to cook meals. I think he wants to just figure it out once he gets there. I like to know these things ahead. He does know I would love to save some of the money, preferably half or more. He has a second class that I think is for two months in the same location, and we expect, but can't confirm yet, that this one will pay a similar per diem for each month. Oh, and he will get mileage for one trip to the location and one trip home. That could end up being around $300. But of course, we would take the gas cost out of that. The travel claims will be submitted by him at the end of each course.

It's 90 degrees and humid here in the Southeast today. The air conditioning is running. I actually have to be out in it this evening as the marching band is holding a fund raiser. I'm not looking forward to the bill that comes when the air conditioning starts running regularly. Maybe my lack of dryer use this summer will help.

Our garden is looking good, minus the lettuce, which is getting a very slow start from seed. Everything else looks pretty good so far, including the sugar snap peas I started from seed. My daughter is thrilled to see the beginnings of 9 strawberries on her plants.

Here's the personal part....but is related to savings and not too detailed at all.





And finally, I wanted to give an update on using my menstrual cup and using reusable pads. I have used the menstrual cup before for many years and then took a break for whatever reason. I'm now not sure what it was. I'm glad I have gone back primarily because it is more comfortable than tampons and it manages my heavy flow far better. I bought mine for less than $10 on Amazon using Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks. That was two months (cycles) ago. Early last month I used more Amazon gift cards to purchase five reusable pads that were listed at $19.99 when I bought them. But free after my efforts on Swagbucks. I only used the pads for back up and for very light days, so I had no issue with absorption. I may experiment and report back on a heavier flow day, but for now I super happy with this for the savings, comfort, and environment reasons.

I'm still on the look out for finding ways to save on our expenses. It's a bit slow going, but I'm determined to keep making progress and make a dent in our Big Goal.




4 Months = $25K

April 25th, 2017 at 10:51 am

On January 4th of this year our retirement accounts topped $400,000 for the first time. As of yesterday, our accounts are valued at $425,768. That is a change of $25K in less than four months. Some of that change is our contributions to retirement, but the S&P 500 is up nearly 7%, so this growth is a factor as well. It sure would be nice to see this continue through the year. I do like to think the next major milestone, of $500K, could be soon!

In other news, I did get $3 from Pinecone. I also received some pending Swagbucks amounting to 1712 for a hotel I booked through the site. I currently have just under 3000 SB to redeem in early May for Amazon gift cards. And it looks like my husband has a couple things sitting in the Amazon cart...so hopefully I can score those for free.

I'm thinking next week my grocery list may be meatless. That may save a bit of money and be healthier as well. I picked up a Forks Over Knives magazine with lots of yummy looking plant based recipes. My daughter is nearly a vegetarian, so finding new things for her to try is a good motivator as well. Or maybe the motivation to be to try to save at least the cost of the magazine (which I never buy) $7.27! Ouch.

$803 Trip Spending

April 24th, 2017 at 10:21 am

For an eight day trip, we spent $803 on food, fuel, parking, and two nights in a hotel for three people. Our airfare was paid before we left. That was approximately $997 for the three of us.

We were lucky enough to have one free hotel night, as well as free accommodations and several meals with my parents. We also had the use of one of their vehicles as we traveled around two states. We did offer to get a rental car, but they were more than willing to share. We did pay for the gas and got the car washed on the last day we had it.

I entered all our receipts/transactions into YNAB this morning. The only category I needed to revise was the restaurants, but there was more in the vacation category, so I moved some of that there.

After purchasing groceries, my husband getting a haircut, fueling up our vehicles, we have about $94 left until the end of the month.

My husband offered to bring taco shells and meat to their work potluck on Friday. I had volunteered cookies for the band fundraiser this weekend. So that is known spending that will come from the $94.

We will also be looking at getting a new cell phone for our daughter this weekend. I do have $200 set aside, and can pull some other savings if it ends up costing more.

Here's hoping we can make it a low spend week!

Back From Our Trip

April 23rd, 2017 at 08:09 am

I slept in really late this morning because that spring break trip wiped me out! Lots of walking around campuses.

Our daughter is looking to study engineering, so we are looking at excellent midwest colleges for that field. All three colleges mentioned payment for internships, up to $25 an hour! Some starting the summer after freshman year. Two indicated a possible five year program to include a master's degree at the end. We are letting all the information sink in. She can't apply until August 1, so there is lots of time to talk it all through. Two would be our home of record and would be in state tuition. The other is where our older daughter is and would be out of state tuition.

It feels like we spent a lot of money while we were gone, particularly for meals at restaurants. I do remember funding the vacation, fuel and restaurant categories before we left. I paid a $200 housing deposit for our daughter while we were visiting her. I had the money set aside for that. I also bought her a tank top with the University logo, snacks and a large portfolio for storing her art. I guess I bought a tube to roll a piece of art that is 4 ft x 7 ft, too. Just those few things alone are far more than I spend in a traditional week.

We did get unpacked and have started laundry so we are prepared for the work and school week. We also need to stock our fridge for eating at home, so that means a grocery run later today. I'd really rather just sit on the couch!

A Room Upgrade

April 17th, 2017 at 07:08 pm

We are currently traveling. Visiting colleges for our younger daughter. Tonight our hotel, Marriott Residence Inn, was covered by the 'free night' we receive each year after paying the annual fee ($85) for our Marriott Rewards card.

We thought we would arrive and get a King bed with a sofa pull out. Instead we ended up with a two bedroom suite! So nice!! I just wish we were here longer to really enjoy it.

My husband had a glass of wine from the manager's evening reception. In the morning we will all have breakfast. Definitely well worth our $85.

Last night we paid $119, for a Marriott Fairfield Inn room. It was a traditional room. We did get our breakfast included. We also had a hotel stay at another Fairfield Inn just before our flight. We were up so early breakfast wasn't being served yet. We did pay about $90 for that room. We will earn Marriott reward points for both of those paid stays.

We are away about a week, and only have three nights where we have to pay for rooms. The rest of our nights we are staying with family!

Friday Night Entertainment Spending

April 8th, 2017 at 08:00 am

We rarely go out on the town for entertainment, but we became aware last fall that a play based on a book was going to be performed this spring. Specifically, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. My daughter has read nearly all the Sherlock Holmes stories.

I had considered it as a Christmas gift, but she had some other wants at the time. And in the end tickets weren't available until two weeks ago. For three of us to attend the live play we paid $55.65. Yes, this is more than a movie, but honestly, much more enjoyable to be witness to the skill that is live acting! There were only five actors, but three of them played multiple characters, so lots of costume changes...which made for some hilarious moments. There weren't any mishaps because of the costumes, but just so fun to see the actors and actresses act out different characters.

We planned to go out to dinner ahead of time. I feel our budget lucked out when my daughter picked Subway and my husband was agreeable. He usually likes to sit down and be served which I know always costs far more. I skipped the drink and chips, and they counted two of our six inch subs as a footlong, our bill came to $18.68 for the three of us.

There was an intermission. We ended up buying two bottles of water for $2 each, and leaving a $1 tip. Another five dollars spent. We were parched as it was a bit warm in the theatre.

I feel really good about our spending for this evening of entertainment. Looking back we could have easily eaten dinner at home, but sometimes just getting out of the house and enjoying a night out is worth it.

Did you have any Friday night entertainment expenses? When was the last time you saw a live play or other live entertainment?

More Money Coming!

March 27th, 2017 at 05:12 pm

My husband told me today that we will be getting about $105 from his recent travel reimbursement. This was the trip where he bought some friends dinner to the tune of $140. That meal isn't specifically being reimbursed, of course, but it will offset that expense a bit. I didn't think he was getting anything extra.

Our college daughter was home for spring break last week, so we did a little clothes shopping, went out to eat a couple times, and celebrated her birthday with cake from a bakery. And now the funds left that we budgeted through the end of the month are getting slim.

I did jump ahead in the budget a bit and bought tickets for my husband, daughter and I to see a local Sherlock Holmes play in early April. Those three tickets were $55 total. And we will be seeing Beauty and the Beast in the theater this coming weekend. This much more than we usually spend on entertainment in a short period of time. But thankful that we can afford to do so when we find something that is of interest for all of us.

I listed four CDs on eBay today in a lot. Not sure if they will sell or not. I think I may have listed them for sale in the past, but I don't have a record of it on my account any longer. So if I did it was more than two months ago. I figured I would try one more time. Smile

I've been doing pretty good at accumulating Swagbucks, but I'm going to need to spend my time getting my garden planted soon. I'm going to do zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, lettuce, snow peas, onions, cucumber and strawberries. I'm going to do the strawberries in a pot on our screened in porch to keep the birds away! I'm not real optimistic about them, but my younger daughter insists since she didn't like them when she was younger and didn't get to eat any!

Oh, I thought I'd ask those of you world travelers what you think about exchanging currency before a trip? How much of the total expected costs would you want to have in the foreign currency? 20%? 50%? The teacher leading the trip can exchange for a lower fee at her bank. We know some cash is likely a good idea. She would need pounds for the two days in London, and euros for the remaining ten or eleven days. She also has a no foreign transaction fee debit card that she will likely use as well. I think we may also add her as an authorized user on one of our credit cards, as an extra back up option.

Picking Up the Tab

March 8th, 2017 at 06:10 pm

I went shopping today to use some coupons. I had $10 off a $10 purchase at JC Penney. I found a new sports bra and a tank top and paid $1.13 since both items were on clearance. I also looked at Kohl's as I had a $5 coupon, but the truth is I didn't see anything I wanted.

Our Time Warner Cable bill arrived today. It due in about two weeks. I noticed that the prices went up! It's only $3.06, but that is another $36.72 a year. I've been contemplating getting rid of our basic television plan which cost us $34 plus taxes each month. I'm not sure if our internet would then go up too. That could save us $408 a year.

My husband is out of town at a training event and was lucky enough to meet up with some great co workers from his last unit. They are all in different states now! While not obligated, as the highest ranking person, he felt like paying the tab. I don't know the full amount yet, but the credit card is showing a pending payment of $115. There were five people and I saw beer in the picture he sent me. Smile My husband has had meals paid for him many times in the past, so I know it is the right thing to do.

Debt Free Charts & More

March 6th, 2017 at 03:34 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.

Groceries, Sales, & More

March 5th, 2017 at 06:22 pm

It's just my daughter and I here at home this week. I went grocery shopping for just the two of us and spent $52. I'm very excited about that number! The truth is we just eat a bit simpler without my husband. One night we are at an event at school where we will be served pizza. I will be giving a donation to a scholarship fund with a chance to win some prizes, so not exactly free, but a good cause to donate to.

My net proceeds from selling 11 items on eBay recently came to $145.33. Not bad for stuff we aren't using! This could probably be considered the first money for my new BIG goal.

Flute lesson was cancelled last week because the teacher got ill. Luckily she was able to tell us before we made the full trip all the way over there. Turns out she won't be available to teach this coming week either, so I have a $50 credit that will be applied next month.

I'm working on getting more Swagbucks. I have an item to buy from Amazon that is just under $12, so I'm aiming for a $15 gift card. This item is reusable and will save me about $60 a year by using it. So now I'm realizing I need to see what else I could replace to save. Another option would be to eliminate something I use because it is unnecessary. I have one idea, but I need to try it for awhile to know for sure. That would probably save me $40 per year.

I did a little online research and found that we could likely move on post in Summer 2018 (assuming availability) to an 2 bedroom apartment. The cost would be $1250, and include ALL utilities, cable, internet and trash. I figured that would save us nearly $910 a month or $10,920. And actually would save us even more as my husband would be blocks from work, so could probably walk. I would be driving less without a child at home. I sure like the possibility of saving some serious cash! Not sure what my husband would think of an apartment, nor do I know that we would still be living in the area next summer.

Help for A Military Family

March 3rd, 2017 at 04:55 pm

No pressure at all, but I thought I would post a Go Fund Me link for a military family in need of help for medical bills. The wife of the soldier is in the hospital healing from lung cancer. We don't personally know this family, but the soldier did serve in a unit that was connected to my husband's former unit. We know soldiers who know the family well. They are very good people from what I have been told.

If you feel compelled to give back to a family that has served our country, this would be a most appreciated.

And as you can tell from reading their story, they have insurance through the military. As a reservist this insurance is a bit limited. And it does not cover experimental treatments that may be necessary.

Thank you for your consideration.

Total February Interest

March 1st, 2017 at 11:51 am

We earned $76.83 in interest on our money market accounts in the month of February. The short month! We added $25 to one of our savings accounts. This is a deposit from through payroll, so that we qualify for the higher CD rates.

As I was writing this, I was notified that Swagbucks the two gift cards I ordered just this morning are already ready for use! I haven't been using Swagbucks as much in recent months. This seems so much faster than it had been in the past. Is this the newer normal?

I will be using all $43 right away as I have several items on my Amazon account I want to purchase. I am buying engine and cabin air filters for both of our vehicles. I have a reminder on my calendar to change these out once a year. I'm also buying my a gift for my daughter's birthday later this month. I'm now done shopping for her!

Since You Are Curious

February 14th, 2017 at 02:39 pm

We bought five roses at the commissary Sunday for $5.99. They are lovely on our dining room table and we have enjoyed them.

We skipped buying each other cards. Honestly, my husband likes to buy the day before and give to me in the morning. But he forgot, so he asked if it was okay to skip it, which was fine as I didn't buy him one either.

I made my daughter a card. My husband and I both signed it and wrote nice things. I gave it too her this morning. She forgot it was even Valentine's Day! She thanked me for the card, but then as a teenager is apt to do, she honestly said it wasn't necessary.

Valentine's Day isn't really a big deal in our family. None of us feel less loved or forgotten by not partaking it what seems a bit commercial to us at times.

We are about to sit down to dinner of fish, roasted vegetables, and couscous. I did buy strawberries for dessert. Yum! Time together is the best and doesn't cost a single penny.

Enjoy your Valentine's Day, however you chose to spend it and no matter how much you spend. If you are happy with your choices that is what matters the most!

Spending Yesterday

February 12th, 2017 at 06:36 am

Yesterday, we did a bit of needed spending. My daughter needed a new purse as her old one had a broken zipper. I had a $10 coupon at JC Penney and the purse (leather) was on sale for $33. A very good deal. Unfortunately, my husband didn't do the best with his shopping. He picked up three workout T shirts, Nike Brand, that he told me were $11 each. One rang up as $21, and the other two for $18.75 each. He did get long sleeve shirt on clearance for $8.99. He went backed and looked at the display and didn't read it right. Ugh! I'm letting him keep them as it just isn't worth the effort to fight him on it. He is not a good shopper, luckily he doesn't shop for new things too often.

I bought a 10 pack of no show socks for $11.99 at Kohl's. I had a $6 coupon (for my 6 year anniversary with my Kohl's card) so I paid just over $6 out of pocket. Now that is my kind of deal!

We shopped at Fresh Market for some ingredients to make two meals. This one was yummy! I have a ton of leftovers, too. The cost of the food, including some snacks, was nearly $39. We also bought some other vitamins, so the bill was $65 exactly.

Today we go do our regular grocery shopping trip at the commissary. I think I may buy some Girl Scout cookies, if there is a troop selling there today. Otherwise, we are staying home and will enjoy some time outside. It's going to be 82 degrees here! Spring really is coming. I'm already seeing buds on trees, and some trees already put out pink blooms! I'm sharing for those of you up north. It really is just around the corner. Hang in there!

Oh, and I heard my husband mention picking up flowers and Valentine's cards for my daughter and I. Last year, I convinced him not too. I'm not sure what to say this year. It's hard to squash someone's nice intentions!

And finally, did you look at your retirement accounts? Probably at an all time high once again. It is nice to see!

Fourth Semester Tuition & Housing Paid in Full

February 9th, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I just made the electronic payment from our checking account for the full spring tuition and housing bill. I admit it was a little hard to click the submit button!

The full amount was $10,426.56. Of that amount, $4,662.65 was for spring room and board. That includes a discount ($353) for being a second year student. Books and supplies were $267. The rest was tuition for classes after her scholarships. She is taking 17 credits this semester, so that bumps up a bill pretty fast compared to a 12 credit hour semester.

I've been really focused on getting this bill paid. I do need to consider how much two online classes this summer might cost and figure how we might pay for those. I think those classes may be the last ones we would pay in full out of pocket before we start using the Post 911/GI Bill.

I do feel blessed that we are able to provide a college education for our daughter. And to do it without loans thus far is a bonus. I know she is grateful as well.

Interest, Tuition Funding & More

February 1st, 2017 at 05:51 am

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.

School Supplies & More

January 30th, 2017 at 01:58 pm

Today's big spending was on a binder for school. The cost of it was $7.21 with tax at Walmart. It wasn't the cheapest option. She chose one that she know will hold up for the semester. She is a bit hard on them!

My daughter's new debit card for her checking account arrived today. We have now activated it. She also deposited her two checks received at Christmas into her new account, using our mobile app. We also ordered checks. Luckily they just send 40 at a time now. I wonder how long it may take for her to use those up! The checks are free through our bank.

I ate leftover fried rice with tofu for lunch. I think I cooked the tofu just fine. I did use turmeric to color it, so it did remind me of having eggs in it. My daughter decided she didn't like the different texture of tofu with the rice though. Lucky for her we are just having pasta and broccoli for dinner which she does like.

We did go to the store last night and picked up several items, primarily cereal and milk. And two snacks. I think there was something else too. We spent about $14.

Oh, and I had to buy fuel for my van! I was literally on empty when we went to the grocery store. I only filled it up halfway primarily because the pump was VERY slow. I spent $20.02.

Isn't it hard to believe January is about over?

More Credit Card Rewards

January 29th, 2017 at 07:52 am

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!

Refund Arrives Wednesday

January 28th, 2017 at 08:55 am

Our tax refund is scheduled to arrive in our bank account on Wednesday, February 1. I submitted them on Sunday, January 22. That is a pretty fast turn around! That $1497 refund is going straight to pay the tuition bill, which has been my plan all along.

I forgot to mention that I redeemed our Discover Rewards and had them deposited in our bank account this week. A whopping $3.37. I seem to earn the least amount of rewards from this card. We don't use it much, so I think I'm going to close it in my desire to keep things a bit simpler.

We are going to a matinee movie today. We are going to see Moana, which our daughter is interested in. We will pay $6 per person for admission. Afterwards we may stop for a quick dinner as our celebration of the first semester ending. It may just be Subway. I do have coupons there that expire tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will probably have fried rice for dinner. With tofu, which I have not made in years. Any advice for using it with fried rice? Do I just drain, cube it and add in?

And Now It's 70+ Degrees

January 13th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Heatwave! It's over 70 degrees here this afternoon. My husband is off work today for the holiday weekend. He decided it was time to wash the van (he did the truck two days ago). On his outing to do this (and spend $20!!!) he realized the air conditioning was not cooling. We now have an appointment on Monday. It has been in sometime in the last few months for this problem and one of the things they did was add a dye so that if it did stop working again it would help them find the leak. So fingers crossed this isn't too big of an expense!

We did talk about going to a movie today, but in the end we skipped it. I'm kind of glad since he wanted to spend the money washing the van. We don't wash our cars that often now that we are not in an area putting salt down on roadways too often. My husband does want to protect them so they last us a long time. A small investment, although he really could do this in the driveway! I pick my battles.

Despite the long weekend, so far my husband has avoided picking up alcohol. I mentioned I didn't want to drink much, if any this weekend, so that may be a factor. We do have my daughter's friend over this evening, and I need to be the driver to get her home. We might save a little money if we can avoid drinking most of the nights this weekend.

I pulled some more food out of our storm supplies. Non perishables that I will want replenished this summer anyway. I wanted a couple snacks for the girls if needed. I think this friend may be in one of those homes that is considered food insecure. Frown I want her to fill up while she is here if she wants to. It is a long weekend away from school.

And I made a mistake with some of my daughter's books. I sent them to ME, rather than her!! They arrived this afternoon. Luckily she is not in need of them right away. I probably could have reordered and then returned the ones that arrived here, but instead I ran to the post office and got them sent off Priority Mail. That cost me $13.45. An oops expenditure!

I'm just 70 Swagbucks away from getting a $15 Amazon gift card. Once it arrives I'm going to order my daughter's allergy medicine. She takes Zyrtec nearly daily, so we stock up once a year. The cost is just $15.99.

I finished the chicken salad I made yesterday. I had it as a sandwich. We are definitely going to need to get to the store soon. Our stash of food is dwindling. There are still things that need to be used up, but we need other things to go with them. I will be sure to incorporate many of them into my meal planning for next week!

Spring Cleaning

January 12th, 2017 at 10:25 am

It feels like spring here in the Southeast. It was nearly 60 degrees this morning. That made getting my walk with my neighbor in very nice! I've already been doing some deep spring like cleaning; I can actually open the windows today while I'm doing it. I've been very behind in dusting.

I ate my black bean salad for breakfast with half an apple (the other half was rotten). I decided to make chicken salad, rather than tuna salad for my sandwich at lunch today. The chicken will need to be used, and the tuna can wait for later! Oh, and I ate the leftover tomato soup from the freezer with the sandwich.

My daughter is having a friend over tomorrow night. This friend is moving away in a couple weeks and her birthday is today. I think we will make homemade pizza. I only need more pepperoni and that is far cheaper than picking up pizza for take out. We also may make a cake or cupcakes. I may go the box mix route on that, as I think I've only made cake from scratch once. I don't want to ruin this girls cake! The cost is minimal anyway.

I have ANOTHER book to buy my daughter! I really think this is the final one. This one was $64, luckily she didn't need this until Monday so with Amazon Prime it should arrive on Saturday.

I need to do financial upkeep this weekend. Primarily, I need to figure our new withholding and how we really are going to do our retirement investment this year (instead of Roth's we may go Traditional IRA route or add more to my husband's TSP). And I also need to decide on that 2% CD with Navy Federal Credit Union. I think I only have until Tuesday to decide!

More Books!

January 11th, 2017 at 05:01 pm

My daughter emailed that she needed me to order more books from Amazon. I know I thought of doing this while she was home, but she has had good luck with the book store and their rental prices. That has not been the case this semester. I rented one and two others had to be bought new. She will have those on Friday. Those three books cost us $71.86. Hopefully she may want to resell the ones that were not rented so we can get some of those funds back.

I went to Home Depot this evening thinking I had a gift card with a balance on it. I figured I would buy a couple cleaning products with the funds. Turns out it had nothing on it! I'm a bit perplexed that I would keep it if it had no funds left on it. In the end about $8 for the cleaning supplies. I'm kind of in a spring cleaning mode this week here at home!

I'm making bone broth for the first time with that chicken I roasted yesterday. It's going to simmer a full 24 hours or maybe a little more. I look forward to tasting it tomorrow. I used up some carrots, celery and onion to get that started.

I ate the last of the barley for breakfast. Forgot that I was going to add the strawberries though. For lunch I ate the Boca burger with a salad. I used a little feta cheese on the salad, and used more of that in a black bean salad for dinner tonight, which also used up the can of black beans and part of the red onion.

Tomorrow, I will probably eat the black beans for breakfast. They are even better the second day! Then for lunch I will have tuna salad (with red onion) sandwich with the tomato soup from the freezer. In the evening we will have chicken, couscous and possibly more salad! I'm going to cube or shred the remaining chicken for soup or tacos and freeze it. (Did I say that in my last post? If so, I guess I went for simpler tonight since my daughter had a flute lesson!)

I received an email from NFCU that there is a 17 month certificate paying 2%, up to $50K. I'm tempted to put some more in, but I'm starting to have a lot of our cash in CDs and I don't really want to tie it up, although I don't know when we would need it during that time period. We have a least 17 months before another move.

Roasted the Chicken

January 10th, 2017 at 04:48 pm

We haven't spent much in the last couple days. My husband filled up with gas, but needed to after a 3 hour car round trip in the car to take our daughter to the airport last night. She made it back to school, only missed one day of classes. The first day...which she definitely wasn't thrilled with! Oh, and he also spent $8 to buy her dinner before she flew out.

I ordered one of her books online from Amazon today. The bookstore was completely out. She's renting it. I had credits with Amazon to cover the whole thing, so no out of pocket costs on that one.

I roasted the whole chicken I had in my freezer tonight. I put it in late this afternoon, with no expectation to have it for dinner. We will have the breast meat for dinner tomorrow night. Then I will cut the remaining up and portion it to freeze for other meals. I think I have a plan for a couple meals to use it with but I'm not remembering those at the moment! Oh, I am going to make bone broth with the bones tomorrow, that will use up the celery.

I have cooked all the remaining barley. Most of it was used in the mushroom barley soup I made for dinner tonight. We now have two servings of that soup left. I used some of the barley to eat for breakfast. I ate one portion this morning with cinnamon and a little sugar. Tomorrow I will eat it with some frozen strawberries (that I will thaw). I finished the romaine lettuce, the frozen banana and frozen blueberries today at lunch when I made a smoothie. I added chia seeds to that smoothie also. Last night we finished the fettuccini noodles and my husband ate more of the turkey bacon.

This pantry stuff is harder than it looks! I feel like in some cases I use something up, but then have leftovers which I then need to incorporate into a meal for someone...and often that is me. I definitely don't need to buy anything for my own lunches for awhile. There is plenty here!

I do expect a small grocery run in the next day or so. We should have bought tortillas, and I remembered we didn't get the fish I wanted (to have with rice) because the commissary had not yet restocked when we were there Sunday morning. They had been closed on Saturday due to weather, so not everything was put out.

I feel pretty good about how we are using up this food that I bought and should have made a plan for! The whole chicken was going to be for Christmas, but with Riley (our cat) ill and dying, I just didn't have the energy to do it. (We had to put her down on December 27th, so the days prior were tough).

Commissary Run

January 8th, 2017 at 10:43 am

We were snowed in yesterday, after a miniature ice storm hit the area. I think we could have been out, but they way these southerners drive during bad weather makes you want to stay in! The weather did cause my daughters flight schedule for today to be cancelled. Apparently the airline can't get the gate area clear enough! So she will miss the first day of classes and arrive back to the dorm late on Sunday night.

The commissary was closed yesterday and our normal shopping day is Sunday. I expected to see shelves that weren't stocked. I was partially correct. The bread was stocked, but the chicken (which I didn't need) and the lettuce were not stocked at all. Very bare shelves in those areas.

I'm making a point to use up what we have in our pantry, freezer and fridge. I'm about to take out the whole chicken for thawing, which I hope to use in several meals later in the week. I have eaten the last clementine orange. I ate another english muffin, and used up last week's salad with the balsamic dressing. Tonight we are having BLT sandwiches to use the turkey bacon, and some of the romaine lettuce. I also had two tomatoes to use that I don't think made it on the original list.

Our total bill at the commissary was $100.66. We did buy some cat food, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, contact lens solution, and vitamin C packets. The actually food portion was $66.76!

I told my husband I was making a point of using some things up, but he surprised me and didn't get asparagus for his salad, chips, crackers or tortillas which always seem to end up in the cart! I think we both know we have been overeating. If we don't buy the junk we won't eat it.

After recording the grocery spending in YNAB, we still have $125 left! We may need a couple things before the 15th when we shop again, but I expect we may be able to put those extra funds towards tuition.


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