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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.

Snowflake Towards Tuition

January 7th, 2017 at 07:49 am

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

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

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

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

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

Food in My Pantry

January 6th, 2017 at 10:37 am

I'm not officially doing the Uber Frugal Challenge for the month of January, but I am following along with the Frugalwoods blog posts about it, as well as all of you here participating.

My daughter is still home from college. (Hopefully, we can get her on her plane Sunday morning. Praying the winter storm coming through the southeast doesn't mess with the roads or the airport runway.) We are enjoying a few lunches out and buying some things she needs while she is home, thus not a particularly frugal time.

I decided to look in our cupboards, freezer and refrigerator today and see what we have that I need to make a point to use. It's more than I expected and will help make some meals for next week.


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

Refrigerator Finds
2 opened jars of salsa
8oz sour cream
1/2 balsamic dressing
celery
romaine
kale
1 c. refried beans
feta cheese (whole package)
3 clementines
1.25 packages turkey bacon

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

I have more in our cupboards, fridge and freezer than I listed, but these are things that are most perishable or that we haven't been making a point to use.

I'm going to start thawing the chicken this weekend and cook that next week, so I hope to use it with some of the ingredients above. I'm also going to make bone broth from the bones which will give me a chance to use up the celery!

I still expect to shop after the storm on Sunday or Monday, but I'm sure we will be well fed without running out to stock up for the storm! I even have snacks in our hurricane preparation kit I can pull out if needed.

Have you reviewed your food stores recently? Did you find much?

Riley

December 27th, 2016 at 04:47 pm

We euthanized Riley today. And that's all I got to say about that.

She was a very good cat. As a stay at home mom, she was a big part of my everyday life. I'm sure I will feel the void. We were all bonded over her cuteness. Luckily because of that we have a ton of pictures and videos to enjoy. I sure wish she could have lived longer than her 9 short years, but I know that she was given lots of love while she was here.


Rest in peace sweetie!

Riley Update & More

December 26th, 2016 at 11:37 am

Our cat Riley has cancer. I was actually told this on Saturday, but because of the veterinarian's thick accent, I didn't hear that part. We spoke to him again today in person to get it all cleared up. She is drinking and using the litter box. Her desire to eat is very low. And unfortunately she is vomiting some of it up once a day. I think I mentioned before that she weighs less than she did three months ago.

Our vet costs this month have amounted to $829. We aren't going to do much more for her. She is 9. We will keep her comfortable, until it's time. She still has some energy to play a bit, and gets up to change where she sleeps and use the litter box.

We are traveling for a few days coming up. I'm attempting to find boarding, but expect my neighbor may end up helping instead. She is actually willing to deal with an ill cat! I feel blessed.

In other news...we finally exchanged our more expensive cable box for a digital adapter. This saves us $10 a month, and provided a $6 credit on our next bill. I think the smaller adapters use less energy too, so we might see a little savings.

And finally, today we went shopping. So unlike me the day after Christmas! My younger daughter needed jeans, a pair of khaki pants and pajama pants. It had been two years since she had purchased some of these things so it was time. We were able to get everything in two stops. I spent $79 at Kohl's and $20 at Target for 7 items.

I may not check in here until around the new year. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of 2016.

Riley Not Eating Again

December 23rd, 2016 at 02:01 pm

Our cat Riley that we took to Urgent care last week is not improving. She ate for several days, but as of today she isn't eating again. We were at our vet today. They took an xray. There is something they can see (a mass) that they can't define, so that is going to radiology to read. It is unknown when that will get read, maybe by Monday. Riley did not like the vet palpitating her abdomen at all.

In the meantime, more fluids were given. And we were given high protein/high energy prescription food to try. And some oral vitamin gel.

Another $400+ spent and I'm not so sure what to think. If I can't get her to eat there is going to be a problem and we may end back up at Urgent care. And then how much care do we continue?

It's pretty stressful to say the least!

Snowflakes

December 20th, 2016 at 04:35 am

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

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

The snowflakes are minor in comparison.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any recent snowflakes?

Daughter Arrived Safely

December 19th, 2016 at 04:41 am

Our daughter finally made it home last night after having her Saturday evening flight cancelled entirely due to weather. Freezing rain in St Louis was the problem. She was rebooked on an early fight that landed her on a layover at Chicago Midway. The layover was originally suppose to be 4 hours, but turned into six! Shoutout to Laura (the deacon's wife), who messaged me and offered her phone numbers and pictures of her family, in case my daughter would need assistance if her flight was cancelled. SA really is becoming family for some of us!

Our daughter flew Southwest. I originally paid for her to have Early Bird Checkin, so she wouldn't need to worry about doing that and would have a good boarding position (Southwest doesn't assign seats). I have sent an email request a refund of my $30, as this did not benefit her after her flights were cancelled. I have not heard and may end up needing to call.

Our cat, Riley, is definitely doing better. She continues to eat, take her antibiotic, and rest. She still seems a bit low energy, but she is moving around more and played a little this morning when I dangled a toy near her this morning. Our older cat, named Liberty (age 12), is a huge fan of eating the wet food. This morning I gave her nearly half a little can and she gobbled it right up. I have left one bowl of dry food out for now as we transition to wet, so they don't go hungry, while I figure out how much to feed them. I do see the Fancy Feast website indicates 3 cans per day for a cat weighing 10-13 pounds. This is a little more than I was expecting. Liberty (age 12) weighs about 13 pounds. Both cats are obese unfortunately. Probably all the carbs in the dry food!

Riley Is Eating

December 18th, 2016 at 05:17 am

Riley is eating! (That is her in the picture on my sidebar) We were able to get her to eat more last evening and I even woke twice during the night to feed her. She was eating food off my finger. She doesn't have much energy, but she is still getting up and using the litter box. I also saw her grooming herself. This morning she did eat off a plate so that is also progress.

She has had two doses of her oral antibiotic. I'm such a pro at pills with this cat unfortunately. Both cats are loving the wet food too, which I knew since that was their evening snack. I just need to stock up on it at the commissary today. I think we will leave some dry food out during the transition, but I have a feeling they will both give it up.

In other news, our daughter's flight was cancelled last night. She was on the first plane and ready to go. They were waiting for some deicing of the runway in St Louis...which didn't happen so they cancelled it. She is now rebooked for this morning going through Chicago Midway. Her Chicago flight home is already delayed an hour. She is not happy about this. I would appreciate prayers that she arrives home tonight without any issues. I'm actually really proud of her! I never flew by myself at 19. Two years ago she was refusing to fly anywhere, so she is growing and maturing. And while upsetting to have flights cancelled and delayed it is a learning experience.

Ill Cat

December 17th, 2016 at 09:58 am

My youngest cat (9), her name is Riley, is ill again. She was sleepy, and vomiting yesterday. She definitely had not eaten since the day prior. And the final straw was when I checked on her this morning she hopped off the bed to use the litter box and there was a tinge of blood in her urine. We went to the urgent care vet this morning to make sure to be seen right away.

They did blood work which I'm very happy about. Overall it looks like an infection, probably urinary (bladder wasn't full enough to do a sample). There were some low numbers, but nothing that would be unusual or worrisome at this point. Although her weight is down about two pounds since September, so that isn't so great!

They gave an antibiotic injection, sub fluids, and an anti vomiting med in the office. We were sent home with instructions to get her to eat and give an oral antibiotic starting this evening. If she doesn't eat by morning she needs to go back in the morning.

Just now, about 2 hours after the return from the vet I was able to get her to eat 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of wet food. I find that very promising and will keep attempting to get her to eat more. I'm sure she will likely continue to feel better as the day goes on.

Riley is a cat that is gets very stressed. I think our last trip over Thanksgiving was probably not helpful to her health. Now I wish we didn't have another one coming up!

The cost was around $385. I told my husband that if it cost less than $500 I would be happy. I just want my cat to feel better! Our oldest daughter who is most bonded with this cat arrives home tonight from college. My worst fear this morning was that she wouldn't get to see the cat if it was something really bad. I haven't told her yet, as I don't want her to worry about it while she is flying.

Unfortunately someone brought a very lethargic cat that hadn't eaten for two days in while we were there. I believe that cat was euthanized before we even left ourselves. So sad!

Our plan going forward is to start feeding all wet food for our cats. My only issue is figuring out how much I should be feeding them. I asked the vet and she brought me a website to look at. This is my biggest frustrations with vets...they NEVER tell me now much to feed them. I've read instructions on bags of food that have helped some in recent years. So I have some research to do.

I know many of you have cats. If you feed wet food, please tell me what you do for your cat and how much your cat weighs. And if you have two cats do you feed separately?

Oh, and I was able to put the charge on my American Express card which I have 0% interest for the next 6 months. I'm going to pay that later from income rather than pulling from savings. At least that is the plan now. I may want to just get it paid. This looming tuition expense is messing with my planning!

$74

December 13th, 2016 at 04:30 am

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

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

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

Only two more days to go on our limited budget!

Used Airline Points

December 7th, 2016 at 10:23 am

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

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

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

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

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

$500 For 12 Days

December 3rd, 2016 at 12:24 pm

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

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

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

Photo Gifts

November 20th, 2016 at 11:27 am

I'm making some photo gifts for Christmas this year. I'm making a photo book for my older daughter of her high school marching band pictures. I'm two years late on it, but I think it will be meaningful and unexpected. I should have made it for her graduation, but we were in the middle of getting ready to move at that time and it was just to overwhelming to take on. It was 50% off, so around $18 before shipping. I'm sure there is going to be a better deal at some point, but I'm just happy to have it done and on it's way!

I also put a college of marching band pictures from this year for my younger daughter. I didn't get a lot of good pictures, but a band dad took a ton and my daughter made it into a couple of them. He was nice enough to share them. That 8x10 collage is only a couple dollars and I will get a frame so she can put it on her wall.

The final photo gift is a calendar for my parents with pictures of their four grandchildren. I have not completed it yet as I'm hoping to get a couple pictures of the four of them together over Thanksgiving. I also am purchasing it separately so I can have it mailed directly to them. I think it will cost me $12 or so with shipping.

Do you make photo gifts for Christmas? Are you the recipient of photo gifts? What kind are your favorites?

Choose Kindness and Love

November 9th, 2016 at 08:01 am

Our daughters woke up very upset this morning. One has a friend that is very fearful to walk around on campus. I personally am not fearful, yet I am so sad that others are.

Hug someone if you are feeling sad or scared. Talk through your feelings. Remember that we are more alike that we are different. There is more good in the world than we can possibly be shown on television.

Be the good!

First Gifts of Christmas

November 8th, 2016 at 12:34 pm

My girls are big John and Hank Green fans. Every year they have some special types of merchandise they sell. This year is no different they both wanted something. One is getting a shirt and the other a hoodie. These are Christmas gifts, so I can now say my shopping has begun.

I'm also working on a photo album for my older daughter. The album will be as many pictures I can find from her high school marching band days. I wish I would have done this at the time of graduation...but we were getting ready to move!! I have a coupon for a free 8x8 book and just need to pay shipping.

I also put together an 8x10 photo collage of about 7 marching band pictures for my youngest daughter. Several of them are from their final competition where they are pictured with all their awards. This band doesn't seem to get as much professional pictures to be purchased, but one dad has a super nice camera and is in the pit crew, so he can get great shots. He is sharing them with us for no charge!! I will order the book and collage at the same time. I expect to buy a frame for the collage as well.

Have you started any Christmas shopping? I have a plan to finish by the end of November. I might need a couple extra days in December, but the goal is before that.

$11 In My Wallet

November 7th, 2016 at 06:27 pm

I ended up with $11 in my wallet after the weekend. We usually have cash on hand for all our marching band adventures. The season ended Saturday night on a high note. Our daughter's band was named Grand Champions at their last competition!!

Today I gave my daughter the $11 to donate to school. They are collecting funds to purchase grocery store gift cards for those in need this Thanksgiving. She gets community service hours for her donation; one hour for every $1 donated. So our small donation saves her from actually volunteering 11 hours of time! I did tell her she could use some of her own money to add to it if she desired. Not sure she is as I think she is hoarding money for her Europe trip.

So other than that donation, it was a no spend day. I'm hoping to gain some bookstore credit tomorrow when I sell some books and CDs.

Spring Tuition and Housing

November 3rd, 2016 at 11:13 am

I've left a tab open on my computer for weeks to remind me to calculate my daughter's expected spring tuition, fees and housing. She signed up yesterday officially, so I finally took the plunge and started calculating.

She is taking 17 credits. Three of those are an online class, which is a bit cheaper than classroom learning by almost $500 a class. Tuition and fees are $12,726.75, but she has $7,250 in scholarship money. So we will owe out of pocket $5,476.75. Our estimated tax refund is $1375. I may not have that back when the bill is due February 12, but it can be counted on to cover the cost we take from savings. That means I need to find $4101.75 to make the payment. We do have the cash, but I would like to accumulate and cash flow that money as much as possible by February 12.

And the housing due for the spring semester is $5.015.65. She does get $353 discount because she is a second year student in the same dorm. That amount is $4662.65. We will use money we have in her education account to cover this. After this withdrawal we will have just under $5K left in her education account. We could use this for the tuition above, but expect we may want that for her final semester or some summer classes.

The goal is to finish school without loans if possible. It sure helps that our expenses are low and we don't have debt. We do have the Post 911/GI Bill benefit we expect to use starting Fall 2017. We will owe just a little for housing each semester, maybe $1000, plus some books.

Spending Today

November 2nd, 2016 at 12:06 pm

I spent $13 at Walmart to pick up a few things that didn't make the grocery list on Sunday. I was definitely not looking at the status of some of our staples like salt, olive oil and butter when I made my list. I also picked up a personal care item...and actually remembered to use a coupon! I think these count as needs, rather than wants though. Smile

I forgot to mention we ended up with some free vitamins in the mail. We ordered two months supply for my husband last week. Somehow we got someone else's order (of the same vitamins) in separate box, but with a shipping label to our home. So not really our problem. So instead of a $30 cost per month, the cost is closer to $15 a month for the next four months! Nice surprise bonus. I used our Amex card for the purchase and there was a $10 coupon off a $50+ order.

I'm ordered two Christmas gifts this week. My daughter is selling live wreaths for marching band. I'm buying one for my parents and one for my mother in law. They are approximately $35 each. These will be Christmas gifts. I let my Mom and Dad pick theirs out when they visited. The cool thing is these will get delivered to their home! I am using money I have saved for Christmas to make these purchases.

Still haven't pointed out the low spend month idea with my husband! And we do travel this month so I think that is why I'm hesitant to really dive in. I do think the exercise of reining spending in is a good one. We aren't big spenders overall, so there isn't a lot of excess. However, I know for our experiment in February that one can save a LOT of cash by making the intention of low spending.

No Spend November?

November 1st, 2016 at 12:47 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Random Money Thoughts

October 23rd, 2016 at 08:04 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amex Offer and Europe Trip

October 7th, 2016 at 01:42 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Now $166

September 29th, 2016 at 07:06 pm

A little more spending today, primarily snacks and alcohol. Neither were needs. But we are down to $166 left through payday on Saturday.

I've already worked on October's budget. I've allocated the money for rent, flute lessons, water and electricity. I've funded money for groceries, fuel, entertainment and spending money among others. The latter categories were funded to the tune of $1,125.And that is for about half the month.

The good news is I added $730 to savings.

Turns out we may end up letting our daughter go to Europe this summer for a World War II trip. We knew about the trip last year, but hesitated signing up and then had some concerns about the safety of international travel. So we thought the option to go was gone. Turns out it isn't. Still need to get more details, but she was told it is $4600 for a 14 day trip plus spending money and the cost of a passport.

A Snowflake & Bill Pay

September 22nd, 2016 at 02:40 pm

On Saturday, a check arrived in the mail from our old electric company. It was a co-op so it was a return of capital credits in the amount of $19.07. I added that snowflake to our savings account.

I went through all of our accounts on YNAB today to make sure I had all of them reconciled. It was pretty easy since I had recently paid all of them down to zero! We really need to close some of our credit card accounts....as I'm really liking the idea of simplifying those.

I sent a payment to my sister by Bill Pay last week for a fundraiser her daughter was doing. I honestly didn't want the stuff, so let her girls pick candy, figuring it was a consumable and wouldn't add to the clutter, but would still support the school. This made me realize, I should use Bill Pay for our rent! I've been writing out the check and envelope and slapping a stamp on it every month for over a year. I was always so used to a mortgage payment being automatically deducted. It was nice! So I'm giving the landlord a heads up that the check may look different. I don't think there will be any issue, and now I know I won't forget, which almost happened this last month.

I use Bill Pay for our trash service, but all other bills are automatically paid from a credit card or checking account. What do you use Bill Pay for?

Vet Expense & More

September 20th, 2016 at 01:49 pm

One of our kitties isn't feeling so well. GI imbalance the vet says. I did get my first visit free, but a test and meds cost me $80.92 today. I don't like that she isn't doing well or that I had to spend money, but that is how it goes. Will try to have this expense come from this pay period and avoid pulling what I put aside for savings a few days ago.

Yesterday was spendy. I bought some goodies to send in a care package and then mailed two packages. I wasn't exactly looking to spend more than $15 on the gifts, but ended up finding a few more items for another $15. Not a big deal really, and I don't have any regrets. It just all added up fast!

I sold an item on eBay. Look like I will net about $6. I almost gave up on that item even selling, so that was a nice surprise!

School Expenses

September 1st, 2016 at 11:54 am

I've already mentioned how my daughter needed to buy a specific dress online for her choir class. That was $85.50. It may need to be altered too, so that adds to the cost. She also spent $114 on art supplies for her two drawing classes. I reimbursed her for those expenses since I will be able to claim those as required supplies for classes with the American Opportunity Credit.

My high school daughter came home with the picture order form. I do always buy these, but buy the smallest package that will provide the grandparents and a few aunts a picture. With tax I paid $37. Next up, the yearbook. They go all out at this high school with colored and glossy pages. I think the advisor is probably doing a disservice by allowing the yearbook kids to pick all the bells and whistles. It only make the yearbook an option to fewer kids. We have always bought them, and I did ask if my daughter felt she needed it and the answer was yes. I paid $68 plus tax for the yearbook. And finally, she needs a new academy shirt for the engineering program they have at school. That is another $28. I did also pay the Junior class dues of $35 which go primarily towards prom. At least I'm almost positive I will not have prom expenses, as she isn't interested in going.

I realize some of these expenses are not required, so I'm definitely not complaining. It just amazing how much stuff they throw at you at the beginning of the year.

End of Budget

August 29th, 2016 at 04:36 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.

Band Spending and More

August 26th, 2016 at 09:10 pm

We are in the midst of marching band season for my youngest daughter. Well, oldest daughter is also, but she's out of town. We pay $7 each to get into every football game we attend. Tonight we also bought food and drinks. We spent $8.50 on four beverages, nachos and a hotdog. It was hot! We may have been able to skip a couple beverages if the weather was cooler.

I did a little clothes spending yesterday. I need a few new pairs of panties. I have a favorite brand and style, and I don't buy them very frequently. I also browsed the clearance racks and found a pair of capris in my new size (yea, for weight loss). I bought them plus four pairs of panties for $30 at Kohl's. I did have a 30% off coupon so that helped quite a bit. I was willing to spend $30 on three pairs of underwear before I walked in, but I walked out with an extra pair and the capris for that amount. Very happy!

My husband is helping his friend move tomorrow. This is actually the couple that let him stay with them for three months in their apartment before the rest of us moved out here. They offered their space for free! We will always be grateful. We definitely want to help payback that generosity in any way we can.

We have $300 left until payday. I think we can make it!

Another Sale

August 13th, 2016 at 06:42 am

I sold another item on eBay. Net profit $6.74. Less stuff, more money! I will put this in savings.

I've been motivated by my daughter going back to school to sell some things, just to help offset costs. In no way does it cover the cost, but every little bit helps!

I need to get on the ball and get more listed. Tuition and housing are due September 12. I have yet to calculate total bill, but I'm thinking at least $9K for the semester.

Early Retirement Thoughts

July 31st, 2016 at 07:43 am

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.


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