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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?

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?

Used The Rice

January 27th, 2017 at 07:18 pm

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

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

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

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

$20 Snowflake

January 26th, 2017 at 02:41 pm

I was surprised today to see a $20 credit on our credit card from Ooma. I thought I was going to get that last month, but when I didn't see it I figured the referral didn't pan out. But it did! That snowflake is going towards tuition.

I spent $6 on a soda, two avocados and chicken broth. I was going to make a mushroom risotto tonight, until I realized I didn't buy the parmesan cheese for it! To avoid another trip to the store today, I decided to just make fish and stuffed portobello mushrooms for dinner. And of course, we still have a lot of salad to eat as well.

I did some more sewing today, just because it made me happy. I'm focusing on feeling good rather than feeling bad. Part of that means doing things I like and avoiding the news and Facebook that make me feel bad. I've seen far too many people thinking their point of view is the only way to think, which leads me to see them as uncaring and unkind. That isn't how I want to think!! So avoidance is best at this point. I think all people have the ability to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, accepting and patient. And I'm going to focus on that as much as I can in the coming weeks and months.

Rising Stock Market Plus More

January 25th, 2017 at 04:40 pm

The stock market is up today! The Dow Jones Industrial Average even closed above 20K points for the first time ever. I checked out retirement accounts and today alone our balances rose $3,318! And we are up $12,981 since the beginning of January.

I am able to see my husband's LES (pay stub) for next week's pay. The change for withholding was made, but they don't seem to be showing the 1% increase to his TSP. This means his check was slightly inflated. It shows online that the payment is processing, so I guess I didn't meet the deadline to make that change for this month. Oh well, it will all work out.

I input my husband's net pay into YNAB. I figured out that I can add at least $815 from that check to apply towards tuition. I may pay our high electric bill AFTER the 15th of February, so I can apply the cash I set aside for it to tuition. Again, I'm trying to avoid taking any cash from savings, so it really is about cash flow and adjusting when I make some payments.

I spent $7.32 today on two things at Walmart and postage to mail two packages. I'm watching my fuel tank to see if I can't wait until Tuesday to fill up. That may be pushing it, but I will try.

Dinner was breakfast foods. I made pancakes for our daughter and I. My husband came home later than usual, so he made himself some eggs. Tomorrow we will finally use up the arborio rice when I make a mushroom risotto.

Soup, Sewing & Southwest

January 24th, 2017 at 06:30 pm

I ate soup two times today. That one is now gone. I have two other kinds in the freezer, which we will likely eat later this week. It feels like we are doing pretty good with the food overall.

I did my sewing today. I made two keychains and four little tissue covers. I put links to the instructions I used, if you are interested. I've made the key chains before. The tissue covers were new for me to sew, but they are super easy!

I heard from Southwest Airlines that they will refund the Early Bird fee I paid. This was for a flight that they cancelled when my daughter was trying to get back to school. That is $15 back in my pocket. I also read that Southwest Rapids Rewards program is changing a policy about transferring hotel loyalty rewards to their program AND allowing it to count for the Companion Pass. They have extended the grace period so they can count until March 31, 2017. We have started using our Southwest card again and are hoping to rack up enough qualifying points to make this possible. We have Marriott Rewards that could make this happen much easier. Now that I know the deadline, I may consider moving some of the rewards to help make this happen. Here is the post on Southwest's website.

I was tempted to run out for a couple things today, but decided they could wait. I will need to go to the post office tomorrow or Thursday to mail the gifts. I will pick up those few items at that time, thus saving some gas and time!

Although, I'm remembering I did spend some money today. I ordered an item for my daughter for her birthday in March. She gave the hint last week, and the item could run out...maybe. I decided since I had money in the birthday account to just get it done!

I also opened up a Youth Checking account for our youngest daughter today. I had to put in a $25 minimum deposit. I figure my daughter can write me a check to pay me back as a good way to start understanding check writing. I think she probably already knows, just hasn't actually done it herself.


Soup from the Freezer

January 23rd, 2017 at 06:46 pm

I thawed soup from the freezer for dinner tonight. I may have thawed a bit too much, but I will eat it for lunch the next few days. Tomorrow night we will have pasta with salad. Actually, I might have soup with salad, and just make the pasta for DH and my daughter.

My sister and mother's birthday's are fast approaching. My sister and I have an agreement not to exchange these last couple years. However, I'm thinking I may sew them each something. I noticed one of the lanyards I made for my sister was looking quite worn last time I saw her. I feel pretty confident I have fabric on hand that will work. Cost will simply be mailing the package, less than $3 each is my guess.

I sold some Box Tops on eBay! My net profit is $11.37. Actually a bit less, since I did put a stamp on the envelope. I'm also redeeming 300 points with Pinecone. That $3 should arrive in my PayPal account tomorrow. And finally, I have enough SB to redeem for a $5 Amazon gift card. I may just keep accumulating and go for a $25 Paypal cash, it depends if I find something on Amazon I need. Smile

Our tax returns were accepted. I'm going to log in tomorrow to see if the IRS indicates a date to except our refund. I know the site currently indicates 21 days or less.



Taxes Filed & More

January 22nd, 2017 at 07:25 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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


Taxes, Tuition & More

January 21st, 2017 at 06:49 am

I was looking for our interest statement on Navy Federal Credit Union's website yesterday. I couldn't find it, or last years. Turns out they mail it to you, and it arrived in our mailbox yesterday afternoon. My husband's W2 was also available on the MyPay website, so that meant I could start working on our taxes! I am still waiting for one more interest form, but I do know the amount. It looks like we will get a $1497 refund. We couldn't quite claim the full American Opportunity tax credit, but we were very close, having spent $3813 in qualified expenses out of pocket in 2016. I do prefer to have a smaller refund, but I think I deliberately did this last year, knowing the refund could be used towards tuition in February.

Tuition and housing bill was forwarded to me by my daughter last night. The total is $10,426, which includes $4662 for room and board. The rest is tuition, fees and books after her scholarship of $7250. She is taking 17 credit hours this semester, so that inflates the bill a bit. And remember she is an non resident student. I'll write more about tuition and paying the bill in another post.

Yesterday, I bought a few groceries and some junk food. I spent about $15 on six items. Three will be used for meals, but we also bought ice cream, cookies and a diet coke! Ugh. That isn't frugal in the least, and definitely not healthy. And it was all my idea to stop because I suggested ice cream to my daughter.

We are going to the matinee of Hidden Figures today. The admission will be $16.50 for the three of us. I expect my husband will get something at the concession stand. I have $40 allocated in our entertainment budget, anything we don't spend I'm putting towards that tuition bill! Every dollar counts.

Tonight we will have fried rice for dinner. I have peas to add, since I bought those for the tuna casserole I made a couple nights ago. Today we will probably just have leftover pizza, pasta and salad for lunch. There is a lot of salad to use up!

I might write more about this later, but there was discussion of annual credit card spending on the forums. Our annual credit card spending for 2016 was $49,384. I'm not sure I have ever looked at the annual amount before. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. It's good as it is less than half of our gross income. And we didn't pay any interest to use those cards for spending. I'm guessing it is slightly inflated, because it includes my daughter's Europe trip.

Have you started your taxes? Do you know what your annual credit card spending is? What are you having for dinner?

More Food Used Up

January 19th, 2017 at 05:13 pm

I made tuna casserole tonight. We haven't had that in years! It came up recently when we had a friend over and my husband seemed very interested in having it after it was mentioned. I did have those two cans of tuna to use up so I bought the other ingredients to make it. Of course, now I have extra noodles and peas!

My husband made a lot of salad this week, and I haven't been eating as much of it as I should as I've been eating other leftovers. I'm starting to realize we buy more food than we can eat. I think he is starting to notice it too. I'm going to try to have a leftover night once or twice a week. And we do freeze extras with some frequency so that does help avoid food waste.

My daughter and I got our hairs cut today. Smile Cost was $30 with tip at Great Clips. I think I got mine last cut in November, but I sometimes go much longer. My daughter has a very short cut, so I'm taking her once a month now! A big change compared to getting her long hair cut two or three times a year.

A check for $26.40 arrived at our home today. It was from the overage charged by the oral surgeon when my daughter had her wisdom teeth removed. The check is payable to her! I paid, but I suppose since she is 19 they figured it was hers? I decided I would just send it to her though and she can keep it. She's a college student...probably can use the cash!



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).

Eat It All

January 7th, 2017 at 04:26 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

February Interest & a Deal

March 1st, 2016 at 05:15 pm

We paid $0 in interest. No mortgage. No personal loans. No credit cards with balances. Yippee!!

We earned $59.44. Boy do I wish that was more! But it is better than nothing.

It may have seemed as though we spent $0 based on the original title to my post yesterday. I edited it. We did spend money in February on needs to the tune of about $900. And of course, we paid our bills like rent, electric, trash, water, cell phone, life insurance. And we saved around $3700 in cash, plus $1662.33 for retirement and $166.66 for college.

I picked up three large packages of toilet paper at Target. Each was $15.99 with 27 double rolls. I added on some Windex to get my total over $50 so I could use a $15 coupon off a $50 purchase. I think we are stocked up on toilet paper for at least half a year!

February No Spend: $0 Spent Last Day

February 29th, 2016 at 05:42 pm

It was VERY tempting to go out today to run errands. Especially since I can see our paycheck pending in our account. However, I stayed in. We spent $0 today. I did some more spring cleaning. It was even warm enough to take the cats out in the yard for an adventure. I pulled a few weeds I found while they enjoyed themselves in the sun.

I'd like to say that I could go longer with a low spend month, but we have some things we want to spend money on (and have saved for). I'm not planning to buy more than a usual month, of course. I just know that if we need to spend we will. And some of it will be wants. There has to be room in life for wants!

Our Marriott Rewards card arrived in the mail today. This card will provide 80K bonus points(plus 7500 points for adding authorized user) after spending $3K in the next three months. The card does have an annual fee, but you get a free night as one of the perks. We expect to use our points for several nights in Washington DC this summer. If anyone recommends any Marriott branded hotels in the area, let me know!

February No Spend: Maintenance

February 28th, 2016 at 06:31 am

We did do some spending yesterday. Maintenance items for my husband's truck. He had a headlight bulb out, thus an actual need. We decided to replace both at the same time. We also picked up windshield wiper blades as well. That all added up to nearly $70! We did get some higher end blades, not sure on the bulbs. We basically used some of the money I set aside this month in our car maintenance category.

We are going grocery shopping today for the upcoming week. I'm counting this as March spending simply because most of the spending is for March. We have food for dinner tonight and tomorrow already in our home. It just happens to be our routine to shop on Sunday's for the most part.

We did rent two movies on Amazon this weekend. Clue and The Great Gatsby. I had Amazon gift cards, so no money out. Smile

February No Spend: Pent Up Spending

February 26th, 2016 at 06:55 am

LivingAlmostLarge asked in the comments of my post yesterday if all the pent up spending will be spent in March. No not really.

We have put $3,577 into savings (doesn't included investments) during the month of February. Some of this is money we usually save for car repairs, Christmas and a deposit into our emergency fund. But MOST of that cash is because we didn't have big January bills to pay and we spent far less this month than we usually do. Going out to restaurants, buying movie rentals, picking up a lot of snacks, alcohol, driving to store to get things, buying items because the coupon makes it a great deal adds up. A lot more than we realize.

The point for us to have a low spend month wasn't to deprive ourselves, but to make conscious choices about what we really need to live each day. Do we NEED to go out to eat to be fulfilled? Do we need to rent that movie, or are there other alternatives?

The other reason was to stash some cash. We need cash for airline tickets, vacation goals, college deposits, and furniture we want to buy.

As you can see the cash that was stashed probably will be spent at some point, but on things we want that are important. More important then other things we may have spent our money on this month.

We do have some pent up spending to do, but those purchases will come from March income. I also don't expect that we will suddenly eat out more than we usually did (twice a month maximum) because we didn't eat out at all this month. We will need to buy the toiletries we are getting low on, but we didn't use less toothpaste this month, we just avoided needing to buy those things because we already had those on hand. I used a small tube from the dentist to get by this month. I probably need a haircut that I might have done this month, but I won't get two next month. So yes, spending will be more next month, but it doesn't negate the savings we accomplished this month.

On some level it is just a shift in when the money is saved. We saved a lot in one month for things we need cash for soon, rather than saving a little each month by 'hoping' to reduce our spending each month. Again this was a very conscious effort to reduce outflow of cash to set aside for savings and future purchases.

I feel very confident that any future purchases (other than the large ones already mentioned) will be made with future income. If I find out different next month, I will be sure to let you know! Smile

In other news, I did make an eBay sale. It looks like the profit is $9.46. I have four other items listed that could each bring in a similar profit.

February No Spend: Stress Spending

February 25th, 2016 at 04:42 am

We survived the severe weather yesterday. We had four tornado warnings yesterday. No damage at our home. It fried my nerves by the time the day was done. And that stress led to spending.

I sent my husband to the store to get ice cream, because our daughter said there were no snacks, which was actually nearly true. And I wanted wine! And DH wanted chips, which were buy one, get one free. Total cost: $20.49.

Not particularly happy about the spending, but it has been a long month and we still had some cash budgeted. We've done really good, so will I guess I will look it as celebration spending! Smile

I may have mentioned it before, but today I'm finally going to get some Wii games listed on eBay. Time to bring in a little cash!

February No Spend: Severe Weather

February 24th, 2016 at 09:27 am

Our area is experiencing severe storm (tornadoes) weather today. It's even causing schools to close early. As a result, we will be staying in the rest of the evening so we can stay safe and near shelter.

We will save $25 because we won't be going to my daughter's flute lesson. I'm pretty sure they are cancelled if school cancels. Of course, I care more about being safe then the cash.

So I think we can call this a no spend day! Yea...I need all of them we can get through the end of the month.

February No Spend: Spring Cleaning

February 23rd, 2016 at 01:41 pm

Today appears to be free of any money being spent. The snacks in the house are getting low already. I thought I had a desert I could make, but I don't have enough butter. I'm pretty close though, so I may make it anyway.

I was going to make waffles for dinner last night and then realized I was too low on milk to make them. We ended up eating rice and beans instead. I think I will resort to pancakes tonight as those take far less milk to make. Basically, the same idea!

Tomorrow night for dinner, we are having three cheese tortellini and salad. I might be able to make some cheese bread, too.

I started my spring cleaning today. Primarily I have been dusting things that aren't dusted on a regular basis. I think I'm dusting off stuff that was here before we moved in. So far things are going faster than I expected, and the activity is free. I'm using micro fiber cloths and water (when needed). No special products were purchased. Smile

February No Spend: Errands In One Day

February 22nd, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I made a point to run two errands today that were in close proximity to one another. My daughter had a gift to mail to a friend (she paid for postage). I decided while I was near the post office I would pick up the two items I forgot at the grocery store on Saturday at Walmart. Those items: Clif bars, and mayo. We didn't need those items yet, but would have later in the week.

I had cash in my wallet to cover the $8.87 total. This leaves me with $5 and change. I expect that cash will go towards a tip the next time we are at the commissary. It sure feels better to combine errands and know that I didn't cave to more purchases.

I'm making plans to get some spring cleaning done here to keep me busy through the end of the month. The blinds are dusty and have been since we moved in. And I find that it is a free activity. Smile

I also have some items to get sold on eBay. These are a result of our recent decluttering! That is a free task I hope will earn me a little cash.

We continue to eat in all of our meals. I ate leftover tacos today for lunch. Tonight we are having rice and beans. I expect there will be some left for lunch tomorrow. Oh, and I made a batch of steel cut oats in the Crockpot last night. I divided it into four servings for the next several mornings.

My husband has received a Welcome Letter for Marriott Rewards card. It seems he was approved! Smile

February No Spend: $75 Left

February 21st, 2016 at 08:26 am

As it turns out, I set aside $885 for everyday spending in February. We are now down to the last $75 because we went grocery shopping yesterday. I have $15 of that in my wallet. And I have three items on my 'forgot to buy at the grocery store' list. I plan to use cash for those items.

There is still cash for one more fuel fill up (we are both on Full right now), a haircut for my husband, a bottle of wine, and $20 for groceries. I have nothing left in clothing, entertainment, gifts, pets, restaurants or household goods. Some of those never had any cash in them this month anyway!

I have a feeling next weekend might feel really hard! Although if absolutely necessary we will spend on what we need.

I can tell that it has been a pretty good exercise for all three of us here. My daughter has been aware. Although she isn't a big spender. I've been aware of the coupons, sales, and emails that tempt me to spend. I've kept myself out of as many stores as possible. My husband has been the most interesting one to watch. I'm not sure if he feels he has had to make too many changes. To me, it seems he has been given some extra passes to get things he wants, particularly food (snacks). And then it interesting to see that I let him! Is that because he is the bread winner and this experiment is just a game? It's all small stuff, but it does add up. I don't really know the answers. Maybe we'll have more insight if we discuss it at the end of the month.

I do remember that he suggested we get my van washed at least twice this month. Yes, it is a bit dusty. It should be cleaned at some point. But it's a no spend month. We are only spending on needs. A car wash is not a need! He has stopped asking. I wonder if he'll take care of it on March 1?

The really exciting part of this experiment is how much money we have saved. It seems that the three months prior our everyday expenses were around $2300. If we only spend $885 this month, then we have saved about $1415! Not bad at all. We've actually saved about $3000 during the entire month, some of which we normally save, but definitely more than we do some months. It helps there were not many outflows from those savings categories too.

ETA: Actually, set aside $785 for variable spending. I accidentally included the $100 we spend on flute lessons in my total. That was considered required spending, like our rent!

February No Spend: 46% Tip and More

February 20th, 2016 at 07:34 am

I've now seen the receipt from the dinner my husband went to on Thursday night for a coworker's retirement dinner. As I said before he paid for the retiree's dinner. The restaurant included a 20% tip, likely because it was a large group of 11.

So the total of the drinks and meals was $37.98, $3.65 taxes, $7.60 tip added by restaurant for a grand total of $49.23.

He added $10 additional tip because he didn't read the bill specifying that the gratuity was already added! So our out of pocket was $59.23. That is a 46% tip!!

In other news, we cancelled our Citi Premier card. We've had it since last May and have stopped using it. It has an annual fee that is waived the first year, but we don't want to pay for one when it is up for renewal. That was easy to do online.

I also closed my Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts. I had $0.06 in there. We weren't using it because the interest rate of 0.75% was lower than our other accounts. That was also super easy to do online. I did the withdrawal and it had a place to confirm I was closing the account. My six cents should arrive to our checking account on Monday.

We applied for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card finally. We received one offer a couple months ago. It expired before I could get that completed. So when it arrived in the mail again, I jumped on it. It appears to offer $50K points for spending $1000 in three months. I think there were some points for an authorized user too. Oh, and we were instantly approved.

We also applied for the Marriott Rewards credit card. There was an offer for 80K points after spending $3000 in three months. We would like to use these points for hotels this summer, when we hope to visit Washington DC. This card, offered by Chase, didn't instantly approve, but indicated we would receive notification by mail. Chase has changed the way they do business and approvals. We have never had this card in the past though, so hoping this is available to us.

My husband did make some purchases yesterday. Fuel for his truck $23.35, alcohol $19.10, and some snacks $21.03, which was more than I expected. We will need to pick up some groceries for the coming week today or tomorrow.

The cash is getting tighter! Trying to hold on until the end.

February No Spend: Dining Out

February 19th, 2016 at 08:39 am

We haven't eaten any meals out the entire month of February. Until yesterday. My husband had the retirement dinner for a colleague last night. I was mentally prepared for this since he mentioned it early in the month.

I don't know his exact spending yet, as he didn't enter it into YNAB and has the receipt in his wallet. He told me it was around $60. Turns out he ended up paying for the departing soldier's meal, since no one else offered or stepped up. What can I say? He's a generous person! I could have been upset, but there's really no point. I don't want to squash generosity, just for my little no spend game.

We are coming up on the weekend. I expect we will find free things to do. I don't know that anyone needs anything such as clothing or personal care (I might need contact solution before the month runs out, but trying to conserve). So as is usual for most weekends I expect our spending to be on food.

Just 10 more days of February! We have $230 that has not been spent, but is still in our budget. Hopeful we can get by without spending all of that. How much money do you have left in before the end of the month?

February No Spend: Needs

February 18th, 2016 at 08:34 am

I've spent some money. On needs. I picked up highlighters and a pencil sharpener for my daughter last night at Staples (who I feel is overpriced). Outflow was $5.34.

Today I went to Walmart and picked up pencil lead for my daughter, all purpose flour to make pizza, and shaving cream for my husband. Outflow was $7.28.

Now I suppose I could nitpick a bit and suggest my husband could use soap for shaving for the rest of the month, or that my daughter could use the one color of highlighter, or even I could make half a batch of pizza dough. But that isn't exactly the point. To go extreme. The point is to make conscious choices.

I was able to browse in both stores, but felt no real to desire to buy anything than I went in for. It is much more satisfying to leave knowing you only went in for needs and survived doing it!

I also have to admit I have a few things on a list, that probably could be considered needs, that I will probably purchase in March. Two of those are a new trashcan for my daughter's bathroom (it's cracked on two sides), and curtain rods for at least two bedrooms (we currently don't have any here, but can install if we remove and repair before we move).

Another free thing to do during a no spend month: delete old emails and computer files!

P.S. We received our tax refund of $359 today from the IRS. We're going to set that aside in savings.

February No Spend: Repairs

February 17th, 2016 at 09:39 am

We've spent some money on household repairs this month. But it doesn't count! The money is being initially spent by us, but we will reduce our rent in March accordingly and send our receipts to the owners. These are repairs authorized by them, so this isn't a surprise.

The first purchase was for a new supply line for the refrigerator, which we paid about $20 for, as it appeared to be leaking near the shut off valve. We installed this ourselves. Unfortunately, this was not the only leak.

There is a leak near the water inlet valve on the fridge itself. It's pretty obvious to us now that this was long term leak as parts nearby are corroded. I'm currently waiting for Sears (the owners desired repair service) to come replace the part. If I am correct on the part it seems to be about $65. At a minimum the charge is $115 to come to the door! I actually think I could have fixed this myself. I've seen it done on another fridge we had. So I currently don't know the full cost, but it will be charged to our card and we will reduce our rent by the same amount in March. How nice of me to float that expense for them! I do at least get a few reward points for it. Smile

So I think I'm going to file these charges under rent in YNAB since they are effectively reducing our rent. At least it makes sense to me.

No spending yesterday as expected. I think, in addition to the above repairs, we have a few items to purchase: shaving cream, flour, and a couple school supplies. And tomorrow is the day my husband goes out to eat for a coworker's retirement dinner. So the next two days have some small expenditures.

Edit to add: Sears was two hours outside their window of service, the cost came to $294.37! The labor was $211. And it only took four minutes to change out the part once he had moved the fridge. I then had to sign several 'waivers' of damage liability, which took longer than the five minutes print, discuss and sign.

February No Spend: Decluttering Is Free

February 16th, 2016 at 08:46 am

No spending yesterday. And I don't expect any today. I'm still staying out of the stores and eating meals at home.

I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I've been decluttering this month. The main purpose is to help keep myself busy and out of the stores! But the side benefit, is that when decluttering you realize that you own stuff you purchased at one point that you never liked or used. That alone makes me a little more careful about future purchases. I also have several things I could sell, but I'm not to that point in the process yet.

I haven't limited my decluttering to physical items. I'm deleting old emails, and documents on my computer also. And photos on my phone!

If you attempt your own no spend/low spend month, I encourage you to have some free activities or projects to do around your house. You will be spending significantly less time in stores. A few ideas: spring cleaning, decluttering, organizing, finishing a project that you have all supplies for, enjoying a hobby, watching movies, playing games, exercising, talking on the phone with friends and family, completing home maintenance, and cooking meals at home (with ingredients you already have).

February No Spend: Free Stuff

February 15th, 2016 at 10:29 am

We did finally see Bridge of Spies this weekend. For free! It was a really good movie. I wouldn't not have regretted spending $4.99 to rent online, but I found a code for a free Redbox rental. So it cost us nothing out of pocket. More free entertainment!

The code is still available. I found it here on Hip2Save. Once I had the promotion code, I went to the Redbox website (I didn't use the app) and reserved our movie to pick up later. Simple!

Today we are all home. We aren't planning to go anywhere. In fact, we are watching a movie this afternoon. One we already own. We are having tacos for dinner, so no eating out.

I did purchase some L-Lysine for our cat, along with a new computer battery from Amazon yesterday. The good news is no money out of pocket. I used $30 worth of Amazon gift cards earned from Swagbucks and Bing Rewards. The remaining $1.29 was covered by Discover rewards. I like when I can get stuff for free!


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