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$56 Extra Income & More

November 16th, 2017 at 02:36 pm

I mentioned a few days ago that my neighbor asked me to make 6 more key fobs. A few days later, she asked to add one more on. I was quick to get the work done and yesterday she paid me $56 for the work. This goes towards the Big Goal.

In my planning November planning for Christmas, I'm making a point to stock up on things around the home. When we were at the commissary, I bought dish soap, laundry detergent, parchment paper, ziplock bags, vitamins, toothpaste and bar soap. I want to be stocked up through the end of the year, so that the only shopping I need to do in December is for food. The more I can stay out of the stores in December the easier it is to keep to the Christmas budget. I did notice I need coffee filters and toilet bowl cleaner, so I will pick those up this week.

Yesterday was pay day. All credit cards were paid off in full. I put $42 in the birthday category of our budget, $50 in Christmas, $940 in college and tuition (normal amount is about $410), and $272 for insurances and auto tags. There was money added to our car maintenance fund. It was negative after a having some recent maintenance done. Now it's back to zero. There was about $200 left, and I just dropped it into the emergency fund category for now. May need it elsewhere later in the month, but we will try without.

I have three items on eBay that I'd like to see sell soon. May need to drop the prices a bit, but a little extra cash would be nice.

Christmas Planning

November 2nd, 2017 at 03:06 pm

I have aimed to have less stress during the holidays for several years now. The key to less stress is November. Yes, the month of November puts me ahead of schedule to complete the shopping, decorating and wrapping that comes with the holidays.

Yesterday, I printed off free November and December calendar pages to help me mark off all of the holiday activities, wrapping, shopping and planning that comes with the holidays. My first step was to meal plan for the month of November. I still have a few days left to figure out, but getting that task off my mind will help things run smoothly at home.

I'm Christmas shopping online already. My list isn't large and I have time, so I'm keeping eyes wide open to get the best deals. I also have a sewing project to do for a niece, so that will be one of the next things on my list. I want it done before Thanksgiving, so I'm not sewing at the last minute. That is definitely stressful!

Another thing I have learned over the years is to buy less. Buy for fewer people. Buy fewer gifts for those we do buy for. And spend less on the gifts. And guess what? Buying for fewer people doesn't take away the joy of the holiday! It does however save time, money and stress.

I know people will say 'well, I have to buy for....', but that is not true no one is forcing you to buy anyone a gift. It is all optional. Yes, you may need to give a reason, such as we are saving for X, so we need to cut our gift list back this year.

About three years ago, I asked my sister if we could stop exchanging with adults. So we no longer buy for her and her husband and they no longer buy for me and my husband. We give just to the kids. I specifically said, I'd rather you spend the time and money you would use for shopping for us on your own family. It does help that we aren't actually with each other at Christmas.

Our gift recipient list includes my parents, my mother in law, my daughters, two nieces, my husband and myself (my husband buys for me). I have other nieces and nephews, but that side of the family has gravitated away from the exchanges and we also are not there on Christmas anymore.

We will bake cookies and freeze, so if I need some for a work exchange or a neighbor they will be ready to give. This is along the lines of the One and Done concept. Give one gift to many and be done with it. No need to specialize every gift you give. I find nearly any food product to be great for this!

I'd like to hear your thoughts on planning ahead for the holidays and your gift giving plans.

Various Money Updates

October 7th, 2017 at 01:11 pm

I'm not sure why I haven't been posting! Everything is on auto pilot I guess. I have been around commenting and reading your blogs. I'll give you some various updates.

I did the first half of October's budget without my husband. I still have over $400 to allocate, so I will get him involved this weekend to figure those funds out. It seems like a lot of extra money for the first half of the month.

Retirement accounts are up big time with the recent stock market surge. Since January balances are up $80,000. That does include contributions. The more you have the bigger a 1% increase makes.

Interest earned on our cash in October was $92.04. Close to $100 a month in interest isn't anything to complain about. I did notice one bank increased their interest rate slightly (0.05%) again. We have $131 automatically deposited from my husband's paycheck to a savings account. I need to roll a couple months worth of those deposits into one of the CD's we have that is paying 2%.

My cell phone completely died on me this week. It is 3.5 years old, and some things have been failing so I've been working around them. In the meantime, I've switched my SIM card to my daughter's old cell phone. I have a VERY hard time deciding on phones. The newer ones Verizon offers seem so expensive!! I'm also debating moving to an iPhone since I have a Mac. Those are also expensive, but coming down a bit with the new release coming up. I would like the phone to have a good camera, too. I use it for my main camera. I have $195 in my cell phone replacement category and could easily find more money if I go with a more expensive phone.

I returned two pairs of shorts to Kohl's last week. That put $30 back in the budget which helped cover some new shoes we purchased for our older daughter.

We have saved quite a bit of money on high school football games recently. My husband and I have been volunteering in the concession stand for the band. This allows us to get in free (saves $14), and we get a free drink at the end which would cost us $4 if we have purchased. Last night even our daughter skipped buying anything to eat. Saving at least another $3. There have been four scheduled home games, and just one left. Overall savings is over $100. I wish we did this last year too. We will still have plenty of competition admissions this month, so the savings helps!

I've been purchasing some things recently too. It's part of my Getting Things Done series on my Organized Friends blog this month. Just yesterday I purchased two picture frames (both 50% off ) at Michael's for $29. This is something we have wanted to do for awhile, but I've put it off to avoid the spending. It feels good to get it done though. The amount spent is minor in comparison to our overall budget.

That's the money news!

Cleaned Our Carpet and Other Frugal Wins

August 10th, 2017 at 03:17 pm

I borrowed a carpet cleaner from my neighbor while she is on vacation, so I could clean the carpets. An ill cat last year didn't help the condition of the carpet. She brought carpet solution she already owned to use on it, which I was not expecting. I ended up doing every area that didn't have furniture on it once I realized how dirty the carpet was. So I used much more solution that I planned when I thought I was just doing the high traffic areas. I decided to clean up the carpet cleaner really well (get the cat hair out) and give her $10 for the carpet solution I used. So thankful she let me borrow it. This was much less expensive than calling someone in and the carpets look really good!

I took the girls for their haircuts on Sunday and was surprised to learn we earned at loyalty reward of $7.01. I didn't know Great Clips did that! My younger daughter has a much shorter cut now and we go almost monthly now to get her hair cut. I'll take the reward any time they want to give it to me!

We've had so much rain this week that I turned off the sprinkler system. I expect it to be off until Sunday unless we get more rain. That will save some water on our next bill. We also will likely have less water usage now that our daughter went back to college. Less laundry, less toilet flushing/hand washing, less showers. That is until my husband returns at the end of the month.

The weather is significantly cooler today, so I know the air conditioner is running less. It isn't fall yet, and there are bound to be many more warm days, but fall feels like it is just around the corner.

I took the advice and ran the dishwasher a bit earlier in the evening last night and then opened it up a bit to air dry. Yes, a couple things were holding water, but everything was dry. I just need to remember to start it earlier and open it before bed! And I only ran it once in the last two days, since only two of us are home.

Money This Week

May 5th, 2017 at 05:03 pm

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



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

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

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

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

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

Electricity Experiment: Drying Sheets

March 16th, 2017 at 02:56 pm

I generally wash sheets on the first and 15th of the month (or close to it). Today is that day. And since I said I would stop using the dryer so much, I'm attempting to line dry my Queen size sheets inside our home. I want to see how much time it really takes them to dry after several minutes in the dryer. They were in there about ten minutes and really only feel slightly damp. The flat sheet is folded in half and hanging over our shower door. I will likely flip it later. The fitted sheet is draped over large chair, and the pillow cases are hanging over our wood head board. I turned on the fan in the two of the rooms where these are hanging.

I'm doing my girls twin bed sheets today, too. I think because I don't know how drying such large things will work, I'm going to use the dryer, but I'm going to put the setting for far less than usual to see if I can get them dry in less time. I should also toss in a dry bath towel as I've had luck with that helping shorten the drying time.

I do like a challenge, so we'll see how this ultimately works out over the next few months!

Debt Free Charts & More

March 6th, 2017 at 11:34 pm

I came across a blog that offers free countdown type charts. There are numerous different ones. The charts look a big like a picture in some cases, say if you were saving up for a house. Smile The debt free chart is the words DEBT FREE. You fill the words from bottom to top, kind of like those thermometer charts when an organization is saving for something. Not sure if I'm explaining well at all. Check them out here. There are a couple YouTube videos on the page where you can see someone explain how they are using them.

No money spent by me today. My husband had breakfast and lunch provided for him at his training. Dinner was also provided but he was full from lunch and going to skip it. But in the same conversation he said he was going to buy some snacks. So not sure what the actual spending is.

I made a yummy rice dish with mushrooms. My daughter loved it. Very easy, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of you already make something like this. I will definitely make it again.

Today I washed the blanket our cat Riley had spent so much time on in the days before her death. I hadn't washed it yet, as our older cat, Liberty, seemed to be enjoying it since then. But it is now closer to spring and it was time to get it washed. It was kind of sad to pull the lint trap out and see if full of her fur. Frown I still so grateful for the time that she was a part of our family.

In other news, I have accumulated 1354 Swagbucks. Closer to my $15 Amazon gift card goal. But then I have found another item I may want to buy and that puts my total closer to $20. I may hold off though on that one, as it isn't a true need.

Returning Shirts & More

February 13th, 2017 at 07:24 pm

My husband decided that two of the workout shirts, Nike brand, are too wide in the neck area. He wants them returned. They were each $18.75. With tax, that will net us $40.13 back in our budget. I will probably look for different shirts, preferably ones that cost half as much!

We bought a small bouquet of roses at the commissary yesterday when we were shopping for groceries. Those cost just $5.75! We also found valentine cards here at home for our girls. I'm sure my husband will still buy one for me.

We also bought five boxes of girl scout cookies. Those cost $20, but should fulfill our girl scout cookie needs for the season. I am sending one box to my daughter as a surprise.

I'm going to be doing a declutter series at [/url=http://yourorganizedfriend.blogspot.com/]Your Organized Friend[/url]. I'm decluttering one bag at a time. If you need some inspiration, stop on over!

$38 From Travel

February 3rd, 2017 at 09:46 pm

My husband submitted his travel voucher today. He is getting $270.50 for per diem. I totaled up the transactions he charged to our card and the cash he took out for the trip. The total was $232.22. That means a profit of $38.28!

Remember, in my last post that I was short $48 for tuition. The goal has been to cashflow and avoid savings, so I'm that much closer to making it happen. Tuition is due next Friday, and now I'm less than $10 away.

My neighbor found baby portobello mushrooms on sale at Fresh Market this week for $0.50 and offered me a package. I think these might be yummy stuffed on Sunday for the Super Bowl.

I've found several things in the last week or so for donation. Enough to fill two basic grocery bags. I think I may start counting how many bags I fill this year.

More Credit Card Rewards

January 29th, 2017 at 03:52 pm

I redeemed $12 from our USAA Visa rewards. That money will be deposited in our checking account on Monday. I have designated those funds toward tuition, of course!

I plan to redeem rewards from our Chase Freedom account, but not until after the next statement closes which is on February 12. I will have already paid tuition at that point, but the rewards will help start building back up some of the savings accounts we have designated on YNAB. The thing I don't like about Chase Freedom rewards is that you can only redeem in full after you have earned $20. I currently have $21+ I can redeem. However, I expect with this next statement to have another $2. So I will wait and have that money added to the current balance and redeem in full, rather than have $2 I don't have access to if I redeemed now. We are going to stop using the Chase Freedom card for awhile, so there will not be any rewards accumulating in the near future.

We went to Panera for dinner last night. We spent $33.20. The movie tickets cost us $22.47. We enjoyed the movie, the meal and time spent with our daughter. After that spending our everyday funds account is down to $198. My husband needs to take $100 out for a work trip (reimbursed later) this week. So that leaves $98 for the next three days. I may need fuel, but I think we can get by with food on hand until payday on Wednesday.

The only spending that could come up is any school supplies my daughter might need to start the new semester. One teacher has already requested students bring ruler, calculator, spiral notebook and colored pencils. And I'm 99% sure we have all of those.

I think I'm going to keep myself busy the next couple days doing some cleaning around our house. That shouldn't cost me anything!

Spring Cleaning

January 12th, 2017 at 06:25 pm

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!

Food in My Pantry

January 6th, 2017 at 06:37 pm

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?

Bills Paid, A Little Spending

December 16th, 2016 at 02:13 am

I paid our credit card bills off in full and allocated funds to our budget categories for the rest of the month. I feel like I didn't save much as I was putting extra aside to cover hotel, eating out and fuel on our little trip to Nashville later this month. I hope we spend less than I budgeted!

I spent $18.75 for shipping a Large Flat Rate USPS box. I printed the label online and will drop the package off tomorrow morning. So much easier than standing in line this time of year!

I also bought a new filter for our refrigerator and a 2017 wall calendar off Amazon today. I had $20 in Amazon gift cards that I earned from Swagbucks this month. My final cost was less than $3 and I paid it with my Discover card to get 5% cash back (which will be sooo much in this case).

I did a lot of desk work today. I cleaned up my email inbox. I keep emails as reminders, so later I need to go back and delete them when they are no longer relevant. I consolidated some lists, and then started new ones! As the year winds down, I'm starting to make appointments for the new year, as well as saving documents for taxes.

I think tomorrow's spending will be limited to my husband picking up the weekend alcohol. We were already gifted a bottle of German wine to add mulling spices to, however, I think we will save that for Christmas.

The first of the month has been limited spending and it did help to use up some of the food we hadn't been getting used up. So in addition to meeting a financial goal, it has helped our kitchen food clutter.

$239

December 9th, 2016 at 01:45 pm

As of today we have $239 left to spend before payday on the 15th of this month. Personally, I'm staying out of the stores, and limiting my driving. I'm also eating things from our fridge and pantry that wouldn't be my first choices, but that will help the grocery bill. I may revise our meal plan for next week to make sure we stay within budget as well.

Right now I feel pretty confident we can make it within our spending limits, but sometimes things come up that can't wait. So my fingers are crossed we can do it.

Since I'm doing Christmas shopping, I have been spending my time at home decluttering a bit. I always feel we are pretty pared down, and that is true compared to many, but I can always find something we no longer need and use. I have an update of my progress in this area on Your Organized Friend. Is anyone else decluttering this month?

Decluttering the Files

July 11th, 2016 at 11:14 pm

I thought I did a really good purge of paper about a year and a half ago. Turns out I could have done better! I started looking through the main files in our desk, and found dental Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) going back to 2008. The orthodontic ones are interesting because I did forget what we paid for my oldest to have braces: $4100, with insurance paying $1500. But I don't need these. At least I can't imagine that I do. The only thing that may be helpful is keeping a list of the dentists we have seen since then. We are on our third dentist since that time in three different cities. If I ever needed records that information would be most important. So I'm thinking of shredding most of the EOBs.

I also have years of 5498s for the girls investments. I don't know why these get mailed when everything else is sent electronically! I need to see if I can update that. I figured I can scan in these documents, rather than keeping the originals.

I'm considering scanning all the vehicle maintenance receipts as well. Or maybe just a chart showing what work we had done and where would be just as good. I've noticed that is what I'm looking for when I browse through those. We have had our current vehicles for 6 and 8 years, so there a quite a few receipts!

At least when I went through my daughter's school files they were pretty easy to toss out (recycle) the notes and extra papers. I don't think most of that needs to be scanned at this point, all though I might like having that information stored virtually for the long term.

Paper is quite the project!!

Do you keep EOBs, or vehicle maintenance receipts?

$477 Left

June 10th, 2016 at 12:29 pm

We have $477 left for spending this pay period. Payday is on Wednesday. We will buy groceries before then, but those have been trending around $150 a week. I seem to be buying more since our college age daughter is home. I'm also buying more organic foods, as I have read how much better they really are for you.

Our big plan this weekend is to get our home cleaned up really well. The couple we are renting from is stopping by Wednesday to see the house and yard, on the way to their new duty station. Feel bad they just moved last year and are already moving again! The yard has some major erosion happening, so it will be good for them to see it in person rather just from our pictures. We do have a light bulb that is out that we should replace, and I may need a new grout brush by the time I have scrubbed the tile shower. Overall the house is in great shape, possibly better than it was when we arrived. Smile

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

Change of Filters

March 9th, 2016 at 02:02 pm

First of all, super happy to have completed two days this week without spending. This isn't too unusual as most of our spending is usually done on the weekends.

I will probably stop by the store today to pick up an item or two for my daughter's science teacher who needs donations for science labs tomorrow and Friday.

We changed a lot of filters around here last weekend. All of our furnace filters are swapped out every other month. It was time to change the water filter on the fridge. And we replaced engine and cabin filters on both of our vehicles. Those were really overdue. My husband and I sort of had a race...I did my vehicle and he did his. It was close on the engine filter, but then I got hung up on a clip that I needed to loosen to get to the cabin filter. He had to help me there.

The really nice thing was the filters were all free because of rewards we have earned. I'm going to make a point to put a reminder on our calendar to get the vehicle filters replaced once a year...it had been far longer than that unfortunately.

February No Spend: Spring Cleaning

February 23rd, 2016 at 09:41 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

Amazon Prime Music & A Lot More

November 6th, 2015 at 02:14 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candy Canes & Fines

November 5th, 2015 at 03:39 pm

I was at Walmart last night to buy gum for my daughter. She paid for it out of her allowance. We stock up with three packs at a time, so her cost was $2. In the candy aisle I found my favorite flavor of candy canes. Wintergreen. I feel like I have been searching a couple years for this flavor. So I bought them for $2, along with the traditional peppermint flavor that was just $1. I had that item on my baking list, so I can cross one thing off.

My primary errand last night was actually the library. I had a book that was due. I had tried to renew it online, but my account showed expired. I vaguely remember there was a three month 'trial' or 'probation' period. I also had a feeling my daughter owed a library fine for two books we never got notice about their due date. So, I returned the book, renewed both our cards for three years (no charge), and paid her fine. The fine was $7.60! Two books that were overdue by nearly three weeks. I also got her account set up to send us email notification of due dates. We usually rely on those notifications. And these are newer accounts in our new town. We should be able to avoid any more fees in the future.

The reference to my baking list above can be found on Your Organized Friend. I'm doing a lot of planning for Christmas now, so I can be less stressed in December to enjoy the season. You can do it too!

End of Month Budget

October 31st, 2015 at 02:42 pm

We have $231 left in our everyday budget categories on this last day of October. My husband is going to get gas today. And after that I really don't expect any spending today. We have $35 in our wallets that should cover the admission to the final band competition this evening.

I would guess YNAB users would be encouraged to roll those numbers into the next month. I think this is how living on last months income is suppose to be built up. However, I'm playing a little catch up with some recent spending for airline and college football tickets. I'm going to move the rest into the Vacation Fund which is where I put those expenses. As a result the vacation category is negative right now. I think I can get most of it funded by the time the charge for airline tickets is due in late November.

I can at least make payments on all the other cards we have been spending money on because the money is already there in the budget to pay them. I love it! So easy to know we haven't overspent on those.

No spending on Halloween Candy this year. Or costumes. The owner of this house we are renting said to expect 200 trick or treaters! I guess since it is a nicer neighborhood people bring their kids here to get candy. I'm actually glad we have somewhere else to be!

Today is the last day of my 31 Days of Decluttering and Organizing on Your Organized Friend. If you are looking for some ideas to tackle while you hand out candy tonight be sure to check out the entire series. Starting tomorrow I'm going to write about Christmas planning.

Making A Double Batch

October 30th, 2015 at 12:56 pm

I'm making a double batch of chili this morning. I will keep half or at least four servings in the fridge for tonight (maybe tomorrow) and freeze the rest for next month. I have chili on the plan for November 12. Smile

I'm in the beginning stages of thinking about Christmas baking. I'm sure that seems early, but my daughter and I do like to do this each year. I'm going to brain storm options, and then get her opinion. Once we know what we will make, I will decide how much and if we will double any recipes. If we make something in November we can freeze it for closer to the holiday. The next step would then to make the grocery list for those items. I like that if I start early I can find some coupons and sales on the ingredients and know exactly how much to purchase. I can also spread it out a bit so that it is hardly noticeable on the grocery bill.

What do you make in double or triple batches? Do you do this regularly or just once in awhile?

Bits and Pieces

October 27th, 2015 at 02:29 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading my random post!

Dinner Planning

October 26th, 2015 at 04:50 pm

Last November, as a way to reduce holiday stress, I made a dinner meal plan for two weeks, and even went so far in December to meal plan for the entire month! It has made a big difference for our family. Primarily we have more variety in meals. If I plan moments before leaving for the grocery store, I simply think of the basic meals we like. And this is fine, except it gets boring and probably isn't as healthy as it could be.

Today I'm working on a November meal plan. I generally know what activities we have going on, so I can plan ahead for those nights where there is little time to cook. I will also skip planning for days I know we will be out of town. I've also found in the winter months, I can double up a soup at the beginning of the month, freeze the extra and have it again in the second half. Of course, there are many other dishes that can be doubled and frozen besides soups. Those are just the ones I tend to do.

Here is our plan for this week:
Baked chicken, stuffed mushrooms, side salad
Greek Quinoa Salad
Spaghetti, asparagus
Mushroom Risotto, side salad
Chicken Tortilla soup (from the freezer)
Chili (making a double batch and will freeze)

My husband has been dieting the last three weeks. He is eating less food, so I actually expect we will have leftovers of a few of those dishes. It may mean putting off the chili making a day or two until we eat all the leftovers.

I generally still grocery shop every 7-10 days. I've like having the meal plan ready to go when I make my grocery list. I can then consult the list to make my list of needed ingredients. Of course, I make sure to check the pantry, fridge and freezer for things we might have on hand or are about to run out of.

How far ahead do you do your meal planning?

Road Trip

October 24th, 2015 at 12:59 pm

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

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

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

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

Bing & Swagbucks Snowflakes

October 22nd, 2015 at 01:00 am

I redeemed Bing points yesterday and immediately received a $5 Amazon gift card.

Today, I ordered a $25 Amazon gift card for 2200 Swagbucks. That, of course, has not yet arrived. I did get my 200 SwagUps for that redemption, so I'm already back to having over 200 SBs in my account.

I almost said no spending today. However, I dropped a package I paid shipping for online yesterday at the post office and they asked if I needed stamps. Yes, actually I do. So $9.80 for book of stamps.

I love snowflakes and low spend days!

I'm still writing my 31 Days of Decluttering and Organizing on my other blog, Your Organized Friend, if you are interested. Just ten days left!

Time to Declutter the Excess!

September 29th, 2015 at 04:02 pm

I'm getting ready to write quite a few blog posts for Organized Friends, my other blog. I'm using it as a lesson to keep writing more and to inspire others to declutter their excess stuff. It doesn't seem related to finances, but it is. Going through the process of decluttering really helps one realize how much excess we as Americans have. If you are the one tossing all the excess you generally find that next time you are in the store looking for that next 'thing' to purchase, you might actually stop and think will this become clutter or something I won't use in 6 months or a year?

Clutter and excess cost us time in acquiring the item, cleaning and maintaining the item, moving the item out of our way to find other things. The excess purchases cost us money too. We buy the item on credit and pay interest (maybe not all of us here, but it is common for many Americans). We later can't find the item lost in our other clutter so we buy another one. Some of us forget that we even bought an item. We fail to use the item that we found valuable enough to spend our hard earned money on. If we find it again in our closets, we learn that it has been damaged because we stuffed it with other things to put it out of the way for now.

I have plans to post inspiration for decluttering primarily for all 31 days of October. I may have a few organizing ideas tossed as well. I don't really expect that anyone will follow all the suggestions everyday, but I hope that by the end of the month those reading find they were inspired to declutter the excess in their homes. Those of us here might even find we spend a little less this month as a result.

We are about 85 days away from Christmas, a holiday that can be quite draining on the pocket book and full of excess. You might find the exercise in decluttering has some side benefits to your holiday as well. I will start posting on October 1! Please join me and pardon my plug if I link to the posts on my blog here.


Closed A Checking Account

August 7th, 2015 at 01:08 pm

I closed the US Bank Checking account and associated debit this week. I hadn't been using it for quite a few months. I also only opened it to earn a cash reward. I think it was $150, maybe $200. I was able to easily cancel it using their online messaging system. Now I just have their Cash+ Visa which I use every month to charge our Verizon cellular bill on to get 5% cash back.

It feels good to get rid of one more account. I need to do some more pairing down on other accounts again soon.

I have company through Monday, so I'm not posting much this week.

Quick Update

July 15th, 2015 at 07:27 pm

All of our items arrived at our rental home on Monday. I've nearly unpacked all boxes inside the home. I will need to find a cool morning for the few in the garage. We were even able to unpack quite a few boxes while the movers were on a break waiting for a second truck to arrive. That means they already hauled away all the boxes and papers we unpacked then. Actually kind of nice! Smile

Unfortunately, not all of our items made it halfway across the country in good condition. Frown I've seen a broken plate, broken (in half) candle holder, grease and debris on several of the mattresses, a hole chewed in the corner of our big wood desk (a mouse while in storage?), a broken bike reflector, damage to the bottom of our entertainment center that seems to have been already repaired using two stains and wax (and not in a good way)...and some other minor dings that I will live with and avoid mentioning.

It's payday! We also received a payment for the items we moved in our van. That payment is taxable, so the net amount was $734.51. I haven't logged on to see the rest of the details for how much the total was and how much was withheld for taxes. I think they withhold 25%! We'll get that back early 2016 when we file our taxes. Now we are just waiting for one more payment...the one that is for the temporary lodging. Maybe two more weeks at least on that one.

That's it for now. More details later when I have more time. I want to get back to the unpacking. Although I did appreciate the few minutes it took to write this post to get off my feet. Moving is tiring!

Another Plane Ticket & Financial Clean Up

April 22nd, 2015 at 01:51 pm

My husband purchased a one way plane ticket home, the day before graduation for $320. He also bought travel insurance for $21. Not really happy about that. He also put it on our Discover card, but our I think our Citi card would have offered better rewards for an airline ticket. He gets so confused by all the rewards, so I just have to let it go. I'm looking forward to seeing him so that's the best part. He will be off work until our household goods are packed on the moving truck. We will all drive east together mid June!

I've requested that our Wells Fargo Propel Amex card be cancelled. I sent a secure email message. I need it cancelled before mid May to avoid being charged their hefty $175 annual fee. I did get that final reward of $25 and it just credited yesterday making the balance on the card $0! It was zero, but I accidentally make a charge to that card. All good now.

We have been having $500 deposited to a US Bank checking account each month from my husband's pay. I originally set this up to earn a $200 reward for opening the account. I'm pretty sure I'm going to cancel the account, but the first step was to get the deposit from happening. I made that request on the military pay site. It should be effectively stopped on May 1. So a cancel request will happen after that. The only other thought is to keep the account until after closing. Since there is a local branch our proceeds could just be deposited there, rather than a wire to our online bank (which often can cost $50!). A detail to look into and decide about.

It will feel good to lessen the number of credit cards and accounts we have open. Have you done a financial clean up lately?


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