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Repairs Update & More

September 6th, 2018 at 06:24 am

The carpet repair is happening right now at our home. The estimate was $200. Ironically, this is what we were paid by our landlord to show the house to two potential renters a couple weeks ago. So it is sort of like we were given the money for this repair. Easy come, easy go.

Update, the actual charge for carpet repair was $175. Smile

Our refrigerator was repaired yesterday for $125. It needed freon. There were two leaks. I asked why a four year old fridge would leak. Apparently the sealant they use on these new fridges isn't high quality...very annoying. A fridge should not leak that early on.

We sold a metal cabinet we had in our garage yesterday for $60.

Need to pay my oldest daughter's housing payment in the next six days. Grateful to have the money ready to go. Once again, no loans!

Repairs

September 4th, 2018 at 12:10 pm

We damaged the carpet at our rental home when we had a treadmill placed on it for over a year. We did buy a mat to place between the treadmill and carpet, but it must have been unbalanced as one foot made a whole about 2 inches by 2 inches across.

We have now been in communication with our landlord so that we can rectify the problem before moving out. He has agreed to let us proceed with stretching or patch repair based on the suggestions of the repair person when he arrives. It is estimated that either method will cost $175 to $200.

Obviously none of us are pleased about the damage. We are grateful a repair, rather than complete replacement of the carpet is possible.

We are also having our refrigerator repaired. It is one we brought with us from our last home. It is only four years old and only ran for two years before it stopped cooling in both the freezer and the fridge. We didn't need it really, so we just procrastinated getting it repaired. Our hope is to repair it and then sell it before we move as we won't need it at our next place either.

It does feel good to have these scheduled. Do you procrastinate getting repairs done sometimes?

Extra Month & Refund on Shipping

September 3rd, 2018 at 10:58 am

Amazon has been our friend with girls in college. We buy needed items to ship to their dorm and save them the time shopping.

I rented a book for my daughter on Thursday night and had it expedited to arrive by Saturday for $8.99 because of the holiday weekend and her need to read it! She opened it today to find the wrong book!!

I contacted Amazon who offered to waive the expedited shipping if I wanted to rent or buy another one. Unfortunately, no more rentals available, and the one I could buy wasn't available to be expedited. It would arrive by September 20 after paying $3.99!

In the end my daughter said the bookstore seems to finally have the book in stock and she hopes to pick it up tomorrow. Amazon already reimbursed me for the expedited shipping for the inconvenience. My daughter will drop the book at UPS and we will get a refund on the book once Amazon receives it. And finally Amazon extended my Prime membership for one month! I wasn't expecting that, but definitely a nice bonus after the increase in Prime pricing.

August Interest

September 3rd, 2018 at 05:23 am

Interest for August on our savings came to $105.78.

We are earning 1.85% on a majority of it.

The CD that expires in March is earning 2.23%. I think I could actually transfer money in our money market into the CD so it could earn more. When our last CD expired in June, I didn't know what we were doing for housing for our next move. There's always a chance we would buy a home. But since we are living on base, we will not need to put any more down on a home.

It's not a lot of passive income, but it is appreciated and it adds up.

Sold Some Furniture

September 2nd, 2018 at 08:39 am

We are downsizing our belongings in preparation for the move. We have sold two twin beds, the frames and headboards for $30 each and an entertainment center for $40. We have two desks and chairs listed, as well as a cedar chest and a metal storage cabinet.

It feels good to have let go some of it. We aren't super hung up on the money aspect, as much as getting rid of it. At some point we will see if we can get a donation truck to come by and pick up what doesn't sell.

Rewards & More

August 27th, 2018 at 06:08 pm

As you can imagine with our recent travel (away 13 days) and all the college dorm spending, we have spent quite a bit of money. I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty, but simply share that we used several of our credit cards and earned 5% cash back at restaurants (Discover) and gas stations (Chase Freedom). We used our American Express for everything else (6% on groceries, but 1% on the rest).

I redeemed our rewards tonight from those three cards in the following amounts:
$32.00 Chase Freedom
$35.50 Discover
$62.35 American Express

Earlier in the month I had redeemed US Bank rewards for $8.31.

Total credit card rewards earned $129.85! I think that is the most ever earned in one month just on spending. I'm excited for the money back in our pocket, but boy not a fan of all the spending. However, I am grateful we do have the cash to cover what we want and need to buy.

Other cash came in from Ebates, selling a textbook, a calculator and one other item on eBay for $74.81.

We banked that $200 payment from our landlord and I saved the entire travel per diem my husband received from a recent trip, which was $261.92. He only spent $80, which I just covered out of our regular budget. It rarely turns out to be a money maker, so that was a nice surprise.

We'll add interest on our bank accounts later this month, but we definitely made a big deposit into Big Goal with all the extra cash flowing in.

The Move

August 25th, 2018 at 05:05 pm

We are moving again with the military. This fall, can't be more specific on when until after we move. I also cannot indicate the specific location, but it will still be in the southern US.

We are going to live on the military installation. We have never done that before, primarily because we have always wanted control over the school our girls would attend. We don't have that parameter this time!

We will be in a three bedroom townhome, approximately 1700 sq ft. This is an 1100 sq ft reduction from our current rental. As a result we are significantly downsizing our furniture! That part is a bit overwhelming, but hopefully we can off load it rather quickly, preferable for cash!

We do have to pay the equivalent of our housing allowance (which will be just over $2000) to live in this townhouse. We pay $1800, plus utilities currently. Electricity, water and trash is included at the new place. My husband's commute will be about 5 minutes. We will end up saving quite a bit by living on post and not having utility expenses or as much fuel for commuting. I'm going to estimate a savings of at least $500 a month.

My husband currently works out at the gym on post and he will continue this at our new location. But now that it is basically blocks away, I will also use the facilities...at no additional cost!

It was a bit overwhelming earlier this summer as we prepared to take both girls to college, but now that portion is over, it is feeling kind of exciting to make the next transition.

Hopefully, that answered some of your questions that have popped up since I mentioned the move. Smile I'll answer other questions if you have them.

$200 For Two Showings

August 24th, 2018 at 05:26 am

Last night our landlord paid us $200 (by Zelle, direct into our bank account) to show our rental home on Sunday to two potential and vetted renters on Sunday. One will arrive at 1pm and one at 2pm.

I was so conflicted about this additional duty, but once I texted the landlord my concerns, he completely understood and was quick to clear up what he expects and offer $200 to have these two showings in a limited time frame. If one of these two do not sign, there is the potential for additional showings, but he would pay us again for those showings.

The fee was in line with what I was wanting to ask for, but I did not want to offend him. The truth is the fee is worth it to them being unable to get here to show the house. And obviously, the less time the home is vacant the better for them.

I'd love to make a few more hundred dollars, but at the same time, I hope one of these two potential renters signs a lease, so that we can enjoy the home in the remaining weeks we have left here. Smile

Later today, I have to have the windshield on our van replaced. We hit a rock on the first day of our road trip earlier this month and boy did it crack! Two cracks, one around 15 inches, and another probably 24 inches. Using Safelite through our insurance would have cost us between $300-$360. I found a local glass place that will charge us $196 out the door with a warranty. We used them before so feel confident in the quality and service despite the lower cost. They get the glass from the same place! I guess our showing fee covers that cost. Smile

More on moving details soon, although I do have to be vague on where we are going and exactly when for security purposes.

How Much Do We Ask For?

August 22nd, 2018 at 06:03 am

So our landlord who lives out of state and does not have a property manager locally. Because we are leaving this fall, they are looking to rent the property again. They are asking if we would be willing to show the property to potential and interested renters for payment in return for giving our impressions on their level of interest. And they are asking what our asking price would be.

I'm fully aware that legally (and according to our lease) the owner has the right to show the property to a potential renter. I'm perfectly fine with that, but I never expected that I would be asked to do an additional duty of being available to show the property and report back our impressions.

I would need to clean, make time in my day, spend however long talking to the renters (we were here nearly an hour when we visited the first time), and then analyze in my mind what my impression was and report back. That is definitely worth something!

I feel like the number needs to be significant enough that the landlord doesn't send everyone over. That the money they would outlay would make them vet the renter to some degree.

The landlord is currently taking classes in one state and his wife works and lives about four hours away in another state. It would cost them at a minimum gas, food on the road and time off work (and maybe a hotel) if they were to drive here to show the house to a potential renter.

How much should I ask for? I have a number in mind, but wonder what others think.

Can I put stipulations on this? Such as only during X hours, when my husband would also be home?

Usually I'm all over making some extra cash, but this one is throwing me for a loop!

Snowflakes and More

August 21st, 2018 at 05:52 pm

Through Facebook I helped my daughter sell her graphing calculator to another student via his mother. She was asking on a parent's page, so I offered my daughter's up for $40. She jumped at the chance! I have the money in my PayPal account and the calculator has been delivered to the student.

When I confirmed the payment I noticed I had a payment from Ebates for $7.63. Nice surprise!

I have a few items on eBay for sale, one has a bid and will sell for several dollars.

The spending for our trip put us over budget by $750! Luckily we did get paid since then and have covered those expenses. It will be a bit tight through the end of the month however.

So now the real fun begins...time to start prepping for the move that will occur late fall. We are downsizing our space so will need to sell some major furniture in the process!

The Transition

August 13th, 2018 at 07:50 am

We've traveled across the US this past week and have managed to drop off our oldest daughter at college. She is beginning band camp this week. And tomorrow we drop off our youngest daughter at her University. The emotions of all this are everywhere, excited yes, but I'm a mess...I'm just going to miss them both so much. It seems sending the last one off is almost harder than the first.

So much spending buying supplies and dorm needs. I have yet total it all up. We probably have more than some, but definitely less than others who move into a dorm. We bring enough to create a comfortable environment, but not enough to fill it up.

We did find a great long, yet lightweight coat, at the local Columbia outlet mall here. We had our youngest try on her sister's LL Bean boots and she liked them, so will buy those in one size smaller in a few weeks and have them mailed to her dorm room.

We had two hotel nights on our way here. We have been staying at my parents place now for almost a week. We expect three more nights of hotel expenses on our way back. Another $350 at least. I've noticed that when you book a hotel in advance that you can no longer cancel up until check in on the night of the stay. You must cancel 48 to 24 hours in advance or be charged! We have one booked that we know we will use, but I think on our return trip we will book around noon on the day of our stay, this is helpful in case we think we can drive further or need to stop sooner.

Oh and we have had a lot of fuel and restaurant expenses. Since we have been using credit cards, and payday is in two days, I expect that little float will help. And when we return only need to buy groceries for two people rather than four as we have been doing all summer.

My neighbor has been checking on our 14 year old cat, usually twice per day. When we return, we are going to get her a restaurant gift card. We are so grateful for the help and her extra care and attention to detail.

More later, but prayers and good vibes for our peaceful transition and travel are appreciated. Smile

Withdrawal from ESA

August 2nd, 2018 at 05:37 am

I know it may seem odd, after just finishing our ESA contributions, but we are now making a withdrawal for our youngest daughter's tuition and housing bill.

I completed the buy order on Tuesday when the market was up and the money, $5,375, was in our account today. This money will cover the room and board portion of her bill (yes, for just one semester!)

Her bill is due on the first day of classes, August 20. The total due is $6,859.20. I did find out that books will not hit the account until next month, so I have time until I need to make that payment, which if I remember from orientation was $475!

Once all is said and done, I'll need to update you on the cost of things we bought for her dorm and just life as a college student. Hope to find her a warmer coat once we get back to the midwest, possibly at a Columbia outlet mall, they are very hard to find in the summer in the southeast! Lol.

The First College Bill

July 30th, 2018 at 05:48 am

...for our youngest daughter has hit her account.

There were a few extras that I didn't expect. A one time records charge of $130. And some small dues for the residence hall, broken down into two charges of $15 and $22 respectively. There is also a charge of $25 for her German class. This is not really a surprise, but also didn't know ahead of time.

Other fees that I did know about.

$60 Honors Program (they actually go on a field trip this fall).

$350 for a Chemistry class (long story, but basically she NEEDED Chemistry in high school as a prerequisite for the first Chemistry in college. University only required two sciences for admission and only two for high school graduation...so thought we were okay) that is a high school equivalent and not included in tuition. Found out about this at Orientation this summer.

Also fees for Engineering Technology, Activity Fee, Health Fee, adding up to $724.20. These I did know about.

The full bill is $10,459.20. This does include room and board. Actual tuition portion is $3,870. Scholarships for the semester equal $3,600. So after those, the amount I need to send in is $6859.20. I'm going to use $5,375 from her Educational Savings account, and the remaining $1,484.20 will come from our checking account. Books will also come from our current cash.

Despite the large bill which by itself is very overwhelming, it is very gratifying to make it happen without loans. So thankful we saved as much as we did along the way.

Retirement: 5.5 years ago

July 26th, 2018 at 06:31 pm

Yesterday we met another milestone in our retirement. We exceeded $550K! At the beginning of the year we were at $500,483. With contributions, and market appreciation, we have increased our totals by over 10%.

I decided to look back and see where we were nearly six years ago, or specifically the end of 2012. Our total retirement balances were $188,290.

In five and a half years...okay 5 years, 7 months, we have another $368K

I post this for my information but also for you! It's not to brag at the amount. I'm sure many have less, and many have more. The real point is that making a regular contribution to your retirement adds up. If you make the commitment to spend less than you earn and invest the rest, you absolutely can save for retirement.

We have always saved at least 10% of our income. We are now close to 18%. We save automatically through my husband's paycheck AND automatic deduction towards our Roth IRAs from our checking account EVERY single month. No exceptions.

Saving for retirement is your key to freedom in your later years. Freedom to chose where you live and the type of care you may be able to receive.

Pay off your debt and save for retirement. It works!! You will not regret it!

Big Goal Update

July 25th, 2018 at 07:49 am

Jenn asked how the Big Goal was going after I made a reference to adding more money to our Big Goal fund. So here's a quick update. I'm doing it fast, so I think it's accurate, but possibly missing something.

I found in our second checking account we have stashed away $1057 since the beginning of the year. There was big $515 travel reimbursement that helped make a difference in that account.

In our main checking account I show that our current Big Goal funds equal $2927.32. Now this amount would be larger if I hadn't moved $877 in June out of there to cover some medical expenses. I should make a point by the end of the year to add this back in.

I'm not sure if I've been consistent at adding interest we have earned on our CDs and money market accounts to the Big Goal, but I will report the amount of interest earned through June.

First National Bank of Omaha $125.33
Navy Federal Credit Union $454.83

And because I just looked at Navy Federal, I remembered that we have $131 from my husband's paycheck deposit there each month towards the goal. $131 x 6= $786

Total year to date towards the Big Goal is $5,350.48!

I'm actually surprised! I really only notice the total in the YNAB account and forget about the rest most of the time. Last year I reported our full contributions to this goal to be $6,836.39. So if we can keep up the good work we are already accomplishing, we should exceed last years savings.

The ultimate goal is $200,000. We started with $40K at the end of 2016. $46,836.39 end of 2017. And now mid year 2018 we are at $52,186.87. So I guess we are are at 26% of goal.

I'd love to add a ticker for this goal. But this site no longer supports them well. Eventually I can look into another way to graphically represent the progress.

We've been super busy this summer, so other than paying bills and credit card charges (before interest accrues), I haven't had much time to tweak the goals. Something to look forward to when things calm down.

Edited to add: The monthly average we are saving is $891.66. That just floors me!

Found Money

July 22nd, 2018 at 05:25 pm

I'm not sure what compelled me to check my PayPal account, but I'm glad I did. I found $100.27!

My sister sent me $98 to cover groceries during our trip last month. That money has been there since June 20th! The remaining $2.27 was from a very small eBay sale on the first day of June.

For now, I will put this towards the Big Goal. It may need to cover some travel expenses next month, but for now, I'll stash it aside and try to make those things work with money we will get next month.

I have claimed some credit card rewards in the last few days, which I put towards our Big Goal fund also.
US Bank $25.80
American Express $26.69
Chase Freedom $9.76

If we had debt, you know I would be tossing these funds right there. Now for the most part we save our found money and credit card rewards. They do add up!

Still Spending

July 21st, 2018 at 02:10 pm

We returned from our mountain trip a day early, so saved $118, plus tax by checking out of the hotel early. We overestimated the time we needed to do what we went there to do. And we all just felt ready to be home.

But we are still spending! College expenses. Today we bought some plates, cups, bowls and a paring knife at Target and spent about $15. At Kohl's with our Kohl's cash we bought bath and hand towels, a backpack, a laundry bag, silverware, chip clips and a cutting board. I paid $4.75 out of pocket after the Kohl's cash.

Earlier today I ordered 2 two packs of surge protectors with eight foot cords for our daughter's dorm room. Those were a decent deal, considering I could not find long cords in any of the stores! We also bought a USB C connector for our daughter's tablet/laptop, it will have additional USB, HDMI and an ethernet port. That along was $54, but it sounds like she will definitely use the USB ports and possible the ethernet connection if the wireless is bad in the dorm room.

We told our daughter's roommate we would bring the television, primarily because we already owned a tv (32") that we were not using. We have the HDMI cable, coaxial cable and an ethernet cord on hand too. At least there are some things I don't have to buy!!

We leave in about two weeks to drive back to the midwest. It is a 20 hour drive that we will likely do in three days (maybe two, but that is a long time in the car!) And yes, pay for hotels. We will be back in time to help our oldest daughter move back into the dorm, but we will have five days to hang out and see family before we travel east a bit to drop our youngest at college. This is where I will get very teary...leaving my baby!! And the next day my husband and I will drive back east to home, where I'm sure our cat will be super mad at us for leaving her! She will be visited by two of my friends while we are gone, but it will be the longest we have ever left her. And she didn't really like that we left to the mountains which was a short trip. Poor baby.

So that's a brief update...definitely been busy this summer!

Too Much Spending at Kohl's

July 13th, 2018 at 01:11 pm

We just returned from Kohl's where we ended up spending over $375! Yes, this was a shopping trip primarily for our youngest daughter to get dorm room supplies. I'm not going to go into a full breakdown, but we primarily bought bedding, shoes, socks and underwear, a wallet and a several new shirts. My husband decided he needed jeans and my older daughter picked up a shirt and a body pillow and cover for it. I bought nothing for myself (can you tell who is the most frugal?)

We 'earned' $105 in Kohl's cash that we can spend next week. I think we will go back for towels and a couple other clothing items. I had purchased towels earlier this week at Target, but she has changed her mind on the colors, so those will end up being returned.

And in good news her future roommate texted that she has a microwave, fridge, Keurig (my daughter could care less) and a rug she can bring. She also has some organizers she can bring later (just not on move in day). We offered to bring a television and a couple more rugs, and likely something to put the television on. Oh yes, and a toaster! More than likely we will buy those items once we arrive as the back of our van is going to be packed as it is!

The spending is overwhelming, but I do know we have the cash and in the end it will even out. I expect our grocery, water and probably electricity bills to be lower once both girls are out of the house.

Spending, College & Vacation

July 7th, 2018 at 09:29 am

These next six weeks are bound to be expensive!

We just book three nights at a hotel in the mountains. We are getting the government rate. No points to use because I used them all up on the last trip! Cost is $400.02. We will have gas and food expenses, and possibly a museum entrance or two...but would like to stick to exploring and hiking in the mountains.

I just ordered vitamins, water filter replacement cartridges, and hair products for my oldest daughter. She had this on her list of things she needs to stock up on before school starts. It's still about a month before she leaves, but I went ahead and ordered them and had them mailed to my parents house! They will be there when she arrives and can take to school. I don't want to load up her suitcases too much for the return trip!

We are going out today to find some of the 'lighter items' on her list (clothes primarily). I'm hoping we can get my older daughter's needs taken care of in the next week and then focus on our younger daughter AFTER the trip. It's really overwhelming the things you need to buy to send your child to college. I know the first time I definitely didn't think of everything, and there were extra trips made on the day of move in, and lots of packages sent those first few months. This time, I know even more what is needed, so will do our best to get it all ahead of time!

And I need to make a flight reservation for oldest daughter. I book this one way in the fall and one way in the spring. The rest of us are driving back to the midwest since we expect to have a lot of stuff for our newest college student! Although I think it could be possible to fly, and simply buy everything there on arrival...but it sounds more stressful.

I did use Ebates to get 2.5% cash back on my Ulta order. Here's to at least finding some deals along the way! Smile

Trip Costs & More

June 29th, 2018 at 09:29 am

I entered all of our receipts into YNAB yesterday after returning from our Midwest trip for our daughter's orientation. My husband was going to do some of it before we returned, but I offered to do it so I could get everything categorized correctly! He has a habit of putting the charge on one card into the list of expenses on another card. Ironically, I did that once yesterday myself! A reason to have just one card I guess. Smile

I can tell we spent over $1000 on a rental car ($246), one night in a hotel ($121) and food! There were some college t shirts purchased, a calculator for calculus, and a few personal care items needed. We were in hotels five nights. We used Marriott points for four of them so that was very helpful. We had free breakfast everyday, but because we ate out for lunch and dinner we easily spent $80-100 each day. If it was a more relaxing type of vacation we probably could have grocery shopped and eaten that way, but we really were on the go most of the time.

I had saved money for these trips, so we were not scrounging to find the funds upon our return. The remaining balance in the vacation/travel fund is $649. We may take a short three day trip in July as a family. Those plans have not been made, but the hope would be to make sure these funds do cover that trip. I will need to add more funds soon for August traveling to the colleges. One daughter may fly, and the rest of us drive. Not sure yet, but will need to save for those...along with all the new college student expenses. That part is feeling pretty overwhelming!

It's payday, so I will pay off the cards and start budgeting for July! I would like July to be low in the grocery budget, so I need to put some effort there for some simple but healthy meals. After eating out so much on the trip, I really want lighter meals. What do you like to eat that is light in the summer?

First Semester College Books

June 25th, 2018 at 02:49 pm

Oh wow! I can tell books for my youngest daughter majoring in engineering are going to be far more expensive than my other daughter in music and art. My daughter preordered her books today, and the total was a preliminary $475! We were able to rent most used, one for Calculus will work for all three semesters so that isn't too bad. It's also one of those online type books, so it can't be resold. And get this, two classes didn't yet have books yet determined, so the cost is going to go up.

We will likely take a look over the summer to see if we can find these used for less than the rentals. I guess I'll just keep setting aside that $333 each month to cover books! Smile

College Investing Complete

June 22nd, 2018 at 10:35 am

We made our final college investment contribution this week. We have been sending in $333.33 each month to our youngest daughter's ESA. She turns 18 in July, so we increased it from $166.66 we have done monthly in previous years in order to meet the maximum contribution for the year. Once the child turns 18 you can no longer contribute to their Educational Savings account.

I'd really like to send this money to the Big Goal. But I may need to be realistic and save it for out of pocket college costs that may not be covered with what we have saved.

I'll run some numbers soon and see what we should do, since it may not need to be an either or decision. In the meantime it does feel good to check off that goal! Invest for college complete. What baby step would that be on the Dave Ramsey plan?

Returned The Rash Guards

June 21st, 2018 at 10:37 am

We purchased five rash guards before our trip (on sale, clearance and with a military discount). My husband bought two at the time?! Short and long sleeve. He wore his short sleeve one almost the whole time. I probably had mine on for a couple hours, and the girls didn't wear theirs at all. It was a nice idea that wasn't entirely needed for this beach trip. My youngest niece did wear hers the whole time, looked super cute and considering she was practically rolling in the sand as the waves came in it had to have been helpful!

Anyway, I returned the three that had tags that we didn't wear. I may try to sell mine on eBay when we get back from our next trip. I don't think I will wear it again.

Amount back to our charge card $43.30. I'm thankful that things can be returned!

Eating Through the Pantry

June 21st, 2018 at 07:56 am

After guests our fridge and freezer are nearly bare. I did buy a few things on Tuesday night to have for dinner. Last night we simply ate grilled cheese, sweet potato fries from the freezer and apples for dinner.

I would go to the store for groceries buy we leave again here shortly for five nights. So I don't want to do a big stock up.

Tonight I have potatoes, carrots, onion and milk, so I think I will make potato soup. I probably need to get cheese and maybe celery. That uses a few more things up without buy a lot extra.

I can make a grocery list and meal plan while we are away and be ready to hit the grocery store when we return from our trip.

At least being a little frugal with meals helps offset the dining out we will be doing.

Whirlwind Update

June 19th, 2018 at 08:22 am

It's been a very busy week after having my parents, sister and her two girls visit primarily to see our youngest daughter graduate high school! I'm exhausted this morning after taking them to the airport at 4am. I have had a chance though to process my husband's paycheck, add transactions to YNAB, move money around, and pay off the credit cards.

Just prior to my parents arriving my husband was out of town for work for three days. I haven't yet taken the time to figure out his actual expenses, but we did receive $515.85. Some of that is per diem, and the rest is mileage on the truck he drove. I'm sure he didn't spend that much. That money for now is sitting in our second checking account, and I think I'm just throwing it towards our Big Goal. Smile

I spent $220 on food when guests were here, but my Dad also spent ANOTHER $230 on food and some alcohol. So $450 for 9 people for 7 days. We did eat out for five meals, which was additional money spent. We went to the beach for three nights so most of our time was spent sitting on the beach or at the resort pools. Not a lot you can spend money on...unless you venture out and get towed!

Yep, we parked in an expensive lot for three hours, but came back about thirty minutes early to find our van had been towed. The truck, which we also drove, was still parked. In the end it was a bit our fault. The lot has these machines where you pay and then put the ticket on the dash. My husband started the transaction and at some point I looked down and saw a ticket, so I pulled it and handed it to him. Turns out that was the ticket for the person BEFORE us and that ticket expired two hours before ours would have. They didn't even tow until it had been expired for an hour. The cost to get the van out of the impound lot...$160 CASH. Big mistake on our part to not actually look at the ticket. So embarrassing. But we weren't the only ones that night that were careless, the man at the lot said six other cars were towed that night. A bad chain of events for all of us. We thought about pursuing a refund of some sort, but in the end the security guard, and tow truck driver were only going by the information on the ticket...and they were within their duties to tow based on that information. We are not happy about losing that money, but it is just money and we were determined to continue to have a good time and just let it go.

The good news is that today when I was paying off credit cards I redeemed $71.89 from American Express, and $45.95 from Chase Freedom. I also have three rash guard shirts we didn't end up wearing that still have tags. I will return those for at least another $40 to $50. Money flows out, but it also flows back in.

Oh, and my sister is going to give me about $100 to cover food and gas. She is giving my dad some money as well since she didn't contribute while she was here. She had the cash on her this morning, but we both forgot about during the early rush to get to the airport. She will send a check or send me money by Paypal. That will help the budget, too!

I'm exhausted, but we leave in a few days again to go to our youngest daughter's college orientation. Hotels are covered with points, we already paid the airline tickets, but will have a rental car, food and gas to cover while we are there. I think we can also buy the first semester books after she has enrolled in classes. I still have over $1,500 in our vacation fund. Smile

That's all for now! Stay cool and frugal.

No Loans! Six Semesters, Two Summers

June 8th, 2018 at 05:35 am

This morning I paid the balance of my daughter's summer tuition in full out of our checking account. Today's amount due was $1,613.26, which was far less than I estimated.

Originally, my estimate was just under $3,700 without books. I was a bit off on my estimate. One class is a business class and thus carries a premium tuition rate, which added another $534! I also didn't add in the fees, which seems odd that I failed to do that. Books (specifically access codes for online instruction) were added to the tune of $245. The finally tally was $5013.26 for six credit hours. Reminder this is out of state tuition.

But we were blessed with a scholarship of $2,800. It was part of our daughter's main scholarship, but somehow was not applied last year when she took one class. So we didn't know that it would cover summer classes. So at this point I was expecting to pay $2,213.26.

But when I went to pay there was a credit of $600, leaving the balance at $1,613.26. We can't tell online specifically what the $600 is, however we think it is likely one of the music scholarship she received this spring. She was expecting a check for it. I think the University would cut a check if there was not a balance due. So instead the credit goes towards the current tuition owed. In the end it is all the same.

Sometimes I'm just amazed at our ability to have paid tuition and housing in full without loans. Let's see if we can continue the trend! Oldest daughter has three more semesters with intended graduation date of December 2019. And of course, our youngest is starting this fall, so another four years and we should be done!!

Medical Expenses

June 7th, 2018 at 04:29 am

I don't budget for medical as we are rarely ill and our insurance covers pretty much everything when we are. We also have a rather large emergency fund.

One of my daughter's and I are now seeking care from a provider who cannot be reimbursed by our insurance. Our insurance simply doesn't cover this common treatment. So out of pocket it is.

Our initial exams with diagnostic tests were $199 each, or $398. I had nearly all this in our emergency fund set aside at the beginning of the month. So that was easy.

I paid $1152 for a series of visits that will cover both of us through the summer. This was a 30% discount offered for paying in one full payment. That is a significant savings. So on the charge card it went. And since we never pay interest on credit cards, I went looking for funds. I found $300 set aside for eyeglasses, but we aren't in current need of those. And finally, the easiest thing to do was to use some of Big Goal Savings we had accumulated this year that was still sitting in our checking account.

I would have preferred not to pull from the Big Goal money, but I think our health needs are a bigger need. My goal is to pay ourselves back, we may have extra vacation funds later this summer, or after I evaluate the funds I have for tuition and housing I may have some to throw from there.

Cash saved gets you the medical you want that the insurance companies will not pay for. Cash is freedom!

Free Shorts

June 2nd, 2018 at 04:16 pm

I bought a cute Columbia Skort from the Exchange a couple weeks ago for $31. I was able to squeeze into a Large. I went looking on eBay to find another color for less. I found one for $20.99 in grey, size Large. Turns out the seller had an error in their inventory and didn't have what I ordered. So their solution was to refund my money and send me a pair of Columbia shorts in the same size. Amazing!

I received the shorts today, new with tags. They are black size Large. I can squeeze into them, but they are actually a little small. I guess I will hold on to them for awhile and see if I can lose some more weight to make them comfortable...otherwise, I have some shorts I can sell and make some money!

I'm impressed with the seller. I would have been fine with simply a refund. I didn't need them to spend money on shipping and send me another item from inventory they could have sold for cash.

I did give them a good review! Smile

More Money for College!!

May 30th, 2018 at 06:29 pm

Our youngest daughter graduated from her Engineering Academy at her high school tonight. It was such a wonderful ceremony, where the strings played music before and after the event, the Jr ROTC posted the colors, sang the national anthem, former students spoke, as well as current students (one being our daughter), and of course, graduation certificates were presented.

But the highlight was the scholarship money presented! Half of the students received scholarships (9 students out of 18). Six received $500, two received $1000 and our daughter received a scholarship given in the name of the founder of this school's engineering academy in the amount of $1,500.

Our daughter did have to officially apply and complete among her peers. And there was some scoring given to the board to decide as well. One thing they had to do during the entire time in the academy was to check in on Tuesday mornings wearing their uniform. Apparently, that was what pushed our daughter's score to the highest level because she ALWAYS remembered to wear her uniform and check in. But in the end I think the essay is what convinced the board, at least that is how they made it sound. We are very proud of her and thankful for the monetary acknowledgement of her efforts.

The tuition portion of her first year is going to be very minimal. I swear that in our experience the cost of room and board is the most expensive part. But a few costs at home do go down at the same time to help offset a little bit of it, primarily groceries!

Pay Day Approaches

May 30th, 2018 at 06:48 am

For the most part I deal with finances twice a month. Yes, we enter receipts in YNAB as best we can daily or every few days. Lately, it seems there is a transaction missing, but it ends up that it was entered on a different card. It seems to be my husband not paying attention, which is frustrating when I go to reconcile the accounts. I do usually figure it out, but takes much more time than it should if it were just entered correctly the first time!

So pay day is two days away. Today, I went in and paid off all balances on our credit cards. There were seven payments! I had a balance on two Amex Cards, Chase Freedom, Southwest, Kohl's, Target Red card AND Discover! That sounds awful doesn't it? But the balances on four of them were less than $25 each, including something for $5.99 on our Southwest card which we are not really using much. I think the purchase was charged to that card since it was what was on the account for an online purchase. Our tires were on one Amex card, and the other two larger payments $631 and $547 were charges for everyday expenses.

I also had to move some money around in YNAB to keep the budget categories from being negative going into next month. We've spent a fair amount on clothes recently, some for graduation and some for the beach vacation. I pulled $200 from the vacation fund to cover these. I'm still over in household expenses by $75. I just stocked up on toilet paper, paper plates, dish detergent, hand soap and other things to have at the house for guests here in a few weeks. I will just cover that overage in June. This is the beauty of having extra funds in your account...can be over in one category, but not actually running a deficient in the checking account.

I'm really looking forward to June being over. It is going to be a whirlwind with graduation, guests, going to the beach and then also flying out of town for five nights for college orientation. Maybe July will feel relaxing? Of course, we have to prepare for getting the girls ready for college, one will need more than the other since it is her first year.

Thankful the cash to do what we want and need to do!


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