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Using It Up: Butternut Squash

March 30th, 2018 at 10:31 am

I guess it was January when I last made a point of using things up. I was doing an Uber Frugal Month with spending and using things we already had on hand was part of making that work.

I had some diced butternut squash in the fridge that I didn't even get to then! It's almost April! Late this morning, I threw the squash in a saucepan with garlic, onion, ginger and carrots to saute' for several minutes. Oh yes, there was salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. I added some chicken broth (made from bouillon) and simmered for another ten minutes. And then in the end added a cup of milk (I was going to use coconut milk, but it had gone bad, oops!). Finally, blended it with my immersion blender.

My food stores are still pretty limited from the Uber Frugal month. To me this means we are buying only what we will actually eat and use! Far less food waste or extra money spent.

I know it's a holiday weekend for many and could mean more spending on groceries, but be sure to check your pantry before you go shopping. Maybe you already have ingredients you need, or possibly you have something on hand that could be used instead of something you think you need to buy.

Yesterday, I listed six new items to eBay. These were items we found this month to let go. These were ones that may have a chance of selling for a few dollars. I'm hoping for some quick sales!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend! Stay frugal out there. Smile

My Blogoversary

March 27th, 2018 at 12:39 pm

A few random updates.

I returned an item I bought last week to Walmart. It just didn't work like I thought it would. That put $3.94 back in our pockets, which I probably did really spend again, because I needed several things while I was there. And I also bought my husband Star Wars, Last Jedi that came out today on Blu Ray. I lucked out that he never paid money to see this in the theatre, so only buying the movie is a win! Sometimes it seems we have to do both. Ugh!

I earned $5.10 from Ibotta this month. Not a lot, but I don't buy many of the things they offer.

I have not been doing Swagbucks much this month. I have 1490SB currently. I'll just keep accumulating them when I feel like it. I also have almost 2500 MyPoints, which seems to be owned by the same company as Swagbucks!?

We had our daughter home for Spring Break last week. We did some extra eating out as a result, which I expected and planned for. And guess what, next week is my younger daughter's spring break!? I don't think it will cause us to eat out more, but I'm thinking we may do some shopping for clothes, or even some college dorm room items!

Budget is getting a little tight as we near the end of the month, but payday is Friday, so I expect I can stay within the budget we put out for March.

I missed my TEN year Blogoversary earlier this month on March 12. I'm quite shocked I have stayed at it this long. It's been fun, and very rewarding to reach towards our goals, andcheer each other on in this community all while creating a log of our financial happenings!

Next Quarter Cash Back & Upgrade

March 20th, 2018 at 08:04 am

I was reviewing next quarter's cash back offers. Chase Freedom and Discover have 5% cash back on Groceries. I'm not sure I will be using them though because I have upgraded our American Express Blue Everyday card with the Cash Preferred (I think that's it) which will offer 6% cash back on groceries, and 3% on gas and department stores.

I've known about this card for awhile...but with all the churning of card offers over the years I just didn't dip into this one most likely due to the annual fee. I try to avoid those, but sometimes in the end it is worth it!

American Express made it easy to upgrade. My account numbers are the same. We will get new cards. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. If we spend $2000 or more on the card in the first three months we will get a $150 statement credit. I do not expect this to be a problem.

We've been averaging earning $25 statement credit each month just using the card for purchases at grocery stores. At 6% cash back, I expect we can double this amount. And I think there is a limit to the amount you can spend and still get the 6%. Eventually, we may need to turn to another card. We do have another Blue Cash Everyday card in my husband's name so we could at least get 3%.

Now I'm starting to wonder if I should use the 5% back on Chase and Discover for the second quarter. That would help me not meet the maximum for grocery stores so quickly on the American Express. I guess I have a little more to ponder, as I would still need to spend $2000 to get the statement credit.

I'll get it figured out eventually! Smile

Oh, I did change our Electric bill to be charged to our US Bank Visa for 5% cash back. All set for next quarter...and hopefully all quarters following.

Rewards & Spending

March 19th, 2018 at 11:57 am

In the last week, as I have paid our credit cards in full, I found that two of them had rewards I could redeem. I redeemed $22.11 in cash from our Chase Freedom account. We have been using that card for fuel, cable, phone (Ooma) and Netflix purchases this quarter to earn 5% cash back.

Our American Express card had earned another $25 in rewards. This is applied as a statement credit, but I did put that same amount towards our Big Goal.

Today was a little spendy! My husband is home from work while our daughter visits. We ran to Target to pick up a sympathy card, light bulbs, shaving cream and packing tape. We decide to make this our day out to each lunch. We will eat at home the next few days, with more eating out to celebrate her birthday later in the week. And finally, we picked up some hair product our daughter uses from Ulta (did have a coupon). That was $83 of spending! I'm glad I added extra to our budget accounts.

My husband is going to get the oil changed in my van tomorrow. We have been saving for car maintenance, so no worries about finding cash for that! We are set.

Tonight I'm making this for dinner. Some of us will add chicken. I'm also going to use some hamburger buns to make a garlic bread. I've made that recipe with green beans instead of asparagus with good results...even more frugal.

Daughter Arrives Home Today

March 17th, 2018 at 05:46 am

Our daughter arrives home today for her spring break! We have to drive a little over an hour and half to pick her up. Southwest doesn't fly into our town and we love that airline! It's also less expensive. Smile And yes, I realize there is gas and parking and often lunch after she arrives.

I have added extra money to our budget accounts while she is home. There is definitely more groceries to buy. And we have plans to go out for sushi and pie. Not on the same day! Smile My husband will be home most of the time as well, so we hope to get out and do some things together. Many will likely be free, but a movie out is a possibility too!

I think she may want to go spring clothes shopping too. Another budget category I added extra to for the remainder of the month.

Oh, and her birthday is next Saturday....so I need to finish shopping for that as well. I have a couple items and if I don't pick up anything else I will likely give her cash. She does have savings goals! Smile

We are excited to see her!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

$18 to Big Goal

March 15th, 2018 at 05:22 pm

Are you signed up to receive notices about Class Action Lawsuits? I get my notices from Class Action Rebates. It does pay off.

Today we received a claim check for $18 from a class action suit with Rooms To Go. We had purchased furniture with them and qualified as a claimant. We do not file claims that we have not purchased since that would be illegal.

This money is going to the Big Goal. Cash adds up!

Lower Electric Bill

March 14th, 2018 at 11:03 am

With the warmer weather a couple weeks ago here in the Southeast, the furnace and air conditioner were not running much at all. The weather has cooled again in recent days, but the end result is a much lower bill from last month.

Remember my bill in January (due in February) was $350?! Last month it came down to $250. And this month, the bill is $161. This is still higher than I like, but for this home it seems to be the near minimum for running everything. I think I will start funding the electric account with a minimum of $250 each month to help level out the larger bills sure to come this summer. It's easy to do this in YNAB and let the money keep rolling over from month to month.

Payday is tomorrow. I will pay all credit card accounts in full, reconcile any accounts in YNAB (did some today) and fund everyday spending for the second half of the month. I will also fund the bills and withdrawals (such as Roth and college investments) and our sinking funds.

I'm more hands off with finances than I once was. Once you have excess funds, you don't have worry about overdrawing your account, or finding money when a larger bill comes in because you have funded it in advance (sinking funds). And YNAB helps keep track of all that as well.

Happy Pi Day!

An eBay Sale & More

March 12th, 2018 at 05:33 am

I sold a set of eight books on eBay Saturday morning. These were my daughter's, so I decided to offer her the $50 proceeds. I usually don't give the girls the money since most items I sell are a couple dollars at a time...and we are still supporting them.

This time the amount was more significant and these were purchased with her own money. She (oldest daughter) has been talking about wanting to save for a new flute and becoming more aware of the need for money! She was very happy to hear she will be getting $50.

Not much financial news here at our house. The weather has been colder in the southeast and we are just enjoying a little more time being hunkered down and relaxing. Busier times are ahead!

We may be spending $200 for the four of us to attend a music concert this summer. We will probably decide this week. It's a week night, so need to really see if my husband is up for a late night with work the next day. The concert is 1.5 hours away.

I continue our paper purge, following Marie Kondo's advice, which is that very little needs to be saved. I have converted some items to digital versions. This weekend my husband created a spreadsheet to track our vehicle maintenance, and then entered years of data from receipts we had been keeping. We now know exactly what has been done, when and how much it cost us...all at a glance. The receipts are going out today! It feels so good to lighten the load of paper.

Pay Day Savings

March 3rd, 2018 at 06:14 am

Payday occurred on Thursday. We have $131 automatically deposited into our Navy Federal Credit Union account from my husband's paycheck. We have been doing that amount for over a year now.

Because of my husband's raise and the new withholding tables, we are now able to save another $108 per pay period, or $216 a month. This is all in addition to our retirement, college and other short term savings.

After I filled in all the budget categories on YNAB, I still show $750 left to budget! For now I'm just leaving it that way. At the end of March I will put whatever EXTRA we have to our Big Goal savings.

I don't know what it is exactly, but it feel like there's a lot of extra money lately. I'm pretty sure I'm not missing anything. Overall I think it is just us not overspending, which of course, is a very good thing!

I usually report interest for each month in a separate post, but I think I will report it here. Total for February was $92.85.

Were you able to save something this month? We are further along on our journey of savings, so don't feel bad if all you can save is $5 this month. Save it!! There are always rainy days in our future.

Question About Employee Records

March 1st, 2018 at 07:37 am

Just curious what everyone's thoughts are on this topic. I'm weeding out old paperwork from our home filing cabinet. I haven't worked since late 2000. I have a file that is fairly small with three different copies of resumes. I have notes on my pay for every job I've had, dates, addresses and phone numbers, and supervisors.

I also have letters offering employment, start date, and pay, as well as a letter where my employment was terminated (laid off, not fired).

I also have a sampling of reviews I was given for the work performed and description of my jobs. Oh, and I have a copy of the application, testing and termination for my Series 6 Investment license. It's not current as you have to be employed/contracted with a Securities Dealer to maintain.

I know no one is going to ask for any of these documents, but I'm trying to decide what information I need if I were to fill out an application or make a new resume. Everything is so dated, some of these employers no longer exist!

I'm thinking in addition to the resume details, I could make a document with the pertinent info (mentioned above) and toss all the papers I'm keeping to get that infomration. I appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

New IRS Withholding Calculator

February 28th, 2018 at 04:34 pm

The new IRS Withholding Calculator is now available. You can find it here. I have yet to double check ours, but I know a few of you JUST updated your withholding allowances. So check again!

It is important to check for your current paychecks and filing for next year since the tax laws have changed for 2018. I personally like to try to get as close as possible to what I will actually owe at tax time. In fact, I don't mind paying as long as I'm not off by more than a few hundred dollars. This year we owe $91, which I set up for payment tomorrow.

Let me know...did you have to adjust your withholding allowances for the new tax law?

Snowflakes and More

February 27th, 2018 at 06:31 am

I redeemed Swagbucks recently for $25 deposit to my PayPal account. I sold two items on eBay and netted just over $15. I just transferred the money to our savings account. This is Big Goal money!

I did a ShopTracker for Pinecone Research, but I have not seen the credit to my account yet. That should be $3 when it arrives. And I JUST got the email that it has been credited as I was writing this. Timing is an amusing thing!

Payday is on Thursday, so I just paid off all credit cards and they are now back to zero. I do this twice per month, no interest is ever paid on the credit cards we use. Our February spending actually ended up being only $75 more than in January! I was surprised, as we had guests and we weren't trying.

I'm looking forward to adding up our interest for the month of February. I noticed that one of our accounts has increased the interest rate to 1.60%. Such a relief to us savers to see interest rates moving in a favorable direction.

I will balance and reconcile all accounts in YNAB later today or tomorrow. Some accounts are simple as we use them for just a few transactions a month. Other accounts take a little longer. Once they are all up to date, then I toss nearly all receipts, keeping only those that I may need for a return or for long term reasons, such as insurance claims or taxes.

Not Much Going On

February 22nd, 2018 at 05:22 am

There isn't much financial news going on here, thus the lack of posts. The good news is there has been minimal spending, gas and groceries primarily.

I did get an email offer from Discover card for $10. I had to make the card my 1-Click setting on Amazon and was given a $10 credit. I already used it to pick up a book that is normally $15. I don't like to purchase books, but this topic is one I find hard to get at the library.

I've been decluttering more of our paper files this week. I was motivated after dealing with some old tax files. I did a very large purge of papers in January 2015. Bags and bags of shredding went out. When we moved later that year we had two very stuffed file boxes. Those are a pain to move. It is not recommended to send personal or sensitive information with the movers. So you hand carry them. My goal is to get our files down to one box or even less preferably. So much can be kept digitally now, however I also do not want to spend a lot of time scanning. So I'm being very intentional with what paper I keep.

I listed a couple more items on eBay to earn a few snowflakes (found money). I've spied a couple books I could likely list, but need to review them first to make sure. And there's a DVD my mother gave me, that I need to watch and then sell for a few dollars. I think I will watch that today. It's raining and I can sort some more papers while I do so.

Spring Break Trip with Miles

February 17th, 2018 at 03:21 pm

I just booked our oldest daughter's flight home for spring break. She will fly Southwest Airlines. I used points we accumulated on our Southwest Visa during 2017 to cover the cost of the flight.

Almost Free!

I did pay for Early Bird Checkin, which is $30 roundtrip. If I were flying alone, I'd skip it, but as a young adult she does like the ability to pick her seat early so she can get off the plane quickly to get to her connecting flight on time. It basically is paying for her to have a little less stress during the process. And I had to pay the TSA Security Fee as well, $11.20.

Grand total $41.20. Can't beat that!

Cash Bank on Utilities

February 16th, 2018 at 03:48 pm

Our US Bank Visa sent me an email to pick our 5% cash back categories for second quarter beginning in April. I always pick 5% cash back on cell phones which saves us about $8 per month or $96 a year. I'm picking that again!

I'm picking 2% cash back for Restaurants. I could have chosen Grocery Stores or Gas Stations, but I have other cards that provide that or more. I also rarely remember to use this card for the 2% categories because I'm not usually carrying this card in my wallet.

There is a new 5% category...Utilities! According to US Bank this includes electric companies, gas utilities and waste management companies. We don't have gas in our home that we pay regularly. Probably will only fill up once right before we move. The payment for our trash service is paid out of our checking account and is not worth switching to a credit card as there is a fee that would offset any savings.

As you know, we spend way too much on electricity in this home as I have mentioned in the past. And I do pay with a credit card...so that means I WILL be switching cards to take advantage of the cash back. This month's bill is $250...so we would have received $12.50 back if it were in effect. I'm not sure if this benefit will last more than one quarter, but I expect it may be a regular option. If so I could possibly receive $300 just by paying our electric bill with this card.

Do any of you get 5% cash back on your electric or other utility bills?

Cashed Out My Ibotta Account

February 16th, 2018 at 06:55 am

I cashed out my Ibotta account last night. The funds were immediately transferred to my PayPal account. Just this morning I moved those funds to savings, not sure why I waited! I was able to cash out $41.38.

I also had proceeds from an item I sold on eBay yesterday as well, so I transferred those to savings. In total I added $49.56 to our Big Goal funds.

It does take awhile for Ibotta coupon savings to add up and you need a $20 balance to withdraw, but I find it easier than cutting or printing coupons. If you are interested in saving this way, you can sign up under me here.

Computer Not Electronics

February 15th, 2018 at 09:19 am

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I was waiting to hear back from US Bank about earning 5% cash back on our daughter's computer purchase with Dell. I had selected 5% cash back on Electronics and Cell Phones (I always select this one) for the first quarter of the year.

Turns out Dell does not designate themselves as an Electronics Store but as Computer & Computer Software retailer. I really should have asked this question in advance. I took a chance. I had even considered buying Dell gift cards at a discount site, but then figured I wouldn't get the 5% back since that would be a gift card purchase. In the end that is what I should have done because those gift cards were at a 4% discount.

I did get 1% back on the purchase with Dell, so saved $14.61. I also clicked through Ebates for 2% cash back or $27.88. I will get that money in May when Ebates send me my Big Fat Check (that's what they call it). I see now they have 10% cash back on Dell. Ugh. I have to trust that I got a good deal on the site at the time. If I remember right the computer was discounted by 10%.

My husband was paid today. I put $108 into our Big Goal Fund since this is the amount of his paycheck that is over what he was receiving before. So important to save as much of our raises as possible, so we don't get the creep of lifestyle inflation.

I also sold another item on eBay. Net is probably about $7.50. It will go to the goal too. It adds up!

Snowflakes In February

February 14th, 2018 at 06:18 am

I found some cash yesterday! I made sure to get all of it deposited into our savings accounts to go to the Big Goal. If you are new here, I call found money snowflakes. It's a term that comes from adding small amounts of money to your debt snowball to pay the debt off quickly. I also use the term when adding small amounts to my big savings goals.

Here's what I found:
$1.33 Discover Rewards
$4.59 Ebay Proceeds
$19.10 Chase Freedom Rewards
$3.11 USAA ATM rebate and interest
$28.13 TOTAL

I also have some rewards with US Bank, but I'm checking with them about the amount. I think I'm owed more after purchasing a computer from Dell and having 5% cash back on electronics chose for this quarter.

Not big money, but I'm telling it where to go so it will make a difference in our goals. I share so that if you have any snowflakes you might be inspired to put that money towards your financial goal, whether that is paying off debt or saving. The small amounts add up.

Where do you find your snowflakes?

Cash Back Amex & Boxed.com Offer

February 13th, 2018 at 09:48 am

I was checking to see if I have the Boxed.com offer on my American Express card today, after Ceejay mentioned it the comments of a recent post. Yes, I do. I will likely take advantage of stocking up on household items so I can get $20 off the $75 purchase. I will check prices of course to make sure they make sense.

I have the American Express Everyday Cash Back card. Apparently I can refer others, and earn $75 per referral. If you also apply, you can earn $200 statement credit after spending $1000. There is no annual fee. Always read the fine print and don't open credit cards you don't have a way to pay off before interest accrues.

Oh, and I do have a referral for Boxed.com too if you are interested in buying in bulk.
[url=https://www.boxed.com/invite/QV6LX
You get $15 off your first order and I receive a $15 credit.[/url] Check it out and see if it make sense for you.

Thanks in advance for anyone that uses my links!

Higher Grocery Bill

February 13th, 2018 at 05:27 am

Wow, the first half of the month is nearly over! My parents were here for 12 days, and boy does it show in the grocery budget. We spent $202 on a full grocery trip three days before they arrived. And then proceeded to spend $276 more in groceries while they were here! We did eat very well and I know there are leftovers I can still use up in the coming days.

And believe it or not we even went out to dinner a few times. We picked up the tab for my mom's birthday at a sushi place. They bought me lunch at a Indian restaurant, Panera and another lunch at the sushi restaurant. Otherwise all meals were cooked at home, but I guess we picked all the expensive ingredients!

So maybe we can get the grocery bills lower in the second half of the month. I do know my daughter and I will be eating leftovers for dinner while my husband is at a work event this evening. I will need to take stock of what I have and make use of it as the month progresses!

Taxes Filed & More

February 8th, 2018 at 02:15 pm

So finally, after many issues last month, I was able to log on to the free version of H&R Block to file our taxes. We are able to file free as military members through the Military One Source website. The filing was free for Federal and State. We owe $91 to the federal government, which is better than the expected $400 I had in mind. And we are exempt from state income tax in our state of legal residence, since they do not tax Active Duty Pay. I have already schedule payment from our checking account to take place on March 1st. I could have waited longer obviously, but I just want to get it done!

I think for now I will keep our withholding allowances at 9. Dido made me aware that there will be a $500 credit per dependent over age 17 beginning in 2018, so that reduces the tax owed by $1000. I may actually increase it later in the year, but I will wait until we know what the actual college expenses we pay are. Right now it could be as much as a $2500 American Opportunity tax credit and maybe $400 Lifetime Learning Credit. As it stands now, we will have $3918 withheld for 2018, and likely actual tax would be $6900. So we are in the right place with withholding.

And I can see that our next paycheck is higher due to the new withholding tables. The amount is $45.70 more per pay period or $91.40 per month. We were already getting an additional $63.15 per pay period due to my husband's raise. So since December we have $217 more in our pockets each month. And more going to retirement because of the raise! Can't complain about that.

In other news, I sold three more items on eBay in the last week. Not big money, but it all adds up. It goes to the Big Goal...as should that extra income above.

Withholding...Trying to Figure It All Out

February 7th, 2018 at 05:51 am

I have calculated the new withholding amounts we expect to see on my husband's paychecks going forward after the new tax law was passed. I used paycheckcity.com to do the calculations. We currently withhold 9 exemptions every pay period. That means the withholding in the past for us has been $409 per month. The new amount based on the same withholding will be $319 per month. An $80 difference, or $960 a year.

Sounds great right? Well, if I'm understanding the new tax laws for no personal exemptions, but higher standard deduction for married couples, and lower tax brackets, we will definitely have lower taxes, but the withholding we are currently at will be deficient by $400, and maybe more if we cannot take the full American Opportunity Credit for college expenses in 2018. I don't mind owing, but I'm now working to decided if I want to change our withholding to 8, or even add more to retirement to offset income.

I will get it figured out. I know how to do it all, I just need more time to decide what we want to do. Sending more to retirement when we already invest 18% and expect a pension equal to half my husband's pay is starting to seem like overkill. Again, just decisions to be made. I also need to figure how much we may actually pay in college costs out of pocket this year.

Oh, and a note slightly related to figuring taxes. When you claim the American Opportunity Tax credit you can only do it for four years per child. So if you claim it their first semester of their freshman year, that is one tax year. Therefore, once you get to spring semester of their senior year, you are into a fifth tax year...which you cannot claim. In our case, I did claim it for our oldest daughter for that first semester. Although, we didn't use the full amount, but my guess is as tuition increases through the year and our educational savings options run out we would benefit more in that final semester. I think there is still the Lifetime Learning Credit that can be taken indefinitely and combined even if you have another student still eligible for the AOTC. (There are income limits, so don't assume you are eligible based on the information I provide here. Do your own research for your specific situation)

I also have to remember that I can adjust withholding later in the year as we have more information...such as the amount we have actually paid out of pocket for college expenses that could be claimed.

Hmm...another thought I may actually take the Lifetime Learning Credit for my youngest this year, since it will be for just one semester. Then finish up using the American Opportunity Credit for our oldest daughter for 2018. The following year we could swap these. I think that could work. That would lower our taxes even more. I sure would rather the money go to pay tuition, than to the government who is overspending as it is with our tax dollars.

Have you done the calculations for your 2018 taxes? Did you have to change withholding? Will your taxes be less?

Vacation Budget

February 6th, 2018 at 07:02 am

After a low spend January, we had extra funds to allocate. I finally took care of that yesterday, by adding $1000 to our vacation budget. We are definitely going to be on the move this year, so the budget needs help.

We potentially have a small beach vacation with family that will visit in June. The beach is about two hours away, so no airline tickets, but contribution to a rental for sure. And food!

We are going to need to travel to our youngest daughter's college for orientation in June. We likely could skip it living so far away, but we think since we can make it work, it will be helpful as part of the adjustment living away from us to have more experience on campus. We will likely fly for this event. Hotels also needed.

We also want to fly with our daughter and help her move in to her dorm in the fall. Ironically, while typing this message a parent online was asking about storage and moving solutions for out of state students. In helping her I found two that we may be able to use to have her items transported so we don't need to drive 20 hours! We think we will send her bike, so that is bulky. Although maybe it's better to sell it, and buy another one. All things we need to figure out.

Then we would like to visit both girls in late fall, maybe for Thanksgiving. The point is our budget for travel is going to start to be a bigger expense than ever. So it felt good to add $1000 in just one month.

I think I can cover spring break for our daughter with Southwest points. Yay!

January Interest Earned AND Saved

February 5th, 2018 at 03:57 pm

Totaled up January interest for all of our accounts today. Grand total earned was $92.79. We have more money earning higher interest, but the amount earned is a little lower, primarily because I missed moving a matured CD immediately to a new CD. Lost out on about 10+ days of interest. Probably only lost $5...too lazy to figure out the exact amount.

I transferred $131 that went to a savings account from my husband's paycheck into a CD earning 2%. I make a point to do this every month. Not all CDs let you add new money, but we currently have at least two that do!

I also made sure to add $63.15 to our Big Goal. Currently this is the amount of increased pay after my husband's raise. This is twice per month. Once I figure out the new withholding I will probably add this money to the $131 we send to savings...so around $250 a month.

Sold Scissors!

January 31st, 2018 at 05:51 am

I sold some scissors that had been hanging out in my sewing box for years! I probably used them once or twice, but since I really had no use for them, I put them up for sale. My net proceeds were $5.93. All sales of our unused items go to the Big Goal.

Yesterday, I donated a large box and bag of items I have decluttered from our home this month. There were easily a few things that I could have tried to sell, but being bulky and heavy, I decided it was better to just donate and be done. My husband isn't a fan of strangers coming to our door or meeting them in this town we live in so that limits what I can sell. I know that we are blessed with plenty, so it is only right to simply pass things on when we no longer need them.

No College Loans

January 30th, 2018 at 04:49 am

I paid the University $4,383.69 yesterday for spring tuition and housing. It's primarily housing and books since tuition was covered by the Post 911 GI Bill benefits. So grateful once again that we have been able to provide three years of college expenses without loans. Once we get to 2019 for our older daughter it will get a bit more interesting. Not sure yet exactly how we are doing that, we have just under $5K saved in her ESA, but loans may be involved. I'll have to write a whole other post on that later.

Feeling very blessed!

Computer For College

January 29th, 2018 at 06:13 am

Last night we ordered a Dell laptop for our youngest daughter. She is heading to college in the fall and we found with our older daughter it was nice to have it purchased well before the first day classes.

Originally we tried to purchase one direct through the University to save on sales tax, however, the one they recommended and were offering was no longer available. It would have been $1299, including a 4 year warranty. Apparently, it was a special deal the university was able to get in cooperation with Dell last year. (I'm sure there will be on again in the early summer or fall, but we decided to just get what we need now to be done with that decision making process...it was stressing us all out for some reason!)

We basically got the same laptop we originally ordered through the University. We did downgrade to a 3 year warranty because that saved us nearly $250. We upgraded to a 2 in 1 version, so that it has a touchscreen available and can be flipped and used like a tablet.

Our daughter will be an engineering major, so the laptop does have higher specs than some students may need in college. We did get an older version and an older processor, but again the same one the University was suggesting that we thought we could still purchase.

The University did give us some other options to purchase but they were more expensive than the one we ended up purchasing directly with Dell. They were having 10% off select computers (slightly older models it appeared). The warranty was three years for the price of two. We did get free shipping, but had to pay sales tax of 7%.

The final total charged to our US Bank card was $1,481.65. I had selected electronics stores as one of my 5% cash back categories for this quarter. That will amount to $74.08 off the total. I went through the Ebates shopping portal for 2% back (better than Swagbucks 1% offer), and that will give us $27.88 back in cash (should arrive in May). Both of those more than cover the sales tax we were charged.

I did have to move another $184+ to the computer category as this is the amount over what we originally thought we would pay to the University for the laptop they offered. Luckily, a low spend month help me know we have that amount covered!

Computer arrives on Thursday, and my daughter is excited. She and I no longer have to share! Smile

Closing Out January

January 28th, 2018 at 04:18 pm

For the purposes of this blog and January Uber Frugal month, I am closing out our budget. We went grocery shopping today, but I am not including it since most of the food will cover more days in February than January. I did include the fuel we bought for the van, which was $41.96.



It doesn't show in my screenshots, but we were over our budget by $36.05. Not bad at all considering several things were not planned, such as the dinner on Friday, buying vitamins for our daughter or buying a new fridge water filter. And yes, our groceries are probably inflated, not for eating more food, but for buying high quality food. We are dieting so we are actually eating less..and have both lost weight!



I zeroed all the categories out. This is how I end each month in YNAB. The remaining amount that we didn't allocate to anything this month $1,648.89! Lower spending does pay off! I will add the money to various long and short term goals. Some may go to the Big Goal, most of it will go to bigger expenses that we expect later this year.



Just so you know we are very unlikely to have spent all of that $1600 in a regular month. Compared to December 2017, we spent $1200 more than we did this month. And we spent $450 less than last January. I feel we were very successful this month.

Dinner and Grocery Spending

January 27th, 2018 at 11:20 am

We had a very nice time eating out. We did really good considering it was a brewery...we didn't drink! And I only had water with my meal. We spent three hours there and spent $38.61 on our entrees and DH's diet coke. He tipped generously with $8, for a total of $46.61 spent. So we are definitely over our frugal January restaurant budget. However, you really can't say no to an invite by friends that you don't see that often.

We stopped by the grocery store last night before coming home because we needed eggs. I did remember a few other needs(flour, turkey crumbles, cheese) as well, along with two requests from our daughter. We spent another $29.94 in groceries. We are now over the Uber Frugal budget in groceries too.

Despite going over budget in a lot of budget categories this month, we have done really well. I purposely put the budget low to keep us thinking about our spending. We have months where we just don't monitor it as closely. That's why I find these low spend months so helpful.

Here's what the Everyday Spending categories look like right now. I will probably end our reporting of our spending and Uber Frugal month after today. We have guests coming and I need to get some things purchased (specifically groceries) tomorrow. Notice how there's just $10 left! That's cutting it close isn't it?



The good news is there is plenty of cash to still be allocated to savings. I'll share that amount tomorrow!! It's a pretty big number. Smile

Dinner Out Tonight

January 26th, 2018 at 07:36 am

Yesterday, I spent $3.50 to mail my sister her lanyard that I made. All items I used, including the mailer and card were items I had in my home, so no other out of pocket costs. We decided a few years ago not to exchange gifts, but she is my sister and since I felt inspired to make something I just did it!

I also spent $2.12 on a birthday card for my mother. She will be here next week and her birthday will take place during her visit. I'm not sure if I'm buying her a gift yet. I'm thinking of buying flowers to have during her time here as I know she doesn't NEED stuff. I know we will likely go out to dinner, too.

Speaking of dinner, I just got a phone call that a former coworker of my husband is in town and wanted to know if we want to go to dinner tonight. I guess we are...people before money, right? I could offer up dinner at our house, but since the plan is for this evening...I don't feel prepared in the least.


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