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All Over The Place

December 27th, 2017 at 07:32 am

This post may be a bit all over the place...several money thoughts on my mind this morning that I simply want to share.

We bought a new camera just before Christmas. We have been without one for about two years. I personally could probably have passed, but my husband seemed very interested. He has made a great point of using it over the last several days, getting pictures and video of our family. We took a family picture to send out on Facebook. The cost of the camera was $299, plus tax. He also bought an HD SD card. I was mad about that part initially, but I do see it has some better features than some older cards we have, so I will deal. I applied my husband's birthday money that he hadn't yet spent, and the remaining Christmas budget to cover most of it. After that I just took some cash from other budget areas so we can make it work.

We shopped for some grocery and personal care needs at Target yesterday. I used a $2 coupon along with the gift cards I bought for 10% off after Thanksgiving. So no new money out of pocket for things we needed. I was thinking of going to the store again, but I think I'm going to see if we can make it through Friday or Saturday night and just get our regular groceries for the first week in January.

Our final 2017 education and retirement contributions have been made. We added $2K to our youngest's Coverdell account and maxed out our Roth IRA's. These are all on automatic investment from our checking account, so it's easy to make it happen. I will need to double our payment in 2018 for our daughter's final contributions. She turns 18 in July, after which we we can no longer contribute. I think I may actually just take $1000 from savings and put it in for January. and then continue our regular $166.66 for the first six months of the year as we usually do. I can pay ourselves back the $1000 to savings for the remainder of the year.

I'm working on financial goals for 2018, but I need more time to focus. It's a little busy around here this week, with both girls off school and my husband home from work!

Our Discover statement closed the other day. We earned $15.53 in rewards. I'm going to redeem those and put them towards the Big Goal.

I transferred $8K we had in a second checking account to FNBO Direct yesterday. They have 1.4% interest rate, which is far better than our checking account.

We are about to buy my daughter a new cell phone. Her's is 3.5 years old, barely holds a charge and the camera on it no longer works. She is going to get the same phone I have, it will cost us $13 a month for the next 24 months. Since I charge our Verizon bill to US Bank for 5% back we will also get that same discount on the cost of the phone as well, which adds up to $15 in the end. But we will take it!

And finally, we are very close to purchasing a new laptop computer for our youngest daughter to take to school in the fall. We are going to buy it from the university she is going to attend. They offer a four year warranty, a discount and no sales tax. It's a Dell that will work for her engineering study needs. Cost will be $1299. I currently have $1,047 in the budget for it. We should have the rest of the money on Friday when my husband is paid.

Thanks for sticking with me on all my thoughts! Smile

Merry Christmas Blessings!

December 24th, 2017 at 09:37 am

May you see the blessings already abundant in your life right now before the gifts, food and gatherings. We all have things we can be grateful for and they are not dependent on a holiday of perfection.

Wishing you peace today, tomorrow and always!

Merry Christmas!

Book Stipend

December 22nd, 2017 at 06:16 am

With my husband's VA benefits my daughter gets a book stipend of $1000 per year. We received a payment of $708.33 in August. We have been notified that the remaining amount of $291.67 will has been sent. We have not yet received it though. I'm expecting it will likely come later this month along with a partial payment for December housing.

All is on track to receive all tuition paid next semester. She is signed up for 19 credit hours! We will continue to receive housing payments monthly for $1,112. They do prorate based on numbers of days in the month. So December, January and May will all be prorated.

After this spring semester, she will have one more full semester of benefits. Our plan is to use that next fall, although I may need to do the math and see if it would be better to use it her final semester, which is currently planned to be Fall 2019.

I've said it before. I am very grateful for this benefit that we have been able to pass on to our daughter's for their education.

More Interest and Cash Back

December 21st, 2017 at 05:32 am

It looks like one of our money market accounts has raised their interest rate again! Money we have there will now earn 1.4%. It wasn't that long ago that it was earning just 0.95%. This is at FNBODirect if interested.

I also noticed that our Chase Freedom credit card is offering 5% cash back for the first quarter of 2018 for cable, internet and phone merchants. I think I'll take them up on that offer and pay our cable bill, Netflix and Ooma bill with that card. I already get 5% back on our wireless phone bill with US Bank, so I will leave that alone, but will pay the other two with Chase Freedom January through March. May only net me a few dollars, but I'll take it. Oh, and gas stations are included as well for the same quarter.

Starting to ponder goals for January, financial and others. I usually won't have those quite together until mid month of January, as that is when my husband's new pay starts. He is getting a raise, another $187 pretax per month to work with. This should go to the Big Goal. Some will go to retirement since we put 11% in his TSP off the top. I was disappointed for a second year in a row that our housing allowance did not increase. Based on the market around here, it does make sense. Not much I can do about it. It is what it is.

Credit Card Rewards 2017

December 20th, 2017 at 02:02 pm

Let's talk credit card rewards. This probably wasn't our best year, and I honestly, wasn't focused on getting the best rewards all the time. I made a decision to use one credit card almost exclusively, thus the rewards earned on other cards were done for specific reasons.

The primary card we used this year was the Chase Southwest Premier Visa. It offers 1 point per dollar, and 5 points for Southwest purchases. My goal was to earn enough points to buy our daughter's Christmas roundtrip ticket. We succeeded! Her flight was 20,520 points. In total we earned 33,375 points on purchases. There was another 1617 from flying, 3,000 for a bonus and 6,000 as an anniversary bonus. We still have 26K points remaining.

All other credit cards earned cash back. I will list from largest to smallest.

US Bank $86.37
We use this card nearly exclusively for 5% back on our wireless phone bill.

American Express 1 $80
Redeemed $25 in cash from purchases, and received $30 in credits for our cable bill, and $25 from Boxed.com. I have $9.91 earned from purchases, but need to meet the $25 threshold to redeem.

USAA $77
We redeemed points earned on purchases for $77 cash back.

Target Red Card $37.34
Based on our spending and the 5% discount this is how much we saved.

American Express 2 $26.50
Redeemed $25 in cash from purchases. Also $1.05 credit for some purchase (maybe the cable bill offer from 2016?) We have $18.62 in rewards, but cannot redeem until hitting the $25 threshold.

Chase Freedom $17.36
I've been using this card for purchases at Walmart the last few months for 5% cash back. I try not to shop at Walmart, but honestly it is the closest discount store to me. I liked it better when I lived 5 minutes from Target!

Discover $5.75
We barely used this card this year. I have used it in the last couple months for 5% back for Amazon.com purchases. Luckily many of my purchases with them have been with gift cards.

I wish I could remember what the flight we redeemed for points would have been in dollars. I think around $400-$425. I know the year before I redeemed points for what would have been a $600 ticket. I used more points for that one.

All the cash cards come up to $330.32.

Again, not the best year, and most of that was due to looking to earn miles rather than cash. I did like using just one card most of the year. That makes things pretty simple. But the tradeoff is less cash.

I will need to decide if I want to make any changes in the coming year as to which cards we use. Or if we even open or close any cards. I do expect we will fly more in 2018. it may be more of my husband and I going to see our girls than them coming to see us. We will see.

Also a caveat to anyone reading that doesn't know our history with credit cards. We DO NOT every carry a rolling balance on credit cards that would accrue interest. I make a point to pay off all charges on our credit cards each time my husband is paid, which is twice per month. I do not suggest you open credit cards for rewards if you are going to be accruing interest as a result because you will likely earn more in interest than you will make in rewards.

Item Sold On eBay

December 19th, 2017 at 02:22 pm

I sold another item on eBay today. I net about $15. Not bad for a used clothing item I was no longer wearing!

That money will go to the Big Goal. More on that can be found on a page on my sidebar if you aren't sure what I'm referring to.

Spending has been minimal, except I ran to the store today to pick up some things to help my daughter cope with a cold. She arrived home from college on Saturday and was recovering from another cold. It seems she picked something else up along the way home.

In other news, we have had a few days of warmer weather, with rain coming tomorrow. I enjoy these mild days knowing it keeps our electric bill lower. Smile

I'm working on some year end posts. More to come soon!

Half A Million

December 18th, 2017 at 05:48 pm

We finally hit another retirement milestone today! And it's a big one at half a million dollars. Happy Dancing!!

Exact total at today's close for all of our accounts is $501,160.59. The change to our balance from Friday was $3,450.92. Yep, one day of trading can make that much of a difference in one day. The more you have the bigger a small percentage impact can make on the total balance.

We were at $392,814 at the very end of 2016. I really did want to reach $500K this year. I knew it would have to be a very good year to make it happen. So grateful it did!

Seriously...start investing if you have not yet! It compounds over time. Just 14.5 years ago we had $25K invested for retirement. You will have nothing if you don't start. And it is never to late to start. Something saved is better than zero saved.

Getting Close

December 15th, 2017 at 06:43 pm

Our retirement balances are close to another milestone. Actual amount at the close of today is $497,709.67...

half a million get ready!!

Honestly, I'm a little stunned. It's really hard to believe that just 14 years ago we had just $25K.

Invest. You won't regret it!

2017 Swagbucks Earnings

December 15th, 2017 at 09:37 am

I've done more earning on Swagbucks than I realized this year. I had taken some time off from it in the past because it can be a time suck. Usually, I just do it when I'm watching television (which is rare) or hanging out in the evening (not as rare).

I redeemed all but $25 of my Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards. I redeemed amounts ranging from $3 to $25. I think I often would redeem the smaller amounts when I knew I had an upcoming purchase on Amazon, so I would redeem to get some cash off those purchases.

The $25 that was not for Amazon was Paypal cash. I applied that money to my Big Goal (see side bar for explanation).

The total amount of cash equivalents redeemed in 2017 was $472! Almost $500. I do have enough Swagbucks to redeem for $15 right now. I will likely earn more and redeem in January. If I redeem before I will update this post with the correct amount earned!

Did you earn Swagbucks this year? How much did you end up with?

Check them out if you want to earn some gift cards and cash! My referral link is at the top!

Christmas Spending Update

December 15th, 2017 at 05:30 am

I just printed my USPS shipping labels for two packages that I will have picked up at our house on Monday. The cost was $32.05. It really does feel like shipping has increased a lot! Luckily, this did fit into my Christmas budget. Smile

I've mentioned before that our Christmas budget is $600. I allocate half of that for our daughters. The remainder is split between my husband and I, my parents, two nieces, and my mother in law. This year I came in under budget, primarily due to using Swagbucks (redeemed for Amazon gift cards) for some purchases and buying some items used for my daughters. Both daughters are used to getting used. I did squeeze in a two pairs of socks for my sister and brother in law. See my Socks for Christmas post about that.

Here's what we spent:
Mother in Law $53 (check for $50 and $3 to ship it with pictures)
Sister's family $99.70 (includes $18.85 for shipping)
Parents $46.83 (includes $13.20 to ship)
Daughter 1 $115.94
Daughter 2 $44.75 (bought used and used Amazon gift cards)
Daughter's shared gift $64.65
Husband $62.16
CCF $58.38
Total $545.41

Technically, I went over budget for my husband and he went over for me. We were suppose to only spend $50 each. I bought him an extra gift of a saute pan (since he uses one every morning and we had to toss our old one out).

Now I must not have accounted for everything correctly, as the balance in my Christmas budget on YNAB shows a balance of f$103.12. The numbers above come from receipts.Maybe I lost a few. I do know of $10 that was for paper plates and lights. And I think another $20 may be for gifts I bought with Target gift cards, but were not recorded as Christmas in YNAB. So I'm slightly off above in my total spending as YNAB has to be a bit more correct.

The good news, we are under budget! I have $103 to be used for something else. I'm thinking a donation might be a good idea. Smile

Found $140.54

December 13th, 2017 at 11:08 am

I was balancing our checkbook on YNAB today and found a transaction that should have been recorded on our credit card. Turns out it was already recorded there too! So a double recording means that transaction can be deleted. That put $140.54 back into our budget.

I should probably put it towards the Big Goal, right?

It's tempting to throw it into a few other pots for some other short term savings goals. We are probably going to buy our youngest daughter a laptop (for college) here in the next month, if I can pull the cash together.

Heck, I will put it towards the Big Goal...I can always pull it out if needed.

$230 Left

December 11th, 2017 at 05:22 am

We are doing really well this pay period with spending. Out of about $1000 budgeted for our variable expenses this pay period we still have $230 left.

We did get pizza takeout on Friday night for $15.10. We rented a digital movie from Amazon the weekend before last for $4.27. Personal care has only consisted of two haircuts and about $20 in personal care products. Household goods spending is under $20, buying paper towels, all purpose spray, an adapter for my car charger and a few other items I can't remember. Really good deals on all of those.

Most of spending was on groceries and extras for holiday baking, fuel, and allowances for the girls. I have been buying more organic ingredients and making things from scratch like soups. I think these are expanding my grocery bill some. Does anyone here use Better than Bouillon? I use pre made stock or broth for my soups. Yes, I know you can make it but that isn't the direction I want to go. Traditional bouillon is very salty, and I understand this product has less salt.

It remains to be seen if we spend much more before Friday, but I think the leftover cash will likely go in the clothing budget which currently only has $80. My oldest daughter says she is in need of winter shirts. She swears she only has three! I guess when they are away at college we just don't shop that much! We won't need all that money, but I will put it there to be prepared. I could also use a new pair of casual dress shoes. I expect there to be some good sales in the coming weeks after Christmas.

No Spend Saturday!

December 10th, 2017 at 05:41 am

Wow! We spent nothing yesterday. It was a rainy cold dreary day. We stayed inside the entire day. It ended up being very restorative. We didn't have anything we HAD to do.

I know many people probably spent their Saturday shopping, possibly for the holidays. However, my Christmas shopping is basically done! I do have to return two items to Kohl's that I ordered online. They sent me socks in the wrong colors! What's up with that? These are socks I plan to put in my daughter's stockings (a tradition). So those will go back to the store and I will look for something else. And then I am done!

I did make Double Chocolate Mint cookie dough. It needed to chill overnight, so I hope today to roll dough and bake them. That was fun and festive to accomplish. Baking is one of the things I look forward to at Christmas. I had all the ingredients on hand as I planned ahead and purchased what I needed in November.

We watched the Army Navy football game on television in the afternoon. It was a tough game for those players as Philly was getting snow. Army did beat Navy 14 to 13. Very exciting!!

We ate fried rice for dinner. We put shrimp in it, so it was quite filling and satisfying on a cold dreary evening. Then it was time to settle down again and watch a couple episodes of The Crown on Netflix.

My planning in November paid off with a day of relaxation! I'm expecting many more as the month of December progresses. I'd like to spend some of the downtime in the coming weeks really getting a clear picture about our financial goals in 2018. There are a lot of changes next year we need to navigate.

How was your Saturday?

Things I Don't Buy at Christmas

December 9th, 2017 at 06:16 am

I watch a fair number of YouTube videos. There are several out there right now for which the them is what they do not buy at Christmas. I thought I'd throw my take on it. Join in if you want!

I do not buy ribbons, bows and gift tags.
I still have gallon size ziplock bag of bows that I bought easily ten years ago that we reuse for gifts here at our home. Gifts that are not for us, are usually being stuffed in a car or a box, thus do not hold up well with bows and ribbon. I'm currently using up some blank address labels and free gift tags stickers. I simply write the name and stick it to the back of the gift. When I run out of free options, I will simply write directly on the package. Old cards you receive can be turned into a gift tag. I've even used cards stock I have on hand.

I do not buy live Christmas trees I have two artificial Christmas trees. One is from when I was a child, bought in the mid 1980s. And the second one was bought at the end of season at Target about three years ago. I paid $20. I expect at some point we will downsize and pass one of the trees to someone else to use, but I have enjoyed having two trees while living in larger homes. The trees are our main decorations.

I do not buy holiday music or movies We own Polar Express and about 6 discs of music. We have owned those for years, but as things have gone digital and streaming is available online we simply use free options for our listening and viewing needs.

I do not buy new gift bags. Years ago when my girls were in elementary school I bought some classic red and green gift bags through a fundraiser. I use these gift bags, along with others we have received gifts in over and over. I tend to keep the ones that are just red and green, so they all coordinate. And when I buy gift wrap, I choose ones that can be for kids or adults and stay with the red and green theme. I probably only buy four rolls of gift wrap every three years. I did use up one roll this year, so I expect to hit the clearance sales and pick up one or two. I also limit the amount of tissue paper I use by taping the top of the gift bag. No tissue needed!

I do not buy Christmas themed items This one is a bit all encompassing. I don't buy Christmas jewelry, special outfits, napkins, tableware or plastic storage containers.

For the most part you can probably tell, we just reuse what we have purchased in the past. The stockings for the girls are the only ones they have ever owned. Picking a classic style helped, not feel the need to replace something that was dated.

A few other places where our Christmas spending is limited, is we only buy two new ornaments a year. These are for our girls. I usually buy those ones at World Market for $2.50 each. Or I find some on clearance the year before. I currently only send three Christmas cards. One to my parents, one to my mother in law and one to my oldest daughter at college. Next year I will send four since my youngest will be at college. I did run out of cards this year, so that is another item I will buy on clearance at the end of the season.

Tell me what you don't buy during the holiday season.

A Simple Gift

December 8th, 2017 at 07:55 am

Not sure if I mentioned this yet on the blog, but I bought a neighbor and friend an amaryllis bulb for Christmas. I planted it in a pot with soil about mid November, with the plan to give it to her December 1.

The bulb shot up like crazy, so I had to give it to her early (November 27) because I didn't want her to miss the flowering! The most important part!!

I can't tell you how excited she was to receive it! I mean I even told her the pot was found in my garage...spent very little on the bulb ($6). I knew she would like it as she loves plants and is quite an outdoorsy person.

The gift has even given me joy, because she keeps sending me pictures of it as it has grown and started to bloom. I have to say this is one of the very best gifts I have ever given, simply because of the joy and appreciation my friend has for it. And even better it cost me so very little!

Here's the flower today. Sorry it is sideways...not sure how that can be correcedt. May try it later. But you get the idea!

What is a simple gift that you have given that has brought much joy to the recipient?

Eating It All

December 7th, 2017 at 06:15 am

I'm making a point in the next week to use up some of the food items we have that need to be used up.

In the freezer I have about 1 cup of frozen blueberries, one serving of sweet potato fries, 1/4 cup of diced onion, and diced butternut squash (three cups).

In the pantry, there is a box of pasta with at least one serving in it. Raw popcorn, enough to make one batch for a snack. I also see we have a lot of pretzels! I think we are burnt out on those...need a way to season or change the taste. Oh, just remembered I have 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels that I could drizzle over some of them. I don't want to sweeten all of them. Too much sugar this time of year.

In the fridge, there's several inches of ginger that I need to use. I think I will make a ginger tea with that. I also have heavy cream, and almond milk to use up. Heavy cream can go in coffee. The almond milk need to be used up making steel cut oats in the crockpot.

This morning I used up three slices of bread from the freezer. I toasted them and used up almost all of the apricot jam.

I think we are keeping up with most of the fresh produce, so that is good! I think I need to get moving in the kitchen this morning to get some of these things ready for eating!

Spending is high this time of year. Look at what you have that can fill in for snacks or make a meal. You might save some cash at the grocery store!

Netflix Increasing & Be Kind

December 5th, 2017 at 01:27 pm

I had an email this morning that our Netflix subscription amount is changing from $11.99 per month to $13.99 a month. Sounds like their will be more programs and the ability to download for later watching as benefits. Never a fan of price increases, but we will stick with Netflix for now.

Purchased my daughter some vitamins on Amazon today. I used the Discover cash back for a credit of $2.38. Final cost was $12.36. I think I will send that cash back amount to our Big Goal. I should add in the coupon savings from Sunday, too.

I had to take a mental health break today. I had some stress and anxiety pop up on me this morning. I'm feeling better already. To help, I called my mom, went for a two mile walk, ate a good lunch, and then took an epson salt bath. Later I added some relaxing oils to my diffuser while I listed to some very nice relaxing YouTube music. I also got up and got busy in the kitchen making some muffins and hummus (not to eat together!).

I share because this time of year can be stressful for various reasons. It is okay to take a time out and take care of ourselves. And it doesn't have to cost anything! And be kind to those you meet as you don't know what their current struggles may be.

Combined Trips & More

December 4th, 2017 at 06:28 pm

I combined three errands together to save time and gas money. First I dropped off a large box of donations at Goodwill. I stopped by Walmart and picked up lotion that my daughter said I could give as a stocking stuffer. And then a quick trip to the military pharmacy to pick up a prescription. These were all within a mile of each other but about 15 minutes from my home, so it made sense to combine the errands for one outing.

The only fail is, I wish I knew I needed a lemon for the dinner we had tonight. I could have picked it up at Walmart, instead I had to run to the grocery store just before I started cooking. We had this Lemon Garlic Asparagus Pasta from the Budget Bytes site. Yes, we still have fresh asparagus in our area! It was really good, the only thing we did different was add parmesan cheese on top after serving. I will be serving it again, it was that enjoyable to us.

My Amazon gift card ordered from Swagbucks arrived so I ordered the final gift I needed to purchase. It was no cost to me after the gift card!

I received $3 from Pinecone. I'm transferring it to my PayPal account. Another snowflake to go to the Big Goal.

Still no charge from JC Penney for the pillow! I wonder how long it could take?! That was $10.69, so if it doesn't show up on by the 15th I think I'll add that as a snowflake to the Big Goal too.

Coupon & Rebate Savings

December 3rd, 2017 at 01:14 pm

I took advantage of the Target gift card deal. 10% off online and another 5% cash back using my Discover card. I bought the maximum of $300. I checked and in the last year I have spent around $700 at Target. These gift cards will get used.

At the commissary today I redeem a physical coupon I found in the store for $0.50. I also used their rewards card to get another $2.40 off our bill. When I came home I redeemed rebates worth $2.75. Savings from those sources was $5.65. And theoretically, I'm saving 30% shopping at the commissary in the first place.


December 2nd, 2017 at 06:50 am

I'm paying off the credit cards charges this morning. I pay them twice per month when my husband is paid. I was also reconciling the card with our largest balance (Southwest Visa). I noticed that a charge I recorded wasn't showing up on the card. I found the receipt and it shows I did pay for it with that card. So a pillow that we purchased at JC Penney with a coupon last weekend for $10.69 doesn't show up at all?! I had another transaction at that same store (different register) on the same day and it is showing up. So right now, it's like we have a free pillow! I'm sure it is possible that it will show up eventually.

I redeemed Swagbucks yesterday for a $25 Amazon gift card. Once it arrives I'm purchasing the final gift for my daughter. These Amazon gift cards have been very helpful in keeping our spending under our $600 budget.

November Interest Earned

December 1st, 2017 at 08:48 am

I totaled up the amount of interest earned on a money market account, a savings account and three CDs for the month of November. The amount earned was $84.77.

One account earns 1.15%
One CD matures at the end of the year and is earning 3%.
Two others are 2% and mature in April and June 2018.

If you hear of good CD rates at the end of the month, I'd will be interested to hear! Although, I'm just now remembering I may be able to roll that money in the 3% CD into one of the other ones. I will check that.

The Cost of Books

November 30th, 2017 at 07:04 am

My daughters wanted a series of books. There are 12 in the series. I was told I could skip purchase book two as it is a combination of two other books my youngest daughter already owns.

Each book retails for $20. Thus this expense could have cost me $220!! No way was I going to pay that much out of pocket.

I figured if I could at least pay half of retail I would be doing good. I started purchasing earlier this fall. Two initial purchases came from buying used on eBay. One book was $12.40 with shipping and another was $11.13.

I mentioned that I sold some things back to a used book store and was able to use a $13+ credit towards a new book they had listed at the $20 retail price. I paid $7.70 out of pocket for that one.

The deals get better because I found three ex-library versions on eBay from one seller for $21.40. Average about $7 each.

And I made two separate purchase on eBay using Amazon gift cards I earned from Swagbucks over the last couple months. The book prices offered on Amazon varied from $13.59 to $17.36. One purchase was completely covered by gift cards and the other cost me $2.30 out of pocket.

In the end new books that could have cost me $220 new plus tax, were just $54.93 out of pocket. An average of $4.99 a book. A savings of 75%!

No worries that my girls will be offended by used books. They are fans of the library and know that book costs add up. And the used ones that did arrive are in very good shape! The three ex library books do have tags and tape on the side but again in very good shape! They will be very pleased, and hopefully surprised that I found all of the ones requested.

I do sort of wish I started earning the Swagbucks a little earlier so I could have reduced the out of pocket cost, but it is what it is! Still a great deal.

No Spend Wednesday!

November 29th, 2017 at 04:01 pm

No spending here at our house today. I didn't go anywhere, except a walk around the neighborhood where I ran into a friend. We walked and talked while enjoying the nearly 70 degree weather. I'd much rather be chatting with a friend then out shopping!

The pay period is winding down. I did pull $50 that I put into savings as it looked like I didn't budget quite enough for our expenses. My daughter suddenly needed water filters (yes, that is a need), and we purchased a pair of workout pants for my husband. I thought the pants were going to be a present for Christmas, but no he decided to wear them before I could wrap them! So those came out of our current budget rather than the Christmas budget. I still have $18 of the $50 in our account, so may be able to move some of that money back.

I wrapped the gifts that arrived in the mail yesterday. I can't tell you the relief I have that my November shopping and preparing have paid off. I will get nearly all of December to enjoy the holiday season. No stress. The money spent will not be on credit cards held over until January like so many. In fact, the cards I did use (and never pay interest on) will be paid before Christmas!

I'm starting to wonder if December will be a low spend month? That seems like the rarest of possibilities, but I sure do like the idea!

Finishing Up Shopping

November 28th, 2017 at 11:04 am

I am so close to finishing my holiday shopping!

I should have done some of this shopping yesterday, as I'm sure I would have saved a few dollars more. Oh well, I'm still happy with my purchases.

Today I ordered a shirt and jeans for my husband. I also added a two pack of infinity scarves for a niece and the required christmas stocking stuffer of socks for my girls. I bought these from Kohl's using a 20% off coupon and a $5 Kohl's cash. I spent $65. The jeans were Levi's, so they didn't get a discount. Free shipping and I didn't have to browse through the store. I think I just saved myself a lot of time making those couple purchases online today!

I'm heading to Walmart to pick up an item I need for dinner, and will see if I can add a few stocking stuffers in my cart! Some are food items and would probably be less expensive at the commissary, so will wait on those and purchase next week.

After the stocking stuffers are complete, I just need to order a card/board game my daughter wants. It is $20 on Amazon. I'm going to earn more Swagbucks, then redeem for a gift card and make that purchase for free!

Right now, the Christmas category in the budget has $183 in it. I still need to make another $50 deposit in December, but will actually just send that to my mother in law. I also need to mail three packages using those funds. I think we may come in UNDER budget! I will do a detailed run down of gifts and cost once I have it all done.

Ibotta Rebates

November 27th, 2017 at 09:47 am

After grocery shopping and making a run to Walmart for things the commissary didn't have, I was able to redeem $3.20 with Ibotta. I have now met the $20 threshold to cash out. I have decided to wait until the end of the year to cash out. I expect December and even early January will bring more options for rebates. Once you cash out, you have start again to meet the $20 threshold.

My daughter said no on one of the Wii U games I thought I could sell. That is okay. I will get three of them listed later this week. I probably should try for today with it being Cyber Monday.

I did purchase a cardigan for my oldest daughter at Target.com today. Their entire site is 15% off and this sweater was already on sale. Plus free shipping and 5% off with my Red Card. I think except for stocking stuffers, I'm doing shopping for her!

I bought my husband some new athletic pants this weekend. He was with so he could try on. I was going to make them part of his gift, but he already wore them!! I guess not. I think a couple new shirts may be just what he would like instead. Or even a new pair of jeans.

I'd really like to wrap up the Christmas shopping this week. The more I'm in stores, the more I see the deals which make me think I need things. And the truth is I don't. The quicker I'm done shopping the better!

Payday is Friday. Except for Christmas purchases, I don't intend to buy anything!

Looking For Snowflakes

November 25th, 2017 at 05:30 am

I'm looking for snowflakes! The money kind that I can add towards our Big Goal.

I have two items on eBay that I wish would sell. I must need to lower the prices. One could be the wrong time of year.

I came up with four items we have that we don't use that I could sell. Our china sugar bowl. An exercise foam roller (used twice so nearly new). Two very large black table cloths. And a Wii U game that I don't think my daughter will play again (I do need to ask). Make that five items...I could list a couple scrapbook tools.

Did you know that some old Hallmark ornaments sell? I have some that would fetch at least $5 each, but I'm not sure I want to sell them, but I will consider it. I'm sure I wouldn't miss one or two.

Will these add up to big money? No not by themselves, but the small amounts add up together to make hundreds of dollars. The more I can find the better for the goal!

Bought One of My Christmas Gifts

November 24th, 2017 at 04:52 am

I briefly browsed Target.com yesterday and found they were having a sale on some electric toothbrushes. I've wanted one for awhile, but haven't wanted to spend a lot of money.

It's a Phillips Sonicare that was priced at $34.99 on sale, but there was a $10 off coupon once added to my cart. I also used my RedCard for 5% off and received free shipping. My final price was $25.40.

I briefly thought about buying one for each of my daughter's, but I think I will try it out first and consider it for future gifts.

My husband had been asking me what I wanted for Christmas. The truth is I don't need much. I just had a birthday and I don't have a lot of ideas. This will count as one of my gifts. I'll try to leave the rest up to him. We budget just $50 for each of us.

I hope you get some great deals online or out shopping today! Just don't spend more than you have or have budgeted!

Happy Thanksgiving! (Book coupon)

November 23rd, 2017 at 06:08 am

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so grateful to live here in the United States that affords me and my family to pursue the life we want to live. I'm also grateful to Saving Advice as a place to talk about my life and share in yours.

I wanted to clue you into a coupon on Amazon.com. It's worth $5 off $20 worth of book sold by Amazon.com. The code is GIFTBOOK17 and is good through November 26th.

I had $47 worth of books in my cart this morning. I added the coupon code and $40 worth of Amazon.com gift cards (earned from Swagbucks and MyPoints) and paid $5.93 after taxes were added in. And these will be shipped free with my Amazon Prime membership.

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled Thanksgiving!!

Not Much Spending

November 22nd, 2017 at 01:27 pm

I personally haven't spent much of anything the last three days. I did buy one Christmas gift, but that was paid out of the Christmas budget.

My husband did get his hair cut. I just now sent him to the store to get three food items. While he is there he is picking up the alcohol he wants for the holiday weekend.

We don't have plans to shop in stores on Friday...or likely any other day this weekend. If I know of a deal on something we were going to buy anyway I would likely pick it up online. The crowds are just more than I'm interested in dealing with.

We are having very nice weather, so hope to get out and enjoy the weather and maybe attend a free event downtown on Friday night. Otherwise, I'm going to be very happy watching a couple football games, watching a movie and playing games as a family. Oh, and we will probably decorate for Christmas at some point as well. Who has time for shopping with all of those fun activities?!

It's is my first ever Thanksgiving that I haven't spent with my oldest daughter or my parents! Seems a bit strange, but I'm also glad not to be flying this year.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Christmas Spending & A Raise

November 21st, 2017 at 11:13 am

I'm not nearly done Christmas shopping, although I have made a pretty good dent so far. Our budget for gifts is $600. I haven't even made the final savings deposit of $50 yet. That last one will cover the check we are likely to mail my mother in law so she can get what she wants. It's hard to buy for someone that is 82!

Spending so far is $225.68. This has primarily been gifts for my daughters and nieces. That means I have just $374.32. I do plan to stay at or under budget. I will say Swagbucks has come to my rescue this year to earn Amazon gift cards to get all the books my daughter's asked for. Retail on those would be $220. So far, I think I have spent just $40 for eight books, but I do have three more to buy.

I hope to share actual costs and what I bought after my shopping is complete. Any extra left over is going to the Big Goal!

I think the President still needs to sign the Defense Authorization Act for this next fiscal year, but it looks like my husband is getting a raise. The best one in awhile. A 2.4% increase of his basic pay. That will amount to $200 per month. I probably should save this towards the Big Goal, too. Smile

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