Thanks to BAWW commenting on my last post, I am now aware of a new CD at Navy Federal Credit Union paying 3.25% for 17 months. I knew there would be some good rates coming up soon!
I'm in the process of transferring money from a couple of different accounts so that we can fund this new CD. One bank will only allow $5,000 transfer per day. I need to move $13,000, so it will take THREE transfers. I'm sure a wire could have been done, but that requires a fee. I'm nearly positive this is a new thing for this bank. A little frustrating.
The most interest we are earning on some of our money is a CD that will come due in March. That CD is earning 2.25%, so this increase of 1% is significant.
Viewing the 'saving' Category
Thanks to BAWW commenting on my last post, I am now aware of a new CD at Navy Federal Credit Union paying 3.25% for 17 months. I knew there would be some good rates coming up soon!
So the contribution limits for Roth IRAs have increased for 2019. The limits have increased for other accounts too, but I'm only discussing Roth IRAs since that is where we put about half of our retirement contributions.
The limit in 2018 was $5,500 per person. The new limit is $6,000. That's a monthly increase of $41.66/mo per person. Or in our case $83.33/mo.
This is the year my husband will turn 50 (late 2019) so he is eligible for the catch up contribution limit which is $7,000 for the year. This additional $1000 would increase our contributions another $83.33/mo.
If we choose to max out that will increase our monthly contributions to $166.66/mo.
As noted in my previous blog post my husband did get a raise. The monthly net increase to his paycheck is $115.49. I originally planned to save this money towards our Big Goal.
Now I could count it as Big Goal money but put it in our Roth IRAs knowing we could redeem some money from them for our downpayment if needed. But it also seems better to keep it all separate.
We've been maximizing our Roth IRAs for quite awhile, but this is just a bigger bump I wasn't really tracking! I have more work to do to figure out the best plan of action. I need to see what the budget can actually absorb.
We should have lower expenses her on base, far less fuel for our vehicles and no utility expenses. But we also have more airline tickets to pay for with two daughters away at college.
Back to the budget...
Are you maximizing your retirement contributions in 2019.
I used the Paycheck City website yesterday to determine my husband's net paycheck. His base pay has increased by $204.43 per month. The housing allowance (BAH) has also increased by $117 per month. I would be really thrilled about this, but because we live on a military installation, the property management company gets the full increase for housing. This isn't a surprise, but a bit of an annoyance. We are committed here for 12 months, and we are open to looking into other options after that.
All the taxes went up accordingly ($29.90/mo), we added a family vision plan ($36.55/mo), and my husband's retirement plan contribution increased ($22.49/mo). This means of the $204.43 increase the remaining $115.49 is ours to keep when the paycheck is deposited. This will end up being split evenly each pay period, about $57.75 twice per month.
For the last two years I have literally saved my husband's pay increases for the Big Goal. In 2017, the amount was $131. I had that money sent directly from his paycheck to our Navy Federal CU account. In 2018, the amount was $216, which I manually set aside in our checking account toward the goal. Amazingly I remembered each pay period. I can't say I really liked how tedious that was.
So I see it as we have two choices. We can have the full amount transferred from his paycheck automatically OR have the full amount (divided by 2) transferred to one of our savings accounts twice per month. I may go with the latter because that would get the money into our account faster earning interest. I really failed to have any of last years raise earning interest, so that alone will be an approvement.
Next steps...I need to stop the current transfer from my husband's paycheck. As of January 15, I need to set up a transfer of half the amount ($231.50) to one of our savings accounts twice per month. This alone will guarantee $5,556 will be saved towards the Big Goal for 2019.
If you received a raise or had other changes to your paycheck for 2019, have you calculated what you expect your net amount to be? Do you use Paycheckcity or some other calculator? Share in the comments!
We have a Big Goal to save $200,000 to buy our next home, or at least a major portion of our next home in about five years time. This post is an accounting of what contributions we made in 2018 and where we are in our goal progress.
We saved all interest towards the Big Goal, $131/month direct deposited from my husband's paycheck, $216 each month that accounted for his 2018 raise, all snowflakes, gift money, military reimbursements for travel including a big one for our move.
I flag contributions in our accounts on YNAB, so I can go in and check mark them and have YNAB total them up for me.
Checking Account One $2,993.99
Checking Account Two $8,985.08
Navy Federal CU $2,154.52
First National Bank $632.16
Those numbers total $14,765.75!
2017 Big Goal Balance $46,836.39
2018 Big Goal Additions $14,765.75
New Big Goal Balance $61,602.14
That means we are now at 30.8% of our 200,000 goal!
In doing this I realized I need to move money from our checking accounts into higher interest earning accounts. I have too much money not earning interest. In fairness, a large amount of that money came fairly recently.
The progress is a bit slower than I would prefer. This year was fantastic, but $6,900 was a travel payment from our move. That makes a big difference! And we won't be moving every year. But we did do better than in 2017. We will keep moving forward. Anything saved will be helpful in the end.
I like to post our interest earned each month. I'm sure I forget some months, but I try. In December we earned $118.80 on our interest bearing accounts.
Now to total up ALL the interest.
$582.52 Navy Federal Credit Union
$632.16 First National Bank Omaha Direct
$1.04 USAA Checking
Wow look at that! Over $100 per month on average. We saved every single penny of our interest. (We usually do.) It's currently going towards are Big Goal.
I'll update the Big Goal progress for 2018 very soon. Since I have money coming in from different sources and in different accounts it takes a little bit to compile it, but I will get it done because I want to know too!
Did you earn interest on your savings this year? How much did you end up with?
I have few final snowflakes to report for 2018. A full tally coming soon!
$100 Christmas gift from my parents
$24.81 Ibotta proceeds
$1.89 Starbucks (Amex reward offer)
$5.00 Hulu (Amex reward offer)
$2.91 Verizon (Amex reward offer)
It's been a good year for snowflakes (extra money)...all have been added to our Big Goal. More about that on the sidebar and an update soon.
Happy New Year, Saving Advice bloggers and readers!
If you didn't see my previous post, I've invited all bloggers to write a post titled 2018 Financial Wins and Fails. Join in before the end of the year.
I reread all of my 2018 posts here and I have to say while the year was a whirlwind of change, we actually had a lot of financial wins, many I forgot about!
I'm going to start with the fails.
1) Failed to shop for the best prices. We purchased some big ticket items, computer for our daughter, dorm supplies, tires and college textbooks. The reasons are multiple, but it was such a busy year, I found myself just wanting to get the purchases complete, rather than spending lots of time finding the best price. It's not to say I didn't do some price comparisons, but I didn't dig in deep to make it a priority.
2) I failed to think ahead about getting out of the stock market on my youngest daughter's Educational Savings Account. The market was doing well. We redeemed shares in August and definitely sold high. But now the market has corrected, and the share price while still high for some of the shares we bought, it is low for others. I should have moved the shares to cash in August. I haven't sold at a loss yet, so may not end up being a complete fail. Time will tell.
3) Failed to plan ahead. This is related to both of the above, but I wasn't thinking months in advance about things that would need cash, particularly all the dorm room expenses. I should have thought about that at least at the first of the year. I was able to cash flow the costs as we made purchases, but it would have been less stressful if the money was set aside for something I knew was coming.
The wins definitely outweigh the fails.
1) We ended the year once again with zero student loans! So excited we have been able to continue to cash flow, use saved investments or take advantage of my husband's Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Oh, and the girls both got fantastic scholarships that helped as well.
2) Despite lots of spending, we saved a lot this year. We maxed out our Roth IRA contributions, and my husband saved 11% of his basic pay for retirement. We saved $2000 in our daughter's ESA (final contribution). We saved $347/mo automatically from my husband's paycheck. We saved all credit card rewards and interest on our savings. (I'll post more specific numbers later.) We also saved the entire military move reimbursement which was nearly $7K.
3) We cash flowed a computer purchase, new tires, shocks and struts for my van, dorm needs, three trips, and several airline flights. Still completely debt free!
The fails help me see where we can improve in 2019, and the wins remind me what we are doing right and can continue with going forward. Do you review your successes and setbacks at the end of the year?
I haven't checked our retirement and investment account balances since the beginning of October. I knew the market was down, and had lost most if not all gains. So I was avoiding looking. Today I looked....
the total balance is less than what it was on January 3 of this year. And we've been investing thousands of dollars. It's frustrating to see.
Of course, if I look at the share balance, that has increased because we bought shares. And these are not realized gains or losses until we sell. We don't need the money now and the market will recover at some point.
How are you feeling about the change? I hope you are staying the course when it comes to retirement or making the appropriate adjustments if needed.
Today was payday!
I paid off all the credit card balances, which is my usual routine twice per month. I also balanced categories in YNAB back to zero and then added in money to flush those categories out for the rest of the month spending. I'm guessing with our girls home visiting for the next three weeks to a month we will be spending more on groceries, dinner and likely some paid activities, although I'm hoping for free!
I finally received my $3 Pinecone Research payment. I had to send an email and the next day I had my payment. Apparently they were having some issues with their normal process.
I redeemed $7.44 in Chase Freedom rewards. These went into our Big Goal Fund! I will do a wrap up of our progress at year end.
We also received an extra payment for housing for our oldest daughter's Post 911/GI Bill benefits this semester. Apparently, they have been underpaying us all semester. I'm actually glad I didn't know until it was corrected. That amount to cover underpayment since August was $286.17.
I received an email from FNBO Direct where we have one of our money market accounts. That account will now be paying 2.15%. I'll take it but I probably need to move some money in there into a CD with a higher rate. I think Beawealthywarrior posted on one of my blogs that PenFed has some good rates. I will look there soon!
I'm always grateful for the money that flows into our lives, as well as the ability to let money flow out for our needs and wants. All of life is a balance that way.
I like to report the amount of interest we earn each month. This is the quick breakdown for November.
Navy Federal CU $20.97
FNBO Direct $89.18
I redeemed my 300 points with Pinecone Surveys over a week ago for cash and have yet to receive my Paypal deposit. Usually it is the next business day. Maybe the move and change of address are factors?
We usually get some cash back back from USAA for our insurance. They call it a distribution from our Subscriber's Savings Account. This year the amount we received was $82.83. We will take whatever they want to give back, and yes, it has been added to the Big Goal.
I did get my $10 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks. I expect I have a little more online shopping to do for Christmas, so that will reduce the final amount I spend.
I hit the $20 threshold with Ibotta. I hadn't been using it much this year, but with a little effort was able to apply some rebates for things I had already purchased and meet the minimum. I'm debating redeeming now, or waiting until the end of the year. Anything over $20 can be redeemed, but once you redeem back to zero, it takes awhile to get to redeem the next $20. I guess in the end it's all the same!
We received basically our entire rent deposit on our last place back. The deposit was $1,800. On move out we needed to top off the propane tank which was for the fireplace only. We used it some in cool fall days, but otherwise it was just the pilot light on all the time. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite empty enough for the propane company to fill without a hefty charge ($45). The propane company was able to tell me based on the amount used the cost to fill up. The landlord agreed we could pay them that amount (around $137) and not fill up. So in the end they deducted the propane costs from our final deposit, and our check was for approximately $1,663.
My plan was to save this money in our Big Goal fund. In fact it is sitting there right now...except, we have a need for it now.
We took my van in for oil change, transmission fluid flush and rotate tires. Turns out I needed new front brakes and brake fluid flush. AND...the one that hurts, new shocks and struts. Now we actually weren't super surprised about the shocks and struts because we had been hearing noises that made us question their condition (my van has 140K miles), but our last mechanic looked and couldn't find the source of the noise and didn't see a problem with their condition. So...on Monday the van will have all those things complete and we will owe them $2000! Now I have to remind myself that this is maintenance and is cheaper than a car payment. Our goal is to keep both of our 2007 Honda's running until both girls graduate in about 4 years.
So money comes in, but money goes out. Thankful we have cash on hand (and did before the return of our deposit) for making these repairs. It's not what I would prefer to spend the money on...I'd rather save it!
We pay off our credit cards in full every month and never pay interest on a revolving balance. We use them for as many transactions as we can. In fact, we are now able to pay our rent with a credit card, most likely will use our Southwest Airlines credit card to accumulate points for flights.
We redeemed rewards from the following cards this past month.
US Bank $8.31
Chase Freedom $14.70
American Express $50.61
Our credit card rewards are almost as good as the amount of interest we earn on our savings.
I like to track the interest we earn on our cash savings. This October our two major accounts earned a total of $109.77. I sure wish it was 10x that amount of passive income, but we will take it and be very grateful. I remember thinking it would never be possible to have even that much interest earned in a month. So again, very grateful for what we have been provided.
I was on our American Express account today making a payment. I check the offers and found $5 off Hulu and 10% off our cellular bill (up to $20). I also added 10% off insurance payments, but not sure ours is due before the offer expires.
It pays to check and see if there are offers for things you spend and use your credit card for anyway!
We also submitted a form to get a discount on our auto insurance. Not sure how much that will save, but anything will help. Insurance is expensive here!
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.
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
$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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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?
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!
Yesterday, I noticed we had received our $150 statement credit from American Express. They do it very strangely though were it looks like the credit is from a recent merchant you did business with. An online search did confirm this was our credit card bonus for spending $2K in 90 days for opening the Blue Cash Preferred account.
We received $48.74 from Chase rewards. This is higher than usual, but I expect that is because we are using the card at Grocery stores which is offering 5% cash back for the second quarter.
We received $16.39 as a statement credit with US Bank. We charge our cell phone and electric bill and receive 5% cash back on each of those.
I think I mentioned this before but I did add Ibotta and Ebates proceeds to our snowflakes or Big Goal balance. Those together were $48.84.
I also made a small sale on eBay, so will add that into snowflakes once I know the net proceeds.
Overall, it looks like for half the month we have accumulated over $250 in snowflakes to save towards our Big Goal. Not shabby at all. Have you found any snowflakes this month?
I just cashed out at Ibotta again. This time the amount was $20.96. It seemed to take about three months to accumulate that cash. I really only buy what we normally would. Only occasionally am I influence to change brands due to the rebate. Some weeks I only have enough on my receipt to redeem for $0.25 on an any item rebate. But as you can see it does add up.
Here's my link, if you want to try it out.
I'm sending this money to our Big Goal. In the past, when we had debt, this would be the kind of money I would send to the current debt we were paying off. Any extra you can find and use to pay down debt helps!
It looks like I'm scheduled to get an Ebates payment tomorrow in my PayPal account for $27.88. This is the cash back from the purchase of our daughter's Dell computer. I'm socking it away in the Big Goal fund.
I've made two recent purchases using Ebates for cash back. One for the purchase of flowers I ordered my mom for Mother's Day. I don't always send her flowers or even a gift for that matter. Total for delivery of 15 tulips, a vase and a small box of chocolates was $35.97. I will get $4.80 back from using Ebates. The second purchase was for my husband's vitamins that he likes to get from GNC. I linked to GNC through Ebates which gave free shipping on the order, I applied a 15% off coupon code and will get 5% back on the order, approximately $3.00.
The cash back is paid out quarterly, so I will have another rebate to look forward to in August, which I will also set aside into our Big Goal fund.
Do you use Ebates? If you are new and want to use my link to sign up, you can do that here. I receive cash back if you use my referral and spend $25, and you receive $10. I'm sure not encouraging you to spend, but if you do anyway and want a discount Ebates is easy to use.
After writing my two previous posts about interest earned and snowflakes saved in April, I wondered to myself how much we had saved in total to our Big Goal this month.
2017 Raise $131.00
2018 Raise $216.00
April Big Goal Savings $657.44
Not every month is as fruitful for snowflakes, but if we could save this every month, we would save nearly $7,900 per year. That's not chump change!
If we didn't have college expenses, we could definitely save even more, but we are committed to the least amount of student loans as possible. So far we are on track with zero!
Extra funds we find I call snowflakes.
This is the total breakdown for April.
$_43.73 eBay proceeds
$_10.00 Claim settlement
$__3.93 USAA rewards and rebate
$__8.33 US Bank Rewards
$_22.99 Chase Freedom Rewards
$_20.00 Amex Boxed Reward
All snowflakes have been saved towards our Big Goal.
We had a CD earning 2% that matured about a week ago. Luckily, we had another CD paying the same amount that we were able to roll the balance and accumulated interest into. That one matures in June. I hope at that time an even better rate is available.
In total our accounts earned $101.24 in the month of April.
All interest is saved towards our Big Goal.
Did you know that empty boxes for electronics and other collectibles are bought and sold on eBay? I just sold one for a console game. My net proceeds are $8.27 for something that was taking up room and I was considering recycling.
I know some people who buy and sell would say to keep the box, but honestly, we keep electronics so long that by the time we are selling for a few dollars the box isn't going to make a big difference in the price we gain.
I decided this one was taking up too much space and since I have no idea when we would sell or get rid of the actual electronic game, it was time to go.
More money in my pocket!
Wow! My daughter is a money magnet. She has now received a scholarship for summer classes. It has the same name as the big scholarship she currently has, but she didn't receive it last summer. It is possible that was because she was half time, just one three credit hour class. This newest scholarship is worth $2,800. The total summer bill is $4,768. I was expecting just under $4,000, and have been saving monthly to pay this. I figured out that I didn't remember to add up all the fees, or to figure that one of the classes (a business class) is a higher tuition rate. So now our portion to pay, due June 12 is $1,968.
I also had her apply for a summer grant worth up to $1,400 for summer. I'm not sure she's actually eligible as an out of state student, but it let her apply. That, or a portion, would be very helpful.
I will keep the extra $2000 I will have saved by mid June for future college expenses. Although it is honestly tempting to put it into our Big Goal.
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