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Pays to Shop Around

August 19th, 2017 at 02:41 pm

My husband is getting close to the point of needing to have his timing belt replaced on his Honda Ridgeline. This is based on mileage and owner's manual suggested maintenance. Our local Honda dealership quoted $1200! This seemed high to me based on around $750+ that we paid for our van a couple years ago. My husband called another dealership 30 minutes away this morning and was quoted $899. He also wants spark plugs replaced and those were quoted less as well. We haven't scheduled the maintenance yet, but once we have a free day and the cash set aside we will be getting the work done at the dealership that charges less.

Groceries are slim here at the house today. I think we are going to use a gift card I received for some pet care to try out a new restaurant for lunch. There may be a little out of pocket, but far less than without the gift card! Tonight we will eat dinner in, but we will need a couple items from the store. And then tomorrow I'll hit the commissary for the upcoming weekly food needs. Right now the grocery budget is still looking really good considering how far we are into the month.

Today my husband and I are going to sit down and discuss the budget. I'm excited to see what comes of it! What are we both willing to do in the next year to make our money work towards our goals.


Cleaned Our Carpet and Other Frugal Wins

August 10th, 2017 at 03:17 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Amex Offer: 10% Back on Cable

August 9th, 2017 at 12:51 pm

I think this offer was available last year as well. American Express is offering 10% cash back on cable and satellite bills, up to $30. We have two Amex cards, only one had the offer. I added it to the card and plan to use it to pay our bill over the next several months to get the $30.

Because of the change we made with our cable subscription, our bill is prorated and much lower this month. Just $59. The offer will give us $5.90 back this month. I'll take it!

Anyone else going to take advantage of this?

What Can You Give Up?

August 8th, 2017 at 03:49 pm

Our Big Goal is on my mind a lot. I just can't wait to get there, but it is going to be a long journey to say the least. My mind keeps wandering to the items we spend our money on and wondering what we can cut back on, or eliminate all together.

I've mentioned before I did eliminate the need for disposable feminine products for myself. That is probably only a savings of $6-7 a month on average.

We did lower our cable bill by $11 a month just recently, so that will add up over time. I think we may still let it go entirely after football season. We have more channels now, and while it was fun to watch HGTV for a day or so, I'm already not interested in watching most of what is on.

It seems there was something else, too, but maybe that is it so far! There is still work to be done to eliminate more items we spend money on. I thought I'd make a brainstorm list of a few I'm thinking about:

Alcohol ($100 per month)
Paper Towels ($18 a year)
Movies (theatre and purchased) $260 YTD
Restaurant meals $1578 YTD
Chips (too much snacking!) ?
Gum $50/year ?
Ooma (home phone) $48/year
Trash & Recycling service $198
Using the Dishwasher ?

Let me explain the trash & recycling. We pay $16.50 a month for trash and recycling pick up at the curb. The trash pick up is twice per week, and the recycling is picked up twice per month. The reason I could possibly eliminate the service entirely is because about 1.25 miles from our current home is a county trash and recycling drop off site. They are open at least five days a week, maybe six. I drive by it ALL the time, so it is on my regular route to other places I go. I don't think my husband would be on board, but it's an idea to consider.

I use our dishwasher every evening. I like using it. I wonder though if some money could be saved by not using it. How much electricity and water does a dishwasher use each month? I may skip it for the next few weeks while my husband is still at school and it's just dishes for my daughter and I.

I mentioned I made hummus last week. It got rave reviews from my family members. It was very easy, too. When I make something from scratch it always tastes better because it has fewer 'extra' ingredients needed for commercial processing. It makes me think if I should be trying to make some other foods we buy from scratch. Bread is one idea, another would be pasta sauce. I'd have to think through what we buy most often that could be made at home.

Just by doing this little brain storm writing session I have seen where we can put our focus. Eating out. I feel like we don't eat out that much, and probably compared to the average american we don't, but our average is over $200 a month this year. Considering our income that isn't a big amount, but accounting for our goal, it is!

What can you give up to meet your goals?

July Interest

August 1st, 2017 at 11:11 am

The interest earned on our savings accounts and CD's for the month of July was $94.44. As I mentioned yesterday we have one CD maturing in August, but have opened another 3% CD with the same bank that I can roll most of the money into. Very happy about that!

The lowest interest rate we are earning on our funds is 1.1% interest at FNBODirect. The highest is a 3% CD at Navy Federal Credit Union.

So thankful rates have risen a bit recently! May that trend continue so us savers can earn more.

Pay Day, New CD, More Food Used Up and Snowflakes

August 1st, 2017 at 01:47 am

It's payday officially tomorrow, but my husband's check is usually pending as a direct deposit the day before. Apparently I checked a bit too early today, as it wasn't showing up! An hour later it was, as it is suppose to be, pending for deposit. Whew!

I saw ladya70's post about the Navy Federal Credit Union CD at 3% and I quickly logged on to set one up! We have a $10K CD that is also at 3%, but it matures on August 10. I was going to be sad about losing that great rate. Instead I can roll all but the interest to this new CD which is good for 5 months. Maybe something even better will come along when that one matures!

I redeemed $10 worth of Swagbucks for an Amazon gift card. It arrived in my inbox today. I quickly logged on to claim and and used it to buy some joint supplements for our cat. I had another Amazon credit so my out of pocket cost was just over $3.

I had my first survey in a very long time from Pinecone. I completed it yesterday and received credit today. Once it is in my PayPal account, I will move it to the Big Goal.

I checked on my neighbor's dog, rabbit, bird and two beta fish while they went on a four day trip. She bought me a gift card for a new smoothie and sandwich shop that opened near us. I wasn't expecting anything as she watched our cat for an entire week! I had checked on the rabbit for two days before, but we were not yet even in my mind.

I used up the butter I mentioned yesterday by making cookies! Yummy! My daughter and I used up the leftover chicken taco meat for lunch.I cooked some quinoa today and will add some ingredients tomorrow for lunch which should use up some more ingredients. I also cut up a yellow watermelon for snacks. Tastes just like the red ones we are used to, but it sure looks like pineapple!

It's been a fantastic money day! Feeling blessed. Smile

Lowered The Cable Bill

July 30th, 2017 at 01:29 pm

I mentioned a couple months ago we were thinking of cutting cable altogether. We would just find things to stream online, which we do most of the time anyway. I never got around to taking the boxes in and cutting it off. An offer arrived in the mail offering a lower price for what we are currently getting with the addition of a few new channels, including ESPN. This is Spectrum, which just bought out Time Warner. We expect with our daughter at a major University we will get to see several of the football games on ESPN (although they can't show the marching band Frown ), so that was the pull. We will try it through the fall, and possibly cancel after. The lower rate is just for 12 months, at which time we will either be moving or have already cancelled.

The savings is a slim $11.59, which over the course of the year does save us $139.08. I better add this to our automatic savings so it doesn't melt, but actually gets saved!

Yesterday wasn't super frugal because my husband was home and we made a point to get out as a family. Our daughter is going back to college in just over a week. We played miniature golf $16, and went to dinner $70. But it was very enjoyable to be together and away from our devices. My husband and I did enjoy a bottle of wine ($9) on the porch last night.

I'm ready for a new frugal month! Are you?

Big Goal Progress

July 28th, 2017 at 05:33 pm

I was able to set aside an additional $500 to the Big Goal this month. I guess we have stayed somewhat frugal with our eating and outings to make that happen.

We also automatically saved $131 from my husband's paycheck. This happens every month and goes into a different bank than our main bank. I am able to add these funds to a current CD we have that is earning 2%. The interest earned on our CD accounts also adds to our Big Goal savings.

The only extra money towards the Big Goal was some eBay and Pinecone earnings. Combined those added $14.54. Not a lot but it will add to the goal.

Progress has been slow, but there is forward progress, so I celebrate that!

Another Retirement Milestone

July 20th, 2017 at 11:51 am

Stock markets hit highs yesterday. As a result, our retirement accounts also hit an all time high. And that made us hit a milestone. Our retirement accounts are over $450K! Specifically adding up to $450,539.97.

At the end of last year we were at $392,814.02, so there has been some good growth this year along with our retirement contributions.

For a little perspective, and encouragement if you are just starting out, in May 2003 when I started tracking our retirement our accounts were valued at $25,742. I know we started far before that, likely in the mid 90's for me, slightly early for my husband. We were married in 1996 and we both were contributing a small amount of our small incomes before that.

Just like exercise, you never regret, putting money aside for retirement. You might regret how hard you worked or if you put to little money in for investment, but the effort you do make you never regret.

Start contributing as soon as you can, and increase along the way, such as 1% every year.

Frugal News

July 7th, 2017 at 11:30 am

This morning I'm eating my steel cut oats I made overnight in the crockpot. It usually makes enough for four breakfasts. There are no more steel cut oats in my pantry, and I have now used half of the almond milk I wanted to use up.

Yesterday, I harvested two nice size zucchinis, a summer squash, one cherry tomato and a bag full of romaine lettuce. I could have harvested more lettuce, but I will wait until I have finished what I harvested. When I'm out mowing in a bit I will fertilize all the plants again. It is very satisfying to have a garden even if small. I really may need to consider that we need to rent a smaller home with a yard, rather than an apartment next year.

The last two days were no spend days. We only left the house once and that was a trip to the library where one of my daughter's picked up two books, and I borrowed a DVD (The Help).

Tonight we are having fried rice for dinner, so I will use up most of the frozen veggies that have been in the freezer a little too long. Does anyone freeze rice? I saw that some people do that to save time.

A book we had listed on eBay sold last night. That will drop a couple dollars into our bank account. Adding it to the Big Goal, of course!

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card. I hoping it arrives soon as I would like to buy a food processor. I don't need high end at this point, just one that is reliable enough to do shredded cheese and make hummus (my blender doesn't do that well). I'm sure I will use it for more things, but until I'm using it regularly, I'm not spending a lot.

I joined back up with Ibotta. I stopped for awhile as it seemed to take forever to get to the pay out threshold. I do want the savings on the things I buy anyway. I don't get as many as some would as the rebates are on a lot of products I don't buy. Anyone else still using Ibotta? If you are new to this savings and want to sign up, my referral code is here.

The really good news is my lower level air conditioner is working! I didn't pay for the service call because that is a landlord responsibility. The bad news, it isn't technically fixed. The technician couldn't find a leak, or any other parts that weren't working. So added freon and said it should keep cooling for three months. So annoying! I'd be really irritated if I were the one paying for the service calls.

That is the frugal news of the day!

Frugal July Thoughts

July 4th, 2017 at 04:33 pm

I currently have our lower level air conditioner off, as it is not cooling properly. Why force it to run overtime at more expense if we don't need to? The landlord did call for service which is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. We are definitely in a heat wave so I don't think this can be a long term solution given the humidity we are currently experiencing.

The lack of air conditioning on this level, where our kitchen is, did force me to cook chicken in the crockpot yesterday. Today we are eating out of the fridge and cupboards. The oven will not be turned on. I suppose that will save some energy too. I wonder if I could go nearly oven free for July?

We went grocery shopping on Friday and spent about $65. It did include my daughter's birthday cake (she arrives home tonight and her birthday is tomorrow) mix and frosting and her preferred meal of pasta. I think my other daughter and I can have bean tacos tonight if I make a run to the store for the refried beans. We have everything else, so that would cost me less than $1. I'd like to get through at least Thursday or possibly Friday (shopping on Saturday) with what we have on hand. Oh, just remembered I have everything on hand for fried rice, too! And I have three potatoes I could make into soup. I think I can make it! We do have salad greens in the garden. But I might pick up three ears of corn on the cob to accompany the pasta. That should be just another dollar. I'll post a food plan tomorrow.

Not sure what my husband's plan is for food. He is traveling back to his school location today. The commissary there may not still be open by the time he arrives. Thus I can imagine he will pick up some fast food. He only plans to be there 2.5 days before he comes back this coming weekend. He wants to see our daughter soon after her trip to hear all about it! I'm hoping he picks something from the commissary rather than going out for every meal before he returns.

Another reason it may be hard to have a frugal July that I don't think I mentioned is that my parents are coming for an eight day visit. That means more food and possibly gas and admission for some outings. I will do a search for free activities. I can currently think of just one. And it will be so hot outside, I'm thinking we need indoor activities! But I did have one frugal idea concerning their visit. I can use some small travel shampoo/conditioner containers and fill them for myself to use while they are here and they can have access to my nearly full bottles. Normally, I would go buy another set and then use it up later.

I printed off a coupon for my contact solution. I did just buy some, but winced as the price has gone up. The coupon will reduce the next purchase by $1.50. I need to make an effort to look for a coupon to print every time I need to make this purchase.

I also need to make July the month that we cancel cable. i'm just being lazy about going into the store to drop off the digital adapters. I need to remember this should save us at least $30 a month.

My van did not end up needing repair at this time. They charged us over $100 for the diagnosis, testing and clearing the check engine light that was on. Our bill did include the 20% discount we asked for. It wasn't the same as getting the full 10% on the truck we should have, I do wish we would have argued this, but it is done.

Finally, I scored two pairs of socks and a greeting card at Kohl's for $0.70 yesterday. I had a $10 reward and a $1.34 Kohl's cash that I applied to bring my original bill of $12.84 to just $0.70. They don't charge tax on the reward portion, so that did reduce the tax as well.

More frugal thoughts later! Happy Independence Day!

June Interest

July 1st, 2017 at 02:59 pm

Interest for June on our savings tallied up to $90.52. A little less than last month, but there was one less day!

Upon logging into one of our bank accounts, I found out there is a new interest rate! It's higher. Moving from .95% to 1.10%, not a lot but sure is a step in the right direction.

Have your savings interest rates increased?

18% Gross To Retirement

June 30th, 2017 at 11:30 am

We save 18% of my husband's gross pay to retirement. I'm starting to wonder if it is too much. Only because I've been watching YouTube videos of people following Dave Ramsey and saving 15% gross on Baby Step 4.

Our plan is for my husband to retire from the Army with a full retirement pension. This is equal to 50% of his base income, which if calculated today would be about $3,840 per month. It will be higher as he will get promoted at least one more time before he retires. He might also be eligible for more than 50%, but not sure. If so that will make a huge difference in pay as he will have over 32 years of service.

Obviously, there is risk that something could happen that he won't get to full retirement. He is already eligible for a reserve retirement check that would pay out beginning at age 60, possibly sooner. That check would be far less.

I think part of me is wanting to adjust to 15% so I can use the other 3% (which is just under $300) towards the Big Goal. And I suppose I don't have to change anything, as more than half of our retirement is invested in our Roth IRAs. I can take those contributions out any time.

Just thoughts. How much of your gross income do you/did you save for retirement?

Frugal Wins

June 25th, 2017 at 09:37 pm

I just harvested a bunch of lettuce from our garden. Maybe for the last time this season...it seems a bit on the bitter side. We will still eat it mixed with other greens or add to a smoothie. There was also one cherry tomato and a summer squash ready. I do need to do some fertilizing as the soil here is awful!

I used one of my Frito Lay coupons today at the store. The price of the chips was $3.20, so received that off my bill. I also used two other coupons, that I found in the store, for another $1.50 off products I purchased. I have moved $4.70 from the grocery budget to the BIG goal.

I probably saved more money today, as I made a list and later crossed a few items off. I would guess another $5 to $10 worth of savings by skipping some items that were not needed. I also don't think I added anything extra into the cart...oh actually I did. But both were less than $2 combined. I also had a couple times where I picked up an item I needed only to find the same thing, different brand in another aisle for less!

We have been able to keep our irrigation system from running all but one time in the last two weeks because we have received so much rain! Maybe the water bill will be a bit lower next month.

What are your frugal wins?

In other news...

We have been hearing from our daughter each afternoon. Evening for her. She left the UK yesterday and arrived in France. I know she will be in Paris tomorrow evening. She isn't saying a lot because it seems to be moments before she dives into bed. I think the trip is going well. We have seen pictures on Facebook from a teacher who is posting. I will be interested to see how much of her money she spends!

Frito Lay Coupons

June 23rd, 2017 at 05:20 pm

I received three coupons in the mail from Frito Lay after discovering something like black mold on some bite size tortilla chips. I sent pictures and explanation through some form on their website. We basically had to throw the entire bag out, so I was asking for a cash refund. The coupons work too, as that will buy us three bags of chips which will save me far more than the cash refund.

I received $3 from Pinecone and it is now sitting in my Paypal account with a little money from a small eBay sale not long ago.

I'm working on Swagbucks here and there. I have not been focused enough everyday to meet goal until this week. It has helped to join the Swagbucks Swaggernauts page on Facebook to find a few quick ways to earn. I would like to get to 2500 by this weekend so I can get an Amazon gift card and purchase a few items for my daughter's birthday at the beginning of July.

Trying to stay frugal in this next week. It felt very spendy in the days leading up to our daughter's trip. So far no meals out, and the only spending were some sports bras, which we did need.

Snowflakes to Big Goal

June 11th, 2017 at 12:58 am

Small amounts add up. I'm pretty sure I have said that before!

Our bank reimbursed us for a $3 ATM (incurred while my husband is away), plus gave us $0.07 for interest.

I sold four CDs of an older band on eBay earlier this week for a net profit of $1.67. Considering the used book/music store wouldn't even buy them, I'm happy with the small amount.

Just tonight I listed two books on eBay and one on half.com. One already sold! I expect a net of $4.90.

I think I mentioned in a past blog post that I was using up my change while out doing my normal purchases. I had $5.09 in coins, with over a dollar in pennies. I did get it spent. What I found to be a great place to spend it was at self checkouts that accept cash! Five dollars in coins is heavy in my wallet, so I didn't have it all with me initially.

Last night on a trip to Target, I made a point to take it all so I could get rid of it! Luckily there were no other people waiting while I inserted nearly $2 in coins in the machine. My balance was far more, but the machine lets you pick Pay With Card if you don't have enough cash, so that is what I did. I have moved $5.09 from our spending budget to our savings! And while I would have liked to have just deposited directly to our account, we bank online, so that isn't an easy option for us.

I'm gathering all the snowflakes I can while we rack up the cash towards our Big Goal, which you can get details on the sidebar if you don't know what that is. Smile

Cancel Basic Cable

June 8th, 2017 at 09:18 pm

We have basic cable here. Before we moved we had an antenna in our attic to receive over the air channels. I did the research here hoping to do the same, however, the signals are not great in our location for over the air. The cable portion for very basic channels is $30.48 which includes two digital adapters and taxes.

But guess what? We don't watch television. We end up watching things on our phones, tablets and computers. And what we watch doesn't require a cable subscription. I did think of one show my husband does often watch on Sunday mornings, but after talking to him he said he could watch it later online. He seemed to think that was a perfectly fine solution.

So I just need to make the change. I need to call the cable company and cut the cord! Once I do, and turn in the adapters, I will save at least $30.48 each month, that is $365.76 a year.

Do you have cable? Did you have it in the past and cut it? Do you rely on just over the air reception?

Retirement Up Since Last Year & More

June 6th, 2017 at 08:35 pm

Retirement is definitely up from last year at this time. In fact, we had just met a milestone of $350K. But now, a year later our retirement accounts at last check totaled $439,848. A nice $89,000+ difference. That change is due to the market rise and our contributions over the year.

I sold an item on eBay yesterday. I only netted a small amount, maybe $2. But the items are gone. That money will go to the Big Goal.

I found a nickel in a store parking lot yesterday. Unfortunately, it didn't cover the costs of what I spent!

I used $30 worth of Amazon gift cards (earned through url=http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/creditcardfree] Swagbucks[/url]) to cover some phone and travel expenses for my daughter. A phone case and screen cover, a travel adapter, a book for her AP Literature class (she has to do a project over the summer!), and a travel wallet for cash and passport that she can wear under clothes. Out of pocket I only spent $6.52!

Today has been a no spend day! Happy about that, since it has been a very spendy June so far.

Big Savings Goal: $2,093.73

June 3rd, 2017 at 02:11 pm

I'm not sure when I announced our Big Savings Goal, but it has been at least two months. I thought it would be good to share how far we have come.

The Big Savings Goal is $160,000.

We have saved $2,093.73 as of the end of May 2017.

I wish it was more, but I also am pleased that we have a decent start. I didn't put the goal out there to forget about it. I also expected progress to be a little slow in the beginning. We have a daughter in college, and some of our cash goes to tuition. We have a rent payment of $1800 for another year (hope to move and lower that amount).

I posted our interest for May in yesterday's post. Yes, that interest is going to our Big Savings Goal!

May Interest

June 2nd, 2017 at 12:39 pm

The interest earned on our cash savings came to $92.26 in the month of May. We do have several 2% CDs where a lot of our money is parked, so that helps a lot.

In fact, I remembered when checking the interest, that at least one of the CDs allows new deposits added to it. I transferred $430 I had in a savings account at the same bank to that CD. I think it is actually two of the CDs that have that option, but the rate is the same, so it didn't really mater which one I picked.

Did you earn any interest in May?

Sinking Funds

May 31st, 2017 at 10:55 am

I'm on FB group where there has been a lot of discussion about sinking funds. The definition they gave is 'saving a small amount of money each month for a certain amount of time before you make a purchase'. That definition is true, but a bit vague since it doesn't really explain the types of things you use sinking funds for.

I have used sinking funds (sometimes I call them escrow funds) for car registrations, Christmas, auto insurance for a very long time. I established these pretty early on. I wanted to get a discount for paying insurance semi annually. The only way to make sure I had the funds was to save for it. A little each month.

Specifically, I save $50 a month for Christmas. I guess I do have a birthday fund now too. I save $42 a month in that one. I also save $152 a month for car registrations, auto insurance and renters insurance.

Now that we use YNAB, I have quite a few more sinking funds. I don't always add to them all every month. For example, I know that my daughter has a fair share for band expenses due in the fall when marching season starts. It's usually around $300. I could save $25 a month, but that feels tedious to do all year long. So for the last couple months, I have been just putting various amounts in knowing the goal is to have all the money by August. I actually need to make a $75 payment to them tomorrow. And I do have that.

I established an eye care fund, as nearly all of us are due (over due actually) for eye exams and will need glasses. And I also established a cell phone replacement category. So far I have funded it well enough to purchase two new phones. My older daughter and I are holding out even longer with phones we bought 3 years ago. My does randomly turn off and on by itself sometimes, but she hasn't had any problems with hers.

Do you have sinking funds? What do you use yours for?

Renter's Insurance

May 19th, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Our renter's insurance has renewed for July. And the rate has dropped! By $100 a year. Last year the amount was $404, this year our rate is $304. Seems almost unheard of that insurance rates go down!

I'm taking this saving and dropping it into the BIG goal. Smile

I do find it interesting that as soon as I make a plan to save more money, money shows up! Some of it comes in the form of checks, and some comes in the way of savings on bills. I will take it.

Sold Our Treadmill and More

May 17th, 2017 at 11:30 am

We sold our treadmill back to Play It Again Sports, which is where we purchased it used 20 months ago. I used it a fair amount initially. My husband used it last on Sunday. And easily used it about four days a week.

I figured out that we originally spent $900 including tax and delivery. We sold it back for $200, and they came and picked it up and moved it (down the stairs no less). $700 net over 20 months was equal to $35 a month. Not bad.

We didn't really want to sell it, but we had it on carpet in our bonus room and realized a couple months ago that the treadmill had burned a hole in the carpet from friction! Well when you rent you do try to limit damage. So we bought a mat to put under it, but it didn't seem to help. We were seeing evidence that a new hole could develop again.

My husband is about to be away for a few months for training, and when he returns his job will have fewer hours, with more time for working out on post. And that is free!

I've been walking in our neighborhood, even during some of the winter months, so my exercise is free as well. I do need to start doing more weight bearing exercises, but those can be done with some small equipment pieces we have at home and with my own body...like pushups and squats.

The damage to the carpet is unfortunate. And we feel really bad about it. My husband thinks the landlord will have to replace all the carpet, therefore we will lose our entire $1800 deposit. My thought is to approach them in the month or so before our lease ends, and suggest a local company that will repair the hole using carpet from a closet. The hole itself measures less than 2 inches by 2 inches. We have a remnant of carpet from another home that could fill in the small amount of carpet from the closet. We would pay for the repair and expect all or most of our deposit back.

Our landlords are a bit hard to work with, so we don't know how they will respond. We are currently trying to get them to hire a new company to fertilize and spray for weeds. It is in our lease that they provide it. They fired the last company for unknown reasons last fall. Currently, they have simply not responded to our voice mail, a text or an email concerning the problem.

We have heard from neighbors that they didn't take care of the lawn very well when they lived here, so I think they aren't very motivated to provide the service when they can't see the weeds themselves.

In the past they have tried to have us call to make a/c repair appointments. However, if we call the a/c company still requires the owner to call to authorize. So I don't get why they can't just make the call when we are in need of service. Sometimes I wish we had a property management company, but then I hear my neighbor complain, and figure we don't have it too bad. They leave us alone most of the time and the house itself is in good working order.

As I get to the end of this post, I'm beginning to think we need to spray the weeds ourselves, and charge them for the cost and time. They seem to be fine with just deducting things from the rent. However, then I'm irritated that our lease states it is included and they aren't providing it.

Oh and by the way the $200 is going to the BIG Goal. Smile

Lowest Electricity Bill Yet!

May 14th, 2017 at 07:04 pm

I just received our electric bill in my email inbox. I love bills that are emailed. They don't add clutter to my life that way!

The bill is the lowest we have had the entire time we have lived in this home (22 months). For a 2400 sq ft home our bill came in at $122.88 The highest was this past December, at around $315. Last month it was $167.

Now it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason for the cost savings, but I have to give some credit to not using the dryer as much. It still gets use twice a week, rather than four times a week or more.

I'm going to give some major credit to the weather. It has been very mild for many of the days of the billing period, April 10 through May 10. Not too hot to run the air conditioner most of the time. And no need for heating either. Unfortunately, we are going to hit the 90s later in the week.

We were also gone for one week during the billing period and I did increase the temperature before air conditioning would come on. I couldn't turn off entirely because the cat was home, but no lights, or tv use during the week can make an impact.

After we returned, my husband and I both came down with colds. And we both skipped our regular workouts, and for my husband that meant he wasn't using our treadmill. Since that uses electricity I have to think it made an impact also. (We are selling our treadmill this week and expect to make about $200, so no longer will that be an added impact to the electric bill. )

And finally, just this past week I did change the gaskets on the fridge. I do wonder how much cold air was escaping and causing the fridge to run more often. That would have only been for a couple days on this billing cycle, but it had to have contributed a bit.

I'm having fun working on reducing our electricity, even though it can feel I don't have much control over it at times. Thank you mother nature!

Let's Talk College Costs...Part One

May 8th, 2017 at 05:19 pm

My daughter applied for her Post 911 GI Bill education benefits while she was home on spring break. Her certificate of eligibility letter arrived in the mail this weekend. We were expecting it to say 18 months of eligibility as that is what my husband transferred to her and we have documentation of. Instead it said 12 months 6 days.

My husband called the VA today and and it turns out that by law they are required to count educational benefits he already received and used for his bachelor's degree against the Post 911 GI Bill. He used 24 months of a 48 month benefit. He has 24 months and 11 days left. We are splitting the benefit equally between our girls, which means 12 months and 6 days (likely five for our younger daughter).

While this is a surprise and not what we planned I am okay with this. It make sense that the government would not give soldiers educational benefits totaling more than the time one degree would take to complete. My husband did get his bachelor's degree (it was an accelerated program and he had a lot of transferred credits that counted) paid in full. We did benefit from that. He wouldn't have well paying officer's job he has now without a college degree.

The original plan was that 18 months of benefits would have been worth at least four semesters plus housing for our oldest daughter. Each semester is considered 4 months. I hadn't figured out how the two extra months would have worked out, but now I don't really need to.

The current plan is to make use of 8 months worth of benefits for her Junior year, which starts this fall. This will cover the tuition and fees above her scholarship, even at the non resident rate (because of the Yellow Ribbon program). These benefits will provide a housing allowance, but will not cover the full cost of her room and board, and $1000 towards books.

The next question is what to do with the final 4 months of benefits set aside for her. We expect she may need to go an additional semester after the senior year (and some summer classes in between) since she is a double major. Because the scholarship ends after four years, the full out of state tuition will be billed for all credits she takes. I do think it is a full 15+ credit hours the way she has it mapped out right now. It may make sense to save that final four months of benefits for that final semester, since it will be the most costly. The two senior semesters are at least reduced by the scholarship.

Our oldest daughter's senior year is the same year our youngest daughter will be a freshman in college. It is possible, but very slim, we could be eligible for some aid. As always the government would be more than happy to offer us a loan! Smile We also don't know at this point which college our younger daughter will attend, or know the scholarships she may receive.

We can adjust the number of months of benefits we transfer to our daughter's also. So if it seems our younger daughter will have lower costs, we could move some of the benefits to the older daughter. I expect we will know a lot more by the end of the year or early next year.

It is a little overwhelming to look at my older daughter's costs coming up and only see about $8000 sitting in her education funds!

I guess I should add that we aren't against taking a loan out at some point. Maybe for one of her senior semesters? While we support her getting two degrees, it doesn't mean we need to pay for it. I kind of have though the final semester should be on her, but if I could get that most expensive semester covered by the Post 911 GI Bill that would be helpful to her, to have less to borrow.

Sorry if my post is all over the place...this just happened this morning, so I'm still wrapping my brain around this. I hope to come back later today or tomorrow with another post that is a bit more detailed and responds to Monkey Mama's post.

A Change Regarding Summer Tuition

May 2nd, 2017 at 01:48 am

So an interesting thing happened today. I logged on to my daughter's payment account for the University because she said she ended up buying a book that she had rented this semester because she knew she will need it for some future classes. I thought maybe it had posted already.

What had posted was the tuition for summer. I had calculated the two online summer courses (at the online non resident rate) as $3,470. But the amount that was showing was $4,689.75! Over $1,200 more than I was planning.

I can only see the amount due, not any billing details. So I asked her if she had any information about it. She sends it to me and I realized this class that she has signed up for is an Engineering class (although specifically geared to non engineering students).

In the end we decided that it wasn't worth the money to take that class. She wasn't really interested in it, she was only taking it to fulfill one of the liberal arts requirement. And she wanted to take something online this summer. She looked for other options, but found nothing to replace it with. So unless something changes she will take just one class this summer, reducing tuition to $1,756.75.

I sort of feel like I won the lottery since I don't have to shell out cash for a second class. My daughter plans to add a math class instead to her fall course load which was already at 14 credits and will now be 17. This will fulfill the requirement she was trying to meet. And as another bonus to us, this fall is when we expect to begin using the Post 911 GI Bill benefits my husband transferred to her. It will cover her classes (even at the non resident rate) in full.

I do feel a little bad she has to take on 17 credits, however, she just did that this semester and seemed to handle it pretty well. She might spend some of her free time brushing up on French and PreCalculus this summer to hopefully help the transition to those classes in the fall.

I had planed to save up $1700 out of pocket to cover half of what I thought tuition would be. The other half was going to come from her Educational Savings account. I have $1400 saved already, but I'm considering sticking with the original plan to pay half out of pocket and the other half from the ESA. This means I would only need around $875, leaving $525 that I could put towards something else.

Maybe the Big Goal? I might wait a bit and see how much the textbook is and if there are other school related expenses that I'm not thinking about. Either way I'm excited about the financial aspect of this change. Smile

Other Savings in April

May 1st, 2017 at 04:22 pm

My post last night chronicled the savings we made happen towards our Big Goal. Almost $900!

But guess what? We saved money towards other things too. We saved $845 in my husband's TSP account, and $500 each ($1000 total) in our Roth IRA accounts. We skipped a month for cash flow reasons earlier this year, but this will max us out in our Roth IRAs this year. This savings is all set up automatically, which makes it so easy.

We also set aside money in short term savings for upcoming purchases. We saved $250 for a cell phone, $982.50 towards summer tuition, $190 for band fees, $42 for birthdays, $50 for Christmas, $153 towards auto, renters insurance and car registration, and $200 for car repairs.

And I see I put over $900 towards emergency fund, but that may end up in another spot because we really do already have plenty in our emergency fund.

It's been a very good savings month! Now let's see what I can make happen in May. Smile

April Savings & Interest

May 1st, 2017 at 12:13 am

I honestly can hardly believe it is May! Is time flying for the rest of you too?

We saved some decent money in April despite going on a trip for eight days. Interest from our savings accounts and certificates amounted to $89.10. We are lucky to have quite a bit of cash in CDs paying 2% or more right now.

We saved $125 automatically from my husband paycheck. I recently increased this to $131, effective next month, since our dental premium went down.

We found some cash to save this month towards the Big Goal.
$105.06 Army Travel Reimbursement
$250.00 Army Damage Claim Paid
$100.00 Anniversary gift
$165.65 Ebay and Pinecone Proceeds
$50.97 Amazon purchases paid with Swagbucks

The total of all amounts listed above is $885.78. This is far from the $1900 monthly average I need to save each month to reach the big goal, but I'm keeping the faith that the tides will turn somewhere in the process where I can save much more each month. It is a journey. If we don't aim for something we will come up far shorter.

Kitchenette and Phone

April 30th, 2017 at 01:38 pm

It looks like my husband will have a kitchenette in his room while he is at training this summer. He is on a post with a commissary also, so it looks like he can eat almost as normal while away. I do expect he will eat out a bit more, just because of the change in routine. We will discuss this more before he leaves. Smile

He is going to be near Washington DC, so it may end up being a chance for the girls and I to fly up there (not a fan of interstate driving) and visit. It will depend on his availability on weekends. I will try to save a bit more in the vacation fund in the meantime.

We are about to buy our youngest daughter a new cell phone. Her phone is almost exactly 3 years old, but is acting up. She has been dealing with issues with it for quite a few months now. We want to her to have a reliable phone while she is in Europe. Although we don't really want her to use it for much more than a camera or to play a game on since the cost would be very expensive. We expect to use What's App to communicate with her for free.

We are currently looking at buying an unlocked Motorola G Plus (5th Gen) for $229. The best price seems to be at Best Buy for a new phone. My Dad is a Team National member so I'm going to see if they have any discounts before I buy it.

I Forgot About this Money

April 28th, 2017 at 06:30 pm

I have some various topics I'm sharing today. And one is a bit personal and some may not want to read. I'll give a warning.

went to transfer the latest $3 sent to me from Pinecone from my PayPal account to our savings account today and realized I had far more money in there! The balance was $165.65! Now once I saw it I did know that the money was from my eBay sales and a few other surveys completed since the first of the year. I did go ahead and transfer the full balance to our savings and flagged the money in YNAB to go to our Big Goal.

I'm still hanging most of our laundry to dry. I say most because I have found towels really do need some time in the dryer. And today, I needed to wash and dry sheets and towels since my daughter had been ill last night. If I could dry outside, I would but I figured drying inside doesn't full kill any bacteria like a dryer would. So two loads have gone through the dryer today. Luckily that is not the norm!

My husband is going away to school this summer for some training on a new job for the Army. He will be about five hours away, so we think he can drive home few times. His housing is covered in full so that is a huge relief to me. He will also be getting per diem for food and incidentals amounting to $1966.50 for the first 28 days. He will need to get his own food, and because he is in a hotel we aren't sure if there will be a way to cook meals. I think he wants to just figure it out once he gets there. I like to know these things ahead. He does know I would love to save some of the money, preferably half or more. He has a second class that I think is for two months in the same location, and we expect, but can't confirm yet, that this one will pay a similar per diem for each month. Oh, and he will get mileage for one trip to the location and one trip home. That could end up being around $300. But of course, we would take the gas cost out of that. The travel claims will be submitted by him at the end of each course.

It's 90 degrees and humid here in the Southeast today. The air conditioning is running. I actually have to be out in it this evening as the marching band is holding a fund raiser. I'm not looking forward to the bill that comes when the air conditioning starts running regularly. Maybe my lack of dryer use this summer will help.

Our garden is looking good, minus the lettuce, which is getting a very slow start from seed. Everything else looks pretty good so far, including the sugar snap peas I started from seed. My daughter is thrilled to see the beginnings of 9 strawberries on her plants.

Here's the personal part....but is related to savings and not too detailed at all.





And finally, I wanted to give an update on using my menstrual cup and using reusable pads. I have used the menstrual cup before for many years and then took a break for whatever reason. I'm now not sure what it was. I'm glad I have gone back primarily because it is more comfortable than tampons and it manages my heavy flow far better. I bought mine for less than $10 on Amazon using Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks. That was two months (cycles) ago. Early last month I used more Amazon gift cards to purchase five reusable pads that were listed at $19.99 when I bought them. But free after my efforts on Swagbucks. I only used the pads for back up and for very light days, so I had no issue with absorption. I may experiment and report back on a heavier flow day, but for now I super happy with this for the savings, comfort, and environment reasons.

I'm still on the look out for finding ways to save on our expenses. It's a bit slow going, but I'm determined to keep making progress and make a dent in our Big Goal.





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