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.
Viewing the 'saving' Category
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.
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.
My oldest daughter has a four year scholarship worth $14K per year, along with a $500 Honor's Scholarship. She also had another scholarship her freshman year (worth $1-2K). These have helped tremendously the first two years since we pay out of state tuition. This year, her third year, the Post 911 GI Bill has paid the difference after scholarships, along with a book and housing stipend. We have paid very little out of pocket this year. I need to do an update on that here soon.
We have been notified she is receiving an art scholarship next year worth $1500. This will be divided in half, so worth $750 per semester. This is most significant for the spring semester, as she will not have Post 911 GI Bill benefits to use, thus everything after scholarships is ours to pay.
We expect our daughter will be going an extra semester (Fall 2019) because she is a double major. That semester will be the most expensive, or possibly the least expensive. Scholarships will have run out (unless awarded a new one), thus the entire out of state tuition will be on our shoulders. She has been averaging 17 credit hours a semester, so the cost could be almost $20K. We do not have the money now and expect her college funds to be depleted by then. We are starting to think it would be in the best interest to move more of my husband's Post 911 GI Bill benefits to our oldest daughter just in time for her final semester. And then that benefit covers the entire tuition!
Our youngest daughter will be receiving in state tuition. Yes, her college is in another state. Her tuition after scholarships is $3500 PER YEAR for the first two years, for 12 credits or more. The remaining two years will be higher as an engineering student, around $1500 per year, or $4500 TOTAL per year. Again, this is not including housing. Honestly, we can totally cover tuition out of pocket for her even in those higher cost years.
Our thinking now is to move more of the GI Bill benefits to our oldest daughter because the benefit to us financially is much higher.
At any rate, just excited our daughter was awarded a scholarship! Part of it will benefit our us directly, the other benefits the US taxpayer...paying less out of the GI Bill funds to the university.
In other news, received $10 Diamond Class Action settlement. Apparently enough leftover funds from several years ago to make another payout! I also sold a book on eBay last night, so few extra dollars there.
I sort of felt like a money magnet yesterday!
I've added some more cash to our Big Goal. Our plan is to add $108 per pay period. I keep forgetting when I do our budget in YNAB, so then I have to go back in and make adjustments for it to work! This is money from my husband's raise this year. We also save last year's raise. So we are still living on 2016 income!
I think I will switch this to an automatic savings transfer, then I can have automatically set up to record in YNAB as well. I can't let this money disappear into our spending!
I made an eBay sale last night. Net proceeds about $11 on something we no longer need or use. It had been listed for awhile, but I was okay waiting for the right person to come along.
I redeemed $22.99 from our Chase Freedom account. Cash will be deposited into our bank account in the next day or so.
Happy to have cash flowing in and the ability to save it.
I'm a bit behind reporting!
Our March interest earned on our cash savings was $105.96! I actually think this was the first time that has ever happened. We've been close, but not over. I think it's because I moved about $16K to an account earning far more interest. Wise move I made it seems.
We have a CD that comes due this month. I need to think through about rolling it over. We could move this year (as early as October). I expect we will rent, but if we don't...might need that cash accessible. Something to be thinking through in the next couple weeks.
Edited to add: We can roll this money into other CDs we already hold at Navy Federal. They accept new money at any time. I think it may be worth rolling it into one that matures in June at the very least. I think this was my plan all along.
Are you signed up to receive notices about Class Action Lawsuits? I get my notices from Class Action Rebates. It does pay off.
Today we received a claim check for $18 from a class action suit with Rooms To Go. We had purchased furniture with them and qualified as a claimant. We do not file claims that we have not purchased since that would be illegal.
This money is going to the Big Goal. Cash adds up!
Payday occurred on Thursday. We have $131 automatically deposited into our Navy Federal Credit Union account from my husband's paycheck. We have been doing that amount for over a year now.
Because of my husband's raise and the new withholding tables, we are now able to save another $108 per pay period, or $216 a month. This is all in addition to our retirement, college and other short term savings.
After I filled in all the budget categories on YNAB, I still show $750 left to budget! For now I'm just leaving it that way. At the end of March I will put whatever EXTRA we have to our Big Goal savings.
I don't know what it is exactly, but it feel like there's a lot of extra money lately. I'm pretty sure I'm not missing anything. Overall I think it is just us not overspending, which of course, is a very good thing!
I usually report interest for each month in a separate post, but I think I will report it here. Total for February was $92.85.
Were you able to save something this month? We are further along on our journey of savings, so don't feel bad if all you can save is $5 this month. Save it!! There are always rainy days in our future.
I redeemed Swagbucks recently for $25 deposit to my PayPal account. I sold two items on eBay and netted just over $15. I just transferred the money to our savings account. This is Big Goal money!
I did a ShopTracker for Pinecone Research, but I have not seen the credit to my account yet. That should be $3 when it arrives. And I JUST got the email that it has been credited as I was writing this. Timing is an amusing thing!
Payday is on Thursday, so I just paid off all credit cards and they are now back to zero. I do this twice per month, no interest is ever paid on the credit cards we use. Our February spending actually ended up being only $75 more than in January! I was surprised, as we had guests and we weren't trying.
I'm looking forward to adding up our interest for the month of February. I noticed that one of our accounts has increased the interest rate to 1.60%. Such a relief to us savers to see interest rates moving in a favorable direction.
I will balance and reconcile all accounts in YNAB later today or tomorrow. Some accounts are simple as we use them for just a few transactions a month. Other accounts take a little longer. Once they are all up to date, then I toss nearly all receipts, keeping only those that I may need for a return or for long term reasons, such as insurance claims or taxes.
I cashed out my Ibotta account last night. The funds were immediately transferred to my PayPal account. Just this morning I moved those funds to savings, not sure why I waited! I was able to cash out $41.38.
I also had proceeds from an item I sold on eBay yesterday as well, so I transferred those to savings. In total I added $49.56 to our Big Goal funds.
It does take awhile for Ibotta coupon savings to add up and you need a $20 balance to withdraw, but I find it easier than cutting or printing coupons. If you are interested in saving this way, you can sign up under me here.
I mentioned in my post yesterday that I was waiting to hear back from US Bank about earning 5% cash back on our daughter's computer purchase with Dell. I had selected 5% cash back on Electronics and Cell Phones (I always select this one) for the first quarter of the year.
Turns out Dell does not designate themselves as an Electronics Store but as Computer & Computer Software retailer. I really should have asked this question in advance. I took a chance. I had even considered buying Dell gift cards at a discount site, but then figured I wouldn't get the 5% back since that would be a gift card purchase. In the end that is what I should have done because those gift cards were at a 4% discount.
I did get 1% back on the purchase with Dell, so saved $14.61. I also clicked through Ebates for 2% cash back or $27.88. I will get that money in May when Ebates send me my Big Fat Check (that's what they call it). I see now they have 10% cash back on Dell. Ugh. I have to trust that I got a good deal on the site at the time. If I remember right the computer was discounted by 10%.
My husband was paid today. I put $108 into our Big Goal Fund since this is the amount of his paycheck that is over what he was receiving before. So important to save as much of our raises as possible, so we don't get the creep of lifestyle inflation.
I also sold another item on eBay. Net is probably about $7.50. It will go to the goal too. It adds up!
I found some cash yesterday! I made sure to get all of it deposited into our savings accounts to go to the Big Goal. If you are new here, I call found money snowflakes. It's a term that comes from adding small amounts of money to your debt snowball to pay the debt off quickly. I also use the term when adding small amounts to my big savings goals.
Here's what I found:
$1.33 Discover Rewards
$4.59 Ebay Proceeds
$19.10 Chase Freedom Rewards
$3.11 USAA ATM rebate and interest
I also have some rewards with US Bank, but I'm checking with them about the amount. I think I'm owed more after purchasing a computer from Dell and having 5% cash back on electronics chose for this quarter.
Not big money, but I'm telling it where to go so it will make a difference in our goals. I share so that if you have any snowflakes you might be inspired to put that money towards your financial goal, whether that is paying off debt or saving. The small amounts add up.
Where do you find your snowflakes?
So finally, after many issues last month, I was able to log on to the free version of H&R Block to file our taxes. We are able to file free as military members through the Military One Source website. The filing was free for Federal and State. We owe $91 to the federal government, which is better than the expected $400 I had in mind. And we are exempt from state income tax in our state of legal residence, since they do not tax Active Duty Pay. I have already schedule payment from our checking account to take place on March 1st. I could have waited longer obviously, but I just want to get it done!
I think for now I will keep our withholding allowances at 9. Dido made me aware that there will be a $500 credit per dependent over age 17 beginning in 2018, so that reduces the tax owed by $1000. I may actually increase it later in the year, but I will wait until we know what the actual college expenses we pay are. Right now it could be as much as a $2500 American Opportunity tax credit and maybe $400 Lifetime Learning Credit. As it stands now, we will have $3918 withheld for 2018, and likely actual tax would be $6900. So we are in the right place with withholding.
And I can see that our next paycheck is higher due to the new withholding tables. The amount is $45.70 more per pay period or $91.40 per month. We were already getting an additional $63.15 per pay period due to my husband's raise. So since December we have $217 more in our pockets each month. And more going to retirement because of the raise! Can't complain about that.
In other news, I sold three more items on eBay in the last week. Not big money, but it all adds up. It goes to the Big Goal...as should that extra income above.
After a low spend January, we had extra funds to allocate. I finally took care of that yesterday, by adding $1000 to our vacation budget. We are definitely going to be on the move this year, so the budget needs help.
We potentially have a small beach vacation with family that will visit in June. The beach is about two hours away, so no airline tickets, but contribution to a rental for sure. And food!
We are going to need to travel to our youngest daughter's college for orientation in June. We likely could skip it living so far away, but we think since we can make it work, it will be helpful as part of the adjustment living away from us to have more experience on campus. We will likely fly for this event. Hotels also needed.
We also want to fly with our daughter and help her move in to her dorm in the fall. Ironically, while typing this message a parent online was asking about storage and moving solutions for out of state students. In helping her I found two that we may be able to use to have her items transported so we don't need to drive 20 hours! We think we will send her bike, so that is bulky. Although maybe it's better to sell it, and buy another one. All things we need to figure out.
Then we would like to visit both girls in late fall, maybe for Thanksgiving. The point is our budget for travel is going to start to be a bigger expense than ever. So it felt good to add $1000 in just one month.
I think I can cover spring break for our daughter with Southwest points. Yay!
Totaled up January interest for all of our accounts today. Grand total earned was $92.79. We have more money earning higher interest, but the amount earned is a little lower, primarily because I missed moving a matured CD immediately to a new CD. Lost out on about 10+ days of interest. Probably only lost $5...too lazy to figure out the exact amount.
I transferred $131 that went to a savings account from my husband's paycheck into a CD earning 2%. I make a point to do this every month. Not all CDs let you add new money, but we currently have at least two that do!
I also made sure to add $63.15 to our Big Goal. Currently this is the amount of increased pay after my husband's raise. This is twice per month. Once I figure out the new withholding I will probably add this money to the $131 we send to savings...so around $250 a month.
We are on our second snow day. Yesterday, could have been a school day as the snow didn't start falling until after 7pm. Yes, rain earlier, but temps didn't drop until much later as well. I guess other northern areas of the county did get snow earlier. That means no driving for me or my husband to go into work. Of course, since the temperatures dropped the heat pump is running constantly.
My husband picked up some more Diet Coke and snacks at the store. Husband and I are limiting snacks and he was just suppose to get one thing for our daughter. Instead three snack items came home. He spent $17+ at the store. Snacks should last awhile because we are not mindfully putting our hands into the package. We measure it all out.
I did purchase several kinds of Vitamins for my oldest daughter. I buy a couple different ones for her and she was basically about out of all of them. I spent $49. That was not budgeted, although she did mention needing them soon. I was hoping to wait until February. It is what it is. We can afford it.
The other cash spent was on my husband's haircut. He spent $13.70. I had budgeted for this!
I'm losing track of what I have reported for snowflakes. Did I mention that I redeemed Chase Freedom rewards for $24.28? That was deposited into our checking account the other day. I listed some items on eBay. No luck on selling yet, but that doesn't surprise me as I'm sure many people are shopped out after the holidays.
I also added $63.15 to the Big Goal. This is the current after tax increase in my husband's paycheck each pay period. I expect the amount will change with the new withholding changes.
Oh, I received notification from Verizon that they gave us a $10 credit for recycling my daughter's old cell phone. Not much, but we'll take it considering it was a 3.5 year old phone.
Keeping busy on the snow days getting cleaning done, updating financials and tax planning, as well as decluttering. Oh, and watching YouTube videos for recipes! All free activities at home.
We have a bill that will be sent out in the next week for our University expenses. The final amount, including books that we were charged is $4,383.69. All of that is housing for the second semester. And we will get reimbursed from the VA over the next few months for just under that amount. Specifically we will receive $4,336.80 to cover housing.
I currently have $5,854 set aside in our college category in our checking account. So there will be no issue paying the bill when it is due in early February. After the bill is paid that will leave $1,470. I expect to need at least $3,700 to cover two online classes this summer. The bill will be due early June. My goal is to pay those out of pocket, and I have been setting aside $410 per month to make that happen. It does appear we are on track!
I increased our younger daughter's Educational Savings amount to $333.33 from $166.66. The maximum amount you can contribute each year is $2000. She turns 18 in July. At that time you can no longer contribute to the account. I increased it in order to get the full amount funded by her birthday.
You add those two amounts up ($410 +333.33) and we are setting aside $743 each month for college expenses. That is what saving and cash flowing look like. And if we had car payments like so many American's it would be even more difficult to make this happen. So happy my 2007 Honda Odyssey with 130K miles still looks and runs great!
I just realized this morning that we had a CD mature at the end of December. The money was moved to our savings account, but I forgot to move it to a new CD that I had opened earlier in December. At least not too much time passed. The transfer of $10,375 is now complete and earning 2% interest until sometime in early 2019.
My daughter sent me the 1098T for 2017. This form shows how much in qualified tuition expenses we paid and how many scholarship and grant dollars were applied to her account. The difference between the two numbers is how much we paid out of pocket for tuition. That amount can be applied for the American Opportunity Tax credit. In our case the amount is over the maximum for 2017, so we can claim the full $4,000 in tuition paid result in a $2,500 benefit to us. This won't result in a refund for us though as I already figured it into our withholding for the year...we've been getting the benefit all year long!
In 2018 we have the potential for claiming the American Opportunity Tax Credit for two college students. Right now I expect we will claim whatever we pay in summer tuition for our older daughter. Her tuition for 2018 will likely all be paid by the Post 911 GI Bill so no other tuition to claim. And our younger daughter's tuition is still yet to be determined but at this point I don't expect it to pay out anything near $4,000 for tuition. It's going to get more interesting that is for sure!
I received a check in the mail from my claim with Blue Buffalo. Amount of the check is $114.09. It could have been up to $200, but they had lots of claimants. I'm happy either way!
Yesterday, I redeemed Swagbucks for $50 cash through PayPal. I received that money in my PayPal account.
I will add this extra money to our Big Goal!
It's been a good money day!
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