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!
Viewing the 'Snowflakes' Category
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'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!
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.
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!
My parents send my husband and I a $100 check every year for our anniversary. This year was no different. We usually save the money, rarely making a purchase. So yes, we deposited that money into our savings account to count towards our Big Goal.
As far as other snowflakes, I redeemed Amex rewards equal to $25 this week. I also transferred $3.49 from a small eBay sale to our savings account. I have two items I need to list to hopefully bring in a few more dollars.
I got a call from my oldest daughter yesterday with concern she may have fractured a bone in her foot. It was a goofy thing where her foot got trapped between her chair and her desk, so a bit crushed on the side of her left foot. She iced it and went to bed. Woke up and found it very painful to even walk. Somehow she managed to hobble around campus, and late in the day went in for an xRay. Luckily no break or fracture, just a bone contusion. So she has instructions to rest, ice, and elevate. My mom gave her some Ace bandages to use for compression. And the doctor said she could take up to three ibuprofen for pain. My daughter was shocked at the dosage suggested. She is one to stay away from all drugs as much as possible.
About two weeks ago, we realized our daughter was dropped from our insurance because she turned 21. Luckily we got right on it and updated her information to show she is enrolled full time in college. But then yesterday, I questioned my husband that it really did take effect. Initially, it seemed that no it had not. He did some sort of online enrollment and then did get a letter emailed to him before she arrived at the clinic. The visit is free at the University Health clinic (up to five per year), but the xRays will need to go through insurance. She has a $150 deductible so that will need to be met before insurance pays. It is worth it for piece of mind, knowing she didn't break it...just felt like it!
It's a beautiful day here, were going out for a hike! Enjoy your weekend. Stay frugal and healthy.
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 just reviewed the snowflakes we received in March. Here's a breakdown:
$3.53 eBay proceeds (our portion, daughter received more)
$25.00 Amex reward
$20.00 Amex offer
$18.00 Rooms to Go settlement
Not much but it does add up!
On that Amex offer, we made a purchase at Boxed.com and received a credit on our Amex statement. I simply moved money from the Household Expenses category that would have been spent without the offer and put that money in the Big Goal category.
For anyone new, snowflakes is just a term for extra money. Since many people snowball their debt payments, finding extra money to add is a like adding some snowflakes to the snowball. We are debt free, so we simply add our snowflakes to our savings goals.
A few random updates.
I returned an item I bought last week to Walmart. It just didn't work like I thought it would. That put $3.94 back in our pockets, which I probably did really spend again, because I needed several things while I was there. And I also bought my husband Star Wars, Last Jedi that came out today on Blu Ray. I lucked out that he never paid money to see this in the theatre, so only buying the movie is a win! Sometimes it seems we have to do both. Ugh!
I earned $5.10 from Ibotta this month. Not a lot, but I don't buy many of the things they offer.
I have not been doing Swagbucks much this month. I have 1490SB currently. I'll just keep accumulating them when I feel like it. I also have almost 2500 MyPoints, which seems to be owned by the same company as Swagbucks!?
We had our daughter home for Spring Break last week. We did some extra eating out as a result, which I expected and planned for. And guess what, next week is my younger daughter's spring break!? I don't think it will cause us to eat out more, but I'm thinking we may do some shopping for clothes, or even some college dorm room items!
Budget is getting a little tight as we near the end of the month, but payday is Friday, so I expect I can stay within the budget we put out for March.
I missed my TEN year Blogoversary earlier this month on March 12. I'm quite shocked I have stayed at it this long. It's been fun, and very rewarding to reach towards our goals, andcheer each other on in this community all while creating a log of our financial happenings!
I was reviewing next quarter's cash back offers. Chase Freedom and Discover have 5% cash back on Groceries. I'm not sure I will be using them though because I have upgraded our American Express Blue Everyday card with the Cash Preferred (I think that's it) which will offer 6% cash back on groceries, and 3% on gas and department stores.
I've known about this card for awhile...but with all the churning of card offers over the years I just didn't dip into this one most likely due to the annual fee. I try to avoid those, but sometimes in the end it is worth it!
American Express made it easy to upgrade. My account numbers are the same. We will get new cards. The annual fee of $95 is waived the first year. If we spend $2000 or more on the card in the first three months we will get a $150 statement credit. I do not expect this to be a problem.
We've been averaging earning $25 statement credit each month just using the card for purchases at grocery stores. At 6% cash back, I expect we can double this amount. And I think there is a limit to the amount you can spend and still get the 6%. Eventually, we may need to turn to another card. We do have another Blue Cash Everyday card in my husband's name so we could at least get 3%.
Now I'm starting to wonder if I should use the 5% back on Chase and Discover for the second quarter. That would help me not meet the maximum for grocery stores so quickly on the American Express. I guess I have a little more to ponder, as I would still need to spend $2000 to get the statement credit.
I'll get it figured out eventually!
Oh, I did change our Electric bill to be charged to our US Bank Visa for 5% cash back. All set for next quarter...and hopefully all quarters following.
In the last week, as I have paid our credit cards in full, I found that two of them had rewards I could redeem. I redeemed $22.11 in cash from our Chase Freedom account. We have been using that card for fuel, cable, phone (Ooma) and Netflix purchases this quarter to earn 5% cash back.
Our American Express card had earned another $25 in rewards. This is applied as a statement credit, but I did put that same amount towards our Big Goal.
Today was a little spendy! My husband is home from work while our daughter visits. We ran to Target to pick up a sympathy card, light bulbs, shaving cream and packing tape. We decide to make this our day out to each lunch. We will eat at home the next few days, with more eating out to celebrate her birthday later in the week. And finally, we picked up some hair product our daughter uses from Ulta (did have a coupon). That was $83 of spending! I'm glad I added extra to our budget accounts.
My husband is going to get the oil changed in my van tomorrow. We have been saving for car maintenance, so no worries about finding cash for that! We are set.
Tonight I'm making this for dinner. Some of us will add chicken. I'm also going to use some hamburger buns to make a garlic bread. I've made that recipe with green beans instead of asparagus with good results...even more frugal.
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!
I sold a set of eight books on eBay Saturday morning. These were my daughter's, so I decided to offer her the $50 proceeds. I usually don't give the girls the money since most items I sell are a couple dollars at a time...and we are still supporting them.
This time the amount was more significant and these were purchased with her own money. She (oldest daughter) has been talking about wanting to save for a new flute and becoming more aware of the need for money! She was very happy to hear she will be getting $50.
Not much financial news here at our house. The weather has been colder in the southeast and we are just enjoying a little more time being hunkered down and relaxing. Busier times are ahead!
We may be spending $200 for the four of us to attend a music concert this summer. We will probably decide this week. It's a week night, so need to really see if my husband is up for a late night with work the next day. The concert is 1.5 hours away.
I continue our paper purge, following Marie Kondo's advice, which is that very little needs to be saved. I have converted some items to digital versions. This weekend my husband created a spreadsheet to track our vehicle maintenance, and then entered years of data from receipts we had been keeping. We now know exactly what has been done, when and how much it cost us...all at a glance. The receipts are going out today! It feels so good to lighten the load of paper.
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.
There isn't much financial news going on here, thus the lack of posts. The good news is there has been minimal spending, gas and groceries primarily.
I did get an email offer from Discover card for $10. I had to make the card my 1-Click setting on Amazon and was given a $10 credit. I already used it to pick up a book that is normally $15. I don't like to purchase books, but this topic is one I find hard to get at the library.
I've been decluttering more of our paper files this week. I was motivated after dealing with some old tax files. I did a very large purge of papers in January 2015. Bags and bags of shredding went out. When we moved later that year we had two very stuffed file boxes. Those are a pain to move. It is not recommended to send personal or sensitive information with the movers. So you hand carry them. My goal is to get our files down to one box or even less preferably. So much can be kept digitally now, however I also do not want to spend a lot of time scanning. So I'm being very intentional with what paper I keep.
I listed a couple more items on eBay to earn a few snowflakes (found money). I've spied a couple books I could likely list, but need to review them first to make sure. And there's a DVD my mother gave me, that I need to watch and then sell for a few dollars. I think I will watch that today. It's raining and I can sort some more papers while I do so.
I just booked our oldest daughter's flight home for spring break. She will fly Southwest Airlines. I used points we accumulated on our Southwest Visa during 2017 to cover the cost of the flight.
I did pay for Early Bird Checkin, which is $30 roundtrip. If I were flying alone, I'd skip it, but as a young adult she does like the ability to pick her seat early so she can get off the plane quickly to get to her connecting flight on time. It basically is paying for her to have a little less stress during the process. And I had to pay the TSA Security Fee as well, $11.20.
Grand total $41.20. Can't beat that!
Our US Bank Visa sent me an email to pick our 5% cash back categories for second quarter beginning in April. I always pick 5% cash back on cell phones which saves us about $8 per month or $96 a year. I'm picking that again!
I'm picking 2% cash back for Restaurants. I could have chosen Grocery Stores or Gas Stations, but I have other cards that provide that or more. I also rarely remember to use this card for the 2% categories because I'm not usually carrying this card in my wallet.
There is a new 5% category...Utilities! According to US Bank this includes electric companies, gas utilities and waste management companies. We don't have gas in our home that we pay regularly. Probably will only fill up once right before we move. The payment for our trash service is paid out of our checking account and is not worth switching to a credit card as there is a fee that would offset any savings.
As you know, we spend way too much on electricity in this home as I have mentioned in the past. And I do pay with a credit card...so that means I WILL be switching cards to take advantage of the cash back. This month's bill is $250...so we would have received $12.50 back if it were in effect. I'm not sure if this benefit will last more than one quarter, but I expect it may be a regular option. If so I could possibly receive $300 just by paying our electric bill with this card.
Do any of you get 5% cash back on your electric or other utility bills?
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?
I sold some scissors that had been hanging out in my sewing box for years! I probably used them once or twice, but since I really had no use for them, I put them up for sale. My net proceeds were $5.93. All sales of our unused items go to the Big Goal.
Yesterday, I donated a large box and bag of items I have decluttered from our home this month. There were easily a few things that I could have tried to sell, but being bulky and heavy, I decided it was better to just donate and be done. My husband isn't a fan of strangers coming to our door or meeting them in this town we live in so that limits what I can sell. I know that we are blessed with plenty, so it is only right to simply pass things on when we no longer need them.
I sold 9 books on eBay last night and this morning. Net amount to our bank account is $32.60. I'll take it and put it towards the Big Goal.
Another snow day because of ice on roads in the northern part of our county, so no school again. I will get out today though because roads are dry here and I need to go to the post office to mail the books!
I will also stop at the store, as we are out of greens and eggs. We will need both for tomorrow.
We will all need to get out of the house this weekend. It is going to be warmer and we've been cooped up for too many days. I don't want to spend money, so I'm not yet sure what we will find to do. I don't need ideas...I know that we'll find something.
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.
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!
It may actually snow today where I live! They are expecting an inch, so school gets out two hours early. As a Midwesterner I have to laugh, but the truth is they don't have the equipment here, nor do people know how to drive in the stuff!
After school lets out, I'm taking the girls to get their hairs cut. We use Great Clips. I usually tip $2 to each stylist, so the cost is $15 each. My husband is getting his hair cut today on post. I think the cost is less than $10, but he usually tips $4! As a percentage, we are both overtipping, but we do think our service people deserve it. These were budgeted in our personal care category.
I received $3 from Pinecone Research yesterday. It is sitting in my Paypal account now. I was notified we will receive an $10 AutoZone gift card for a rebate on headlights we purchased. And after getting our daughter a new cell phone last week, I am sending her old phone in for recycling and expect a $10 bill credit on next month's bill. I love money snowflakes!
The first two days of the year were no spend days. I made the point of going to the library to check out some books to read to keep me busy and focused on healthy eating this month. I love the library for the fact that it costs nothing to browse a book. My sister just mentioned spending $100 at Barnes and Noble recently. I do think some were Christmas gifts, but wow that is a lot of money on books! She also purchased their membership which means she plans to purchase more books there this year.
Have you found any snowflake money this month? Do you use the library?
Let's talk credit card rewards. This probably wasn't our best year, and I honestly, wasn't focused on getting the best rewards all the time. I made a decision to use one credit card almost exclusively, thus the rewards earned on other cards were done for specific reasons.
The primary card we used this year was the Chase Southwest Premier Visa. It offers 1 point per dollar, and 5 points for Southwest purchases. My goal was to earn enough points to buy our daughter's Christmas roundtrip ticket. We succeeded! Her flight was 20,520 points. In total we earned 33,375 points on purchases. There was another 1617 from flying, 3,000 for a bonus and 6,000 as an anniversary bonus. We still have 26K points remaining.
All other credit cards earned cash back. I will list from largest to smallest.
US Bank $86.37
We use this card nearly exclusively for 5% back on our wireless phone bill.
American Express 1 $80
Redeemed $25 in cash from purchases, and received $30 in credits for our cable bill, and $25 from Boxed.com. I have $9.91 earned from purchases, but need to meet the $25 threshold to redeem.
We redeemed points earned on purchases for $77 cash back.
Target Red Card $37.34
Based on our spending and the 5% discount this is how much we saved.
American Express 2 $26.50
Redeemed $25 in cash from purchases. Also $1.05 credit for some purchase (maybe the cable bill offer from 2016?) We have $18.62 in rewards, but cannot redeem until hitting the $25 threshold.
Chase Freedom $17.36
I've been using this card for purchases at Walmart the last few months for 5% cash back. I try not to shop at Walmart, but honestly it is the closest discount store to me. I liked it better when I lived 5 minutes from Target!
We barely used this card this year. I have used it in the last couple months for 5% back for Amazon.com purchases. Luckily many of my purchases with them have been with gift cards.
I wish I could remember what the flight we redeemed for points would have been in dollars. I think around $400-$425. I know the year before I redeemed points for what would have been a $600 ticket. I used more points for that one.
All the cash cards come up to $330.32.
Again, not the best year, and most of that was due to looking to earn miles rather than cash. I did like using just one card most of the year. That makes things pretty simple. But the tradeoff is less cash.
I will need to decide if I want to make any changes in the coming year as to which cards we use. Or if we even open or close any cards. I do expect we will fly more in 2018. it may be more of my husband and I going to see our girls than them coming to see us. We will see.
Also a caveat to anyone reading that doesn't know our history with credit cards. We DO NOT every carry a rolling balance on credit cards that would accrue interest. I make a point to pay off all charges on our credit cards each time my husband is paid, which is twice per month. I do not suggest you open credit cards for rewards if you are going to be accruing interest as a result because you will likely earn more in interest than you will make in rewards.
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