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Medical Bills

January 12th, 2019 at 08:07 am

We are pretty healthy people, no chronic illnesses. However, both my girls have been to the doctor a couple times in 2018. They are still on our military insurance, but because they live away from home most of the year they are on Tricare Select. The deductible for each of them is $150. Very reasonable.

My oldest daughter maxed hers out in August and then had a procedure where the cost without insurance was billed at $332. She got the bill at her dorm and apparently didn't have the correct information to file a claim. I called Monday and gave them the correct information, although they seemed confused. They submitted it and was covered in full. The provider gets $83.

My youngest twisted her ankle pretty bad in October, her student health center did submit through insurance, but she nor I were ever notified by our insurance. So looking at her tuition bill I see two charges from the health center for $80.04. It took some sleuthing, basically logging into the insurance company site to see the claim. That yes, $135+ was submitted and reduced to $80.04...and we do owe that as we had not met our deductible for her.

It's harder to navigate insurance when your adult children's claims do not go to your address! Youngest said she never received anything at her dorm, which is where they sent it. At least it is all taken care of this round.

It did remind me that a sinking fund for the deductibles wouldn't be a bad idea. Although I can probably manage any charges through basic cash flow.

Uber Frugal Month

January 10th, 2019 at 06:09 am

I'm not yet participating in Uber Frugal Month. It's too hard to start it on January 1 when our college daughter's are home. We want to treat them and get them what they need since we won't see them until March.

We will start Saturday afternoon and try to go through mid February! My plan is to focus primarily on eating all the things, or making meals from the pantry. I literally only have three things in the freezer, so my stockpile is not like many people. But I have quite of few things in the pantry and refrigerator that I want to make use of before they go bad. I was very successful at this last year.

My husband is out of town for work next week. I plan to stay home primarily and do things that don't cost me money. I have sewing projects I can do with fabric on hand. I need to make a photo book for my Dad (promised to him in June). I also have a book to read that needs some of my attention.

I may (still undecided) shop for towels this month. I need to replace a set. I think this can be a good time of year to find towels on sale. Oh, and my sister and mother have birthdays at end of January, early February, so I'm pondering gifts that could be considered thoughtful and frugal. I did just redeem Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card, so at least one of them may receive something I can buy from there! I could also redeem MyPoints and give my sister a gift card. I think even $10 or $15 to Starbucks might be welcome!

Good luck to all who are participating and are finding ways to keep costs low in January!

2018 Financial Wins and Fails

December 28th, 2018 at 06:58 pm

If you didn't see my previous post, I've invited all bloggers to write a post titled 2018 Financial Wins and Fails. Join in before the end of the year.

I reread all of my 2018 posts here and I have to say while the year was a whirlwind of change, we actually had a lot of financial wins, many I forgot about!

I'm going to start with the fails.

1) Failed to shop for the best prices. We purchased some big ticket items, computer for our daughter, dorm supplies, tires and college textbooks. The reasons are multiple, but it was such a busy year, I found myself just wanting to get the purchases complete, rather than spending lots of time finding the best price. It's not to say I didn't do some price comparisons, but I didn't dig in deep to make it a priority.

2) I failed to think ahead about getting out of the stock market on my youngest daughter's Educational Savings Account. The market was doing well. We redeemed shares in August and definitely sold high. But now the market has corrected, and the share price while still high for some of the shares we bought, it is low for others. I should have moved the shares to cash in August. I haven't sold at a loss yet, so may not end up being a complete fail. Time will tell.

3) Failed to plan ahead. This is related to both of the above, but I wasn't thinking months in advance about things that would need cash, particularly all the dorm room expenses. I should have thought about that at least at the first of the year. I was able to cash flow the costs as we made purchases, but it would have been less stressful if the money was set aside for something I knew was coming.

The wins definitely outweigh the fails.

1) We ended the year once again with zero student loans! So excited we have been able to continue to cash flow, use saved investments or take advantage of my husband's Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. Oh, and the girls both got fantastic scholarships that helped as well.

2) Despite lots of spending, we saved a lot this year. We maxed out our Roth IRA contributions, and my husband saved 11% of his basic pay for retirement. We saved $2000 in our daughter's ESA (final contribution). We saved $347/mo automatically from my husband's paycheck. We saved all credit card rewards and interest on our savings. (I'll post more specific numbers later.) We also saved the entire military move reimbursement which was nearly $7K.

3) We cash flowed a computer purchase, new tires, shocks and struts for my van, dorm needs, three trips, and several airline flights. Still completely debt free!

The fails help me see where we can improve in 2019, and the wins remind me what we are doing right and can continue with going forward. Do you review your successes and setbacks at the end of the year?

Airline Tickets

December 5th, 2018 at 06:42 pm

It's that time of year where I buy airline tickets for my kids to come home for Christmas break! This is the first year I have to accommodate BOTH girls. I actually purchased one way tickets. They are in different cities, but flying home together from one city. On the return to school they will fly separately, primarily because one has three weeks off, and the other has a full month! One daughter will have to take a shuttle from the airport to her campus, cost with a tip one way is $42. I think if it was a roundtrip shuttle it would be about $60. I'm always praying that the weather cooperates so they don't get delayed! Oh, in total I spent about $800 for the girls to come home!

My husband was home today for the National Day of Mourning. We did watch the funeral and were touched by the eulogies given. I think we all wish that in death we are remembered fondly by those we loved and who loved us.

Redeemed MyPoints

December 4th, 2018 at 08:56 am

I redeemed 3950 MyPoints for a $25 Google Play gift card. I was originally going to buy it but happened to notice the balance in my MyPoints account. I had plenty to scoop up the gift my daughter wanted without an additional cash outlay.

I'm close to having 1000 SB that I can redeem for $10 Amazon gift card. I'm not in a big hurry and have not been doing Swagbucks for months. I think I was reminded of it when i received an email from Swagbucks with my Birthday bonus.

Today, I finished sewing the pajama pants for my two nieces. I had them all done except for the elastic. I also made doll sized pajama pants and a plaid poncho for their American Girl dolls (I think they have the knock off versions). I spent nearly $30 at Joann's for fabric and elastic. I did buy nicer quality flannel and probably didn't hit the best sale, although it was 40% off. I did find an Ibotta coupon that will give me $4.50 back on the purchase, so now closer to $25, which is really good for two gifts.

At this point, I just need more stocking stuffers for the girls, buy a gift for my husband and decide what to get my parents. I already sent my mother in law a check to get whatever she wants. She's 82 and seems to like to get a pedicure from us. So it's just easier to mail a check, since I'm nowhere near there to buy a gift certificate.

Today, I'm baking some Mint Chocolate cookies for the holidays. I will eat one or two and freeze the rest until needed. I have a couple other recipes to make, but have plans to do them over the next two weeks.

10% Off Target Gift Cards

December 2nd, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Today only. Sunday, December 3, you can buy Target gift cards for 10% off. You can purchase up to $300 worth for $270.

I bought a $40 one for my daughter who requested Target gift card for Christmas. I also went ahead and picked up another one for $100 for our regular shopping. We don't shop there as much as we once did, so I didn't want to tie up too many funds not knowing if we would use them.

I purchased several other gifts online. My shopping is wrapping up pretty fast! Still thinking about an extra item to include with my nieces pajama pants I'm sewing. I probably don't need anything since I am also sewing matching doll pajama pants. I will need more stocking stuffers for our girls. I also want to figure out what to get my parents. I don't have time or energy for a calendar or other photo gift. I'm tempted to just send a check, since their anniversary is just two days after Christmas. What do you get your older parents, or what would you like if you already had everything? Last year I bought them socks and some edible items.

Army Travel Reimbursement Plus

November 28th, 2018 at 01:23 pm

I was pleasantly surprised to find our travel money from the move deposited into our account on Monday! And it appears to be covered in full! It's seems during many moves each different entitlement comes in as different deposits.

The grand total is pretty grand and exceeds the costs we actually incurred, which I honestly never totaled up. Our second checking account is now $6,915.77 richer!

Our primary costs for moving were carpet repair and cleaning at our rental home. Nearly a week in hotel costs, as well as food on the go, and fuel for the our two vehicles. We did fly one way as part of getting one vehicle here (I'm not an interstate driver), so that little trip was an additional cost and not specifically reimbursable by the government.

Nearly half that total is something called a Dislocation Allowance, which for my husband's rank is $3,753. This simply covers all the extras that are variable because everyone has different costs incurred during a move. It is tax free.

It's a relief to have it. I think I'm saving most of it as I was able to cover nearly all the costs incurred out of our current pay. I do know I dipped into the vacation category and that has not been reimbursed. So at a minimum, I will add to that category and save the remainder in the Big Goal.

I completed my first Pinecone survey in a really long time two days ago and was credited for it this morning. I have no idea why I wasn't getting surveys for over a year or more.

Oh, and we had a really nice trip back to see our girls. Our cat did very well, stressful for her, but she survived and is happy to be back in a familiar place. I still miss the girls so much. I'm trying to figure out how we can establish a home base closer to them to see them more often. I'm sure that is at least a year in the works. But living such a long distance away from both of them is hard on all of us. My husband still has at least five years in the military before retirement. My parents are close to the girls, but I'm starting to see how much older they seem as well. My dad is 70 and mother 68. They are very healthy and active, so no major concern, just awareness of the passage of time. It would be nice to be closer to them as well.

Money In, Money Out

November 10th, 2018 at 07:26 am

We received basically our entire rent deposit on our last place back. The deposit was $1,800. On move out we needed to top off the propane tank which was for the fireplace only. We used it some in cool fall days, but otherwise it was just the pilot light on all the time. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite empty enough for the propane company to fill without a hefty charge ($45). The propane company was able to tell me based on the amount used the cost to fill up. The landlord agreed we could pay them that amount (around $137) and not fill up. So in the end they deducted the propane costs from our final deposit, and our check was for approximately $1,663.

My plan was to save this money in our Big Goal fund. In fact it is sitting there right now...except, we have a need for it now.

We took my van in for oil change, transmission fluid flush and rotate tires. Turns out I needed new front brakes and brake fluid flush. AND...the one that hurts, new shocks and struts. Now we actually weren't super surprised about the shocks and struts because we had been hearing noises that made us question their condition (my van has 140K miles), but our last mechanic looked and couldn't find the source of the noise and didn't see a problem with their condition. So...on Monday the van will have all those things complete and we will owe them $2000! Now I have to remind myself that this is maintenance and is cheaper than a car payment. Our goal is to keep both of our 2007 Honda's running until both girls graduate in about 4 years.

So money comes in, but money goes out. Thankful we have cash on hand (and did before the return of our deposit) for making these repairs. It's not what I would prefer to spend the money on...I'd rather save it!

Small Savings

November 1st, 2018 at 02:47 pm

I was on our American Express account today making a payment. I check the offers and found $5 off Hulu and 10% off our cellular bill (up to $20). I also added 10% off insurance payments, but not sure ours is due before the offer expires.

It pays to check and see if there are offers for things you spend and use your credit card for anyway!

We also submitted a form to get a discount on our auto insurance. Not sure how much that will save, but anything will help. Insurance is expensive here!

$3,500 In Debt

October 30th, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Moving is expensive!

We didn't have to put a deposit down on this townhome on base and rent is paid in arrears, but despite those positives, we have $3,498.26 in expenses charged on our credit cards! Hotels, fuel, restaurants, and extra needs to purchase after move (such as toilet brushes, cleaners, ect) add up fast!

Some of those charges are for our regular bills, such as Verizon, Hulu, Netflix and things we just needed because you know life has expenses, too.

I'm looking forward to payday on Thursday and eventually receiving our deposit from the rental home, and all of our moving entitlements. I'm not sure exactly when we will receive the latter payments, but likely in the next three weeks.

Technically, I do have the funds in our accounts that I could pay those credit cards in full and likely will pay many of them on pay day. I will float some of the money until we receive our reimbursements.

We've Moved

October 29th, 2018 at 07:28 am

We have arrived at our new duty station. My husband is reporting for the first time this morning. He is thankful that this move the job is something he knows how to do, as it is the same as what he has been doing. So we are finding our new normal. Moving to a new town is very stressful because EVERYTHING is new. It's very disorientating. And I'm honestly struggling a bit with it this time more than ever. Some of that may be because I don't have the distraction of my kids, who this time are away at college.

I am determined to keep moving forward and finding my new normal in this place. I already got out to do a walk after my husband left for work, which is what I usually do. The difference is it is a new route, new people and sounds around. But soon, it will feel normal. Smile

My big goal for today is to get all our finances in order. So many receipts from the trip to record. We had quite a few days of living in a hotel and eating out. We will get travel reimbursement at some point to cover all the costs, but I need to make sure credit cards are paid on time. I also need to update our address in many places.

I hope to be back regularly soon!

Spendy Weekend

October 8th, 2018 at 04:15 pm

We drove one of our cars to our new location this weekend. I'm a good driver, but get massive anxiety driving on the interstate. I can do it, but it's mentally exhausting. So for a two day trip, I just can't do it!

Costs for gas were nearly $200 (according to my husband), which seems high, so will need to double check. Two hotel nights were nearly $230, food spent was easily $200 and we flew one way back to our current home for $660. Yep, nearly $1300!

We made the decision last minute, thus the reason the airline tickets were high. We weren't tracking that this weekend was a four day weekend for my husband with Columbus Day, so when we realized that we decided it was best to get the truck to our new place first rather than after the actual move.

We will get mileage for both of our vehicles, which my husband says is likely $400 each. We don't get specifically reimbursed for food, hotel or airlines for this trip. However, the military provides a dislocation allowance to cover general moving expenses that are not covered. No receipts needed. We expect to get just under $3,700. So our expenses incurred this weekend will not come out of our own pocket. We will get compensated.

I noticed our auto insurance is going down effective in December by nearly $400. Our oldest daughter is on our policy, so it has been high for this first year. I suppose this could change once I change our insurance to our new location.

Time to Prepare

September 9th, 2018 at 05:26 am

Florence is heading our way. Prayers appreciated for us and all in the final path.

We will spend the next couple days stocking up for the loss of power. More batteries, more water and non perishable foods. I think it was last year that I saw a young woman buying peanut butter, bread and apples that appeared to be for the hurricane. I actually thought that was pretty simple and inexpensive compared to canned foods that often are heated. Yes, apples can perish, but you likely would be able to eat them before they would go bad. My husband thought it was a decent idea. He wants almonds too. Smile

We have cash on hand (we have been accumulating additional cash with our recent sales as we downsize our belongings). We have tools, an emergency solar and hand cranked weather radio. I also have candles and a lighter.

We are not on the coast, it's a two hour drive to get there, so the odds of needing to evacuate are very slim. We are near a lake, some homes in our neighborhood do back up to it and a creek that feeds into it is almost in our backyard. The lake however was built by a dam and has been empty because the dam broke during hurricane Matthew and has yet to be repaired. That is a good thing in some ways because the water will just keep flowing downstream.

I'm praying something will change that will move it just enough off the coast to avoid landfall for anyone. Prepare for the worst hope for the best.

Repairs Update & More

September 6th, 2018 at 06:24 am

The carpet repair is happening right now at our home. The estimate was $200. Ironically, this is what we were paid by our landlord to show the house to two potential renters a couple weeks ago. So it is sort of like we were given the money for this repair. Easy come, easy go.

Update, the actual charge for carpet repair was $175. Smile

Our refrigerator was repaired yesterday for $125. It needed freon. There were two leaks. I asked why a four year old fridge would leak. Apparently the sealant they use on these new fridges isn't high quality...very annoying. A fridge should not leak that early on.

We sold a metal cabinet we had in our garage yesterday for $60.

Need to pay my oldest daughter's housing payment in the next six days. Grateful to have the money ready to go. Once again, no loans!

Repairs

September 4th, 2018 at 12:10 pm

We damaged the carpet at our rental home when we had a treadmill placed on it for over a year. We did buy a mat to place between the treadmill and carpet, but it must have been unbalanced as one foot made a whole about 2 inches by 2 inches across.

We have now been in communication with our landlord so that we can rectify the problem before moving out. He has agreed to let us proceed with stretching or patch repair based on the suggestions of the repair person when he arrives. It is estimated that either method will cost $175 to $200.

Obviously none of us are pleased about the damage. We are grateful a repair, rather than complete replacement of the carpet is possible.

We are also having our refrigerator repaired. It is one we brought with us from our last home. It is only four years old and only ran for two years before it stopped cooling in both the freezer and the fridge. We didn't need it really, so we just procrastinated getting it repaired. Our hope is to repair it and then sell it before we move as we won't need it at our next place either.

It does feel good to have these scheduled. Do you procrastinate getting repairs done sometimes?

Extra Month & Refund on Shipping

September 3rd, 2018 at 10:58 am

Amazon has been our friend with girls in college. We buy needed items to ship to their dorm and save them the time shopping.

I rented a book for my daughter on Thursday night and had it expedited to arrive by Saturday for $8.99 because of the holiday weekend and her need to read it! She opened it today to find the wrong book!!

I contacted Amazon who offered to waive the expedited shipping if I wanted to rent or buy another one. Unfortunately, no more rentals available, and the one I could buy wasn't available to be expedited. It would arrive by September 20 after paying $3.99!

In the end my daughter said the bookstore seems to finally have the book in stock and she hopes to pick it up tomorrow. Amazon already reimbursed me for the expedited shipping for the inconvenience. My daughter will drop the book at UPS and we will get a refund on the book once Amazon receives it. And finally Amazon extended my Prime membership for one month! I wasn't expecting that, but definitely a nice bonus after the increase in Prime pricing.

$200 For Two Showings

August 24th, 2018 at 05:26 am

Last night our landlord paid us $200 (by Zelle, direct into our bank account) to show our rental home on Sunday to two potential and vetted renters on Sunday. One will arrive at 1pm and one at 2pm.

I was so conflicted about this additional duty, but once I texted the landlord my concerns, he completely understood and was quick to clear up what he expects and offer $200 to have these two showings in a limited time frame. If one of these two do not sign, there is the potential for additional showings, but he would pay us again for those showings.

The fee was in line with what I was wanting to ask for, but I did not want to offend him. The truth is the fee is worth it to them being unable to get here to show the house. And obviously, the less time the home is vacant the better for them.

I'd love to make a few more hundred dollars, but at the same time, I hope one of these two potential renters signs a lease, so that we can enjoy the home in the remaining weeks we have left here. Smile

Later today, I have to have the windshield on our van replaced. We hit a rock on the first day of our road trip earlier this month and boy did it crack! Two cracks, one around 15 inches, and another probably 24 inches. Using Safelite through our insurance would have cost us between $300-$360. I found a local glass place that will charge us $196 out the door with a warranty. We used them before so feel confident in the quality and service despite the lower cost. They get the glass from the same place! I guess our showing fee covers that cost. Smile

More on moving details soon, although I do have to be vague on where we are going and exactly when for security purposes.

Snowflakes and More

August 21st, 2018 at 05:52 pm

Through Facebook I helped my daughter sell her graphing calculator to another student via his mother. She was asking on a parent's page, so I offered my daughter's up for $40. She jumped at the chance! I have the money in my PayPal account and the calculator has been delivered to the student.

When I confirmed the payment I noticed I had a payment from Ebates for $7.63. Nice surprise!

I have a few items on eBay for sale, one has a bid and will sell for several dollars.

The spending for our trip put us over budget by $750! Luckily we did get paid since then and have covered those expenses. It will be a bit tight through the end of the month however.

So now the real fun begins...time to start prepping for the move that will occur late fall. We are downsizing our space so will need to sell some major furniture in the process!

The Transition

August 13th, 2018 at 07:50 am

We've traveled across the US this past week and have managed to drop off our oldest daughter at college. She is beginning band camp this week. And tomorrow we drop off our youngest daughter at her University. The emotions of all this are everywhere, excited yes, but I'm a mess...I'm just going to miss them both so much. It seems sending the last one off is almost harder than the first.

So much spending buying supplies and dorm needs. I have yet total it all up. We probably have more than some, but definitely less than others who move into a dorm. We bring enough to create a comfortable environment, but not enough to fill it up.

We did find a great long, yet lightweight coat, at the local Columbia outlet mall here. We had our youngest try on her sister's LL Bean boots and she liked them, so will buy those in one size smaller in a few weeks and have them mailed to her dorm room.

We had two hotel nights on our way here. We have been staying at my parents place now for almost a week. We expect three more nights of hotel expenses on our way back. Another $350 at least. I've noticed that when you book a hotel in advance that you can no longer cancel up until check in on the night of the stay. You must cancel 48 to 24 hours in advance or be charged! We have one booked that we know we will use, but I think on our return trip we will book around noon on the day of our stay, this is helpful in case we think we can drive further or need to stop sooner.

Oh and we have had a lot of fuel and restaurant expenses. Since we have been using credit cards, and payday is in two days, I expect that little float will help. And when we return only need to buy groceries for two people rather than four as we have been doing all summer.

My neighbor has been checking on our 14 year old cat, usually twice per day. When we return, we are going to get her a restaurant gift card. We are so grateful for the help and her extra care and attention to detail.

More later, but prayers and good vibes for our peaceful transition and travel are appreciated. Smile

Still Spending

July 21st, 2018 at 02:10 pm

We returned from our mountain trip a day early, so saved $118, plus tax by checking out of the hotel early. We overestimated the time we needed to do what we went there to do. And we all just felt ready to be home.

But we are still spending! College expenses. Today we bought some plates, cups, bowls and a paring knife at Target and spent about $15. At Kohl's with our Kohl's cash we bought bath and hand towels, a backpack, a laundry bag, silverware, chip clips and a cutting board. I paid $4.75 out of pocket after the Kohl's cash.

Earlier today I ordered 2 two packs of surge protectors with eight foot cords for our daughter's dorm room. Those were a decent deal, considering I could not find long cords in any of the stores! We also bought a USB C connector for our daughter's tablet/laptop, it will have additional USB, HDMI and an ethernet port. That along was $54, but it sounds like she will definitely use the USB ports and possible the ethernet connection if the wireless is bad in the dorm room.

We told our daughter's roommate we would bring the television, primarily because we already owned a tv (32") that we were not using. We have the HDMI cable, coaxial cable and an ethernet cord on hand too. At least there are some things I don't have to buy!!

We leave in about two weeks to drive back to the midwest. It is a 20 hour drive that we will likely do in three days (maybe two, but that is a long time in the car!) And yes, pay for hotels. We will be back in time to help our oldest daughter move back into the dorm, but we will have five days to hang out and see family before we travel east a bit to drop our youngest at college. This is where I will get very teary...leaving my baby!! And the next day my husband and I will drive back east to home, where I'm sure our cat will be super mad at us for leaving her! She will be visited by two of my friends while we are gone, but it will be the longest we have ever left her. And she didn't really like that we left to the mountains which was a short trip. Poor baby.

So that's a brief update...definitely been busy this summer!

Too Much Spending at Kohl's

July 13th, 2018 at 01:11 pm

We just returned from Kohl's where we ended up spending over $375! Yes, this was a shopping trip primarily for our youngest daughter to get dorm room supplies. I'm not going to go into a full breakdown, but we primarily bought bedding, shoes, socks and underwear, a wallet and a several new shirts. My husband decided he needed jeans and my older daughter picked up a shirt and a body pillow and cover for it. I bought nothing for myself (can you tell who is the most frugal?)

We 'earned' $105 in Kohl's cash that we can spend next week. I think we will go back for towels and a couple other clothing items. I had purchased towels earlier this week at Target, but she has changed her mind on the colors, so those will end up being returned.

And in good news her future roommate texted that she has a microwave, fridge, Keurig (my daughter could care less) and a rug she can bring. She also has some organizers she can bring later (just not on move in day). We offered to bring a television and a couple more rugs, and likely something to put the television on. Oh yes, and a toaster! More than likely we will buy those items once we arrive as the back of our van is going to be packed as it is!

The spending is overwhelming, but I do know we have the cash and in the end it will even out. I expect our grocery, water and probably electricity bills to be lower once both girls are out of the house.

Spending, College & Vacation

July 7th, 2018 at 09:29 am

These next six weeks are bound to be expensive!

We just book three nights at a hotel in the mountains. We are getting the government rate. No points to use because I used them all up on the last trip! Cost is $400.02. We will have gas and food expenses, and possibly a museum entrance or two...but would like to stick to exploring and hiking in the mountains.

I just ordered vitamins, water filter replacement cartridges, and hair products for my oldest daughter. She had this on her list of things she needs to stock up on before school starts. It's still about a month before she leaves, but I went ahead and ordered them and had them mailed to my parents house! They will be there when she arrives and can take to school. I don't want to load up her suitcases too much for the return trip!

We are going out today to find some of the 'lighter items' on her list (clothes primarily). I'm hoping we can get my older daughter's needs taken care of in the next week and then focus on our younger daughter AFTER the trip. It's really overwhelming the things you need to buy to send your child to college. I know the first time I definitely didn't think of everything, and there were extra trips made on the day of move in, and lots of packages sent those first few months. This time, I know even more what is needed, so will do our best to get it all ahead of time!

And I need to make a flight reservation for oldest daughter. I book this one way in the fall and one way in the spring. The rest of us are driving back to the midwest since we expect to have a lot of stuff for our newest college student! Although I think it could be possible to fly, and simply buy everything there on arrival...but it sounds more stressful.

I did use Ebates to get 2.5% cash back on my Ulta order. Here's to at least finding some deals along the way! Smile

Returned The Rash Guards

June 21st, 2018 at 10:37 am

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!

Eating Through the Pantry

June 21st, 2018 at 07:56 am

After guests our fridge and freezer are nearly bare. I did buy a few things on Tuesday night to have for dinner. Last night we simply ate grilled cheese, sweet potato fries from the freezer and apples for dinner.

I would go to the store for groceries buy we leave again here shortly for five nights. So I don't want to do a big stock up.

Tonight I have potatoes, carrots, onion and milk, so I think I will make potato soup. I probably need to get cheese and maybe celery. That uses a few more things up without buy a lot extra.

I can make a grocery list and meal plan while we are away and be ready to hit the grocery store when we return from our trip.

At least being a little frugal with meals helps offset the dining out we will be doing.

Whirlwind Update

June 19th, 2018 at 08:22 am

It's been a very busy week after having my parents, sister and her two girls visit primarily to see our youngest daughter graduate high school! I'm exhausted this morning after taking them to the airport at 4am. I have had a chance though to process my husband's paycheck, add transactions to YNAB, move money around, and pay off the credit cards.

Just prior to my parents arriving my husband was out of town for work for three days. I haven't yet taken the time to figure out his actual expenses, but we did receive $515.85. Some of that is per diem, and the rest is mileage on the truck he drove. I'm sure he didn't spend that much. That money for now is sitting in our second checking account, and I think I'm just throwing it towards our Big Goal. Smile

I spent $220 on food when guests were here, but my Dad also spent ANOTHER $230 on food and some alcohol. So $450 for 9 people for 7 days. We did eat out for five meals, which was additional money spent. We went to the beach for three nights so most of our time was spent sitting on the beach or at the resort pools. Not a lot you can spend money on...unless you venture out and get towed!

Yep, we parked in an expensive lot for three hours, but came back about thirty minutes early to find our van had been towed. The truck, which we also drove, was still parked. In the end it was a bit our fault. The lot has these machines where you pay and then put the ticket on the dash. My husband started the transaction and at some point I looked down and saw a ticket, so I pulled it and handed it to him. Turns out that was the ticket for the person BEFORE us and that ticket expired two hours before ours would have. They didn't even tow until it had been expired for an hour. The cost to get the van out of the impound lot...$160 CASH. Big mistake on our part to not actually look at the ticket. So embarrassing. But we weren't the only ones that night that were careless, the man at the lot said six other cars were towed that night. A bad chain of events for all of us. We thought about pursuing a refund of some sort, but in the end the security guard, and tow truck driver were only going by the information on the ticket...and they were within their duties to tow based on that information. We are not happy about losing that money, but it is just money and we were determined to continue to have a good time and just let it go.

The good news is that today when I was paying off credit cards I redeemed $71.89 from American Express, and $45.95 from Chase Freedom. I also have three rash guard shirts we didn't end up wearing that still have tags. I will return those for at least another $40 to $50. Money flows out, but it also flows back in.

Oh, and my sister is going to give me about $100 to cover food and gas. She is giving my dad some money as well since she didn't contribute while she was here. She had the cash on her this morning, but we both forgot about during the early rush to get to the airport. She will send a check or send me money by Paypal. That will help the budget, too!

I'm exhausted, but we leave in a few days again to go to our youngest daughter's college orientation. Hotels are covered with points, we already paid the airline tickets, but will have a rental car, food and gas to cover while we are there. I think we can also buy the first semester books after she has enrolled in classes. I still have over $1,500 in our vacation fund. Smile

That's all for now! Stay cool and frugal.

No Loans! Six Semesters, Two Summers

June 8th, 2018 at 05:35 am

This morning I paid the balance of my daughter's summer tuition in full out of our checking account. Today's amount due was $1,613.26, which was far less than I estimated.

Originally, my estimate was just under $3,700 without books. I was a bit off on my estimate. One class is a business class and thus carries a premium tuition rate, which added another $534! I also didn't add in the fees, which seems odd that I failed to do that. Books (specifically access codes for online instruction) were added to the tune of $245. The finally tally was $5013.26 for six credit hours. Reminder this is out of state tuition.

But we were blessed with a scholarship of $2,800. It was part of our daughter's main scholarship, but somehow was not applied last year when she took one class. So we didn't know that it would cover summer classes. So at this point I was expecting to pay $2,213.26.

But when I went to pay there was a credit of $600, leaving the balance at $1,613.26. We can't tell online specifically what the $600 is, however we think it is likely one of the music scholarship she received this spring. She was expecting a check for it. I think the University would cut a check if there was not a balance due. So instead the credit goes towards the current tuition owed. In the end it is all the same.

Sometimes I'm just amazed at our ability to have paid tuition and housing in full without loans. Let's see if we can continue the trend! Oldest daughter has three more semesters with intended graduation date of December 2019. And of course, our youngest is starting this fall, so another four years and we should be done!!

Medical Expenses

June 7th, 2018 at 04:29 am

I don't budget for medical as we are rarely ill and our insurance covers pretty much everything when we are. We also have a rather large emergency fund.

One of my daughter's and I are now seeking care from a provider who cannot be reimbursed by our insurance. Our insurance simply doesn't cover this common treatment. So out of pocket it is.

Our initial exams with diagnostic tests were $199 each, or $398. I had nearly all this in our emergency fund set aside at the beginning of the month. So that was easy.

I paid $1152 for a series of visits that will cover both of us through the summer. This was a 30% discount offered for paying in one full payment. That is a significant savings. So on the charge card it went. And since we never pay interest on credit cards, I went looking for funds. I found $300 set aside for eyeglasses, but we aren't in current need of those. And finally, the easiest thing to do was to use some of Big Goal Savings we had accumulated this year that was still sitting in our checking account.

I would have preferred not to pull from the Big Goal money, but I think our health needs are a bigger need. My goal is to pay ourselves back, we may have extra vacation funds later this summer, or after I evaluate the funds I have for tuition and housing I may have some to throw from there.

Cash saved gets you the medical you want that the insurance companies will not pay for. Cash is freedom!

Pay Day Approaches

May 30th, 2018 at 06:48 am

For the most part I deal with finances twice a month. Yes, we enter receipts in YNAB as best we can daily or every few days. Lately, it seems there is a transaction missing, but it ends up that it was entered on a different card. It seems to be my husband not paying attention, which is frustrating when I go to reconcile the accounts. I do usually figure it out, but takes much more time than it should if it were just entered correctly the first time!

So pay day is two days away. Today, I went in and paid off all balances on our credit cards. There were seven payments! I had a balance on two Amex Cards, Chase Freedom, Southwest, Kohl's, Target Red card AND Discover! That sounds awful doesn't it? But the balances on four of them were less than $25 each, including something for $5.99 on our Southwest card which we are not really using much. I think the purchase was charged to that card since it was what was on the account for an online purchase. Our tires were on one Amex card, and the other two larger payments $631 and $547 were charges for everyday expenses.

I also had to move some money around in YNAB to keep the budget categories from being negative going into next month. We've spent a fair amount on clothes recently, some for graduation and some for the beach vacation. I pulled $200 from the vacation fund to cover these. I'm still over in household expenses by $75. I just stocked up on toilet paper, paper plates, dish detergent, hand soap and other things to have at the house for guests here in a few weeks. I will just cover that overage in June. This is the beauty of having extra funds in your account...can be over in one category, but not actually running a deficient in the checking account.

I'm really looking forward to June being over. It is going to be a whirlwind with graduation, guests, going to the beach and then also flying out of town for five nights for college orientation. Maybe July will feel relaxing? Of course, we have to prepare for getting the girls ready for college, one will need more than the other since it is her first year.

Thankful the cash to do what we want and need to do!

Under Budget!

May 25th, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Our tire purchase came in under budget. Yesterday, I estimated $750 based on their estimate and a discount. Turns out the total came to $681. That means we still have money in our car repair and maintenance fund to the tune of just $72. I think I may just let my husband get his windshield wipers replaced. Smile

We are up to date on all maintenance for awhile. The hope is there are no repairs needed anytime soon. I clearly need to keep adding to it. Although we do have a regular emergency fund that would take the hit if something major were to happen.

Have you come in under budget for a major purchase lately?

Getting New Tires

May 24th, 2018 at 05:08 pm

I'm getting new tires on my van tomorrow. This will be the third time we have replaced the tires on our 2007 Honda Odyssey, which has 135K miles.

Cost of four tires and an alignment after the military discount should be around $750. Maybe less. I think our original quote has a warranty of some sort on them with the tire store. Since we will be moving and this store doesn't exist there, what's the point?

Not sure we exactly got our money's worth on this last set. I thought they were rated for 90K miles. Do tires actually ever make it to their mileage rating? This is the only time I noticed that they didn't even come close.

The good news is I have this amount in our car maintenance sinking fund. No debt! Not that we have been in debt for quite some time, but we are still rocking being debt free!

Oh, and to be more specific we are adding $225 each month to our sinking fund for car maintenance and repairs. This was the average of what we have spent on two vehicles in the last two years. As they get older they do have a little more repairs needed. We are determined to hold these vehicles until our daughters graduate college. Just four more years to go!!


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