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Less Frugal Saturday

July 9th, 2017 at 05:02 am

Saturday was less frugal because three of us went to see a matinee showing of Spiderman: Homecoming. Amount spent $17.50. It was an 11:30am showing. I made a point to say I didn't want us spending any money on food and drinks, so we ate lunch at home before leaving. I know that saved us about $10-11.

My husband used a $10 gift card to get a wash for my van. We did purchase the gift card earlier in the year, as a fundraiser for our daughter's school. But at least no money out of pocket this weekend. We really need to be washing our vehicles at home, something to discuss with my husband. Smile Do you wash your cars at home?

We had homemade pizza for dinner. I used up the turkey bacon, the remaining tomato sauce in the fridge, and the pepperoni. We did buy mozzarella cheese and more turkey crumbles. I thought I would be using the turkey crumbles up on the pizza, but my husband had used those up for breakfast and wanted more for the pizza. He also bought a 24 oz package of mozzarella when one 8 oz package would have worked, and decided we needed shredded parmesan cheese as well. So a little overspending on food, but it will all get eaten at some point. I may need to make lasagna or something to use up the cheese.

Did I mention I was going to make chia pudding? I made a double batch with the last of the almond milk. It makes for a great healthy sweet snack.

Other spending: my husband's haircut, gas for my van (don't think it needed it quite yet, but he filled it), and alcohol. I've definitely cut back on the alcohol, we are both not drinking while we are apart. But it seems to be the go to on the weekends we are together. I was able to limit the amount I had, so progress for me!

The best part of the day was listening to our youngest daughter sharing the pictures she took on her Europe trip! That was a couple of hours of very enjoyable entertainment.

My parents arrive on Tuesday, so I think we can get through today with out shopping and I will go tomorrow to stock up for while they are here. I hope to incorporate some of the items I need to use up into the meals we have. I also need to be mindful of what I buy; making sure to buy ingredients that won't get pushed to the back of the pantry.

This morning I'm eating my steel cut oats for breakfast, with some of the frozen strawberries. For lunch I will likely have a sandwich with watermelon, and a very small side of the rice and lentils I had leftover. Dinner is likely pasta with a side of zucchini from the garden!

I didn't mention a couple items in the freezer we need to use up. One pasta microwaveable meal, that was bought for my girls but they don't like. A frozen homemade waffle. And several cups of frozen grapes. I do like these food challenges. Not sure the family does! Oh well. Smile

Living On A Dime

July 8th, 2017 at 05:30 am

I've been watching some videos from the YouTube channel Living on A Dime. It was especially interesting to hear the mother, Jill, talk about living on $500 a month with two teenagers in the 1990s, after her husband left her. She had to be very frugal with her cash. Her experience reminds me a bit of what you hear about people doing during the Depression. Oh, and she was making $12,000 a year and paid off $35,000 worth of debt in five years at that same time!! Very impressive.

Yesterday, I did end up at Target to stock up on my hair mousse and feminine products for the girls. There was a cartwheel coupon that save me $2. While I was there, I bought one bag of chips, lunch meat, tomatoes, sliced cheese, two loaves of bread, and jam. My total bill for all of it was $31.45. Oh and I did buy some M&Ms and gum...two items I should have skipped and now regret buying and eating.

Yesterday, I used up a shallot, tossed the ginger that was growing mold (ick), cooked the lentils and ate them for lunch over rice, ate fried rice for dinner which used up the frozen carrots & peas and some of the frozen corn. We also ate sauteed zucchini and summer squash from the garden on the side. Yummy!!

Today I will eat the second serving of the steel cut oats. We will eat sandwiches and watermelon for lunch. Tonight we will eat homemade pizza. I did forget to buy mozzarella cheese at Target, so will stop by the store for that later. The pizza will used up the bacon, pepperoni and some turkey crumbles in the fridge. I wouldn't be making pizza if my air conditioning wasn't working, but it is! Smile

What will you do today that is frugal?

Four Days of Meals

July 5th, 2017 at 12:26 pm

My daughter and I did have refried bean tacos for dinner last night, after I purchased a can for $0.54, regularly $1.09 but I used a $0.55 coupon. There is enough for two more tacos which I'm having for lunch!

Today is our youngest daughter's birthday (she made it home safe from Europe), so I was up early to make her favorite spice cake in the oven (remember no A/C on the level with our kitchen) so I didn't want to heat the house up in the middle of the day. Tonight we will have spaghetti with Alfredo sauce and corn on the cob. These were requested by her.

Thursday night we will have fried rice. I'm making sure to use up the frozen corn, peas and carrots. I also have plenty of green onion to add.

I made potato soup yesterday so that will likely be eaten on Friday, although it may also become lunch this week. If we eat all the soup, we may just eat grilled cheese and watermelon.

On Saturday, I will probably turn the oven on and make homemade pizza. I have the sauce, the items to make the dough, as well as some meats. I may just need to buy the cheese.

When I was at the store I did pick up a few other items and paid $13.24.
1 dozen eggs
1/2 gallon of milk
celery
1 lb of carrots
three ears corn on the cob
pretzel sticks
refried beans
large watermelon

Birthday cake, watermelon and pretzel sticks should help tide us over between meals. I expect this will get us through Friday, maybe part of Saturday before we go to the store again. Saturday's shopping list will have to include groceries to feed my parents while they are here, so I expect it could be a bit inflated.

My next post will be about the things we need to use up in the month of July, which what the Uber Frugal Month post is about today on the Frugalwoods blog.

Frugal July Thoughts

July 4th, 2017 at 09:33 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More frugal thoughts later! Happy Independence Day!

Free Cat Food & More

July 3rd, 2017 at 06:49 am

On Friday, I stopped by PetSmart to pick up a free bag of cat food with a coupon that had been mailed to me. I could pick any brand as long as it wasn't more than 3.5 pounds. The one I picked would have been $10.99 normally in the store. But it was completely free.

The last time I bought dry cat food was in December when our other cat was ill. It was a large bag and it is taking awhile for my other cat to eat through it! We also supplement with wet cat food now as well. But we will use this new bag when I run out of the other that is already open.

Today we have my van in for service. We noticed we didn't get their 10% military discount on Saturday service for my husband's truck. We inquired and their solution is to give us 20% off today's service. We'll see if that works out in our favor depending on the cost of the repair.

Our outing yesterday did allow us to visit a museum for free as a Blue Star family. The admission would have cost us the three of us $28. It was a beautiful art museum and grounds. I was especially intrigued with one artist who used old items and added glass. For example one was an old wood desk, but the drawers had been made out of glass, a frosty type. There was also a wagon, a chair and an umbrella.

We did take our own water and lunch to eat in the car on our road trip. We did stop to eat ice cream near the beach to tide us over. We also found free parking twice in the little beach town, once while we bought our ice cream and another time while we walked the beach for about 30 minutes. The only other expense besides fuel was the purchase of three or four waters/sodas. Each time we stop to use the restroom, my husband feels obligated to buy something. It's hard to harp on him for it, but I do personally feel it isn't an obligation. I'll guess that cost us another $6-8.

Oh and I overhead a couple speaking with the cashier at CVS yesterday about a $100 bill. This is what the couple said that the cashier agreed with. "If you break it, it's gone." Obviously I don't know these people, so I don't know exactly what they meant. It seems like an odd way to look at money. Once you have $85 in smaller bills for example, you should just consider the money gone? You can't save $20 bills? Every purchase we make with or without cash should be considered right? It doesn't matter what size bill we paid it with. Just my thoughts. What do you think about it?

Not A Frugal Month

July 2nd, 2017 at 06:04 am

I just don't see this being a frugal month for us. We are trying to enjoy the time with our college daughter home and my husband is traveling home most weekends from his school. Thus there is fuel for cars, and money spent on some activities. We do embrace free as much as we can. In fact today, we may go visit an art museum that we can get in for free (Blue Star Museum participant). We do have to drive to get to it however.

We spent $352 on my husband's truck yesterday. He needed brakes badly. Can't say no to maintenance that is important for safety. He also got an oil change. He later picked up new windshield wipers at AutoZone (not the most frugal store to purchase from in my opinion) as he was overdue for those as well.

My van is being repaired tomorrow as I have a check engine light on. I'm expecting it to be an oxygen sensor. I checked my blog and it was over $300 for that repair last time.

Yes, all this money being spent is a good reason to watch the budget in other areas. And I will. I expect the grocery budget would be the best one to focus on.

I am going to follow along with UFM though here and on the Frugalwoods blog. As I know it will be inspirational. I may be able to do a Ultra Frugal Month in August or September.



Money News

June 29th, 2017 at 05:41 am

I redeemed some Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards this week. I would have like to have waited for the beginning of the month to get the discount, but I needed them to buy my daughter birthday gifts! Luckily, Swagbucks have been fruitful with a lot of good surveys and nCraves this last week. In total I redeemed 2800 SB for $28 worth of Amazon gift cards. They arrived within two days, too, so that made me happy!

My husband and I both need to get our vehicles in for repairs. My husband's is just an oil change. My van now has a check engine light on. And no it's not the gas cap. It is driving well, so I expect it is just an oxygen sensor that has failed. That usually seems to be the case for us, if the car is running properly. I have an appointment for Monday and he will stop in for an oil change on Saturday morning.

We earned just over 3100 miles on our Southwest Visa this last month. Yep, that means we charged nearly $3000! We currently have about 20K miles that we can eventually redeem for a flight. I'm planning to use them for my daughter to fly home during Christmas break. I could use some now for her one way ticket back to school in August, but the cost is minimal and December is always a more expensive month.

I wanted to write a blog post yesterday, but there were site issues. I don't think what I wrote above is what I wanted to write. I wish I could remember! I should have written it in a word document. Hopefully it comes back to me, so I can tell you all. Smile

Frito Lay Coupons

June 23rd, 2017 at 10:20 am

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

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

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

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

High Summer Utilities

June 18th, 2017 at 06:26 am

It's just that time of year. More watering of the lawn, which is very large. And the cooling of our home. Because of the high humidity and heat of the southeast, I cannot set the air conditioning too high or mold will grow.

Last month the water bill was $88 and this month it is $114. Not super happy about it, but the lawn does look better with more water on it. The good news is our neighborhood has put a ban on irrigation temporarily because one of the water pumps isn't working, thus some residents are having low water pressure. It helps those residents with better pressure if we don't irrigate. It has been one week so far and I expect that will result in a slightly lower bill next month.

The electric bill was $122.88 last month. This month it jumped to $220.90. I did compare that higher bill to last year at this time and it was $252. So I kind of feel that there is an improvement in using less electricity in areas we can control. I'm still hanging my own clothes to dry, but I know my girls are still using the dryer. And I do use the dryer for towels and jeans. Reducing the use of electricity is still on my radar. We will keep trying despite the weather!

Returns

June 13th, 2017 at 07:43 am

I returned a shirt to Kohl's this morning. I received $9.97 back to my Kohl's card and $1.34 in Kohl's cash. I find it odd to get Kohl's cash because the Kohl's cash I received had already been used in full. So a mini bonus I guess. At least I have 30 days to use it.

I have a pair of jeans I bought in April from JC Penney's that I need to return also. That will bring $20+ back to our budget.

The money is all going back to the clothing budget as there has been more spending there as of late.

Do you have anything at home that you purchased, but have now decided not to use? Return it and put that money back in your budget!

Eating Out Costs Since January

June 9th, 2017 at 04:26 am

OMG!

I say we don't really eat out, but I did a report on YNAB to see how much we have spent since January 1. We have spent $1,158.51 in restaurants. I was shocked. I feel like we only go out once, maybe twice a month.

Here's the monthly breakdown:

January $153.03
February $142.71
March $254.90
April $428.35
May $159.73
June $19.79

I know that in March my daughter was home on spring break, and my husband was off work, I know we ate out as a family at least once and took her to lunch at couple times. In April, we were traveling for eight days and we did buy food out many times during that time.

January, February, and May seem like they may be more normal spending amounts.

In May, there were 9 restaurant transactions. Four of those were my husband eating out for lunch. One was for pizza when I thought a friend of my daughter was going to eat with us. She didn't but I had already ordered it. The other four were restaurant meals for two to four of us. I would say two were for convenience and two were for enjoyment/entertainment.

I'm sure people spend far more than we do eating out, but even basic grab and go at Subway adds up!

Do you know how much you spend eating at restaurants on a monthly basis?

Retirement Up Since Last Year & More

June 6th, 2017 at 01:35 pm

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

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

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

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

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

A Time for Spending

May 30th, 2017 at 01:17 pm

We are just in that time of year I think. It's spending season. Over a week ago we bought one of our daughter's a new smart phone. We tried one unlocked one that didn't end up working with Verizon only to buy a cheaper version by the same company that did work. Net cost $227. I plan to buy a case and scratch cover on Amazon after I earn a few more Swagbucks.

Friday I took both girls shopping for summer wear. Overall, I would say they don't need anything. However, we rarely buy clothes so a few new things are nice. And the younger daughter does need more for her Europe trip this summer. I spent $134.59 for at least eight items. It may have been more.

The week prior I bought myself a new pair of summer sandals for $29. I had been making do with a pair of flip flops from Walmart I bought on a whim two years ago and sneakers. It was time to buy sandals!!

We went to the beach on Sunday. We did pack water and lunch. Parking was free. However, it was a two hour trip each way, so there was fuel for the van. And my husband seemed to need a soda each time we stopped. We did also treat ourselves to homemade ice cream from a local shop.

Our other entertainment this weekend was to see the matinee of Pirate's of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Tickets for four of us were $23. And we almost made it without buying popcorn and soda, but honestly it was lunch time, so we did end up spending $13 on those. Not the most frugal for sure.

The glass for my husband's windshield came to $230. Exactly the amount I was expecting. It was great service and I easily saved $100 over Safelite.

And coming up soon will be new eye glasses for our girls. They are both over due by a year for an exam. One will be covered in full by insurance, the other has a $150 deductible that we haven't met, so the exam will be out of pocket. The frames and lenses are not covered by our insurance. We will be considering online options for sunglasses for sure, if not the actual glasses themselves. However, I know how hard it is to find frames they like, so if they find something they really like at the optical store, I will likely splurge. I currently have $600 set aside for these expenses, but can more money around from other savings goals if needed.

Are you spending more or less this time of year?

Amazon Spending 2017

May 29th, 2017 at 01:01 pm

Since LivingAlmostLarge posted about her online Amazon orders, it got me wondering a bit about ours. I have spent more than she has, but I have not spent tens of thousands like the woman in the article.

For the first five months of 2017, I placed 16 orders, which I guess would average on three a month. The total amount spent out of pocket was $284.45. Some of these order totals came to $0 because I used Amazon gift cards earned from Swagbucks. And I'm sure some of them were reduced because Amazon gift cards, too.

Actually the amount of Amazon gift cards used was $192.73. So that means the spending was $477.18 for the first five months of the year. Just under $100 a month.

Some of the things we purchased were six text books, vitamins, a cord holder for Christmas lights, new headlight bulbs, reusable menstrual items, engine and cabin filters for both cars, a treadmill mat, cell phone cases, and allergy medicine.

Broken Windshield

May 25th, 2017 at 05:22 am

During my husband's travels to school on Sunday, the windshield on his truck was hit by a rock. It eventually resulted in a crack as the trip progressed.

We won't claim this on our insurance as we have a $1000 deductible. I did start the process through USAA who contracts with Safelite for repairs which is where I saw that the windshield would cost $300. I was close to scheduling it, but decided to see if Safelite offered coupons or discounts. Instead I found a local shop that gave an online quote of $197! That is a huge savings.

I'm calling to today to see if we can get our vehicle in on Saturday while he is home, otherwise it will need to wait.

Of course, I'm not thrilled about paying for a windshield, but this is a reason to have savings! And it does pay to shop around when needing repairs. Smile

Bummer, No Kitchenette

May 21st, 2017 at 02:44 pm

My husband has found out his room while he is away for three months of training is a fairly basic hotel room. It doesn't have the stove and kitchen supplies we were expecting. It does have a microwave and a very small dorm refrigerator.

The good news he does get 'free' breakfast everyday. I hope it is somewhat decent as some of those breakfasts can get old after awhile. There may be a manager's reception/weekly social at least one night a week.

He will be back home for Memorial Day weekend, so we might have to figure out some options for food he can buy and eat from the commissary without eating out for every meal.

He is getting per diem to cover meals. Originally we were told it was $69 a day, but it is 75% of that because of the length of the training. That works out to $51.75 for each day. For thirty days, that is $1,552. I think the man can eat decently for that, even with some eating out.

The truth is I would love to keep as much of that money as possible. Even half or 2/3rds of that amount seems possible. I guess we will know more as it all plays out.

Let's Talk College Costs...Part Two

May 9th, 2017 at 07:26 am

There is a lot to discuss when sharing the nitty gritty of college costs. I expect to break my posts down about this over several days. I even need to check with my daughter on how many credits she took each semester.

First here is a screen shot of the annual expenses for a full time undergraduate student taking 30 hours from the 2015-2016 Common Data Set at the school she is attending.



Living on campus is required at this school the freshman year if the student is under 19.

She is an out of state resident. She did receive a renewable four year scholarship of $14,000 per year. That is equal to $56,000. She also received an art scholarship her freshman year equal to $4500. And because she is an Honors student, she receives $500 per year towards books. Because the way the billing is, the Honors scholarship is really like any other scholarship and reduces tuition costs.

I do want to say that even I see areas where costs could be reduced. But we all make choices for our spending that are not about dollars and cents. I'm not going to go into justifying the decision. We are simply grateful that we have had the ability to pay the costs so far without taking out student loans.

In my next post I will try to break down actual costs for freshman year.

Let's Talk College Costs...Part One

May 8th, 2017 at 10:19 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money This Week

May 5th, 2017 at 10:03 am

Here's the chair I painted. That is not it's final resting spot, but did make for a good picture. I actually have a church pew I need to paint to put on that wall instead of the chair.



The fridge gaskets arrived today. Very easy to install the right side (less than two minutes). The left side took a bit longer because I had to briefly detach the mullion (yep, new word for me too). But including getting the tools and detaching it, I would guess that side took under ten minutes. Now no more mold! I do hope that the tighter seal helps holding the air and moisture in and keeps the seals free of mold.

I've been run down with a cold this week. My husband had it first. He even missed a day of work recovering, which he has never done while I've known him. So a few cold remedies and soups have been purchased to make it a little more tolerable.

My daughter is having a friend over tonight. I would normally make homemade pizza, but I'm ordering out, so that I don't pass on any residual germs to my daughter or her friend. Not exactly a cost I planned on, but there is cash in the restaurant category.

I will be writing a $54 check for the band banquet next week. It's $18 per person for a bbq pork meal. I'm sure the costs include some other things given out to students. I sort of wish these types of things didn't exist. They didn't at our other school and it was perfectly fine without a banquet.

And finally our college daughter arrives home by plane on Saturday. We will need to add fuel the van to make the 3 hour round trip to the airport for pickup. We might be able to get away without picking up food since she arrives mid afternoon. However, she may not get a chance to get lunch, so she may need something. I could probably make a sandwich wrap and take it along in a lunch bag if I'm feeling better to make it.

Saving Energy...and More

May 2nd, 2017 at 02:37 pm

The fridge in this rental home is growing black mold on the gaskets that seal the door to the unit. It was here when we moved in and seems to be an issue in the Southeast. We have attempted to clean. One of those cleaning tries resulted in the gasket getting a tear in it because it was dry rotted. I finally decided I can't keep using the fridge unless these gaskets are replaced. I did my research, including price and how to install. I emailed the landlord and have approval to purchase and do the repair. The new gaskets (there are two because it is a French door unit) will arrive from Sears on Friday. The cost is $109, which I paid for but will deduct from the rent per the landlord. I was thrilled that the landlord responded so quickly. I'm hoping that replacing the gasket may save some more energy costs, but it's hard to know if it was leaking cool air or not.

I got a $14 bill in the mail from our state transit authority for using a toll road in a nearby town (no toll booths on this road) We've been using it for over a year, without being billed. Our guess was because we have out of state plates with a state that doesn't even have toll roads. Maybe there was no reciprocal agreement. But the state has caught on and billed us for trips we made in late March and early April. I have no problem paying the bill now that we actually have one! It is a very nice road. Now I have to decide if I want to keep using it or find another route.

I've decided the money I already saved up for tuition but don't need in full for our daughter's summer class will remain in that budget category. I know that we will owe around $1500 for housing that will not be reimbursed with the Post 911 GI bill. So I'm going to make sure we have that money ahead of time.

On Saturday, I bought a small wooden desk chair at a neighbor's garage sale for $5 on Friday. Today I used two cans of spray paint to spruce it up. It most likely will just be a decor piece, but it will function as a chair if needed. Such a deal to get a new to me chair for under $14.

I redeemed $35 worth of Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards yesterday. They have arrived in my inbox, and I have used $20 worth to buy my husband two new cell phone cases (one is for his work phone). I do like getting some things for free!

Kitchenette and Phone

April 30th, 2017 at 06:38 am

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

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

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

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

4 Months = $25K

April 25th, 2017 at 10:51 am

On January 4th of this year our retirement accounts topped $400,000 for the first time. As of yesterday, our accounts are valued at $425,768. That is a change of $25K in less than four months. Some of that change is our contributions to retirement, but the S&P 500 is up nearly 7%, so this growth is a factor as well. It sure would be nice to see this continue through the year. I do like to think the next major milestone, of $500K, could be soon!

In other news, I did get $3 from Pinecone. I also received some pending Swagbucks amounting to 1712 for a hotel I booked through the site. I currently have just under 3000 SB to redeem in early May for Amazon gift cards. And it looks like my husband has a couple things sitting in the Amazon cart...so hopefully I can score those for free.

I'm thinking next week my grocery list may be meatless. That may save a bit of money and be healthier as well. I picked up a Forks Over Knives magazine with lots of yummy looking plant based recipes. My daughter is nearly a vegetarian, so finding new things for her to try is a good motivator as well. Or maybe the motivation to be to try to save at least the cost of the magazine (which I never buy) $7.27! Ouch.

$803 Trip Spending

April 24th, 2017 at 10:21 am

For an eight day trip, we spent $803 on food, fuel, parking, and two nights in a hotel for three people. Our airfare was paid before we left. That was approximately $997 for the three of us.

We were lucky enough to have one free hotel night, as well as free accommodations and several meals with my parents. We also had the use of one of their vehicles as we traveled around two states. We did offer to get a rental car, but they were more than willing to share. We did pay for the gas and got the car washed on the last day we had it.

I entered all our receipts/transactions into YNAB this morning. The only category I needed to revise was the restaurants, but there was more in the vacation category, so I moved some of that there.

After purchasing groceries, my husband getting a haircut, fueling up our vehicles, we have about $94 left until the end of the month.

My husband offered to bring taco shells and meat to their work potluck on Friday. I had volunteered cookies for the band fundraiser this weekend. So that is known spending that will come from the $94.

We will also be looking at getting a new cell phone for our daughter this weekend. I do have $200 set aside, and can pull some other savings if it ends up costing more.

Here's hoping we can make it a low spend week!

Back From Our Trip

April 23rd, 2017 at 08:09 am

I slept in really late this morning because that spring break trip wiped me out! Lots of walking around campuses.

Our daughter is looking to study engineering, so we are looking at excellent midwest colleges for that field. All three colleges mentioned payment for internships, up to $25 an hour! Some starting the summer after freshman year. Two indicated a possible five year program to include a master's degree at the end. We are letting all the information sink in. She can't apply until August 1, so there is lots of time to talk it all through. Two would be our home of record and would be in state tuition. The other is where our older daughter is and would be out of state tuition.

It feels like we spent a lot of money while we were gone, particularly for meals at restaurants. I do remember funding the vacation, fuel and restaurant categories before we left. I paid a $200 housing deposit for our daughter while we were visiting her. I had the money set aside for that. I also bought her a tank top with the University logo, snacks and a large portfolio for storing her art. I guess I bought a tube to roll a piece of art that is 4 ft x 7 ft, too. Just those few things alone are far more than I spend in a traditional week.

We did get unpacked and have started laundry so we are prepared for the work and school week. We also need to stock our fridge for eating at home, so that means a grocery run later today. I'd really rather just sit on the couch!

A Room Upgrade

April 17th, 2017 at 07:08 pm

We are currently traveling. Visiting colleges for our younger daughter. Tonight our hotel, Marriott Residence Inn, was covered by the 'free night' we receive each year after paying the annual fee ($85) for our Marriott Rewards card.

We thought we would arrive and get a King bed with a sofa pull out. Instead we ended up with a two bedroom suite! So nice!! I just wish we were here longer to really enjoy it.

My husband had a glass of wine from the manager's evening reception. In the morning we will all have breakfast. Definitely well worth our $85.

Last night we paid $119, for a Marriott Fairfield Inn room. It was a traditional room. We did get our breakfast included. We also had a hotel stay at another Fairfield Inn just before our flight. We were up so early breakfast wasn't being served yet. We did pay about $90 for that room. We will earn Marriott reward points for both of those paid stays.

We are away about a week, and only have three nights where we have to pay for rooms. The rest of our nights we are staying with family!

Planted Our Mini Garden

April 9th, 2017 at 03:20 pm

I mentioned previously that I was going to plant some vegetables this year. I've always loved fresh vegetables in the summer. After talking to my youngest daughter, she has good memories of picking beans, and tomatoes from our garden. So we are doing it again.

My landlord put in a pretty large mulched bed with two shrubs and a small tree right before we moved in. I was so surprised as the backyard had nothing but grass when we looked at it. I was a bit irritated as I knew the bed would need weeding. But I'm now grateful the area is there, so that I can plant some things without pulling out the grass.

I did have some major weeding to do to prepare the area, but the hoe we own was very helpful in getting them pulled up! There is hardly any mulch left that the landlord put down two years ago. A neighbor is required to put down mulch based on her rental contract. That is something we are not required to do.

I planted snow peas and romaine lettuce from seed. I put the lettuce in grow bags (basically directly into a bag of garden soil, with the bag ripped open on the top). I purchased two tomato plants, a summer squash, a zucchini, and two strawberry plants. The strawberry plants are in a large metal tub. These will go on our screened in porch to keep the birds away from them. They will get plenty of sun. Everything else is planted directly in the garden bed. I made sure to plant items where they will get the most sun (to the south of each tree). I guess the peas are behind one of the trees, but I think they will get enough sun. If they don't work out this spring, I will try another crop in the fall in another spot.

The snow pea seeds were $1.89. Organic romaine lettuce seeds were $2.24. The strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, and squash were $3.40 each. The bags of soil were $1.80 each. I did have to invest in two tomato cages for $8.60. My total investment was $36.73 plus tax ($39.30). If I can end up with produce worth more than $40 this summer I will be ahead financially. That will make the effort well worth it!

I know some of you are big gardeners. Anyone else planting anything edibles this year?

Friday Night Entertainment Spending

April 8th, 2017 at 08:00 am

We rarely go out on the town for entertainment, but we became aware last fall that a play based on a book was going to be performed this spring. Specifically, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. My daughter has read nearly all the Sherlock Holmes stories.

I had considered it as a Christmas gift, but she had some other wants at the time. And in the end tickets weren't available until two weeks ago. For three of us to attend the live play we paid $55.65. Yes, this is more than a movie, but honestly, much more enjoyable to be witness to the skill that is live acting! There were only five actors, but three of them played multiple characters, so lots of costume changes...which made for some hilarious moments. There weren't any mishaps because of the costumes, but just so fun to see the actors and actresses act out different characters.

We planned to go out to dinner ahead of time. I feel our budget lucked out when my daughter picked Subway and my husband was agreeable. He usually likes to sit down and be served which I know always costs far more. I skipped the drink and chips, and they counted two of our six inch subs as a footlong, our bill came to $18.68 for the three of us.

There was an intermission. We ended up buying two bottles of water for $2 each, and leaving a $1 tip. Another five dollars spent. We were parched as it was a bit warm in the theatre.

I feel really good about our spending for this evening of entertainment. Looking back we could have easily eaten dinner at home, but sometimes just getting out of the house and enjoying a night out is worth it.

Did you have any Friday night entertainment expenses? When was the last time you saw a live play or other live entertainment?

Amazon Gift Cards from Swagbucks

April 6th, 2017 at 10:20 am

I earned enough Swagbucks in March to redeem them for $50 worth of Amazon.com gift cards. And I already used them! My purchases should arrive today. I only spent $0.97 out of pocket. I bought two different vitamins for about $25. I added on some tea for $4. And finally, I bought a set of five reusable menstrual pads for $20. I had thought about making my own, but decided I would probably have more follow through and success in the end if I bought something that had good reviews. And with Swagbucks those ended up costing me virtually nothing out of pocket.

It's kind of nice to get things I want and need to buy anyway and have the gift cards to cover them. I really should move the money to savings that I would have spent. Actually I will do that now. I will take money out of the categories these expenses come from and move it to a savings category. Okay, you can't tell that I paused to do that, but I created a BIG goal category in our budget on YNAB. I just put $50.97 in there. I also flagged the other BIG goal contributions so I can find them later. I'll update you on that amount soon.

I do go back and forth about whether the time spent on Swagbucks is worth it. I have taken breaks before and I don't regret them. But I guess for now I'm back on a roll with them. It's motivating when I see that I can buy $50 worth of stuff without any money out of pocket. I can then save that money. Or if we were still paying debt, I could put that money I would have spent without the gift cards towards debt.

If you want to try it out and you haven't joined, I'd be honored if you used my referral link. It can be a little confusing at first. Take a look at YouTube videos that will give guidance about earning as well as ask around on the Swagbucks Facebook page.

Check Arrived & More

April 5th, 2017 at 02:02 pm

The $250 check from the moving company's insurance, for major damage to our entertainment center, arrived in the mail today. That money is going to the BIG goal. I was starting to wonder about it a bit, but I think it has been only two weeks since we accepted the offer.

My daughter is giving up a brand new pair of shoes that were given to her to do an art project with. She has had over four years to actually do it, and finally decided to abandon the idea all together. So those are going to be listed on eBay. I'll probably use proceeds towards textbooks she needs this summer.

I purchased a one way ticket back home for our college daughter. Just a month away at this point. It was $183.45. I had the cash set aside. Yea!

Second Laundry Post for the Day

April 4th, 2017 at 03:39 pm

I mentioned in my post earlier today, that I have the hang of drying sheets hanging up in various places in our home. Sheets dry pretty fast, too.

Today, I needed to do a load of laundry. I decided I needed to bite the bullet and spend money on a laundry drying rack. I started the washer and went on my way to purchase one. I found a wood one at Walmart for just under $18 (although online it says $15 and I forgot I wanted to question it at the register). I did have to put it together, but it wasn't too hard, may have been harder if I had seen the instructions before I put it together! They seemed confusing. My laundry was washed at this point, so I went about hanging up some pants, shorts, under garments, socks and hand towels. I hung the shirts up on hangers and have those hanging in our bathroom. I expect that these will be mostly dry before we go to bed. I will fold them at that time.

And if I didn't point out this in another post about saving money on electricity, I'm considering the cost of the wood drying rack an investment that should pay big returns in lower electricity bills Specifically, I saved two loads of laundry from the dryer today, and the cost associated with running it. Yea!


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