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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!!

Spending Season Begins

May 13th, 2018 at 01:26 pm

Spending season seems to have arrived at our house. And I don't expect to exactly stop it. It's just that time of year where are expenses are higher.

Our oldest daughter is home from college. Grocery bill is up. Her three instruments needed to be serviced for the year. I bought her new shoes, considering one pair we replaced was from when she was in eighth grade it was a definite need! Oh, and she needed new music, books for summer classes. We also received the bill for her Xray, just $36 after insurance paid. The office visit itself was included in school fees we already paid for.

Our youngest daughter's high school graduation is in one month. And we have company coming and we will go with them to the beach for three days. This is causing us to buy some needed items to make that event happen. Clothes primarily. I found my graduation dress for $39 at the Post Exchange. I won't need shoes, so a pretty decent bargain. There will be lots of food spending in June as a result of company.

It's also PCS season. PCS means Permanent Change of Station for military members. My husband has coworkers who are leaving for other jobs, and it always involves a final goodbye lunch at a restaurant. Each person pays for their own food. A couple of those a month seems to add up.

It's just that time of year. I have to simply expect and embrace it. It doesn't mean we are out spending money we don't have or spending without thinking. It's just that time of year where there are more things going on and the spending is up.

Do you feel you have a season of the year where you spend more than other times of the year?

Money Magnet

April 26th, 2018 at 03:22 pm

Geez! Our oldest daughter is a money magnet as of late. This afternoon she was presented with a $600 scholarship for leadership in marching band. It was the first time this particular scholarship was given out. Smile

We feel so very blessed.

In other news, I gave away $50 to ethical science research. I'd like to give more and likely will, but I did this on a whim. I need to discuss future donations with my husband. Smile

We ordered our tickets in advance to see Avengers:Infinity War on Sunday morning. We have never ordered in advance, but noticed it was $1.00 surcharge per ticket which seemed reasonable to save time. When Black Panther came out we went nearly an hour ahead of the time and that showing was already sold out. This time we'll go early to get good seats, but we will already have purchased tickets.

Rewards & Spending

March 19th, 2018 at 11:57 am

In the last week, as I have paid our credit cards in full, I found that two of them had rewards I could redeem. I redeemed $22.11 in cash from our Chase Freedom account. We have been using that card for fuel, cable, phone (Ooma) and Netflix purchases this quarter to earn 5% cash back.

Our American Express card had earned another $25 in rewards. This is applied as a statement credit, but I did put that same amount towards our Big Goal.

Today was a little spendy! My husband is home from work while our daughter visits. We ran to Target to pick up a sympathy card, light bulbs, shaving cream and packing tape. We decide to make this our day out to each lunch. We will eat at home the next few days, with more eating out to celebrate her birthday later in the week. And finally, we picked up some hair product our daughter uses from Ulta (did have a coupon). That was $83 of spending! I'm glad I added extra to our budget accounts.

My husband is going to get the oil changed in my van tomorrow. We have been saving for car maintenance, so no worries about finding cash for that! We are set.

Tonight I'm making this for dinner. Some of us will add chicken. I'm also going to use some hamburger buns to make a garlic bread. I've made that recipe with green beans instead of asparagus with good results...even more frugal.

Lower Electric Bill

March 14th, 2018 at 11:03 am

With the warmer weather a couple weeks ago here in the Southeast, the furnace and air conditioner were not running much at all. The weather has cooled again in recent days, but the end result is a much lower bill from last month.

Remember my bill in January (due in February) was $350?! Last month it came down to $250. And this month, the bill is $161. This is still higher than I like, but for this home it seems to be the near minimum for running everything. I think I will start funding the electric account with a minimum of $250 each month to help level out the larger bills sure to come this summer. It's easy to do this in YNAB and let the money keep rolling over from month to month.

Payday is tomorrow. I will pay all credit card accounts in full, reconcile any accounts in YNAB (did some today) and fund everyday spending for the second half of the month. I will also fund the bills and withdrawals (such as Roth and college investments) and our sinking funds.

I'm more hands off with finances than I once was. Once you have excess funds, you don't have worry about overdrawing your account, or finding money when a larger bill comes in because you have funded it in advance (sinking funds). And YNAB helps keep track of all that as well.

Happy Pi Day!

Spring Break Trip with Miles

February 17th, 2018 at 03:21 pm

I just booked our oldest daughter's flight home for spring break. She will fly Southwest Airlines. I used points we accumulated on our Southwest Visa during 2017 to cover the cost of the flight.

Almost Free!

I did pay for Early Bird Checkin, which is $30 roundtrip. If I were flying alone, I'd skip it, but as a young adult she does like the ability to pick her seat early so she can get off the plane quickly to get to her connecting flight on time. It basically is paying for her to have a little less stress during the process. And I had to pay the TSA Security Fee as well, $11.20.

Grand total $41.20. Can't beat that!

Higher Grocery Bill

February 13th, 2018 at 05:27 am

Wow, the first half of the month is nearly over! My parents were here for 12 days, and boy does it show in the grocery budget. We spent $202 on a full grocery trip three days before they arrived. And then proceeded to spend $276 more in groceries while they were here! We did eat very well and I know there are leftovers I can still use up in the coming days.

And believe it or not we even went out to dinner a few times. We picked up the tab for my mom's birthday at a sushi place. They bought me lunch at a Indian restaurant, Panera and another lunch at the sushi restaurant. Otherwise all meals were cooked at home, but I guess we picked all the expensive ingredients!

So maybe we can get the grocery bills lower in the second half of the month. I do know my daughter and I will be eating leftovers for dinner while my husband is at a work event this evening. I will need to take stock of what I have and make use of it as the month progresses!

Computer For College

January 29th, 2018 at 06:13 am

Last night we ordered a Dell laptop for our youngest daughter. She is heading to college in the fall and we found with our older daughter it was nice to have it purchased well before the first day classes.

Originally we tried to purchase one direct through the University to save on sales tax, however, the one they recommended and were offering was no longer available. It would have been $1299, including a 4 year warranty. Apparently, it was a special deal the university was able to get in cooperation with Dell last year. (I'm sure there will be on again in the early summer or fall, but we decided to just get what we need now to be done with that decision making process...it was stressing us all out for some reason!)

We basically got the same laptop we originally ordered through the University. We did downgrade to a 3 year warranty because that saved us nearly $250. We upgraded to a 2 in 1 version, so that it has a touchscreen available and can be flipped and used like a tablet.

Our daughter will be an engineering major, so the laptop does have higher specs than some students may need in college. We did get an older version and an older processor, but again the same one the University was suggesting that we thought we could still purchase.

The University did give us some other options to purchase but they were more expensive than the one we ended up purchasing directly with Dell. They were having 10% off select computers (slightly older models it appeared). The warranty was three years for the price of two. We did get free shipping, but had to pay sales tax of 7%.

The final total charged to our US Bank card was $1,481.65. I had selected electronics stores as one of my 5% cash back categories for this quarter. That will amount to $74.08 off the total. I went through the Ebates shopping portal for 2% back (better than Swagbucks 1% offer), and that will give us $27.88 back in cash (should arrive in May). Both of those more than cover the sales tax we were charged.

I did have to move another $184+ to the computer category as this is the amount over what we originally thought we would pay to the University for the laptop they offered. Luckily, a low spend month help me know we have that amount covered!

Computer arrives on Thursday, and my daughter is excited. She and I no longer have to share! Smile

Closing Out January

January 28th, 2018 at 04:18 pm

For the purposes of this blog and January Uber Frugal month, I am closing out our budget. We went grocery shopping today, but I am not including it since most of the food will cover more days in February than January. I did include the fuel we bought for the van, which was $41.96.



It doesn't show in my screenshots, but we were over our budget by $36.05. Not bad at all considering several things were not planned, such as the dinner on Friday, buying vitamins for our daughter or buying a new fridge water filter. And yes, our groceries are probably inflated, not for eating more food, but for buying high quality food. We are dieting so we are actually eating less..and have both lost weight!



I zeroed all the categories out. This is how I end each month in YNAB. The remaining amount that we didn't allocate to anything this month $1,648.89! Lower spending does pay off! I will add the money to various long and short term goals. Some may go to the Big Goal, most of it will go to bigger expenses that we expect later this year.



Just so you know we are very unlikely to have spent all of that $1600 in a regular month. Compared to December 2017, we spent $1200 more than we did this month. And we spent $450 less than last January. I feel we were very successful this month.

Dinner and Grocery Spending

January 27th, 2018 at 11:20 am

We had a very nice time eating out. We did really good considering it was a brewery...we didn't drink! And I only had water with my meal. We spent three hours there and spent $38.61 on our entrees and DH's diet coke. He tipped generously with $8, for a total of $46.61 spent. So we are definitely over our frugal January restaurant budget. However, you really can't say no to an invite by friends that you don't see that often.

We stopped by the grocery store last night before coming home because we needed eggs. I did remember a few other needs(flour, turkey crumbles, cheese) as well, along with two requests from our daughter. We spent another $29.94 in groceries. We are now over the Uber Frugal budget in groceries too.

Despite going over budget in a lot of budget categories this month, we have done really well. I purposely put the budget low to keep us thinking about our spending. We have months where we just don't monitor it as closely. That's why I find these low spend months so helpful.

Here's what the Everyday Spending categories look like right now. I will probably end our reporting of our spending and Uber Frugal month after today. We have guests coming and I need to get some things purchased (specifically groceries) tomorrow. Notice how there's just $10 left! That's cutting it close isn't it?



The good news is there is plenty of cash to still be allocated to savings. I'll share that amount tomorrow!! It's a pretty big number. Smile

Dinner Out Tonight

January 26th, 2018 at 07:36 am

Yesterday, I spent $3.50 to mail my sister her lanyard that I made. All items I used, including the mailer and card were items I had in my home, so no other out of pocket costs. We decided a few years ago not to exchange gifts, but she is my sister and since I felt inspired to make something I just did it!

I also spent $2.12 on a birthday card for my mother. She will be here next week and her birthday will take place during her visit. I'm not sure if I'm buying her a gift yet. I'm thinking of buying flowers to have during her time here as I know she doesn't NEED stuff. I know we will likely go out to dinner, too.

Speaking of dinner, I just got a phone call that a former coworker of my husband is in town and wanted to know if we want to go to dinner tonight. I guess we are...people before money, right? I could offer up dinner at our house, but since the plan is for this evening...I don't feel prepared in the least.

Everyday Spending Update

January 24th, 2018 at 04:10 pm

We have $122.76 left to spend through the end of the month based on the budget I made to be Uber Frugal. We bought groceries on Sunday, so that definitely made a dent in the available cash.



Oh, look you can see that we contributed to our retirement, specifically our Roth IRAs.

My husband also bought fuel since the last time I posted this snapshot. Otherwise I think that is it for spending! I will likely need fuel in my van before the end of the month, but we may come under budget in fuel.

We usually shop for groceries together on Sunday's. I intend to do the same this week. We will go over budget because I will be purchasing food for guests during that trip. The guests arrive on Wednesday. After our shopping trip, I may be able to estimate the cost for foods to get us through mid day on Wednesday. That is what would count for January. The remaining will count for February. It is what it is. Hard to get budgets to match up perfectly with a calendar and unusual events such as visiting guests.

How are you doing with your spending goals this month?

Some Spending Averted

January 21st, 2018 at 11:53 am

My husband and daughter considered going to Jumanji yesterday. I did remind them it was a no spend month. In the end we did some clothes shopping for our daughter, which was more of a need. We also visited the kitties at the pet store. So cute...and tempting!

Three shirts were bought at Target, spent about $60 on those (not frugal), in addition to lotion, laundry detergent and windex. I had a $50 gift card, used two cartwheel offers and there was 15% off clothing if I used our Red Card. So, out of pocket we spent $25.80.

Today we went grocery shopping. Final total at the commissary was $151.26. Pet food was $21 and Vitamin C was $8.77. The rest was food. We bought salmon and chicken this week, so that wasn't exactly frugal. We also needed lots of veggies which are key to our healthy diets.

Still no alcohol has been purchased! That's three weekends in a row. My husband did mention it last night, but he is committed to the diet for the month.


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