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What Should I Plant?

March 15th, 2017 at 01:17 pm

I'm thinking of planting some vegetables this summer. I can't do a lot as I'm not going to dig up new areas of my landlord's yard. And I have just a few pots, but I'm not willing to invest in more. I'm not afraid to use a bucket with holes in the bottom either. The one area I can use is near a fence with two shrubs and one ornamental tree. The area gets shade in the morning and full sun in the afternoon and evening. I wouldn't be planting right under the tree or shrubs obviously.

I've grown tomatoes, onions, pole beans and sugar snap peas with good luck in the past. There may have been one other thing, but I can't remember right now. I'm considering zucchini and or summer squash (I know those take up a lot of space, right?).

I'm just in the beginning stages of my thinking and planning. So I'm curious what would you plant when you have limited space?

Hollar: An Online Dollar Store?

March 6th, 2017 at 03:43 pm

Wow! Interesting thing I found out about today. There is an online store where they sell things for as low as a dollar! Now not everything is a $1, but quite a few things are. There are kids items, cleaning products, home decor, party and holiday decorations. Oh, and office supplies. And much more! It looks like the first shipment is free, and after that shipping is free if your order is at least $25. Here's my referral link (you get $2, and I get $2). I'll check back after I make my first order and let you know how it goes.

Has anyone else used Hollar?

Ima Saver We Miss You

February 2nd, 2017 at 08:32 am

This post is for you Ima! We noticed you are no longer active on Saving Advice and we miss you. We are concerned about you.
Please post, or have someone who knows you post, so we can know how you are.

Here is my first inquiry earlier this year about you.

Would others please comment on this post when you see it? Please offer well wishes to Ima Saver (Julie). The goal is to get this post in the most talked about entries each month, so Julie will see it when she does visit here again.

Ima Saver

January 2nd, 2017 at 06:08 am

It's been awhile since we have heard from Ima Saver (Julie) here on Saving Advice. She last posted on July 21st of 2015. Several of us have left comments over the months since.

I'm a bit worried! Anyone have another way of contacting her?

My List

September 16th, 2016 at 07:11 am

Here's my list of things to know about me:

1. I was born in 1972 in a midwest state.
2. I've been married 20 years to the same man.
3. I have two daughters age 19 and 16.
4. We move often with the military, currently living in the southeast.
5. I have a college degree in Banking and Finance, and worked for a major mutual fund company.
6. We started our marriage with $10K in credit card debt due to a failed business my husband started before we were married.
7. We have two cats Liberty and Riley.
8. I love tacos!
9. I have experience selling a lot of our used stuff on eBay.
10. My favorite season is autumn.
11. I'm considering raising honey bees when we retire.
12. I suffer from anxiety and dislike driving on the interstate (I blame it on military moves!)
13. I'm voting for a third party candidate.
14. I write another blog called Your Organized Friend.
15. I rarely watch television.
16. I don't wear make up or color my hair.
17. I've lost 23 pounds since April by walking a lot!
18. We have credit cards, but not credit card debt.
19. We are debt free (no mortgage, currently renting)
20. I love to be out in nature, but don't do it nearly enough.

And if you are newer and reading this blog, the reason my name is creditcardfree is that when I started this blog we had paid off credit cards and closed them all. We were literally credit card free. We have a handle on our finances now and have obtained credit cards for the rewards benefits. We always pay them in full before any interest accrues.

Over on the forums....

August 14th, 2016 at 09:35 am

Just so you are aware of things happening on the forums. Notice the administrators responses!

Does anyone remember if the blogs were bought by someone else or have a different administrator?

Sold More Shares

May 25th, 2016 at 01:47 pm

I sold $2,200 worth of shares from my daughter's educational savings account yesterday. The market was up and the price of shares was higher than the last time I sold. Of course, they are up again today, too.

I have now withdrawn the funds we paid to the University for the spring semester in full. In another three months, we'll owe more money. Joy.

At one point, I thought we would use the Post 911 GI Bill for sophomore and junior years and use the remaining funds for senior year. If she goes beyond that, we were thinking loans. However, we did learn that the GI Bill will cover out of state tuition in full, thus when her scholarship runs after senior year, it may be best to use some of those funds for the fifth year.

Now we are thinking we should use our own funds (the ESA primarily) to pay for sophomore year. I would like to delay taking any loans out as long as possible, so I could see using the Post 911 GI Bill for junior year, then loans for senior year(likely in daughter's name) and finally use GI Bill for the final (fifth) year.

This college stuff is stressful! I can see why some people just take out loans and don't think about it. Smile Not that I really want to end up with that result.

Article: 4 Men, 4 Incomes

April 26th, 2016 at 05:27 am

I found this Esquire article on My Money Blog today. The most interesting part to me was that two of the men with the lowest incomes thought taxes were too high. I'd have to bet neither of them are paying Federal income tax. Of course, yes, they likely pay sales tax.

And if I was making $50K, I would not be buying such expensive bedroom sets! I do feel for the guy making minimum wage. I do wonder what his plan is to triple his income? I hope he is taking advantage of some educational opportunities!

What did you take away from the article?

Witnessed a Theft

March 25th, 2016 at 07:31 am

I witnessed a theft from a store earlier this week. It was around 6pm. I was in a retail area to take my daughter to her flute lesson. I drove behind Bed Bath and Beyond to see a man with a full cart running. Then I noticed another man running after him. The thief was heading to a get away car driven by someone else. In the end he abandoned the cart and pulled a pillow off the top, hopped in the car and they drove away.

I stopped by the other man who had grabbed the cart. He was a worker at the store. I didn't offer to submit a report nor did he indicate he would call police. We just both agreed it was crazy and stupid. Apparently, this happens with some frequency there!

My only goal was to stay safe and maybe see a license plate number. The thieves were smart to have removed their plate...so I couldn't help in that way. I did notice the items being stolen were towels and bedding.

Have you witnessed a theft?

Fast Card Closure

March 7th, 2016 at 07:05 am

My husband has had a Capital One Quicksilver card for about 2.5 years. The last time we used it was in December of 2014. I remember I tried to cancel it online one time, but their response was to call to cancel. We just never got it done. It's been on my list of things to do for months!

Today, I decided to log in to that account and see if I could take care of that online. And yes, this time there was an actual option to close account!! In less than two minutes I had that card closed. I feel so much better.

We still have the same number of cards open as we did before. We opened two recently and have now closed two (we closed Citi Thank You Premier a couple weeks ago).

The good news, as always, is that we don't have a revolving balance on our remaining cards. Thus no interest is ever paid!

Water Damage

January 25th, 2016 at 07:11 pm

Oh boy! I'm not sure how to feel. We discovered some water damage in our rental home. Recently, we have hardwood floors and noticed a few boards separating ever so slightly in our kitchen. Since I'm not an expert in hardwood floor or homes without basements (we have a crawl space) and it has been much, much colder here I thought it was because of weather.

Yesterday and today it was much more noticeable that the boards were warping ever so slightly. And then I noticed a gap (1/16 of an inch or less) in another board closer to the fridge. Our fridge has an ice maker and line for cold water. Hmm...

Once my husband was home I explained I thought we needed to pull the fridge out and make sure there wasn't a leak. If only that had been the case. But there was a leak. Seems to be the water hose (which can be replaced). But the damage to the floor and the cabinet walls on the sides of the fridge are definitely water damaged.

I feel so bad. Not that WE did anything wrong. I just wish it had been more obvious sooner, so the damage would be far less. Our owners live many hours north of us so they can't stop by to look at it easily. We did send pictures.

If it were our home I'd be calling a water restoration company to handle the repairs. For now, all we could do was turn off the water and wipe up the water. Now we wait.

Again, I feel mixed about the whole thing.

I'm grateful that the cost to repair isn't on us. I'm pretty sure the owners have spent around $3,000 on some new air conditioner parts since we have lived here. Now this new expense. Maybe insurance would pay for it? Not sure.

I'm also not looking forward to being in the middle of any repairs while they happen. It's in the kitchen!!

And funny thing...I just ordered a new water filter for the fridge. It will arrive on Wednesday. But now we can't use it!! Ugh. It's a mix bag.

For the most part I feel bad for them. No one want to hear they have water damage in their home.

Simple Gifts

December 29th, 2015 at 01:23 pm

I received a gift in the mail yesterday from a friend. We exchange when the mood strikes us. Last year I'm pretty sure I sent her something. But not this year, in part because I was simply reducing our list of obligations.

She sent me a very small jar of organic hot chocolate mix (two servings), a nice chocolate bar, and two handmade marshmallows. Yummy! It is such a simple gift, but her card and thoughtfulness are more meaningful to me than something more extravagant.

I'd rather receive simple gifts given out of love than something extravagant any day. Some of this may be that I don't like spending money on expensive gifts, so I sure wouldn't want someone doing that for me. And this particular gift is one that will eventually disappear, once it is consumed. Only the jar will remain and that can be recycled!

I have a whole list of things that I think are pretty simple that I would love to receive: lotion, handmade soap, Penzey's spices, good quality tea, wool socks, slippers, homemade foods, lavender dish soap or hand soap, and even flowers or a plant. Did you notice most of those are consumable or something that will eventually be used up or worn out!

Do you give simple gifts? Do you have simple gifts you would look forward to receiving?

Check Your Credit Report!!

October 8th, 2015 at 02:02 pm

I logged into the annual credit report site today to get one of our free credit reports. I like to check one of the three every four months. I'm way overdue for checking!

I chose TransUnion. I couldn't remember which one I checked last or when, so I just chose randomly. All looks good for both me and my husband. He knows I check and will look them over he is home.

I was prompted by a Facebook friend who indicated she found a problem on hers. Not sure what it was for her. But the discussion was simply a reminder to check. And that is why I'm sharing here, too!

Check your credit report! It's free at annualcreditreport.com. More information on the site to look at as well about credit reporting.

YNAB Update

September 19th, 2015 at 11:26 am

We are moving along with YNAB. My husband has now downloaded it to his phone, but still needs to sign in. I paid all the bills, but we have cash left to budget for the rest of the month. I actually cleared the budget for the first half of the month. It did help me in paying bills yesterday. I knew exactly what amount to pay on the credit cards we used. However, my budget amounts were completely arbitrary. I do understand how to adjust them though, so that will get better.

My big question, which probably sounds strange. Is YNAB your only way of tracking your money? Is it truly like your check register? I'm having a really hard time letting go of the check register and excel sheets I use, but yet I can see if I can move everything over I would probably like it really well.

We are still on the trial portion for the next 14 days. I'm pretty sure we are committed to pay for it when the trial ends. My husband definitely sees that using the mobile app to input transactions will be really easy and helpful.

I want to carve out some more time to take some more classes. It would be even better if we could take the classes together.

YNAB Update

September 8th, 2015 at 10:02 am

I told you in a previous post I have been procrastinating setting up YNAB. And yes that is still true. It is a bit overwhelming with various credit cards and checking accounts to keep track of. I expect this alone may help me get some more cards cancelled and consolidate a few accounts.

I'm determined to get something entered on YNAB this week. I have a 'real life' friend who uses it and was asking me how it was going. I know she will ask again about it later in the week, so that is going to be my motivation.

I'm going to start by entering our disposable income each paycheck. This is $X amount that I set aside each paycheck after all fixed expenses are accounted for, such as rent, allowances. So those fixed items are going to stay off the budget for now. What I really want to know and be aware of is where is the $X going. I know it goes to things like groceries, dry cleaning, gas, postage, haircuts, entertainment, eating out, coffee, alcohol, toiletries and cleaners, and school fees.

My plan is to get back to you by Friday with another YNAB progress update. Oh, and yes, I realize this isn't exactly how YNAB is intended to work, but I need to start slow and simple just to get myself started!! Otherwise, I'm going to procrastinate. And yes, I'm still on the free trial. No money spent yet. If I don't get fully on board with YNAB by the end of this month, I'm not buying the subscription. Smile

Kohl's Fraud

August 20th, 2015 at 06:59 am

In addition to dealing with getting my daughter ready for college this month and having visitors, I found out my Kohl's card had been used for a purchase.

I have no idea how that happened. First, I was notified of an email change, but was having issues getting it corrected. Initially it didn't look like anything had been charged so I ignored it since I was so busy! While I was away my husband asked me about a package. Jeans? That I didn't order. Until I was home did I realize they were boy's jeans!

I called Kohl's. They confirmed my account, apologized, credited the shipping charge and offered to pick up the jeans. I figured on my end it would actually be easier to return to the store, since I know I will be there this week. They also set up a password on my account that needs to be used in order to use the card in the store or online.

I need to look around on our credit report to check on other accounts and possibly set up a fraud alert to prevent other accounts from being opened in my name. I'm also overdue from changing passwords on some of accounts. I need to get to that too.

The charge was only around $30, but so odd. Kohl's? It's not like that card can be used any other place!

Weekend Before Moving In

July 10th, 2015 at 02:22 pm

It's our last weekend in our rental apartment. We received confirmation that our movers are expect to arrive and unload our items on Monday morning. The earlier the better...it is going to be hot!

I'm hoping we can try to relax a bit, but we do need to go shopping before move in day to get some things. Many of these are items we tossed before the move or left at our house for the buyers.

Here's my list so far:
toilet bowl brush
shower curtain rings(two sets)
paper towels
outdoor trash can
broom (maybe 2)
felt floor pads (for furniture)
scrub brush for kitchen
kitchen sponge
dish soap
outdoor rugs (could wait)
a weeks worth of groceries
internet modem

Our relaxing weekend includes visiting a museum here. I'd also love to swim in the pool one more time! And if the weather would cool off a little more I'd like to walk a trail that I found out about (not near our home unfortunately).

Lost $20

July 5th, 2015 at 07:41 am

We went to a celebration on post last night. My husband took out $80 in cash so we could buy food and drinks from the vendors. The event was free and we saw some well know entertainers, so paying high prices for the food didn't bother us too much this time.

My husband thinks he lost $20 or maybe just a $10 bill. He came home with $8 in his wallet. However we can only remember and account for about $50 in food. It's possible we aren't remembering what we purchased correctly and actually spent $70+ on food!

If we did drop some cash, I sure hope someone who needed it came across it and it made their night. We can afford to lose $20 luckily. Not trilled about it, but it isn't' the end of the world.

We Did Eat At Home Today

June 7th, 2015 at 08:14 pm

We did eat for all meals today at home. I'm not exactly sure what everyone had for breakfast and lunch, anything we could find really. Smile

I sent my husband to the store to pick up pasta, a loaf of bread, and salad fixings. I knew we had pasta sauce to use up as well as dressing. Now we have more salad than we have dressing for!! My husband will likely finish it up since he is okay eating salad without dressing.

We do actually expect that tomorrow night will be our last night to make dinner here at home. Our kitchen dishes will be packed up by Tuesday night. And we should probably turn off our refrigerator at that point as well. By then we'll just be eating peanut butter as that is all we will have left!

I did toss about 1/2 cup of lentils and a cup of brown rice. I've had them both in my cupboard for awhile. I'd rather just replace them when needed to avoid having them stored in a box for nearly a month.

We also went to a local museum in our town. It's a national museum and was updated after this city had a flood several years ago. We always meant to check it out. The move finally motivated me to get it done. I think the free admission for military families was help too! It was enjoyable and had a great exhibit about what it means to live in a democratic country and be free. It was a beautiful building too.

Tomorrow we are dropping off a bag and a box to Goodwill. We also have an appointment to get our oil changed on our van. Perfect timing since we have a big road trip ahead, but it needs to be done anyway.

And tomorrow is the day the appraisal should be done. This time we won't be around to know whether it is done or not as we have other plans when it is planned. I will check with my agent though to make sure it is! I do find it crazy that we are just days from the original closing and the appraisal still isn't complete. It is interesting now that the sale is delayed I actually don't care to much about it. I think because I know it will close at some point. I also know I have to leave regardless of the change. I also feel pretty confident it will close before the end of the month.

Did you eat at home today? Have you done any decluttering that you can donate?

Eating is Getting Expensive

June 6th, 2015 at 07:11 pm

We are less than a week from moving. We are trying to eat everything up and at this point that pretty much is done with a few exceptions. So now we are buying food a day at a time...and eating the leftovers as we go. I don't have exact numbers (no time for that) but it feels pricey.

I tossed out some expired spices and some condiments that I know we won't use. If I had close friends and family I might try to give it to them, but that just isn't the case here. So down the sink it all goes. I'm recycling the containers. I am keeping quite a bit that I really hope the movers will pack. If I remember from previous moves I think they will. Smile

Personally, I want to try to eat as much vegetables and fruit as I can in the coming days. I'll just be buying it a day or two at a time.

Snowflakes for May

May 29th, 2015 at 06:33 pm

For the month of May I accumulated $139.28 in found money/snowflakes. This money helped pay off the final balance on the Citi Card from January, the remaining cost of my daughter's glasses plus a little bit more.

If I wasn't working on selling a home and all that goes with that I expect I may have found more earnings, especially with things I could sell.

Did you find snowflakes this month?

Relax A Cat

May 26th, 2015 at 07:03 am

To keep things on a light note after the holiday, I'm posting the picture I took of one of my cats last night. She's hanging out in her travel kennel. I put carpet remnant in there, took the door off, and added some cat nip. I've seen both cats using them, so hopefully it is a good start to our trip!

Released and More Offers

April 29th, 2015 at 04:34 am

Sooo...even though the buyers walked away things are moving along quite nice. The original buyers did provide us with the radon report and their home inspection report. We all released each other from contract and they get their earnest money back.

In the meantime, my realtor worked her contacts and since I last wrote we have received two offers, had one showing last night and two showings scheduled for today.

The first offer that came in was from our second offer people the first time around. A pretty good offer however, their home is going on the market this weekend in another town so they don't have a buyer lined up for their home, and they didn't want to close until August 28...120 days out! So unfortunately, they were rejected again.

A late showing last night (which irritated my kids) resulted in an offer. These buyers live like two blocks away and have their zero lot line home/condo pending sale to close on May 15. Their offer is just as good as the last offer we took and they are willing to close on June 12 (the day after our items are moved out). Because of my husband's work schedule we were given until 6pm this evening to respond.

We also have two showings scheduled today! One around lunch and the other just before we need to respond to the current offer.

How is that for a crazy day? Bad news that turns into good news. We just might be under contract again tonight!

Bad Service By USAA

April 27th, 2015 at 11:58 am

Wow. USAA has not done a good job this time. I've never once had an issue with their service, until now.

We inquired by email how to get our daughter set up with her own checking account since she is now 18 and will need one for college. The instruction was to send a money order for at least $25, along with a letter instructing to open a checking account and reference her USAA number (which is already established). They provided the address.

We mailed this in early April. While I was on my trip east she received a couple phone calls regarding the money. She didn't return the calls, but upon my return, we figured out they were trying to open a mutual fund, which she doesn't even have, nor do the instructions indicate this. An inquiry again, indicated they made an error and they would get the account established in 7 days. Turns out within 7 days they will mail everything back!

So frustrating! It's like they can't even read the letter. We will be inquiring why the original letter wasn't clear and trying one more time. Otherwise we'll just get a local account for her when she gets to college.

Have you had bad service such as this at any bank?

Waiting for the Radon Professional

April 21st, 2015 at 07:25 am

Our buyers are paying to have the house professional tested for radon. The entire state is considered high for it. I'm waiting for that professional to drop off the necessary equipment.

We did our own quick test with a kit we purchased from Amazon for $10 back in February. It came back at 3.1 pCi/L. The level for corrective measures is another 4.0 pCi/L or above. Our test was below that but could be considered a health risk.

Our agreement with the buyers is if the test comes back at 4.0 pCi/L or higher we will pay to have the house mitigated. We already have a the basic passive plumbing in place that the builder added at the time the house was built. That alone keeps the levels down. A fan will simply be added if needed for $500, plus another $100 to have the radon levels tested again after installation.

Part of me is planning to have to pay the cost to mitigate since it is in our agreement, but I will be very happy if levels are low enough to avoid that cost. The test ends in 48 hours, I'm not sure when we will have the results.

Fingers crossed for low levels! Do you have high radon levels in your state? Does anyone have a mitigation system in their home?

Already Time To Counter

April 13th, 2015 at 08:42 pm

Our home went live on the MLS today. We had one showing Sunday after the sign was seen in our yard on Saturday. Today we had two showings, with one resulting in an offer!

We are in the middle of a counter offer primarily to move the closing date, since most of the financials are really good. I will share those later when it is all hashed out.

I have lucked out not to have to deal with the showings while I'm out of town. I will owe my mother a big hug for all her help while I was away!!

We think we have found a rental home being offered by a coworker of my husband who is moving out of town later this summer. Right now they think they can be out by July 1.

I will let you know more later! Thanks for all the good vibes and prayers...must have helped.Smile

Snowflakes in March

April 1st, 2015 at 07:00 am

I guess March was a good month for snowflakes! My big fat total is $422.32. The eBay sales made a big impact as did the Ooma referral money. I make more money with Ooma than I spend. Smile

The point of all this snowflake tracking is to show that all money small and large do add up. I also make a point to use the money to pay down debt currently. This month the money helped pay off our Wells Fargo Amex and pay down a balance on our Citi card (both which have 0% interest).

The beginning balance on Citi at the beginning of the year was $686.27. Along with a couple of minimum payments and a snowflake payment today of $145.23 the balance is now $491.04. The entire balance of the card is much larger because of airline tickets, glasses and regular spending. I did make another payment of $860 towards all of those expenses today too. And I'm considering paying another $1000 from savings to get it in a more manageable place. Eventually (after our move) I can pay that money back.

Did you get debt paid off this month? Did you use snowflake/extra money aquired to help? What was your snowflake total?

How Old Is Your Car?

March 29th, 2015 at 05:56 am

I was reading an article today where there was mention of the age of the person's vehicle. A 2004. The article was trying to indicate how old that was. I thought well our are only a bit newer. We have two 2007s, which were both bought used. While my van is getting really close to 100,000 it still drives like new (at least I think so).

Our hope is to hold on to our vehicles at least until our girls get through college...which is another 7 years. So that may be pushing it, but it's a good goal I think.

How old is/are your vehicle(s)? How long do you hope to keep yours?

Need to Pay Bills

February 13th, 2015 at 08:28 pm

Today was payday. I thought all day that I would get them done! There were several other things that just took priority. I hope I get a chance to get it in tomorrow. I will also need to update some recent snowflakes!

I'd like to say it will be a low spend weekend, but we have plans to see a movie ($32!), visit the art museum ($10) and buy girl scout cookies ($24). I would also like to update our bath towels. Most of them are easily 10 years old. Several have bleach marks of some kind and at least one is beginning to fray on the sides. It's time for towels. Hope to keep to just four bath towels, 2-3 hand towels. The girls also need a new bath mat (again fraying!). Our future home sell has me motivated to get this task taken care of.

My husband bought me flowers ($15), we bought candy for the girls and will use two cards from a package we purchased to write some nice words to our girls. We will eat dinner at home and avoid any chaos happening at the restaurants this weekend.

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope your weekend will be more frugal than mine.

And the Winner Is...

February 12th, 2015 at 05:36 am

CB in the City

There were a whopping five comments on the contest blog. The random number generator picked number 3, which was CB's comment. I'm sure some of us numbers people are thinking it is also an average of the five!

Thanks for your comment CB about your thrifty ways. I throw out quite a bit of coffee here unfortunately, so I will have to try your method soon!

If the rest of you didn't see the other contestants comments I would encourage you to take a look. They are all really good!

Happy Thriftiness!

CB, I sent you an email. Please send me your address when you have time!

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