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2018 Financial Wins and Fails Collaboration

December 27th, 2018 at 08:23 am

Hello fellow Saving Advice bloggers!

Many of us are pretty good about writing about our year end in some way or another. I'm going to be writing about our financial wins and fails for 2018 before the end of the year. I'd like you to join me and write a specific blog post about your wins and fails for 2018.

While it's important to review for ourselves, sharing our financial wins and fails helps inspire others. Will you join me? Simply title your post 2018 Financial Wins and Fails, post before the end of the year and invite others to join at the end of your post.

And if you are new or a lurker, we would love for you to join in and post your own financial wins and fails! Goal setting and review is helping in making progress and changes for the year ahead.

Save Time Mailing Packages

December 12th, 2018 at 12:05 pm

I just told this to a friend today, who was complaining about the long wait at the post office.

Did you know that the US Postal Service offers pickup of packages*** you are mailing during your regular mail delivery? You do not need to be home and it's free!

The first step is to pack your items and weigh it. As you know I've done eBay selling for over 10 years, so I have a food scale I use to get the weight of my packages up to five pounds. The US Postal Service charges you by the pound, so as long as you know it's weight is between 1-2 pounds, the cost will be the same. Another alternative where you do not need to know the weight is to use the free Flat Rate Priority mail boxes provided by the post office. The cost is the same regardless of the weight.

Log on and make a free account at USPS and follow the directions for Click n Ship. At the end of this process you will have a prepaid mailing label to affix to your package with packing tape. The address you are mailing to and your return address will be printed on the label. You will pay for the cost of postage with a credit (or debit card).

At this point you can simply drop off at the post office. This time of year, you are likely to see an area at the counter filled with packages. You can leave it there, or wait in line to get a receipt and hand it to the postal worker.

The other option is to Schedule a Pickup from your USPS account. You must do this the day or night before pickup. It doesn't work same day. This service is free. It may not be available for all address, but you will be told that when you go to schedule. Once scheduled, set your package out in the morning in the spot you indicated on your delivery instructions. You will get an email once your package has been picked up. I have used this service before and had no issues.

I hope this helpful information may save you time this season. If you have questions, leave them in the comments and I will try to answer as best I can!

***Only for Priority and Express Mail packages.

No Power

September 20th, 2018 at 04:17 pm

We just finished up 32 hours without power in our home. The Hurricane left days ago so it was quite a surprise to have it turn off yesterday morning. Not sure what the cause was. Possibly a tree that final fell and tore down the electric line. The estimated time was 54 hours, so it is a blessing it was corrected as quickly as it was considering many have been without power longer.

I guess we can say that we saved some money on electricity, except that we did go out to eat last night for dinner and spent $24. I'm sure we didn't save that much in electricity!

I have a potential buyer for a small patio set we are getting rid of. It's super faded, but metal so could be repainted. If the buyer comes through, we will have another $30 in our pocket. I'd repaint it but I'm ready for something different. Tomorrow night we will list some more items for sale. Downsizing really takes a lot of effort, even if you just donate it.

Went Out Today

September 16th, 2018 at 07:11 pm

After four days of staying inside, we ventured out to the nearest open grocery store. Technically, we didn't need anything. But we spent $51 on pepperoni, lunch meat, mixed greens, tortilla chips, large bottle of wine, 12 pk of soda, cookies, cheese slices, tomato sauce, dressing and prunes. An odd assortment for sure! I feel robbed by the prices at this store compared to the commissary! We don't have their savings card, so we didn't get the discounts. Easily spent 20% more than we normally would.

The drive over was mostly non eventful. We drove through standing water. I told my husband not to. Two people in front of us turned around, while at least three cars coming the other direction plowed through. We avoided that area on our return to trip by going through the high school parking lot.

Honestly, the rain keeps falling and the flooding threat just keeps getting worse. My husband is working from home tomorrow and schools are closed through Wednesday. Our very local lake is releasing water downstream to avoid damage to the dam and overflow above the dam. We expect things to get a bit worse before they get better.

I sold an item on eBay tonight, but had to tell the buyer that I can't mail immediately. Our post offices are closed and not delivering mail until further notice because of road conditions. I'm hoping by Wednesday they will be open again.

I managed to dust all the blinds here in our rental home in preparation for the move. Tomorrow I will probably touch up paint the nail holes on the upper level of the home. I could have probably done it sooner, but I didn't want to deal with paint cleanup if the power went out in the middle of the project.

It's been an interesting four days to say the least. Thanks for all the prayers, well wishes and support!

The Rain Just Keeps Falling

September 15th, 2018 at 09:20 am

We have made it through the high winds and still have power. The next worry is the amount of rain moving through our area. We expect to be fine in our home as we are not near a body of water that would flood to the point of affecting the house. The county is encouraging people to stay home since trees falling could be a bigger possibility with the amount of rain saturating the ground.

There are tree branches down in the yard, a small tree (12 feet) that is leaning in the backyard that will probably need to be staked at some point. A vent cover on the outside of the house is broken. Our neighbor next door has a pool with a white fence that lost a few panels that connect to our yard. The other neighbor lost part of their fence when a rather large tree fell down just outside of it. All minor really compared with what those on the coast are dealing with.

No spending here the last few days, since there is no where to go or reason to spend. I did sign up for free 7 day trial with Hulu so we can watch our football team play today.

Still Have Power

September 14th, 2018 at 11:35 am

An update, since I'm sure you are curious.

Our area still has yet to go through the brunt of the storm. We are getting a lot of rain and the wind gusts are getting stronger. The worst is expected over the next eight hours or so. We still have power, but we appreciate any prayers for us and all who are in the path of the storm.

Free Shorts

June 2nd, 2018 at 04:16 pm

I bought a cute Columbia Skort from the Exchange a couple weeks ago for $31. I was able to squeeze into a Large. I went looking on eBay to find another color for less. I found one for $20.99 in grey, size Large. Turns out the seller had an error in their inventory and didn't have what I ordered. So their solution was to refund my money and send me a pair of Columbia shorts in the same size. Amazing!

I received the shorts today, new with tags. They are black size Large. I can squeeze into them, but they are actually a little small. I guess I will hold on to them for awhile and see if I can lose some more weight to make them comfortable...otherwise, I have some shorts I can sell and make some money!

I'm impressed with the seller. I would have been fine with simply a refund. I didn't need them to spend money on shipping and send me another item from inventory they could have sold for cash.

I did give them a good review! Smile

Cash Back Amex & Boxed.com Offer

February 13th, 2018 at 09:48 am

I was checking to see if I have the Boxed.com offer on my American Express card today, after Ceejay mentioned it the comments of a recent post. Yes, I do. I will likely take advantage of stocking up on household items so I can get $20 off the $75 purchase. I will check prices of course to make sure they make sense.

I have the American Express Everyday Cash Back card. Apparently I can refer others, and earn $75 per referral. If you also apply, you can earn $200 statement credit after spending $1000. There is no annual fee. Always read the fine print and don't open credit cards you don't have a way to pay off before interest accrues.

Oh, and I do have a referral for Boxed.com too if you are interested in buying in bulk.
You get $15 off your first order and I receive a $15 credit.[/url] Check it out and see if it make sense for you.

Thanks in advance for anyone that uses my links!

My Friend Has A Plan To Get Out of Debt

January 15th, 2018 at 11:54 am

I had a fun chat with my best friend last week! She and her husband have been in debt for a long time. I know there is mortgage debt, student loans, credit cards and car leases. Exact details I do not have.

Her husband is quite interested in upgrading their home. She is as well. However, while the bank would no doubt loan them the money because they have excellent credit, she knows they are in over their head with payments. She knows they need to pay off some debt and get some cash in the bank.

I'm not sure her husband is entirely on board yet, but her goal for the next 18 months is to pay off 1/3 of their debt. I believe this is all on credit cards (the portion she is looking to pay off). She would also like to save $10K. I think these are excellent goals. They may not be what you or I would do exactly but they are a start in the right direction and thinking.

Their youngest son will be graduating high school at the end of that time and the possibility of moving to another town in their state is high. So really buying a bigger home now doesn't make sense anyway. She has a large extended family and does want a larger home than the 1900 sq ft they have now, but she probably needs to talk her husband down from the 3700 sq ft homes he is looking at.

I think I'm just excited that she finally seems to see that they can't keep going forward the way they have. She knows that buying furniture on credit isn't smart. Thus she also would want to save cash for furniture for any new home. Yes, that is the right way to do it!

Now I just really hope she can get her husband on board!

Merry Christmas Blessings!

December 24th, 2017 at 09:37 am

May you see the blessings already abundant in your life right now before the gifts, food and gatherings. We all have things we can be grateful for and they are not dependent on a holiday of perfection.

Wishing you peace today, tomorrow and always!

Merry Christmas!

Thinking About Ending My Blog

November 9th, 2017 at 04:31 am

The idea to stop my blog came to me last night. I'm not exactly sure why, other than I feel like I write the same things. But then again, maybe there are readers (lurkers) who want me to keep writing. If you are truly getting motivation from my blog, I'd love to hear from you, particularly if you are just lurking (not a regular commenter or blogger). What content do you like, what would you like to see more of?

I'm not leaving yet. I will let you know if I do.

Equifax Breach

September 9th, 2017 at 05:48 am

Probably a good idea to check and see if your credit information was compromised by the Equifax Breach. Here is the link.

Turns out my husband and I are affected. Frown

I'm going to check my daughter's also, but need to dig out their social security numbers.

Next step is to sign up for the credit monitoring service. We are already signed up because of the breach that happened with the OPM (Office of Personnel Management). We will, of course, sign up again! It seems like it never ends!!

Were you affected this time?

All The Things I Want to Say About Money

June 7th, 2017 at 06:33 am

I came across this blog post today. I feel like I could have written this post. I think these things. And I usually don't say anything unless I would be asked advice.

I do find it interesting that people don't see the disconnect between their actions (the spending) and the way they talk about money.

If you want to go on vacation (where you fly somewhere) and you earn $100K, you can make it happen. It doesn't have to happen every year. I know people who buy excessive (not necessarily expensive) clothes, eat out frequently, get their nails and hair done professionally, have children in MULTIPLE activities, yet don't have the ability to make a trip happen.

Now everyone has the right to choose how they spend their money, but don't speak as though you don't have control. The majority of the time we have much more control than we think we do.

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).

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