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Vacation Thoughts

May 25th, 2013 at 07:11 am

Thanks for the kind wishes of good health yesterday. I do feel better today. I had a huge urge to sleep several times, so that is just what I did. I think I slept 11 hours last night, and I feel pretty good this morning.

It is raining pretty good here today, which lends itself to a lazy day. We might be able to get a few honey do list items done, which will require no outlay of money. Smile

We need to do some vacation planning as well. We are thinking of a road trip along the Mississippi River byways here in Iowa. If anyone has any must see destinations in that area, let me know. We also want to have a stop for a day or two that is just relaxing in some way. Enjoy the scenery and each other. It seems it could be a semi frugal vacation as it will be meals, hotels, and fuel and activity admissions. I'm hoping for a budget of $1000 or less.

Will you be taking a vacation this year? Do you have a budget? Will you fly, drive or stay in town?

2013 Financial Goals: Rough Draft!

January 3rd, 2013 at 06:37 pm

I did the same thing last year. I procrastinated on making our yearly goals. So, right now this is what I'll say our goals are:

1) Save 15% to retirement, which will max out our Roth IRA's and put the remainder in my husband's TSP.

2) Pay off truck loan...only $4500 to go!

3) Snowflake a Free Christmas, goal again is $750.

4) Save for college, minimum $500 for each daughter. However, I'd prefer $1500 each. Still working on the math for that.

5) Pay for new intermediate flute with cash, about $1500.

6) Save $2K for vacation. Not sure where we might go, so that is a pretty vague goal at this point!

7) Landscaping and furniture purchases. Pay with cash and decide on a limit!

I guess it isn't really the goals that I'm stuck on as how to approach the goals. One at a time? Get the flute, pay off the truck then attack the savings goals. Or do it all along the way? I'm so focused on that truck payoff that it is hard to not make it a priority. I'll get it figured out by the next payday and generally these are all flexible, so I can change things up if I need to.

Mortgage Free!!

June 19th, 2012 at 01:51 pm

We are mortgage debt free!! Our loan was paid off today with proceeds from the sale of our house. It's an odd feeling. And a temporary situation. We will take on another mortgage in 10 days or so. I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

While we are in the hotel we are taking advantage of 'free' breakfasts and manager's reception dinners. And free coffee all day long. I guess it really is included in the daily hotel rate. We expect most of our stay to be reimbursed by the Army, so it's at least cheap!

DH has taken advantage of the gym equipment and we are trying to get in to use the pool, but there are lots of kids here! And everybody wants to use the pool. Smile

We did end up finding a hotel that will allow pets, so our cats are with us. We paid a flat $75 charge to cover any cleaning expenses. So far they are doing pretty well. One is more relaxed than the other. We like being around them, so it helps us relax too!

Thanks for listening to my moving adventure stories. And fingers crossed we can close by the end of the month!

Checked Our Goals

July 6th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I looked at our 2011 goal page on my sidebar. It seems we have accomplished just about everything listed. Savings for college and retirement are on auto pilot. We paid off the van and saved the $12K for the truck. We even paid for our Las Vegas trip in cash.

One of the goals was to pay for two vacations, but in light of my husband's move, we have decided to reevaluate. Right now, taking a vacation is not financially feasible, and the time available is very limited.

The other goal is to consider converting more money from my husband's Rollover IRA to his Roth. This amounts to just under $6,000. It seems this would be a good year to do this, with the lower income from deployment, but it could also be a good year to qualify for the Earned Income Tax credit and receive a nice refund. The extra cash is a bit tempting. I will probably wait until the last minute to decide.

Back From Vegas: Over $150K

April 29th, 2011 at 08:50 am

We are back from Las Vegas!! I don't know how much we spent yet, but boy did it seem like we were spending money left and right. Primarily food and drinks. We aren't big gamblers and actually did very little. We got off the strip a couple times to visit Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon. Amazing sites worth seeing.

I checked our retirement accounts today and we have reached another milestone with over $150K in investments!! It doesn't seem that long ago that we reached the $100K mark. I have been told in the past that reaching the $100K mark is key. Once you make it there and continue to invest the returns add up fast.

If your accounts are over $100K, have you noticed your accounts adding up faster than in the beginning?


April 22nd, 2011 at 07:36 pm

My husband and I are leaving for Las Vegas in a few days. This is a planned trip. Our first time visit, too!

We might do a little gambling. Or not. It does seems like cash is flying out the window with DH's return. It would be nice to win some. But my hopes are not high.

Have you been to Las Vegas? Did you gamble and win? Tell me about it.

Another No Spend Day in the No Spend Month

March 14th, 2011 at 06:36 am

Sunday. Zero spending!

We ate from the cupboards and refrigerator. The snacks are near zero. But not quite.

We watched a movie on netflix. Played with our cats. Visted the neighbor cats twice. The girls played wii. I did some organizing in the basement: broke down boxes for recycling, and put away pictures.

It's spring break week here, so I expect today to be more of the same. It is a bit warmer, so maybe a walk on the trails later.

Tomorrow is payday and we will venture out for groceries. Might hit a free museum exhibit.

2011 Financial Goals

December 22nd, 2010 at 07:34 pm

I think I mentioned some of our goals in November, but here they are again in a little more detail.

1) Save maximum in Roth IRA's = $10,000
2) Save 9% of basic pay in TSP
3) Save for college = $4,000
4) Pay off van loan, beginning balance = $1,643
5) Save truck downpayment = $12,000
6) Save cash for two vacations
7) Evaluate possible Roth conversion

The contribution to the TSP is up 2% from 2010 because of the reduction in payroll taxes. The college contribution is increased because we expect to save the full year. However, I will need to open 529 accounts for the girls. We are currently in Coverdale Educational Savings accounts and the maximum has been reduced to $500 per year beginning in 2011. That is not enough for us.

The payoff on the van will be easy considering how well we have done so far. I hope to pay it off by mid January!! Then we'll save for about 4 months towards a new to us truck. Then we'll save for vacations to take place in the middle of the year.

It should be fun to see what 2011 brings! Tell me what goals you have for next year.

A Mini Vacation

July 27th, 2010 at 09:01 pm

We went to visit my parents for two nights while my cousin and her daughter were visiting from California.

Not too expensive. I took fruit and breads as requested by my mom. I bought gas prior to the trip. I bought a museum membership that will last a year for $30 that allowed 5 out of 7 of us into the museum and saved us one dollar compared to purchasing individual admissions. I'm sure we will go back since my kids like this museum. My mom bought my return tank of gas since we had used our van to drive around while we were there. I also bought snacks on the way home. I personally needed a little caffeine!!

I was only away a couple days, but I feel I missed out on your news. I will catch up soon!

The Numbers of 2009

December 31st, 2009 at 07:15 am

Our financial picture of 2009 wraps up like this:

Retirement contributions: $14,147.00
Retirement accounts increased: $33,219.29
Retirement accounts exceeded $100K

Total debt decreased: $17,011.21
Nearly $10K paid on HEL!!

Our net worth increased by approximately $50,230.50, which does not include any increase or decrease in our home's value.

We paid cash for a trip to Disney World and our daughter's braces. Yipee!!

Two Months of 2009 Left

November 1st, 2009 at 07:26 am

There are only two months left of 2009. Have you accomplished your goals for the year? If not, can you still wrap them up?

I looked at our goals that are on the side bar. We are most definitely on track to save 15% for retirement. It helps that that the goal was automated!!

The home equity loan began 2009 with a balance of $13,999. Our first goal was to pay off $7,000. We did that!! A few months into the year we thought we could get ambitious and pay the whole thing off. It is very clear that we will not get there with the cash we have or expect to have available. Right now, I think we can get the loan under $4,000. Which means we will have paid over $10,000 in debt off this year.

We did pay for our Disney World vacation in cash!! Yipee. So fun. And the ONLY way to go on vacation. Trust me.

We also paid for our daughter's braces in cash. On some level we knew she would need braces, but we didn't have this in our plan at the beginning of the year. She's only had them on for two months and there are no lingering bills just straighter teeth!

We made zero college contributions. This is a little disappointing because the market was low at the beginning of the year and has rebounded, so it would have been a good year to be investing. So be it. We will contribute in 2010...once we have that HEL paid off.

To wrap up. The final two months of 2009 will consist of saving for retirement and paying another $1925 in principal towards the home equity loan. In order to do that we have to make conscious spending decisions during the holidays.

What are your financial plans and goals for the last two months of 2009?

Home Equity Loan Update

August 18th, 2009 at 06:44 am

I made our regular payment to our home equity loan. With $79.21 going towards principal, our new balance is $6,342.05!!

A little history:

The loan balance was $13,999 at the beginning of January. My original goal was to pay off half. That we did!! At some point, much earlier this year, we changed the goal to pay it all off.

But then, we decided to go to Disney World for vacation at the last minute with cash. It's not something I regret, as we expect my husband to be deployed early in 2010.

Although not unexpected, we are facing costs for our oldest daughters braces to the tune of $3781 if we pay over time. But we could also pay in full, on August 28th, and save $189.

Can you see a lack of focus here?

I tell all of this to explain how and why our goals and priorities are changing. It may have been a bit too ambitious to pay the full loan in 12 months time, particularly knowing the braces were on the horizon. However, it's really the trip that could, maybe should, have been skipped. But again, I do not regret it. It just will take us a few months longer to pay off the home equity loan.

Honestly, I think we have done an amazing job. Our debt load in total is less than the beginning of the year. We increased the amount we invest in our retirement. We paid for a big vacation in cash. We will also pay for my daughter's braces in cash. So, I'm giving us a pat on the back for accomplishing what we have.

Tomorrow, I will post about the plan for the braces, as well as give a few more details on my goals for the HEL. So, check back in!!

Pet Sitting for Less

July 23rd, 2009 at 07:23 pm

While we were on vacation I paid two neighborhood girls to feed our pets. We have two cats, two mice and a hamster. They came over for 8 days.

Originally, I had planned to pay them $50. I figured $5/day + $10 to clean the mice cage once. Instead, I paid $70 because the girl's mother came over the night before our return and cleaned out the litter boxes, the hamster cage and the mice cage for a second time. I didn't ask or intend for her to do that. But, it was so, nice to not have it smell, or have to even clean them when we returned. So, I threw in another $20 for her.

Today, the girl's mom came by and returned $30. I did try to refuse it, as I really felt comfortable with the amount I paid. She paid her two daughter's $20 each. We never did discuss money ahead of time, so I guess it does come down to miscommunication. I think they would have done it for free! I guess in the end $40 was the price for pet sitting. Good deal.

My Disney World Souvenir

July 17th, 2009 at 03:08 pm

Out of the four of us, I bought the least expensive souvenir. In addition to being inexpensive, I wanted the item I purchased to be something I would use everyday.

In the end, I bought a ball point pen, for $4.95. It has Mickey Mouse on the top. When I click the pen open or close, Mickey bends forwards or backwards. It's cute, fun and I will use it nearly everyday.

DH bought a ball cap with Mickey Mouse on the front. Our girls spent the most money. They bought lanyards, plastic pouches for lanyards, pins for lanyards and Mickey Mouse caps (the ones with the ears). The hats, were ones they could pick the ears and cap out seperately, so theirs are unique. We also bought a postcard and some chocolate pretzels.

I didn't total up the exact amount of those souvenirs, but we spent the $63 birthday fun card, the girls allowances of $21, birthday money of $25, as well as the $20 my oldest daughter brought along. So, at least $129 worth of Disney stuff! I don't know if the girls have used the stuff they bought since we've been home, but I know DH and I have!!

Preliminary Numbers

July 13th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Ugh...the last thing I really want to do is add up all the expenses of our trip. It's kind of a downer after all the fun we had.

It appears that we spent just under $2700 while on our trip. This covered the hotel, car rental, theme park tickets, baggage fee, fuel for our van and the rental car, pet sitting, souvenirs and food.

Food is expensive on vacation. I don't have an exact figure on that yet. I'm not even sure if I want to add it up! I also know that I don't have all the receipts. Darn.

One night we spent $65 on pasta at a sit down restaurant on Disney Property. The girls had mac & cheese, with goldfish crackers and a drink. I had alfredo pasta and a diet coke. DH had a beer and alfredo pasta with shrimp. There was nothing else served...no veggies! DH left a $10 tip. I did a lot of reading before we left and I knew sit down dinners on property were expensive. Too bad DH didn't know that! He picked and was disappointed. I don't tend to say "no" on vacation. I did however have Taco Bell for dinner one night...my meal was $3.69!

We spent over $600 before we left on numerous vacation expenses, such as shoes, sunscreen, shirts & shorts, books, gum, birthday presents for my daughter, ponchos, micro fiber towel (which did come in handy on those rainy days), a water proof pouch for the water park, and refilled medication. It all adds up FAST!

Total spent $3,300. Approximately. According to my side bar, I had $3,362 before I left. Right now, it seems we don't have any of that money left over. I'm okay with that. We didn't go into credit card debt for this trip. It has all been paid with cash. Yipee!!

I will give more vacation details at some point. Right now, I'm a little exhausted!

DH gets paid on Wednesday...so we'll start attacking that home equity loan. I can't wait!

Back From Disney World

July 12th, 2009 at 07:25 pm

We are back from Disney World! We had a fabulous time while we were there. The airplane trip back took a turn because of mechanical problems on our flight out of Orlando. We ended up spending the night at the airlines expense in Memphis and finally arrived home today. The bag arrived one flight later!

I'll elaborate more on the trip in a financial sense later.

It's good to be back and I look forward to catching up on the other blogs.

Mickey Money Deposit

July 1st, 2009 at 06:04 am

We're days away from our vacation and today is payday!! It's time to make a final deposit to our vacation fund.

I mentioned awhile back that I could use some of our regular spending money towards vacation, too, since we won't be home to spend it. By regular, I'm referring to money we set aside each pay period for groceries, fuel and other variable expenses. Usually this is about $700 twice a month. Out of this $700, I'm allocating $465 to Disney.

The extra money in our paycheck today is $915! So, adding in the $465, brings today's Mickey Money Deposit to:


Final Disney Savings: $3,362.00

Now, in my mind I hear you all saying, "Creditcardfree, now that you have saved all that money, what are you going to do?"

I'm going to Disney World!!!!


Have a great Independence Day!

Please take some time to be grateful, for this wonderful planet we live on and the freedoms we enjoy to pursue our dreams.

I Clean Up Before I Leave....

June 30th, 2009 at 06:48 am

I'm sure this is the quickest way to insanity. I have this habit of cleaning my house before I leave on vacation. I guess there just isn't enough to do! Did you read my sarcasm there?

I think I inherited this from my mom. Thanks Mom!

Today I need to do the following:

Clean bathrooms
Take out trash out to curb
Sweep kitchen floor
Do several loads of laundry
Bake banana bread

Okay, I don't need to bake banana bread, but the bananas are ready. I will make two loaves, one to leave for the neighbors watching our pets and the other for us to eat before our very early plane trip. Easy.

I also need to sew the waistband to my daughter's shorts, since they are a little too big.

Wish me luck!

Yesterday, I was able to finish birthday shopping for my daughter. I have all the gifts wrapped, too. We just need to sign the card!

I will leave you with a picture of the pile I'm making of things we need to take with us on vacation.

Automatic Makes It Easy

June 29th, 2009 at 05:59 am

Payday is coming up, as is our vacation departure. All but the water bill are on automatic payment. This makes it easy. On payday, I simply need to record the bills as paid in our checking account.

The water bill won't arrive until after we leave, but isn't due for a week after we return. I will pay it then.

On payday, I will get to add some more money to our Mickey Fund, too. I can't wait!

Forgetting = Expensive

June 26th, 2009 at 07:45 am

Just a little story to share.

My neighbors left for their Disney World Vacation a few days ago. I received an email asking to check if they left a full bottle of their daughter's medication on the counter. Yep...they did!

Last night they asked if I would Express mail it to them today. This morning I paid $17.50 to get it to them by noon tomorrow. They will pay me back.

This is probably cheaper than the alternative of going to the pharmacy. I had a friend visit from out of town last year. They forgot their son's meds. We went to Walgreen's and she paid $5 per pill. Luckily she only need two.

The family I just sent meds to would need at least 13 pills. I can't remember is she takes those once or twice a day. Based on $5/pill they would have spent $65 or more to get the medication she needed. Remember insurance won't pay if you just recently filled a prescription. Of course, the money may be worth it if it the only option.

If you go on vacation....remember your medication!!

I Was Productive!

June 24th, 2009 at 03:45 pm

I had a productive day. Here is what I accomplished:

Hair cuts for the girls and I.
Confirmed pet sitter.
Typed a note for pet sitter.
Found key for pet sitter.
Picked up dance recital videos.
Bought gas for van.
DH scheduled oil change.

Wrote list of things we still need to buy before trip.
Wrote a list with dates for things that need to be done prior to our departure.
Printed hotel, car rental and airline confirmations.
Printed certificate for free admission to SeaWorld.

Found DD2's birth certificate (will used for Disney World on her birthday to obtain a gc for $63 in merchandise).
Printed directions to hotel, SeaWorld, and other destinations in Florida.
Completed laundry.

Did a trial packing...to determine number of suitcases and weight. Only 35 pounds!
I've also made breakfast, lunch and dinner for my family.

Whew! I'm tired, but feeling less stressed and much more together for this vacation. To make this a finance related post, I will say that it sure pays to be organized. Checking only one suitcase will save us $30!

I'm Better Today

June 24th, 2009 at 06:51 am

I'm still stressed, but not quite as much as yesterday. Can you believe that it seemed to stem from finding sun hats of all things?

DD1 has a specific type of hat she wants and it has to be white and reversible. On Monday, I found a similar one...but a little big and not reversible. I also bought one I thought would work, but not really like what she wanted. It was a bucket hat, tan, not reversible and had a blue checked ribbon around it. Turns out she is okay with it. So, yesterday I returned two hats as well as a pattern to sew hats. I actually thought I'd feel comfortable sewing hats less than two weeks before our departure! Yikes. I've never made a hat before.

So, with items returned and hats that will work for both DD's, I feel less stressed. Today...haircuts. How stressful can that be?

I'm also in the process of making a list of things we need to buy at the store before we leave. We need more hair products, kitty litter, undergarments and gum. The list keeps growing and I only have about $120 in the checking account until next week. Some of these purchases will need to come from vacation money. I'm just taking it one day at a time, to see what I can accomplish.

It is to be rainy later today, so I think I'll start printing off confirmations and maps for the trip. That will feel good to get that in order.

Anyone have any birthday ideas for my soon to be 9 year old daughter? She doesn't have any ideas and neither do I. She will turn 9 while on vacation, so I need to take at least one gift along for her to open while we are there. I will shop this weekend for her.

Thanks for reading!

Bottle Deposits to Mickey Fund

June 21st, 2009 at 06:50 pm

In our state, we pay deposits on cans and bottles. We turned in enough today to add $5 to the Mickey Fund!.

New Total = $1,982.00

I had DH get the money in quarters, since we'll need some change for toll roads while we are in Orlando.

Our trip is getting closer. I'm excited and stressed out all at the same time. So, many things to keep track of!! I'm backwards planning on paper, so that helps a little.

Ebay Challenge Update

June 17th, 2009 at 06:37 am

I sold the roller skates on ebay. Net proceeds $9.13! Can't complain. I made out pretty good on the other pair through craigslist. I have added this money to the Ebay Challenge totals below.

June Total = $55.25
May Total = $197.75
April Total = $22.22
March Total = $83.13
February Total = $66.50
January Total = $4.95


I have added the proceeds of the sale to the Disney Vacation Fund.

Our new total is: $1977.00!!

Mickey Fund Update!

June 15th, 2009 at 06:15 am

Our Disney Vacation is getting so close! The girls are even asking how many more days. Smile

Today is payday. I added $642.00 to the Disney Vacation Fund. Our new total is:


We are so close to the $2000 goal, too.

We have one more paycheck before the vacation. I hope to add close to $1K to our total before we leave, which will be more than enough to enjoy Mickey and all his pals.


June 12th, 2009 at 08:33 am

I have two ebay items that will end on Sunday evening. No bids yet, but they are being watched.

I went through the girls clothes yesterday in preparation for our Disney Vacation. They had a few things that no longer fit. I will list a few of those items on ebay. We still have clothes to buy for our vacation. A couple of us don't have any shorts!! I think capri's will be too hot down there. Don't you?

I've been able to have the air conditioning off for a few days now. That always helps with the utility bill. Luckily, my DD with allergies is handling it fine, too!

Payday is Monday. The paycheck is pending in our bank account. I'm looking forward to making another deposit to the Mickey Fund!

It's Finished

June 9th, 2009 at 07:32 pm

After a marathon day of scrapbooking, my vacation from two years ago is complete!! Yipee.

Umm...can you tell I was a little motivated to get this done. I do have another vacation coming up, in case you haven't heard.

Financially, my checking account has about had it, too. We now have $65 to last until Monday. We should be okay. Cars are fueled up. We have pop for DH. We have food for all meals!

Now, I do hope I have enough toilet paper...I'm not kidding! Smile

I hope we can avoid spending the next three or four days and use some of the money to see a matinee movie. It's been about 3 weeks since DH's has had a day off. I think he'd like an outing. As would the rest of us!!

Should we see Night at the Museum 2 or UP?

A Little More Mickey Money

June 9th, 2009 at 07:04 am

I just transfered my net ebay proceeds to our checking account. The amount $11.32! I only sold two small items.

Disney World Savings = $1,326.00

All those small amounts have really helped!

I Found More Cash for Vacation

June 5th, 2009 at 09:37 am

Duh. Why didn't I think of this before?

We are paid twice a month. I just realized about 2/3 of the money we use for gas, groceries and incidentals can be used to supply meals and fuel while on vacation!!

I usually set aside $700 two times per month to cover those variable expenses listed above. Since we will be on vacation 10 days, I figure I can use at least $465 of that money towards vacation. Yipee!!

I can't add it to the fund, until I receive it, which is a couple of days before our trip. I'll update it then!


June 2nd, 2009 at 05:35 pm

In my last post I mentioned that I had some roller skates on craigslist. They have been listed for a couple of weeks. Today, after I mentioned it in my post, I received an email inquiring about them.

The best news: The woman just picked them up and paid me $35 cash!!

I'll add this to the Mickey stash. Smile

I will also add this to the Ebay Challenge money. Here's the update:

June Total = $35.00
May Total = $197.75
April Total = $22.22
March Total = $83.13
February Total = $66.50
January Total = $4.95

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