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Downsized Living

December 7th, 2019 at 03:24 pm

LivingAlmostLarge asked me to write about our downsized living situation, so these are just my thoughts off the top off my head. Feel free to ask other questions in the comments.

We downsized just over a year ago from a 2800 sq foot rental home to a 1600 sq ft townhouse at our current duty station. We went from four bedrooms to three. We went from three full bathrooms to 2 full and one half bath. Our kitchen is now a galley style. We only have one true family room living space, rather than two, this resulted in getting rid of a couch, loveseat, tv and speakers. There is no space for an a large desk, so that was sold, as were the previously mentioned items. While our last home had two dining areas, we used the formal one for eating as it was right off the kitchen and fit our table set better. Our current dining area holds the same table, but also a couch and a church pew! It's amazing it fits, but it's kind of awkward too. Since our kitchen and dining are not open to the living area it is nice to have a couch in that area for being together on that side of the home.

We have two parking spaces, one stall garage, but we don't park in it. We have it set up so we could, but it's difficult to back in and out of! So our garage holds some ladders, chairs, Christmas items, my husbands field gear and some other odds and ends you might find in a garage. Because we don't do lawn care, we let go of shovels, lawn mower, fertilizer spreader, several hoses, and trimmer. Most of these items were donated to Habitat for Humanity.

I do like living in a smaller space. It is much, much easier to clean. I always felt like we didn't have enough stuff to fill the last home, if that makes sense. 2800 sq feet just requires more money to heat and cool, too. We really, really weren't using all the space. I do think with children at home, or with any entertaining it's nice to have two living spaces. If our girls lived here full time and had friends over, they would really only have the bedrooms to entertain in, unless we moved ourselves to the bedroom so they could watch a movie. Obviously it could work, but it would be something I would miss at that time stage of life.

Since my husband often talks of RV living, I wonder if we would ever go back to that large of a home. I might if I thought we would really have a need to use it. Lots of grandchildren or something. I think what I would need in a smaller space is a more open floor plan, or a better layout that what our current space is. But it is fitting our needs just fine in all reality. We even have plenty of closet space for our needs with a large pantry barely half filled! I've seen others closets in our same unit that have full closets, so it is all relative to what you own and store. We tend towards the minimalism side so we have plenty of available storage space.

Overall, I think we as a couple need a place to sleep, a place to hang out, a place to prepare food and eat it and at least spaces for guests (likely two additional bedrooms, but if the space was right maybe only one). And yes bathrooms and laundry!

I'm not sure if that answers your question. We don't have regrets of downsizing. The cost to rent in our current area is very high, particularly for a 2800 sq ft home, so it would not have been advantageous to continue at that size particularly as renters. If the opportunity presents itself during the next move, I might do it, but then of course, I would need to buy more stuff! Lol

Paying Ourselves Back: November

December 7th, 2019 at 03:01 pm

We are paying ourselves back for money we put down on our daughter's car in May. I am putting all sources of extra funds towards that goal. Here's what I found in November:

US Bank $13.00
Chase Rewards $1.80
Amex Rewards $55.26
Electric Rebates $82.99
Extra travel funds $105.34
USAA Reward $1.62
Total $260.01

Prior Payback Balance: $1,559.76
New Payback Balance: $1,299.75

At one time I thought we could get this paid back by the end of the year, but it seems we had expenses I hadn't accounted for. But I feel confident we can get this paid back by the end of next year...hopefully much sooner!

Big Goal Savings: November

December 7th, 2019 at 02:51 pm

While we continue to pay ourselves back for the car down payment we continue to send money to our savings goal. As of last month we are 35.5% complete.

November Big Goal Additions
Paycheck 11/1 $175.00
Paycheck 11/15 $175.00
Total Interest $181.23
Total $531.23
New YTD Big Goal Total $8,563.45
New Big Goal Total $71,548.90

November's tally brings us 35.77% of goal. Still heading in the right direction!

If December is similar, then we will top $9K towards our goal this year. Not too shabby!

Interest Earned In November

December 7th, 2019 at 02:46 pm

Here's the interest we earned on our cash savings last month:

FNBO $60.16
NFCU $121.04
USAA $0.03
Total $181.23

This money is saved towards our Big Goal. I noticed it was down by $7 from last month, despite the same balances. More noticeable I guess when there is one less day in the month!

Are you tracking your interest? Do you save it or spend it?

Two Things

November 20th, 2019 at 02:45 pm

Does my blog look blown up to the rest of you? It starts to load correctly, but then just looks huge (or maybe wide) on the screen. Thanks for the feedback!

The second thing is that we received another utility rebate check in the mail for $27.73. This one was also to be direct deposited. I received an email back from the utility servicing company that they are looking into why it was not direct deposited as directed by us.

Extra Money!!

November 16th, 2019 at 02:44 pm

Did you know you can sign up with the post office to see the mail that is arriving in your mailbox that day? The email we received shows we are receiving our utility rebate today. It's over $60. I'm a little annoyed because it is supposed to be direct deposited!

We earned a $13 reward on our US Bank credit card. I always pick a credit for this account. I just show the transaction in YNAB as a deposit to our Big Goal.

I'm working on earning more Swagbucks so I can redeem an Amazon gift card. I will use it to pay for most the DnD book we are giving our daughter for Christmas. After I buy that I will attempt to get another 2200 Swagbucks points for a Google Play gift card.

I have done a significant portion of our Christmas shopping at this point. I'm nearly done with my parents and may actually take the gift with us for Thanksgiving, so that I don't have to mail it. It depends on how much room I have in my suitcase, and the weight of my suitcase.

My husband parks at those offsite lots near the airport when he travels for work, he earned enough free parking days for our next trip to cover three days! This saved us about $40.

I sold an item I made on eBay. It was extra fabric, so I sold it cheap and made nearly $4.

Also my husband's expenses for a recent trip were under the per diem amount so we have $105 which we added to our Big Goal.

I'm hoping to redeem Fetch Rewards again soon, too. I've noticed Planter's nuts are quite the help in the points adding up. Do you use Fetch? It's much easier than Ibotta. My referral code is FQ8U1, which you enter when you sign up for the first time. You can find the app in the App Store or Google Play store for free. Once you scan your first receipt, you will receive 2000 points.

Are you finding extra money for your debt, your savings or your holiday spending? Share in the comments!

Christmas Gifts, Dungeons and Dragons, Insurance and More

November 7th, 2019 at 09:00 pm

I've purchased several Christmas gifts this week. I have bought two items each for our daughter's. I also made a photo book for my husband through SnapFish. It is full of pictures of him and our daughter's. I originally planned to do the photo book for Father's Day but I didn't stay motivated and focused. I finally made the effort and got it done. It will be delivered by next Saturday and I paid $27 with shipping.

Our youngest daughter is starting to play Dungeons and Dragons with some new university friends. Does anyone have experience and point me to a book or something that might be helpful as she learns the game? I thought it would make a great Christmas gift.

Our renters and auto insurance payment made it on to our credit card yesterday. I do have the full amount saved, $2,616. I recalculated how much I need to save monthly in order to have enough to pay future bills and the registrations on all three cars and came up with $366. I had increased our savings after we got our daughter's car in May, but didn't quite start it soon enough, so I had to play catch up this last month. I'm primarily posting this for my own record.

With Veteran's Day coming up, the stores are offering all sorts of discounts. Amazon is offering their Prime Membership to military affiliated individuals for $79, which is $40 off the regular price. We actually just renewed in September, but I went ahead and took advantage of the offer. This extends our membership until September 2021.

I think we will do some clothes shopping this weekend for a few needed items we need and want before the holidays. We will attempt to take advantage of some discounts, but at the same time not spend too much money!

Big Goal Savings: October

November 5th, 2019 at 01:25 pm

While we continue to pay ourselves back for the car down payment we continue to send money to our savings goal. As of last month we are 35.2% complete.

October Big Goal Additions
Paycheck 10/1 $175.00
Paycheck 10/15 $175.00
Total Interest $188.52
Total $538.52
New YTD Big Goal Total $8,032.22
New Big Goal Total $71,017.67

October brings us to 35.5% of goal. Still heading in the right direction!

Paying Ourselves Back: October Update

November 5th, 2019 at 01:18 pm

We are paying ourselves back for money we put down on our daughter's car in May. I am putting all sources of extra funds towards that goal. Here's what I found in October:

US Bank $12.52
Chase Rewards $11.45
Amex Rewards $70.38
Boxed Amex Offer $15
ATM Rebate $3.00
Coop Rebate $8.99
eBay Sales $10.36
Pinecone Surveys $3.00
Extra travel funds $28.72
USAA Reward $1.00
Total $164.42

I think I earned a $25 Amazon gift card through Swagbucks, but it looks like I didn't add that to YNAB as a deposit. I will let that slide. I need to be a little more careful, making sure to put the equivalent into savings when I earn one of those!

Prior Payback Balance: $1,724.18
New Payback Balance: $1,559.76

Progress has been a little slower recently. Our auto and renters insurance is so high here and we had to adjust our sinking fund so that could get paid on time. Otherwise I might have had some extra funds to through at it.

October 2019 Interest Earned

November 5th, 2019 at 01:01 pm

Here's the interest we earned on our cash savings last month:

FNBO $63.76
NFCU $124.73
USAA $0.03
Total $188.52

This money is saved towards our Big Goal. I will update that in another post. I think back to when we earned very small amounts of interest each month. I never once used that interest to pay debt, it has always been saved. It's a great habit that I am glad we established!

Are you tracking your interest? Do you save it or spend it?

We Were Boozed: Update

October 25th, 2019 at 11:43 am

I loved all the replies on my post about being Boozed!! It is interesting, odd, yet a little fun all at the same time! My post may have sounded a bit negative, but I am all about being neighborly. We live on base, so these are coworkers and fellow military members and families. We support each other in fun and work.

This is what we received.

Note this

Text is flyer and Link is https://www.misterretro.com/boozed
flyer, which is what you put on your door once you have been Boozed, so people know not to hit your home again!

Originally, I was just going to do one basket, but decided I would rather pass on some of what was in our original basket. The flyer stated to give two baskets, which I found a bit odd. I don't think that is what the other neighbors had been doing.

I purchased a bottle of red wine for $6.49 at our local exchange on base. I also bought a small fall themed candle, a Halloween themed pail, a 3pk of purple glow sticks, and a 2pk of orange curly ribbon. Each item was a $1 at Dollar Tree, so I spent $4.37 with tax. In total I spent $10.86.

I purchased the above items with a specific family in mind, a coworker of my husband, his wife and three daughters. They had not been Boozed yet. The glow sticks were for the kids. The wine and candle for the couple. I added candy to both baskets from two large bags I bought last month and have had in my freezer.

The second basket, was made up of the pail and the bottle of wine given to us. I changed the tissue paper in it and added the candy. I wrapped the wine in the brown bag the other wine came in and wrapped it with a ribbon. The reason I put it in the bag is because some neighbors are posting on the group Facebook page and I didn't want it to look like the one we received. I have decided NOT to post our basket, but I think I will post a thank you for the one we received.

So after dark, I went out and dropped them off. I did purposely ring the doorbell to alert them, so that no teens would have the opportunity. I know for a fact both were taken inside rather quickly!

The family of my husband's coworker posted a picture of the basket we gifted on Facebook with a huge thank you for the treats. That alone made the effort and a little money spent well worth it. Who knows what the other family thought!

Here's the two baskets:

Ultimately, I know this activity was to promote community and bring smiles to faces. It wasn't intended to upset or cause anyone to spend a lot of money. I feel okay about passing on the wine and the bucket, as I knew we wouldn't use them. The vodka shot is up to my husband to use, and I stuck that spider web decoration up in the transom window on our front door. Maybe someone will notice on Halloween that I 'decorated'!

Except for the Halloween trick or treaters that is the extent of our celebrations! Although, I'm tempted to make a costume for that night consisting of a sign I wear that says 'mosquito bait'. The mosquitos were so bad last year we came in early by nearly an hour from handing out candy. And from what we can tell they are bad again this year!! Help!!

We Were Boozed!

October 24th, 2019 at 12:17 pm

We are living on base and our circle of probably 50 homes is playing that game where you drop off a basket of alcohol (thus the term boozed) for Halloween. We were boozed last night. I'm not sure I'm really a fan. This sort of reminds me of the pressure to do work gift exchanges. The Facebook post said there would be instructions to opt out if you were boozed, but don't want to participate. That was not the case. Only instructions on how to pass it along, which I guess technically could mean I could pass the basket we received to the next person.

Our basket was a purple Halloween themed plastic bucket, probably from Dollar Tree, with sweet Rose wine and a mini shot bottle of vodka, along with about ten pieces of candy. Oh there was some crinkle paper in there for stuffing and a huge (also plastic) spider web decoration (also probably from Dollar Tree). I don't decorate for Halloween, so the bucket and the decoration are basically not something I want to keep. We also don't drink sweet wine OR vodka!

Part of me wants to just play along and spend the $10 to buy some alcohol. Another part of me wants to figure out how play along on the cheap. I wish I could pass on the basket and decoration without feeling guilty. I know for sure our gift came from our direct next door neighbors. I saw her walk up to the porch last night. I feel like I could find something to wrap around the bucket to make it look a little different, but probably not on the decoration. I could also just buy beer and put as many as could fit. No one said it has to be wine! I could also put an orange ribbon on six pack of bottle beer and call it good.

So...play along with me. What would YOU do? Would you participate? Would you go out all out? How would you make it frugal?

(Oh, and I'm think we might just pass the sweet Rose wine to a coworker of my husband's at Christmas, assuming she drinks alcohol)