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Buying New Clothing

May 25th, 2019 at 06:34 am

My youngest daughter is home for the summer! She needed shorts, because it is very hot here. We stopped by JC Penney yesterday where she found two pairs marked on sale for $14.99. I had a $10 off coupon for spending over $25. The final total with tax was $21.82. Very pleased with this amount. She won't be wearing them daily, as she still prefers jeans even in the heat, but at least when we are out for longer periods of time she will be cooler.

I'm going to have to buy new clothes very soon, as I have lost 13 pounds recently, and I am down thirty pounds since a year ago April. My shorts I was wearing yesterday still stay up and feel fine around the waist, but my husband said they look really baggy! I rarely buy clothes, and am a near minimalist when it comes to what I wear, so I won't need to replace a large amount. I am tempted to thrift store shop only because I expect that the size I am now is not where I will stay. I think I will sell some of my old clothes, the jeans and a dress for sure. The rest is probably only worth donating.

Some people keep their large sizes when they lose weight, but I'm almost positive I have found the right thing for me this time where I will be able to maintain. I'm not going to comment on what is working for me until I have reached my goal and maintained for some time. And honestly, weight loss and health are personal, we all have to find what works for us.

Phones, Soda and Gum

May 22nd, 2019 at 12:06 pm

We just purchased new cell phones for my husband and youngest daughter. They have both had major issues with their phones recently, which forced this purchase sooner than expected, but over two years since they were last purchased. They are getting Moto Z3 phones which are $10/month each for 24 months, 0% interest. I do plan to sell their old phones on eBay as is for parts. I should be able to get $40-60 for both of them combined.

My husband has been on a kick recently of buying two sodas and a pack of gum, three to four times a week. This is after he has been home for lunch. The cost each time is just over $4, or $12-16/week. I mentioned buying a six pack or more to keep at work, or even store at home to take with him after lunch. I also mentioned the lower cost of his gum to buy in bulk on Amazon. Today he reported that he bought a six pack of soda and 3 pack of gum and spent just $4. He was very proud of himself for making this change. Of course, I wish he didn't buy soda at all! I will celebrate the win.

How Much Do You Spend On Beverages?

May 17th, 2019 at 07:33 am

I was watching an older episode of Living On Dime on YouTube and they mentioned that most people spend at least a quarter, if not more, of their grocery bill on beverages at the grocery store. For example, people buy coffee, juices, milk, soda, tea, gatorade, bottled water and alcohol.

We currently only buy ground coffee, and unfortunately alcohol. I guess we did buy milk this last week since our youngest daughter is home and eating cereal for breakfast.

We have in the past bought all of the beverages I listed above, not necessarily all in one shopping trip, but some of them were on a more regular basis. The truth is we only need water to live on!

I personally have reduced, although not eliminated, my alcohol consumption. I only wish I could get my husband on board. We would save a nice amount if we both stopped drinking.

Have you thought of reducing your beverage purchases in order to save money on your grocery bill?

P.S. Remember when I said I was going to stop buying taco seasoning packets? I failed the last time I went to the store and picked one up...whoops! Old habits can be hard to break. I do have the recipe on my fridge so hopefully this go around I will remember NOT to buy.

Scholarships!

May 12th, 2019 at 08:12 am

Our oldest daughter was awarded some more scholarship money. Two scholarships, one worth $550 and another worth $950, for a total of $1500. The school will divide the money equally between the two semesters, so $750 off the total bill each semester.

The interesting thing is that she is getting these scholarships through a foundation that she now has an internship with. She needs to send her thank you notes to the same place she now works. I'm positive that her internship and the scholarships are not related, but just kind of neat to know she is benefitting two ways from this organization.

Always grateful for assistance with college expenses!

Money Flowing In

May 12th, 2019 at 08:05 am

There's money flowing out fast, but I'm going to focus on and share what is coming in.

$100 Anniversary gift
$25 Amazon gift card (earned from MyPoints)
$22.78 Olive oil class action
$336 Chase annual fee refund
$3 Pinecone survey
$14.04 Ebay Sales

$500.82 Total

The Amazon gift card went towards the purchase of an over the air antenna, since we are cancelling Hulu for the summer.

I am setting aside the $336 Chase refund towards our daughter's car registration. I have the tax amount set aside already, but I don't know the property tax/registration amount yet. If this is more than needed I may throw it back into the Big Savings Goal.

Everything else currently is going to go to the Big Savings Goal.

I did send off three textbooks for cash. I expect to receive $63 for those in the next week or so. I will probably put these funds into the College Expense category. I also put one book on eBay and I have other things I need to list soon, too.

Do you have non wage cash flowing in?

The Car Purchase

May 12th, 2019 at 07:44 am

Our trip back to the midwest was to help our oldest daughter move and purchase a used car. We ended up with a 2011 Subaru Forester with just over 100K miles.

We did put $6,000 down on the $11,400 purchase. The rest was financed over three years. The original interest rate at the dealership was 8.49%, which I balked at. They said it was because our daughter had no credit score (which is true). On Tuesday they called and said they found a lower rate of 5.74%! Wow, what a difference. We may still refinance this if we can. It's been years since we financed or bought a car, and honestly, we were a bit rusty with the process. There are probably things we could have done differently, such as check with USAA for a loan, but I remember I looked and dismissed it, but now I don't know why. It is what it is at this point.

We really like the car. Drove fantastic! Super clean engine. Nearly new tires. All wheel drive for winter driving should be helpful too. If it can last as long as the loan that will be a good thing!

The payment will be $133/mo, which once our daughter starts getting paid from her internship, she should be able to pay. She is a bit overwhelmed with the expenses of living on her own and mad that she can't save!! But that is yet to be seen. Hopefully, she will adjust well once she sees the paychecks. I think it's all a bit abstract right now to her. Of course, I will help her through the process.

Her insurance policy is about $450 every six months. We will cover that while she is still in school, which is now another expense we have added to our budget.

April Big Savings Goal Progress

May 12th, 2019 at 07:26 am

Here's last months contribution towards our Big Savings Goal. I think the next few months will be slower as we have other expenses we are managing that are taking away from the progress. If we can maintain this amount or similar I will be pleased.

We had a refund of Chase credit card annual fees ($349.15) due to SCRA being applied to some of our accounts. I would have liked to have saved this for our Big Savings Goal, but with upcoming summer college costs and assisting our daughter with a car we have backed off putting ALL the extras towards this goal. This is a big frustrating for me as I have really enjoyed the progress and focus, but I realize this is just temporary.

$350.00 ($175 from each paycheck, two per month)
___$7.64 Discover Cashback
_$10.00 NAPA rebate
___$9.41 US Bank Cashback
_$66.66 FNBO Interest Earned
$118.78 NFCU Interest Earned
___$5.46 USAA Interest and ATM rebates
___$3.00 Amazon Gift card (Swagbucks)
___$6.73 Ebay Sale

$577.68 April Big Goal Total
$4,768.90 2019 YTD

$67,369.40 Previous big goal Balance
$67,947.08 New big goal Balance

33.97% of $200,000 goal

April Interest

May 1st, 2019 at 01:45 pm

More interest earned in the month of April. This money is added to our Big Savings Goal which I hope to report on tomorrow.

FNBO $66.66
NFCU $118.78
Total $185.44

Thankful for compound interest!! If you don't know what that is, look it up, it's fascinating!

Frugal Groceries: Homemade Seasonings

April 30th, 2019 at 09:52 am

I'm going to be going back to basics regarding our grocery bill. I am on a new eating plan, which has lowered our grocery bill and I will talk about that when I have more definitive results to share. However, we are attempting to keep costs in check this summer with our daughter home while supporting our older daughter who will be staying in our college town. She may end up covering most of the expenses since she does have an internship and a very part time job, but until that gets going we have to be prepared to help a bit.

So as I alluded to in the title, I need to tweek my homemade seasonings. We have tacos or fajitas once or twice a week and I have always bought those premade seasoning packets. A quick look at the Budget Bytes website and her recipe for taco seasoning is almost exactly what I pay for a packet. So it may not even work out as a savings, but I will avoid the added preservatives and unnecessary ingredients, which is important to me. I will have to watch for good prices on the
individual prices from now on!

Once I get an idea of what our daughter wants to eat on a regular basis, I'm going to be checking sales ads weekly. I may be able to stock up on some of her staples if they are loss leaders and save over the cost at the commissary. Generally, the commissary saves us 30% over the cost at traditional grocery stores. They do have some sales, but not always things we buy.

Anyway, you may be seeing more posts from me about grocery savings. Please chime and share your best tips for saving on groceries! My first one for anyone to work on is avoiding brand name items. Nearly all the time store brands are less expensive and the taste is the same. If you have never tried the store brand, I suggest it would be worth a side by side taste test to determine if you really can detect a difference. And if there is the difference is the price difference worth it to you? I will admit we need to switch back to store brand shredded cheese...or shred our own cheese if that is more cost effective.

Do you make your own homemade seasonings? Do you buy store brand? Why or why not?

A New High And Budget Adjustments

April 28th, 2019 at 09:05 am

Yay! Our retirement accounts have reached a new high as of the closing on Friday afternoon. So grateful we have money increasing in value for retirement! We just keep plugging away adding funds to our account monthly. All of these contributions are set up automatically, so other than recorded them in our check register (which is auto on YNAB), we don't think too much about it. Auto investing is the way to go!

Yesterday's mail was fruitful financially. We received a refund check from our utility service here on base. We have stay at or under the average compared to similar sized homes on base for electrical and water usage. The result is a refund of $55.

The other check in the mail was the proceeds from our oldest daughter's UTMA. I'd have to go back and look at our total investment in that account, but I'm going to guess under $1,000 since the late 90s and early 2000s. The final redemption amount was $3,973.62. This is money going towards her first car. Her car will likely be more than this, but hopefully not by much.

I have two items ending on eBay that are being watched, so two sales possible. They won't make more than a few dollars, but it all adds up, as I have shown over and over again on this blog.

I cut our Hulu Live subscription effective today. It's saving us $45 a month. This is planned for the summer months to offset the need to pay $55 a month for our youngest daughter to store her dorm items this summer. Our older daughter has always stored her items at my parents since she is pretty close. Our youngest is much farther away, so this just made sense logistically. Not exactly how I want to spend money, but we are going to try it this first summer and see how it goes. I think my husband is going to miss Hulu, so this is temporary because we did like it for accessing college football in the fall.

I stopped our youngest daughter's allowance for the summer. She was receiving $125 a month from us. Honestly it far exceeded her needs and expenses. I noticed she seems to buy music and make Go Fund Me donations with it. I love that she is generous. The primary reason to end it for the summer and reevaluate is to help cover rent for our older daughter. Our younger daughter will be home and we can cover anything that comes up with our own budget. We will likely reinstate some form of spending money, but we also know she is starting a part time research job, so she will start accumulating her own spending money, thus less needed from us.

I've also decided to stop funding our car maintenance and repair sinking fund for a few months. We currently have $1000 set aside plus an emergency fund. We have been funding it with $275 a month because we have older cars. We are very current on major repairs and maintenance we we think this will not be an issue short term. We expect to start it back up in August or September. This change is also due to upcoming expenses with our daughter staying in her college town this summer.

I'm doing my best to maintain our current Big Savings Goal progress and monthly contributions, thus the reason for making other adjustments to the budget temporarily. I'm grateful that we have flexibility to make changes to how we spend our money.

Surprise Scholarship!

April 26th, 2019 at 07:34 am

Well, my older daughter DID get a scholarship. She was even surprised by it. It's actually one that she received last year for marching band. They had a Honors and Awards event yesterday, but she didn't go because she didn't know she was getting an award. The year prior they emailed her ahead of time that she was getting an award, so she attended. Oh well, she still gets the money.

Last year it was $600 and ended up being applied to her summer tuition. We expect the same will happen again this year. We are so thankful for all the scholarships we have received for both girls.

I am happy and grateful for all money that flows into our lives!