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Archive for February, 2010

Two Notes About 'Bucks'

February 28th, 2010 at 02:04 pm

I received 10 bucks in the mail yesterday from NFO MySurvey. It arrived very quick considering I requested it on February 13th. Two weeks.

I haven't been attending to my SwagBucks account. I had an email about their anniversary with a code to obtain 10 swagbucks. When I redeemed it I noticed that I already had 30 points in my account. Last time I logged in I used all my points to donate to the Red Cross for Haiti relief. Turns out the 30 points came from people who signed up under me. So, if you at one time signed up under me...thank you! As a result, I decided to add the swagbucks banner back to my sidebar.

I'm going to try to use Swagbucks for my searches along with MyPoints. Maybe I will earn enough to buy Christmas presents off Amazon this year! If you want to try to do something similar, click on my sidebar for a link to the program. I'll let you know how it is progressing from time to time, too.

Progress: 2010 Financial Goals

February 27th, 2010 at 10:49 am

Our basic goals for 2010 break down like this:

1) Max out our Roth IRA's = $10,000
We make monthly contributions that are automated
2) Save 7% of basic pay in TSP
Automatically taken from paycheck
3) Pay off home equity loan
Only $199 plus interest to go!
4) Save money for college = $3,300
We are scheduled to start contributions in March. I hope to automate these as well
5) Add money to emergency fund = $7,000
I expect we can start adding money in April Smile
6) Pay off van beginning balance = $19,444
Balance is now at $18,579.87 from regular contibutions only. We will begin adding extra in June
7) Convert IRA's to Roth IRA's
Approximately 65% of our IRA's were converted in February. May not convert the rest until later in the year.

I'd say we are on track so far in meeting all goals. Yipee!!

Only 1.25% Interest

February 27th, 2010 at 05:44 am

Our money market account is now only paying us 1.25% interest. Last month we earned $11.39.

The money market holds our emergency fund and savings for our real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance, so it really isn't money I'm expecting a large return on.

I'm just disappointed that the rates are still so low. I look forward to the day when they start to rise again!!

I read an article about saving today in our newspaper. The most important thing is to start, if you haven't already. Even a few dollars a month that you save for a goal can add up. Just don't dip into those funds until your goal is reached!! Trust me. It is much more satisfying to reach a goal than drink a mocha or eat a hamburger.

The interest on your savings is a bonus, even if it is a small one right now!

Closer to Zero

February 26th, 2010 at 05:51 am

Yipee!! I made the $1,800 principal payment to our home equity loan bright and early this morning. Obviously, I'm very anxious to get this thing paid off. Smile

New Balance $199.00

I like that we are getting closer to zero.

No Spend Day

February 25th, 2010 at 02:13 pm

No spending for me today. I spent more than enough the last few days!

I started some spring cleaning today. I washed two bathroom shower curtains and bath mats. Tomorrow, I'm washing comforters.

It doesn't seem that much like spring when snow is everywhere. However, it is getting warm enough for a little melting. Primarily off the roof!! I'll take it.

I can't wait for tomorrow when I will make an $1,800 payment to the home equity loan!! Smile

Found Some Deals

February 24th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I wasn't really looking for them. I was at Target anyway! I bought only things we use and would normally buy, even though a few other items were tempting.

Here's what I got:

4 pack Edge shaving cream $4.24*3 = $12.72
30 ct Swiss Miss hot chocolate $1.88
2 pk Market Pantry apple juice $1.48*2 = $2.96
2 pk Soft scrub $2.48
Total spent = $20.04

Target had a section soon after the first of the year where you could buy in bulk, like Sam's Club and Costco. These deals were in those sections and were primarily marked down 50%.

Prior to my purchases I returned two items equal to $40.45!! Now to convince my husband to lug 12 containers of shaving cream overseas....

Home Equity Loan Plan Details

February 23rd, 2010 at 11:05 am

This post is primarily for my own needs, however I know people like to read this kind of thing.

Current Home Equity Loan Balance: $1,999

On Friday, February 26 pay $1,700 towards principal from paycheck.

On Monday, March 1 pay $118.01 regular payment (last one of which $116.20 will go to principal payoff!) and a extra principal payment of $100.

Edit: I'm going to make a $1,800 payment first, then the regular payment.

After the above payments the principal balance will be $82.80. I will call the mortgage company for a final payoff amount. I expect this to be $83.30. I will request a certified check from our bank. This check will cost me $5 to obtain. I will have the check mailed to us to send with the payoff letter. Once I mail the final check I expect payoff to occur within one to two days, since the payoff address is just blocks down the road from our house.

I wish I didn't need certified funds. Now, it is possible I could simply pay it off online and they would write off the little interest that is owed. However, the website and an email response confirmed that certified funds are required. They will even return personal checks if received.

That is the plan. I'm excited that we are so close.

Twice This Month

February 22nd, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I have eaten out in restaurants twice this month. Once with a friend and once with my husband. I ate out with hubby today. He arrived back home yesterday!! I only get him for another day. Then he has training in another state. Frown

Today we went to TGI Friday's with a coupon. I will just say he picked a more expensive meal. However, with the coupon my meal was "free" and as was my water.

We then went shopping!! He needed a new backpack. The one he traveled with was starting to tear...and not at the seams. Ugh. And he needed a new toiletry bag, toiletries and shower shoes. I'm glad I set aside some cash for these things.

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I signed up for paypal payments for my Pincone surveys. Those are quick! I took a survey on Saturday and was just paid today. I'm glad I made the switch.

My College Education Expenses

February 21st, 2010 at 06:31 am

My parents paid for nearly my entire college education. There was a year where we did qualify for Pell grants because my Dad had been laid off from a job the prior year and he had two kids in college! We did take out student loans. I remember paying my loans off within the first year of graduating. I'm guessing the amount was less than $2,000. It's hard to remember now.

I did work part time for at least 2 of the 4 years I went to college, but I believe this was for things like food, entertainment, clothing, auto fuel and all other expenses. My parents paid my rent, and car insurance.

Honestly, at the time, I took the amount my parents paid to send me to college for granted. I probably still do. I do have the appreciation for the cost of college, as we did have to pay some of my huband's college expenses. Luckily, the Army and his full time job paid for a large portion. Those student loans were paid off several years ago.

My parents had saved some money for my sister and I for college in UGMA accounts, invested in mutual funds. I remember pretty distinctly, writing a letter every semester requesting a certain amount be withdrawn. When I received the check, I used it only for tuition. I never thought to pull more money for myself. I knew that it was for education expenses only.

I know of several people my age who took out the maximum student loan amounts every year. The used part of it for tuition and books, but the remainder was "fun" money. Guess what? They are still paying their student loans! Ugh. Of course, for all I know my parents are still paying on our student loans. I sure hope not!

I bring all this up, because I was talking to my sister about the fact that my oldest daughter will be starting college in 5.5 years. And it doesn't feel that far away. Yikes!! Yes, we have some money saved. Both girls get good grades, so may qualify for some scholarship money. I really need to start crunching some numbers to see how much more I might want to save, or be able to save.

I have thought all along that the girls should have their hand in paying for some of the expenses. I think they should also work some, part time at least. I also think we can cash flow part of it, as well.

Any insights? How was your college education paid for? Are you currently paying for a child's college education? How is that going? I'd love to hear!

Quick Clothes Shopping

February 20th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I had an offer to join JC Penney rewards in my email inbox this week. I would get a $10 coupon good towards any purchase. I signed up and we went shopping today.

My oldest daughter needed a new dressy shirt for her band concert. Found one originally priced at $36, which was 40% off. After the coupon was deducted and tax was added, I paid $10.59.

It was a quick shopping trip. She looked, picked one out, tried it on, we paid and we were on our way back home. I love those types of trips!!

Paying HEL off....

February 19th, 2010 at 10:27 am

next week!!

I mentioned last week when I made a $1000 payment to our home equity loan that I hoped the Army would pull through with some money so that I could pay off the loan before April 1. The good news! Yes. The money I was hoping for will be here next week.

I peeked at my husband's pay stub for next week. They are not withholding taxes and have paid us the Hazard Fire Pay that he is due from being in the zone this month. (I expect him home Sunday. Happy Dance!) This is an extra $780!!

I already have $917, okay let's round that to $920, that I plan to pull from the regular paycheck funds.

If you are following along, you know that equals $1700 to put toward the loan payoff next week.

I'm also scheduled to make our regular payment of $118.01, which at least $116 will go to principal, if I make the big payment first!

It seems I will be about $183 short of paying this loan off. I'm now looking for some extra cash. In the end I think I'll pull it from some emergency funds. I can pay us back when my husband gets paid midmonth!

We are so close. Yipee!!

Do You Calculate For Fun?

February 18th, 2010 at 06:19 am

Yes, I do. I calculate things for fun. It can be inspiring and upsetting, but it is mostly just for fun.

Recently, I decided to calculate how quickly we could pay off ALL of our debt. This would include the home equity loan, our van loan and our mortgage.

I made some assumptions in our calculations. That we wouldn't save for college. That we aren't moving. That nothing unexpected would happen. Remember this is just for fun. I also assumed we wouldn't sell the car and purchase my husband a truck.

So, how long? You want to know, right? Just under 4.5 years! OMG! I couldn't believe we could achieve that so quickly. Turns out that would be just before my oldest daughter graduates high school and heads of to college.

The calculations get you thinking. Would this be a worthy goal? Is it possible? Do we want to have our mortgage paid off while we put two kids through college? It sounds like a nice idea.

I highly recommend calculating for fun. It opens doors of possibilities. At least for me!

Our Van Loan: Under $19K

February 17th, 2010 at 05:58 am

The first entry regarding this: the loan on our Honda Odyssey.

We bought it used 1.5 years ago. The interest rate is 3.9%. We borrowed $26,955. I don't like writing that number, but I do LOVE driving my van. It's the most expensive vehicle we have ever owned. Prior to this, the most we spent on a vehicle was about $12K. The plan is to keep it as long as possible, which could be a long time. It's a Honda.

Today our current loan balance is $18,579.87. I just made our regular payment and $433 went to principal.

This will be the next debt we attack once we finish up the home equity loan. It's almost like starting over again with the home equity loan. In fact, it is MORE money than the home equity loan was.

And in case your curious. Our only other debt is our first mortgage on our home.

Today's Van Maintenence

February 16th, 2010 at 09:59 am

Went to the dealer for an oil change on our Honda Odyssey. They have changed owners and no longer price match competitors. Darn!

Turns out I need a couple filters, tire rotation and alignment. I let them change the filters. They were pretty gross! I don't think I want to comment on how much they were. I only wonder, if I could have picked them up cheaper elsewhere and changed them myself. The van is still new, so lot of the parts, are not available elsewhere. We had it happen with the rear windshield wiper blade. I will look into it, so I'm better prepared next time!

I will definitely get the rotation and tire alignment, but probably next month. I need to get through winter and stop running into pot holes first! This will cost just under $250. Ugh! Apparently well worth it to extend the life of our expensive tires. The van is on its first set, makes me wonder how much the tires are!

Sales: Time Out

February 15th, 2010 at 07:57 am

I'm taking a break from selling on ebay. It does become a bit of a chore at times. I also have a lot going on here at home with my husband out of town. In fact, I had to get up early and shovel the driveway! I'm volunteering some of my time up at the elementary school book fair, as well.

I have more things to sell, so I will get back to it in the next week or two. How is everyone else doing with their sales?