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Archive for March, 2013

Selling

March 31st, 2013 at 07:03 pm

My youngest daughter tried on her capri pants from last year and found that they were too small. Not surprised! So I listed them on Ebay tonight. Might as well get them listed now since the weather is beginning to warm up.

In other news, we found out my oldest daughter, age 16, was accepted to exhibit her art in the Emerging Artists pavilion at a nearby art fair this June. She is thrilled. She isn't really interested in selling her original work, but we hope to display many of the drawings and find a way to make prints that can be sold.

So...it seems like another avenue to earn a little college money! If this goes well, I hope I can get her going on Etsy. Anyone have any tips to suggest for a first time art fair participant?

March Snowflakes

March 29th, 2013 at 01:37 pm

March was an exceptional month for snowflakes. I found snowflakes in our house which I sold on Ebay. I received a snowflake reward from our bank. There were lots of snowflakes from Swagbucks. And Pinecone sent two surveys for even more snowflakes. See what I mean? Snowflakes were everywhere!

Here's the breakdown:

Last month my total Snowflakes for Christmas was $216.07. Once I add in the $202.95 from March, the new total is $419.02. More than half way to the goal of $750!

In my opinion, one can snowflake their way to any goal. Savings or debt, they both work! How are you using your snowflakes?

I will be back on Monday to update where we are on our yearly goals since, the first quarter will be complete at that point. I hope you will consider joining me by commenting on my blog or posting to your own blog.

Another Ebay Snowflake

March 28th, 2013 at 07:31 am

I said I wasn't going to list any more things on Ebay for awhile, but when I received the mail on Tuesday, I changed my mind. In the mail box, was a lunch bag from Lean Cuisine. I sold two of them last week, rather quickly, so I put this latest one up and it sold within 24 hours.

I received the Lean Cuisine lunch bags free by entering in codes from meals we purchased. Not exactly free because we did outlay money for the meals. A nice bonus for something we buy anyway.

Lean Cuisine just sold out of this years free lunch bags, so I suppose the price they may attract on Ebay will be higher. Maybe I should have waited!

At any rate, I have $8.37 to add to the Christmas Fund. March has been a good month for snowflakes. I will update you on my monthly results tomorrow!

Have you ever sold a promotional item on Ebay or elsewhere?

Down Payment Thoughts Again

March 27th, 2013 at 07:48 am

I'm still working on my whole 'save money for the next down payment' plan. I did calculate some numbers. I wrote them down with pencil and paper. I don't know where I put them!!

If memory serves we need to save about $800 a month to meet our goals of having enough cash to cover the real estate agent, and to accumulate the equivalent of 20% of the value of this home when we purchased it. I think. It could be I added something else in there to try to save.

All I know is that seems like a lot of money. The money we spent on vehicle maintenance last week is getting repaid when my husband is paid on Monday. I will be setting aside $300 towards property taxes. I expect they will increase greatly this year, likely in September, since this is a new home. I can't expect that taxes will stay under $1000 forever. My point is, I don't have $800 to save. Maybe next pay period.

I think this will all be possible and easy once my husband gets promoted and gets his raise, but that may not be until August. The government just moves very slow!

I still have it on my radar. I need to have a plan to accumulate more cash for the next house we buy. I'll update you when I get clear on it and find those calculations I did earlier this month.

Reminder & Financial Counselor App

March 26th, 2013 at 11:28 am

I saw an advertisement around here on the internet that there are only 20 more days to fund your IRA or Roth IRA for 2012. That means tax filing deadline is that far away, too! Get get those things done, if you haven't already.

See? I could be a financial counselor! Smile

I'm busy today working on my application for the Accredited Financial Counselor grant available for military spouses. There are only fifty available each year. Fingers crossed I could be one of them.

Thanks, BeAWealthyWarrior, for peaking my interest and giving me that little nudge to move that direction. I'm excited about the possibilities.

The application is not too hard. I do have to write a little bit about my skills, how it will help me professionally, and a difficult financial experience. I'm taking my time getting my thoughts together...much different from how I usually write my posts here. I'm more of an off the cuff writer here.

Want to give me a pep talk about my skills and abilities to be a financial counselor? Do you think I have what it takes? You can say no if you want...I won't be mad.

This Happens Sometimes

March 25th, 2013 at 06:49 pm

I balanced our checkbook today and realized we have spent all the money we set aside each pay period for groceries, gas and miscellaneous spending. Payday isn't until next week. Oops!

The last ten days have been spring break for my girls. One daughter had a birthday and we did make two out of town day trips. As you can imagine those things cost some money. And it is all good.

I did go grocery shopping on Saturday and spent $170 that will last through Sunday. That is good. We will need gas. That is bad.

Now we do have money...it's just that we are technically over budget. So my plan is to spend nothing in the next 6 days...unless I need gas, but I don't think I will. I think my husband will.

This is where it gets fun, weird and crazy.

I wrote my husband an email. Yes, I emailed him to tell him we were already over budget and not to buy anything. I said gas was okay. I also told him I had four dollars in cash he could have if needed.

He gets home from work and indicates he got the email and seems fine with it. He gets ready to go to the gym and we are discussing how his knee has been bothering him when he runs. We are talking about his newer running shoes compared to the last pair. As he leaves, I said 'If your knee hurts when you leave the gym, pick up Tiger Balm at Walgreen's.'

He arrives back from the gym with Tiger Balm and a receipt from Walgreen's. I ask about his knee and his run. His knee didn't hurt when he ran tonight!? What? Of course, this is good, but why did he buy the Tiger Balm? I said IF!!

Turns out he thought I said to buy it. Our discussion continues and he tells me he put it on a credit card since we only have $4 in the bank! What? I said I have four dollars cash in my purse.

I'm actually laughing about all this because this is how things seem to go with him and I when we communicate about money. I think we are both at fault. I'm either telling him too much, or not enough and he's not taking in what I'm saying either way. Agh! It's amazing we are in a good place financially or I'd be tearing my hair out.

Again we have the money. I'm just trying to keep us from going way over budget by not be conscious of our spending. The way I do that is to not spend money.

He's going to use the Tiger Balm anyway, which is probably a good idea as a preventative from future pain and inflammation. It's all good!

Did you find that story funny like I did? Do you have these types of miscommunication with your spouse? Any advice or tips to share?

Snowflakes

March 24th, 2013 at 06:24 pm

We are actually getting snow here in the Midwest. It has been falling all day, but it is melting on the roads, driveway and sidewalks. My kind of snow!

I sold three items on Ebay this week for $15.93. I will net less after fees, of course. Two items didn't sell. I may relist those another time. For now, I'm taking an Ebay break.

I earned enough Swagbucks to redeem for another $25 PayPal deposit. The second for this month. The first one just arrived in my PayPal account tonight.

All of those snowflakes will be added to the 2013 Christmas Fund as usual! I will post an update next week to show the total of all March snowflakes and where I stand on this years goal.

Are you in an area with snow? Did you earn any snowflakes this week? What kind?

Keys To Financial Happiness

March 24th, 2013 at 10:44 am

I'd rather be happy about money than sad and frustrated with it. Money is a tool. Not an end all happiness destination. Happiness comes from within. There are many happy, yet financially poor people. And there are many sad, yet financially rich people. I'd like to be both happy from within and financially rich. So far it seems to be working...not that we are rich in some circles, but definitely rich in many others.

I saw Suze Orman on CBS this morning. I'm not always a big fan of her, however, I did like her http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57575956/suze-orman-3-k... about how to be financially happy. Easy enough I'd say!

Are you financially happy? Are you on your way there? Do you agree with the three keys Suze laid out?

Backwards Thinking

March 22nd, 2013 at 02:38 pm

I spoke to a friend recently. She mentioned that she helped her sister find a washer and dryer. The sister made some reference that she should buy the washer and dryer now because her tax refund was arriving. My understanding was the sister's washer and dryer were still working, but yet instead of saving the tax refund it was being spent on something that may not work in the future.

Isn't this backwards thinking? It is quite possible the washer and or dryer would continue to work into the future. It seems like that kind of logic will continue to cause problems and replacing things needlessly just because the money is available and on hand.

If I were to advise her sister, or my friend who seemed to agree with the logic, I would suggest at a minimum saving the cash until the need for a new washer and or dryer was necessary. I would also consider using the tax refund money to pay other bills before making a purchase of needless items.

If one's washer or dryer were to fail and you don't have hundreds of dollars to replace, you have to look at options outside of individual ownership. In this case, it would be less expensive to do laundry at friend's, relative's or laundry mat, while saving up for a the new appliance. I also would look at used appliances from a store, which might provide a type of warranty, or looking on Craigslist.

Have you heard of others who think about money backwards? Maybe you have done it yourself recently or in the past? What could you have done different?

Maintenance Spending

March 19th, 2013 at 07:28 pm

We are spending this week. And spending big. We are having routine maintenance done on our Honda vehicles. The van went in today for alignment, oil change, tire rotations, a couple of fluid changes, including the transmission fluid. The charge today was about $389.

It was suggested we do the timing belt for $775 since the vehicle is six years old. However, it is also recommended at 90,000 miles and the van only has 61K. I think we can wait a bit longer to hit that one. Maybe next year or late this year.

The truck goes in tomorrow. The charge is expected to be about $300. Seems like a lot of money, but we never have any problems with our vehicles...just the routine stuff that has to be done on any car.

Our new and current dealership seems to be really clear on what needs to be done when, and doesn't ask us to do extras. Love that!!

We don't specifically save for maintenance, but in recent years seem to have the money in our slush fund. If you don't spend it, it is easy to save it! This time we will put the charges on our Chase Freedom card, earn the rewards and then pay it off right away.

Do you keep up with your vehicle maintenance? What kind of plan do you have to save for these types of expenses?

Coupons

March 18th, 2013 at 05:37 pm

I made a quick run to our Super Target today to get a few groceries. I made sure to grab my coupons. I buy a lot of off brand items, so coupons don't always apply. However, Target does have grocery coupons on their website that are easy to print off and often good for many of their private brand items.

These are the coupons I used today:
$1.00 off two packages of eggs
$0.50 off Annie's Macaroni, on sale!
$1.50 off six Lean Cuisine meals, on sale too!

Buy One, Get One Pantene products. I bought conditioner ($3.89)and mousse ($3.99). The coupon took $4.99 off this deal. I paid $2.89 out of pocket.

Buy One, Get One Edge shave gel. Each shave gel was $2.09. The coupon took $$3 off, which means I paid $1.18 out of pocket for two cans of shaving cream.

It's just nice to get a good deal on things you buy anyway. And I do try to stock up things like conditioner and shaving cream when I find a really good deal. However, I really don't stock up on things we don't use. I also don't stock pile more than six months worth of anything. It's just not worth it to me.

Do you use coupons? Do you make many trips to find those good deals? Do you skip the coupons? What is your take on them?

Snowflakes But Better

March 17th, 2013 at 07:07 pm

I sold three items on Ebay this week for a gross total of $20.46. One was earlier this week, and has already been mailed. The other two items ended tonight and I'm waiting on payment. I will add the net amount to the Christmas fund.

If you followed my snowflake accumulations last year, you noticed how small amounts of money over time became a large amount of savings. I believe it was over $1400 in 11 months! If that impresses you, I encourage you to read my blog post about http://ourmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/retirement-what-is-... as it applies to savings. I found a great calculator that you can explore, too!

Anyone else have Ebay or Craigslist sales this week? Have garage sales started in your area?

Score!!

March 17th, 2013 at 07:58 am

We have a new Kohl's store that opened about 7 minutes from our home. The closest one before was at least 20 minutes away. I received two $10 off any $10 purchase coupons in the last week or so. One by mail, the other by email.

As one was expiring last night, I took my husband with me to complete two transactions. We purchased two six packs of socks which were marked at $8.99 each. We also grabbed two packages of tissue paper for 1.99 each. We walked out of the store paying $2.10!!

The socks are bright fun, no show socks for our daughters. They will received them in their Easter baskets. They actually NEED these socks, so even better. The tissue paper will get used eventually.

I love to score those kinds of deals! Have you found any great deals recently? Please share.

More Snowflakes

March 15th, 2013 at 01:16 pm

I found a few snowflakes in the last two days and we haven't used the ATM again yet! All good news, right?

First, I noticed the rewards at USAA were enough to cash out for $25. I think there was a promotion a month or two back where if you made a certain number of purchases or a purchase at a certain dollar amount you received a reward. I think that is where most of those points came from...though I am not positive. At any rate, I'm taking the $25.

I also accumulated enough http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/creditcardfree to cash out for my first $25 PayPal deposit this month. I wonder if I can get enough the rest of the month to get another one? I already have 500 Swagbucks towards it!

And finally, I added a $5.03 to the Christmas fund from our own money. The $0.03 is interest on our checking account. And the $5 is stupid tax for the http://creditcardfree.savingadvice.com/2013/03/14/oops_10163... last month. If you read that post, you have to believe this is the first time I have ever paid an ATM fee without it being reimbursed later. Ugh...still at little mad about that one!

We added $953.60 to our savings this payday. Feels good to put quite a bit of that back to savings after pulling some funds from there to pay off the truck and an another withdrawal to pay for our daughter's flute. We still have a little ways to go to get back where we were at the beginning of the year.

Wow! Just realized that those snowflakes plus the savings deposit are actually over $1K. It fun to be able to save big chunks of money!!

Spring break begins just about now, as the girls are just getting out of school. I think there will be some extra expenses for fun, but low key overall.

What kinds of spring break expenses do you expect to have, if any? Did you find any snowflakes recently?