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Archive for August, 2013

August Snowflake Breakdown

August 30th, 2013 at 07:42 am

I mentioned in my last post that I accumulated $557.48 in snowflakes this month. Those were all sent to pay down mortgage principal, so less debt. And this is BIG; we have sent in $1,361.87 since I started accumulating snowflakes for equity in late June of this year.

Here's where all the August money came from:


Not sure if September has the possibility of earning more snowflakes, but I'll give it a try! I know that we should be able to redeem the Southwest Rapid Rewards in the amount of $500. Since those come in the form of gift cards, I will use them for everyday purchases and use the cash I would have used to send in to the mortgage. I will only count them as a snowflake once I make a purchase. Does that make sense?

The good news on the Southwest Card, is that with a inquiry to customer service we have been given our Rapid Rewards number. I should be able to get that set up, so I can do a redemption next week. Happy, Happy!!

How did you do with your snowflakes in August? Do you have a goal for September?

Last Principal Payment for August

August 29th, 2013 at 06:17 pm

I made another principal payment towards the mortgage today in the amount of $107.70. That is the last one I will make for August. That money came from a water utility refund, a Swagbucks cash and Ebay proceeds. A little work and a little luck!

I actually made five extra principal payments this month which reduced our mortgage principal by $557.48! That is more than a regular mortgage payment reduces our principal. Smile And yes, that is the total snowflakes for the month, too.

We are still waiting on our Southwest credit card statement to close so we can start redeeming gift cards. It should close on Saturday, so we are close to getting our hands on that $500.

I sent the OBi adapter for VoIP back to Amazon. Their estimate of shipping is $5.37. That is how much my refund will be reduced. Most of my family is not real excited about permanently giving up our land line. We do actually call home when we are out to check on our kids. So, for now, we are keeping it. I might still try Ooma, but I'll be looking for a good price. Maybe used on Ebay, but need to see how that works.

Screech.......

August 28th, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I've come to a screeching halt installing my Google Voice calling plan. They don't have ANY numbers in my area code. Or my last area code or the one before that. Clearly, this Google Voice things is not available everywhere. Too bad I didn't check before I bought the adapter!!

I bought the OBi adapter on Amazon for $39.00. Shipping was free with our Prime membership. No tax...thanks internet. I can return to Amazon and pay $4.99 plus $0.75 per pound. Since it is less than a pound, I expect the refund to be reduced by $5.74.

I could also sell it on Ebay. I see others listed for slightly more than I paid but those include free shipping, which means the shipping would have to come from the proceeds. And I would have Ebay fees on top of it. I think it really ends up being better to return it even if I get shipping deducted. Live and learn I guess!!

Now I need to search my other options. I'm leaning towards the Ooma, which is three times the cost of the unit I bought. This service will charge me the federal fees of $3.71 per month. I did notice I can use a Citi promotion for one day shipping from Amazon if I buy the Ooma unit from there. Tempting!

Or we could just skip the land line altogether. Oh geez, I really thought I had it figured out. More to come later. Smile

An Alternative?

August 28th, 2013 at 09:23 am

My daughter is a Junior in high school this year. This means college is going to be upon us soon. I can tell by the mail we are beginning to receive too!

The school sent out information about a seminar for ACT test preparation. It's a 7 hour course on a scheduled day off of school and is $79.

My daughter is an all A student. She tests well on standardized tests. No test anxiety. She writes well, too. Does she NEED to take this seminar?

What alternatives are there for preparing for this test? There seem to be books available (library and Ebay), and a practice test for less on the ACT website. What is really necessary?

While I wait for those of you ahead of me to weigh in, I'll keep browsing the ACT website to see what I can find. Smile

OTA is Set Up!

August 27th, 2013 at 07:41 pm

Our over the air antenna is in the attic and working! We get all the stations we are suppose to. The picture is so much clearer. My husband thinks we might need an amplifier, but we are going to wait and see.

The cable boxes are boxed up and set aside to return to the service provider. The next step, is to set up our Google Voice phone number through the internet connection. That will be done tomorrow. If all goes as planned, I can cancel phone and tv service by the end of the week!

If you are interested in knowing which broadcast television stations you might be able to receive in your area, check out the http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/dtvmaps/. We are receiving all the 'green' stations and one 'yellow' station. Since several stations broadcast more than one channel we have 23 channels plus a radio station. The last thing I will add is that we are receiving several stations that are over 70 miles away. We purchased an antenna that would pick up this distance.

I'm happy to report I have been using my gym membership after a summer lull. The girls have been in school for 5 days and I made it there four of those days. I really hope I can stop and ultimately reverse my weight gain. I feel pretty positive I can.

Are you exercising? Is your goal maintaining or losing? Do you pay for a gym membership? Or workout for free in some other way?

Sold All Three

August 26th, 2013 at 11:08 am

I sold all three items I listed on Ebay last Sunday. Two auctions are paid and shipped. I am waiting on the last one. I expect to clear just over $22 for these items. Not bad, considering I have not used the items in several years and don't expect to ever again. One item was NEW...which is nice for that buyer.

This money will go to the mortgage once I have my hands on it. Probably by the end of the week!

A New Plan: Safety Included

August 25th, 2013 at 06:08 pm

If you read my post this morning, you know we had abandoned the plan to put an antenna in our attic, primarily for safety reasons. The biggest issue was climbing IN and ACROSS our attic which has no floor boards to walk on to fish a cable across and down to our basement. We just didn't feel safe.

The new plan still starts in the attic, but goes outside and along the edge of our siding to the connection that is already available outside. This does not require us to get IN the attic. We can attach the antenna by simply standing on a ladder BY the attic opening. Safely!!

We are excited. We have put in some cash to make this happen, however, we will quickly recoup the money by cancelling our basic service from the cable company. And this is the same amount we would have spent by going IN the attic.

It's not hooked up yet, but we have the beginning plans for tv service that will cost us $0 per month. How do you receive your television service? How much do you pay?

Safety Over Savings

August 25th, 2013 at 06:46 am

We were hoping to set up an over the air antenna in our attic to save on our television costs, which for us is $40 a month. We bought a ladder so my husband could attempt to get in the attic and check things out. The ladder worked great and we will use it for other tasks. Unfortunately, there are some safety issues in getting into the attic ourselves. Darn.

So for now, we put safety over savings. We'll keep thinking through other options in the meantime, preferably finding an installer. I know there are lots of times were money must be spent to keep us safe, have you run into one recently?

I See Snowflakes!

August 24th, 2013 at 08:28 am

One of my Ebay items was bought last night on a Buy It Now bid. One items will sell Sunday night as it already has bids. The other item has about four people watching it, so I'm optimistic it will sell.

I guess that means more snowflakes in my future!!

Facial Tissue & Hand Sanitizer

August 23rd, 2013 at 08:05 am

I was talking with my sister last night. She is a teacher. She has taught English as a Second Language students, first grade and now kindergarten. Her public school district supplies all kids with crayons, pencils, scissors and glue, among other things.

She teaches in a school where many children come from poverty. Not all, but many. The parent teacher organization is nearly non existent. Other elementary schools have very active and generous PTO's. Some teachers actually get a Starbucks coffee everyday by an active group of parents! Whoa.

You know what my sister wants? Not Starbucks. She wants hand sanitizer and tissues to keep her and the kids healthy in the classroom. She currently buys these out of her own pocket. And did you know first graders and kindergartners go through lots of tissues!! I have encouraged her to at least mention the need in a newsletter. Not all parents will respond or be able to contribute, but some will.

My youngest daughter (8th grade) actually had 3 boxes of tissues on her school supply list. This had always been the case for us in all three districts our children have attended. My oldest simply had a request from the band directors last year to donate. We did...happily!

I will pick up more tissues today at the store. I will give them to the band and my sister next time I see her. I will also get a couple large containers of hand sanitizer for her as well. I will likely spend less than $20 but it will make a difference.

I hope if you know any teacher, in any grade and any subject you consider giving a tissue and or hand sanitizer donation. They really can use these things...and they are often not provided by the school.

Does your child's school ask for these types of donations? Do you give? Do college level teachers (I think there are a few of you here) need these things as well? Let's discuss!!

The Mortgage Escrow Account Update

August 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 am

I did hear back from the mortgage company about our escrow analysis. As I mentioned yesterday, our property taxes are increasing significantly. This was expected as the home is a new build.

I know some would say to contact the mortgage company only when they ask for more money, but in my experience this just leads to larger requested amounts. Either upfront or added to the payment. The first property tax payment is due before the end of September, so really I'm just sending in the money to get it paid on time.

I was pretty close with my numbers yesterday. I had based mine on an effective date of September 1. They ran theirs based on October 1. I suppose they need to give proper notification...even though I directed the change.

We need to send in a lump sum of $1,880.13 before October 1 to make up the shortfall. This is fine with me because I have been saving monthly for this increase in property taxes. By September 1, I will have exactly $1800 saved. And the extra $80.13 can come from that September 1 paycheck with no problem.

Our new payment will increase because of the amount they need to collect for escrow from $1083.56 to $1,311.28. The interesting thing is I've been saving $300 per month, and paying that lower mortgage payment. Once I switch to only paying the new mortgage payment, I will actual 'save' $72.28 each month. Happy, Happy!

I did find out that since this is a VA loan, we are required to escrow for the life of the loan. YUCK! But it's actually okay since we don't expect to be here for the life of the loan.

I received my $25 from Swagbucks in my Paypal account today. I just ordered it Monday! That was super super fast. I will transfer that to my checking account so I can make another principal mortgage payment. Smile More people are watching my Ebay items that end on Sunday. Bid high, I say!!

I'm not really watching the stock market, but I know it has been down. Glad it was down when our automatic investments were pulled to our Roth IRA and ESA accounts. More shares for us!!

That's my financial news. Now I think I may go shop at Kohl's with my $10 coupon...for something that costs just a little over $10, of course!!