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Archive for September, 2013

The Good and The Bad

September 30th, 2013 at 11:23 am

This government shut down is looming and it is affecting us. First affect, my husband's battle assembly scheduled for this coming weekend has been postponed to the end of October. This is good since my daughter has a band performance that he would have missed. Now he can see it. Smile

He is also scheduled to travel this week. He will find out tomorrow whether they are to continue or postpone that one as well. I'd prefer it be cancelled. We are already waiting on two travel reimbursements from earlier in September that have still not been paid. The amount owed to us is $236.31, which we sure would like to have as soon as possible.

My husband was paid for all work done in September. I can see the paycheck pending in our checking account for tomorrow. However, all pay will stop, while work continues until the new budget is signed. He will get an IOU from the government. The next expected check is October 15, which will be on time if the budget is signed in the next week or so.

The good thing is we have cash to cover a paycheck or two. My plan is to postpone our investments in October if the pay is delayed. We might as well hang on to that money while we are waiting on a paycheck. Some of the bills later in the month are put on credit cards anyway, so those can be delayed slightly as well. It's the food and gas we will need to fork over out of savings until we are paid back.

We are some of the lucky ones. Civilians that work for the government will not go into work, and will not be paid for any days they are off work. I hope they have a plan!

Do you know anyone that is affected by the government shutdown that likely to happen? Any other good ideas for planning for a delayed paycheck?

Renting for the Lawn

September 27th, 2013 at 09:31 am

I'm amused at my husband. He has mowed the lawn three times this year, been in charge of watering about the same amount. He has also sprayed for weeds and fertilized. Today he is aerating our lawn in preparation for putting down grass seed (Aerating is important in places where there is clay soil generally). He knows what a lawn needs, but actually doesn't have much time to spend on it. I'm just happy if it stays green during the spring and summer and it gets mowed. I don't even mind doing the mowing. He seems to be the one to be all the expense in to the yard, but not as much of the effort. Not sure if that makes sense, but it does amuse me! We actually let our back lawn go dormant this summer because of the lack of rain and my desire to NOT to spend money on water. He didn't seem to mind.

The aerator is $55 to rent for four hours. It should just take him an hour or so to do. After he's done with that we will run out to get grass seed and fertilizer. Another $40-$60, I'm guessing. I do like a nice looking lawn. I just don't always like the expense that goes with it. If there were some more neighbors home on a Friday morning, we might see if any of them want their lawn aerated and help cover/split the cost of the rental. No one else is home to ask, but at least we got the task of my husband's to do list! We also agree this is likely the only time we will aerate while we live at this home. It isn't something we do with much frequency.

Let's just say this is one of those tasks I just have to go with to keep the peace. Now if we were going into debt for the lawn that would be another story.

What kinds of equipment have you rented? Would you rather buy than rent, or hire out than rent? Do you aerate your lawn?

Ten Dollars

September 26th, 2013 at 01:29 pm

Again, in the mail today, I received a $10 off a $10 purchase at Kohl's. This is the second one this month. I used the last one last week when we shopped there. Clearly, they want me to come back!

I am DONE cleaning our windows. I even cleaned the outsides of some of them. The others I couldn't reach without a ladder and they actually aren't too bad. The windows seems to get dirtier here in this more rural town. And the spider webs are really bad!! Ick.

I'm craving a soda, which is really odd, since I have pretty much stopped drinking pop almost two years ago. I must need more water! If I can avoid the temptation to pick up a soda on my next outing, I will declare today a no spend day. Again!

There isn't much financial going on. I'm looking forward to payday just so I can do something financial! My husband is taking a couple days off work, so we might use one of those restaurant gift cards. That means I can send the same amount of money to the mortgage. That would be good. Smile

Did you get a Kohl's $10 coupon this month? Did you use it? What did you get?

Eating At Home

September 25th, 2013 at 02:59 pm

We almost always eat at home with food we have purchased from the grocery store. That will be the case tonight. And it will require preparation to cut up and season vegetable that will be roasted in our oven. Yummy!

We only have a couple night a week where dinner needs to be quick. I try my best to plan for those with something very easily prepared. It might be pre-cooked in the Crockpot, something needing to be thawed, or a simple sandwich. These are so much healthier than the majority of take out food, and far less expensive. I know I could be a better cook and meal planner, but I try not to sweat my imperfection knowing I'm doing pretty good spending less and eating healthier than many.

Since the groceries were purchased Monday, and all I did was clean more windows today, I can officially declare it a no spend day! That is good news. The bad news, or frustrating news is we are still waiting on my husband's travel payment. I noticed on the website that end of fiscal year travel payments are usually delayed. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

How often do you eat out? Would you say you eat at home more than eating out? Do you plan ahead for those crazy busy nights with simple meals? What is your go to simple meal?

Swagbucks Deposit & Surprise Snowflake

September 24th, 2013 at 08:53 am

I woke up to an email from Swagbucks and PayPal notifying me of my $25 deposit into my account. I quickly requested a withdrawal to our checking account. It should arrive by Friday. I should be able to get it sent to the mortgage by the end of the month!

We also received a nice surprise from the realtor that helped us find our home. She sent a thank you card for referring my husband's co-worker to her when they went to sell their house. In the thank you card was a $25 gift card to Olive Garden! We definitely did not expect that and was not necessary at all. We'll take it though and use it or give as a gift should the opportunity arise.

I expect today to be a no spend day. Oh, except for paying for a flute lesson. Yesterday was grocery shopping. Today, I'm clearing my desk of paperwork and starting to clean a few windows and blinds. No shopping for me!

Have you received ANY good surprises lately? Monetarily related or otherwise?

Mortgage Principal Down Again!

September 23rd, 2013 at 11:28 am

I decided I should track the spending with those rewards gift cards as it happens. No need to delay paying the mortgage down, right? I set up a spreadsheet with each card and it's original amount, the amount used/remaining and the amount sent in. Or something like that!! This way I can keep track of what I need to send in.

I already sent $50 in last week when I spent a $50 gift card at Walmart. Today I'm sending in $123.15 for gift cards spent on Amazon and at Kohl's this weekend. At this point we have spent $173.15 of the gift cards from the Southwest Airlines Rapids Rewards card. And it has all been matched with our own cash that we have sent in to the mortgage.

In other news, I'm still waiting for my husband's travel payments to shake out, so I can pay off his expenses on our Chase Freedom card. It should be done this week. It was nice of him to charge gas while their 5% back promotion is running. That will just mean more rewards from that card, or a forecast of future snowflakes as I see it.

This snowflaking debt is fun and so satisfying. Did you make a snowflake this week? Did you save it, spend it or pay down debt?

Spent More Rewards Gift Cards

September 22nd, 2013 at 07:41 am

The girls and I went shopping yesterday at Kohl's, where we picked up a couple pairs of jeans, a shirt and a pair of shoes. The total before discounts was $104.97, but I had a $10 off coupon and a 20% off which saved $29. Of course, tax was added back in, and the total became $81.29. I used the gift cards we earned from the Southwest Airlines credit card bonuses. Each card from Kohl's is $50, so I still have $18.71 left on one of them.

We also rented Star Trek Into Darkness from Amazon last night to watch as a family. We used the Amazon.com gift card to pay for the $3.99 rental. The Amazon gift cards we received are $25 each. I only loaded one on to the account, so we now have a $21.01 credit there.

The plan all along has been to match the spending on these gift cards with cash applied to the principal balance of our mortgage. I'm having a mini debate with myself about how to handle this specifically. Should I send in the actual amount we spent yesterday, or would it be easier to track if I only sent in the money when I use the full gift card? If I do the later, I really only need to send in $50, as I have only used up that one Kohl's gift card. It really all works out the same in the end. I will mull it over today. Either way I will make a payment to the mortgage tomorrow!

I might have a little more Amazon.com spending to do. I noticed that my hair dryer is getting too hot and actually melting on the side. That can't be good! It still works, but I sure don't want my hair to catch on fire. I think I'll get that order placed today!

Do you dry your hair with a hair dryer or air dry? I'm pretty sure air drying would be the most frugal. Smile

Retirement & Southwest Offer

September 20th, 2013 at 08:27 am

The https://creditcards.chase.com/a1/southwest/2ffpartnerspremier is back. You can earn 50,000 points for spending $2,000 in 3 months. This is equal to $800 in airline tickets or $500 in gift cards. My husband did this offer and we are working on spending the gift cards. It's tempting to apply in my name, but I'm going to personally hold off for right now. See the details on the link, and remember there is an annual fee of $99. You might be able to get it back if you cancel early.

The market was at an all time high on Wednesday. I made sure to record our retirement balances. It nice to see we are nearing a milestone....$250K. We are still about $8K off as of that day. And unfortunately the market is going back down. It really is interesting to see that just over 10 years ago we only had $25,000 invested for retirement. And even four years ago the market was so low we only had $69K...it had been much higher prior to that drop. I'm glad we just keep investing regardless of the markets ups and downs. It does pay off!!

Do you know of any new credit card reward offers? Did you also check your investment accounts when the market was at it's peak the other day?

Snowflake Sent to Mortgage

September 19th, 2013 at 09:54 am

I have accumulated $86.42 in snowflakes since the beginning of September. I sent those off yesterday to pay down the principal balance on the mortgage. Smile

I earned enough Swagbucks to redeem $25 for a PayPal deposit. It would be nice to receive that before the end of the month, so I can send it in as another snowflakes!

My husband had a couple recent trips for work. One of them he drove our personal vehicle which means we will be paid mileage. The government avoids this usually. They now prefer a vehicle to be rented because it is less expensive. And that's the right thing to do from a government standpoint. The good thing is we might make a little cash on the deal this time. I'm still waiting for the deposits and to know that he paid off his government travel card in full.

I wanted to get a little shopping in at Kohl's today, since I have a $10 off coupon and gift cards. However, my volunteering at school went long and I need to get a final coat of paint down on our garage steps while the weather is nice. In the end it is fine to hold off on the spending!!

Do you receive mileage payments for travel you do? Does the payment cover your cost in full or partially?

Return of Fee: Southwest Card

September 18th, 2013 at 05:17 am

I sent an email to Chase requesting the cancellation of the Southwest Card as well as the return of the annual fee. The card was cancelled. And I was told the annual fee of $99 in full will be returned. It will take one to two billing cycles to appear as a credit. We can then request a check for the credit amount, which will take about two weeks to arrive.

We went into the Southwest deal knowing the card had an annual fee. I knew there was a chance the fee would be returned, but I was okay with it if it didn't since I would still be ahead by $401. Once we get the fee back we will be ahead by the full $500.

I don't know whether I will count the $99 as a snowflake or not. Right now it seems better to send it off to the Red Cross to help with disaster relief. I'll decide when it actually arrives.

Have you paid an annual credit card fee before? What benefits do you get from it? Have you had a fee returned? Do you think I should snowflake our fee or give to charity?

Gift Card Spent On Toiletries

September 17th, 2013 at 10:42 am

Last night, I came home to a note from my daughter, that said, "We are out of conditioner. We have two shampoos in the closet but no conditioner. What is with this madness?" Made me laugh.

Then this morning I found we only had two partial rolls of toilet paper in the house! Yikes. Time to go to the store again. When my husband heard I was going he said he needed deodorant. Now it seems I had a list of things to get.

I stopped by Walmart to purchase the above items in addition to counter cleaner and toothpaste. I did buy more than one of several of the items. I had two coupons which reduced my expense by $3. I spent $53.13. I used one of the $50 gift cards we earned with our Southwest Rewards card. So just a little out of pocket. I will get that $50 sent off to the mortgage this week.

The toilet paper I wanted to buy at Walmart had three different sized packages, 12 rolls, 20 rolls and 27 rolls. I noticed the signage on two of them had a graphic stating "Low Price". I did the math on my phone calculator, the lowest price per roll was on the 20 roll package. This was the one with out the "Low Price" sign. I just thought that was interesting. Apparently, Walmart knows they can sway purchases to higher priced items by putting these signs up. I will say the package I bought was probably $2 cheaper than I pay at Target. That part is a little annoying.

It was nice to stock up on a few things knowing that once I spent that money on the gift card it was heading to the mortgage. What kinds of things do you keep heavily stocked in your home?

Slow Month

September 16th, 2013 at 01:02 pm

The month and time are actually going fast, but it seems my snowflakes are slow to accumulate. I did get my Pinecone payment today, so that and my last cash from Swagbucks are being transferred to our bank account. I will get to make an extra mortgage payment soon.

It doesn't seem there is much activity financially. I paid all the bills and sent in the catch up payment on our mortgage escrow account. I attempted to enroll my daughter in Driver's Education, but the class was full. She is number four on the waiting list, so for now I have saved $375.

We still have not spent even $1 using those gift cards we received with our Southwest Rewards. I do like looking at that stack though! So shiny. Smile I could use a new hair dryer from Amazon, as I see mine has melted in some place from the heat. That can't be good!

Markets were up today, so I hope to record our retirement totals. When the market is down I tend to ignore the recording. I just like to see a consistent move up I guess!

So nothing too exciting financially here. Today seems to be a no spend day!! Who doesn't like those, right?

A little sparse

September 14th, 2013 at 11:51 am

Food pickings are getting a little sparse here at our house. We've all managed to find something for lunch. We will have pasta with sauce for dinner, with a side salad. I think we may make biscuits too. I think we have enough for breakfast as well. So my goal is to get to the grocery store before lunch tomorrow morning. I hope to make the list this evening. And browse for coupons in the morning.

It will be a no spend day here. I'm watching football and getting some cleaning done between commercials. I also had a painting project to work on earlier. No cost for that as all the supplies had been purchased prior to today.

We will head out later today for a photography field trip. My daughter is taking photography this year, so we'll have lots of trips out to get some required shots. Might need to see if we can find some sculptures around town. A good way to learn some more about our new city. At least it is free!!

I earned a $5 gift card at Target the other day and I was going to use it and save the cash as a snowflake towards towards the mortgage. Yesterday, I went back and bought Kleenex on clearance for my sister's classroom. I had the gift card for $5, three coupons totaling $2.10, my cartwheel coupon for 5% off and 5% with my Red card. I probably paid less than $2 out of pocket for 8 boxes of Kleenex! I love it when I can get deals like this. And of course, this helps out my sister. I told her about the deal so she might be able to find the same deal and stock up even more.

Any good deals this weekend for you? Or were you able to have a no spend day?

$500 Gift Cards Arrived!!!

September 13th, 2013 at 11:05 am

A large white envelope was dropped in our door by UPS this morning. I wasn't sure what it was and it was address to my husband. I texted to see if he knew what it was. He didn't but said I could open it.

Gift cards!!



These are the gift cards we redeemed from our Southwest Rapids Rewards credit card bonus. We received the following:

$25 Panera
$100 Walmart
$200 Kohl's
$200 Amazon.com

Why do I now feel like shopping?! Anything thing I use these for will need to be backed up by cash I send in to the mortgage to pay down the principal.

When I drove by Walmart earlier today, I realized I may be able to use the gift cards there for gas. Maybe. Haven't done this before, so it may or not work. Anyone used a gift card at Walmart to purchase fuel?

I'll keep you updated on the progress of using these rewards. It could take months, or not. We'll see.