Home > Archive: October, 2013

Archive for October, 2013

Didn't Sell the Coat, But Got Cash Anyway

October 31st, 2013 at 06:02 pm

I've been decluttering here and there during the last week. I've done the master closet, my youngest daughter's room, a few kitchen drawers and a large -need to file- file. During the process I found the receipt for the coat I have been trying to sell on Ebay. I didn't think I had it!

The coat is from Land's End. I purchased it last year around this time. My daughter was going through a bit of a rebellion stage and decided that a fleece jacket was fine for the entire winter. As a result she never wore the coat I bought from Lands' End.

Once I found the receipt, I remembered that Lands' End has a generous return policy which states: If you're not satisfied with any item, return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price. I went to Sears today (they own and sell Lands' End) and did just that. I got a nice credit of $48.22 coming to my credit card. Much better than selling at a loss on Ebay!! Thanks ebay buyers for skipping over my item the last 10 days. Smile

I will count the credit as a snowflake for November! Have you ever returned an item over a year after you purchased it? Did you know about Lands' End return policy and that they are related to Sears?

Wrap Up October Snowflakes

October 30th, 2013 at 07:44 pm

I sent the final extra mortgage payment of $55.90 to the mortgage today. That snowflake consisted of $25 Swagbucks, $6 in Pinecone survey payments, Ebates of $15.76 and Southwest Rewards of $9.14. The Ebates and Southwest Rewards were earned gift cards that I used towards a purchase today.

My October snowflake earnings came to $479.20! Wow. What a great haul. It seems much of the earnings were because we used a majority of the gift cards earned from the Southwest Rapids Rewards Visa. I did have $50 from Swagbucks and a whopping $15 in Pinecone surveys.

Here is the full breakdown:

I don't expect November will be quite as lucrative. We are not currently working on a bonus reward, so there won't be any big credit card rewards. We are going to use our USAA card this month. If we spend $1200 (which I'm sure we will), we earn a $25 gift card. We will also earn points on those dollars that should get us close to another $25 in cash. Not bad for not taking out more credit!

I'll talk more about our credit cards, the rewards and any outstanding balances tomorrow. Using credit wisely has been a money maker for us this year...and we have used all those rewards to pay down the debt that is our mortgage. You know I love LESS DEBT!

How many snowflakes did you accumulate this month? It's not a competition, so share. Any snowflakes are a good thing!!

Talk of Snowflakes

October 29th, 2013 at 05:57 pm

It is not snowing here yet and I'm okay with that. It is sunny, but expected to rain later today. I will enjoy the long drawn out fall weather!

I did receive my most recent $25 PayPal deposit from Swagbucks yesterday. There was also $6 in my account from two Pinecone surveys. I withdrew the $31 and expect that to be my final extra payment to the mortgage this month. I will complete that task when the cash arrives in my checking account.

I also received the offer from Ebates to add $1 to my total rebates if I claim it as an gift card instead of cash. I debated for a bit on this only because I do prefer cash over gift cards. With the gift card I have to spend money I would anyway and then match it with my own funds toward the mortgage. It's just more complicated. I finally decided to go for it, as I know there will be several gifts bought on Amazon for the holidays.

I'm in the decluttering phase still. I have at least 3 grocery sized sacks full of items to donate. And there was another one full of trash. This is all thanks to my youngest daughter being motivated to declutter her room a bit last night. We pulled outgrown clothes for the most part, but there was junk to toss, too. I was actually shocked she was willing to dive right in as you know how moody teens can be. I think there is likely more in there that could go, but for now this is a win!

One item found in the room declutter was a brand new pair of ballet flats we bought about a month ago. She decided she didn't like them after all. I'm glad I asked because now I have a chance to return them. They were purchased with a Kohl's gift card, so I expect I will get a merchandise credit back. I can't remember if the amount of those shoes was closer to $20 or $30. I will need to find the receipt! If I can't put the credit towards a previous purchase, then I will do a little shopping for myself. I could use socks, a shirt or two and a new purse. I don't NEED all of those, but know that a few new items would be helpful!

I'm off to declutter some more. Do you have anything you could return to the store for cash? Are you expecting any more snowflakes this month? Did you get the Ebates offer for an additional $1?

Spending And Important Question!!

October 28th, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I ran errands today. In our town, some of the stores are only available on the other side. A twenty minute drive. I try to combine my shopping when I'm over there. I was hoping to do the Amex offer at Staples where you spend $75 there and get a $25 statement credit. I was going to buy gift cards for one of the stores I need to go to...Petco. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the Amex card!!

I bought three hair products for my daughter at Ulta. They are each priced at $16. But Redken is nearly always buy 2, get one free. I also had a 20% off coupon, so my total came down to $27.39. Each bottle lasts her one month, so an average of $9+ per month.

The cats were down to their last morsels of food. I went to Petsmart since I'm more familiar with that store. I would have gone to Petco, IF I had remember my Amex card!! I spent about $40 on food that I think lasts about 2 months.

I browsed around in Micheal's craft store, but didn't buy anything. Nothing I needed, even though I saw several things I liked!!

I spent less today because I didn't use the American Express card at Staples to buy gift cards, but the offer is still good for all of November. Maybe longer.

I noticed Walmart was offering the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 4S for 97 cents in our area. I believe both were offered with Verizon. That is who we have for our cell plans. My husband and I need to upgrade soon as we are losing battery power fast these days. If we all upgrade it will cost at least $120, since Verizon charges a $30 upgrade fee. Boo. I will have to go into the store to hear more about the offer in person.

This is probably a loaded question, but iPhone or Samsung Galaxy? Which is better and why?

Ebay Listings

October 28th, 2013 at 01:10 am

The coat I listed last week on Ebay did not sell. I lowered the auction price and I'm hoping for some bites this week. I also listed 7 other items. Some of these have been listed before. This past summer I think. I will relist and lower prices all of November. If they don't sell after the end of November they are going to Goodwill.

I might get two or three more items listed on Tuesday with five day listings, so they end at the same time as tonight's listings.

I'm just looking forward to moving these items on out of our home. Why keep stuff we no longer need and want, right? I have a very small bag of items to get to Goodwill by the end of the week. I hope to add to it and take it all in on Friday.

Have you made a donation of clothing or household items this month? Do you usually get a receipt and deduct on your tax return?

Gift Card Used = Less Mortgage Debt

October 27th, 2013 at 01:20 am

We used the Panera Bread gift card we earned from the Southwest Airline rewards tonight for dinner. Dinner for the four of us was $32.25. The gift card was $25. So we still paid $7.25 out of pocket.

As promised I am sending the value of the gift card used to the mortgage. So now we have $25 less debt because we ate out for dinner!

After our dinner we went to the mall to walk around. We didn't buy anything. This particular mall is dead. On the upper level there are only three stores still open, and there are less than 15 on the lower level. There are still two major department stores. There is a plan in place to revitalize the area, but they keep getting delayed. It would be nice if it happened while we still live here!!

Do you have a 'dead' mall in your town? Did you eat out for lunch or dinner this week?

Holiday Decorations: Want or Need

October 25th, 2013 at 05:13 pm

I've been in a few conversations recently about the need to get some Halloween decorations. This is surprising to me in some ways. Is Halloween decorating a needed expense? Is any holiday spending necessary? Or do you think of them as wants.

I took some pictures of my front entry cabinet (its officially a dry sink). This is where I store non Christmas decorations.

And you will notice that the Halloween decorations do dominate over Easter and Valentines Day. We accumulated a few extra Halloween decorations a few years ago when we hosted a Halloween party for my daughters and their friends. It was fun, but definitely not necessary. I did a good job keeping the costs down and having leftover decorations for future years.

This years Halloween spending should be less than $5 for two small bags of candy. Our neighborhood is small and the number of kids coming down this way was about 10 last year. I expect it to be similar this year. We have not decorated yet, and will likely just put something out on the porch or the door, so it seems like Halloween to the kids coming to the door. I doubt much of the items in storage will even come out this year. My girls are too old to trick or treat, so this holiday is becoming more and more of a non event.

Now I will admit that I found myself pinning Christmas and winter porch decorating ideas. Last year, we had a wreath out with a red bow on a tree shaped chair. I think I may have put a container of dried branches, too. I think I have some things here at home that will I hope to not get sucked in to all the cool ideas on Pinterest.

How much will you spend on Halloween decorations? Candy? How do you look at holiday spending...want or need? Do you feel pressured by our culture or society's expectations to decorate?

In decluttering news, I pulled out my file of papers that need to be filed...I'm in the process of getting like papers together and tossing and shredding what I don't need. Here's a picture of that mess:

Travel Payment Received

October 24th, 2013 at 07:21 pm

Ironically, after I posted about the delay in the travel payments by the Army, my husband was notified he was overdue on making a payment to his government card. As a result he looked into it and found that he had routed the requests into a, to use his words, black hole. He resubmitted and it was paid today! Glad that is taken care of since he is going to start traveling again.

I used the money to pay toward the Citi card where we had some recent purchases. There is still a little bit on there...less than $100. Since I don't really want to pull from savings, I will pay that off with next week's paycheck. No interest being accrued as the charges are recent and the card does have 0% currently.

If you have an American Express card, you might look into

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this offer posted on My Money Blog. Get $25 for $75 purchase at Staples. Gift cards count, including those for other stores like Kohl's and JC Penney's! My husband and I each had it on our accounts. If I use it, I will likely buy gift cards, so that I'm simply shifting money we would use anyway. I find Staples VERY overpriced. I will stop in this weekend to see what my options are.

I haven't sold the coat I have listed on Ebay, but I did pull out some items that I hope to list on Sunday. A couple DVDs and CDs, as well as a few activity kits that are new. I did check but didn't have enough to where I would get reimbursed for shipping. I might get more cash with individual sales.

I hope to use this last week of October and first week of November to move some clutter out. Yesterday, I went through a stack of magazines(earned from airline miles) and pulled out just a couple recipes. The rest have been recycled. Some of our clutter will go to Goodwill for sure, but if I can make a few sales I will do that, too. It will be nice to start the holiday season with things cleaned up.

Do you like to declutter before or after the holidays? Or maybe both! If you are needing cash for gifts this season, starting selling things you don't need now. Don't forget to consider regifting if appropriate!!

BIG Milestone!!

October 23rd, 2013 at 08:03 pm

Yesterday, the market was up AND we made our regular Roth IRA contributions. At the end of the day, our total retirement accounts exceeded $250,000 for the first time!! Yippee!! I can't believe we made it there and I really look forward to seeing where we might be at the end of the year. At the end of last year we had just over $188K, so this milestone is amazing. It helps when the S&P 500 index is up over 22% for the year.

In other smaller money news, I recently completed two Pinecone Research surveys. I redeemed my $6 to be sent to my PayPal account. I also worked hard today to get my Swagbucks to 2500 so I could cash them out for $25 in PayPal cash. I hope to get it before the end of the month so I can apply it to this months snowflake total.

I listed a coat on Ebay yesterday. I put it up as a Buy It Now and maybe even a little high as it was only worn a couple times. I hope it sells!!

I bought my first stocking stuffers of the season today. I read MoneySavingMom on Monday and learned about $2 coupons on Lindt chocolate bars. I printed two off and made my purchase at Walgreen's this morning where the candy was on sale for 2 for $4. Thus, I only paid tax of $0.28 out of pocket!! Here's the

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blog link with offer details.

Have you reached a retirement milestone this year? Are you holiday shopping yet?


October 22nd, 2013 at 03:34 pm

In yesterday's mail we received a statement for my husband's government travel credit card. The balance is over $900, and due November 5. Generally we don't need to make payments to the card because the charges are reimbursed and directly paid by the Army. Of course, there is a process that involves submitting a travel voucher and having it approved before the funds are sent. We are now waiting on funds to be sent. And we have been waiting since several days before the government shutdown.

My husband says there is nothing he can do on his end to speed things up. So we wait and cross our fingers they make the payments by November 5th. I really, really don't want to cover for the government on that card. We will if we have to, but I don't want to!

We saw snow here this morning. It has now turned back to rain, and the snow didn't accumulate. As you can imagine, I have turned on the heat in the house. If it is cold enough to snow. It is cold enough for heat. I will wait to turn the gas on for the fireplace until at least November 1...longer if I can. Smile

Are you waiting for money owed to you? Have you turned your heat on yet?

The Not Free Couch and Loveseat

October 21st, 2013 at 06:12 pm

Our trip back to my parents house was fantastic...and fast as always. They have such a beautiful home and land that we have enjoyed for 17 years!! We took the opportunity to take family photos. I hope to use my immediate family picture for our Christmas card, if I decide to send those out this year.

The rental for the Uhaul trailer was about $83 with tax and insurance. They threw in six rental blankets for no charge. We were able to help my parents move some very heavy items to their temporary storage unit, so that was one trip. We came home with the couch and loveseat, a shop vac, a leaf blower, two bags of fertilizer, weed killer, a hoe, bug spray, a fern plant, four wall hangings, a plant stand, a hedge trimmer (that needs a battery), and a fire extinguisher!

Unfortunately, driving a four wheel drive truck nearly 500 miles while towing a trailer does use up quite a bit of fuel. My husband said we spent $160 in fuel! Yikes. Therefore, the not free couch and loveseat, plus all the other items cost us nearly $250. It seems like a lot, but we sure could not have found all those things used for that price.

We did move our old furniture set to the basement storage and it is taking up more space then I prefer. I will live with it for a little while and see if I can fit it in better down there. Otherwise, I think we need to sell it, rather than save for our daughter's future needs.

I made a snowflake payment on Friday to the mortgage company in the amount of $32.35. I love less debt!! Smile

'Free' Furniture & Social Security

October 18th, 2013 at 06:55 pm

MYTH: I don't need to save because Social Security will take care of me when I'm retired.

TRUTH: Social Security was never intended to be a person's sole income in retirement. The average monthly benefit for a retired worker in 2013 is $1,262.

I found that tidbit of information in our newspaper last weekend. I was reminded that the SSA no longer sends out benefit statements, which listed your employment record and expected benefits at different ages. This information is still available, but is now available at

Text is and Link is You can set up an account to view your personal information. It is good to check this site once a year to make sure your earnings are being reported correctly.

My husband and I are not planning on social security in our retirement, but I was reminded that without 10 years of work experience, I'm not even eligible for my own social security. If I remember right, there is a spousal/widow's benefit that would give me some benefits. Not that I'm expecting or planning on it.

We are getting free furniture this weekend. Specifically, a sofa and loveseat. My parents are downsizing from a 4000 sq ft home with five bedrooms to 1400 sq ft apartment with just two bedrooms. They are trying to sell/give away much of their furniture. Since our living room set is about 17 years old, we figured it was a deal to take a set they have owned for five years. They are giving it to us, but we are needing to rent a trailer to hook to our truck. The rental for two days is about $60, plus an extra $10 for damage insurance. We know from past experience and inquiry that our insurance does not cover rental trailers, therefore worth the cost should a major accident occur. I won't count the cost of fuel in this purchase because we would have spent that visiting them anyway. A new to us couch and loveseat for $70 is a very good deal.

We could sell our old couch and loveseat. Right now I think we have the storage space to set it aside for awhile. It could be a really good set for an apartment. And since our oldest daughter is a Junior in high school, it isn't that far off to think she might want it in a few years. She doesn't care whether we keep it or not. She said it is up to us. So we'll see how storing it goes. If it gets in the way or takes up more space then I'm expecting then we will sell it.

So are you planning on Social Security? Do you know anyone who believes in the myth above? Was your couch purchased new or used? Do you think I should save our old set or sell it?