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Archive for January, 2014

A New Savings Approach

January 31st, 2014 at 02:28 pm

I wanted to give you a heads up on a new savings approach I read about today on The Simple Dollar. It's called $4 Per Gallon Savings. The link is on http://ourmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/another-emergency-f..., or you can search for it on your favorite search engine. I haven't decided if this approach is something I will incorporate yet, but definitely an interesting way to establish an emergency fund.

I also wanted to mentioned that I changed our withholding from 9 to 8 this week. I did this because we owe $413 this year, and we expect my husband will be getting a raise in several months. As a result more income taxed with similar deductions, means more tax owed! We might as well be close to getting it right rather than owing a large amount. I don't mind owing, just not thousands of dollars! The IRS withholding calculator and the calculator I used on Paycheck City came up with the same result.

My http://creditcardfree.savingadvice.com/2014/01/31/january-sn... is my final tally of snowflakes for the month of January and the amount of principal we paid on our mortgage last month.

January Snowflake Total

January 31st, 2014 at 10:11 am

I was hoping I could write that this month was my largest snowflake total ever. But it isn't. It is the second largest total since I began recording in 2012. I accumulated $725.45 in cash from non-income sources. Credit card rewards definitely made a difference this month. This is 18% of my $4000 goal for the year. Here where that money all came from:



As promised, I put all this money towards paying down our mortgage. As a result we have less debt! Our mortgage balance is down $1,276.53 for the month. This represents 9% of our mortgage goal for the year, so we are ahead of schedule. Love it!!

I think quite a few of you were going to track your snowflake earnings this year. Do you have a total for January? It's not too late to start keeping track and looking for those snowflakes.

Mortgage Plans and Thoughts

January 30th, 2014 at 05:24 pm

Our regular mortgage payment is $1,311.28. This includes property taxes and homeowner's insurance. Because our housing allowance increased by $102 per month this year, I am adding it to our regular monthly payment to be pulled automatically each month. That makes the payment $1,413.28. But wouldn't it be more fun to round that payment up to $1,415? Yes, it would!

I canceled our original payment on Wells Fargo today. I have to wait until tomorrow to set up a new automatic payment. Their rule. While I was on the site, I went ahead and made a one time payment for tomorrow. It was for $1,418, which is our regular payment for February, with the additional principal and a $3 Pinecone survey payment.

Tomorrow I will get the new payment set up to start on March 1. If I can I will make another automatic payment for mid month for an additional $275. Yep, we really are planning to send in more each month towards principal. I'm not very confident that I can do the second automatic payment. If I can't I will simply set the payment up manually each month. I have a plan to get that mortgage principal paid down!!

Are you paying extra principal on your mortgage this year? Do you have a plan to make it happen?

Snowflakes are Coming

January 29th, 2014 at 01:33 pm

I requested my $3 Pinecone survey money to be moved from Paypal to our checking account. It probably won't arrive in my bank account until Monday, but I'm going to count that one for January.

I did my sewing project and ended up not using one of the rolls of thread. I will return that soon, which will put just under $4 back in my pocket. My sewing project will net me about $35! (My client was my mom.)

I received the email from Ebates offering my earnings in the form of Amazon credit. This was tempting as I was about to make a purchase there, but I refrained. I decided that the purchase on my credit card would benefit me more since I'm working towards a bonus reward. The Ebates will be deposited in my Paypal account on Monday. I will be getting $29.35 back!

I'm getting close to earning another $25 in cash from Swagbucks. I made goal for the first 21 days of the month, but have decided to spend my time better this last week. I have been on everyday, but I have not always met the goal. Anything extra is great, but I do need to watch that it is not hogging my time from other important activities.

So it seems I have plenty of little snowflakes showing up soon, most of those will be counted in February. I will update my final January total on Friday. Do you have any snowflakes on the horizon?

P.S. I wrote about some frugal inactions over at http://ourmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/frugal-inactions.ht... today, if you like that kind of thing!

Quick Money Thoughts

January 28th, 2014 at 04:35 pm

My husband received some travel money today. I sent $135 to our credit card to cover some of the charges he made there while traveling. The card does have a balance of nearly $815, but I think rewards will post on February 10 for over $500. I will pay a little more, maybe $265 on payday this Friday. All the spending there is in control.

I'm going to be purchasing some items on Amazon tonight. Vitamins for the girls, and Lysine for the cats. I regularly buy these online and with Amazon Prime they will be here in about two days! I am also going to purchase a light box to help with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I think several of us in our household could benefit from more sun type light. Worse case, I sell it used on Ebay.

Only spending today was $20 flute lesson, and mailing a package to my sister for $2.50. I almost ran to the store for more taco seasoning and sewing machine needles. I ended up just using LESS seasoning and finding another needle to try that seems to be working so far. I'm happy that I didn't need to spend on those things.

I'm in the middle of sewing some napkins for a client. Once I'm done, I might have more time to blog. I'm hoping that is tomorrow.

Another Post for Today

January 27th, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I mentioned that I activated my US Bank credit card today and already charged our wireless phone bill. When I wrote that post it reminded me of another post I had seen somewhere about how stay at home parents/partners can get credit cards. I suppose someone out there has been wondering about this....am I right?

I wrote a little bit about that on http://ourmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/yes-stay-at-home-sp... today, but the original post I was remember is at http://millionmilesecrets.com/2014/01/09/stay-at-home-partne....

The more you know.... Smile

Estimated to Owe

January 27th, 2014 at 07:45 am

I worked on our taxes this weekend using FreeTaxUSA. Right now it looks that we will owe $413 to the Federal government. We are exempt from state taxes in our state for military pay, so we don't owe or receive anything back.

This is the first year in a very long time where we are unable to itemize our deductions. We were about $1000 short. I guess it is good news...we get a higher deduction than we 'earned' so to speak.

I'm still waiting on 1099Rs from Fidelity for the rollovers we did earlier this year. These will not change our taxes owed since the rollovers are in tax deferred accounts. I just need the numbers to report correctly.

I won't be in to big of a hurry to pay the government, but knowing me I won't want that 'debt' hanging around until April 15th either! Smile I might consider paying the fee imposed to pay the amount owed with our credit card since I know we will get that money back in bonuses. Depends on if I need the payment to meet a goal. I estimate the fee would be between $7 and $10, depending on the service we use.

Speaking of credit card bonuses. I need to double check, but I'm pretty sure we have met our $3000 in spending on our Chase Sapphire card just this weekend. I activated a US Bank card today and paid our Verizon wireless bill with it. That payment already meets 34% of the spending we need to get $125 bonus.

I'm hoping we can stay frugal through the week and keep our spending low. I don't think we will need much of anything, but with three other people in this household I just never know!

Do you know where you stand with your tax return yet? Owe or refund? Any frugal plans for the week?

Spending Yesterday

January 26th, 2014 at 07:16 am

We went out yesterday to run some errands. We bought groceries for the week. Picked up a gift. Bought those books of stamps I mentioned yesterday.

My last purchase for the day was buying season five of a television series we are trying to catch up on. We stopped at Walmart and saw it was available for $29.96. I just couldn't spend that much! I ended up bidding on a brand new copy on Ebay. I won. And paid $9.50 which includes free shipping. That is a huge savings for waiting for something we want.

I thought we did some frugal things yesterday, too. I wrote about those on http://ourmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/todays-frugal-habit... last night. I'm always interested in frugal habits of others, so share what you did yesterday that was frugal.

Postage Increasing Tomorrow

January 25th, 2014 at 07:00 am

One of the things on my list today is to buy postage stamps. We don't really mail that many things, but I would guess we still go through about three books of stamps a year. I don't mail any bills, so most of those stamps are used to send cards.

The price of postage increases tomorrow from $0.46 to $0.49 for a First Class letter. This is just over a 6% increase. I like the idea of saving 6% on something I will use anyway this year.

I'm going to stop by the customer service counter at our local grocery store and pick up three books and charge it to our credit card...since any spending gets us those bonuses!

If you make a purchase of stamps today, make sure to get those Forever stamps, so they will be useful for you tomorrow and beyond.

How many stamps do you think you use each year?

Tax Forms Rolling In

January 24th, 2014 at 09:59 am

The military pay site is having some issues with all the traffic in the last two days. W2's were released for three branches of full time employees. Everyone wants their information at the same time. I finally got in and was able to download my husband's W2 and his January earnings statement. I wasn't quick enough to get his TSP rate changed to 8%, so that isn't effective until next month.

I expect to start working on taxes this weekend. I'm pretty sure we will owe taxes this year. Not more than $500. It might be time to actually change our withholding. Since our daughter turns 17 in 2014, I don't think we will get the tax credit for her next year at this when we file. I need to that into account now so we don't owe more next year.

If you are wondering about how to handle your refund or how to calculate your withholding for your situation, you might want to read my post on http://ourmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/tax-withholding-cal... today. Sorry if my post is a little harsh at times. I just really want everyone to succeed financially! Really. Smile

Do you have your W2 yet from your employer? When will you start working on your tax return?

My Ooma: Free!!!

January 23rd, 2014 at 06:43 am

We paid $99.99 for our Ooma Voip Telo system in October. It is normally $149.99 on their site, but we took advantage of a referral sale for $50 off. Ooma has this offer again, which I wrote about several posts back.

I posted my referral code here, on Ebay and on a few coupon sites. Five people have purchased an Ooma using my referral code. I will receive $20 for each of those referrals...which if you did the math that is $100. That makes our Ooma unit FREE. I like free.

Thanks for all of those that used my referral code. It may still be good for you to use, but I don't expect I will be getting any more cash for referring you. Ooma indicated there was a five referral maximum.

I like that I can get cash for referring people for things I use and would refer people to anyway. I have referred people to Capital One 360, iHerb, Ooma, Ebates and Swagbucks. I'm not sure how much I have made this way...probably less than $300.

Have you made money referring friends, family, blog readers or strangers to a company? Who do you refer people to? How much do you think you have made this way?

Paid In Full

January 22nd, 2014 at 02:21 pm

The exciting news here today is my husband is home from annual training! He was gone nearly three weeks. It was nice to just hang out at home together. Smile

The second most exciting news is that the payment I made to the American Express card posted. That account is now paid in full and shows a zero balance. While we didn't need to pay this debt in installments, and luckily didn't pay any interest, it is nice to know that $150 of our monthly cash is available for other things!



As I often say, I like less debt! Smile