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Archive for February, 2014

February Snowflakes

February 28th, 2014 at 10:17 am

I found $638.04 in snowflakes for the month of February. No complaints, however, I did notice it was less than last month by over $84. But I had many more rebates last month. All the money went to pay down the mortgage principal!

As of this month I am at 34% of my goal for the year, which is $4000 in snowflakes. Or money that is not earned from my husband's paycheck!

Here's where all those snowflakes came from:


Did you track your snowflakes this month? How did you do? What did you do with your snowflakes?

I wrote a post on

Text is Our Money Blog and Link is http://ourmoneyblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/pay-day-thoughts.html
Our Money Blog about some of my thoughts for this pay day, if you are interested.

Snowflake, Repair & College Thoughts

February 27th, 2014 at 08:10 am

The Swagbucks and Pinecone snowflakes arrived in our checking account. Is it me or is Paypal getting quicker at sending money? I have already scheduled this $28 to go to the mortgage principal. Less debt!!

So that washing machine part arrived today. I did a load yesterday and no leaking occurred after. Well maybe a slight drip or two. I'm doing another load now. I wonder if all that dripping the other day was a fluke? I don't want to spend time and money replacing the part if it isn't necessary. We won't get to the part replacement until this weekend, so I have some time to contemplate it.

We are making plans to visit a college in another state over spring break. My daughter has some interest in it. Since she is a Junior this year, it is time to start looking. I attended this institution for two year but transferred to another city, same state and university system to complete. A little looking shows that my graduation, her ACT score (29) and GPA (4.0) might make her eligible for a large scholarship that would easily reduce tuition to the in state amount. My husband also has Post 911 GI bill benefits that could be used for her as well.

I think it would be best to use the GI bill benefits for our older daughter, as you never know when the benefit could be pulled or changed. I think it could virtually make her college cost zero. We then could transfer what we have saved in her ESA to her sister. Right now we have over $30K saved between the two of them. Our youngest daughter won't go to college until Fall 2018, so we have over 4 years to continue to save and for that money to grow.

My best friends son, who is a senior, just decided to attend a private school. His grades are high, but ACT was 24. The school did offer some grants and reductions in tuition. In fact, because they waiting awhile to decide the school actually offered MORE money. My friend and her husband will take out a parent PLUS loan and their son will take out the maximum student loan allowed of $5500. I think that makes their portion around $20K for ONE year. My friend said he will work all summer and have to apply all his earnings to reduce the amount of their portion. They are putting their son on notice that this is a one year trial basis. If he isn't accountable, they won't pay for this private college. Considering they are still paying on her husband's college at the tune of over $600 per month, I'm amazed they are taking on more debt. Although I shouldn't be. They finance EVERYTHING! But they do both work full time and also have part time work as well, so they do seem to make it work.

We expect my husband to get promoted this year. I expect that extra income will help us with the college costs when the time comes. I hope this allows us to at least cash flow the room and board portion of college.

It feels good to be on track to handle college. Are you saving for your child's college? Did you help them with college tuition? If so, did you take out loans or cash flow the cost?

Sold An Item Plus More

February 26th, 2014 at 10:56 am

I sold on item on Ebay today. I'm not sure if I'm getting the profit or my daughter. It was a gift to her years ago. Seems to be a collector item. She is saving for PhotoShop, so I think I will give the proceeds of $19.46 to her. Although, I'd love a snowflake for the mortgage.

Actually I do have a couple of snowflakes that should arrive in my bank account in a couple of days. Twenty five dollars from Swagbucks and $3 from Pinecone. I hope it is here by Friday so I can count it towards this months snowflakes!

A few purchases have been made in the last 24 hours. I ordered that valve for the washer, which has now been shipped and charged to my Discover card for $48. We also bought the newest Thor movie. I didn't know it was coming to video yet, but my husband said we were going to rent it this weekend. We own ALL the other Marvel movies, and we (they) watch them multiple times, so it makes sense to me to buy it. Unfortunately, it might not be here until Monday. We won't be renting though know that we bought it. So that was $19 I think. It was probably cheaper on Pre-Order so I wish I had known.

I thought there was something else I bought. I'm probably remembering that my husband agreed to buy from yet another Girl Scout. Another $21 in cookies. It is supporting some coworkers who have supported our girls in fundraisers, and we do like GS cookies. I told him NOT to buy Thin Mints this time around. I'm watching calories and don't need them.

I had to contact Ooma last week because they had not yet billed me for February and they were late in December, too. Today I had to call because they charged me again on Monday. Double billed for February. I guess I just need to let there system do it's thing and catch up on it's own, but when you expect to be billed on the 6th and aren't it is annoying. They did credit me for the extra charge.

I also received notice that our gas bill will be increasing from $28 per month to $50 starting in April. I was billed a similar amount last spring and summer and built up a credit thus the really low $28 bill for quite a few months. Well, with this really cold weather we have used up our credit balance. It is all fine with me. As long as I know ahead of time of the change I'm okay with budget billing and the changes that come with it.

I think that is the financial news from here. I'm looking forward to payday, as I like to do all the recording of bills and adding money to savings. Smile Do you have any utilities on budget billing? Have you been double billed for anything lately? Did you cave to the girl scouts and buy cookies? What is your favorite?

Found A Leak

February 25th, 2014 at 07:15 am

I woke up this morning to feed the cats. As I neared my laundry room I heard dripping water. I first looked at the sink. Nope. No water there. Instead it was the washer. The tub was holding 4 inches of water with more water dripping into it. I did a load of laundry yesterday early evening. I'm guessing the dripping occurred over 12 hours. Definitely wouldn't have been good if we were gone for many days! Although, after my parents had a major washer flood during their absence we actually do turn off the water to our house when we leave.

After I showed my husband, I turned off the water at the panel by the washer. Of course it stopped. My daughter thought it was time to get a new washer. She also thought a red washer would be fun! Our washer is over 12 years old if I remember correctly. But I don't want to buy a new washer!

I have been looking online and have determined the part we need is a water inlet valve. I watched one video of how to replace. It looks easy. However, I see our washer comes apart a little different. I need to find a video specific to our Maytag washer. I also see there is a universal part for about $20. However, when I look at the part for our specific model it looks different than the universal one. There is a connection pointing 90 degrees the other way. The part that seems specific to our washer is $55+. I also found this exact part USED on Ebay for $12.95 shipped. Not really sure about a used part and how long it would last, but it is better than $55!

So we do have choices. Buy nothing and simply turn water on and off at the wall. This just requires changing our habits. Buy a used part, install ourselves and hope it works for a relatively good amount of time. Buy a new part for $55 and install ourselves. We could also hire someone to install a new part for us. I would guess that would easily run us $120+. Or go with my daughter's idea and buy a new washer...which then I would want a matching dryer, too. Smile

I'm sure we will not be buying a new washer, although if we think we can not do the repair ourselves, I might be more inclined to put $120 towards a new machine. But I would wait on that. It sure isn't a need when we can turn the water off on our own at the wall, which is free.

I will be discussing our options with my husband later tonight. I will definitely be showing him the video of how to do the repair too. I don't mind doing the repair myself, but I would like his support and possible assistance if I run into a tight screw or need help lifting something.

Have you repaired an appliance yourself? What option would you take in our situation? Would you buy a used part to save over $40?

It is

Text is Swagbucks and Link is swagbucks.com/refer/creditcardfree
Swagbucks 6th Birthday today. Lots of codes and ways to earn Swagbucks. Probably not a bad day to join in on the fun! I would suggest liking their Facebook page to get help from others participating.

Using and Losing

February 24th, 2014 at 07:57 am

I'm still trying to base my eating on using things up. I ate the third of four prepared steel cut oats this morning. I added cinnamon only and it tasted fine. I have sugar in my coffee, so I don't want to be adding any more to my meal. It looks like I will need to eat soup for lunch. I made some for dinner last night. I used up a partial container of vegetable broth while I was making that. My daughter took soup in her lunch, but there is still some left. I will have an appropriate portion for lunch. I'm trying to count calories and it is a little hard to estimate on something homemade, but it is healthier for me! I will make chicken today to use up that barbecue sauce. I will also make some couscous. I have a bag of plain bulk couscous that my mom received from a friend and then passed on to me. It is taking forever to use up. We like couscous, but we usually buy prepared packages with seasoning. I can't seem to get the full flavor we are used to with the spices I'm adding. It has been a savings though since each box is nearly $2.

I'm back going to the gym. I even went twice this weekend. I am done with the weight I gained since we moved. My mantra is Do The Work. So when I don't feel like going to the gym. I just say Do The Work and know that I need to do it to get to my goal. I'm tracking calories in MyFitnessPal. I need to weigh in this today to see if I have lost weight since last week. Probably a pound or two. Why is it we want to lose weight fast when it took us months, sometimes years to gain it? Probably that crazy Biggest Loser show!! I think the weight loss journey will be a money saver too. I can't eat that much, thus I won't need to buy as much. Now if I could get my DH on board we would definitely reduce the grocery bill.

Not much actually money news. We bought groceries. We bought gas. Just the usual. No big expenses. I know there will be a need to buy spring clothes in the coming months, but for now it is still too cold for those.

Did anyone get extra motivated to use up some of their food stores this last week? Is anyone on a weight loss journey? Do you have a mantra?

Clearance at Target & Using Up

February 23rd, 2014 at 11:13 am

I went shopping at Target today, primarily for groceries. I also knew they had some toilet paper on clearance for which I also had coupons. I had two coupons, so I bought to packages. I know have 48 rolls I need to store. I also found a couple hair products we use on clearance as well. Happy to get a deal on things we buy anyway. I didn't buy extras of those though.

I ate another container of the steel cut oatmeal I prepared on Friday. I ate this for breakfast with the coffee I'm working on using up. Only two more to go! This afternoon, I used up the romaine lettuce and a ripe banana for the green smoothie I'm eating for lunch. Oh, I also added the leftover coconut water I purchased yesterday. I didn't really like it plain. I sure can't taste it in my smoothie.

My girls had pasta for dinner last night. One of them finished off the sauce. The other likes her noodles buttered. I skipped dinner as I wasn't hungry, especially for pasta. Later I made a mini sandwich where I used up the last six slices of lunch meat in the container. It was just the right amount.

Today I'm making a Moroccan Lentil soup. I will use up a half container of broth I have in the fridge and carrots. Everything else in the soup will be 'new', but there will not be any partial containers left. Yea! Later this week I planned barbecue chicken to hopefully use up the bbq sauce. I noticed some dressing in the fridge that my husband uses on a certain type of sandwich, so in another week I will buy ingredients for those in hopes that he will used up that dressing. Otherwise it will just go to waste. Besides he will be thrilled to have those sandwiches again!

Did you plan this weeks menu around items you want to use up? Do you stock up on items when you see them on clearance?


More Used Up & Ebay

February 22nd, 2014 at 08:41 am

I used up more items yesterday! I made steel cut oats in the crockpot with the last (expired two days ago) four cups of milk. I divided the batch into four servings. I already ate one this morning, too. I made a batch of boxed brownies to use up the sour cream. Crazy huh? It replaces the oil. My kids haven't seemed to noticed the difference! We ate our pizza last night along with two of the three remaining apples. I have to say those apples did help me eat less of the pizza. Smile

There are still things to use up. I'm trying to focus on those things that have been in the cupboard and fridge for awhile. Some things we always use up. Like cheese and crackers. Others like milk, not so much. We have some ground coffee we received for Christmas that we used some of and then DH declared he didn't really like it. I will use it up this week, when he is not drinking coffee at home. I plan to have a mozzarella tomato sandwich for lunch...probably today and tomorrow to use up the ingredients left over from the last time we had those for dinner. Apparently some of us are getting burnt out from eating those! Not me. I think they are yummy. Although maybe a little caloric for my diet. Frown

I have plans to put three items on Ebay tomorrow. An electronic pet, a cat toy and a series of books. I may also have a curtain panel to list as well. Worth a try to get a few more things sold. I pulled the table we listed on Craigslist last week. I had zero responses. Not even spam! I will relist when the weather gets a little warmer AND take some better pictures.

What did you use up? Is your fridge or cupboards cleaner because of the use it up challenge? Are you selling anything right now?

Updates: Using It Up & Credit Rewards

February 21st, 2014 at 09:42 am

I just ate lunch. All leftovers. I have 1 cup of tortellini soup from two nights ago and leftover roasted vegetables from last night.

Yesterday, I found a bottle of expired dressing. It was nearly gone, so I tossed it out and recycled the bottle. I ended up doing the same thing with some bottles of lemon and lime juice. One was several months expired and the other wasn't clear. It seems like we had it awhile and we aren't really using those items in cooking lately. So I didn't use them up, but it helped declutter the fridge!

I did make banana bread yesterday. I was able to use up the last of the margarine and three frozen bananas. The loaf is now in the freezer, since we didn't need more sweets to eat right now. Tonight I'm making pizza from scratch. I was going to make two, one cheese and one beef. However, my husband is going out of town, so I think one cheese pizza will cover the needs of us three girls. I will cut up a couple apples that need to be used soon to eat with it. I know that the cheese I have in the fridge will be used up when I make the pizza, too. My fridge really seems extra tidy this week. Smile

I checked the balance of our Discover cards. My husband is less than $25 away from meeting the $750 in spending. I'd like him to meet this before the statement closes in early March. All he really needs to do is buy gas and he will meet the requirement. I'm not quite as far along on my spending, as I still $459 to meet the same spending requirement. I expect March bills and fuel for my van will make up a big portion of that.

I have decided to skip the Barclay's card. I think one of us will sign up for Southwest Rapids Rewards card next. Barclay's already increased their spending requirement to $3,000. It had been $1000. I understand it is still available if we call in to customer service. Just seems like too much of a hassle. And I know I can't get DH to take the time to call either.

Is your fridge and cupboards extra clean this week from the using it up challenge? Did you find anything expired that you felt definitely needed to be tossed? Did you eat anything expired?

Ebay Sale & More Using Up

February 20th, 2014 at 06:55 am

I listed four hardback books of a series for my daughter last Friday. She sold them with a Buy It Now option yesterday. I even go the package to the post office last night. She made $36.54, which averages just over $9 a book. She's happy with the cash.

I did actually use up the refried beans and tortillas yesterday at lunch. Yummy! We did eat all the applesauce cake as well, so that is not going to waste. Our dinner was tortilla soup. There are leftovers for today. My daughter took some to school and I expect I will eat some for lunch. Smile I finished a jar of jam this morning, but another will be opened tomorrow I'm sure. It seems things are getting under control and used up in a timely way. There some egg noodles I need to find a use for. We don't usually buy them, but I used some in turkey soup and didn't need them all. Obviously I could use them with pasta sauce pretty easily. I will keep that in mind for lunch in the next week or so.

We are having chicken tonight. I think I will bake the chicken in barbeque sauce to use up that container of sauce. We are having roasted vegetables, to include carrots, brussel sprouts and red potatoes. The carrots and brussel sprouts do need to be used up! I will pour olive oil over them along with some basil, thyme, salt and pepper. I might have some onion to include with those veggies too.

I think I have time today to make banana bread. We don't need to eat it, so I will likely freeze it for later. I just want to get the frozen bananas used up. Banana bread comes in handy for breakfast when guests are here, so I know it will get used.

Keep up the great work using up your food leftovers! Anyone use up any cleaners or personal care products this week? What will you use up today?

Sign Up For Pinecone Surveys

February 19th, 2014 at 07:28 am

If you are interested in doing paid surveys for Pinecone, I have a link

Text is here and Link is http://www.pineconeresearch.com/signup/ds710.aspx
here. Pinecone doesn't provide me any incentive to pass this along. I just thought I'd share the link since they sent it to me by email to refer friends and family.

I noticed my daughter used up the salsa yesterday. Now one less container in the fridge! I ate some of the leftover taco fixing for dinner last night. I think I will eat the rest for lunch today. Although there may be more refried beans than I can eat in one sitting. Smile But I will clean up the green onions, the shredded lettuce and maybe the tortillas.

I don't plan to bake anything today as we know have banana muffins and applesauce cake sitting on the counter. We sure don't need more bake goods. I'm actually trying to watch my calories, so I will be avoiding them. I guess that doesn't help use them up if I make something else but don't eat that. I think the family will eat them though. I can freeze the muffins if needed.

Tonight I will make tortellini soup, which always has leftovers, but ALWAYS gets eaten the next day. I like when leftovers take care of themselves. Smile

Were are having a heat wave here. It will be 39 degrees here today! Happy for the melting of all the snow. Of course, a Winter Weather Storm watch has been issued for tomorrow afternoon. That means more snow! I can tell it is getting closer to spring as I see more birds and they are singing in the mornings. Our cats have noticed this too!

Will you be signing up for Pinecone? What did you use up yesterday or plan for today? What kind of weather are you having today?