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Archive for August, 2014

Over $300K

August 29th, 2014 at 08:25 pm

Our combined retirement accounts have now exceeded $300K!! Specifically, the total is $300,180.92. Nice to meet a milestone. Smile

We sure can't complain considering just over 11 years ago, in May 2003, our retirement accounts only totaled $25,742. Yep, just 11 years ago look where we were. Money really does compound and grow when invested. We have another 20+ years until we retire, so there is a lot of time to accumulate more.

Check your balances this weekend if you can, and enjoy how far YOU have come, too!

Estimating Taxes Before Promotion

August 28th, 2014 at 03:16 pm

With the new promotion and increased income, I figured I should check out where that puts us with taxes. We are still in the same tax bracket of 15%. But 15% of more is still more taxes!

I also realized and kind of knew that we would no longer be eligible to claim child tax credit on our daughter that turned 17. That right there is $1000 more in taxes than we have had in the past.

I have estimated that taxes(after the credit for one child) on our taxable income will equal $4,891. So far in eight months we have only had $2,308 withheld and withholding another $450 for four months will still put us short. I went ahead and changed withholding from 8 to 7. This will have us withholding $488 each month for the next four months. I could have made it more, but decided it was okay to keep it where it should be for next year and we will just owe the government again this spring. I expect in the end we will owe $630.

I plan to set aside $105 for the next six months for this particular debt. This way it won't be a big surprise or burden at tax time.

Each pay period we will have $440 more income after all the changes. DH and I did discuss this last night and he is all for just sweeping the money into savings knowing a move, and college are in our future. Seems like the best plan for now. We may evaluate retirement at the first of the year.

Do you evaluate your taxes anytime during the year? Or only at tax time?

New Cash Back Site...$10 For Signing Up

August 28th, 2014 at 05:44 am

I was made aware of another cash back site when shopping online. It's called

Text is TopCashBack and Link is http://www.topcashback.com/ref/organizedfriend
TopCashBack. Free to sign up, and can cash out anytime and for any amount (which is far different from Ebates).

I figured it was worth my time to sign up and get the $10 which is still showing as pending in my account. If you want the $10, feel free to sign up using my
Text is referral link and Link is http://www.topcashback.com/ref/organizedfriend
referral link. You can then advertise your referral link to your friends and family and receive $10 when they sign up.

As you probably know I will consider the $10 a little snowflake to put towards paying down our mortgage! I love these little unexpected ways to get cash. Smile

Feel free to leave your referral code in the comments after you sign up! And, if you knew about this site, how long have you been a member?

ETA: It looks like the initial $10 may stay in pending status, until you have earned $10 in cash back status from the site. But at that point, you will have $20 to redeem. If anyone else reads it different, let me know.

The Promotion Has Been Ordered

August 27th, 2014 at 05:58 am

My husband received his promotion order yesterday. His promotion from Captain to Major is effective September 1. This means a pay increase which we will see on his pay mid September.

I feel like I have been waiting all year for this! I'm sure he feels the same but for different reasons. Smile

This pay increase feels like a lot of responsibility for some reason. It is a gross increase of $1,150.20 per month. I need to figure how much more taxes we will owe, adjust withholding if necessary, decide if we should increase retirement contributions and really decide overall what to do with the increase. I sure don't want to just spend it away!

As far as retirement contributions go, we currently save 17.8% of my husband's gross pay towards retirement. Do I try to maintain the percentage, or increase the amount but not worry about the percentage of gross?

In the end, I think I will play with the numbers over the next week and try to see what feels the most comfortable. I also should talk with DH to see if he has any preferences on what to do with his hard earned money! I think he will opt to save it in some way and we have discussed that previously.

As I finish writing this, I had the idea that maybe the entire increase (minus taxes) will get saved, but just among various places. Retirement, regular savings, and maybe a taxable investment. A little to each of those may feel good.

I'll let you know what we decide and how it will look. If you had a large increase in income what would you do with it?





SA Selling Challenge August Update

August 26th, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I know I'm the one that suggested this selling challenge on Saving Advice, but I'm sure getting off to a slow start! Can I blame it on school starting last week? I have had items listed and I have sold a few. These items just aren't big profit makers for me.

In the entire month of August I put $44.83 back into our pockets. I mean I'm not making a true profit on items I purchased and am selling used for less. I put this money to the mortgage of course. So the selling does pay off in less debt and over time, a little less interest paid!

I have an item to relist tonight or tomorrow, since I had a non paying bidder. There are still four items listed, that I may switch to auctions. Undecided. I know there are a couple books on Half.com, but those will just sit there until they sell. Although by December they will go to Goodwill if no one shows interest by the end of the year. Can't have excess clutter for too long!

Are you selling anything? Do you think sales are slow or brisk for you right now?

Lower Bills

August 25th, 2014 at 06:09 am

We received notification that the budget billing amount for our gas utility is being lowered from $60 to $42 a month. Our amount had increased this spring to adjust for high gas bills this winter. It's nice to go back to the regular amount.

I also noticed that I can pick 5% back on cell phone bills again next quarter on our US Bank Cash + credit card. I plan to do this again, as that is a significant savings on our large bill. If it becomes a regular options, I plan to stick with it!!

Really hoping to keep spending at a minimum this week. I don't expect much, unless school needs more money. I already have $20 in my wallet for the football game admission on Friday night. I might be able to save that if it ends up raining. I probably wouldn't go if that is the case. Is it bad to wish for rain to save money?!

I'll wrap up my eBay sale results tomorrow. Nothing too spectacular unfortunately. I think there is a lull in sales with school starting and Labor Day coming up this weekend. But I'm grateful for small amounts.

I will also admit I want to go shopping! There is a new Home Goods store in our town. I want to go. I probably can be strong and visit without spending. I also NEED workout pants...which I will buy if I actually find some that work. Today, I will stay in as it is raining and I have a headache.

Do you use budget billing for any of your utilities? Do you use a credit card to get cash back on a specific category?

Groceries, Gas, Apps and Herbs...Oh my!!

August 24th, 2014 at 04:40 pm

The only money spent today at our house was for groceries and gas. Husband just went to fill up his truck, so I'll say around $60 to fill it up. The groceries were from Target. I had three physical coupons, used Target's cartwheel app for other discounts, and redeemed two $5 gift cards I obtained a few days ago. The charge to my Target Red card was $113.05.

I started using the Ibotta app for additional rebates on things I buy. I earned a little cash for buying ground beef and bread today. The other day I earned a rebate for buying Kleenex tissues. I'm up to a whole $2! It will add up over time though.

I also started using Two Grand app for tracking food. It is all based on pictures, rather than counting calories. I need something new to keep my interest so I'm going to give it a try. Eating too much food is my problem right now. If I eat I'm getting some exercise, although I need more. I've had more water today because of the app, so that is a plus.

I also harvested some herbs today. Specifically, oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary. My mom purchased and planted them, but then sent them with me when they were out of town for nearly two weeks. I tried to send them back last time I visited, but she said they weren't doing as well as they were here. So I was to keep them. I used them fresh only once or twice. Today, I set most of them up to dry in bags and the basil to freeze. I will find out if she wants them now. If not, I got free herbs!

How was your spending this weekend? Have you started any new apps that you like? Do you use herbs in your cooking or baking? Do you have a favorite?

SMA is Like ALS

August 23rd, 2014 at 08:44 am

So tired this morning. I had to pick my husband up from another airport that is nearly 2 hours away. He plan landed just before 11pm last night. So glad he was awake enough to drive back. I told him to ask for mileage reimbursement from the Army because that just isn't right that I needed to drive to get him. If it had been a school night or winter driving, I would have insisted on him getting a rental car.

I completed a Pinecone survey last week, so I expect another $3 next week in my PayPal account.

I sold three items on eBay this past week. One was an auction and the buyer has not paid. Boo. The other two were small sales, but I will have that money to throw at the mortgage.

I made another Target run yesterday, as another couple school supply requests were needed by my daughters. While I was there I stocked up on Kleenex, and vitamins which earned me two $5 Target gift cards. I used the one I earned from the previous day towards the purchase. My out of pocket expense was $53. So easy to drop big money sometimes. I used a $0.75 coupon on each of the three Kleenex bundled packages and was able to earn one of those $5 gift cards. I figured out that each box came to $0.77!

I did return two clothing items to Target that I purchased last weekend. That put $30 back in my pocket before that purchase above, so it does offset some of my new spending.

My youngest daughter and I got a free hotdog and soda from our school's booster club when we went to view the end of marching band showcase. I think they should have given them to the marching band kids after. It was so hot for them.

And it seems I have now been tagged in the Ice Bucket Challenge as well by my sister. My daughter still has not done hers, so now our whole family needs to get it done. My sister did point out that

Text is SMA and Link is http://thegsf.org/
SMA is similar to ALS only in babies. Her friend's daughter died as a result and she was less than 2 years old. She's donating to both causes. I may do that as well. Smile

Hoping the weekend can be a little less spendy! But groceries will need to be bought.

Gave Some Advice

August 22nd, 2014 at 09:14 am

I had a little Facebook conversation with my niece yesterday. She is 20 and been out of high school for over a year. She did go to college in her hometown for the past two semesters. She had a plan to move to California, where her Dad lives. Oh, and she just met him right after graduation last May.

Her Facebook post was about how she was to have left to go out there yesterday, but she had now delayed the move until mid March. She mentioned she needed to save more money in order to make the move.

I'm pretty sure her parents are not helping in any way, other than one of them will drive with her when it is time to go out there. She may still be living at home, but I know I heard some talk of living in an apartment.

I responded to her Facebook post advising her to make her savings goal specific and to break it down to figure out how much she should be saving each week or month to meet her goal. I also advised to do some research about the costs involved in moving, school tuition and fees, cost of gas, utilities and deposits. In other words, I advised making an educated guess as to how much to save.

Her response was, "You're 100% right, I've just been saving as I go, but I definitely need goals."

After that little response, I wrote again to say, "Hoping to get there, just doesn't always do it." She responded that she does need to actually start planning.

I don't have a lot of contact with my niece, since she is in another state. I don't know where her parents stand financially, but I would guess it is like the average american family, with credit card debt, car debt, mortgage and a little investing. And probably a tiny emergency fund. As a result, I couldn't help myself to give a little advice.

I hope it helps her. She is very motivated to get her college degree, so I think she has the potential to make the financial goals to get where she wants to go.

Have you found yourself giving financial advice to someone you don't normally discuss such things with?

Milestone Achieved!!

August 21st, 2014 at 06:04 pm

My personal Roth IRA account has passed the $100,000 mark today! Specifically, my account balance ended up at $100,033.02. It feels good to reach that milestone and with my automatic investment tomorrow it may go even higher.

I added up the remainder of the retirement accounts and we are less than $3,000 away from meeting a combined retirement balance of $300,000. I'm really thinking we can meet this by year end unless the market drops significantly. I do know we plan to invest nearly four times the shortage amount, so you can see why I expect to meet the goal. Smile

Have you checked your retirement balances? Are you pleased with your progress for the year? What is the next milestone you are looking to reach?

Stocked Up

August 21st, 2014 at 12:32 pm

We had run out of a few items recently, so I started a list. Today, I went to our Super Target to purchase items on the list. I wandered nearly the entire store, just for fun and to see if any bargains caught my eye. I'm happy to say I arrived home with only the items on my list...well except I bought another soda! I'm being honest in hopes that I will stop my soda habit again and can be accountable here.

I purchased two conditioners, and one shampoo. Pantene brand, used $5.50 in coupons, and received a $5 gift cards. Effectively it ended up being nearly buy one, get two free. Good deal in the end.

I picked up cooking spray, yeast, a feminine product for which I had a coupon, and four packages of Clif bars, which I received 10% off when I used my Target cartwheel.

I also bought the 10 packages of Kraft macaroni, that after the promotion and discount cost me $0.43 a box. I plan to donate to school later this fall when they do a food drive.

With all those items I still spent $50! I was tempted to stock up on Kleenex, too. I may go back, since the effective cost after coupons and gift cards would make each box of tissues just $0.77. That is a pretty good deal. Smile

I think I need to buy one daughter a new mouse to use with her computer, too. She's missing some part that makes it work. I think I will use an Amazon gift card to get this item! Otherwise, I really hope that is all I need to purchase today.

Did you make any purchases this week that earned you a Target gift card? Do you stock up on toiletries, or buy them one at a time when you need them?

Wednesday Spending

August 20th, 2014 at 05:18 pm

School started today and with that plenty of forms came home. There are also things we need to buy, although a few are wants. Smile

First was another pad lock needed for my daughter to lock up her ceramics projects in a locker each day. The lock was $3.41 at Target. And I bought another soda while I was there!! Ack. Same daughter needs to pay the art supply fee of $10.50. I took out cash to pay for that. At least, I lucked out and don't have to pay the fee for the younger daughter's art class. Apparently that school has done away with the fee.

I also wrote a check for pictures for the younger daughter. I bought the same package I always do that gives me an 8x10, two 5x7 for the grandparents, four 3x5 that we give to the aunts, and the rest are those little exchange style size that we give to anyone else that might want one or to give to friends. This was $23.50. I paid with the credit card. This is technically a want, but a little bit of a need since we do traditionally buy the school photos. Ours actually turn out really good and it makes the grandparents happy.

The next check I wrote was for $36. I bought three short sleeve band t shirts with this years theme on them. We will wear these to the football games, marching band competitions, and pep band performances. Of course, later we use them to work out in or just wear around. Again, this is a want. We did skip them the first year, but enjoyed having them last year, so we are in again this year.

My youngest daughter was challenged by a friend to do the #icebucketchallenge for ALS. She will do the challenge, but I also plan to make a small donation since that is the point of the challenge in the end. More money out!

I'm sure there will be some other unsuspecting expenses popping up. It just makes me glad I didn't fall for a home decor item at Target that was 50% off for $17.48. That was enough for to cover one t shirt and then some!

Tomorrow, I need to run to Target to get some things we have run out of. I would have picked up today, but I didn't have some of the coupons with me. I need yeast, butter spray (want?), and shampoo for the girls. I noticed Kraft macaroni is on sale this week, so I may pick up some boxes to donate to school later this fall when they do their food drive. I'm trying to think ahead when I can.

Any big school expenses for you? How was your spending today? Did you not spend, when you wanted to? Have you heard of or taken the Ice Bucket Challenge?