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Archive for June, 2015

June Snowflake Totals

June 30th, 2015 at 06:33 am

June was the least productive month for accumulating snowflakes so far this year. I'm not complaining. I will take any snowflakes I can get!

I'm pretty happy about earning those Ooma referrals since they make up the majority of the June snowflakes. I haven't actually used those yet, but I will! All other snowflakes went to pay down the credit cards.



I'm hoping soon I can start saving the snowflake money to help out with college expenses. I'm sure there will be some that will be a bit unexpected!

Did you total up your snowflakes or extra money found for June? What did you do with yours?

Paid Miscellaneous Bills

June 29th, 2015 at 07:56 am

I paid some miscellaneous charges on different credit cards this weekend. No interest was charged on any of these...because I don't EVER pay interest on credit cards. Smile

Kohl's $44.48
Chase $8.54
US Bank $47.34
Target $305.25
Citi Govt $22.23

I also used snowflakes to pay $24.88 on our Citi Thank You card. I have around $560 left in our checking account to apply to recent purchases on both Citi cards. Once I figure which amounts should go to which card I will make those payments. Paying off current charges or any debt for that matter feels good!

We went grocery shopping at the commissary on post this weekend. I will say it seems prices are better there. I wouldn't have believed it after seeing prices at the Post Exchange which I think are inflated. For example a tub of butter I had been buying back home for $5.69 was $4! I bought turkey bacon (Oscar Meyer brand) for $1.50 that I would have easily paid $2.25 for previously. The commissary does add a 5% surcharge to help pay for future buildings and locations. We also need to tip the baggers (hate this part). Our tip was $3. Despite these extra fees, the total bill seems significantly less. I love that!

We are really close to post right now, but it will be a 20-25 minute drive from our rental home. Of course, my husband is on post every work day. I can get him to pick things up. I expect though we may shop here for most things if we can. I just need to have a lot of $1 bills on hand for tips, as well as plan well for our needs so I don't have to be making a lot of trips.

Still waiting on the reimbursement from the Army. I do hope the money arrives this week!

Vague Specifics

June 28th, 2015 at 07:28 am

Yes, I do get the title is one of those oxymorons! I need to get some thoughts on paper about our savings and credit card debt. We are still waiting on reimbursement from the Army that will cover some of our credit card debt.

Currently, we have about $5500 on two credit cards. We just surpassed $3K on our newest card, Citi Prestige. We will get 50,000 Citi Thank You points that we can redeem for about $500 in gift cards. The rest of the debt is on our other Citi Thank You card.

We will need to pay the Citi Prestige in full when the statement closes. I think we have until very August to pay it, which I don't expect to be a problem. The Citi Thank You card is still on 0% interest through September. We will also pay it in full before any interest is charged. You won't see me paying ANY interest.

The cash we are expecting from the Army is about $5500. How good is that? There may be more if we can get our apartment complex to give us a daily itemized receipt for the first 10 days of our stay. I'm not sure it is going to happen, but we will keep trying.

I also went back to see how much money we took from savings during this process of selling and moving. Approximately $4800! Nearly $2900 was for a deposit on our rental home and rent for the first month. I have to keep reminding myself of that because it seems like so much money! I will be paying ourselves back for all this cash outflow as soon as possible. If I don't repay the actual deposit I'm not too upset on that since I expect we are good renters and able to get most of that back when we move on.

Oh and we are still expecting just over $2K from our escrow account. That should help get us back to where we were several months ago. Smile

I seem to just need to keep convincing myself it is all okay. It' a little nerve racking to know we have $5500 on credit cards and are down $4800 in our savings. I suppose technically our savings is up because of our house proceeds, but I kind of think of that as separate. I wasn't borrowing cash from our home equity when we owned the house, I don't want to be borrowing from it now either.

Specific enough, or still vague?

$100 Snowflake

June 26th, 2015 at 04:50 am

I've mentioned Ooma many times on my blog. It's our VoiP (Voice over internet Protocol) home phone line. We pay about $4 a month in Federal Taxes for the service. Ooma often has promotions where I can offer my referral code to others and if they sign up I get $20. I can refer up to five people each time. And this last time I did just that. I now have a $100 credit on our USAA credit card!

I will use the credit to pay some of the last bills from the house. I think I still have water, electric and gas to pay. These will exceed $100, but at least I have some assistance!

I consider this a snowflake or found money. In the past I have used these to accumulate cash or pay off debt. I don't have a current place that I am funneling these funds, but they will all help get back on track after all this spending with the move! And I'm still keeping track of the snowflakes I have earned for the year.

Who else has Ooma? Did you get a chance to refer anyone to the service during the last promotion?

Stocks Estimated to Earn 6% This Year and More

June 25th, 2015 at 07:46 am

I saw

Text is this article and Link is http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/25/investing/stocks-markets-2015/index.html
this article over at CNN. Stocks for 2015 are expected to earn about 6% this year. That is less than last year by far, but I'll take it. Any growth is good!

I cancelled our newspaper subscription in May and was told to expect a refund. I checked on it at the beginning of June and was told it would go back to the original credit card, which I realized was closed. Then they indicated a check would be cut. I now know the check has been issued and mailed to our old address on June 17. I guess it will be forwarded! Hoping it arrives soon, so I don't have to keep tracking it.

Verizon needed to verify my husband's employer in order to keep providing us the 15% employer discount. Usually providing the work email does it, but the military has such high security standards that didn't work. The other option was to submit a paystub (with income and ssn crossed out). I thought I did it before we moved, but could find no confirmation. I uploaded it again this week, and today we received confirmation that they were able to verify the employer and we qualify for the discount. Can't remember how much that ends up being, but it all counts!

My husband checked about the Temporary Lodging Expense. The receipt we had doesn't qualify. It isn't billed daily and it cannot say lease on the receipt. We are inquiring with our property manager about providing the bill in the way the army is requesting. If not, it's not the end of the world, but a little help paying for this temporary apartment would be nice.

We might go to the beach this weekend. It's just under two hours away. It would probably be a day trip. We won't go if it is too hot like it has been or if it will be too rainy. I'll need to really be careful about putting on sunscreen. I must have missed some spots when we went to the pool the other day...I'm burnt!

I was notified by email to activate my 5% off categories for the third quarter on our Chase Freedom Card. It's gas stations and Kohl's. I also choose my categories for our US Bank Visa. I picked 5% for furniture and cell phone and 2% for restaurants. Not sure if we are going to be buying furniture, but it is a possibility so might as well look for a little more of a discount!

Are you okay earning just 6% on your investments this year? Do you get an employer discount on your cell phone bill? Do you have any cards you need to make sure to select or activate rewards for next quarter?

Mortgage Paid In Full

June 23rd, 2015 at 04:37 am

I logged on to our mortgage account this morning. It's Paid In Full! In fact, I get a little interest back of $15.94. No mortgage debt for the near future seems pretty nice for now. We'll see what I think after living in a rental home for couple months!

I did check with our mortgage company and they said it will be two weeks before they start processing the escrow refund, which takes three days, and then 7-10 days to receive the check in the mail. So easily three weeks from now before we get the check. The full amount I'm expecting is $2054.93. I'm sure I can find something to do with that money!

Waiting on Reimbursement

June 22nd, 2015 at 06:25 am

My husband filed our travel voucher for our trip to our new town on Friday. We will get 23 cents per mile for our just over 1000 mile trip. This covers fuel.

We will get a per diem (a flat fee) for hotel and food expenses. My research says this will be about $875, but my husband things slightly more.

We should also get funds to cover moving about 1100 pounds of household goods in our van. My guess is that is around $1000 right there.

The military doesn't pay for selling a home like corporations sometimes do. Everyone always seems surprised by this. The military doesn't really support purchasing a home simply because moves are so frequent. The military does provide a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) and it is based on rank and if you have dependents. Our allowance will be $3,453.76. Crazy odd number huh? Not sure where they get these numbers!

There is a potential that we could get some funds to cover a portion of our rental apartment. This is called Temporary Lodging Expense and covers up to ten days. We aren't sure if it is only for hotels though. I'm also not sure if my husband has submitted this request for funds yet. And I don't know if the amount will just be ten days of our actual cost or more based on some predetermined amount. It could range from around $700 to $2900 if we are even eligible being in this apartment. Fingers crossed we could get a little bit as it would sure help!

Much of this money will pay off current credit card charges incurred during our move. This will leave us debt free. I'm also hoping there are enough extra funds to pay ourselves back for cash we used to make our rental home deposit, airline tickets and even that big repair bill on the house!

I'll report back once the funds are received and let you know the totals and how I used those funds. I'm hoping it's by the end of the week!

Botanical Garden Membership

June 21st, 2015 at 12:35 pm

We visited the local Botanical Garden in our new city. It was very nice...although super hot at 10am this morning when we visited. With our military discount, admission was $36 for four of us. I think we were there an hour outside. We decided we would visit again and decided to purchase a membership for the year. It was $75, we were able to apply our original admission to the membership. Total spent was $75, but will cover many new adventures at the Botanical Garden.

I can't wait to go back when it is cooler! Do you have a botanical garden in your town?

Heads Up on Chase Bonus Offers and Approval

June 20th, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I read on Million Mile Secrets that Chase is changing their rules in regards to being approved for new cards. This means you might not be able to get some of their fantastic bonus offers again...or at least for awhile.

Text is Here's and Link is http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/06/18/new-rules-for-chase-credit-card-approvals-what-to-do-about-it/
Here's the article, so you can read the details for yourself.

Closed on the House!

June 19th, 2015 at 02:21 pm

The closing on the house went just fine, other than a call from my realtor that the bank was asking for my account number again for the wire. So I sent her the information since the person who I sent it to before wasn't working today. Maybe that was the problem?

The wire came through not too long after closing. All funds as expected and I'm super glad I changed it to a wire rather than a check. Well worth the $20!

This afternoon I called to cancel our homeowners insurance. We will get a $21.98 refund. I guess by state law it needs to go back to the escrow account at our mortgage company. Then the mortgage company will mail us a check. Our current escrow is sitting at $2,017.01. I'm going to use some of this money to cover the renter insurance policy that is now due. It's only around $300 if I remember. We might get a little interest back too depending on which day the loan is actually paid.

It feels good to have that transaction done!! It feels odd to not own a home, but once we are in our rental house I may not care since we will at least be in a home. Smile

The Big Repair

June 18th, 2015 at 02:31 pm

I've mentioned we had a big repair to do on our home before we could close. The buyer found mold growing on the ceiling of our unfinished basement storage room on the same day they saw our home and made their offer. Once we accepted the offer they told us about the mold they saw and wanted to make sure we would remedy it. Sure no problem. If we had been aware we would have taken care of it prior to putting it on the market.

It seems the consensus is it resulted from construction materials that were likely left out in the rain too many times before being put on. One board would have it but the next one would not. It was a bit odd really.

The problems really started when the buyer requested to bring his mold guy in to look at. The buyer, mold guy, my agent and I all met just under a week after the offer. The mold guy talked about his method to mitigate which was to test the type of mold, to use a mold killing agent, a white paint to seal the wood. The mold guy also suggested drilling into the ceilings of our finished basement to see if the mold continued. The buyers biggest issue was to make sure the mold was mitigated before they occupied the space and that they wouldn't need to disclose it to their buyer when they sell.

The bid came in and was a bit vague about costs, particularly those that had to do with investigating further into the finished areas. We didn't want to go that far as it seemed unnecessary and over the top to be drilling for mold that wasn't likely there. If the buyers wanted that work then we suggested they pay for it, and could even witness and control how far they went and it could be done before we closed.

Let's just say our negotiations at some point came to a standstill. We couldn't get them to agree to anything we threw at them. Their agent wasn't communicating with our agent or the buyers. We were technically out of contract at one point because they didn't sign in time. We were out of contract for SIX days!!

What fixed everything was that we decided to call another mitigation company, Service Master. We knew we would need to get the work done if we were going to put it back on the market, which is where it seemed we were headed. We got someone to come out and bid the job the same day we called(a Friday). The price was within the limits we were willing to pay, in fact slightly less. The work could start on the following Tuesday be done on Wednesday. Then an air quality test was done on Friday. We had our results on Tuesday and the air quality was passing!

I guess I should back up a bit. Service Master's bid was to use a mold killer (hydrogen peroxide), then seal with a clear coat, steam clean the room, run air cleaning fans and run an air quality test. No drilling of holes in our drywall! Service Master was very confident in their method and felt it would pass the air test the first time. So we sent yet another proposal, that we would treat the mold per SM recommendations and provide a passing air quality test as soon as available. The buyers wanted us to state we would cover any additional treatments necessary. We agreed to state that because we felt so confident the first fix was all that was needed. And it was!

Looking back, the real problem was that the buyer seemed to want their hands in picking the mold person, although he did tell me any mold remediation company would be fine. I did at one point call to get other estimates including Service Master who said there would be a $250 fee. I thought at the time, I'm not paying more when I have one bid for free. The fee would have been taken off if we had the work done by them. The mold guy the buyer chose was nice, but wishy washy in his bid, his time frame and at one point seemed to indicate he couldn't even get to the work in time for closing. It just got bad in so many ways!

Really, if we are paying for any work on our home before closing we should also get to choose who we are having do the work. The first mold guy should never have come out and I think things could have gone a lot better. We did offer cash to have the buyers do the work, but of course that was a no because they didn't want the work done while they owned the home because they would have to disclose. Ethically, since they know about the mold I feel they should still have to disclose. My agent says no.

I also found out our state has no laws regarding how mold should be remediated, no air quality standards, and even the health department indicated black mold (which this was not) wasn't any big deal and could just be cleaned up with bleach! So interesting.

There are way more details and drama I could tell, but it's too exhausting. We did take care of the mold it was handled by a professional and it was done in time for our originally closing date last Friday.

Our cost for the mold remediation: $2,854.72. Yep, that's one big repair bill! We put it on our Citi card to earn the rewards. Today, I paid nearly all of it off, I sent in $2,714.14, which was the amount I saved up for the repair. I was just a little short. I will likely pay the rest tomorrow with the house proceeds. Smile

And the mold was the reason I left the AC running and set for 80 degrees when we left. I couldn't chance that the home would be getting too humid and cause another issue with mold. The cost has to have been minimal as the temperatures have been cooler there in the last week. The buyers did their walk through last night, and I haven't heard that anything was wrong so I expect closing to go super smooth tomorrow. Smile

Requesting a Wire

June 17th, 2015 at 05:14 pm

I decided today that the proceeds from our home sale needed to come by wire rather than an overnighted check. We're in an apartment temporarily and I figured FedEx would probably drop it at the office and then I would try to have to catch someone working to get the package. Too much to worry about. I also didn't like the idea of depositing such a large check into an ATM, or mailing the check to a branch since that is really our only option. Well, there is UPS deposit, but it isn't clear if there is a limit on the amount of the deposit. And I can't mobile deposit since the limit is $10K.

Turns out it should only be $20 to wire the funds and they will be in our account on Friday! That is less than having it overnighted by Fedex to our current location (at least that is what the realty company would charge). I was able to get the wire instructions right off the bank website and sent to the escrow service.

The escrow service also asked for our forwarding address to provide to our mortgage company. They will need it to send the excess of our escrow account and possibly any overage of interest paid. I'm looking forward to getting all this cash!

We will be debt free after I get the current credit card charges paid off...hopefully by the end of the month. Maybe before. I need to do some calculations so I'm clear where all the money is coming from and where it is going. I don't want to fritter away this equity money on things that weren't house related. Of course, I'll tell you all about that later!

We should also be getting reimbursed for our moving expenses. My husband is back to work, but hasn't had time yet to submit our travel expenses. That should be a chunk of change too. Smile

Closing News

June 15th, 2015 at 06:39 pm

We have already left our home and are now parked in a furnished rental apartment in our new southeastern town. Can I say it is terribly hot here? It is hot!!

We just heard that our house sale will close on Friday! This is just one week after our original planned date. Not too bad considering how late the buyer's lender received the purchase agreement and got started on their loan.

I'll update more later...just wanted to share the good news!

Report: Cats Traveling Well

June 12th, 2015 at 05:34 pm

Wow! Our cats are actually doing REALLY well in the car on our trip east. They have been in the car about 6 hours all together. One we barely hear a peep from, the other who is super loud anytime she is in the car is so much quieter and even sleeping!

I'm guessing the anti anxiety medicine the vet prescribed is really working! It's a transdermal med (specifically called Amitriptyline) that I rub on the skin in their ear each day. They are on day five or six now. I think I paid $12 for each of them. So worth it!!

The vet also gave me Feliway wipe samples. I wipe those on their kennel each morning. So that could be making a difference too.

We left their kennels out for the last several weeks with the doors off and installed a piece of carpet in the bottom. They have spent time in them off and on. And over the two previous days they hung out in them in our bathroom while movers were packing and loading. I think they have come to see them as a safe place. Smile

So it's all good and peaceful on our trip and I couldn't ask for a better experience for them as far as the car ride goes.

As for the hotel, one cat just has to hide. Currently she is under a recliner chair in our hotel room. The other cat is sitting on the window ledge looking down from our eight floor hotel room. I feel bad the one seems so afraid, but she did eat some tuna I offered earlier so she is likely fine and will settle in once we are at our corporate apartment in a couple days.

I'm pretty sure I will be sending an email to our vet to let him know that his advice and care for our cats during our trip was spot on!