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Archive for October, 2015

End of Month Budget

October 31st, 2015 at 07:42 am

We have $231 left in our everyday budget categories on this last day of October. My husband is going to get gas today. And after that I really don't expect any spending today. We have $35 in our wallets that should cover the admission to the final band competition this evening.

I would guess YNAB users would be encouraged to roll those numbers into the next month. I think this is how living on last months income is suppose to be built up. However, I'm playing a little catch up with some recent spending for airline and college football tickets. I'm going to move the rest into the Vacation Fund which is where I put those expenses. As a result the vacation category is negative right now. I think I can get most of it funded by the time the charge for airline tickets is due in late November.

I can at least make payments on all the other cards we have been spending money on because the money is already there in the budget to pay them. I love it! So easy to know we haven't overspent on those.

No spending on Halloween Candy this year. Or costumes. The owner of this house we are renting said to expect 200 trick or treaters! I guess since it is a nicer neighborhood people bring their kids here to get candy. I'm actually glad we have somewhere else to be!

Today is the last day of my 31 Days of Decluttering and Organizing on [url=http://yourorganizedfriend.blogspot.com/]Your Organized Friend[/url]. If you are looking for some ideas to tackle while you hand out candy tonight be sure to check out the entire series. Starting tomorrow I'm going to write about Christmas planning.

Making A Double Batch

October 30th, 2015 at 05:56 am

I'm making a double batch of chili this morning. I will keep half or at least four servings in the fridge for tonight (maybe tomorrow) and freeze the rest for next month. I have chili on the plan for November 12. Smile

I'm in the beginning stages of thinking about Christmas baking. I'm sure that seems early, but my daughter and I do like to do this each year. I'm going to brain storm options, and then get her opinion. Once we know what we will make, I will decide how much and if we will double any recipes. If we make something in November we can freeze it for closer to the holiday. The next step would then to make the grocery list for those items. I like that if I start early I can find some coupons and sales on the ingredients and know exactly how much to purchase. I can also spread it out a bit so that it is hardly noticeable on the grocery bill.

What do you make in double or triple batches? Do you do this regularly or just once in awhile?

Coupon Applied, Return & Purchases

October 29th, 2015 at 12:15 pm

I stopped by Best Buy today and was able to get customer service to apply the 10% off coupon I tried to use at the time of purchase last week. Last week they refused because they had priced matched the item. This week item is on sale for same price as we priced matched for. I did make note that if I were to return item and purchase it today they would take coupon because they were not price matching. Woman seemed to get that and took care of it. $40.67 back in our pocket.

I proceeded to go buy fuel for my van. I did buy the premium since we seem to get better gas mileage. I spent $37.09. This leaves us with just under $16 in our fuel budget through Saturday.

I realized my daughter really wasn't wearing the second pair of khaki pants to school. I asked if they could be returned and she agreed. I have a credit balance of $18.19 on our Citi card now.

And finally it was time to shop for some warm weather gear. It shouldn't get that cold here where we live, but we are going back to the Midwest and will be seeing an outdoor football game in late November...to see my daughter play and march with the marching band. We need to be prepared for the cold. I purchased one pair of long underwear pants and lightweight down coat for my daughter. After $20 of Kohl's cash, a $10 coupon, and a 25% off coupon my total was $35.29 for items that would have been over $132 if they weren't on sale. I'm thinking my daughter could actually layer her coats. Not sure what she will think though Smile

I ended up spending more than I returned or got back, but I'm still happy with the results. I wish I had thought to get gas after having the khaki's returned. I would have used that credit card! Oh, well there will be other spending at some point.

Identity Theft & Move Offer

October 28th, 2015 at 08:11 am

My information was stolen from the government along with my husband's and 21.5 MILLION other people this summer. Ironically just this week the Army posted reminders about how to avoid identity theft. As if we only need to do these things to avoid theft of identity. What about our own government keeping the information provided to them safe?

We have been given three years of credit monitoring including our daughter under 18. Not sure about our oldest daughter seems she should get it too. She may be notified separately. There is identity restoration service and $1 million worth of insurance attached to this as well in case our identities are stolen causing financial harm.

Ick. Sometimes I really do dislike the government!

Oh, and the insurance company for the moving company is offering us $1400 of the $2600 we claimed for the damage they did to our things. One of the items that is damaged the most is being denied! We can appeal. We are going to discuss tonight to determine if we will or not.

Everything that was moved was put on an inventory. The driver logs it along with current damage. He seems to have logged damage on an entertainment center that would match the area we are claiming, but I think his notes were for other damage in that same area...not the big damage we now have and didn't have before. It is really hard to prove this unless we had up close pics before, which we don't. Why would we take a close up of the corner of furniture when it wasn't damaged? It appears someone attempted to repair the area with wax, marker and spray stain. It looks awful. And I feel so mad when I think about it.

I'm working on calculating our net paychecks for next year. I won't really have all information until January, but I have the taxable portion so I should be able to roughly calculate taxes owed for 2016. I need to know this to figure the withholding necessary. I was way off this year since I hadn't figured out the tuition tax credits. The main reason I want to figure net pay is so I can determine if we can actually afford this Europe trip my daughter wants to take. It is a trip that will cost us close to $5K. It is definitely something to plan for and figure out.

Bits and Pieces

October 27th, 2015 at 07:29 am

After making the meal plan yesterday, I need to start working on the grocery list. I will start with ingredients needed for the meals and add on other items we need closer to my actual shopping trip.

My daughter lost the end cap to her flute head joint at the football game on Friday night. We looked it for it, but she was all over the school grounds that night. I found one on Amazon for this specific brand of flute. It is $8.98 with shipping. I had Citi Thank You Reward points and a gift card from Bing Rewards that I applied to it to make it zero out of pocket.

My husband received $100 from my parents for his birthday. He's applying those funds to his birthday gift(a sound bar) purchase which was over $200 after we used gift cards. My parents didn't send cash last year, so I thought they were done after sending us cash for many, many years. I need to go back to Best Buy and see if I can get them to apply a 10% off coupon. I tried when we bought it, but because they were price matching they wouldn't accept it. Now the item is on sale on their website for that amount we price matched for. So if I bought it this, we should be able to use the coupon. That coupon amounts to $37 and worth the effort I think! I let you know how that goes.

We currently have $20 worth of Kohl's cash because my husband and I bought running shoes earlier this month. A pair of jeans were also purchased. So now I need to decided how to spend our Kohl's cash. I even have a 25% off coupon and another $10 off a $10 purchase coupon I should be able to stack with the Kohl's cash. Right now I'm think of practical items: gloves, long underwear, shirts for my daughter. It seems I could get a couple of those for free or very little out of pocket.

I ordered an item from Amazon last week only to realize a day later we didn't need it. So I wrote refused on the package. Amazon has it and after I emailed said they would credit our credit card. It's only about $6, but I can put that back in the budget!

I was happy to learn from my daughter we don't owe any money to the University for this billing period. I do know she needs to put down $200 for her sophomore housing contract sometime in November.

I've already started talking to my kids about what they want for Christmas. Luckily they both have ideas! This helped me so much last year with shopping to ask early and get it done early! I'll be sharing a lot of my Christmas planning in November and December on [url=http://yourorganizedfriend.blogspot.com/]Your Organized Friend[/url]. You might want to follow along for ideas if you want to get a head start on your holiday list.

We also made a purchase of college football tickets for the three of us. We want to see our daughter's marching band performance. And we do like the games, too. Other family members are going also. Tickets cost us $255! I charged them to our Discover card. The most recent statement closed just prior so we have quite awhile before we would actually HAVE to pay the balance. I noticed there is just over $9 in rewards I can use towards the balance, too. Smile

I took two library books my daughter checked out. We kind of think they may be overdue. Library wasn't open when I dropped off. Usually we would get an email reminder. Not sure if it went to spam or what. And we are having issues logging into her library account to check. So I'm planning we owe a few dollars to the library.

I'm excited about the end of the month. We get to budget again...and pay off all these cards we have been making purchases on. The cool thing is the money is already set aside! I love [url=http://ynab.refr.cc/M52KHR8]YNAB[/url]!

Thanks for reading my random post!

Dinner Planning

October 26th, 2015 at 09:50 am

Last November, as a way to reduce holiday stress, I made a dinner meal plan for two weeks, and even went so far in December to meal plan for the entire month! It has made a big difference for our family. Primarily we have more variety in meals. If I plan moments before leaving for the grocery store, I simply think of the basic meals we like. And this is fine, except it gets boring and probably isn't as healthy as it could be.

Today I'm working on a November meal plan. I generally know what activities we have going on, so I can plan ahead for those nights where there is little time to cook. I will also skip planning for days I know we will be out of town. I've also found in the winter months, I can double up a soup at the beginning of the month, freeze the extra and have it again in the second half. Of course, there are many other dishes that can be doubled and frozen besides soups. Those are just the ones I tend to do.

Here is our plan for this week:
Baked chicken, stuffed mushrooms, side salad
Greek Quinoa Salad
Spaghetti, asparagus
Mushroom Risotto, side salad
Chicken Tortilla soup (from the freezer)
Chili (making a double batch and will freeze)

My husband has been dieting the last three weeks. He is eating less food, so I actually expect we will have leftovers of a few of those dishes. It may mean putting off the chili making a day or two until we eat all the leftovers.

I generally still grocery shop every 7-10 days. I've like having the meal plan ready to go when I make my grocery list. I can then consult the list to make my list of needed ingredients. Of course, I make sure to check the pantry, fridge and freezer for things we might have on hand or are about to run out of.

How far ahead do you do your meal planning?

Spending Yesterday and YNAB

October 25th, 2015 at 08:32 am

We spent $22 to fill our van before our trip. I would guess we have the same amount of fuel we had before we left. Luckily that should get me through the week. It seems it is also time for an oil change and other routine maintenance on my van. Will get that done in early November.

Admission to the band competition was $10 each. So a crisp $20 bill out of the wallet. They did include a program which many other schools sell for $5.

We left after my daughter performed and before the awards to eat at Subway. We spent $14 there. This was basically lunch and dinner for us.

Our final expense for the day was a trip to Trader Joe's. We bought two canisters of coffee, two pumpkin bread mixes, crackers, a red pepper spread, pumpkin butter, two frozen stuffed mushroom appetizers a cheese cake and ginger cookies. The total bill was $50. These aren't exactly items we put on our every day list, but they are some treats we like to indulge in when we get to shop at Trader Joe's. I think it has been nearly three years since we shopped at one. We already made coffee this morning and my daughter opened the pumpkin butter. I'm incorporating one package of stuffed mushrooms into a meal later this week.

All of our spending has been recorded in YNAB. My husband noticed yesterday when he recorded our Subway expense that we went over our restaurant budget. Yep. I didn't expect we would go more than once. But I did budget eating out for band competitions into the entertainment category. So the beauty of YNAB is I can adjust where this expense actually falls. I can either increase restaurants by the amount we spent (and decrease it in the entertainment budget) or change the expense to the entertainment category rather than restaurants. [url=http://ynab.refr.cc/M52KHR8]YNAB[/url=http://ynab.refr.cc/M52KHR8] refers to this as rolling with the punches when you adjust the budget based on the spending that occurs.

I have yet to start working on getting us to spend last month's income. The only way I could really do this is to start using emergency fund money to start the first month. I need to watch some more YNAB videos about that to see if I can make it work for us.

Anyone else a Trader Joe's fan? Do you buy all your groceries there or just treats? How is [url=http://ynab.refr.cc/M52KHR8]YNAB[/url] working for you? Anyone about to start a trial or make a purchase?

Road Trip

October 24th, 2015 at 05:59 am

Our daughter has a band competition out of town today. We were up early to get her ready. And that was after a late night of Friday night football. If the band does well today she won't be home until midnight! We sent her with $40 for food. Likely way more than she needs.

My husband and I will travel up to the competition. So we have the cost of fuel. And we will eat at least one meal out. I'm going to try to convince him to eat lunch before we go. Since we will be in the larger town we may stop at some stores we miss from our old town. Specifically Trader Joe's coffee is on the list. Smile

Admission to the event is $10 per adult. So there goes a $20 bill out of our pocket! I just took $100 cash out yesterday and it feels like it is being spent fast. We did budget for this though. Smile

Have a Super Weekend! If you are at home and looking for some decluttering or organizing ideas, read my 31 Days of Decluttering and Organizing posts [url=http://yourorganizedfriend.blogspot.com/]Your Organized Friend.[/url]

Donated and Sold

October 22nd, 2015 at 05:37 pm

I donated the money in my PayPal account today. The money was from snowflakes: YNAB referral money and Pinecone survey rewards. I donated to Momastery(look for the page on Facebook). I was inspired to give the $21 I earned away. You can read more about it [url=http://momastery.com/blog/2015/10/22/so-they-did/]here.[/url] Little amounts of money from many people add up. And this didn't even have to affect our budget! I was saving for something, but it can wait. I will earn more snowflakes. Smile

I sold shares from my oldest daughters mutual fund today. The market was up just enough that I didn't want to miss out. If it goes up more great, I have more money I need to withdraw. I'm paying ourselves back for covering her first semester of tuition out of our savings. I withdrew $1718 worth of shares. I will need to do this at two more times before the end of the year. I figure if I dollar cost averaged purchases, I can dollar cost average sales, too.

Are you ever inspired to donate when you least expect it?

Bing & Swagbucks Snowflakes

October 21st, 2015 at 06:00 pm

I redeemed [url=https://www.bing.com/explore/rewards?PUBL=REFERAFRIEND&CREA=RAW&rrid=_7673a2af-8938-1150-9a23-9d35cadf8233]Bing[/url] points yesterday and immediately received a $5 Amazon gift card.

Today, I ordered a $25 Amazon gift card for 2200 [url=http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/creditcardfree]Swagbucks[/url]. That, of course, has not yet arrived. I did get my 200 SwagUps for that redemption, so I'm already back to having over 200 SBs in my account.

I almost said no spending today. However, I dropped a package I paid shipping for online yesterday at the post office and they asked if I needed stamps. Yes, actually I do. So $9.80 for book of stamps.

I love snowflakes and low spend days!

I'm still writing my 31 Days of Decluttering and Organizing on my other blog, [url=http://yourorganizedfriend.blogspot.com/]Your Organized Friend[/url], if you are interested. Just ten days left!

Don't Buy It, Make It

October 20th, 2015 at 10:38 am

I came up with that title because I wanted to share that my husband finally decided to buy his own coffee to take to work and make in a machine that makes one cup at a time. Work doesn't provide coffee like some places and he can't plug in his own coffee maker like he could at some other sites. He had been buying coffee at the shop in the building for a minimum of $2.32 per day. Some days he spend up to $4.54. So for about 20 work days a month he was spending $46.40 up to $90.80. He was good about putting the transactions into YNAB for the last month, too. I think that is what put him on this new path! Smile

We bought a can of ground coffee that cost us about $7. I think one can could last him an entire month at least. But even if he needs twice the amount, we will be saving some cash.

Another thought I had on my title was regarding Halloween costumes. So many are store bought these days. And I did notice that Walmart has some VERY reasonable prices, but with a little creativity a costume can be made with items you already own, thus making the costume FREE!

I'm sure we could take this Don't Buy It, Make It title further. Do you have some thoughts on when it is cheaper to make something than buy it?

Snowflakes & Back Ordered Boots

October 19th, 2015 at 11:47 am

I received my first $6 referral for [url=http://ynab.refr.cc/M52KHR8]YNAB[/url] in my PayPal account yesterday. Much faster than the 30 days they indicated. Effectively, YNAB was only $48 rather than the original price of $60. I just need four more people to buy the software under my referral and the software will be free for us.

The Best Buy gift cards we ordered from our Citi rewards arrived on Saturday. The gift cards amount to $200 and I will record them as a snowflake. We almost made our purchase Sunday, but realized we had a 10% off coupon at home that they said might work. It seems the item we want to buy went off sale, raising the price nearly 20%. They will however, price match with Amazon.com, who still has it at the price Best Buy had last week. Sales person wasn't sure if they could combine Price Match with 10% off coupon. I'm going to try though. I also remembered that I chose Electronics Stores for 5% cash back on my US Bank Visa for third quarter. That will amount to around $10 back when I use that credit card for this purchase. Specifically we are buying a sound bar for one of our televisions. It's for my husband's birthday.

Today I ordered the famous L.L. Bean boots for my daughter to tromp around campus with this winter. Those were $99 shipped. But like nearly all of their famous boots they appear to be on back order. Some said January 4th, but this pair said December 4. Hoping they fit and arrive just before the weather turns colder.

Oh, and I'm starting to follow Hip2Save again for the holiday season. I don't usually follow the other months of the year...I find I buy too much stuff I don't need!

Do you follow Hip2Save? Do you have L.L. Bean boots? A sound bar for your television? Let me know if you use my [url=http://ynab.refr.cc/M52KHR8]YNAB referral code[/url] so I can thank you!

Water Bill Lower

October 17th, 2015 at 06:54 am

Our water bill arrived yesterday. It's lower!! Last month it was $63. This month $37. That is a $25 savings. We have had the sprinkler system off for nearly three weeks, so I'm sure that helps.

After our first large bill of $76 two months ago we went looking for a leak. Turns out we turned on a sprinkler zone with a missing sprinkler head. Water was gushing out! Apparently owners knew this, but failed to tell us. If we had known we wouldn't have turned that zone on. The reason we did turn it on, was because there are shrubs in the zone. I figured those needed water. Well, until they have it repaired they won't be getting water.

I did get notified of a $6 reward from YNAB. Thanks for using my code Debt free by Thirty! I don't think it pays out for another month. But I'll look forward to it when it arrives.

The other good news financially is that I don't think we have a bill due to the university this month! Next month we probably need to put down a deposit for NEXT year's housing. I can't believe they have to work on that so early.

Our weekend is set to be low key. Apparently a perfect fall day today weather wise, so we should get out and enjoy it. There will be spending. Likely on new running shoes for my husband and groceries.

Enjoy your weekend!!