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Archive for February, 2016

February No Spend: $0 Spent Last Day

February 29th, 2016 at 05:42 pm

It was VERY tempting to go out today to run errands. Especially since I can see our paycheck pending in our account. However, I stayed in. We spent $0 today. I did some more spring cleaning. It was even warm enough to take the cats out in the yard for an adventure. I pulled a few weeds I found while they enjoyed themselves in the sun.

I'd like to say that I could go longer with a low spend month, but we have some things we want to spend money on (and have saved for). I'm not planning to buy more than a usual month, of course. I just know that if we need to spend we will. And some of it will be wants. There has to be room in life for wants!

Our Marriott Rewards card arrived in the mail today. This card will provide 80K bonus points(plus 7500 points for adding authorized user) after spending $3K in the next three months. The card does have an annual fee, but you get a free night as one of the perks. We expect to use our points for several nights in Washington DC this summer. If anyone recommends any Marriott branded hotels in the area, let me know!

February No Spend: Maintenance

February 28th, 2016 at 06:31 am

We did do some spending yesterday. Maintenance items for my husband's truck. He had a headlight bulb out, thus an actual need. We decided to replace both at the same time. We also picked up windshield wiper blades as well. That all added up to nearly $70! We did get some higher end blades, not sure on the bulbs. We basically used some of the money I set aside this month in our car maintenance category.

We are going grocery shopping today for the upcoming week. I'm counting this as March spending simply because most of the spending is for March. We have food for dinner tonight and tomorrow already in our home. It just happens to be our routine to shop on Sunday's for the most part.

We did rent two movies on Amazon this weekend. Clue and The Great Gatsby. I had Amazon gift cards, so no money out. Smile

February No Spend: Pent Up Spending

February 26th, 2016 at 06:55 am

LivingAlmostLarge asked in the comments of my post yesterday if all the pent up spending will be spent in March. No not really.

We have put $3,577 into savings (doesn't included investments) during the month of February. Some of this is money we usually save for car repairs, Christmas and a deposit into our emergency fund. But MOST of that cash is because we didn't have big January bills to pay and we spent far less this month than we usually do. Going out to restaurants, buying movie rentals, picking up a lot of snacks, alcohol, driving to store to get things, buying items because the coupon makes it a great deal adds up. A lot more than we realize.

The point for us to have a low spend month wasn't to deprive ourselves, but to make conscious choices about what we really need to live each day. Do we NEED to go out to eat to be fulfilled? Do we need to rent that movie, or are there other alternatives?

The other reason was to stash some cash. We need cash for airline tickets, vacation goals, college deposits, and furniture we want to buy.

As you can see the cash that was stashed probably will be spent at some point, but on things we want that are important. More important then other things we may have spent our money on this month.

We do have some pent up spending to do, but those purchases will come from March income. I also don't expect that we will suddenly eat out more than we usually did (twice a month maximum) because we didn't eat out at all this month. We will need to buy the toiletries we are getting low on, but we didn't use less toothpaste this month, we just avoided needing to buy those things because we already had those on hand. I used a small tube from the dentist to get by this month. I probably need a haircut that I might have done this month, but I won't get two next month. So yes, spending will be more next month, but it doesn't negate the savings we accomplished this month.

On some level it is just a shift in when the money is saved. We saved a lot in one month for things we need cash for soon, rather than saving a little each month by 'hoping' to reduce our spending each month. Again this was a very conscious effort to reduce outflow of cash to set aside for savings and future purchases.

I feel very confident that any future purchases (other than the large ones already mentioned) will be made with future income. If I find out different next month, I will be sure to let you know! Smile

In other news, I did make an eBay sale. It looks like the profit is $9.46. I have four other items listed that could each bring in a similar profit.

February No Spend: Stress Spending

February 25th, 2016 at 04:42 am

We survived the severe weather yesterday. We had four tornado warnings yesterday. No damage at our home. It fried my nerves by the time the day was done. And that stress led to spending.

I sent my husband to the store to get ice cream, because our daughter said there were no snacks, which was actually nearly true. And I wanted wine! And DH wanted chips, which were buy one, get one free. Total cost: $20.49.

Not particularly happy about the spending, but it has been a long month and we still had some cash budgeted. We've done really good, so will I guess I will look it as celebration spending! Smile

I may have mentioned it before, but today I'm finally going to get some Wii games listed on eBay. Time to bring in a little cash!

February No Spend: Severe Weather

February 24th, 2016 at 09:27 am

Our area is experiencing severe storm (tornadoes) weather today. It's even causing schools to close early. As a result, we will be staying in the rest of the evening so we can stay safe and near shelter.

We will save $25 because we won't be going to my daughter's flute lesson. I'm pretty sure they are cancelled if school cancels. Of course, I care more about being safe then the cash.

So I think we can call this a no spend day! Yea...I need all of them we can get through the end of the month.

February No Spend: Spring Cleaning

February 23rd, 2016 at 01:41 pm

Today appears to be free of any money being spent. The snacks in the house are getting low already. I thought I had a desert I could make, but I don't have enough butter. I'm pretty close though, so I may make it anyway.

I was going to make waffles for dinner last night and then realized I was too low on milk to make them. We ended up eating rice and beans instead. I think I will resort to pancakes tonight as those take far less milk to make. Basically, the same idea!

Tomorrow night for dinner, we are having three cheese tortellini and salad. I might be able to make some cheese bread, too.

I started my spring cleaning today. Primarily I have been dusting things that aren't dusted on a regular basis. I think I'm dusting off stuff that was here before we moved in. So far things are going faster than I expected, and the activity is free. I'm using micro fiber cloths and water (when needed). No special products were purchased. Smile

February No Spend: Errands In One Day

February 22nd, 2016 at 12:08 pm

I made a point to run two errands today that were in close proximity to one another. My daughter had a gift to mail to a friend (she paid for postage). I decided while I was near the post office I would pick up the two items I forgot at the grocery store on Saturday at Walmart. Those items: Clif bars, and mayo. We didn't need those items yet, but would have later in the week.

I had cash in my wallet to cover the $8.87 total. This leaves me with $5 and change. I expect that cash will go towards a tip the next time we are at the commissary. It sure feels better to combine errands and know that I didn't cave to more purchases.

I'm making plans to get some spring cleaning done here to keep me busy through the end of the month. The blinds are dusty and have been since we moved in. And I find that it is a free activity. Smile

I also have some items to get sold on eBay. These are a result of our recent decluttering! That is a free task I hope will earn me a little cash.

We continue to eat in all of our meals. I ate leftover tacos today for lunch. Tonight we are having rice and beans. I expect there will be some left for lunch tomorrow. Oh, and I made a batch of steel cut oats in the Crockpot last night. I divided it into four servings for the next several mornings.

My husband has received a Welcome Letter for Marriott Rewards card. It seems he was approved! Smile

February No Spend: $75 Left

February 21st, 2016 at 08:26 am

As it turns out, I set aside $885 for everyday spending in February. We are now down to the last $75 because we went grocery shopping yesterday. I have $15 of that in my wallet. And I have three items on my 'forgot to buy at the grocery store' list. I plan to use cash for those items.

There is still cash for one more fuel fill up (we are both on Full right now), a haircut for my husband, a bottle of wine, and $20 for groceries. I have nothing left in clothing, entertainment, gifts, pets, restaurants or household goods. Some of those never had any cash in them this month anyway!

I have a feeling next weekend might feel really hard! Although if absolutely necessary we will spend on what we need.

I can tell that it has been a pretty good exercise for all three of us here. My daughter has been aware. Although she isn't a big spender. I've been aware of the coupons, sales, and emails that tempt me to spend. I've kept myself out of as many stores as possible. My husband has been the most interesting one to watch. I'm not sure if he feels he has had to make too many changes. To me, it seems he has been given some extra passes to get things he wants, particularly food (snacks). And then it interesting to see that I let him! Is that because he is the bread winner and this experiment is just a game? It's all small stuff, but it does add up. I don't really know the answers. Maybe we'll have more insight if we discuss it at the end of the month.

I do remember that he suggested we get my van washed at least twice this month. Yes, it is a bit dusty. It should be cleaned at some point. But it's a no spend month. We are only spending on needs. A car wash is not a need! He has stopped asking. I wonder if he'll take care of it on March 1?

The really exciting part of this experiment is how much money we have saved. It seems that the three months prior our everyday expenses were around $2300. If we only spend $885 this month, then we have saved about $1415! Not bad at all. We've actually saved about $3000 during the entire month, some of which we normally save, but definitely more than we do some months. It helps there were not many outflows from those savings categories too.

ETA: Actually, set aside $785 for variable spending. I accidentally included the $100 we spend on flute lessons in my total. That was considered required spending, like our rent!

February No Spend: 46% Tip and More

February 20th, 2016 at 07:34 am

I've now seen the receipt from the dinner my husband went to on Thursday night for a coworker's retirement dinner. As I said before he paid for the retiree's dinner. The restaurant included a 20% tip, likely because it was a large group of 11.

So the total of the drinks and meals was $37.98, $3.65 taxes, $7.60 tip added by restaurant for a grand total of $49.23.

He added $10 additional tip because he didn't read the bill specifying that the gratuity was already added! So our out of pocket was $59.23. That is a 46% tip!!

In other news, we cancelled our Citi Premier card. We've had it since last May and have stopped using it. It has an annual fee that is waived the first year, but we don't want to pay for one when it is up for renewal. That was easy to do online.

I also closed my Capital One 360 checking and savings accounts. I had $0.06 in there. We weren't using it because the interest rate of 0.75% was lower than our other accounts. That was also super easy to do online. I did the withdrawal and it had a place to confirm I was closing the account. My six cents should arrive to our checking account on Monday.

We applied for the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card finally. We received one offer a couple months ago. It expired before I could get that completed. So when it arrived in the mail again, I jumped on it. It appears to offer $50K points for spending $1000 in three months. I think there were some points for an authorized user too. Oh, and we were instantly approved.

We also applied for the Marriott Rewards credit card. There was an offer for 80K points after spending $3000 in three months. We would like to use these points for hotels this summer, when we hope to visit Washington DC. This card, offered by Chase, didn't instantly approve, but indicated we would receive notification by mail. Chase has changed the way they do business and approvals. We have never had this card in the past though, so hoping this is available to us.

My husband did make some purchases yesterday. Fuel for his truck $23.35, alcohol $19.10, and some snacks $21.03, which was more than I expected. We will need to pick up some groceries for the coming week today or tomorrow.

The cash is getting tighter! Trying to hold on until the end.

February No Spend: Dining Out

February 19th, 2016 at 08:39 am

We haven't eaten any meals out the entire month of February. Until yesterday. My husband had the retirement dinner for a colleague last night. I was mentally prepared for this since he mentioned it early in the month.

I don't know his exact spending yet, as he didn't enter it into YNAB and has the receipt in his wallet. He told me it was around $60. Turns out he ended up paying for the departing soldier's meal, since no one else offered or stepped up. What can I say? He's a generous person! I could have been upset, but there's really no point. I don't want to squash generosity, just for my little no spend game.

We are coming up on the weekend. I expect we will find free things to do. I don't know that anyone needs anything such as clothing or personal care (I might need contact solution before the month runs out, but trying to conserve). So as is usual for most weekends I expect our spending to be on food.

Just 10 more days of February! We have $230 that has not been spent, but is still in our budget. Hopeful we can get by without spending all of that. How much money do you have left in before the end of the month?

February No Spend: Needs

February 18th, 2016 at 08:34 am

I've spent some money. On needs. I picked up highlighters and a pencil sharpener for my daughter last night at Staples (who I feel is overpriced). Outflow was $5.34.

Today I went to Walmart and picked up pencil lead for my daughter, all purpose flour to make pizza, and shaving cream for my husband. Outflow was $7.28.

Now I suppose I could nitpick a bit and suggest my husband could use soap for shaving for the rest of the month, or that my daughter could use the one color of highlighter, or even I could make half a batch of pizza dough. But that isn't exactly the point. To go extreme. The point is to make conscious choices.

I was able to browse in both stores, but felt no real to desire to buy anything than I went in for. It is much more satisfying to leave knowing you only went in for needs and survived doing it!

I also have to admit I have a few things on a list, that probably could be considered needs, that I will probably purchase in March. Two of those are a new trashcan for my daughter's bathroom (it's cracked on two sides), and curtain rods for at least two bedrooms (we currently don't have any here, but can install if we remove and repair before we move).

Another free thing to do during a no spend month: delete old emails and computer files!

P.S. We received our tax refund of $359 today from the IRS. We're going to set that aside in savings.

February No Spend: Repairs

February 17th, 2016 at 09:39 am

We've spent some money on household repairs this month. But it doesn't count! The money is being initially spent by us, but we will reduce our rent in March accordingly and send our receipts to the owners. These are repairs authorized by them, so this isn't a surprise.

The first purchase was for a new supply line for the refrigerator, which we paid about $20 for, as it appeared to be leaking near the shut off valve. We installed this ourselves. Unfortunately, this was not the only leak.

There is a leak near the water inlet valve on the fridge itself. It's pretty obvious to us now that this was long term leak as parts nearby are corroded. I'm currently waiting for Sears (the owners desired repair service) to come replace the part. If I am correct on the part it seems to be about $65. At a minimum the charge is $115 to come to the door! I actually think I could have fixed this myself. I've seen it done on another fridge we had. So I currently don't know the full cost, but it will be charged to our card and we will reduce our rent by the same amount in March. How nice of me to float that expense for them! I do at least get a few reward points for it. Smile

So I think I'm going to file these charges under rent in YNAB since they are effectively reducing our rent. At least it makes sense to me.

No spending yesterday as expected. I think, in addition to the above repairs, we have a few items to purchase: shaving cream, flour, and a couple school supplies. And tomorrow is the day my husband goes out to eat for a coworker's retirement dinner. So the next two days have some small expenditures.

Edit to add: Sears was two hours outside their window of service, the cost came to $294.37! The labor was $211. And it only took four minutes to change out the part once he had moved the fridge. I then had to sign several 'waivers' of damage liability, which took longer than the five minutes print, discuss and sign.