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Archive for January, 2018

Sold Scissors!

January 31st, 2018 at 05:51 am

I sold some scissors that had been hanging out in my sewing box for years! I probably used them once or twice, but since I really had no use for them, I put them up for sale. My net proceeds were $5.93. All sales of our unused items go to the Big Goal.

Yesterday, I donated a large box and bag of items I have decluttered from our home this month. There were easily a few things that I could have tried to sell, but being bulky and heavy, I decided it was better to just donate and be done. My husband isn't a fan of strangers coming to our door or meeting them in this town we live in so that limits what I can sell. I know that we are blessed with plenty, so it is only right to simply pass things on when we no longer need them.

No College Loans

January 30th, 2018 at 04:49 am

I paid the University $4,383.69 yesterday for spring tuition and housing. It's primarily housing and books since tuition was covered by the Post 911 GI Bill benefits. So grateful once again that we have been able to provide three years of college expenses without loans. Once we get to 2019 for our older daughter it will get a bit more interesting. Not sure yet exactly how we are doing that, we have just under $5K saved in her ESA, but loans may be involved. I'll have to write a whole other post on that later.

Feeling very blessed!

Computer For College

January 29th, 2018 at 06:13 am

Last night we ordered a Dell laptop for our youngest daughter. She is heading to college in the fall and we found with our older daughter it was nice to have it purchased well before the first day classes.

Originally we tried to purchase one direct through the University to save on sales tax, however, the one they recommended and were offering was no longer available. It would have been $1299, including a 4 year warranty. Apparently, it was a special deal the university was able to get in cooperation with Dell last year. (I'm sure there will be on again in the early summer or fall, but we decided to just get what we need now to be done with that decision making process...it was stressing us all out for some reason!)

We basically got the same laptop we originally ordered through the University. We did downgrade to a 3 year warranty because that saved us nearly $250. We upgraded to a 2 in 1 version, so that it has a touchscreen available and can be flipped and used like a tablet.

Our daughter will be an engineering major, so the laptop does have higher specs than some students may need in college. We did get an older version and an older processor, but again the same one the University was suggesting that we thought we could still purchase.

The University did give us some other options to purchase but they were more expensive than the one we ended up purchasing directly with Dell. They were having 10% off select computers (slightly older models it appeared). The warranty was three years for the price of two. We did get free shipping, but had to pay sales tax of 7%.

The final total charged to our US Bank card was $1,481.65. I had selected electronics stores as one of my 5% cash back categories for this quarter. That will amount to $74.08 off the total. I went through the Ebates shopping portal for 2% back (better than Swagbucks 1% offer), and that will give us $27.88 back in cash (should arrive in May). Both of those more than cover the sales tax we were charged.

I did have to move another $184+ to the computer category as this is the amount over what we originally thought we would pay to the University for the laptop they offered. Luckily, a low spend month help me know we have that amount covered!

Computer arrives on Thursday, and my daughter is excited. She and I no longer have to share! Smile

Closing Out January

January 28th, 2018 at 04:18 pm

For the purposes of this blog and January Uber Frugal month, I am closing out our budget. We went grocery shopping today, but I am not including it since most of the food will cover more days in February than January. I did include the fuel we bought for the van, which was $41.96.



It doesn't show in my screenshots, but we were over our budget by $36.05. Not bad at all considering several things were not planned, such as the dinner on Friday, buying vitamins for our daughter or buying a new fridge water filter. And yes, our groceries are probably inflated, not for eating more food, but for buying high quality food. We are dieting so we are actually eating less..and have both lost weight!



I zeroed all the categories out. This is how I end each month in YNAB. The remaining amount that we didn't allocate to anything this month $1,648.89! Lower spending does pay off! I will add the money to various long and short term goals. Some may go to the Big Goal, most of it will go to bigger expenses that we expect later this year.



Just so you know we are very unlikely to have spent all of that $1600 in a regular month. Compared to December 2017, we spent $1200 more than we did this month. And we spent $450 less than last January. I feel we were very successful this month.

Dinner and Grocery Spending

January 27th, 2018 at 11:20 am

We had a very nice time eating out. We did really good considering it was a brewery...we didn't drink! And I only had water with my meal. We spent three hours there and spent $38.61 on our entrees and DH's diet coke. He tipped generously with $8, for a total of $46.61 spent. So we are definitely over our frugal January restaurant budget. However, you really can't say no to an invite by friends that you don't see that often.

We stopped by the grocery store last night before coming home because we needed eggs. I did remember a few other needs(flour, turkey crumbles, cheese) as well, along with two requests from our daughter. We spent another $29.94 in groceries. We are now over the Uber Frugal budget in groceries too.

Despite going over budget in a lot of budget categories this month, we have done really well. I purposely put the budget low to keep us thinking about our spending. We have months where we just don't monitor it as closely. That's why I find these low spend months so helpful.

Here's what the Everyday Spending categories look like right now. I will probably end our reporting of our spending and Uber Frugal month after today. We have guests coming and I need to get some things purchased (specifically groceries) tomorrow. Notice how there's just $10 left! That's cutting it close isn't it?



The good news is there is plenty of cash to still be allocated to savings. I'll share that amount tomorrow!! It's a pretty big number. Smile

Dinner Out Tonight

January 26th, 2018 at 07:36 am

Yesterday, I spent $3.50 to mail my sister her lanyard that I made. All items I used, including the mailer and card were items I had in my home, so no other out of pocket costs. We decided a few years ago not to exchange gifts, but she is my sister and since I felt inspired to make something I just did it!

I also spent $2.12 on a birthday card for my mother. She will be here next week and her birthday will take place during her visit. I'm not sure if I'm buying her a gift yet. I'm thinking of buying flowers to have during her time here as I know she doesn't NEED stuff. I know we will likely go out to dinner, too.

Speaking of dinner, I just got a phone call that a former coworker of my husband is in town and wanted to know if we want to go to dinner tonight. I guess we are...people before money, right? I could offer up dinner at our house, but since the plan is for this evening...I don't feel prepared in the least.

Owe $91 In Taxes

January 25th, 2018 at 09:53 am

I went to FreeTaxUSA to work on filing our taxes since the free option we have as military members is currently not working. Ugh. Our taxes are pretty simple at this point. We no longer itemize since we do not own a home. In fact the last couple years we owned a home, our interest rate was so low in addition to taxes, itemizing was less than the standard deduction. So we took the standard deduction.

I have not filed our taxes yet, not sure if it is even open to do so. (I checked. The IRS begins accepting returns on January 29 this year.) But the final result is that we owe $91. This is really my perfect scenario. To owe just a little. I can come up with $91 any day of the week, so no big deal to figure out where the money owed will come from.

With FreeTaxUSA, federal filing is free. They do charge $12.95 for state filing. However, I'm pretty sure you can get that cut in half using a coupon code. I know Swagbucks is offering 50% off, or 50SB per dollar paid. Ebates is offer 25% cash back it looks like. So for a net of $6.50 I think it may be worth it to just file with them rather than spending time re-entering all the data. Sometimes the money spent is worth the time saved.

Somehow this year, taxes were even more simple than usual. We benefit with lower taxes due to saving in my husband's TSP, which are pretax contributions. We also took advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit this year. We spent $7,565 on qualified tuition and expenses. This does not include housing. Of course, only $4,000 of that amount is eligible for the AOC, which provided us with $1,500 tax credit and a $1000 refundable credit.

Next step is to start figuring out our tax scenario for 2018, so I can get close to even like I did this year.

Have you figured your taxes yet? Are yours complicated or more simple?

Everyday Spending Update

January 24th, 2018 at 04:10 pm

We have $122.76 left to spend through the end of the month based on the budget I made to be Uber Frugal. We bought groceries on Sunday, so that definitely made a dent in the available cash.



Oh, look you can see that we contributed to our retirement, specifically our Roth IRAs.

My husband also bought fuel since the last time I posted this snapshot. Otherwise I think that is it for spending! I will likely need fuel in my van before the end of the month, but we may come under budget in fuel.

We usually shop for groceries together on Sunday's. I intend to do the same this week. We will go over budget because I will be purchasing food for guests during that trip. The guests arrive on Wednesday. After our shopping trip, I may be able to estimate the cost for foods to get us through mid day on Wednesday. That is what would count for January. The remaining will count for February. It is what it is. Hard to get budgets to match up perfectly with a calendar and unusual events such as visiting guests.

How are you doing with your spending goals this month?

Gift Card Rebate & More

January 23rd, 2018 at 06:51 pm

I personally did no spending today. I stayed home and sewed a lanyard for my sister who is a kindergarten teacher. This is her birthday gift. I made it from what I already had on hand in my sewing stash. I will need to mail it to her but I expect that to be only a couple dollars.

My husband received a $10 gift card from AutoZone in the mail today. He purchased new headlights for his truck that had a $10 rebate, thus the gift card. He went to AutoZone to use it for new map lights, which he thinks now wasn't a need but a wiring issue that has come loose. He attempted to get me a battery for my truck key fob, but they didn't have it. Oh, actually he also said he may have stripped the screw that holds the key fob together so we may not even be able to get a battery in it. At least the key still works! Smile

I have some tax documents coming in including my husband's W2. I planned to use whatever the software the military has available, however, the site we need to go through Military One Source is having issues. I'm not able to log in. It seems others are having similar issues. I hope it is corrected soon. I probably could go find another site to use to at least get an idea where we stand, pay or refund. I remember last year doing a projection and expect we may need to pay $400.

More Foods Used Up

January 22nd, 2018 at 04:29 am

Yes, we did go to the grocery store (commissary) yesterday, but we did use up more food in the cupboard and fridge last week. I thought I'd list a few of them:

Can of tuna
Can of chickpeas
5 Halo tangerines
3 tomatoes
Refried beans (in the freezer)
Leftover pork chop (in the freezer)
Chocolate chips
2 tortillas

I did have to toss some tomato sauce. It had been in the fridge too long. It was about 1/4 cup. Food waste happens.

This week I'm going to make chicken in the crockpot to use up some Pineapple Siracha Jam we received as a gift. Trying to limit sugar, but this is probably the best way to use up and also create flavor for the chicken.

Other items I aim to use up this week:
One hamburger bun
Two whole sized pita pockets
Can of pumpkin
2 carrots

We have croutons, wheat thins and a can of Spaghetti Os that should get eaten but I'm trying to limit processed carbs and none of those seem worth it to eat while on this diet. Yes, I'm aware the pitas and hamburger bun are carbs...may push those off on my daughter. I think I need to donate the Spaghetti Os. My daughter was ill a few months ago and they sounded good to her. I bought two cans when I should have just bought one. We really don't eat that kind of thing anymore.

How are you doing using up what you have? My stash is pretty limited but I'm making a point of using up those things that seem to just keep sitting around longer than usual.

Some Spending Averted

January 21st, 2018 at 11:53 am

My husband and daughter considered going to Jumanji yesterday. I did remind them it was a no spend month. In the end we did some clothes shopping for our daughter, which was more of a need. We also visited the kitties at the pet store. So cute...and tempting!

Three shirts were bought at Target, spent about $60 on those (not frugal), in addition to lotion, laundry detergent and windex. I had a $50 gift card, used two cartwheel offers and there was 15% off clothing if I used our Red Card. So, out of pocket we spent $25.80.

Today we went grocery shopping. Final total at the commissary was $151.26. Pet food was $21 and Vitamin C was $8.77. The rest was food. We bought salmon and chicken this week, so that wasn't exactly frugal. We also needed lots of veggies which are key to our healthy diets.

Still no alcohol has been purchased! That's three weekends in a row. My husband did mention it last night, but he is committed to the diet for the month.