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$2,020 In 2020

January 23rd, 2020 at 06:23 pm

I plan to save an additional $2,020 for the year. I've decided to simply automate this, and add it to the Big Goal total. Prior to making this decision I had already increased our automated savings of $175 each pay period to $200. This works out to an additional $50 per month saved.

In order to make the $2,020 increase for the year, I will change the automatic savings amount to $260. This increases each savings deposit by $85, compared to last year.

$85 x 24 pay periods is $2,040, which meets the goal exceeds it just a little.

I realized I didn't actually change the amount from $175 to the new $200 until the 15th of January. So I am short on both January deposits by $145 total.

I am moving that shortage today to make that the full $520 saved for the month. I will also adjust our automatic transfers as of February 1 to be $260 per pay period.

I have some apprehension in making this increase despite knowing my husbands annual raise was only enough to cover the added insurance premium for our daughter. This means we are forcing ourselves to have less to spend each month by $170 per month.

I think if it gets pulled out each pay period we just won't see it and will not have it to spend. At least that is the hope. Worse case scenario, I have over saved and can use the money if needed. I'm just going on some faith that the money will be there.

I'm not kidding, but seconds after I typed that I was going on faith, I received a notification on my phone that I sold a book on eBay. I'm taking that as a sign that we definitely should do this extra savings. The money we need will be there when we need it.

Are you saving more in 2020? How are you making it happen? Or if you have debt, are you paying more towards your debt?

Note to self, added $125 for January shortage, since additional $20 would actually put over goal. Transfers set up as $260 twice per month beginning February 1.

Random Money Thoughts

January 21st, 2020 at 03:25 pm

I have not been good at focusing on much of anything lately, including getting a blog post together. So this is all just random.

I paid our youngest daughter's tuition and housing bill. I had saved $500 a month for the last five months to pay the tuition out of pocket. I used her ESA to pay $5700 to pay for room and board. No loans for her yet!

Our oldest daughter's tuition and housing bill is at about $9,294. She is only taking six credits to finish up this May with her two degrees. I have $6,170 in our account towards that and I believe her loan and a couple small scholarships total $3471. So we will have nearly $300 left. I will likely give this to her at graduation to put towards the loans. No point in doing it earlier, as the loans are subsidized interest.

We got a utility refund for being under the average. That was $27.30. This program is likely going away at least in the short term while they do a military housing wide evaluation, due to complaints. I can see the next refund will be larger at $32.11 and appears to be pending now. I save this money towards our Big Goal.

I redeemed credit card rewards recently. Amex $67.30 and Chase Freedom $3.82, and US Bank $13.00. It all adds up!

I earned an Amazon gift card ($25) from Swagbucks since January 1. I earned $506 in gift cards in 2019. Many of which I think I failed to count towards our Big Goal.

I have kept my eye out of for some Christmas cards on clearance and finally found a box of 14 cards by Papyrus for 90% off. I paid just $1.89 at the local exchange store. This is the only Christmas item I was in need of.

This weekend I went to Dollar Tree and bought 9 cards for $6. 8 were 2 for $1. The valentine card my husband picked out for me was $1. This is a win, as he probably would have ended up elsewhere for a card and paid $7! I also bought some of those foil containers with a lid for food. I put a meal in the set of three for a neighbor who is recovering from surgery. Great deal so they won't have to worry about returning dishes.

I did decide to keep YNAB for now. It is a time saver as far as reconciling accounts, and helps me keep good records of our spending and savings. That will be charged to our account today for $75.59. I have looked at other options but will say they don't quite add up to what YNAB can do.

I think I mentioned this once but my husband raise for the year (not the likely upcoming promotion), is going to end up covering our oldest daughters insurance premium. It sort of doesn't feel like a raise when you don't feel like you get to decide what to do with it. But in reality I'm grateful the money came at the right time for the additional expense and didn't have reduce our savings.

It's going to be a busy year. Lots of travel for my husband. Our oldest daughter will graduate in May (with unknown plans after). Will she move elsewhere? What job will she get? She just seems very focused on finishing up. We will travel to her town for graduation. I just made a hotel reservation and probably am lucky I found something at a reasonable price at this late date!

Our youngest has talked about study abroad for this summer, but I'm insistent that any classes she does take must count for her major or minor. So far, we may be striking out. While the experience would be great, it doesn't make sense to pay for a class that doesn't count.

My parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary just after Christmas this year. They have talked about wanting to take a trip with my family and my sisters family on a trip. We have said we will definitely go, but we have no idea where or what the trip may cost.

That potential trip has me wanting to sock away more money in 2020! I mentioned before the year end that some are looking to save $2,020 and I'm thinking of adding that to my savings plans to help with this trip. Hopefully in my next blog post I can try to have it flushed out where I will find this money! I think I just have to make it happen like a bill ($2,020/24 pay periods is $84.17 or $168.34 a month).

Thanks for listening to my brain dump! I didn't even mention taxes...I will save that for another time, too.

End of Year Thoughts

December 31st, 2019 at 02:51 pm

On this last day of the year I thought I'd reflect on a few things, but expect more detailed financial posts in the coming days.

It was an unpredictable year.

I didn't plan for buying our daughter a car, yet the writing was on the wall. That lack of planning resulted in a loan in her name with my husband as cosigner. We are currently making the payment of $133.50 per month because our daughter has a very part time internship. She uses her earnings to cover groceries and gas on the vehicle. The balance is currently $4,949.50. We are not currently making extra payments. I'm mixed about this loan considering we have the cash on hand. But on some level this should be hers to complete once she has a full time job.

We did put $3000 cash down on the vehicle and are currently paying ourselves back for this. I will have an update in a couple days on our progress on this.

Our oldest daughter also has taken on two student loans, each $2750. One is just about to be disbursed for spring. This are the first and only loans she has had to take out. I'm also mixed on these because yes we have the cash, yet I think it is okay for her to have some skin in the game. On the other hand she double majored and we will have supported her for five years by the time!! It's still amazing to me that we were able to get her through school with this small amount of debt.

Our youngest daughter did not need to take out any loans. She still has ESA funds, a least a year of Post 911 GI bill eligibility. We currently save $500/mo (or $6000/yr) towards her tuition.

Our retirement balances have skyrocketed this year with returns exceeding 25%. It was a great year to be in the stock market. We increased my husband's Roth IRA contributions to account for his catch up eligibility since he turned 50 this year.

I'm still impressed with our ability to handle the travel costs associated with having our girls living over 1000 miles away. I think I'm making plane reservations every three months on average!

We did make progress on our Big Goal this year too, which I will report in detail in the next few days. It was an average year towards that goal. Sometimes the effort seems so slow, yet at the same time I'm grateful that we have this goal. I think this money would just slip away without it!

In non financial news, I lost about 15 pounds this year and have been able to keep most of it off all year. I did really well exercising at least 5 days week. I drink a good amount of water regularly. Healthy habits and progress towards a little more weight loss is the goal in the coming year too.

I'm going to count 2019 as a success! Happy New Year!!

Lowering An Expense

December 29th, 2019 at 06:04 pm

We have been using Hulu Live TV recently, primarily to get our college football team games. Those are over for the season and our daughter who was in their marching band is done forever. Sad! We did cancel it for four months this summer when our expenses were especially high, and used an antenna to get over the air channels.

Hulu Live TV is increasing their price from $44.99 to $54.99. Really, really not worth it to me. My husband does like to have it so for now we are switching service providers. We will now stream with Sling TV for their Blue Plan for $30 per month. We will save $15 over our current price and avoid the $10 increase that Hulu Live was offering.

We may pause Sling here and there for additional savings. I personally could just be fine with an over the air programming, I only watch local news for severe weather information.

My daughter's phone was paid off this month too, so our bill will be lower by $13 a month. Not sure how long we will go until we purchase new ones, but for now I appreciate the savings.

Are you lowering any of your expenses in the coming year? I wish I could lower them all, but so many are rising. I guess I will put another post out on that at another time.

Still Debating YNAB

December 27th, 2019 at 03:29 am

I've spent several months using the online version of YNAB. It works fine. There are some things that are just different, such as not letting categories go negative into the next month. I get why they do this, but we have a lot fluff in our account, so I'm definitely not really going to have an issue. I can't make notes on each category without them rolling over into the next month. I'd like each month to have it's own notes. I do love being able to link the accounts. I only have our two most active linked, but so helpful!

Because we did get a few months free as military, our first annual payment of $75.59 is due January 20. That is the amount due after the 10% member discount from my previous purchase of YNAB4 several years ago.

So, while I think on this option for a couple more weeks, I'm curious how those of you who don't use apps budget. Do you just use Excel? Did you make your own or buy a template or program? Do you use pen and paper? I've done both, but I'm out of shape using all those. LOL!

Thanks for sharing any thoughts. Overall it's not a bad program at all, just wondering if I really want to commit to nearly $80 a year for something I might be able to recreate in some way for free or less money.

After nearly four years of YNAB I am still a fan of what it can do, I think I'm just thinking about the cost and how it does add up over time.

Good While It Lasted

December 21st, 2019 at 01:07 pm

For just over a year we have been able to pay our rent for our current military housing with a credit card, earning Southwest airline miles and not paying any additional fees.

Unfortunately, the private company that manages the military housing has ended this practice, I believe in part due to their own change in banks. Of course, this has likely been costing them fees on their side.

We can still pay with a credit card, they are now passing on the fees to us to use the card. It would cost us over $60 a month to pay with a credit card. We pay them quite a bit as it is to live here in this 1980s era home (including many of the fixtures), so of course, we don't want to pay more than necessary.

We will now pay our rent with a checking account. This will not cost us any fees.

As a side note, people are livid with this change. They basically gave ten days notice. I think it has to do primarily with the lack of clear communication, and advanced notice of the change. It's amazing to me sometimes, how some organizations operate without no real understanding of their customer or end user.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to use the card (fee free) and rack up airline miles over this last year. I just used some of the miles to cover two one way tickets for our daughter's return trips back to college after the Christmas break. We will not lose the miles we have accumulated and should have enough for one more round trip ticket.

Christmas Gifts, Budget, and More Snowflakes

December 19th, 2019 at 03:47 pm

All Christmas gifts are bought, wrapped and those that needed to be shipped have been mailed! Our Christmas budget is $600 and we came in under budget by $17.75. I probably would have been a little over budget, but I did get a credit for an item that came slightly damaged from Amazon (so it was free), and I earned some Swagbucks $25 that I used to purchase one gift on Amazon, in addition to using about $15 in Amazon credit card rewards.

I have some snowflakes fall around here!

I redeemed $47.06 in American Express Rewards this morning. Those are redeemed as a credit, but I record it as money sent to our Big Goal in YNAB.

My husband received a travel reimbursement from work and it was $58.40 more than his expenses. I saved it of course.

I also sold a salt lamp on Facebook that we had been given as a gift. I was paid in cash, but used the cash for groceries so I moved $25 out of the grocery budget to the Big Goal.

I received $3 from a Pinecone Survey in my PayPal account, too.

And the final snowflake (small amounts of found money) is a sale on eBay which netted us $5.34.

I'm a big believer that small amounts of money can add up, of course large amounts can too, but don't discount the small amounts to add up to something!

Did you come in over, under or on budget for your holiday spending this year?

Paying Ourselves Back: November

December 7th, 2019 at 03:01 pm

We are paying ourselves back for money we put down on our daughter's car in May. I am putting all sources of extra funds towards that goal. Here's what I found in November:

US Bank $13.00
Chase Rewards $1.80
Amex Rewards $55.26
Electric Rebates $82.99
Extra travel funds $105.34
USAA Reward $1.62
Total $260.01

Prior Payback Balance: $1,559.76
New Payback Balance: $1,299.75

At one time I thought we could get this paid back by the end of the year, but it seems we had expenses I hadn't accounted for. But I feel confident we can get this paid back by the end of next year...hopefully much sooner!

Christmas Gifts, Dungeons and Dragons, Insurance and More

November 7th, 2019 at 09:00 pm

I've purchased several Christmas gifts this week. I have bought two items each for our daughter's. I also made a photo book for my husband through SnapFish. It is full of pictures of him and our daughter's. I originally planned to do the photo book for Father's Day but I didn't stay motivated and focused. I finally made the effort and got it done. It will be delivered by next Saturday and I paid $27 with shipping.

Our youngest daughter is starting to play Dungeons and Dragons with some new university friends. Does anyone have experience and point me to a book or something that might be helpful as she learns the game? I thought it would make a great Christmas gift.

Our renters and auto insurance payment made it on to our credit card yesterday. I do have the full amount saved, $2,616. I recalculated how much I need to save monthly in order to have enough to pay future bills and the registrations on all three cars and came up with $366. I had increased our savings after we got our daughter's car in May, but didn't quite start it soon enough, so I had to play catch up this last month. I'm primarily posting this for my own record.

With Veteran's Day coming up, the stores are offering all sorts of discounts. Amazon is offering their Prime Membership to military affiliated individuals for $79, which is $40 off the regular price. We actually just renewed in September, but I went ahead and took advantage of the offer. This extends our membership until September 2021.

I think we will do some clothes shopping this weekend for a few needed items we need and want before the holidays. We will attempt to take advantage of some discounts, but at the same time not spend too much money!