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Cash In, Cash Out

March 17th, 2019 at 06:36 am

The tax refund did arrive as expected. It is currently in our savings account marked as Big Goal money!! I decided to act like it didn't exist in some ways. We were never expecting a refund, so spending it didn't exactly seem right. If we need an additional $1900 we can take it from our other savings or cash flow it.

I earned enough Swagbucks to redeem for a $25 Amazon gift card. I used it to buy cabin and engine filters for our two vehicles. Those arrived yesterday.

We learned this past week that the University our older daughter goes to overestimated her VA benefits for the semester. Once they received actual payment, they notified us we owe $595 by April 12. Our plan is to use her ESA to pay this. Her benefits were lower this semester, so this was the plan all along, we just know the amount we need to take out now.

Our girls arrive here today to spend their spring break with us. My husband took the week off, so we can do some more exploring of our new town with them. This likely means some meals out and money spent on entertainment.

I learned recently that American Express waives their annual fees for active duty military. I haven't taken action on that as I think we only have one card of theirs with an annual fee. This may give us an opportunity to use some of their other cards with higher annual fees and better benefits. I have more looking to do on this. Anyone have experience with this? If so which card do you use? Yes, we use credit cards, but do not carry a balance, nor pay any interest. Credit cards a financial tool that can be beneficial if used wisely.

The Government Billed Us

February 22nd, 2019 at 12:21 pm

We finally received a bill from the government. Not many people say that! We were aware of and notified of VA overpayment of tuition benefits in early December because our daughter added then dropped a one hour class last semester. The school was overpaid, and they refunded us some money in October or November. So now the government is asking us for the cash to the tune of $487.

We are going to pay it at the beginning of March. I do have a little problem with the amount. My guess is it is right, but I am just not clear on how they figured the amount of the overpayment. It is not equal to what the school refunded us, which was around $400. I'll probably send an email to the school to see if they can explain. I think getting an answer from them would be faster!

I earned $3 for doing a Pinecone Survey. I found a penny on the ground when I went to the store. I've actually found quite a few coins on my walks here!

I've arranged for our cat to be boarded while we are on a three night trip in March. She will spend five nights at the kennel for a total of $75. They provide food and litter. I wish I didn't have to do board here, but our housing won't let us leave a pet overnight even if someone is watching her. She sleeps a lot anyway, so she will be fine!

It's about time to make flight reservations for our daughter's to come here for their spring breaks. More money out, but we will look forward to seeing them and doing some more exploring of our new town.

I've been watching Living on A Dime on YouTube. I've watched some of their videos before, but it had been awhile. Jill, the mother, has a series on the channel called Penny Pinching Mama, that explains her life when she was first diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how she lived on $500 a month with two kids in late 1980s. She still only lives on $750 for social security. They are fantastic example of how people really can make it on low income. They don't deny that it's hard, but that it can be done! The are very conservative with what they use. Anyone else seen these ladies on YouTube?

Medical Bills

January 12th, 2019 at 08:07 am

We are pretty healthy people, no chronic illnesses. However, both my girls have been to the doctor a couple times in 2018. They are still on our military insurance, but because they live away from home most of the year they are on Tricare Select. The deductible for each of them is $150. Very reasonable.

My oldest daughter maxed hers out in August and then had a procedure where the cost without insurance was billed at $332. She got the bill at her dorm and apparently didn't have the correct information to file a claim. I called Monday and gave them the correct information, although they seemed confused. They submitted it and was covered in full. The provider gets $83.

My youngest twisted her ankle pretty bad in October, her student health center did submit through insurance, but she nor I were ever notified by our insurance. So looking at her tuition bill I see two charges from the health center for $80.04. It took some sleuthing, basically logging into the insurance company site to see the claim. That yes, $135+ was submitted and reduced to $80.04...and we do owe that as we had not met our deductible for her.

It's harder to navigate insurance when your adult children's claims do not go to your address! Youngest said she never received anything at her dorm, which is where they sent it. At least it is all taken care of this round.

It did remind me that a sinking fund for the deductibles wouldn't be a bad idea. Although I can probably manage any charges through basic cash flow.

Uber Frugal Month

January 10th, 2019 at 06:09 am

I'm not yet participating in Uber Frugal Month. It's too hard to start it on January 1 when our college daughter's are home. We want to treat them and get them what they need since we won't see them until March.

We will start Saturday afternoon and try to go through mid February! My plan is to focus primarily on eating all the things, or making meals from the pantry. I literally only have three things in the freezer, so my stockpile is not like many people. But I have quite of few things in the pantry and refrigerator that I want to make use of before they go bad. I was very successful at this last year.

My husband is out of town for work next week. I plan to stay home primarily and do things that don't cost me money. I have sewing projects I can do with fabric on hand. I need to make a photo book for my Dad (promised to him in June). I also have a book to read that needs some of my attention.

I may (still undecided) shop for towels this month. I need to replace a set. I think this can be a good time of year to find towels on sale. Oh, and my sister and mother have birthdays at end of January, early February, so I'm pondering gifts that could be considered thoughtful and frugal. I did just redeem Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card, so at least one of them may receive something I can buy from there! I could also redeem MyPoints and give my sister a gift card. I think even $10 or $15 to Starbucks might be welcome!

Good luck to all who are participating and are finding ways to keep costs low in January!

Airline Tickets

December 5th, 2018 at 06:42 pm

It's that time of year where I buy airline tickets for my kids to come home for Christmas break! This is the first year I have to accommodate BOTH girls. I actually purchased one way tickets. They are in different cities, but flying home together from one city. On the return to school they will fly separately, primarily because one has three weeks off, and the other has a full month! One daughter will have to take a shuttle from the airport to her campus, cost with a tip one way is $42. I think if it was a roundtrip shuttle it would be about $60. I'm always praying that the weather cooperates so they don't get delayed! Oh, in total I spent about $800 for the girls to come home!

My husband was home today for the National Day of Mourning. We did watch the funeral and were touched by the eulogies given. I think we all wish that in death we are remembered fondly by those we loved and who loved us.

Redeemed MyPoints

December 4th, 2018 at 08:56 am

I redeemed 3950 MyPoints for a $25 Google Play gift card. I was originally going to buy it but happened to notice the balance in my MyPoints account. I had plenty to scoop up the gift my daughter wanted without an additional cash outlay.

I'm close to having 1000 SB that I can redeem for $10 Amazon gift card. I'm not in a big hurry and have not been doing Swagbucks for months. I think I was reminded of it when i received an email from Swagbucks with my Birthday bonus.

Today, I finished sewing the pajama pants for my two nieces. I had them all done except for the elastic. I also made doll sized pajama pants and a plaid poncho for their American Girl dolls (I think they have the knock off versions). I spent nearly $30 at Joann's for fabric and elastic. I did buy nicer quality flannel and probably didn't hit the best sale, although it was 40% off. I did find an Ibotta coupon that will give me $4.50 back on the purchase, so now closer to $25, which is really good for two gifts.

At this point, I just need more stocking stuffers for the girls, buy a gift for my husband and decide what to get my parents. I already sent my mother in law a check to get whatever she wants. She's 82 and seems to like to get a pedicure from us. So it's just easier to mail a check, since I'm nowhere near there to buy a gift certificate.

Today, I'm baking some Mint Chocolate cookies for the holidays. I will eat one or two and freeze the rest until needed. I have a couple other recipes to make, but have plans to do them over the next two weeks.

Army Travel Reimbursement Plus

November 28th, 2018 at 01:23 pm

I was pleasantly surprised to find our travel money from the move deposited into our account on Monday! And it appears to be covered in full! It's seems during many moves each different entitlement comes in as different deposits.

The grand total is pretty grand and exceeds the costs we actually incurred, which I honestly never totaled up. Our second checking account is now $6,915.77 richer!

Our primary costs for moving were carpet repair and cleaning at our rental home. Nearly a week in hotel costs, as well as food on the go, and fuel for the our two vehicles. We did fly one way as part of getting one vehicle here (I'm not an interstate driver), so that little trip was an additional cost and not specifically reimbursable by the government.

Nearly half that total is something called a Dislocation Allowance, which for my husband's rank is $3,753. This simply covers all the extras that are variable because everyone has different costs incurred during a move. It is tax free.

It's a relief to have it. I think I'm saving most of it as I was able to cover nearly all the costs incurred out of our current pay. I do know I dipped into the vacation category and that has not been reimbursed. So at a minimum, I will add to that category and save the remainder in the Big Goal.

I completed my first Pinecone survey in a really long time two days ago and was credited for it this morning. I have no idea why I wasn't getting surveys for over a year or more.

Oh, and we had a really nice trip back to see our girls. Our cat did very well, stressful for her, but she survived and is happy to be back in a familiar place. I still miss the girls so much. I'm trying to figure out how we can establish a home base closer to them to see them more often. I'm sure that is at least a year in the works. But living such a long distance away from both of them is hard on all of us. My husband still has at least five years in the military before retirement. My parents are close to the girls, but I'm starting to see how much older they seem as well. My dad is 70 and mother 68. They are very healthy and active, so no major concern, just awareness of the passage of time. It would be nice to be closer to them as well.

Driving to See Our Girls

November 20th, 2018 at 05:27 am

We are heading out today (after work unfortunately) to drive over 1000 miles to see our girls. I cannot wait to see them. It has been a rough few months being empty nesters and moving. I definitely need hugs!

I would rather fly, but the decision to go was very short notice, thus plane tickets were expensive. But the main reason, was our cat. We do not know anyone here yet to watch her, nor do we yet know who to trust to kennel her. She is 14 and has never been boarded. I also do not feel right leaving her for multiple days without being checked on because of her age and health. So while I realize it will be stressful for her (although she did great on our move in the car), it seems to be the best of all the scenarios.

We will get nearly three full days with our girls and they are actually excited we are bringing our cat for the visit. They miss her, too.

Prayers for good weather and safe drivers around us is much appreciated. May you all have a great holiday weekend!

We've Moved

October 29th, 2018 at 07:28 am

We have arrived at our new duty station. My husband is reporting for the first time this morning. He is thankful that this move the job is something he knows how to do, as it is the same as what he has been doing. So we are finding our new normal. Moving to a new town is very stressful because EVERYTHING is new. It's very disorientating. And I'm honestly struggling a bit with it this time more than ever. Some of that may be because I don't have the distraction of my kids, who this time are away at college.

I am determined to keep moving forward and finding my new normal in this place. I already got out to do a walk after my husband left for work, which is what I usually do. The difference is it is a new route, new people and sounds around. But soon, it will feel normal. Smile

My big goal for today is to get all our finances in order. So many receipts from the trip to record. We had quite a few days of living in a hotel and eating out. We will get travel reimbursement at some point to cover all the costs, but I need to make sure credit cards are paid on time. I also need to update our address in many places.

I hope to be back regularly soon!

Time to Prepare

September 9th, 2018 at 05:26 am

Florence is heading our way. Prayers appreciated for us and all in the final path.

We will spend the next couple days stocking up for the loss of power. More batteries, more water and non perishable foods. I think it was last year that I saw a young woman buying peanut butter, bread and apples that appeared to be for the hurricane. I actually thought that was pretty simple and inexpensive compared to canned foods that often are heated. Yes, apples can perish, but you likely would be able to eat them before they would go bad. My husband thought it was a decent idea. He wants almonds too. Smile

We have cash on hand (we have been accumulating additional cash with our recent sales as we downsize our belongings). We have tools, an emergency solar and hand cranked weather radio. I also have candles and a lighter.

We are not on the coast, it's a two hour drive to get there, so the odds of needing to evacuate are very slim. We are near a lake, some homes in our neighborhood do back up to it and a creek that feeds into it is almost in our backyard. The lake however was built by a dam and has been empty because the dam broke during hurricane Matthew and has yet to be repaired. That is a good thing in some ways because the water will just keep flowing downstream.

I'm praying something will change that will move it just enough off the coast to avoid landfall for anyone. Prepare for the worst hope for the best.