(Multiple posts today...check them out!)
I just reported on our Big Goal progress for April. We are very close to the milestone of $75K. I have been thinking for awhile about changing the name of our goal. There is a bit of a negative connotation to the term 'big goal' almost implying that it is unattainable or that it would take a miracle to reach. I truly want to believe that it is possible, so I need a new name. I don't know what it is, but if anyone wants to make a suggestion I'm sure open to ideas. The money was originally intended as a downpayment on our next house, so it could be home related. But in these unknown times I simply see it as cash that can be used to sustain us in the hard times. But again the term I use has to have a positive vibration to it. Because I know things are going to work out and this is an attainable goal. I'm also open to not having a number attached, because of course, if more is supposed to come our way it will!
I might also be hurting ourselves by not throwing every penny toward the goal. I did not include the stimulus money in the goal, or any housing refunds, or the money we were able to save this money simply by not being as active in the retail world or driving as much (specifically able to set aside $1,030.24!)
I have a feeling that health and sustainability are going to be big lessons for many of us in the coming years. We actually just had a power outage of 21 hours this week. I was grateful once again to the neighbor who let us hook to their generator for our fridge and to charge our devices (our daughter was trying to still do homework!) I think sharing in that way is beautiful, but I also think some self reliance is important too. We may be using some (or all) of our stimulus money to buy some things that help us be more self reliant, such as a generator or a camping stove. We may also use money to invest in more glass food containers, or having a bigger stockpile of foods on hand. I don't have it all figured out, but it seems like that investment may be helpful in addition to keeping cash.
In another note, I'm glad we don't eat a lot of meat or dairy. We do use some and it would be missed, but we are able to live without it. I do find it sad for the farmers who are forced (or choose) to kill their livestock before getting it to market. So many repercussions of the actions taken. But again I believe this will all work out. It will be bumpy for awhile, but we will collectively come to a better way of living in the world that is sustainable and healthier for everyone. We all want health and vibrancy and our natural world can provide it! We just have to come back into balance.
May you be well. May you be happy. 🦋
Viewing the 'family' Category
(Multiple posts today...check them out!)
The VA finally made their payment for our oldest daughter's tuition this semester. She had 18 days of benefits. The school usually estimates the amount they expect to receive and bills us for the remainder. This semester they underestimated the amount by over $1000! The actual amount they were off by was $1,129.72.
We have received that money back in our checking account, along with her refund of her parking permit which was $94. Her housing refund was $953.79. In total she has received $2,177.51. This is such good news, since she did take out loans this last year totalling $5,500. That will be a significant amount to put towards the balance. It is interesting how things work out sometimes.
She has had one interview, by Zoom, but the person interviewing seemed to be giving advice than trying to hire, specifically telling her she didn't have enough experience. So odd, as you would think the interviewer could read that this is a college graduate. She probably has more experience than some new graphic design grads, as she has been working on campus doing design for four years and has almost completed a year long internship. Of course, there are more experience people who have been in the workforce for awhile. Just still odd she even had the interview in the first place! I know she will find her path and a job eventually. She is blessed that both her part time jobs are allowing her to continue until she finds full time work.
My husband should know very soon if he is on the promotion list. It would be shocking if he was not. Last year we were hopefully, but knew it would be ahead of schedule. This year he would have to be failing considerably on all metrics to not get the promotion. It's simply his year to be promoted if that makes sense. We don't know how quickly it will be effective with all that is going on, but hopefully sooner than later.
The stimulus money is pending in our account. We are getting $2,400. Our children are over 17, so we do not get, nor do we need the extra $500 per child. We do not even need the $2,400.
We have not made any decisions on this money. I think I'm waiting to see how this plays out a bit. I do think it will get spent in some form or another, which is the point. I have quite a few ideas of things we could invest in to make us more self reliant, but may need to help our daughter or some nieces and nephews.
Our oldest daughter is close to freaking out about graduation and not finding a job. Job postings are minimal. She is looking in multiple states. There is one that is more local that I really want her to get. No word on that yet, and I could see it be a situation where they may be on a hiring freeze. She does have an internship that started back up this week online. She was asked when she graduates and when she said in a couple weeks, he said she can stay on after graduation until she finds another job. That would be really great, although if they go back to in person, could create a housing issue. As it is now she is living 45 minutes away from work with my parents, but they still might work for her. This organization is also in a hiring freeze, so not being able to replace her would be noticeable. This organization also paid her four weeks when they closed down and she didn't work at all.❤️
Graduation for our oldest daughter is coming up soon in early May! I just happened to think to look for flights the other day and there were some decent prices for the dates we needed, so I booked them. We also have a one way flight for our youngest daughter to return home for the summer. Our oldest daughter can move here with us if she wants, but none of us think that is the best idea because she ultimately does not want to live here knowing we will eventually move again.
Back to the tickets. We paid $670 for these flights. I did charge these to our Southwest credit card, as I always do. I have $500 from this pay period that I can apply to pay off. The bill won't be due for about three weeks, thus I can find the rest from the next paycheck.
I'm looking forward to the day when hopefully we live much closer to our girls and we don't need to fly. But I am also grateful that we have this mode of transportation so we can get to them fast!😀
I started working on our tax return today. I've been dreading it.
Figuring the American Opportunity Tax credit correctly is always a chore for some reason. I only felt it was a chore last year when I realized both schools report differently on the 1098T. You would think there would be clear requirements. One includes books bought at the school book store and the other doesn't is one example.
Only the youngest qualifies for the AOTC this year, and I'm still waiting on her to get the 1098T from the community college she took summer classes with.
The oldest daughter will need to actually file her own tax return this year due to having a job, and selling her mutual fund this year. I'm going to work on it for her initially, but will try to walk her through it at some point so she knows a little about what to do going forward.
My husband said to me the other day, how did you learn how to do taxes? I learned from my dad! And then, of course, learned how to read up on the regulations as they change for our situation as we went along. His dad was a tax accountant and always did my husband's taxes for him. And for a couple years, he did our taxes as well. But he died in 2002, so I was back to doing our own taxes. My husband said he would have no idea what to do if he had to file his own taxes.
I recently remembered having an argument with his dad on the phone when he exchanged our oldest daughter's mutual fund to a new investment. I was only made aware when the statement came in the mail. I did not like him making decisions for me! He explained why and then I did my research after to confirm he made a good choice. And that is the fund I stayed with up until our daughter sold it this summer.
So far we are expecting a refund, and it will probably be a little less than last year since we have to use the less valuable Lifetime Learning Credit for our oldest daughter's tuition.
Have you started your taxes? Do you do your own or do you pay someone else to complete them for you?
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.
I'll attempt to include a screenshot of myDecember 2009 post, but the run down I posted then was that we contributed $14,147 to retirement, our retirement accounts had increased by $33,219, and the value had exceed $100K for the first time.
We had paid over $10K on a home equity loan, with total debt decreasing by $17K. Not sure our total debt amount, but we may have had a loan on my van and home debt. If I had to guess $160K to $175K in debt.
I also reported paying our daughter's braces in cash along with a trip to Disney World. We were also getting ready for my husband to deploy to the Middle East for the second time.
Ten years later:
Husband is cosigner on a car loan for our daughter which had a balance of $4,959 at the end of December 2019. Otherwise we have zero debt.
We do not own a home and live on a military installation. We pay rent equal to our housing allowance. At this point we have rented since June of 2015.
We have $95,327 in cash (most of it invested in high interest rate CDs.) Part of that, $72,083.93, is cash towards our Big Savings Goal of $200,000.
We saved $21,627.56 in 2019 towards retirement. Our retirement accounts increased $172,287.30 in one year, with an ending balance of $660,822.27.
In 2019 both of our daughters were in college full time for the first time. Tuition bills were paid in full, with our oldest daughter taking out her first loan in the fall for $2,750. No parent loans thus far!
Our 2007 Honda vehicles are still paid off. While they have lots of miles they still run and look fantastic.
In ten years there has been significant progress in retirement and we have mostly stayed out of debt (just a little help for our daughter).
It's fun to look back and I look forward to another ten years of financial progress. It should make for an interesting story!
Both of our daughters have taken off for their respective schools. We are empty nesters once again. Amazing to think our oldest will graduate in May. Time to make plans for that and spring break!
I still need to do my ten year look back financially. I didn't forget!
I've thought about some goals, but not ready to write them, nor are they that much different than past years. Just plan to save MORE!
I'm not specifically doing Uber Frugal Month, but trying to be conscious of spending going forward. I did buy some groceries at Target in the last week using the gift cards I bought at 10% discount in December. So there will end up being less spent in the grocery budget.
I did spend some money recently to get items to start growing my own broccoli sprouts. I do like sprouts, but can't find them very often. They are really good for you, so I'm going to grow my own inside in jars. Do you grow anything inside your home that is edible?
Over a week ago, my husband's unit has a family Christmas party. I won a small cast iron pan with a cookie mix in it. It makes probably a four or five inch cookie. Not something I would ever buy, but I decided to give it to our youngest daughter with her Christmas check ($40). She does like to bake and I thought it would disguise and help me wrap the check! Worse case scenario I donate it.
My husband also won a $25 Target gift card from filling out a survey for our property management. A nice surprise! Wish I had known earlier, as I already bought my other daughter a $25 Target gift card! It's all good though, they will all get used.
Very small winnings, but winnings nonetheless!
In other small money news, I did redeem rewards on our Chase Freedom card for $13.77. I also sold a book on eBay that I need to mail out tomorrow. Probably made $5 on that. Less stuff more money!
Our girls arrive home on Saturday for their holiday break! We are looking forward to it.