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!!
Viewing the 'Healthy Living' Category
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.
My husband has been out of town for work this week so I made a goal to eat primarily out of the fridge and not buy too many new groceries.
I've been eating green smoothies for breakfast consisting of 1c water, 2 c spinach, 1/2 mixed berries, and 1 TBS of chia seeds. Lunch and dinner have consisted of some sort of salad, a turkey sandwich, soup or some raw veggies. I'm not eating all of these in at one meal but two or three of them.
Today, I'm actually skipping breakfast to allow for a longer fast since I ate dinner last night.
In the past I've listed what I have in my fridge, freezer and pantry and then explained what I used up. This time I'll just explain what I have used and what I had to purchase.
I bought a small loaf of bread, four bananas, three small heads of broccoli, a red onion, green onion and spinach. These were bought on two different trips, so I think the cost had to be under $15, maybe even under $10.
I made broccoli salad which I was able to add two boxes of raisins from the cupboard and use up five slices of turkey bacon. This also used up the last in a jar of mayo. I ate this along with sandwich or soup for four meals.
I used up a slice of cheese on one sandwich, added three small slices of chicken to a salad, and ate some raw cabbage as a snack. Last night I put together a
There was a Vegan Lentil Stew in the freezer so I thawed that Tuesday night to have with my lunches and dinner. So that is used up!
I still have fresh produce to use up. I'm putting the last of the ginger root in my water for flavor. I also have some orange slices I could do the same with. I have two apples, two bananas a few celery sticks and carrots along with spinach. Oh, I did use up all the spring greens and half a tomato. I was putting these on my turkey sandwiches.
While I love the green smoothies I think the bananas are too much sugar. I will use them up, but I will not buy any more for awhile.
I basically have five meals left to make for myself. I feel like I still have plenty even though the pantry consists only of almonds, spices, nutritional yeast, pearled barley and lentils! I will keep my focus mainly on the fridge and fill in from the freezer if needed since there is a burrito and veggie burgers in there.
It feels good to not have to go shopping for almost a week and find that there is plenty in my house to keep me full and satisfied.
If you are eating it up this week or month, how is it going? Do you feel you have saved some money?
I don't budget for medical as we are rarely ill and our insurance covers pretty much everything when we are. We also have a rather large emergency fund.
One of my daughter's and I are now seeking care from a provider who cannot be reimbursed by our insurance. Our insurance simply doesn't cover this common treatment. So out of pocket it is.
Our initial exams with diagnostic tests were $199 each, or $398. I had nearly all this in our emergency fund set aside at the beginning of the month. So that was easy.
I paid $1152 for a series of visits that will cover both of us through the summer. This was a 30% discount offered for paying in one full payment. That is a significant savings. So on the charge card it went. And since we never pay interest on credit cards, I went looking for funds. I found $300 set aside for eyeglasses, but we aren't in current need of those. And finally, the easiest thing to do was to use some of Big Goal Savings we had accumulated this year that was still sitting in our checking account.
I would have preferred not to pull from the Big Goal money, but I think our health needs are a bigger need. My goal is to pay ourselves back, we may have extra vacation funds later this summer, or after I evaluate the funds I have for tuition and housing I may have some to throw from there.
Cash saved gets you the medical you want that the insurance companies will not pay for. Cash is freedom!
My parents send my husband and I a $100 check every year for our anniversary. This year was no different. We usually save the money, rarely making a purchase. So yes, we deposited that money into our savings account to count towards our Big Goal.
As far as other snowflakes, I redeemed Amex rewards equal to $25 this week. I also transferred $3.49 from a small eBay sale to our savings account. I have two items I need to list to hopefully bring in a few more dollars.
I got a call from my oldest daughter yesterday with concern she may have fractured a bone in her foot. It was a goofy thing where her foot got trapped between her chair and her desk, so a bit crushed on the side of her left foot. She iced it and went to bed. Woke up and found it very painful to even walk. Somehow she managed to hobble around campus, and late in the day went in for an xRay. Luckily no break or fracture, just a bone contusion. So she has instructions to rest, ice, and elevate. My mom gave her some Ace bandages to use for compression. And the doctor said she could take up to three ibuprofen for pain. My daughter was shocked at the dosage suggested. She is one to stay away from all drugs as much as possible.
About two weeks ago, we realized our daughter was dropped from our insurance because she turned 21. Luckily we got right on it and updated her information to show she is enrolled full time in college. But then yesterday, I questioned my husband that it really did take effect. Initially, it seemed that no it had not. He did some sort of online enrollment and then did get a letter emailed to him before she arrived at the clinic. The visit is free at the University Health clinic (up to five per year), but the xRays will need to go through insurance. She has a $150 deductible so that will need to be met before insurance pays. It is worth it for piece of mind, knowing she didn't break it...just felt like it!
It's a beautiful day here, were going out for a hike! Enjoy your weekend. Stay frugal and healthy.
I guess it was January when I last made a point of using things up. I was doing an Uber Frugal Month with spending and using things we already had on hand was part of making that work.
I had some diced butternut squash in the fridge that I didn't even get to then! It's almost April! Late this morning, I threw the squash in a saucepan with garlic, onion, ginger and carrots to saute' for several minutes. Oh yes, there was salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. I added some chicken broth (made from bouillon) and simmered for another ten minutes. And then in the end added a cup of milk (I was going to use coconut milk, but it had gone bad, oops!). Finally, blended it with my immersion blender.
My food stores are still pretty limited from the Uber Frugal month. To me this means we are buying only what we will actually eat and use! Far less food waste or extra money spent.
I know it's a holiday weekend for many and could mean more spending on groceries, but be sure to check your pantry before you go shopping. Maybe you already have ingredients you need, or possibly you have something on hand that could be used instead of something you think you need to buy.
Yesterday, I listed six new items to eBay. These were items we found this month to let go. These were ones that may have a chance of selling for a few dollars. I'm hoping for some quick sales!
I hope you all enjoy your weekend! Stay frugal out there.
Patient Saver commented on my last blog post this morning pointing out that not all carbs are bad for you. She is absolutely right. I didn't specify in my last post that I'm eliminating refined carbs as much as possible. I am still eating lots of vegetables and some fruit at every meal. I like bread too much and because my daughter practically only eats refined carbs as the basis of her diet, I eat them too. So working on eating less of those and even more vegetables. We actually did really well in 2017 adding more vegetables into our daughter's diet. The stuffed peppers from the other night...new to her. She was willing and scarfed it down before her pasta.
Today, I'm making a Pumpkin Lentil Soup for dinner to use up some mini peppers that are slightly past their prime but still good. I also have a can of pumpkin on hand and will use up the rest of my red lentils.
As I'm writing this I'm eating one of six halo oranges that have been around from the holidays. Between my daughter and I we should have no problem eating them before they go bad. I'll make some eggs later to round up my breakfast. I just checked the fridge and I probably should have the leftover taco meat for lunch. I will likely end up eating them with tortillas (refined carb). If I still had romaine, I'd make a taco salad.
Last night we had apple spiced pork chops with mixed vegetables and corn bread. That used up a wilting apple and the mixed vegetables and the last of the corn bread mixes. I only ate one corn bread muffin. There is a leftover pork chop. I will offer it to DH with his soup tonight. If not I have two choices, freeze it or eat if for lunch tomorrow.
So far the only spending since Sunday has been gas for my husband's car. Although he hasn't entered the receipt so maybe there is other spending. I will need to buy him shaving cream today, but I'm going to buy that at Target and use the gift cards we have on hand. I think I need one other thing, but otherwise no other spending.
Also, I think there has been some spending on textbooks and , but those have been budgeted for and can't be helped in a uber frugal challenge. Other than renting or buying used. Not sure what my daughter has done this semester, but she is not officially in the challenge.
I found out my parents are coming to visit. Arriving on the last day of this month, and they stay for 11 days! They won't be here the entire time (also visiting friends that live the next state over), but I think this means that the challenge for me will likely end at the end of the month. I originally wanted to go through the first week of February. That will just be a bit more difficult with guests. So three weeks to go!!
How are you doing eating all the food? How do you feel you are doing with the Uber Frugal Challenge?
I had an email this morning that our Netflix subscription amount is changing from $11.99 per month to $13.99 a month. Sounds like their will be more programs and the ability to download for later watching as benefits. Never a fan of price increases, but we will stick with Netflix for now.
Purchased my daughter some vitamins on Amazon today. I used the Discover cash back for a credit of $2.38. Final cost was $12.36. I think I will send that cash back amount to our Big Goal. I should add in the coupon savings from Sunday, too.
I had to take a mental health break today. I had some stress and anxiety pop up on me this morning. I'm feeling better already. To help, I called my mom, went for a two mile walk, ate a good lunch, and then took an epson salt bath. Later I added some relaxing oils to my diffuser while I listed to some very nice relaxing YouTube music. I also got up and got busy in the kitchen making some muffins and hummus (not to eat together!).
I share because this time of year can be stressful for various reasons. It is okay to take a time out and take care of ourselves. And it doesn't have to cost anything! And be kind to those you meet as you don't know what their current struggles may be.
We hadthis for dinner last night. It was really good! Lots of chopping, but very healthy. I'm making two other recipes from the website later this week.
The VA Education department has continued to provide us a housing payment of $1112 per month for our oldest daughter. I just made a $200 deposit for next years housing contract. My daughter would like to move off campus, but is having a hard time finding a roommate. There are ways to find roommates, but she would like it to be someone she knows. If we go the on campus route again, she will get a discount for being a returning student. That discount for the fourth years is $1097. She packs her schedule full...18 hours on average, so living on campus saves a lot of time and hassle than living off campus.
Our youngest daughter applied and was accepted to her college of choice. She plans to major in Industrial Engineering. This is in our former midwest state that we are still residents of. We did however have to provide documentation to the school to get her classified as a resident. Luckily, we were approved. They do provide in state tuition for all military members, spouses and children. This college charges a flat fee for 12+ hours, rather than break it down by credit hour. Of course, as an engineering student she will have higher tuition in her junior and senior year.
Specifically tuition and fees for 12+ hours is $4,318 per semester, or $8,636 per year. She did receive two renewable four year scholarships. One is worth $8,000 ($2000 per year) and the other is worth $10,000 ($2,500 per year). Very reasonable in my opinion. It's the housing that adds up! I don't have the details on those costs yet, as we have not picked a housing option. I think housing will be less than we pay for our older daughter, so that is a plus! And she will be applying for more scholarships soon, so fingers crossed there is a little more money to assist.
On January 4th of this year our retirement accounts topped $400,000 for the first time. As of yesterday, our accounts are valued at $425,768. That is a change of $25K in less than four months. Some of that change is our contributions to retirement, but the S&P 500 is up nearly 7%, so this growth is a factor as well. It sure would be nice to see this continue through the year. I do like to think the next major milestone, of $500K, could be soon!
In other news, I did get $3 from Pinecone. I also received some pending Swagbucks amounting to 1712 for a hotel I booked through the site. I currently have just under 3000 SB to redeem in early May for Amazon gift cards. And it looks like my husband has a couple things sitting in the Amazon cart...so hopefully I can score those for free.
I'm thinking next week my grocery list may be meatless. That may save a bit of money and be healthier as well. I picked up a Forks Over Knives magazine with lots of yummy looking plant based recipes. My daughter is nearly a vegetarian, so finding new things for her to try is a good motivator as well. Or maybe the motivation to be to try to save at least the cost of the magazine (which I never buy) $7.27! Ouch.
I mentioned previously that I was going to plant some vegetables this year. I've always loved fresh vegetables in the summer. After talking to my youngest daughter, she has good memories of picking beans, and tomatoes from our garden. So we are doing it again.
My landlord put in a pretty large mulched bed with two shrubs and a small tree right before we moved in. I was so surprised as the backyard had nothing but grass when we looked at it. I was a bit irritated as I knew the bed would need weeding. But I'm now grateful the area is there, so that I can plant some things without pulling out the grass.
I did have some major weeding to do to prepare the area, but the hoe we own was very helpful in getting them pulled up! There is hardly any mulch left that the landlord put down two years ago. A neighbor is required to put down mulch based on her rental contract. That is something we are not required to do.
I planted snow peas and romaine lettuce from seed. I put the lettuce in grow bags (basically directly into a bag of garden soil, with the bag ripped open on the top). I purchased two tomato plants, a summer squash, a zucchini, and two strawberry plants. The strawberry plants are in a large metal tub. These will go on our screened in porch to keep the birds away from them. They will get plenty of sun. Everything else is planted directly in the garden bed. I made sure to plant items where they will get the most sun (to the south of each tree). I guess the peas are behind one of the trees, but I think they will get enough sun. If they don't work out this spring, I will try another crop in the fall in another spot.
The snow pea seeds were $1.89. Organic romaine lettuce seeds were $2.24. The strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, and squash were $3.40 each. The bags of soil were $1.80 each. I did have to invest in two tomato cages for $8.60. My total investment was $36.73 plus tax ($39.30). If I can end up with produce worth more than $40 this summer I will be ahead financially. That will make the effort well worth it!
I know some of you are big gardeners. Anyone else planting anything edibles this year?