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April Big Savings Goal Progress

May 12th, 2019 at 07:26 am

Here's last months contribution towards our Big Savings Goal. I think the next few months will be slower as we have other expenses we are managing that are taking away from the progress. If we can maintain this amount or similar I will be pleased.

We had a refund of Chase credit card annual fees ($349.15) due to SCRA being applied to some of our accounts. I would have liked to have saved this for our Big Savings Goal, but with upcoming summer college costs and assisting our daughter with a car we have backed off putting ALL the extras towards this goal. This is a big frustrating for me as I have really enjoyed the progress and focus, but I realize this is just temporary.

$350.00 ($175 from each paycheck, two per month)
___$7.64 Discover Cashback
_$10.00 NAPA rebate
___$9.41 US Bank Cashback
_$66.66 FNBO Interest Earned
$118.78 NFCU Interest Earned
___$5.46 USAA Interest and ATM rebates
___$3.00 Amazon Gift card (Swagbucks)
___$6.73 Ebay Sale

$577.68 April Big Goal Total
$4,768.90 2019 YTD

$67,369.40 Previous big goal Balance
$67,947.08 New big goal Balance

33.97% of $200,000 goal

April Interest

May 1st, 2019 at 01:45 pm

More interest earned in the month of April. This money is added to our Big Savings Goal which I hope to report on tomorrow.

FNBO $66.66
NFCU $118.78
Total $185.44

Thankful for compound interest!! If you don't know what that is, look it up, it's fascinating!

A New High And Budget Adjustments

April 28th, 2019 at 09:05 am

Yay! Our retirement accounts have reached a new high as of the closing on Friday afternoon. So grateful we have money increasing in value for retirement! We just keep plugging away adding funds to our account monthly. All of these contributions are set up automatically, so other than recorded them in our check register (which is auto on YNAB), we don't think too much about it. Auto investing is the way to go!

Yesterday's mail was fruitful financially. We received a refund check from our utility service here on base. We have stay at or under the average compared to similar sized homes on base for electrical and water usage. The result is a refund of $55.

The other check in the mail was the proceeds from our oldest daughter's UTMA. I'd have to go back and look at our total investment in that account, but I'm going to guess under $1,000 since the late 90s and early 2000s. The final redemption amount was $3,973.62. This is money going towards her first car. Her car will likely be more than this, but hopefully not by much.

I have two items ending on eBay that are being watched, so two sales possible. They won't make more than a few dollars, but it all adds up, as I have shown over and over again on this blog.

I cut our Hulu Live subscription effective today. It's saving us $45 a month. This is planned for the summer months to offset the need to pay $55 a month for our youngest daughter to store her dorm items this summer. Our older daughter has always stored her items at my parents since she is pretty close. Our youngest is much farther away, so this just made sense logistically. Not exactly how I want to spend money, but we are going to try it this first summer and see how it goes. I think my husband is going to miss Hulu, so this is temporary because we did like it for accessing college football in the fall.

I stopped our youngest daughter's allowance for the summer. She was receiving $125 a month from us. Honestly it far exceeded her needs and expenses. I noticed she seems to buy music and make Go Fund Me donations with it. I love that she is generous. The primary reason to end it for the summer and reevaluate is to help cover rent for our older daughter. Our younger daughter will be home and we can cover anything that comes up with our own budget. We will likely reinstate some form of spending money, but we also know she is starting a part time research job, so she will start accumulating her own spending money, thus less needed from us.

I've also decided to stop funding our car maintenance and repair sinking fund for a few months. We currently have $1000 set aside plus an emergency fund. We have been funding it with $275 a month because we have older cars. We are very current on major repairs and maintenance we we think this will not be an issue short term. We expect to start it back up in August or September. This change is also due to upcoming expenses with our daughter staying in her college town this summer.

I'm doing my best to maintain our current Big Savings Goal progress and monthly contributions, thus the reason for making other adjustments to the budget temporarily. I'm grateful that we have flexibility to make changes to how we spend our money.

Credit Refund And A Few Sales

April 25th, 2019 at 10:55 am

It's nice when cash flows in!

I sold three items recently on eBay this month. Net profit was $20.77. None of the items were worth much, but yet they sold for a little bit better than garage sale prices. I'll take it!

I sold a heavy duty shelving unit from our garage. We had three and really only needed two since we have downsized so much. I sold it within a hour for $20. It was probably worth more since I had so many people interested.

The other unexpected money flowing in was a credit on my husband's government credit card in the amount of $116.08. I think he basically sent more to the card when the money should have come to us for reimbursement of expenses. I have that money set aside to cover a rental car we need next week on a trip.

I redeemed 2500 SB (Swagbucks) for an Amazon gift card and used it to buy a set of steps to help our 14 year old kitty more easily get up on the couch. We had been picking her up as she can no longer jump up on her own. I like when I can apply the SB earnings to things we need.

Do you have some extra money flowing in?

Financial Chaos

April 18th, 2019 at 07:47 am

First, I'm not sure how clear I can make this post as there is a lot I'm juggling financially. I 'feel' like we are in financial chaos, but I've been working very hard to turn those thoughts and feelings around. We are coming up on summer and both of our daughter's are taking classes. The combined tuition is over $4,400 plus books. No scholarships or loans available during the summer this time. The easiest thing to do is to withdraw the money in full from the Educational Savings accounts.

But...I know that if I pay out of pocket for our younger daughter that will help me meet the requirements to take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax credit for 2019. Spend $4,000 on qualified education expenses, get a $2,500 tax credit. I'd rather use that money to get a discount on taxes than pay our government more in other words.

And...I also know that our oldest daughter no longer has her scholarship for fall (full time) and spring (part time last semester) that has so helped us previously with the out of state tuition. Her ESA is now down to $3,500. Loans have been offered for the next two semesters.

And...our oldest daughter is living in apartment this summer. Here in a couple weeks we going to help her get a car, likely with a majority of the funds coming from her UTMA account and a small loan. This will not be a new car, or even rather that new.

And some news on VA educational benefits. We had planned to transfer some benefits from our youngest daughter to our older daughter for the fall semester since she already used all that we originally allocated to her. We can do this, but if we claim them for fall, they will actually get applied in arrears to this spring when we only used 19 days. The VA even though all parties are good today, goes back to fulfill the obligation in full. While this sounds good, it's not the best scenario for us, as our daughter will have more tuition due in the fall not because of more hours but because her scholarship expired. We have been advised to withdraw the benefits applied to this spring so that we can them claim those 19 days plus the months we transfer to the fall semester. This withdrawal is now creating a debt we will owe to the University and the VA. Specifically we will owe the University $901.15 and the VA $966.43. The University bill will likely be very soon, but the VA will be delayed several months.

Our oldest daughter did get an paid internship for this next year that starts just after school ends. She is also looking for another job to work this summer in addition to the internship. This is good as she will have some funds coming in to help with the car expenses, such as fuel. Because her hours and income are not fully known we are doing our best to support her as she transitions to paying more of her expenses.

I currently have $1,305 in the college category in YNAB. I also have $1650 in our emergency category. We have our tax refund ($1968) that I did put into our Big Savings Goal and really, really don't want to use. I also save $400 a month towards college tuition and expenses. I think I can add more, since we are saving quite a bit of money in fuel living on base.

My struggle is wanting to keep moving towards our own goals, specifically the Big Savings Goal, as well as to avoid taking on debt. Overall, I'm not against debt for the short term, but I've learned to love not having debt. In the end I think having our daughter take on a small car loan and some student loan debt is the best route. We have given a lot to avoid debt at this point and we really don't feel sacrificing our goals is worth keeping her from debt. I think that makes sense, and even if it's not what you would do, I think it's right for us at this time.

This post is long. I'm pretty confident I can get it all to work out it's just taking a lot of effort to think through it all and decide where all the money is coming from. Oh, I realized I didn't exactly touch on where the student loans come from, but basically our oldest daughter is at the end of her Education Savings money, scholarships and Post 911 GI benefits. We expect she will have no more than $7,500 in loans. This is very reasonable debt for a double major don't you think?

Update: Eating It All

April 4th, 2019 at 07:45 am

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 https://www.budgetbytes.com/smoky-quinoa-black-bean-salad/ which used up the quinoa in the pantry, the mini peppers in the fridge and some cooked kidney beans I had in the freezer. So tasty! I will eat that for lunch later.

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?

March Big Savings Goal Progress

April 2nd, 2019 at 11:33 am

Yay! Three months in a row I have remembered to update you on our Big Savings Goal progress.

$350.00 ($175 from each paycheck, two per month)
_$38.90 American Express CC Rewards
_$38.47 Discover Cash Back
__$5.33 Chase Freedom Rewards
__$8.55 US Bank Cash Bank
_$58.31 FNBO Interest Earned
$122.01 NFCU Interest Earned
__$5.61 USAA Interest and ATM rebates
__$20.00 Cash
$1,968.00 US Treasury Refund

$2,615.18 March Big Goal Total
$4,191.22 2019 YTD

$63,178.18 Previous Big Goal Balance
$67,369.40 New Big Goal Balance

33.68% of $200,000 Goal

We are very pleased with this progress! An unexpected tax refund is appreciated and makes a big difference. There is still a chance I will pull the refund (or part of it) back out depending on some upcoming expenses. However, I decided to go ahead and try to make it work without. I did not add any fuel savings this month, because we had $1800 in travel expenses in the last two months to cover. I simply needed that money to help make that happen. And finally, I marked $20 cash in my notes, so I'm not exactly sure where that money came from, but apparently I decided to add it to the goal.

March Interest Earned

April 1st, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Grateful for higher interest rates! The amount we earn each month keeps growing.

FNBO $58.51
NFCU $122.01
Total $180.52

Our interest earned funds our Big Goal each month!

Eat it All in April

March 28th, 2019 at 01:43 pm

My husband will be traveling next week. So I have a plan, just as I did earlier this year to eat up what we have in the fridge, freezer and cupboard. I have yet to decide exactly what my meals will be as we have several days until he leaves.

To be honest we don't have a lot in fridge or pantry. We really don't stock up ever. But as you know, if you buy a bag of rice you often don't eat it in one meal. So then you have a partial bag of rice.

My first goal will be to focus on using any perishables from the refrigerator. My second goal will be to use some things from the freezer. I know there is a lentil soup in there. I also have the equivalent of a can of kidney beans and some peas. The final goal would be to incorporate any items from the pantry. I have two small boxes of raisins, so I'd really like to make broccoli salad, but that would definitely require buying broccoli.

I'll report in next week and let you know how it's going. I figure I'll save some money buy limiting my grocery purchases for a week. Do you have food you could use up and sustain you for a few days before you go to the store again?

Home Inventory

March 25th, 2019 at 11:46 am

We have renter's insurance and have ever since we started renting. It is very expensive in our new location. I'm not sure now if we changed our coverages significantly. Our policy covers $50,000 replacement coverage. I think this is plenty as we are very pared down with our things compared to most people. I'm starting to question if it would be worth my time to actually inventory all of our belongings. The policy we have now also includes $100,000 personal liability coverage, with $5000 in medical payments. I'm wondering if our old policy even included this. I guess I need to go looking to see! Not sure if personal liability is worth having, as it appears to be nearly doubling our premium, which is $1,051 per year with a $1000 deductible. I did notice it includes flood insurance (which now that I have seen how easily that can happens is a very good thing).

Have you ever done a home inventory and included the replacement costs to figure your coverage needs? Any tips? If you didn't do an inventory, how did you decide on the amount to cover?

I know it seems like I should be savvy on this, but honestly, insurance has always been the last financial thing I tend to consider. We have always had auto and home/renter's. We have life and medical, but I'm no expert.

I'm currently reaching out to an agent to see if they can do better than our auto and renters policies with USAA. We have heard over the years that many insurance companies cannot compete with USAA. Although I do have one friend who did switch from USAA and found a much cheaper premium elsewhere on auto and home. So there is some hope.

Tax Refund Arrives Tomorrow

March 5th, 2019 at 07:58 am

Tax refund is pending in our second checking account right now. Somewhere I saw that it would arrive March 12. It's arrival is about a week sooner than I expected.

I really, really want to add this to the Big Goal. And I probably can, but then just back it out later if needed.

Another part of me thinks I should put it towards college tuition expenses since the refund can be directly attributed to taking the American Opportunity Tax credit.

I also know that I could send it various places too.

I think I'm conflicted about where to allocate it because of some bigger outflows happening right now. Spent over $800 on plane tickets for our daughters to come home for spring break. We need to pay the VA for the overpayment they sent the University (and University sent to us). I think there is something else too.

Once I work through my emotions and review our budget in YNAB a bit more, I think I can eventually make a decision. It's been several years since we had a refund and I wasn't expecting one...so I wasn't making plans on what to do with it!

I'll be back to let you know once I decide for sure!