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Frugal Things

July 17th, 2019 at 07:42 am

As best as I can remember, I only had to throw out at most two cups of watermelon this past week. I had purchased a very large one for a picnic we were going to attend. We were eating it ourselves since we missed the picnic due to my husband's travel I mentioned last week. It turned bad before we could finish those last two cups.

I made a point this past week to use up some things in the fridge as part of my meal plan. I had an opened can of olives, some green onion, half a bag of frozen peas and carrots, a partial jar of tahini and a lime that were top on my to use up list.

I have been using dish soap and vinegar as my primary bathroom cleaner for about a month. It works really well. I have to be careful not to spray too much on or it gets really sudsy! I already had all items, including the spray bottle on hand, when I decided to try it out.

I found and used three coupons at the store yesterday and saved $2.00. I think I will pull $2 from the grocery category and dump it towards our goals.

I saved some money and will continue forward by stopping the use of shampoo on my hair. I'm a curly hair girl, and recently read some things about the Curly Girl Method, which basically says to stop using shampoo. I've done this before with good results. Not sure why I went back. My hair is feeling thicker and curlier after just a week and a half.

I saved some bacon grease to use for cooking other things. We don't eat a lot of bacon, and I usually just wiped up the grease with a paper towel in the past. I thought I'd try it out. I use all sorts of oils; olive, ghee, coconut, and butter. So this is just a little extra to add to my stash of options.

I did make the chicken broth I mentioned last week. I have not yet used it. I will need to make a point to do that soon, or get most of it frozen.

I think that is all I have to report. Unless you want to hear about all the things we don't buy that many Americans do! What frugal things did you do this week?

An Extra $500?!

July 16th, 2019 at 08:04 am

Hmm, just balanced our budget after this last pay period and we had an even $500 left! I'm starting to wonder if i missed something. I do know there wasn't much activity, driving, eating out or spending this first half of July, but to have an extra $500 seems surprising.

I put it into the Emergency Fund category of YNAB, which brings that balance to $1,392. I tend to sweep extra funds in there lately when I'm not sure exactly where to allocate the money. I do like a little cushion.

I did remember after I put the $500 there that I was short for one daughter's fall tuition payment by the due date, but was just going to borrow from other areas and pay it back the following month. Actual shortage $521. So I suppose, I should be proactive and drop that money there. As a result I may be able to adjust the future monthly allocations to her tution down by $100 each month.

As I'm pondering this problem, which yes I know is a fantastic problem to have, I'm thinking I might rename the category, Slush Fund. I might try to maintain it at $1000, anything I drop in there over $1000, should then be swept into our EF earning interest. I think I've been putting more money in there lately as because I've been seeing this year as more expensive, but in some ways it hasn't been that much different.

On the other hand, I sort of want to sweep it all over (minus the $500) to pay back that down payment we made on our daughter's car. Things to think about at least.

Travel Reimbursement In Our Favor

July 14th, 2019 at 07:14 am

My husband had what was supposed to be a one night trip for work last week, unfortunately due to flight cancellations it turned into two nights and he flew into a different airport, specifically on July 4. It was not the holiday we had planned.

I had to drive our vehicle to pick him up about 90 miles away. As a result he received additional per diem and mileage for the use of our personal vehicle. He also did a really good job of keeping his dining expenses low, taking advantage of the USO in the airport primarily and having one dinner with friends who ended up paying, while he was in town.

We made $292.05 on the trip. That will be used to repay ourselves for the car down payment. At the rate we are finding money it seem this payback is going to happen much faster than I expected!

I recently redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card. I stocked up on Vitamin D with the gift card and set aside the $25 I would have spent out of pocket towards our current goal.

And finally, I redeemed $20.95 in rewards from US Bank and expect that we will have American Express Rewards to redeem in the next week as well.

Electricity Refund

July 11th, 2019 at 04:53 am

Our housing payment on this military installation covers utilities, unless we go above the normal range compared to other units our size by 10%, then we would pay the difference. The opposite is true, if we go below the normal range we get a refund.

We received our refund for service from mid April to mid May this week. It was the highest we have had yet at $53.18. This is going towards paying ourselves back for the car down payment. I have seen our fellow neighbors posting how low they keep their air conditioning and while we drop it at night for sleeping, we do adjust up during the day because otherwise I would need to wear a sweater to keep warm!

Just this morning I received notification of the mid May to mid June period. Our credit will only be $11.85. That is not enough to receive a payout next month, but it will be added to any future credits, or money owed.

I'm thankful for all money, snowflakes, that fall in our favor!

Retirement Milestone

July 7th, 2019 at 06:40 am

Our retirement accounts hit a new milestone on July 3, 2019. We have crossed the $600K mark. Considering the value was under $500K at the end of 2018 because of the market drop last fall, it feels good that the markets have rallied once again.

If you have no retirement, at least start researching types of investments. Understand fees. Understand risks. Put some numbers into retirement calculators to see how your money can grow.

If your employer offers a retirement plan, set up an automatic investment there. Automatic investments with your employer keep you from spending your money before you get it invested. Automatic investments from your checking account are also great as you never forget to invest.

Just 13 years ago our retirement accounts were just $25K. It's hard to fathom when you first start that you will make it to $100K. But consistent dedication to investing does pay off.

Big Goal Savings: June

July 2nd, 2019 at 04:58 am

If you didn't see my previous posts, take a look. I had to revise May progress, luckily in the right direction. Starting this month, I will be reporting Big Goal Savings as well as our progress paying back the $3,000 car down payment that came from our savings.

Here's the money we are applying to our Big Goal this month.

NFCU Interest $119.42
FNBO Interest $66.62
USAA Interest $0.02
6/1 Paycheck $175
6/15 Paycheck $175

$536.06 June Big Goal Total
$5,876.72 2019 YTD

$68,326.12 Previous Big Goal Balance
$68,862.18 New Big Goal Balance

34.43% of $200,000 Target Goal

Side note, that is an average of $979.45 per month. The average is likely going to go down until we pay ourselves back for the car down payment. Sometimes I'm just amazed at how things can work out if you stick to the principles of regular savings or paying off debt.

Big Goal Savings: May (Revised)

July 2nd, 2019 at 04:41 am

I wrote that in May I made a mistake with Our Big Goal Savings tracking, where I forgot to actually account for a $175 deposit. Turns out I actually made two mistakes!! I forgot to add in the interest earned for May into our totals!

This the revised May Progress report:

$100.23 Anniversary gift
$39.82 Paypal (eBay, Pinecone, olive oil settlement)
$175 Paycheck 5/15
$48.88 American Express Rewards
$1.87 Discover Rewards
$0.40 Chase Rewards
$12.84 US Bank Rewards
$69.61 FNBO Direct Interest
$123.08 NFCU Interest
$0.03 USAA Interest

$571.76 May Big Goal Total
$5340.66 2019 YTD

$67,947.08 Previous Big Goal Balance
$68,518.04 New Big Goal Balance

34.26% of $200,000 goal

Living On A Dime Grocery Shopping Tips

June 25th, 2019 at 08:12 am

I mentioned a while back that I purchased an ebook series from the website Living On a Dime. They have a YouTube channel by the same name. They normally sell this set of books for $25, but were selling for half off, or $12.50. I honestly don't normally fall for making these types of purchases. I mean most frugal living and recipes can be found online or a library for free with a little digging in all honesty.

The seven titles of the books were:
224 Recipes in A Hurry
Eating Healthy on A Budget
Is Eating Out, Eating You Up?
Grocery Savings
Grocery Shopping On A Budget
Money Saving Meats
Saving on Cleaning Supplies

I read them all. I knew a lot of the information, much of it reminders of things I knew at one time, but haven't stayed with me. Here's the basic notes I took on the one titled Grocery Shopping on A Budget.

Try to skip a week going to the store. If we don't shop, we don't spend!

Clean out, organize pantry, freezer and fridge. If you know what you have you can use it up or plan a meal around it. You won't buy more if you already have plenty. If the fridge is organized and you keep eggs in the same spot it's easy to see if you need more if you know where to look.

Plan leftovers. Specifically, they talk a lot about buying a roast or bulk meat, using some in one meal on the night it's made and then make a whole new meal with the leftover meat. So roast with vegetables one night, then roast in a noodle casserole the next and then maybe sandwiches another night with the leftover roast.

Learn about required nutrients and portions sizes for children and adults. Talk to the family so they know what you are doing. Juice is only 4 oz, only pour what a child will actually drink so you are throwing out the excess. Serve and eat three balanced meals a day. Try to skip snacks. To figure out serving sizes literally measure food for a few days to get an idea of what serving sizes are.

Plan seven meals, but also be creative. If you need bread for a recipe, could you use crackers or muffins, bagels, cornbread or other bread product you have on hand?

They point out that store brands can be cheaper than a brand item with a coupon. They suggest trying a store brand of a product one or two times a week. Don't buy something just because there is a coupon. Only buy what you need. If you use coupons, keep them organized, start small, find free ones online, from friends, neighbors coworkers or recycling centers. Swap with others and write companies whose products you like who might send coupons.

Again, most of this is obvious to me. Do I always do it? No, but reading these tips and the others in the books was a good reminder of what I could do to lower our grocery budget.

Any thoughts on the tips? I'll write more about the other ebooks in future posts.

More Money In

June 21st, 2019 at 07:53 pm

I redeemed $26.43 from Ibotta today after I was credited $11.11 for a Joann Fabric purchase. The money is instantly added to my PayPal account. I now need to accumulate another $20 before I can redeem again. That will probably be another six months!

We received a check from the utility company in the amount of $38.51 in the mail today. Theoretically, our rent includes utilities on the base that we live, but if our usage is under the average or an average range we get a credit. If is over we would have to pay. So far we have received a credit for all but one month that we have lived here. We have not yet had to pay.

These extra monies will go toward paying ourselves back for the our daughter's car down payment. I did a little calculation earlier today, and my goal is to repay ourselves in 12 months or less.

Another Couple Sales

June 4th, 2019 at 05:11 am

I sold one of the old cell phones and a pair of shorts on eBay yesterday. Netting a little over $40 I think.

Although I said ALL sale money would go to pay ourselves back for the car down payment, the money from the phones is going towards paying the sales tax and activation fees on the two new phones which is going to be on our bill at the end of the month. That charge is $120 or so. I have one more phone to sell, but it will go for less as it's more beat up and we aren't selling it with the charger.

I have already applied some funds from other prior sales to the phone charge as well in the amount of $27.50. We are also expecting a rebate check from our utility service in the amount of $33, which I also plan to apply to the charge. It seems late, but I think it will be here before that bill is due. We do have the money to cover the charge, this is just the way my brain works when I have extra expenses. So I'm close to have the full $120 for the phones!!

I have other items listed on eBay and I have other potential items to sell as well. Summer feels like a slow time of year to make sales, but it's worth the try. If our housing has another garage sale, I might see if I have enough to put some things out.

Paying Ourselves Back

June 3rd, 2019 at 05:31 am

I mentioned in a previous post that we paid $3,000 towards a downpayment on our daughter's new to her car. I initially put this on a credit card, which has 4% interest rate. This was my way of avoiding taking on a lot of debt at nearly 9% interest rate they were offering us on the loan initially. In the end the loan is at 5.74% and is likely a little high because my daughter did not have credit. My husband is the cosigner. We will make the payment on the loan while she is in school, the rest will be up to her.

Back to the $3,000 on the credit card. It is due June 15, where no interest will have been accrued. I plan to take money from what is probably considered our emergency fund money to pay it in full on that date. My next concern is making a plan to pay that money back in the midst of new expenses (a car payment of $133.50 and increased insurance of $75 a month).

I'm going to continue adding to our Big Savings Goal, but not as aggressively, basically, we will throw the interest earned on our savings and the $175 twice per month towards that goal moving forward as our bare minimum. This puts us near $550 per month.

To pay ourselves back for the $3,000 down payment, I'm going to put all eBay sale money and credit card rewards towards this. I'm also going to be actively looking for other additional funds that can make this payback go as fast as possible. I'd like to say this is my primary goal. And it basically is, but I also know we are managing travel expense again coming in the fall. (Sometimes it's not fun having your kids attend schools so far away!) If we didn't have these expenses, it would be no issue to pay ourselves back this $3K in a very short period of time.

I can already report that the $100 we received for the speakers I sold last week have already been applied towards this goal.

$3,000.00 Beginning Balance
__$100.00 Speaker Sale
$2,900.00 New Balance

I am curious how quickly I can make this happen!