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)
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$2,020 In 2020

January 23rd, 2020 at 06:23 pm

I plan to save an additional $2,020 for the year. I've decided to simply automate this, and add it to the Big Goal total. Prior to making this decision I had already increased our automated savings of $175 each pay period to $200. This works out to an additional $50 per month saved.

In order to make the $2,020 increase for the year, I will change the automatic savings amount to $260. This increases each savings deposit by $85, compared to last year.

$85 x 24 pay periods is $2,040, which meets the goal exceeds it just a little.

I realized I didn't actually change the amount from $175 to the new $200 until the 15th of January. So I am short on both January deposits by $145 total.

I am moving that shortage today to make that the full $520 saved for the month. I will also adjust our automatic transfers as of February 1 to be $260 per pay period.

I have some apprehension in making this increase despite knowing my husbands annual raise was only enough to cover the added insurance premium for our daughter. This means we are forcing ourselves to have less to spend each month by $170 per month.

I think if it gets pulled out each pay period we just won't see it and will not have it to spend. At least that is the hope. Worse case scenario, I have over saved and can use the money if needed. I'm just going on some faith that the money will be there.

I'm not kidding, but seconds after I typed that I was going on faith, I received a notification on my phone that I sold a book on eBay. I'm taking that as a sign that we definitely should do this extra savings. The money we need will be there when we need it.

Are you saving more in 2020? How are you making it happen? Or if you have debt, are you paying more towards your debt?

Note to self, added $125 for January shortage, since additional $20 would actually put over goal. Transfers set up as $260 twice per month beginning February 1.

Random Money Thoughts

January 21st, 2020 at 03:25 pm

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.

Looking Back Ten Years: Financial Point Of View

January 15th, 2020 at 08:15 pm

I'll attempt to include a screenshot of my

Text is December 2009 post and Link is https://creditcardfree.savingadvice.com/2009/12/31/the-numbers-of-2009_56168/
December 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!

Big Savings Goal: December

January 1st, 2020 at 02:53 pm

While we continue to pay ourselves back for the car down payment we continue to send money to our savings goal.

December Big Goal Additions
Paycheck 12/1 $175.00
Paycheck 12/15 $175.00
Total Interest $185.03
Total $535.03
New YTD Big Goal Total $9,098.48
New Big Goal Total $72,083.93

December's tally brings us 36.04% of goal.

Another $9K added to our goal this year. If we weren't paying ourselves back for the car down payment we would have exceeded $10K. I predict that next year we will exceed that mark! In fact, that is going to be the goal.

I am increasing our two paycheck contributions to $200 per pay period starting with the January 15 paycheck, as that is when my husband's annual raise begins. Later in the year when he is promoted I hope to increase this significantly more!

Interest Earned in December

January 1st, 2020 at 02:46 pm

Here's the interest we earned on our cash savings last month:

FNBO $59.60
NFCU $125.40
USAA $0.03
Total $185.03

All interest was saved towards our Big Goal. Progress on that for the year in a separate post.

End of Year Thoughts

December 31st, 2019 at 02:51 pm

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!!

Lowering An Expense

December 29th, 2019 at 06:04 pm

We have been using Hulu Live TV recently, primarily to get our college football team games. Those are over for the season and our daughter who was in their marching band is done forever. Sad! We did cancel it for four months this summer when our expenses were especially high, and used an antenna to get over the air channels.

Hulu Live TV is increasing their price from $44.99 to $54.99. Really, really not worth it to me. My husband does like to have it so for now we are switching service providers. We will now stream with Sling TV for their Blue Plan for $30 per month. We will save $15 over our current price and avoid the $10 increase that Hulu Live was offering.

We may pause Sling here and there for additional savings. I personally could just be fine with an over the air programming, I only watch local news for severe weather information.

My daughter's phone was paid off this month too, so our bill will be lower by $13 a month. Not sure how long we will go until we purchase new ones, but for now I appreciate the savings.

Are you lowering any of your expenses in the coming year? I wish I could lower them all, but so many are rising. I guess I will put another post out on that at another time.

Christmas Gifts, Budget, and More Snowflakes

December 19th, 2019 at 03:47 pm

All Christmas gifts are bought, wrapped and those that needed to be shipped have been mailed! Our Christmas budget is $600 and we came in under budget by $17.75. I probably would have been a little over budget, but I did get a credit for an item that came slightly damaged from Amazon (so it was free), and I earned some Swagbucks $25 that I used to purchase one gift on Amazon, in addition to using about $15 in Amazon credit card rewards.

I have some snowflakes fall around here!

I redeemed $47.06 in American Express Rewards this morning. Those are redeemed as a credit, but I record it as money sent to our Big Goal in YNAB.

My husband received a travel reimbursement from work and it was $58.40 more than his expenses. I saved it of course.

I also sold a salt lamp on Facebook that we had been given as a gift. I was paid in cash, but used the cash for groceries so I moved $25 out of the grocery budget to the Big Goal.

I received $3 from a Pinecone Survey in my PayPal account, too.

And the final snowflake (small amounts of found money) is a sale on eBay which netted us $5.34.

I'm a big believer that small amounts of money can add up, of course large amounts can too, but don't discount the small amounts to add up to something!

Did you come in over, under or on budget for your holiday spending this year?

2020 Savings Challenge

December 13th, 2019 at 09:02 pm

I've seen some talk on the internet about a 2020 Savings Challenge. The idea is to save up $2,020 next year, by setting aside $38.85 per payday, assuming you are paid weekly. I'm primarily sharing, in case you were wanting to find a way to challenge yourself to save more money in 2020.

I'm pondering some sort of challenge to save more. I'm not sure yet what that would be. In this scenario, my husband is paid twice per month, so that would be $84.17 per pay period.I 'think' we could technically do this, but I need to run numbers.

We have added a new expense this year...health insurance premium for our oldest daughter. She can stay on current plan, but because as of next week she will not be full time at school, AND in March she turns 23 which ages her out of the option to stay on the plan without a premium. Fingers crossed she gets a job with health insurance, so we can cut that expense. We are happy to provide it, just not excited about paying it...who ever really is right?

The exciting thing about 2020 for us is that we expect my husband to be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, which is a very nice raise of nearly 18%! We do not expect that to happen until May or June.

Generally, we save what we save. But it can be easy to become complacent and not save as much as possible. Are saving challenges helpful to you? Are you planning to do one in 2020?

USAA Subscriber Account

December 11th, 2019 at 02:38 pm

USAA returns portions of our insurance premium every year, as member owners. Last year was around $80 if memory serves me correct. This year, and likely be how much more insurance we pay them our return is $193.20.

I just went to the email from USAA, and it says "this year the amount includes a portion of the proceeds from the sale of our Asset Management Company to Victory Capital". So not just because our premiums are higher due to our riskier location.

We will take it and save it towards the Big Goal, of course!

I also redeemed $13 in rewards from US Bank this morning, too.

Paying Ourselves Back: November

December 7th, 2019 at 03:01 pm

We are paying ourselves back for money we put down on our daughter's car in May. I am putting all sources of extra funds towards that goal. Here's what I found in November:

US Bank $13.00
Chase Rewards $1.80
Amex Rewards $55.26
Electric Rebates $82.99
Extra travel funds $105.34
USAA Reward $1.62
Total $260.01

Prior Payback Balance: $1,559.76
New Payback Balance: $1,299.75

At one time I thought we could get this paid back by the end of the year, but it seems we had expenses I hadn't accounted for. But I feel confident we can get this paid back by the end of next year...hopefully much sooner!