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Cash In, Cash Out

March 17th, 2019 at 06:36 am

The tax refund did arrive as expected. It is currently in our savings account marked as Big Goal money!! I decided to act like it didn't exist in some ways. We were never expecting a refund, so spending it didn't exactly seem right. If we need an additional $1900 we can take it from our other savings or cash flow it.

I earned enough Swagbucks to redeem for a $25 Amazon gift card. I used it to buy cabin and engine filters for our two vehicles. Those arrived yesterday.

We learned this past week that the University our older daughter goes to overestimated her VA benefits for the semester. Once they received actual payment, they notified us we owe $595 by April 12. Our plan is to use her ESA to pay this. Her benefits were lower this semester, so this was the plan all along, we just know the amount we need to take out now.

Our girls arrive here today to spend their spring break with us. My husband took the week off, so we can do some more exploring of our new town with them. This likely means some meals out and money spent on entertainment.

I learned recently that American Express waives their annual fees for active duty military. I haven't taken action on that as I think we only have one card of theirs with an annual fee. This may give us an opportunity to use some of their other cards with higher annual fees and better benefits. I have more looking to do on this. Anyone have experience with this? If so which card do you use? Yes, we use credit cards, but do not carry a balance, nor pay any interest. Credit cards a financial tool that can be beneficial if used wisely.

February Interest Earned

March 2nd, 2019 at 05:56 am

February was the first full month that our 3.25% CD was in effect. The interest earned is reflected in the total.

FNBO $51.06
NFCU $113.87
Total $164.93

To compare, in January we earned $147.20. Higher interest rates do make a difference!

All interest earned is added to our Big Goal.

February Credit Card Rewards

February 28th, 2019 at 10:30 am

We primarily used our American Express and Discover credit cards in the month of February, and I think January as well. Just today I redeemed the most current rewards earned.

$66.71 American Express
$38.94 Discover
$105.65 Total Cash Back Rewards

The above cash back is being saved towards our Big Goal.

We use our Southwest Airlines Visa card to pay rent and a few other much smaller bills. We are earning a couple thousand points each month now. Specifically for February we earned 3,372 points. My account has over 35K points! We will definitely use most of those sometime this year.

We do not pay interest on our credit cards. We pay our balances in full each month. Credit card rewards do not pay off if you run a balance and are charged interest on your debt.

5% Cash Back TV, Internet & Streaming Services US Bank

February 23rd, 2019 at 05:12 am

We have the US Bank Cash + card and use it regularly for 5% cash back on our cell phone bill. We had been using it for 5% cash back on utilities prior to our move to base (no utility bill here).

The good news is they have a new category that we can benefit from! 5% cash back on TV, Internet, and Streaming services. We use AT&T for internet, Netflix and Hulu streaming services that should all qualify. I was just explaining to my husband how much we pay on these things. And honestly we should cut something, but yet four of us actually do use these. So 5% cash back will help cut the sting of the costs.

This new category is effective April 1. I'm making a note on my computer, specifically in YNAB, to switch the billing to the US Bank Card near the end of March.

As you might imagine, I will save the cash back received towards our Big Goal!

Anyone else us US Bank Cash + card?

Dreaming Big

February 14th, 2019 at 09:40 am

I've mentioned before that we are living on a military installation for the first time ever. One of the pros this time around was how much we would save on fuel for our vehicles with his commute being 4 minutes rather than 40 minutes. I'm trying to convince him to ride his bike to work, but so far a no go! He would rather buy a motorcycle if he was going to do that. Ha, ha,

We expect to save at least $200 a month. I'm still testing it. I'm purposely not budgeting $200 each pay period to see if that money is really extra due to the fuel savings. So far things seem promising, but this time of year tends to be low in all costs for us, so it's not entirely clear. And yes, $200 per pay period is $400 a month, which would be the higher end of fuel costs.

I guess I find it a bit of a game by holding that money out of the budget, not categorizing it in YNAB. Not sure it make sense to anyone but me.

I received a $5 settlement from some class action lawsuit, Olive oil I think. I like getting those in the mail. Always a surprise when they come to fruition! I've funneled that to our Big Goal, since small amounts add up.

"Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Clause. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?" - Jon Bon Jovi

Yes, I'm a big fan of Bon Jovi...probably tells you when I grew up. Fault me, I'm living on a prayer!

Some Money Stuff...

February 5th, 2019 at 04:15 pm

Here's some random money related tidbits:

I redeemed 2500 Swagbucks for $25, which has been deposited in my PayPal account. I also did a Pinecone survey, so I expect $3 will be added to PayPal tomorrow. All money will go to the Big Goal.

We have confirmed that an access code my daughter purchased and realized she didn't need will be credited to her bill by February 15. This is after the bill to the University is due, but we were told to just pay the balance minus the expected credit. The cost of that code was $174.21, so not a credit I wanted missed.

I contacted the VA representative at the University to find out why the final 15 days of Post 911 GI Bill benefits had not yet posted to our oldest daughter's account. The response was apparently some missed paperwork. They did a credit to the account with the expected amount, and will adjust when actual payments are received. For now, since the numbers are not firm, I am going to float the payment with funds in our checking account before I take money out of her Educational Savings Account. It seems we may not need to withdraw as much as expected!

I've been working on taxes. My biggest issue is the figuring the actual costs we have had out of pocket for each of our daughter's and which tax credit to take. The software (HR Block) wants me to use the American Opportunity Tax Credit for our oldest daughter, which I was hoping to skip and use next year, yet I'm not sure we'll have much out of pocket costs, so it's probably right to take it now. The software gives me an option on which tax credit to use for our youngest daughter and I was leaning toward the Lifetime Learning credit. You can only claim four years of AOTC, which has to be used before they graduate with their degree. Our oldest daughter is on the five year plan because of her double major. I'll get it all cleared up...I still have more than three months until taxes are due.

Oh, another thing with taxes. The 1098T which colleges use to report qualified expenses and scholarships and grants, is not consistent between the colleges. One daughter's college counts activity fees and the other does not. One includes books, the other does not. Just when I think I have things figured out they change!

We had a part replaced on our truck today. $174.45 after a military discount. I do have money in our car maintenance fund.

We are getting ready to travel to visit the girls in the future, so now I'm researching airline tickets, car rental, and boarding costs.

Lots of money going out, but we have the cash. I am grateful we always seem to make it all work, even when it seems overwhelming.

January Interest Earned and Savings

February 1st, 2019 at 07:33 am

In January we earned a nice amount of interest on our savings. We always save all interest, even when we were paying on debt. Although back then our interest earned was piddly!

$66.07 FNBO Direct
$81.13 Navy Federal CU
$147.20 Total interest earned

In December our total was $118.73. We have increased our monthly interest by $28.47 because we moved a large amount of cash from one bank earning 2.15% to a CD at the other bank earning 3.2%. At about $150/month, we are on schedule to save $1,800 in interest this year.

We did a great job with extra savings this month. We only spent $31 on fuel for our vehicles. I think we both need to fill up soon! We saved toward the Big Goal as planned, but also since we were under budget we have added $545.05 to our emergency fund.

I've decided for 2019, continue the Big Goal saving with $350 a month ($175 each paycheck), add in credit card rewards and other snowflake money and interest earned. Any extra we save is going to our emergency fund. I think there are some expense we will incur in 2019 that are hard to anticipate the amount, so any extra cash saved will be helpful. I'd rather money from those come from what we have stashed and marked as EF money, than from our BIg Goal money.

Here's to a great year of saving!

Interest Earned in December (And 2018)

January 1st, 2019 at 07:09 am

I like to post our interest earned each month. I'm sure I forget some months, but I try. In December we earned $118.80 on our interest bearing accounts.

Now to total up ALL the interest.
$582.52 Navy Federal Credit Union
$632.16 First National Bank Omaha Direct
$1.04 USAA Checking
$1,215.72 TOTAL

Wow look at that! Over $100 per month on average. We saved every single penny of our interest. (We usually do.) It's currently going towards are Big Goal.

I'll update the Big Goal progress for 2018 very soon. Since I have money coming in from different sources and in different accounts it takes a little bit to compile it, but I will get it done because I want to know too!

Did you earn interest on your savings this year? How much did you end up with?

Interest and Extra Money

December 8th, 2018 at 07:02 am

I like to report the amount of interest we earn each month. This is the quick breakdown for November.
Navy Federal CU $20.97
FNBO Direct $89.18
Total $110.15

I redeemed my 300 points with Pinecone Surveys over a week ago for cash and have yet to receive my Paypal deposit. Usually it is the next business day. Maybe the move and change of address are factors?

We usually get some cash back back from USAA for our insurance. They call it a distribution from our Subscriber's Savings Account. This year the amount we received was $82.83. We will take whatever they want to give back, and yes, it has been added to the Big Goal.

I did get my $10 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks. I expect I have a little more online shopping to do for Christmas, so that will reduce the final amount I spend.

I hit the $20 threshold with Ibotta. I hadn't been using it much this year, but with a little effort was able to apply some rebates for things I had already purchased and meet the minimum. I'm debating redeeming now, or waiting until the end of the year. Anything over $20 can be redeemed, but once you redeem back to zero, it takes awhile to get to redeem the next $20. I guess in the end it's all the same!

Redeemed MyPoints

December 4th, 2018 at 08:56 am

I redeemed 3950 MyPoints for a $25 Google Play gift card. I was originally going to buy it but happened to notice the balance in my MyPoints account. I had plenty to scoop up the gift my daughter wanted without an additional cash outlay.

I'm close to having 1000 SB that I can redeem for $10 Amazon gift card. I'm not in a big hurry and have not been doing Swagbucks for months. I think I was reminded of it when i received an email from Swagbucks with my Birthday bonus.

Today, I finished sewing the pajama pants for my two nieces. I had them all done except for the elastic. I also made doll sized pajama pants and a plaid poncho for their American Girl dolls (I think they have the knock off versions). I spent nearly $30 at Joann's for fabric and elastic. I did buy nicer quality flannel and probably didn't hit the best sale, although it was 40% off. I did find an Ibotta coupon that will give me $4.50 back on the purchase, so now closer to $25, which is really good for two gifts.

At this point, I just need more stocking stuffers for the girls, buy a gift for my husband and decide what to get my parents. I already sent my mother in law a check to get whatever she wants. She's 82 and seems to like to get a pedicure from us. So it's just easier to mail a check, since I'm nowhere near there to buy a gift certificate.

Today, I'm baking some Mint Chocolate cookies for the holidays. I will eat one or two and freeze the rest until needed. I have a couple other recipes to make, but have plans to do them over the next two weeks.

Positive Money Flow

September 25th, 2018 at 03:35 pm

Our vehicle registrations came in the mail this week. Last year we paid $276 to register both vehicles. This year just $102. This is the advantage in some states as your vehicle gets older the less you pay! Nice surprise to have our van drop to just $50 a year, just like the truck has been for a few years. I'm going to move that extra $174 to our Big Goal savings fund.

I sold an Oak Lane Cedar chest that my parents gave me in the early 1990s to a woman today for $50. She has two for her daughter's and needed one for her son. I'm not sure if were him, I'd want it, but it's what she has in mind. Smile

I cancelled our Ooma phone that's been our landline for about six years. It was the kind that works over the internet. It was nice having a house phone for just a few dollars a month, but we rarely give out the number and only my mother in law calls us on it. She will be notified to call us on our cell phones. We did give her a heads up a few weeks ago. So now we save $60 a year going forward. I may be able to sell the actual Ooma on eBay as the company gave me a reactivation code to use if I gave it away.

There was a little outflow of cash yesterday, when my husband found my van tire completely flat when he pulled in the garage. He had it fixed for about $12 at Pep Boys within about an hour. A little disappointing to have a relatively new tire need a patch already, but it happens. Very thankful it could be repaired.

Sold

September 22nd, 2018 at 06:19 pm

I sold the box to my Apple Computer on eBay today. All my listings have sold or I have ended them. No more active listings at this time, and probably not until after the move. Although as I write this I can think of two things I should try to sell before we move. Hmm...

The exciting news is I sold two outdoor table sets today. One was a three piece set...super faded and in need of a makeover which I sold for $30. I would have given it away!! The other was a seven piece set, six chairs and a glass table. I sold it for $100 after originally asking $150. Considering I listed the latter last night, I'm definitely satisfied!

We still need to sell a plasma television, a dollhouse (and accessories), a three year old stainless steel fridge, a cedar chest, an armless chair and a couch (which I love, but have no room for on the other end). I have some decor items for sale but those can be donated if they don't sell.

I gave away five terra cotta pots and two hanging plant holders to a neighbor today. I can tell there will be at least two more Goodwill runs, and a drop off electronic items to Best Buy before the move. I might find out that there is even more, but I'm doing my best to declutter and sell on this end rather than the other end.

Oh, I have found THE BEST way to sell items is on Nextdoor.com. I choose to sell to neighbors near me, not all over town. Amazingly, they all show up on time when they say they will, which I love!!

Did you sell anything this week? If not, do you have things you could sell for cash? It is Sell Your Stuff September! Get in the game and sell. Send that money to pay off debt, start your emergency fund, or put toward that savings goal you are working on.

Sell Your Stuff September

September 18th, 2018 at 05:57 pm

I guess some people on YouTube are doing a Sell Your Stuff Stuff September. I didn't know about it until today, but we sure have been selling things. Only two small things since my last report. I sold a computer box and some Box Tops for Education on eBay. Those net proceeds came to $24.92.

I also redeemed some American Express rewards in the amount of $59.85. I'm sure a result of all that summer spending. Wow!

I'm hoping to sell some more furniture items this week and weekend. I know people in our state are still suffering from the effects of the storm, so it's hard to know if there will be people buying.