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Buying New Clothing

May 25th, 2019 at 06:34 am

My youngest daughter is home for the summer! She needed shorts, because it is very hot here. We stopped by JC Penney yesterday where she found two pairs marked on sale for $14.99. I had a $10 off coupon for spending over $25. The final total with tax was $21.82. Very pleased with this amount. She won't be wearing them daily, as she still prefers jeans even in the heat, but at least when we are out for longer periods of time she will be cooler.

I'm going to have to buy new clothes very soon, as I have lost 13 pounds recently, and I am down thirty pounds since a year ago April. My shorts I was wearing yesterday still stay up and feel fine around the waist, but my husband said they look really baggy! I rarely buy clothes, and am a near minimalist when it comes to what I wear, so I won't need to replace a large amount. I am tempted to thrift store shop only because I expect that the size I am now is not where I will stay. I think I will sell some of my old clothes, the jeans and a dress for sure. The rest is probably only worth donating.

Some people keep their large sizes when they lose weight, but I'm almost positive I have found the right thing for me this time where I will be able to maintain. I'm not going to comment on what is working for me until I have reached my goal and maintained for some time. And honestly, weight loss and health are personal, we all have to find what works for us.

Phones, Soda and Gum

May 22nd, 2019 at 12:06 pm

We just purchased new cell phones for my husband and youngest daughter. They have both had major issues with their phones recently, which forced this purchase sooner than expected, but over two years since they were last purchased. They are getting Moto Z3 phones which are $10/month each for 24 months, 0% interest. I do plan to sell their old phones on eBay as is for parts. I should be able to get $40-60 for both of them combined.

My husband has been on a kick recently of buying two sodas and a pack of gum, three to four times a week. This is after he has been home for lunch. The cost each time is just over $4, or $12-16/week. I mentioned buying a six pack or more to keep at work, or even store at home to take with him after lunch. I also mentioned the lower cost of his gum to buy in bulk on Amazon. Today he reported that he bought a six pack of soda and 3 pack of gum and spent just $4. He was very proud of himself for making this change. Of course, I wish he didn't buy soda at all! I will celebrate the win.

How Much Do You Spend On Beverages?

May 17th, 2019 at 07:33 am

I was watching an older episode of Living On Dime on YouTube and they mentioned that most people spend at least a quarter, if not more, of their grocery bill on beverages at the grocery store. For example, people buy coffee, juices, milk, soda, tea, gatorade, bottled water and alcohol.

We currently only buy ground coffee, and unfortunately alcohol. I guess we did buy milk this last week since our youngest daughter is home and eating cereal for breakfast.

We have in the past bought all of the beverages I listed above, not necessarily all in one shopping trip, but some of them were on a more regular basis. The truth is we only need water to live on!

I personally have reduced, although not eliminated, my alcohol consumption. I only wish I could get my husband on board. We would save a nice amount if we both stopped drinking.

Have you thought of reducing your beverage purchases in order to save money on your grocery bill?

P.S. Remember when I said I was going to stop buying taco seasoning packets? I failed the last time I went to the store and picked one up...whoops! Old habits can be hard to break. I do have the recipe on my fridge so hopefully this go around I will remember NOT to buy.

The Car Purchase

May 12th, 2019 at 07:44 am

Our trip back to the midwest was to help our oldest daughter move and purchase a used car. We ended up with a 2011 Subaru Forester with just over 100K miles.

We did put $6,000 down on the $11,400 purchase. The rest was financed over three years. The original interest rate at the dealership was 8.49%, which I balked at. They said it was because our daughter had no credit score (which is true). On Tuesday they called and said they found a lower rate of 5.74%! Wow, what a difference. We may still refinance this if we can. It's been years since we financed or bought a car, and honestly, we were a bit rusty with the process. There are probably things we could have done differently, such as check with USAA for a loan, but I remember I looked and dismissed it, but now I don't know why. It is what it is at this point.

We really like the car. Drove fantastic! Super clean engine. Nearly new tires. All wheel drive for winter driving should be helpful too. If it can last as long as the loan that will be a good thing!

The payment will be $133/mo, which once our daughter starts getting paid from her internship, she should be able to pay. She is a bit overwhelmed with the expenses of living on her own and mad that she can't save!! But that is yet to be seen. Hopefully, she will adjust well once she sees the paychecks. I think it's all a bit abstract right now to her. Of course, I will help her through the process.

Her insurance policy is about $450 every six months. We will cover that while she is still in school, which is now another expense we have added to our budget.

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.

Frugal Friday

April 5th, 2019 at 06:14 pm

It's been a very frugal week!

I ate out of the fridge, freezer and pantry through lunch today and could have eaten another meal without buying more food, but my husband is on his way home and will want dinner. There was nothing left he would eat...not a fan of veggie burgers! So I went to the store and picked up groceries for the weekend primarily. Some items will carry over into next week.

I spent $40.65 out of pocket for some of our staples, including organic eggs, meat and almond butter. Cost was actually $50.65. I used a $10 NAPA Visa rebate from when we bought the battery for my husband's truck. I pulled that $10 from our grocery budget and put it in our Big Savings Goal.

I sold an item on eBay for a net profit of $3.73 and did a Pinecone survey and now have another $3 in my Paypal account. I also added these to the Big Goal Savings!

Other than the spending today, I did not purchase anything this week. Was your week frugal?

Random Money Updates

March 27th, 2019 at 08:57 am

Spring break with the girls was wonderful! We had a good balance of relaxing, which they really needed and getting out to explore some things. We did several free things and had dinner out twice, so we easily spent under $150 for those kinds of things. Our grocery bill went up slightly, but that's to be expected.

I found a quarter out back in the alley when I was talking to a neighbor. I love finding cash on the ground!

I'm working on my next $25 Amazon or Paypal redemption with Swagbucks. I really just try to complete the To Do List on the left hand side of the home page. I try the surveys, but I'm not always successful, so as to not waste any more time, I do skip that one. I think Rose asked in another post about how to do it. I would suggest following Swagbucks Swaggernauts on FB for tips and pointers. There is definitely a learning curve. I have found a free malware extension on my computer helps with the junk that can come from using the site.

We received our $10 Visa rebate card in the mail from NAPA for the battery we purchased a couple months back. I plan to use it out shopping. I will then add $10 cash to the Big Goal.

I've redeemed some credit card cash back rewards and will update with a total for March when I report how much progress we made on our Big Goal this month.

We need to already be thinking about airline tickets for May! We will likely go back to the Midwest to help move our daughter's out and help our oldest daughter buy her first car. She is likely going to be staying back there this summer to take a class and get a job or internship. Lots of activity around here and spending.

I have three items I need to sell. Two should be able to go on eBay and the other should go up on a local sales page. I rarely do eBay any more since my main motivation was usually to sell outgrown clothes and toys. I saw a YouTube video the other day though that reminded me of how it is possible to buy items at garage sales and resell them for more. Something I might try and see if it keeps me interested. Clearly more work than finding items in my house!

Please excuse my random thoughts!

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 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.

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.

Bought A Battery and Faucet Filter

February 3rd, 2019 at 01:05 pm

Geez! Apparently we had some pent up need to spend! A lot of outflow since Friday, but no regrets.

On Friday we purchased a battery for our truck. Our last visit to the dealer indicated it was going to be replaced very soon. This is something my husband knows how to do. In the we had help from the NAPA shop owner who offered to help swap it out. No extra charge and it saved us a trip back to drop off the old battery. The battery cost $99.81 and has a $10 rebate, which I submitted online today.

We went out to dinner last night and spent $37.87, including a tip. This was a planned outing.

We both filled up our vehicles in fuel, after nearly a month! Total spent for both vehicles $61.48.

My husband got a haircut this morning for $9.50, plus a $5 tip. Yes, he's a very generous tipper sometimes. He tipped $6 on last night's meal, so I think he really doesn't think through percentages! I've had this conversation with him before, but in the end, it's not breaking us and we do want to tip well for good service.

We bought groceries, cat food, litter and one cleaning product at the commissary today. I found $4 in coupons on things we were already going to purchase. Total spent was $160.61. We are buying some quality food right now.

Today we bought and installed a kitchen faucet filter. I can't stand the water here, and had been buying bottled water at $0.81 a gallon, which adds up! The filter was $18.99 and was very simple to install. Filters are about $10 a piece, every three months. In the long run we'll save a little money this way and our water will be cleaner and more palatable to drink.

So until next weekend let's see if we can keep the spending down! It wasn't too bad, but seemed like a lot in a short time, after a month of trying to stay pretty frugal.