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Christmas Gifts, Dungeons and Dragons, Insurance and More

November 7th, 2019 at 01:00 pm

I've purchased several Christmas gifts this week. I have bought two items each for our daughter's. I also made a photo book for my husband through SnapFish. It is full of pictures of him and our daughter's. I originally planned to do the photo book for Father's Day but I didn't stay motivated and focused. I finally made the effort and got it done. It will be delivered by next Saturday and I paid $27 with shipping.

Our youngest daughter is starting to play Dungeons and Dragons with some new university friends. Does anyone have experience and point me to a book or something that might be helpful as she learns the game? I thought it would make a great Christmas gift.

Our renters and auto insurance payment made it on to our credit card yesterday. I do have the full amount saved, $2,616. I recalculated how much I need to save monthly in order to have enough to pay future bills and the registrations on all three cars and came up with $366. I had increased our savings after we got our daughter's car in May, but didn't quite start it soon enough, so I had to play catch up this last month. I'm primarily posting this for my own record.

With Veteran's Day coming up, the stores are offering all sorts of discounts. Amazon is offering their Prime Membership to military affiliated individuals for $79, which is $40 off the regular price. We actually just renewed in September, but I went ahead and took advantage of the offer. This extends our membership until September 2021.

I think we will do some clothes shopping this weekend for a few needed items we need and want before the holidays. We will attempt to take advantage of some discounts, but at the same time not spend too much money!

A Razor Story

October 22nd, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Over a year ago I found a deal on the razor blades my husband likes. He only started using them in the last six months, and recently mentioned he didn't think they were good. He said he kept cutting himself. Darn, maybe they sell production seconds off in bulk for less?

He had seen those Harry's razors at Target awhile back and seemed intrigued, but was still using up the bad batch of razors. I should clarify the blades worked, but wouldn't last as long before he started cutting himself.

Harry's blades can also be found online and I think I had a MyPoints or Swagbucks deal to try them for free (plus shipping). So they sent a blade, razor handle and small can of shaving gel for about $3 in shipping. He really liked the blades and the handle. We decided to let them send a batch of 8 blades for $16. And because he liked the gel too, we added that to the order for another $6. No shipping costs added this time.

I'm not usually a fan of these subscription services, so we will see how this works in the long run. I thought I'd mention it in case anyone wanted to try Harry's out.

Text is This link and Link is harrys.com/invite/wmjkx7
This link is for $5 off your second box. We also will get $5 off our next box, if you use our link.

What do you buy on subscription service? Do you have a favorite razor blade?

Stocking Up At Boxed

October 3rd, 2019 at 03:58 pm

I really don't stock up on things when I shop. Occasionally, if I see a really good deal, I will pick up extras. I guess I just like to know that I am only spending what I need, and not any more, and not any less.

This time of year I often stock up on personal care items and household goods to cut down on the need to keep up on having these things on hand during the busyness of the holidays.

I already bought the Halloween candy that we will hand out when Target had a 40% off Cartwheel offer last week. It's in the freezer and I haven't been tempted once!

Today, I bought quite a few things at the commissary. Toilet paper, tissues, Vitamin C, bar soap, dishwasher detergent, trash bags, dish soap, Bar Keepers Friend, toothpaste, laundry detergent, hair mousse, shaving cream and toilet bowl cleaner. The commissary has pretty good deals on these things, as general prices are 30% less than retail. I was able to use coupons which took $10.75 off the total! I spent $74.32.

I also went online and stocked up on even more toilet paper with

Text is Boxed.com and Link is https://www.boxed.com/invite/QV6LX
Boxed.com. I was motivated by a $15 off $75 purchase if I used my American Express card. In addition to toilet paper (64 rolls), I picked up 5 sticks of deodorant for my husband, and liquid hand soap refill. I added on a six count package of those small tissue packs (stocking stuffer) to get my total with tax just over the $75 mark at $75.97. The
Text is Boxed link and Link is https://www.boxed.com/invite/QV6LX
Boxed link above will give you $15 off your first $60 order, if interested. Or check your American Express card for their current offers.

It's a big outlay of cash, but it feels good to stock up and know that I don't have to add in these extras to the grocery list to an otherwise spendy and busy season!

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.

Some Saturday Spending

January 27th, 2019 at 07:48 am

We went out yesterday...and spent some money.

My husband bought a 3 pack of boxers, these were a need. $15
I bought two birthday cards and four Valentine cards. $7.32

I needed a pick me up for the house. So the following were mental health pickup purchases. Not needs, but reasonable investments in things that we will use.

2 large Boston ferns ($5 each) and a smaller plant ($1). Did get a 10% discount, so spent less than $11 after taxes added in.

2 placemats for our kitchen table. $10.90.

We watched The Old Man and The Gun with my Amazon credit on Friday. We enjoyed the movie very much. Last night we just watched random things, but did take time to go on a walk for about 25 minutes. It's brisk outside this time of year even in the south, but we bundled up and enjoyed the fresh air.

Today's goal is meal planning and grocery shopping over at the commissary. I might repeat a few things we had last week that were new because my husband really liked them. One was taco salad. We love tacos but are avoiding the processed carbohydrates right now. The salad version was just as good.

P.S. I'm sorry I'm slow getting to my Top Money Saving tips...will get to that this week!

Stamp Prices Increasing and Other Things

January 25th, 2019 at 02:58 pm

Did you know stamp prices are increasing? As of this Sunday, the price of a first class stamp will cost $0.55, which is a 10% increase. Some other package pricing has also increased. Sometime last week I went over to the local credit union and picked up stamps from their ATM. I purchased two sets of 18 stamps for $18.00. I don't send a lot of mail, and likely won't use all 36 before the year is out, but I would expect yearly increases to be common in the foreseeable future.

I earned a reward through Verizon for our cell phone bill. I picked an $8 Amazon movie credit. We plan to watch Robert Redford's latest (and I think last) movie The Old Man and the Gun, which is based on a true story. The cost of the movie is less than the credit, so we'll have some to put towards a future movie.

Hulu has increased their prices. You may have heard the opposite that the lowered prices to be competitive with Netflix. They did on their lower subscription plans, but on their live tv version they increased it. Instead of $39.99/mo, the new price will be $44.99. Every increase in prices makes me want to evaluate if we need to continue the service, or if we need to adjust. I will need to discuss with my husband. We primarily got it so we could watch our college football teams live. That season is over for now. I think our new location may have better options for over the air reception. I've seen a few people that seem to have those type of antennas in their window. We can always get the live subscription again for football season. I'll try to remember to update you on our decision.

My husband commented last night that he hasn't added fuel to his truck in quite awhile. We last purchased fuel on 12/28 for $35.17 and on 1/4 $25.22. I still have almost half a tank in my van. Not sure what he has, but his commute is 4 minutes from our home on base. We expect that unless we are traveling our fuel costs are going to be significantly less living in our new location. In December for example, our costs for fuel were $117.50. We did travel around the our new city with our girls when they were home, so it's very likely this is still slightly inflated. For reference in December 2017, we spent $295 on fuel, yes higher prices, but much more driving.

I finished the photo book for my Dad earlier this week. I used Snapfish and was able to get $30 off the book. With shipping I spent $23.61 for an 8x11 Hardcover book. It was really fun to put together. It's all pictures of him, many with his daughters (my sister and I with our husbands), my mother, and grandchildren. It is not all inclusive, as I only had a few from our childhood, but quite a few with my girls and some recent vacations. This was a gift I wanted to put together around Memorial Day when he and my mother visited for my youngest daughter's graduation. It was to be a combined birthday and father's day gift. At the time, I was able to compile some printed photos (maybe 15 or so) into a $1 plastic album, but promised I would make a book. With summer, moving our youngest to her college, our move and then the holidays I just wasn't able to keep my focus to get it done until now.

I had planned to do some sewing last week, but the photo project took most of my time. And once I had the book done, I wasn't in the mood for sewing. I have spent time this week going through paper piles. The move caused an accumulation that needed to be reviewed. When I went to go file some of those today, I found a folder with receipts and manuals. I quickly went through it and found about 25 items that could be tossed because we sold the items prior to our move! This paper progress has helped me to get a bit more organized to file taxes this year.

Oh, another positive financially was receiving notification from a company that an item I bought in December wasn't truly organic and not up to their standards. They shipped me a new bottle with organic certification, a $60 value! I hadn't yet decided if I would reorder when the time came, but this give me longer to try the product to make a decision.

Stay warm and frugal this weekend!