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)
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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.

Back To Empty Nesting

January 10th, 2020 at 03:41 pm

Both of our daughters have taken off for their respective schools. We are empty nesters once again. Amazing to think our oldest will graduate in May. Time to make plans for that and spring break!

I still need to do my ten year look back financially. I didn't forget!

I've thought about some goals, but not ready to write them, nor are they that much different than past years. Just plan to save MORE!

I'm not specifically doing Uber Frugal Month, but trying to be conscious of spending going forward. I did buy some groceries at Target in the last week using the gift cards I bought at 10% discount in December. So there will end up being less spent in the grocery budget.

I did spend some money recently to get items to start growing my own broccoli sprouts. I do like sprouts, but can't find them very often. They are really good for you, so I'm going to grow my own inside in jars. Do you grow anything inside your home that is edible?

The Year of Big Expansion

January 3rd, 2020 at 10:51 pm

That is not my word of the year, but the description that popped into my mind when thinking about our retirement growth this year.

We ended 2018 with a balance of $488,534.97. Those funds along with contributions grew to a final total of $660,822.27!!

That is $172,287.30 change in ONE year!! Yes, expansion!

We contributed $13,000 to Roth IRAs in 2019 and $10,657.56 to my husband's TSP (Thrift Savings Plan). Or in total $23,657.56.

Not too shabby! Wouldn't we all love if every year could be like this? Let's see what 2020 brings!

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, Dungeons and Dragons, Insurance and More

November 7th, 2019 at 09:00 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 07:50 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 10:58 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 6th, 2019 at 01:14 am

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 03:57 pm

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!