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Mish Mash

May 29th, 2013 at 09:23 am

I earned $3 from a Pinecone survey and received the samples in the mail to try. I expect that money to arrive in my Paypal account tomorrow. I will do a May Snowflake update on Friday.

I've been earning my Swagbucks, reading my library book, taking walks, cleaning, sewing and planning our vacation, thus not much spending other than gas and groceries. And those alone add up fast!

We will be going to a graduation out of town this weekend. Thus more spending on gas and eating. We will write my niece a $50 check. We already wrote in a simple note card, rather than buying a 'special' graduation card. Again, don't most people just toss or recycle cards anyway?!

We know we can use some hotel points for one night in a hotel. We expect to be away three or four nights, so that helps a little. I hope to take a cooler along since it is a road trip. At a minimum, snacks(fresh fruit) and drinks (water) can be bought ahead of time to save us from making convenience purchases! I'm willing to eat lunch and breakfast out of the cooler. We have already found several free things to do so I think we will have a fun time traveling the scenic byway of the Mississippi. I expect we will use a credit card for the vacation expenses to earn some cash back. We will pay for it in full upon our return, of course!

Thinking ahead to big expenses coming up in the next few months: prescription sunglasses for oldest daughter, new sneakers for both girls, school tuition, flute maintenance repairs, band camp fees, few more summer clothes for each of us, mulch for a garden bed we are carving out, two trees for our back yard, gifts for the daughter turning 13, and the deposit on the Washington DC trip.

That's the money mish mash for today!

Vacation Thoughts

May 25th, 2013 at 07:11 am

Thanks for the kind wishes of good health yesterday. I do feel better today. I had a huge urge to sleep several times, so that is just what I did. I think I slept 11 hours last night, and I feel pretty good this morning.

It is raining pretty good here today, which lends itself to a lazy day. We might be able to get a few honey do list items done, which will require no outlay of money. Smile

We need to do some vacation planning as well. We are thinking of a road trip along the Mississippi River byways here in Iowa. If anyone has any must see destinations in that area, let me know. We also want to have a stop for a day or two that is just relaxing in some way. Enjoy the scenery and each other. It seems it could be a semi frugal vacation as it will be meals, hotels, and fuel and activity admissions. I'm hoping for a budget of $1000 or less.

Will you be taking a vacation this year? Do you have a budget? Will you fly, drive or stay in town?

2013 Financial Goals: Rough Draft!

January 3rd, 2013 at 06:37 pm

I did the same thing last year. I procrastinated on making our yearly goals. So, right now this is what I'll say our goals are:

1) Save 15% to retirement, which will max out our Roth IRA's and put the remainder in my husband's TSP.

2) Pay off truck loan...only $4500 to go!

3) Snowflake a Free Christmas, goal again is $750.

4) Save for college, minimum $500 for each daughter. However, I'd prefer $1500 each. Still working on the math for that.

5) Pay for new intermediate flute with cash, about $1500.

6) Save $2K for vacation. Not sure where we might go, so that is a pretty vague goal at this point!

7) Landscaping and furniture purchases. Pay with cash and decide on a limit!

I guess it isn't really the goals that I'm stuck on as how to approach the goals. One at a time? Get the flute, pay off the truck then attack the savings goals. Or do it all along the way? I'm so focused on that truck payoff that it is hard to not make it a priority. I'll get it figured out by the next payday and generally these are all flexible, so I can change things up if I need to.

Mortgage Free!!

June 19th, 2012 at 01:51 pm

We are mortgage debt free!! Our loan was paid off today with proceeds from the sale of our house. It's an odd feeling. And a temporary situation. We will take on another mortgage in 10 days or so. I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

While we are in the hotel we are taking advantage of 'free' breakfasts and manager's reception dinners. And free coffee all day long. I guess it really is included in the daily hotel rate. We expect most of our stay to be reimbursed by the Army, so it's at least cheap!

DH has taken advantage of the gym equipment and we are trying to get in to use the pool, but there are lots of kids here! And everybody wants to use the pool. Smile

We did end up finding a hotel that will allow pets, so our cats are with us. We paid a flat $75 charge to cover any cleaning expenses. So far they are doing pretty well. One is more relaxed than the other. We like being around them, so it helps us relax too!

Thanks for listening to my moving adventure stories. And fingers crossed we can close by the end of the month!

Checked Our Goals

July 6th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I looked at our 2011 goal page on my sidebar. It seems we have accomplished just about everything listed. Savings for college and retirement are on auto pilot. We paid off the van and saved the $12K for the truck. We even paid for our Las Vegas trip in cash.

One of the goals was to pay for two vacations, but in light of my husband's move, we have decided to reevaluate. Right now, taking a vacation is not financially feasible, and the time available is very limited.

The other goal is to consider converting more money from my husband's Rollover IRA to his Roth. This amounts to just under $6,000. It seems this would be a good year to do this, with the lower income from deployment, but it could also be a good year to qualify for the Earned Income Tax credit and receive a nice refund. The extra cash is a bit tempting. I will probably wait until the last minute to decide.

Back From Vegas: Over $150K

April 29th, 2011 at 08:50 am

We are back from Las Vegas!! I don't know how much we spent yet, but boy did it seem like we were spending money left and right. Primarily food and drinks. We aren't big gamblers and actually did very little. We got off the strip a couple times to visit Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon. Amazing sites worth seeing.

I checked our retirement accounts today and we have reached another milestone with over $150K in investments!! It doesn't seem that long ago that we reached the $100K mark. I have been told in the past that reaching the $100K mark is key. Once you make it there and continue to invest the returns add up fast.

If your accounts are over $100K, have you noticed your accounts adding up faster than in the beginning?


April 22nd, 2011 at 07:36 pm

My husband and I are leaving for Las Vegas in a few days. This is a planned trip. Our first time visit, too!

We might do a little gambling. Or not. It does seems like cash is flying out the window with DH's return. It would be nice to win some. But my hopes are not high.

Have you been to Las Vegas? Did you gamble and win? Tell me about it.

Another No Spend Day in the No Spend Month

March 14th, 2011 at 06:36 am

Sunday. Zero spending!

We ate from the cupboards and refrigerator. The snacks are near zero. But not quite.

We watched a movie on netflix. Played with our cats. Visted the neighbor cats twice. The girls played wii. I did some organizing in the basement: broke down boxes for recycling, and put away pictures.

It's spring break week here, so I expect today to be more of the same. It is a bit warmer, so maybe a walk on the trails later.

Tomorrow is payday and we will venture out for groceries. Might hit a free museum exhibit.

2011 Financial Goals

December 22nd, 2010 at 07:34 pm

I think I mentioned some of our goals in November, but here they are again in a little more detail.

1) Save maximum in Roth IRA's = $10,000
2) Save 9% of basic pay in TSP
3) Save for college = $4,000
4) Pay off van loan, beginning balance = $1,643
5) Save truck downpayment = $12,000
6) Save cash for two vacations
7) Evaluate possible Roth conversion

The contribution to the TSP is up 2% from 2010 because of the reduction in payroll taxes. The college contribution is increased because we expect to save the full year. However, I will need to open 529 accounts for the girls. We are currently in Coverdale Educational Savings accounts and the maximum has been reduced to $500 per year beginning in 2011. That is not enough for us.

The payoff on the van will be easy considering how well we have done so far. I hope to pay it off by mid January!! Then we'll save for about 4 months towards a new to us truck. Then we'll save for vacations to take place in the middle of the year.

It should be fun to see what 2011 brings! Tell me what goals you have for next year.

A Mini Vacation

July 27th, 2010 at 09:01 pm

We went to visit my parents for two nights while my cousin and her daughter were visiting from California.

Not too expensive. I took fruit and breads as requested by my mom. I bought gas prior to the trip. I bought a museum membership that will last a year for $30 that allowed 5 out of 7 of us into the museum and saved us one dollar compared to purchasing individual admissions. I'm sure we will go back since my kids like this museum. My mom bought my return tank of gas since we had used our van to drive around while we were there. I also bought snacks on the way home. I personally needed a little caffeine!!

I was only away a couple days, but I feel I missed out on your news. I will catch up soon!

The Numbers of 2009

December 31st, 2009 at 07:15 am

Our financial picture of 2009 wraps up like this:

Retirement contributions: $14,147.00
Retirement accounts increased: $33,219.29
Retirement accounts exceeded $100K

Total debt decreased: $17,011.21
Nearly $10K paid on HEL!!

Our net worth increased by approximately $50,230.50, which does not include any increase or decrease in our home's value.

We paid cash for a trip to Disney World and our daughter's braces. Yipee!!

Two Months of 2009 Left

November 1st, 2009 at 07:26 am

There are only two months left of 2009. Have you accomplished your goals for the year? If not, can you still wrap them up?

I looked at our goals that are on the side bar. We are most definitely on track to save 15% for retirement. It helps that that the goal was automated!!

The home equity loan began 2009 with a balance of $13,999. Our first goal was to pay off $7,000. We did that!! A few months into the year we thought we could get ambitious and pay the whole thing off. It is very clear that we will not get there with the cash we have or expect to have available. Right now, I think we can get the loan under $4,000. Which means we will have paid over $10,000 in debt off this year.

We did pay for our Disney World vacation in cash!! Yipee. So fun. And the ONLY way to go on vacation. Trust me.

We also paid for our daughter's braces in cash. On some level we knew she would need braces, but we didn't have this in our plan at the beginning of the year. She's only had them on for two months and there are no lingering bills just straighter teeth!

We made zero college contributions. This is a little disappointing because the market was low at the beginning of the year and has rebounded, so it would have been a good year to be investing. So be it. We will contribute in 2010...once we have that HEL paid off.

To wrap up. The final two months of 2009 will consist of saving for retirement and paying another $1925 in principal towards the home equity loan. In order to do that we have to make conscious spending decisions during the holidays.

What are your financial plans and goals for the last two months of 2009?

Home Equity Loan Update

August 18th, 2009 at 06:44 am

I made our regular payment to our home equity loan. With $79.21 going towards principal, our new balance is $6,342.05!!

A little history:

The loan balance was $13,999 at the beginning of January. My original goal was to pay off half. That we did!! At some point, much earlier this year, we changed the goal to pay it all off.

But then, we decided to go to Disney World for vacation at the last minute with cash. It's not something I regret, as we expect my husband to be deployed early in 2010.

Although not unexpected, we are facing costs for our oldest daughters braces to the tune of $3781 if we pay over time. But we could also pay in full, on August 28th, and save $189.

Can you see a lack of focus here?

I tell all of this to explain how and why our goals and priorities are changing. It may have been a bit too ambitious to pay the full loan in 12 months time, particularly knowing the braces were on the horizon. However, it's really the trip that could, maybe should, have been skipped. But again, I do not regret it. It just will take us a few months longer to pay off the home equity loan.

Honestly, I think we have done an amazing job. Our debt load in total is less than the beginning of the year. We increased the amount we invest in our retirement. We paid for a big vacation in cash. We will also pay for my daughter's braces in cash. So, I'm giving us a pat on the back for accomplishing what we have.

Tomorrow, I will post about the plan for the braces, as well as give a few more details on my goals for the HEL. So, check back in!!