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Archive for July, 2013

Frugal Successes

July 31st, 2013 at 07:05 am

**Well, today is the day. Crossing my fingers that we get our water back. !!! Holding my breath, just hoping there are no surprises and we get everything fixed.

**I need to take BM in for a hair trim, and came across a $5.99 kids' haircut coupon in the mail. Woohoo!

I just went in last month, but it had been so long, and I suddenly felt like my hair was getting scraggly, so didn't think much about paying an entire $15. But now I am feeling foolish for not waiting for a coupon (it was like 1/2 off, for adults - coupons in the mail this week).

**I haven't sorted out August bills yet. I put them all in Quicken, but need to calculate how much to pull from savings for insurance and repairs and such. There's a few small bills due the first of the month that I set to pay online.

Since we charge everything, we use August income to pay for that. The month is not over, but all of our credit cards closed except for the big one. That one goes through the third, but not expecting any more charges on that (aside for this big repair). So, I am looking at August in regards to July spending.

July was kind of interesting because I expected it to be very spendy on the gas side of things. WE drove down to the Bay Area four times. Twice to drop off and pick up BM for his trip. Dh and I both went down separately to hang out with friends. (His friend is moving out of state).

Well, we budget $300 for gas, monthly, which is on the high side, but would cover a month like this (& also covers months of very high gas prices). Our gas spending in July?? $200. Very surprising. That was for one tank of van gas and 4.5 tanks of "gas sipper" gas. Phew!

I am extra relieved because August is not looking a lot better. Dh is going down to the Bay Area for a few days because his friend is having two going away parties (a few nights apart) and he has family/video stuff he can do in between. Then he promised to help friend move on another weekend. I Wanted to go to the beach or something mid-month and am feeling more like we can swing it. Though, don't get me wrong. Our credit card closed for the month and we filled up both vehicles. I think it will be impossible to pull off $200 in August - will have to fill up the van again mid-month.

I did insist on taking the gas sipper down, though we dropped off and picked up family at the airport. IT worked out well, and glad we went through the hassle. LM and I had to be dropped off somewhere for the airport runs, but it was fine. Saved maybe $40 in gas just being a little creative. The default was just going to be to take down the van so that we could all fit.

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If the water gets turned back on I will be doing lots of laundry and cleaning this weekend. Big Grin

Water Woes

July 28th, 2013 at 10:05 am

**Well, the child is back from England! That is a whole other thing and wouldn't know where to begin with that, but they had a blast!

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**We have actually managed "low maintenance" home ownership pretty well, for the first 14 years that we have been homeowners. I get a lot of comments that things don't always go as planned. I am well aware of that. But, doesn't mean you can't manage risk and odds.

Anyway, to set the stage, the city had a water main problem and asked us to turn off irrigation on Sunday night. & to use water sparingly. We obliged. Having grown up in drought country, it was a simple adjustment. We still conserve water pretty aggressively, anyway, just out of habit. But, in the meantime, our yard is very dry (it's hot and dry, like it always is during summer). & the laundry and the dishes are piling up...

No sooner than they fix that (late Thursday), then we had a break in our own main water line (to our house). UGH!!

We initially thought it was relatively minor, and we kind of inwardly rolled our eyes at the first in-person quote we got. Unfortunately, it only got worse from there. The diagnosis and the advice has been the same, 100% across the board, so the difference seems to be in the tools available. We had called a big plumbing company out first, because we thought they could come out sooner (which they did), but it turns out they have the tools to do the job with the least cost and disruption to our landscaping. So, after vetting plumbers for 3 days, we went with that option. (Though in general they are known for being way more expensive on smaller jobs). They need two days for permits, so if we are lucky we will get our water back on Wednesday night. Which puts us a full 10 days of super water conserving mode. FUN!

I did water the trees last night and we decided to water the grass with cold shower water. We are borrowing water from their neighbors (a hose is connecting our houses) and trying to run the outside hose made a noise racket, so I don't think the yard will get much more than cold shower water until its fixed. But, at least the trees got some water. The grass can take a lot of abuse, but is also a fire danger. Our lawn/yard is small though, so I figure a little shower water moisture will at least help. Though we aren't planning to take many showers either.

Oh, and the water tastes TERRIBLE (like a garden hose?) and so I will get some bottle water today. I have been melting ice, and will at least get the benefit of Alhambra water at work all week. I will smuggle some of that home too (the boss will understand).

So yeah, FUN times! Big Grin

We were actually waterless on Thursday night and we stayed at a hotel down the street for $50. If I had any idea we'd have a $5,000 repair job, I never would have done that. But I *really* needed a shower. We should have showered the kids when we were in San Jose yesterday, but was not thinking. (We had to go pick up the child from the airport). But they don't have to go anywhere the next few days, so they will be fine. The dishwasher and the washing machine don't use enough water to really worry about, but are trying to use sparingly, regardless. I am mostly thankful that we can still cook. The water is providing most useful for that, and for the toilets.

Can't really clean or sweat or make more laundry, so going for a low-key "read a lot of books" weekend.

Financially, we have the savings to easily cover this up front, and I think we have plenty of give and take for it not to particularly set us back. I might fund IRAs 3 months later (for 2013), will rethink paying property taxes early, and probably won't get anywhere near our mortgage pay-down goal. But, if we do delay IRA funding by 3 months (push back to April) I still may be able to stick with mortgage and property tax goals. Of course, China trip seems dead in the water, and we were already talking about just sending BM to Japan. I guess that is officially the new plan, because financially that is all we can swing now.

The finances aren't particularly stressing me out. I am more worried about just getting the job done for the quote, and not finding worse problems. Getting our water back will be VERY nice, too. I will probably worry about the finances and figure the rest all out once I know what the final bill is.

In the meantime, I think for the first time I REALLY feel like a homeowner.

Tired... Travel... Home Improvements...

July 25th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

**It's hard to sleep in our house these days. LM has not slept very well with his brother gone.

The cat has been a total and complete menace. I have been making sure to exercise him vigorously after work - it seems to be helping.

So, I've got like 3 more night of this? Oy vey. BM come home, so I Can get my sleep back!! Big Grin Usually no kids or cats bother me. The cat often wakes me up at 5am, but I am an early bird and that doesn't bother me. IT bothers me when he wakes me up at midnight too. He's been just getting into *everything* because he doesn't have his wild play partner to tire him out and occupy him.

**As for BM? He's been gone over a week, and doesn't seem overly keen on coming home. Too bad! LOL.

My dad mentioned going to Japan next year. He is not offering to pay for us, and I am not sure of even the travel logistics of all of us going. I was kind of waiting to see how this trip went, but am thinking that maybe my Dad should just take BM with him. I think they would have a great trip!! So, with how things have gone so far, I am more starting to think it is a GREAT idea.

Actually, both our families have lots of travel on the brain (& seem to think we are made of money all of a sudden???). So we have a LOT to figure out. Sending one off to Japan appeals to me, as far as compromise and most enjoyment. (Dh could maybe go for it, but he is really whiny about traveling without me, and man, I just don't want to go. & dh has already been to Asia a few times, so, I think he will survive). Dh has never been to Europe, and I admit all this England stuff is enticing us. We are very jealous. IF we go to England, maybe he will be okay with just BM going to Japan. I have to talk to my dad about it.

{We were planning to go to China next year, and that is up in the air. Our relative there does not want us to come?? Our parents kind of moved in to fight over our travel dollars - where they want to go and where they think we should spend it in turn. Japan is logical second choice. So, will see. Now I am thinking part Japan/part England, with the China dollars}.

In addition to all this, my dad talked me into visiting my sister next summer, and dh's friend is moving out-of-state and also going to be married in a third state (next summer). I did look at a map to wrap my brain around all this and realized dh's friend is moving 4 hours from my sister. (IT was more a shot in the dark if we could combine any trips, so WOOHOO, glad I thought to check a map)!

For the wedding and the friend and the sister, I am mostly thinking of ditching the kids on those trips, from a financial perspective. Heck, I was thinking "just me" to visit my sister, but now my dh has to go, if his own friend in the vicinity. Travel Destinations: Illinois, Montana, Ohio. (I've generally never known anyone in the "middle north" states, but I guess I do now).

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Home Improvements:

**The carpet is still looking TOTALLY AWESOME. LIKE NEW!! I can't get over it.

I am going to put a way crazy good review on yelp, and talk up this place to everyone I know. & we will hire them again in the fall to do the upstairs. (I was just giving it time, to see if all the stains came back, and to save up pennies for the upstairs. This is no cheap rock bottom carpet cleaner).

**Dh fixed the freezer leak. Thanks to the internet. We gathered a tube was maybe clogged and dh just flushed it with hot water. Easy peasy; problem solved.

**We got our kitchen faucet replaced today. Phew! We had a small leak, so that should clear that up. My dad was impressed we got 12 years out of it, given the hard water.

Got the faucet on Amazon for $160 (stuck with Moen at plumber's recommendation, and kept the super fancy one we already had. Which is probably a common style these days, but wasn't 12 years ago). I picked up $150 Amazon gift cards at the grocery store so I could get 6% back on my credit card. The 6% probably cancels out the tax.

Plumber was $125.

My dad quoted $500; we pulled it off for $285. Phew!! (Difference being mostly "cost of living." I am starting to have an appreciation that "DIY" is maybe more valuable given their zip code. But, I also think my dad is exaggerating in his mind how much it would cost for installation). We didn't shop around too agressively, but Amazon was by far the best price of anything we saw. So sounded fine to us. I sent dh off to some "discount warehouse" where saw the same faucet for $400, for reference.

We obviously weren't going to go for super high quality for something that will barely last a decade. But we are used to a pull-out faucet with different spray settings, so wanted to stick with that.

**The battery went out on my garage door opener remote. Bummer. I really don't recall every losing a battery on the old door, but it it possible I just don't remember. This was annoying because the remote is less than one year old. But, at $3 for a battery, I will get over it. Wink

The Child is in London

July 18th, 2013 at 08:10 pm

Whew! What a week! We've been very "On the Go" and/or just a lot of stuff going on.

The older child made it to London, with the Grandparents.

For those who missed it, MIL has been planning this trip like her whole life. She was going on and on about this when I was pregnant with her first Grandchild. She wants to take all her Grandkids "anywhere they choose" on their 10th birthdays. So, BM is the eldest Grandchild, and she is now realizing her big dream. (& she will be busy traveling the next few years, with all the Grandkids so close in age).

Interestingly, for as much as they love to travel, they have never been to Europe before??

Thank Goodness for skype! Actually, he is very mature and adventurous and I am sure he would have been just fine. & it's been so busy here that I have barely had time to miss him. BUT, since we do have skype, he's skyped us about 10 times already, and that is nice too. Wink

DeClutter Progress + Good Article re: Young Parents

July 13th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

**I've made good progress on the kitchen. It's all cleaned out and decluttered.

I've got some more work on the downstairs, but not a lot. (So much for finishing in June. HA! Was felled by illness, and then by heat. Thankfully it cooled off here after the 4th).

I am not planning to move to the upstairs decluttering until fall, so I am happy with progress. Could maybe stand to go through the entire downstairs a second time, before moving on. There is an element of, "I already got piles of stuff sitting out, and don't know how I will find a home for everything." As is, I already set out a second pile of kitchen stuff. Grabbed some of the vases. IT was easier to do so after the first purge left the house. I need to go back through with a more critical thought process.

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**Today I went through the kids' clothes. They are outgrowing the "hand-me-down" stage as they are both practically the same size any more, and no one has given me any hand-me-downs in a while. So, it was a pretty quick task. In fact, usually LM is drowning in hand-me-downs. BUT, his drawers were kind of bare and BM's drawers were spilling over. So we shifted things about - they seem well stocked for clothing. {I've been stocking up on clearance items during the off season. They also don't particularly like pants of long sleeves, so basically all I buy any more is shorts and t-shirts in the winter. The shorts and last a LOT longer than pants, since they grow so much "up" and not "out", so their wardrobe sensibilities are quite frugal}. They might be set until winter.

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If you check the blog links in my sidebar, I have "The Happiest Mom" blog linked (recently changed to "The Happiest Home").

Megan Francis wrote the original blog, and is Amazing. LOVE HER. Kind of a voice of sanity in an insane world.

Anyway, she had an interesting article yesterday:

4 reasons young women are scared to have kids (and why we should knock it off.)

http://www.babble.com/babble-voices/at-large-meagan-francis/...

The whole point is not to encourage people to have children on the super young side. BUT, to point out that our culture is putting unnecessary fear and judgment onto younger parents.

& though I love the likes of MyMoneyBlog and Mr. Money Mustache, it was infinitely more important for us to have a family than to be "be financially independent first." I clearly fall into middle ground, but considering the region I grew up, we were always chastised for settling down crazy early. The reasons for the chastising certainly never made any sense to me.

Some excerpts from the article:

Young adults in the prime of their fertility, not to mention energy levels, who want children, are actually afraid to become parents, believing they’ll feel “ready” down the road sometime…at 30, or 35, or maybe 40.

...And I’m tired of seeing youthful adult parenthood conflated with teen parenthood. I also think teen parents can be and are successful all the time, but comparing a girl of 15 to a woman of 23 makes no sense at all unless you seriously underestimate that woman.

From watching TV and movies, you’d think that the 20s are a magical age, full of self-discovery, maturation, and success in relationships and work. And for some, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that parenting can’t happen alongside of self-discovery or career success, or that all people are better off having a decade or more of freedom and fun before settling down

there are tradeoffs at both ends of the spectrum. I’ll still be relatively young when my kids leave the house, and I’ll still have plenty of time for fun and freedom – with a little more jingle in my pockets than I would have had in my 20s. And while I did miss out on some partying in my youth, I also know that I spent those years well.

It’s perfectly OK to grow your family’s financial stability alongside your kids. It makes you more creative, more resourceful, and can even lead to some great memories. And if there’s anything this recession has taught us, it’s that no job, no home equity, no investment, is guaranteed anyway.


I particularly like the 3rd and 5th excerpt that I included. Amen!!

Holy Cow

July 11th, 2013 at 09:04 pm

**Dh saved a phones message for me today. He said, "Tell me what you hear." Not very clear, but sounded like a focus group offering $700.

Holy Cow!?!

They ruled out dh immediately because he just did that big $400-ish study a couple of months back. (Which I thought was the Holy Grail of focus groups, at the time).

Dh asked if I should call back later, but they said it was for 3 whole week days. I should probably call back and find out more details. As is, it was probably the only 3 week days in the entire next 3 months or so that just don't work for me. FIGURES!!

I don't even know if dh or I would have qualified otherwise, either. IT's probably easy to assume not.

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I saw an interesting point of view that I don't think I thought of before. I saw someone in another forum mention that they had made enough in credit card rewards (in one lifetime) to pay for their last car purchase.

!!!!

I suppose I have done the same...

It's a huge sum and I am aware, but I just never thought of it in exactly those terms. Next time someone bothers me about how we can afford having two cars, I should throw that out there. "Paid for by credit cards." Not quite in the way that sounds. Wink

My LIFETIME credit card rewards? Heck if I know. I've had a rewards credit card for almost 20 years?

Rough and dirty estimate:

$1,000 2013
$7,000 2011 & 2012
$5,000 2006-2010
$1,000 All years prior
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$14,000 LIFETIME TOTAL
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Yup, that more than paid for my current vehicle!!

I just recall credit card rewards ramping up and doing well in the years since I had this blog. Earning $1,000-ish per year. & I have hard figures in this blog for the past two years (which were totally insane). I really don't remember racking up a ton of rewards before that and don't have the records. I am sure I am probably under-estimating though as I remember having 1% cash back. Then again, we didn't charge anything and everything like we do now. Maybe $1,000 is about right, for all the years prior. If there were better rewards to be had, I didn't know and/or I wasn't spending enough to get them. As far as 2013, the year is young.

I have to go wrap my brain around this now. WOW!!

Disclaimer: I have never paid a penalty or a cent of interest to any credit card company. My reward calculations are net of any "annual fees" that I have paid to earn rewards. IF you can't easily beat the credit card companies at their own game, then I wouldn't bother trying. Something like 90% of the population fails. Unfortunately, I understand that sharing my successes might sound like a credit card commercial. If this sounds like a good idea, proceed with extreme caution.

This & That

July 10th, 2013 at 06:35 am

**I was called about a $80 focus group yesterday, but was ruled out because I didn't have a child under the age of 8. This was on my child's 8th birthday. BAH!

**Home repairs are going okay:

---Dh believes he may have fixed the water leak in our freezer. (Just a tube that froze over or got clogged - so poured hot water into it). Will see...

---He called out a plumber who came up with same diagnosis as my dad. We have "really hard water" but it sounds like our parents have harder water. If our faucet lasted 50% longer than theirs.

The cost looks to be about 50% of what my dad quoted to replace - more in line what I expected. {Is this why my dad never hires any help? He thinks it cost way more than it really does? We also have the egde of lower cost of living}.

I don't particularly see the point to get anything really high quality if it will only last a decade with the hard water. Will do a little research and probably just pick up something identical to what we have (is a really nice sink faucet - very functional - I just don't see the point to pay for something like stainless steel, when it comes in a cheaper material).

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**Had a very small shindig on Saturday, for younger child's birthday.

Grocery store finds:

Got two "take and bake" pizzas for $15. These are generally our favorite pizzas. In fact, the kids raved about it. (We don't serve that cheap pizza crap at our house, and the 8-year-old crowd even noticed this).

I decided to check out their ice cream cakes. With a birthday coupon, it was only $15 for a fairly large cake. We got through half of it as of today. Technically we can keep the other half for older child's birthday?

As I said before, these are just coming out of grocery budget. I'd pretty much say that our "birthday spending" was $0.

I wouldn't feel too sorry for him (that we spent so little and did not buy him an actual gift). He was spoiled by many others. I believe he pulled in about $100 from 4 relatives. Plus numerous other gifts and treats.

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**I read some interesting articles on real estate this weekend.

Apparently, the younger generation is looking for more practical home layouts and so home builders are trying to oblige. You can't help but wonder if the pendulum is starting to swing in a more "financially sensible" direction.

Speaking of real estate... Real estate was completely on fire in spring, but nothing is listed for sale in our neighborhood this summer. I can not even imagine what this means for housing prices. (I keep reading that supply is short. & this time it's not the banks controlling the supply, at least not as much). We live in a highly sought neighborhood so I can only imagine the bidding war on the next house that goes up for sale. In the meantime, I am not getting a strong sense of where prices are at the moment. (The last time that *no houses* were listed for sale, was, never?).

I also saw an optimistic article that said first time home buyers were being careful and conservative. & so that maybe this will bode well for long-term housing prices.

I am personally skeptical. It kind of read that people are being more careful than they were in the bubble, but not by a lot. Which kind of reads to me like "more people are starting to save more than average," which is a pretty LOW bar to surpass.

What I see with my own eyes is lots of 0-down loans and very bubble-like activity.

I was disturbed to read that so many people were being "so conservative" but buying VERY expensive homes and buying "10% less than they qualified for." So, this is the bar for conservative? 10% less than they qualified for? Considering low interest rates right now, that just tells me people are still WAY "payment" focused (versus "big picture/total cost" focused).

Using traditional lending standards (not 2005 standards when we could have easily borrowed 20 times our income) and using today's interest rates, by all accounts we spent 40% - 50% less than the mortgage loan we qualified for (considering cost of home when we bought and what it would cost today; considering our income now and then). We had a really unique situation, so that was for a really nice home. We certainly could have gone a heck of a lot more conservative. I admit interest rates and monthly payments were considered, but with our low cost move and feeling like we could very easily afford some VERY nice digs, it helped us to set a price limit to narrow things down. So we did that more than anything. I admit our commitment to find a mortgage we could cover with only one income played a large part in only buying about 50% of what we could afford. Maybe that is the long and the short of it. But I can also very confidently say we weren't so freaking "payment" focused. Our plan was initially to only have a $150k-ish mortgage. I suppose we liked the idea of a VERY LOW mortgage balance, more than anything else.

I am skeptical, but will see.

A Nice Snowflake!

July 9th, 2013 at 07:15 am

I am on a roll lately!

I didn't see the $40 Sprint credit hit last month. We both figured it had been too good to be true. The last $40 credit said "4 months credit" so like dh had expected, he thought it was just a 4-month advance on credits. Though he swore customer service had told him $40/month, he was sure he misunderstood.

So imagine my surprise when I got an bill e-mail and the bill was lower by $40. Woohoo!!

Since I now expect the same credit this month too, I added a $80 snowflake to the mortgage ($40 x 2).

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Today my youngest turns 8. You know what that means!?! DONE with car seats.

OMG, we should plan a big plane trip. Big Grin (I can't believe it - no more traveling with car seats!!)

Dh burst my bubble and pointed out we should check state laws for our road trip. I ignored Florida laws when my eldest was 9, because he is very big and tall and had been out of a carseat for well over a year. (He's almost as tall as me, so if he needs a carseat I need a carseat. Maybe I do need one, but we both have our dignity).

BUT, my 8-year-old is a lot more petite (at 8) and the trip is just in a couple of months. HE will have to understand.

So, we will hold one *nice* carseat for that trip, until I have time to check rules. (If anyone knows rules for Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, just let me know).

But, I think we can definitely sell the other carseat this week. After the big trip, will sell the other one. We also have the cheapie we bought for Florida and will just keep that in the car. Dh has been babysitting younger kids and the cousins could always use a car seat.

**When we went to Florida last fall it was a pretty easy trip but we did literally bring an entire second carry-on for the booster seat. This officially means we can pack very light! & You should have seen the crazy insane crappy car seats we rented over the years while traveling. O.M.G. We tried a few different avenues, but was always some crappy seat from the 1970s or 1980s, no matter what rental service we tried. I didn't trust the airlines with our NICE carseats (for safety reasons they really should be handled very gently). But, looking back, we probably should have just bought a seat for airline travel. (A banged up seat is better than a seat from the 1970s era???) I guess we never traveled enough to justify that kind of purchase, but was always some really horrible experience. Admittedly, the booster seat was no big deal in comparison. But it is one less travel hassle to ever deal with again!!**

Bonuses this week + Amazon Discount

July 4th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

**With all the bills I charged this past month (MRI, summer school), I was able to redeem $100 to my ROTH this month.

**I was able to redeem $50 from our gas/groceries rewards, and so I added $50 to my next mortgage payment. (This one was also twice as much as usual, but you can only redeem in $25 increments, and I might have had $24 stored up from prior months. Kind of the same think with my ROTH bonus too).

**Not redeemed yet, but also got $152 in Capital One Bonuses.

My dad also signed up, but did not use my link. (My other friend also did not follow through or use link). SO, thank goodness I found two SA-ers for my bonus. THANK YOU!!

My dad offered to call and explain to get my bonus, but at that point it was only $20 per bonus. I was more concerned about the $76 bonus for two referrals, and so told him not to waste his time. It was okay. If nothing else, I think my Dad does enough for me that I don't want him wasting his time with that. If *I* could have called and taken care of it, I would have taken the $20! But, you know, I just had him wrestling with garbage disposal for several hours, the other day.

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I saw a tip on MyMoneyBlog. I could generally buy Amazon gift cards at grocery stores, and all my grocery store purchases get us 6% cash back. So that translates to a 6% discount on Amazon gift cards.

DUH - Why didn't *I* think of that? Big Grin

The caveat is there is a $6,000 per year limit on these purchases. But, with our Target grocery shopping, we only do about $5,000 per year at actual grocery stores. So, I think $1,000 per year in Amazon gift cards (or other gift cards) is more than we would ever use. Will have to keep in mind for gifts, too.

Oh, so I had totally forgotten about this tip. Then dh tells me the other day about a convoluted Amazon affiliate thing you can set up to get discounts. Basically, it was recommended to sign up as an affiliate, have your friend sign up as an affiliate, and then buy through each others' links. (Since they generally catch on when you buy through your own affiliate link).

I told dh, "Um, how much would this save?" He said something like on average 4%. (Though sometimes a LOT more).

I said, "Um, or you could just buy Amazon gift cards at the grocery store and save 6%." Big Grin

So, that jogged my memory...

(Overall, I think the affiliate thing sounds like way more hassle than it is worth).

So, anyway, then MIL said she was going to get the kids some Amazon gift cards for their birthday, so dh offered to pick them up and get reimbursed from her later. He picked up $50 today, so 6% of that will be another $3 to our mortgage in a couple of months. Yay!

This & That

July 2nd, 2013 at 08:59 pm

**I pulled off a $152 cash bonus with the Capital One Bonus today. Woohoo! That was $152 for about 5 minutes worth of work. (I usually don't pay much attention to bank sign up bonuses, because WAY too many hoops to jump through. But, *this* was about as simple as it gets).

In 30 days I can transfer the money back to my checking account and will no doubt close the account. Though the interest rate is very slightly better than my credit union savings account, is not enough to warrant the increased risk of bank failure, nor the pain of dealing with a "big bank" (which I mostly boycott, except to take their bonuses). So, I will pass.

Oh, I did read some of the fine print on the checking account bonus, and decided to pass. Though I could come up with 5 checks to deposit this month (I am expecting 5 checks), the amount I could transfer out was pretty much "subject to the will of Capital One on whatever given day." So yeah, screw that. I could work around it, but the hassle factor was getting to be WAY too much.

**While in "bonus raining down" mode, I almost pulled the trigger on some credit card sign ups. $400 for the Chase Sapphire really is not bad. BUT, it was recently $500, and I could just see it going back to $500 the minute after I applied. I am going to wait that one out a bit... I also have my eye on the American Express Gold card (neither of us have had for maybe 2+ years). So, these are all double dips that were recently $500/each. I am hoping to get $500 x 3 on these deals. (I already double dipped the Chase, so that one is just for dh).

Waiting and being greedy may fail me. Time will tell...

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**Surviving the heat. IT's getting easier as we get more used to it. 2 more days and nights of this...

Oh, and our AC faltered, but kind of sort of in a good way. We have a dual-zone system in our house, but it stopped working today. The downstairs AC was cooling the whole house. I really thought the kids had turned it on upstairs, until dh explained to me it wasn't working. Is probably working too hard, and murder on our electric bill. BUT, of all the problems to have... We won't bother to get it fixed until it gets WAY cooler. (In fact, I just hope it resets itself tonight once we turn it all off. I can hope).

I have just been crossing fingers that AC powers through, and that electricity stays on. I have heard endless horror stories about $$$$ emergency AC fixing; neighbors and friends. I don't remember ever working our own AC quite this hard. !!

{If our thermostat is the problem, seems it would be pretty easy to fix. Heck, if it keeps doing that tomorrow, we might try to self diagnose the problem. I do really think something crossed and when we turn it all off it will just reset}.

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**Speaking of fixing things...

We got our garbage disposal changed out. Man, what a NIGHTMARE.

I learned some, and invested in some better tools, but I mostly remembered why we don't "DIY." Of course, I expected that to be on the easier side of things, which was the only reason we even bothered the DIY route. (I should have taken up neighbor's offer to do it for free - doh).

I suppose it's good we got that changed out. Because the garbage disposal stopped leaking, but a worse leak (or at least a more awkward/harder to keep dry leak) has developed.

My dad told me it had probably been leaking for a while (masked by the disposal) and that his experience is changing out water faucets every 8-ish years due to the hard water. (This is Mr. "Keep Everything FOREVER"). Gah! Well, the faucet is 12 years old, so I suppose it is about time then. I've been saving to replace all of our (12-year-old) appliances, but I can't say "sink fixtures" was on my list. (Nor would I expect it to be so costly, but my dad may have been quoting "high cost of living" labor factoring how long the same job took with his inexperience. Let us just hope).

Today I found a plumber online, and dh said the leak is getting worse, so he will take care of that, hopefully this week. Will just see what they think the problem is, and go from there. I trust my dad more than any stranger, BUT, am curious to the professional opinion. & if they say that's it, well, I have a good idea that is the problem. (But maybe it will be something simpler?)

It did occur to me that today's bank bonus would at least pay for a fixture replacement (the parts). I'd sure like a nice credit card bonus to cover the labor. That is my other motivation for finding some bonuses. But yeah, I don't really think it will cost as much as my dad thinks it would. We will see.

Free $76 - See for Details

July 2nd, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I just spent about 5 minutes earning $76. Big Grin

Thanks to creditcardfree!!

I signed up with Capital One. If you deposit $500 into their "360 Savings" account for 30 days, you can withdraw the $76 bonus and close the account afterwards. Like ccfree said, I already have my $76. I just can't withdraw it for 30 days.

Their interest rate is also not bad. 0.74%? There are no fees for this account (just wire transfer fees).

In addition, there are bonuses for referring people. Here is my referral link:

**See Ceejay's blog for referral**

**This $76 offer ends tomorrow. So, you have July 2nd or July 3rd to get the $76 Bonus.**