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Archive for August, 2014

$75

August 20th, 2014 at 06:55 am

Dh scored a $75 focus group (for 1.5 hours).

Woohoo!

I have no idea what we will do with this money. I expect that I will throw this snowflake to investments.
I don't foresee that he will want to do anything else with it.

$2500

August 17th, 2014 at 07:15 am

Rewards Update! Surpassing $2500. What a year!

2014 TALLY:

$200 Cash (Citi card, Moi)
$500 Amazon gift cards (SW Chase double dip, Dh)
$250 Cash (Chase Freedom, Moi)
$200 Cash (Chase Checking, Moi)
$200 Cash (Chase Checking, Dh)
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$1350 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

+$550 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex - 2% cash back)**

+$450 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)**

+$ 85 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)**

+$ 75 Visa Rewards (1% cash back - for places that don't take AmEx - primarily dentist/insurance/utilities)**

**Estimates for the whole year

Grand Total = $2,510

**CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. I can 100% honestly say I did not charge anything that I wouldn't have just paid for in cash otherwise.**

Beach Trip Update

August 13th, 2014 at 06:29 am

Beach Trip:

Spent $400. The bulk of that was food, and then the kitty hotel. That maybe includes $20 gas. I won't worry about the rest of the gas (maybe spent $50 gas total).

I don't remember the last time we went somewhere so crazy expensive on the food front. Never?? Their Round table pizza prices were 70% more expensive than our own local RT. We went there on the last night for a "cheap dinner" and couldn't believe the bill. Large pizza was about $30. !!

I'll pull $400 from the vacation budget. It works out perfectly because I also wanted to donate $100 to Camp Sac. I just hadn't gotten around to it yet and so made that donation this week and will pull $500 from vacation budget. $400 + $100. (Since MIL treats for our camp trip we always make a donation instead. Money used to keep up the non-profit camp).

Here are a couple of pictures from our trip.

First is the Mendocino coastline. Breathtaking.

Second picture was taken at Glass Beach. Old dump site where the trash has been ground down over the years into a beautiful sea glass beach. When you look closer at some of the rust colored areas of the picture (in person), is remnants of the old dump. There was one part that had an old giant car part and shards of glass. It's fascinating how old trash can be so pretty. Lots of the sea glass on the shore is plastic (red and orange pebbles used to be car tail lights) and ceramic (lots of pieces of china).

Our hotel accommodations were free, think to MIL's endless timeshare points. The property was so beautiful but the rooms were really run down. We are not picky people by any means, but when we got there I think we were both a little uncomfortable. I will say that the place grew on me. The beds were surprisingly comfortable and so we got over it. The beauty of the grounds won us over. Which is maybe why MIL's timeshare covered this place. Usually WAY NICER properties.

So, we finally did it. It took us 13 years, but we finally ventured up north for the beach. Since we now live up north. What was our overall feeling about it? It was beautiful but the drive was so stressful getting there. I don't know if I have ever been on such a windy road in my life and felt really horrible for carsick younger child. (I know I would have been miserable most the drive if I wasn't driving).

Glad we saw it, but think we will stick with Pismo Beach. Oh, and it took us 6 hours to drive home (supposed to be a 4 hour drive). SO... Pismo is a lovely and very easy 5 hour drive with hardly a windy road. I think that is just *our* beach.

We certainly had fun and have no regrets about it. It will just be a long time before we go back again. & new adventures sometimes give us extra appreciation for the places we already know and love.

Beach Trip & Citi

August 12th, 2014 at 01:12 pm

We are back from a long weekend at the coast, and kids start school this week.

I have no idea how much money we spent, but guessing $500-ish for gas and food and kitty hotel (4 Days).

My parents picked up airline tickets for visiting my sister in October. Phew! Glad that it is confirmed for sure that I don't need to cough up $500 for that (before they changed their mind). Which meant I had $1,000 left in vacation budget, and it doesn't look like I will be spending much in October (We won't rent a car and at worst it will only be $25/night to split a hotel. Just me, so not a lot of food to buy either). $500 should be more than plenty leftover for that trip.

Dh wants to go to Napa next month (I doubt we'd even spend $100) and I am still toying with the idea of going to Pismo Beach for my birthday. The kids don't get their usual day off (Monday after Thanksgiving) so it would just be dh and I. Will probably just make that a last minute decision, based on funds available. I suppose I should just use my Citi reward to book that hotel, and call it a day.

Will post more about our trip later.

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When we got home the Citi card was here. I charged it up already. $215 school lunches for first half of year, $260 field trips, $70 supplies and spirit t-shirts, this month's health insurance, plus $35 to pre-pay next month's insurance. Total = $1,500.

$200 earned - now I wait until I can redeem.

Back to School & Car Shopping

August 7th, 2014 at 06:32 am

Another summer break has flown by. Kids go back to school next week.

I decided to jump on that Citi offer when creditcardfree jogged my memory that I can redeem the $200 in cash form. Woohoo! I also received an auto insurance bill and was thinking about back-to-school spending, so it seemed like a good time to do a cc bonus (lots of expenses).

School spending:

--Bought a larger and sturdier backpack for 4th grader. 4th grade is really intense at their school.

--Middle schooler doesn't need anything? I have gotten on a wonderful schedule of offseason clearance purchases. He already has an entire wardrobe in the next size up.

--Will prepay school lunches for 6 months. I fund every August and January.

--School requests $25 per pupil, for supplies. Which is one reason I have nothing else to buy.

--Field trip fees. BM's class seems to be fiscally ambitious, overall, so I am relieved they are requesting a mere $60 for this year. But just wait, someone will think that a $600 field trip is a great idea. *sigh* I ned to cough up $200 for the 4th grader. I will just pay it this month and be done with it.

We of course save for all of the above monthly - will just pull from savings.

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I've noticed the AC was weak in my vehicle but I thought it was just in my head. I learned on a 106F degree day last week that it was NOT at all in my head. UGH!

Anyway, took the car in today. It's very cool today, but kind of muggy. Just really WEIRD weather. I flipped on the AC and it couldn't have felt more cold and refreshing. Rolleyes So, will see. I told the mechanic it's working great now but does not seem to perform in 100F degree weather. I am hoping it just needs a simple recharge. IS probably most likely.

I did look up maintenance records and we replaced 4 tires last year and had some brake work done in 2011. So, if the vehicle needs a big repair, it is long past due. We endlessly save up for car repairs - one of those things that have never been a big deal to us. (Also helps to have a trusted mechanic that keeps repair costs well below average).

EDITED TO ADD: $200 today to recharge the AC and insert dye to find if there is a leak. As of now, no leaks found. I am thinking it is probably a very slow leak that is not worth fixing. But we will follow up on that in a few weeks.

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Car Shopping? NOT ME. Big Grin

IT's my mom. She finally found a vehicle. She bought a barely used luxury vehicle about 17 years ago, for $20k. It still gets a LOT of attention - it's kind of flashy. It is still often assumed to be fairly new. My parents wanted to replace it a couple of years ago but she just did not like anything else, in comparison.

Fast forward 2 years and they are doing exceptionally well financially, so she is trying to talk herself into a car upgrade. She called me last week bemoaning some awful experiences at the dealerships and how crappy all the newer cars are. I know she was really trying to talk herself into a brand new luxury vehicle, but was feeling very overwhelmed by all the gadgets on the new higher end vehicles.

Anyway, they ended up finding a stripped down 2013 luxury model which is perfect for them. Will only pay $20k-ish after trade-in. I told my dh after talking to my mom earlier in the week that they were so NOT buying a NEW car. I am glad they found something.

I share, because I am feeling so blessed with my own experience and point of view. I can't imagine how different our lives would be if we were afraid of buying used cars. A lot of unnecessary financial stress. I just cringe every time I hear a "I can't survive without a $35,000 vehicle!" comment. Which seems to be like every single person we know. I love to help and educate people, but preconceived notions are mostly impossible to overcome. All I can do is be thankful that we aren't stressing over GIANT car purchases in our own household. & that I am blessed to know that I can buy a VERY NICE vehicle for a bargain.