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Archive for November, 2014

Christmas Simplicity

November 30th, 2014 at 06:57 pm



The picture above is our Christmas tree, a couple of years back.

& a couple of my favorite articles that I have shared in the past.

http://smallnotebook.org/2012/12/17/12-tips-easier-christmas/

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2012/12/17/resisting-the-h...

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My job is crazy insane busy during the Christmas season, and so this has been a very big factor in our attitude about Christmas. I don't have the time and the energy and so mostly sit out the season.

Our attitude is also compounded by the in-laws' Christmas gift extravaganza. It's like, the kids got 100 toys from Grandma, so no one else gets absolutely any joy giving them gifts. Even my parents just don't get them anything. I share just to point out that all of the above is more for the adults than the kids. My kids know that their paternal grandparents are a little crazy and excessive but that everyone else we know is the complete opposite. I think it's obvious to them that their experience with Grandma is not the norm. They have never once asked me why no one else gets them any presents - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. It's never occurred to them that they should be getting presents from everyone. They just think Grandma really really likes Christmas!

I read through those articles again and it reminded me of the final rules of Christmas simplicity in our house. We don't travel and we don't cook. My spouse has a problem with taking the kids anywhere on Christmas day because he hated that when he was a kid - he wanted to stay home and to play with his toys. So, Christmas day is always at home. I am more than fine with that because is I am lucky to get Christmas day off and certainly can't swing more time off than that.

Dh is really good about cooking and helping with cleaning, etc. But we make Christmas a day of rest. I think dh is probably fine with throwing something in the crockpot and maybe we have done that on occasion. But it's my mom who really has a problem with people cooking on Christmas. So she usually insists that we just order a pizza or pick a take and back from the store (our grocery store has great pizzas). Surprisingly, even my MIL seems to like this tradition. She loves the idea of ordering out on Christmas day. I've never lived in a house with a Christmas feast, so all of the above works fine for me. I don't do anything to prepare, and we keep Christmas day very low key.

Ting Update

November 29th, 2014 at 04:25 pm

I got a $50 Ting credit for a referral. Woohoo!

The timing is good because my dad had some setting switch (mysteriously) on his phone and he racked up some crazy data this week. It would have cost us an extra $10, but now we have a $50 credit to offset that!

My mom used to reimburse me $180 every 2 months for Sprint and so I told her to just pay me once every 6 months on Ting. They gave me a check in August (since the first several months were free) and I will ask for one this month since I don't think the Ting credit will be applied until our next bill. Then they will be paid up for the year and I can clear some of the "negative" in my checkbook for them owing me.

Anyway, this week is our Tingaversary and this is how our bills shook out. (This is just our half of the bills).

Dec $0
Jan $0
Feb $0
March $0
April $6
May $30
June $30
July $34
Aug $35
Sep $33
Oct $30
Nov $35

Total = $233 for 2 phones, 12 months of service

That's $19/month average for two phones.

{The first several months were free due to black friday deals, referral credits, and early termination fee (ETF) reimbursements from Ting. It made more sense financially to ditch Sprint early and to reduce our phone bill down to $0 (or even down to $30) for several months. Ting reimburses some of the ETFs}.

I expect that we can do same for next year. We already started out next month with a $50 credit. I am also getting wifi at work, which will significantly reduce our data usage. BM seems more than happy with wifi-only phone and so I don't see adding him to Ting for quite a while. I am continuing to budget $35/month for Ting, but I know we will pay less than that.

Of course through this weekend you can get $100 off a new device or $100 in Ting credit if you buy used or bring a Sprint device to Ting! If you use my referral link:

https://z181d126bt4.ting.com


Holiday Doings

November 23rd, 2014 at 03:58 pm

November is very slow at work and so November is usually my "fall cleaning" month. & with the change in weather and everything.

We have been doing some purging. A charity came by and took a bag of shoes and outgrown childrens' clothing. It had been a while and I had a bag sitting out ready for a while. So I am glad to have that gone. Dh ran an old printer and computer to Best Buy for recycling. I was able to pass on some old church choir music I found to the kids' piano teacher. (She seemed excited! I didn't know what else to do with it, so I am glad she wanted it).

Fiscally, I closed my Chase checking account. I can close dh's in a couple of weeks. I haven't looked at any bank bonuses lately because we had *3* tying up our money. But when these Chase accounts are closed I will keep my eyes open.

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We host Thansgiving every year since we live in the lower cost region and have the biggest house in the family. Of course, we have lots of room, and certainly the biggest kitchen, but neither of us is interested in cooking for 20 people. So we have always done it more potluck style. Which means I look forward to it and don't plan to do much to prep for the big day.

I did absolutely nothing to prep yesterday. Today we may clean up a bit. We already cleared out all the paper clutter in the kitchen area and cleared the formal dining table a couple of weeks ago. (Moved the kids' computer for the season, will move it back to the otherwise unused table after Turkey day). Anything we don't get through today the kids and dh can handle during the week. I don't think we have much to do. Dh already picked up the Turkey and most the groceries. He will probably run back Tuesday for a few items we need to buy more last minute. He is cooking a few side dishes. I whip up a couple of very fast things the morning of.

We all have a small part, so it makes the whole meal more enjoyable and relaxing for everyone.

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Christmas

As to Christmas, I mostly don't partake. Spending is in the $200 range and I think we are mostly done.

**Dh spent about $40 for the kids, throughout the year. (Probably mostly games)

**We spent $10 on my mom

**Dh bought a $30 concert ticket for my dad

**Of course, most of the $200 is probably the kids' spending. I see they spent $75 on gifts for each other and for dh and I.

**I sent an extra $20 to the gardener

Dh is earning an insane amount of Scholastic gift cards this season (more than usual) for the kids' teachers. I was thinking maybe we should give some to the piano teacher this year.

{This is also a substantial part of the kids' Christmas - they go pick up hundreds of dollars of free books every mid-December}.

Employer and In-Laws always pay for their own gifts, basically. (They will both give us more cash than we would spend on them). For employer, I will just write a check in January. For in-laws, dh will sort that out with his sister later.

I am thinking of getting a Kindle for dh's birthday - free with credit card rewards. It won't be a surprise because if I am spending "$200" I want to make sure it is the exact right one. His old Kindle is just fine, but the kids are using it more and he has salivating over the new one a bit (though he thinks the price is kind of crazy, but is fine with Chase or whoever paying for it!)

Interesting side note: DH's current kindle was the first credit card reward we got from this current (4 year long?) credit card extravaganza. We opened an American Express gold card and charged whatever, and they sent us a brand new Kindle. That is probably the only non-cash or non-gift-card credit card reward we have ever gotten.

Lucky Day

November 21st, 2014 at 04:37 am

**I noticed that the projector that we just bought was selling for $200 less today. (Probably has been one sale for a while, isn't that how these things go? Did it go on sale the day after we bought it?)

I wasn't sure it was the same projector, but I forwarded the link to dh. He pretty quickly wrote back that he had secured a $200 refund. Woohoo!

**Dh found a large amount of change, like he always does. It was up on a ledge and so I presume he just felt weird taking it. Because it wasn't on the ground? Don't ask me. Noticed it while picking up LM from school and I was going to let LM grab it on the way home, but forgot.

Anyway, I remembered later when driving the kids home in the evening and BM popped out of the car and the change was still there.

Three quarters and three dimes!

Other Fiscal Doings:

**Payday this week; paid off projector purchase. (When I get the $200 refund I will put it to savings).

**I redeemed $40 cash back from the Citi double dash card. Will throw into investments (snowflakes to investments). I expect to have $3,000 by year-end. (Not ALL snowflakes, but heavily contributed to with snowflakes).

**I harvested gains in the kids' investment accounts. I thought I was going to skip this year, but I can't complain about the market.

I basically just sold and re-bought their funds, to lock in tax-free gains.

**I made a play on Target stock after the data breach and that is paying off this week!

**I paid $2.65 for gas this week.

Shows and Shoes

November 12th, 2014 at 02:17 pm

My 50,000 points hit on the SW Chase card. Woohoo!

We will pick up a PS4 and an extra controller - I think that will use up the entire $500 gift card (with taxes), unless we can work out a Black Friday deal. Dh briefly entertained the idea of getting a Best Buy gift card and hoping to get it cheaper. I asked if he was insane. He thought better of it. (You know, one of those things people will be trampling each other over and will only have limited quality).

Let's just be happy with "FREE!"

But he may hold off the purchase until after cyber Monday - keeping an eye on amazon deals. I will just get amazon gift cards because is the only PS4 Black Friday type deal I think we will possibly partake in.

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SHOES

**I had bought some athletic shoes a while ago and though I certainly tried them on and was happy with them initially, I think they are too tight and uncomfortable now that I am really wearing them. (Which is the story of my life).

Anyway, I happened to see some double wide mens shoes at Kohls.com. I was not shoe shopping or anything, but I liked the look and I figured I would give it a try.

The funny thing? I have been walking in my Ugg-type boots I bought when I Was left shoeless in Ohio. They are *so* comfortable, and so those are my walking shoes at the moment. (Says the woman who would never walk more than a quarter mile or so in nothing less than a top quality athletic shoe).

But anyway, I bought the men's shoes and thought it would be a shame that I would be athletic shoe-less for a while longer. But these were way cheaper than zappos (with all the kohls coupons). & so I bit the bullet and figured I have my comfy boots in the meantime. (I am not going to aerobics or the gym in my boots, but at least I can do some walking in comfort).

So, a package arrived yesterday. & it was my shoes!! They shipped On Trac (which is always lightning fast). They never sent me any indication that it was coming overnight - which might have been nice to know. But anyway, I wonder if they did that to compete with Zappos. Which again, is useless if they don't tell you what they are doing. Whenever Zappos sends me shoes overnight they make sure to brag about how awesome they are and how nice they are being. Big Grin

Anyway, Men's double wide did the trick. They fit so nice! I haven't worn them outside yet, so will see what I find wrong with them when I wear them on my first long walk. But for now I am pleased. (They are black - I wonder if anyone would notice if I wore them to the office today? LOL. Tempted).

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SHOWS

**This weekend we have two shows, that we paid for a while ago. Dh and I may do dinner out while in San Francisco.

**Robot Wars, which is our most favorite thing ever, is coming back! We contributed $100 to a kickstarter they had, which would get us 4 tickets. (We usually pay $100 for 5 tickets, so will consider the $20 an extra donation. We get some swag too, I guess).

I am so excited about that! But it won't be until Spring.

**Dh wants to go to some concert in December and is probably going to go with my dad. He said me might just buy my dad's ticket as a Christmas gift. Sounds good to me, because I had not planned to buy him anything.

That reminds me, we went to Target this weekend (to get LM some pants) and he picked out a gift for Grandma. Just something we couldn't resist when we saw it, $10. So, I guess I have officially crossed off everyone off my Christmas list. (The list is very small, and I Wasn't even sure I'd get my parents anything). Just waiting for a few more packages.

Rewards Update

November 11th, 2014 at 04:29 pm

Rewards Update...

I revised my numbers to include extra interest I am getting from a promotional CD (6% interest). I highlighted the bank interest (taxable) rewards to differentiate them from the tax-free credit card rewards.

I also revised my Target and 1% Visa rewards for actual rewards numbers. I think those numbers are pretty good. We are probably done with the Visa for a while and I just estimated $200 more Target purchases this year (2 months x $100 grocery purchases).

I did not add the Citi rewards (double cash back) to my tally. I basically have no idea what I will get with that and it will take away from my 2% AmEx. So basically a wash. I will add it in when I have more firm numbers in early December. (This Citi double dash card is replacing the Visa; used for vendors that don't take AmEx).

2014 TALLY:

$175 Cash (AICPA card, Moi)
$200 Cash (Citi card, Moi)
$500 Amazon gift cards (SW Chase double dip, Dh)
$500 Amazon gift cards (SW Chase double dip, Moi)
$250 Cash (Chase Freedom, Moi)
$200 Cash (Chase Checking, Moi)
$200 Cash (Chase Checking, Dh)
-----------
$2025 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

+$150 Extra bank interest from a CD promotion

+$500 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex - 2% cash back; health insurance & misc. spending)**

+$375 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)**

+$ 60 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)**

+$ 45 Visa Rewards (1% cash back - for places that don't take AmEx - primarily dentist/insurance/utilities)**

**Estimates for the whole year

Grand Total = $3,155

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,155

Total 4 Years = $12,724
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***


NOTE: ABOUT $550 FROM BANK CHECKING AND CD PROMOTIONS THIS YEAR. UNFORTUNATELY, THOSE ARE TAXBALE.

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending.***

Fall

November 8th, 2014 at 04:11 pm

I guess fall is in the air, sort of/kind of. (Though weather-wise, it is still unusually warm).

Fall always puts me in a baking and cleaning mood. Definitely have been doing a little bit of both.

A lot of it is that work is so quiet. Very slow at work and not going into the office too much.

We host Thanksgiving, and so my plan this next month is to prep the house for that. (I don't know that we usually put that much effort into it. BUT, since we have gotten the momentum going on cleaning I did want to work through sorting some of the clutter and putting things away, versus our usual tendency to throw things in the closet the night before).

Otherwise, it's more of a potluck thing and dh is in charge of all the food/grocery/cooking side of things.

In recent years we have tended to go on vacation after Thanksgiving, but the kids don't get that Monday off this year (bummer) and we have exhausted our vacation funds and are saving up for Japan. I took the day off before I knew the kids didn't have the day off, so look forward to a long Thanksgiving vacation. The final calm before the work storm. Then it's busy busy busy until May.

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We tried an Olive Garden copycat Pasta Fagioli in the crockpot last week. YUM!! My new favorite recipe:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/day-305.html

{I love this crockpot recipe site but I never saw the pasta fagioli before! Has always been one of my favorites}.

Today we are making butternut squash soup in the crockpot. One of our favorite recipes:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/butternut-squash-soup-wit...

Edited to add: I have to bookmark this recipe because it was the best roasted seeds I have made. YUM! {I couldn't remember how I usually toasted them; ended up being about 18 minutes to perfection in our oven, at 275 degrees. Tossed in butter and garlic salt. I was better than usual about letting the seeds dry out a little first}.

http://mideastfood.about.com/od/appetizerssnacks/r/squash_se...

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Christmas shopping is mostly done over here. The kids buy us and each other gifts. Dh picked up a couple of things for the kids a while ago. We don't do much Christmas materialism. I sometimes buy my folks birthday and Christmas gifts, but this year I am not feeling it. Probably just a donation in their name. (The bulk of us all have birthdays next month too. Just dh's mom and the kids are off in their weird world of summer birthdays. Wink ). No one in our family with kids wants to exchange anything because grandparents spoil too much. Dh and I bored of getting each other gifts a long time ago. OF course, work is crazy busy at Christmas time and so I mostly sit out the season. That is a lot of it, for me. Means I don't really care to buy gifts OR make gifts or do much of anything Christmas-y.

I picked up a few random things we could use, while shopping. Replacing bath rugs that I am unhappy with (saw a good sale) and replacing BM's broken watch. Stuff like that.

I did go through the kids' clothes. They don't really need too much. (Stocked up on next size up clearances over the summer, that are fitting BM now). But LM refuses to retire pants he is way too tall for and so I told him we could go find some replacements this weekend - in a more appropriate size. Hope I can find something similar?

I also bought a middle school sweatshirt for BM that is too small. Hoping we can exchange it for a bigger size.

Well, I have a date with a squash! (Dh is the chef but I am the sous chef for this dish - I always help him with the task of cutting up the squash - it goes a lot faster).

It's Official + Some Retirement Ponderings

November 7th, 2014 at 01:23 pm

**It's Official. Our health insurance is more than our mortgage.

(I am surprised it took this long...).

7% increase this year. Which is probably one of the smallest increases we have had in the last decade. But still enough to bump it up to more than our mortgage.

So, the budget is rejiggered. I will start with the new budget January 1.

Using a "no raise" assumption I am happy with the rejiggering. I am lowering our monthly (long-term) savings rate from 21% to 17.5%. (Which also factors bigger budget increases: property taxes and grocery spending). BUT, if you factor our new income tax savings, this will keep our long-term savings rate at 21%. We will just commit that tax savings to long-term investments. I could certainly change our withholding to get our monthly savings back to 21%, but since it will depend on how the year goes, we will just keep that as a tax refund every year (if we contribute to Traditional IRAs instead of ROTHs). Our taxes are still low enough I could see choosing the ROTHs in a year flush with cash.

I will finish rejiggering when I get my salary figure for 2015. Not sure what I will do exactly with my various monthly savings figures and how I will re-allocate.

I've had a LONG time to wrap my brain around this. So today my feelings are pretty "meh". Some days I am frustrated by how hard we have worked to significantly cut our housing costs, including picking up and moving solely for the cost of living, just to be slammed by the cost of health insurance. Most days though I am just grateful that we have managed our housing (and other) costs so well so that we can handle it. In addition, with my dh's brain tumor, there is no doubt that keeping the best insurance possible was the right choice for us. Having exceptional insurance is priceless, and there is no doubt that we are getting more out of the insurance than we pay in. If not, we would have switched to something cheap and crappy a long time ago.

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Yesterday I took a retirement planning class for my continuing education. As it is with these investing classes, I tend to walk away feeling like I already knew everything. Which is a GOOD thing.

But I did enjoy the class from a "reality check" standpoint.

Lord knows we are very unique, but it is interesting how much of our personal retirement plans and our parents' retirement experiences are actually pretty universal.

I think this is also why I enjoy Money Mustache so much. He touches on most of this. Which can translate to a very unique and different retirement and worldview. But if you don't adopt 100% of what he says (lord knows we haven't) you can still learn a lot from him. I think he comes across as on the "fringes" but the reality is that his financial take is very sound.

Points of note?

--Start saving younger (in your 20s) and you don't have to save nearly as much as otherwise.

--About 50% of people retire before they plan to retire, due to health and job loss. Is true for both our parents. (Compounded with the current economy, this is happening at MUCH younger ages; both our dads ended up giving up finding work and retiring in their 50s. I think historically this is more people plan to work into their 60s and 70s but can't).

--Consumption and spending goes down in retirement. This is true across the board. This is not just a "frugal folk" phenomenon. (That this is fairly universal, I found that interesting).

--Most retirement calculators are focused on "replacing income" and are not particularly useful. Instructor used an example of a mid 30s person making $100,000 per year and needing to save $4.5 million for retirement. Which is crazy ridiculous. Especially in a time when the average retirement savings rate is like 4%. I mean, we are in BIG trouble here, right?

So the instructor did talk a lot about "replacing expenses" as a more useful metric for retirement planning.

--The topic of conversation did come up about how no one is saving anything and how that is panning out. My personal experience is that we have a lot of long-term family friends who have saved nothing for retirement, or who have significantly under-saved. None of them have ended up on the street or are lacking the basic necessities. But, what is obvious is that they lack choice in their life. Many will rely on family or government assistance. The instructor echoed this sentiment. Most are getting by, but it's not the retirement that they envisioned.

Payday

November 3rd, 2014 at 02:39 pm

Today is payday for me.

I won't be able to deposit my check until later today but the $5,000 transfer I made for property taxes showed up in my account today. So I paid all the bills I planned to. I can pay the property taxes after my payroll check hits my CU today.

I paid the mortgage payment and I paid off most the October credit card charges. The handful of bills I can't charge were already set to pay this Friday.

Next payday I will pay off the projector. IT costs exactly the amount that I usually put into savings every month, so we are just cash flowing it.

Other Fiscal Minutiae:

Received $33 bank interest for the month of October

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards towards my ROTH

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Dh earned $35 cash from a focus group

Snowflakes into investment account:

$50 cc rewards (per above)
$15 internet savings (placeholder)
$10 from focus group
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=$75 TOTAL

I had planned to use focus group money towards most recent cell phone purchase, but I am projecting $11 left in the bank account at 11/30, so I transferred $10 of that into investments.

Rejiggering the Budget

November 2nd, 2014 at 02:37 pm

**Before I forget. We went over our usual Ting data this month and planned for it with all the traveling we did and so on. BUT... Like the day before our Ting month ended dh realized we had only used like 1005 MB of data. He recalled that they had a 5% grace on each tier, so I think that means we could have gone over by 25MB (or up to 1,025MB) without paying for the higher tier. So I set my phone to airplane mode that day and we squeaked by!

Ting is so cool on things like that. VERY customer service focused. I had just assumed we were going over. WAY over. It would have cost us $5 if we did, so I Wasn't exactly sweating it.

**The projector came in a little under budget. Will see, but so far so good. IT was quick to set up and it looks phenomenal. (It's 3 times are bright as our old one but it still works in our dark room). IF we wanted brighter, it would have been even cheaper. I guess that is a lot of where the technology has been going.

{I do have one complaint. We've always been very "meh" on the decor of our home theater because you mostly enjoy it in the dark. This is no longer the case. The projector now lights up the room so much! That said, no plans to funnel any money into aesthetics.}

Dh also thinks he can sell the old projector for more than he initially thought. Will see on that too.

Dh thought that he may need a new tuner to enjoy and saw a good sale this week. So he looked into it a little further and decided that he is probably going to be just as happy with his temp fix, which was to buy a $15 cord. Phew!

**I've met my spending minimum for the $500 gift cards from SW Chase. Just waiting to be able to redeem those, so we can pick up a new PS4.

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Of major news, I am upping our grocery budget. The kids are eating us out of house and home! I knew this day would come, but the older child is 11 this year, and Good Grief!

{I've been told he eats more than a teen boy; I've been told this about both my kids for years. But I think it's official that BM has graduated to some new level of eating, and yes I do worry it will get worse when he is actually a teenager}.

Which means a full 20% bump to the grocery budget. I am moving it from $500 to $600 monthly. That is our people/cat/household goods/toiletries/whatever else grocery store budget.

It's past due and I will figure out the entire budget and logistics when I get my salary and health insurance figures for 2015. For now, I know I have some wiggle room in the budget for groceries. (This is one reason why we tend to save all our raises. Save them when they come so that we can dole them out when we actually need them).

I wish I had not mentioned to my dh because he has taken this very personally. We have *never* increased our food budget and he has probably felt for the past 12 years that it is his primary financial contribution to the house to keep the grocery costs down. & he has done a *phenomenal* job. So, in the end, I am upping the budget and dh may work on keeping it down. I don't think that's a bad thing, but I just don't want him beating himself up over the fact that his kids are growing. I think it was quite foreseeable and nothing we can do about that! Wink & of course, prices are rising too, but dh has always been able to outwit rising grocery prices. Which is also nice, but at some point you run out of room for improvement. I don't think we are so broke that it needs any more energy. I am sure we could re-strategize and scout out new stores, and maybe we will when the kids are older, but for now we have the income for this increase and I really don't care.

The reason I Decided to increase the budget so much was I feel like money has been tight the past few months and we have been regularly over-spending. Our "forever" budget has been $500 groceries and $300 gas. The gas budget is very high to allow for ever increasing gas prices. Plus, I used to drive home every day for lunch and just could not bring myself to do so when gas prices shot up. So, I set the gas budget really high but probably have been economizing gas in other ways. In the end, the gas budget has allowed for a little wiggle room in an otherwise very tight budget. We throw all our misc. purchases into that extra space.

I thought maybe I could lower the gas budget to offset the groceries, but we are at $600/month groceries and $200/month (Fairly consistently for 2014). So, no wonder I feel like we have been over-spending. I think $900/month for groceries/gas/misc will be fine. That will give us $100/month wiggle room for all the miscellaneous. Like, if we ever want to eat out or get a haircut or go out anywhere.

In other news, I still don't have my 2015 health insurance rates. ??? Really really late this year. I initially figured ignorance is bliss. I really just don't want to know. But now that our food spending and property taxes have gone up so substantially I am trying to rejigger the budget. Which is fairly useless if I don't know what our health insurance bill will be next month. So, I am thinking about it, but the specifics will have to wait. I guess I will figure a no-raise budget when I get my health insurance figures. Usually we can offset increasing costs with some other decreasing cost. & I think this is true next year. Our taxes have gone down substantially with the shift to funding our Traditional IRAs. I kind of wanted to keep that in my back pocket for dealing with our health insurance when I turn 40. (It's not going to be pretty). BUT... I do have the money for all the cost increases we are experiencing here and now. IT is what it is. Easy come, easy go.

Rewards Update

November 1st, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Rewards Update...

I received a direct offer for a $175 cash bonus that I have decided to redeem. (Spend $500, get $175 cash).

I went through all of my ongoing rewards and revised my 2014 projections. Most of them were lower than expected because have been diverting so many charges to the one-time rewards cards. (Target's website was not showing my YTD rewards so I will have to double check on that later).

{I also kindly let go of $60 in rewards this year, letting my in-laws charge up $3k in our medical bills for rewards. So I will be pleased if we hit the $3k reward mark even with letting go of that $60}.

2014 TALLY:

$175 Cash (AICPA card, Moi)
$200 Cash (Citi card, Moi)
$500 Amazon gift cards (SW Chase double dip, Dh)
$500 Amazon gift cards (SW Chase double dip, Moi)
$250 Cash (Chase Freedom, Moi)
$200 Cash (Chase Checking, Moi)
$200 Cash (Chase Checking, Dh)
-----------
$2025 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

+$150 Extra bank interest from a CD promotion

+$500 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex - 2% cash back; health insurance & misc. spending)**

+$350 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)**

+$ 60 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)**

+$ 45 Visa Rewards (1% cash back - for places that don't take AmEx - primarily dentist/insurance/utilities)**

**Estimates for the whole year

Grand Total = $3,130

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,130

Total 4 Years = $12,699
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***


NOTE: ABOUT $550 FROM BANK CHECKING AND CD PROMOTIONS THIS YEAR. UNFORTUNATELY, THOSE ARE TAXBALE.

Yeah, our next car is going to be paid for with credit card rewards. Heck, if this keeps up, both of our next cars will be paid for with credit card rewards. (As of this moment, we only plan to spend $20,000 to replace our two vehicles).

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending.***