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Archive for February, 2016

February Savings

February 29th, 2016 at 06:08 am

Received $36 bank interest for the month of February.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $37 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $3 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$40 Citi Price Rewind
--$ 5 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$200 to investments
+$300 to cash
+$900 to IRAs

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$355 to Investments

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
+367 Insurance rebate
-$250 Auto Insurance

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March is a 3 paycheck month for dh and we already have the cash to pay all the bills (February spending) and so I expect we will be able to save $1,500 (his entire paycheck) + the $2,700 I usually save.

This is how I Was expecting to hoard up $10,000 (for car replacement) by May. I am also expecting a $4k overtime check for this tax season, in addition to the above. I will get a lump sum in April. Dh will probably match that with his job, first 5 months of the year. Then he will have summer off and I won't be working OT. So this is peak earning season for us. Taking advantage.

How has it been him working during crazy busy time? Dh working = *shrugs*. It's been really slow and he has had a lot of time off. March and April might be a different story, but it will just fly by. I can't believe it is the end of February already!

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For February, dh's check was so small that I just threw it into investments. I believe it was $160 net. The rest of it went into 401k.

I expect his net to be closer to $700 for March (after 401k), and so will just add his paychecks to savings. I will probably keep throwing that into savings until summer. We have some big expenses coming up.

February 25 & 26

February 27th, 2016 at 07:12 am

February 25:
$38 Game purchase for LM
Dinner: Masala Baked Indian Tofu with Turmeric Rice

I also got some more free tangerines from work.

So I guess LM is being a little spoiled this month!

The kids always buy computer games off of Humble Bundle:

https://www.humblebundle.com

In the book bundle this week they had some role playing game and LM is way into that. For $25 you'd get the game (which is what it sells for on Amazon) but you also get like 20 books that go with the game. Holy Cow! I was asking LM about it because I didn't even really see dh all week (he was at the movies). But though I was initially horrified by the amount of books when I saw them on the website, LM told me they were digital. Phew!

Yeah, I totally see why dh bought that for LM. He's been wanting to set up a D&D game night for his friends and this will give him some tools to get that started. It was an opportunity purchase.

Humble Bundle is a resource we use to save tons of money. Usually it's a $5 or so purchase for whatever they want. This larger purchase was unusual. Oh, and we usually just by electronic content. The catch on this was that the game was $25 but the shipping cost $13. In this case it was worth it. Most the time the kids spend $5 here and there with their own money.

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February 26:
-0- Spending
Dinner: Spinach-Basil Lasagna

All our credit cards have closed for the month and I have March income and bills laid out accordingly (the bulk of our March spending is to pay off February charges). I am glad we got haircuts out of the way. This maybe the most non-Murphy month I ever remember having! So even with a little splurging, it's probably the lowest spend month we have had in a long time.

Accordingly, I thought it would be fine for us to all go to the movies this weekend, but dh remembered that LM's party coincided with the Sunday matinee. & I work Saturday. So we will just push that off one more week. (It's a movie that is only playing at another theater, and it's way too expensive for us all four to pay full price for).

I do know that we have grocery spending planned for this weekend. Not sure that we have any other spending planned. Since it's a new fiscal month for us I am open to whatever.

Edited to add: Dh told me plans were coming together with friends. He will be driving 100 miles round trip tomorrow. Closer friend offered to host a BBQ (which is unusual, so will see. I had presumed they would go out). He was asked to bring beer or produce. When discussing grocery plan for the week he said he was good for 4 dinners and thought he would just get a few groceries mid-week. I'd like to get some stuff for the work week but am not prepared for the last minute change up as I head out the door for a full work day. Maybe tonight he will know what he is to bring and I can make a short grocery list, and we can just run to the store together for a few things. Other friend is broke so dh just wanted to see what he wanted to bring and he will cover the rest. He'd just bring everything (both beer and produce) but you know, doesn't want to offend his friend. We leave a fair amount of "cooking for others" in our grocery budget. So we don't blink at this kind of stuff. Usually it's more that we cook for other people in our home.

This Week, Lots of Movies

February 25th, 2016 at 08:41 am

February 22:
$2 Burger King
$10 gift card (gift)
Dinner: Tortellini

February 23:
-0- Spending
Dinner: Spaghetti Pie

February 24:
-0- Spending
Dinner: Southwest Vegetarian Bake

Monday was a bad food planning day. I had a bit of an upset tummy and all we had was spicy food in the fridge. So when perusing food to grab on the way to work none of it sounded very good. I just grabbed a quick lunch at Burger King.

Out of laziness, I did order a Target gift card online. I don't know if we will get it in time for the weekend. But when trying to talk LM into a more creative cash idea he told me he just wanted to roll up a $10 bill and tie it with a ribbon. So I suppose either way will save a trip to Target. We can just use the gift card for groceries next month, if we don't gift it.

Tuesday and Wednesday were no-spend days.

Dh got 4 free movie offers this week. Advanced Screenings. Two were on the same night, so he could only see 3. We also already have two movie nights lined up for next week. We are all going to one of the movies.

Since nothing came up last week, I think he kind of feels like he should just see them all and figure out the system. So far he has been able to get into everything by getting there one hour early. Even the more marketed and crowded ones. (Which pretty much means waiting outside 1/2 hour, sitting inside 1/2 hour, but not having any adverts or previews. We pretty much always go an hour early when we go to cheap movie nights, because they do get crowded. So it's not a big change from that except maybe standing outside a little longer than inside, with these free movie screenings). Whatever he went to yesterday was no line and wasn't crowded. For all we know there could be a dry week or two after that. So trying to get he hang of it. I am sure for the long run he will be more discerning. Plus pretty much all of these have been in our zip code, so what the heck. Nothing really lost if he showed up and the line was too long.

February 21, Monthly Summary

February 22nd, 2016 at 06:12 am

February 21:
$89 Groceries/Household
$14 Fuel for gas sipper ($1.84/gallon)
$17 Movies for 2 (LM's request)
$15 Girl Scout cookies ("gift" for niece)
$15 Birthday Gift for LM's bestie
Dinner: Salmon & Rice Pilaf

Salmon was on sale again this week so I made salmon last night for dinner. I looked up a new rice recipe. The kids could use the calories and they love fried rice or garlic butter rice (just rice with lots of butter and garlic!) But I know they ate junk all week (donuts, ice cream, eating out, etc.) and so made it more low key yesterday. I chose a rice pilaf recipe since I had all the ingredients on hand.

I did also make more pumpkin bread with leftover pumpkin. The pumpkin was a little iffy, so hopefully it turns out okay. (I Was going to make it last weekend but never got around to it).

I just consulted on birthday gifts with LM and he wanted to be a little silly. So we basically spent $15 on more of a gag gift. Will probably also pick up a $10 Target gift card to round out the gift. It is his best friend. (We just bought gift online, Amazon. Took about 5 minutes out of our day).

Edited to add: Gift already arrived, 9am this morning!

I did also just order a Target gift card online. We have free shipping with our Red Card. Will see if we get before next weekend. Would love to save a trip to Target this week. I was just thinking how nice it was to buy gifts online and how I could probably just get a gift card online too.

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It's appropriate to do a monthly summary at this point. We've never made big adjustments to our budget (try not to spend more money over time) and so kind of just subconsciously know our limits. I don't know that it's anything we overly think about. As things come up we know if we have the money for it.

But... Around the last week of the month I do sit down to pay bills and review. The reason is I have some bills due around the first of the month. & though the first is pay day for me, I don't have direct deposit. So I tend to just pay those bills with float and then pay the larger things when I actually get my check deposited. & with my bank's online bill pay I have to set these to pay a few days before they are due.

So, yesterday I set up to pay those bills. What I do is go through and enter all anticipated income and expenses in Quicken for the following month. & then I set up all the bills to be paid (which is just about $200 due on the first of the month). I won't pay off the credit cards until the month is over and I know the balance of this month's spending.

How I came out in Quicken was having -0- left for the rest of the month. (March 31 Quicken balance is -$0- once all February credit card charges are paid off). But that's not entirely accurate since our credit cards generally close on the 28th. Is more of a 28th-28th cycle and I just go with that. The calendar month tracking in my blog is not lining up with that completely. Pretty much my dining out card closes tomorrow and the gas/groceries and everything else card will close on Friday. So I pretty much have $0 until Friday. (They are closing earlier with the short month). But I also have enough float that I won't sweat it if anything comes up. Which is how we run it so tight and I say we never would have money left over at the end of the month. I have float to cover whatever random thing might come up before our credit card closes. I may have missed something, but for the moment it is literally breakeven/$0. It's just random that is where we are at.

& also, if we did have money left over at this point I'd probably make sure to take care of anything we had been putting off. If we had a little extra money left at the end of the month. Which is all the more reason we never have a surplus. There is always something.

Anyway, it's a pretty simple method to put everything into Quicken and see how much cash you have left once you pay off current credit card balances and all of next month's bills. I also put our monthly savings transfers into Quicken (pay ourselves first).

Since our credit card cycle will close in a few days, it looks like I will probably just be able to cover medical co-pay and birthday lunch with our monthly variable budget. I believe this is only the case because we had a REALLY easy month, and I am glad we got some spending out of the way in such an easy month (like haircuts and some extra trips to the movies, plus birthday lunch for Grandma). We did not have to feed our kids all week ($$$$ saved) and I don't remember the last time we spent so little on gas. ??? Never, since moving to our current city? Our gas spending included two out of town trips?!

Our monthly variable spending is $900 and our calendar month spending is $885 so far. On a calendar month basis we seem a little behind since we do have one more grocery run planned. But again, we have some float to cover that, so even if our credit cards were on a calendar month cycle I would just get groceries next weekend and not worry about it. I'd probably in that case pull $130 from short-term savings for medical co-pay and birthday lunch. We put aside extra money every month for bigger random expenses.

$900 monthly budget is generally $650 for groceries and $250 for everything else.

$885 spending 2/1 - 2/21:

$486 groceries
$ 76 fuel
$101 Eating out (includes birthday lunch)
$ 69 dh purchases
$ 12 moi purchases
$141 Other**

**Other is movies, haircuts, ebook, birthday gift, medical co-pay.

February 19 & 20

February 21st, 2016 at 05:56 am

February 19:
-0- Spending
Dinner: leftovers

Friday night I turned off work and everything and just had a quiet night at home.

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February 20:
$46 Lunch out for Grandma's Birthday
$14 Fuel for gas sipper ($1.69/gallon)
Dinner: Free dinner out

Saturday I completely blew off work, since we had plans to pick up the kids and celebrate GMIL's 91st birthday. (I will pay later...)

Taking Grandma out was priceless. We just went to a diner and she had a 20% off coupon. So we got off pretty easy. $46 for lunch. GMIL was over the moon to get us to herself.

We spent the rest of the day with dh's parents. They were pretty demanding, which is probably why we never give GMIL any time with just us and why she was so over the moon. I didn't mind going over to in-laws' house and thanking them for taking care of the kids, but they do live a bit out of the way. We ended up getting there later than expected and then dh got sucked into all their TV problems. (Lord forbid your TV is not set up right!) So we ended up staying pretty late. But we did get a free dinner out of it. Ordered some take out food.

We did see my parents for a bit too, since they had the kids and we initially picked them up from their house.

We did get gas on the way out. I forgot how little dh was driving without taking kids to school. So why he did not need gas any sooner though he did a lot of driving on Monday. We filled up the tank yesterday since we expected to drive 250 miles.

When we were at the gas station yesterday dh mentioned that we should have used up one of the 10-cent gas coupons we had piling up since he didn't have an empty tank. Our coupons have been piling up because some gas station down the street (that no one seems to know about) has been super competitive lately. We already pay "cheaper than Costco" prices at our grocery store, and so this gas station is even cheaper than that. Well, sometimes. Not this week. But when it is, our grocery coupons just pile up unused.

Anyway, I think it's good we used a "25-cent off per gallon" coupon yesterday because those are piling up too, and we did get 8 gallons. But I mentioned to dh today it would be nice if he got gas while he was at the grocery store. He can use a 10-cent off coupon and then we shouldn't need gas again until next month. We aren't really much into getting gas more often than we have to (we run the tanks to empty), BUT it is also kind of a PITA to get gas in the middle of the week any more, with him working. Thankfully he agreed. I spoke his language because he wants to use up some 10 cent coupons.

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SUNDAY

Dh will do the gas and grocery run for the week. If he wasn't working he would just wait a few days because we have enough food for the next few days. I realize we probably don't have the flexibility to save more money this month (because it's a short month, I mean). If he wasn't working he'd get groceries around Wednesday and we wouldn't need any more groceries until March. & is how we usually take advantage of a short month. Just realizing we don't really have that flexibility. Which is fine, because maybe don't need the flexibility so much with the extra income. IF we "needed" it we could certainly get groceries in the middle of the week. Just prefer not to.

As to other spending today...

LM decided he felt left out since he did not see the new Star Wars movie. (This was the peer pressure with spending the week with cousins, I guess). He was certainly invited before, on opening night, and he did not want to go then. Dh had already seen it a second time because he wanted to analyze it some more and try to see what everyone else was seeing in it. He didn't like it. But he is also obsessed with analyzing movies (& is also watching them in terms of pacing for his own movies and so on, so not just from an entertainment standpoint). I am sure he wouldn't mind picking it apart some more in terms of general film making. Or maybe he will choose to just sit back and just enjoy it. I nominated dh to take him. I said in a recent post that the kids buy their own crap and in general don't ask for much. So if the kid wants to see a movie we will take him. Especially since dh loves the movies so much and wants to get him to enjoy going to the movies. Is why he will drop everything to take him to the movies. I have not seen Star Wars but I already blew off all my chores this week and have a lot of catching up to do next week at work. & dh already dragged me to the movies this week. Just seems like a crazy time suck to me. If it was a slower time of year and I hadn't already spent hours watching movies/TV with dh already this week I'd probably just take him.

After movies and grocery spending I will see where we are at for the rest of the month. Dh wanted to take us all to some other movie today and I had already told him next week would be much better for me. I suppose financially I will see where we are at too. We can push that off another week if need be.

February 17 & 18

February 19th, 2016 at 06:41 am

February 17:
$11 Haircut (Dh)
$ 6 Pizza
Dinner: Smoky Chicken Enchilada Skillet

I've been craving pizza for a while so I caved Wednesday night. Personal Round Table Pizza. Dh does not really care for pizza. He was already making dinner when I discussed with him but I assured him I would appreciate leftovers for lunch. When I got home we did talk about the rest of the week and he told me he didn't want to eat out. So I think we don't plan to spend any money today or tomorrow (except maybe gas) but admittedly I have not asked dh what his plans are.

I have never been big on denying things I want. It's just much more reasonable to get a pizza when it's just me and I don't have to share with the kids. So I figured I would give in to the pizza lust. If the kids were here I might have just gotten pizza for lunch on a work day.

Dh got a haircut also. He needed one and had some extra time since he didn't have to rush to pick up kids after work. & he saw the new haircut place by grocery store had a sale.

We were planning to try to hit a free movie screening this week but the offers dried up. I guess the last few weeks there were just a lot. That said, we did both receive offers to a movie where they wanted parents to bring their teens. My 12yo could certainly pass for 13 (or 15), but of course we get one of those offers when we don't have kids to take along. We were more hoping for a free date night. Especially since we are more reluctant to take advantage of these when we do have the kids. Going to the movies is one thing, but you have to go wait in line early for these and don't really want to ditch the kids all evening.

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February 18:
-0- Spending
Dinner: leftovers

We didn't spend any money Thursday but I committed to buy some girl scout cookies from my niece.

The problem these days is grandparents. When you have newborns and your husband loses his job you just go with it. We've been asked to never buy anything for any of our nieces and nephews. We didn't have any money anyway, so sounded fine with us, early on. I know my in-laws are over the top, but my parents respond by pretty much doing nothing for my kids. (To-date it's absolutely never been brought up by my kids. I honestly think their impression is just that their other grandparents are over the top. They understand that is not normal, but they maybe don't realize that it's not normal that no one else feels like they can buy them anything). So, this is my family. BUT... All the nieces and nephews have two sets of grandparents who spoil them like crazy. In turn, we've been asked never to buy anything for them. I am appreciating over time how it's only one-sided for us. Thankfully my kids aren't getting two mountains of gifts for every occasion.

So when my niece asked us to buy some girl scout cookies, I was super excited to help out in some way.

Oh, and LM's best friend is having a birthday party next weekend. So we will buying a gift before then.

Snowflakes

February 18th, 2016 at 12:17 pm



As is the overall weather trend in recent years, the more cold it is everywhere else the hotter it is here. This past long weekend we had beautiful spring type weather. So now the trees think that it is spring. I noticed one lone tree blooming a couple of days ago, but today I noticed the blooms everywhere.

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Today was a great day for money snowflakes! Technically tomorrow was the big snowflake day but our credit union gives us all direct deposits at 5am the day before. Okay then!

Snowflakes:

Redeemed a $40 Citi Price Rewind. Which is just a price match. I didn't think of it when we got our car speakers, which we did google briefly and saw we were paying less than retail. But Citi reminded me I could do a Price Rewind (since it was a big purchase) and a couple of clicks on the computer will net me $40. Woohoo! Just had to let them watch internet pricing for 60 days. So that 60 day period just expired.

I'll throw those in our investments with the rest of our credit card rewards at the end of the month. I still have to get approved and don't expect to get the $40 until next week. I just submitted my claim today.

I did also receive an insurance rebate. It was $400, or about 50% of what I paid for life and disability insurance with my professional association during 2015. I did also score an extra $25 simply because I let them deposit the money directly into my bank account. (Do you really have to pay people to get them to get their money faster??). In the past I have snowflaked this sum. But this year I am just going to deposit this into my short-term savings to offset my insurance costs for 2016. I figured if I did that I could maybe get away with not increasing my monthly contributions to short-term savings this year. It was just one of those years where everything seemed to be going up. But I will hang on here for as long as I can.

Of course, since it was a "direct deposit" then I got it a day early too.

Dh also got paid for a pretty pathetic couple of work weeks. I believe he took off one day for medical stuff and 2-3 days because work was just so slow. His net check was $160 and I already threw that at our investments. (He did also add $195 to his 401k).

February 15 & 16

February 17th, 2016 at 07:03 am

February 15:
$11 Groceries (Target)
$ 7 Groceries (valentines candy clearance)
$16 Lunch out (w/co-workers)
$11 Ebook purchase
Dinner: Cashew Chicken

I'd probably put the ebook purchase as an allowance item for dh. (& I don't even remember the last time he paid for an ebook. ???). But he told me it was for the kids. They are way into some series that just had a new release yesterday. This is why I usually put this stuff in the allowance pile. I don't understand *at all*. So you can't just wait until it is at the library?? Ugh! I do know that the kids are enjoying this series so will just put under the "kid" category. We rarely buy them anything. They save up to buy most things with their own money.

Dh used up our Target gift card. Since he had the day off work and needed some cashews for his recipe he went and did a $31 grocery run. $11 after gift card. I had asked him to check out the reeses valentine candy on clearance. But he told me it was only 30% off and it had already been picked over.

Which is fine since I ran by the grocery store and got a couple of bags of candy, 50% off, on the way to work. I thought maybe I didn't get a discount on one bag but it turns out the Reeses hearts are just crazy expensive. Dh was going to price them at Target for me, just out of curiosity, but nothing good was left when he went to Target after lunch.

Dh did drive the kids half way to drop them off with his parents and I think his dad treated dh and the kids to lunch.

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February 16:
$29 Fuel for gas guzzler ($1.73 per gallon)
$ 7 Movie Theater
Dinner: Citrus Chicken

With the kids gone we decided to take advantage and have a date night. We used the last of our movie theater gift card. We went last night because it was $5 movie night at our local theater.

I don't know that we expect to spend any money during the rest of the work week. Except dh may need to refuel at some point since he drove so many miles on Monday. There are loose talks of going out to dinner one night with the kids gone, but I am kind of over all the eating out. We plan to be out all day Saturday also. Dh has not eaten out half as much as me this month so I will just leave it up to him. Whatever he wants.

The kids are having a blast with their cousins and grandparents. (Cousins just happened to have the same week off of school). Monday it was so crazy warm that they went swimming. There is a storm rolling in today and so my dad made sure to take them on a hike yesterday while the weather was still nice. I don't know what else they have planned this week.

I don't know that we usually eat such varied dinners, but it seems that we have been finding a lot of good recipes lately. The Korean Beef Bowl that I made earlier in the month is a recipe that I found recently that takes about 10 minutes to make. So it's a nice addition to my "quick meal" repertoire. Citrus chicken is an old favorite that doesn't make any leftovers when the kids are here. So it was a nice one to make for just the two of us. We did try a couple of new recipes this month. I find it hard to believe that we will repeat anything we have already made, this month (except tofu which I left out/ruined and dh wanted to make again).

February 14, Using up Gift Cards

February 15th, 2016 at 06:20 am

February 14:
$117 Groceries
$12 Kohls
$ 2 amazon (TV show streaming)
Dinner: Sweet & Spicy Salmon w/Garlic Butter Rice

Dh did a grocery run Sunday.

I made out well at Kohls though I didn't find anything suitable for work. I think it was my mood. I tried on like 30 things (which is why I like Kohls so much - they are okay with you taking in piles of clothes to the dressing room). I just felt so "meh" and "ugh" about everything. Which is too bad because I actually found a lot of nice stuff in the clearance racks. I usually don't bother to go through those, but I spotted some really pretty colors and started going through it all. Then I tried it all on and said, "UGH!" In the end I picked up 3 t-shirts. Two are a little winter-y and Christmas-y (long sleeved). & I had wanted to pick up another plain black shirt. They didn't have the nicer one I had bought last time but they had a short-sleeve one that will do. I did take a picture of a couple of shirts that were not on sale and that I think I would have been happy with. I can look online later.

Anyway, the three shirts I picked up were $12 total. I think I did pretty good. I really loved the two winter-y shirts I got, so there is that. Oh, and I scored a plastic bag! I suppose I don't know what all the rules are with that. I was thinking it must have been the first retail store I have been into this year. But now that I think about it I went into Walgreens once and they were charging for plastic bags.

Dh wants to use up our movie gift card this week (going out while the kids are gone). We discussed using a restaurant gift card that we got for Christmas but decided to keep that for when we take out the kids. It will be nice to cut down the bill when it's the four of us. I think that is all we have left in gift cards right now. Well, other than a $2 Barnes & Noble gift card balance.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I also have a $20 Target gift card from work gift exchange.
Dh is planning to use it today towards a grocery run.

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Mid Month Spending Totals:

$283 Groceries
$19 Fuel
$4 TV Streaming
$209 Everything Else

That leaves $367 left for groceries and $68 left for everything else. I expect we will spend about that much on fuel for the rest of the month. & of course, we can always spend less on groceries to free up more general spending money.

We are very aggressive with paying ourselves first, and so we would never have money left over at the end of the month. Psychologically it's what works for us.

We are planning to take dh's Grandma out this next weekend though. That is such a one-off thing, as is our medical co-pay this month, that I will probably cover these things from our short-term savings. We do also save aggressively for that, which is just for non-monthly expenses during the year. So that buys us some wiggle room. Especially early in the year when we have not spent down any of that. But of course, if I can cover these things from our monthly budget I will do that. The more I can keep for more fun spending later and for the more random things that always pop up, the better.

On the flip side, we both get paid this week and we already paid all of our bills for the month. So 100% of our paychecks are going to savings. (The daily spending is put on our credit card for rewards. Will pay this month's charges off on the first of March, or the following payday).

February 12 & 13, Valentines Day

February 14th, 2016 at 06:46 am

February 12:
$5 Groceries
$3 Lunch Out (moi)
Dinner: Spicy tofu w/coconut rice

The 12th was a day of inefficiency. Ugh!

I was just not feeling the leftovers I had at work and noticed I had run out of chicken nuggets (frozen) - which is my backup food and the only frozen food I can really stomach. I was just not feeling the food that day and ran to Taco Bell for a $3 lunch. While working 6 days a week I generally allow one day per week out but I had already eaten out once this week so I was disappointed in my planning.

Then dh asks me to pick up green onions on the way home. At least it's on the way! I believe he mentioned that he needed those Wednesday but he forgot while at the store. Very unlike him, but I will file this away under "adjusting to working". It was kind of a hectic week and this extra grocery trip shows that.

Oh, and of course while I was at the store I picked up donuts! Big Grin I maybe resisted the last 2 or 3 times I had to run to the store for dh but I only have so much willpower. Yeesh!

To sign off on an inefficient day, dh made that tofu recipe again. Since I accidentally wasted most the last batch, it just reminds me of inefficiency early in the month.

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February 13:
$45 dh allowance purchase
Dinner: Taco Rice Salad

I think dh made this dinner (BM's fave) because LM was in such a salad mood all week. It figured that LM refused to eat this dinner. He might be open to leftover salad for lunch. He was just kind of over it yesterday.

Inefficiency carried over into this day in that we had absolutely no salsa in the house. ??? We just made do. It worked, but the salad was not as good as usual. I will chalk that one up to a crazy busy week.

Dh ended up spending $45 on some annual video subscription to his favorite podcast. Is generally not anything he would waste his money on and he accordingly had to beat himself up all over it. It's early in the year and so I really don't give a flip. He's only spent $100 this year, which is within reason with our "$600 per year no questions asked" allowance spending, which works out to about $50 per month. I do think it's probably something he would not have done if he wasn't working. But is all the more reason why I don't care.

On the 13th I worked most of the day and finally had some time to read when I got home.

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As to Valentines Day, we don't celebrate in the slightest. Though I may stop by the store tomorrow to see if I can get some candy at a discount. I was craving some chocolate/peanut butter the other day but figured I should wait until the post Holiday sales.

7th grade did not do anything for Valentines. 5th grade had a party but LM wasn't interested at all. I decided to purge all our valentines yesterday since I doubt 5th grader would change his mind next year. I couldn't find any so it looks like maybe he didn't participate last year and I already did that purge.

Today dh plans to do a weekly grocery run. That's the only spending I am aware of. I may run to Kohls if they have a sale today. I have just been waiting for a sale because I have some credits to use up, and I could always use some nicer tops for client meetings this time of year. I have more time today since will be working tomorrow.

February 10 & 11

February 13th, 2016 at 07:28 am

February 11:
-0- Spending
Dinner: Free Dinner Adults/leftovers for kids

February 10:
$15 Groceries
$19 Fuel for gas sipper ($1.75/gallon)
Dinner: Crockpot Tater Tot Casserole

On the 10th the kids had a short day and I drove them home during lunch hour. LM wanted a salad for lunch (finishing off all our lettuce) and BM was complaining that we had no white bread. I told them I'd go to the store on my way home later in the day. Wednesday is generally dh's errand day since the kids are covered, but since he had a meeting at the school I didn't expect him to run errands. In the end he picked up wheat bread, but at least he told me before I went to the store for bread also. BM will have to live with wheat bread for a while.

We stopped for groceries and gas after the science fair that night. Dh picked up a can of beans (for some recipe) and some produce while I put fuel in the car. In the end we didn't need any lettuce because dh mentioned the giant napa cabbage in the fridge was just leftovers from some recipe last week. I'll use that for salad while LM is on a salad kick.

Oh, and I got some free tangerines at work, fresh off someone's tree.

On the 11th we had dh's volunteer appreciation dinner at the public TV station. They always put on a great party with good food and everything. So we just fed the kids some leftovers before we went out.

Dh won a $25 gift card in a raffle and plans to just give it to his dad as a belated birthday gift, this weekend. (His sister planned some gift they went in together for, but dh was not enthralled with her gift plan. Wasn't something he thought his dad would actually enjoy. This is something he will enjoy).

We did also score two free re-usable bags. We put a second bag in each car. That was a very nice and useful gift.

Dh told me that his weekend plans fell through. He also told me that he wanted to go see his Grandma for her 91st birthday. I was initially more like, "Have fun!" But after discussing it a bit I might try to go along. Will leave it as a maybe, for now. I did tell him he needed to just take his Grandma out without his mother or anyone else tagging along. He agreed. I know that is something she really would enjoy. So we have tentative plans to go all the way to the Bay Area to pick up the kids at the end of the next week. Maybe we can take Grandma out after we get the kids, on the way home. Might as well take advantage of low gas prices.

February 8 & 9

February 10th, 2016 at 08:39 am

February 9:
-0- Spending
Dinner: Chicago-Style Pan Pizza

February 8:
$12 lunch out w/friend
$ 7 movie (dh allowance purchase, for his movie collection)*
Dinner: Korean Beef Bowl & Roasted Cauliflower

*Did I ever mention that my dh likes movies? Big Grin

My lunch out (Chinese) created 2 days of lunch leftovers. I might take the 2nd day of leftovers home today for dh or the kids.

We were all hoping to go to a free advanced movie screening last night but we never got an invite. Still figuring how this website works. (We've pretty much gotten invites to everything else that has been publicized). It was never a given that we'd all get in anyway, so I just looked forward to reading instead. But dh bombarded me with TV instead. We had some movie to watch that he told me expired in a few days. (A rental? I had not realized it was going to expire). So I caved since we had planned to go to the movies otherwise. We watched "All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records". I was initially feeling pretty bummed because my dad used to take me to Tower records every weekend. Is where I spent most my money as a kid. IT's how and where I learned to manage my money. (For our kids, it's apps and video games). Kind of a sad nostalgia for me, that it's all gone now. But in the end the movie was really pretty interesting and summed up a lot of what we learned in business school. Tower Records does still live on in Japan. That part I like!

We also started watching the Eugene Mirman comedy special on Netflix. I think he is now my favorite comedian. !! Definitely a good TV night. (We didn't finish the special since it was getting late, but will probably have time tonight).

Today I am not planning to spend money. Dh has a meeting with the school and then it's Science Fair night for the middle school. I think it's a "too busy to spend" kind of day and dh planned a crockpot meal.

Edited to add: Might do a grocery run today. LM has discovered "salad" and ate all of our salad. & we could probably use some bread for school lunches.

February 7

February 8th, 2016 at 06:41 am

February 7:
$135 Groceries/Household
$ 30 Haircuts (x2)
$ 2 Amazon (TV show streaming)
$ 17 Movie (Dh allowance purchase)
Dinner: Chicken Satay & Brussel Sprouts

I mostly thought February was pretty boring and we didn't have much planned. But... This week is kind of crazy! Just a lot of stuff going on.

I was also thinking that we may have the lowest gas spend month ever. We had no plans to go out of town, coupled with low gas prices. But I was wrong. Dh mentioned yesterday they were nailing down next weekend as an "out of town getting together with friends" date. (They had been planning this weekend but the Superbowl was local and they decided it was best to try another weekend). Also, since time is flying by lightning fast, we hadn't even realized the kids have a week off next week. I mean, we knew, but we didn't realize it was here already. Initially his work said they were cool with dh just taking that week off. But his mom asked if the kids had the week off and she wanted to take them. So anyway, dh and I went for a walk yesterday when we discussed this and I was wondering if he could kill two birds with one stone as to all this driving. There is a slight possibility that dh can meet his friends and parents around the halfway mark. If he meets closer to home with his friends I guess it doesn't matter so much. They have not decided where to meet, but the others live more around the halfway point. Either way we will probably only drive half way to drop off kids, but will also have to do the same to get them back, eventually.

Oh, and while the kids are gone dh wants to go to the movies. We do have a movie gift card and I have a restaurant gift card so maybe we will make use of that with the free babysitting next week.

Today I plan to spend money because I am meeting a friend for lunch.

February 6

February 7th, 2016 at 08:44 am

February 6:
-0- Spending
Dinner: leftovers

Saturday I worked all day. Dh did not make it to the grocery store.

Maybe for the best since we can combine our errands today. There is a new haircut place by the grocery store. Since BM and I both have *lots of hair* I have the feeling dh will be waiting for us. I was surprised he was open to combining this errand, accordingly. But saves us some gas in the end. We usually aren't quite this efficient.

I gave up on the two books that I was reading because they were so terrible. This does not happen much. I am pretty easy to please. That and I usually feel obligated to see a book through. With the internet, not so much. If I am agreeing with the comments about how terrible the first half of the book was, and the people who read the whole thing said it didn't get any better... I guess these days I am more willing to abandon a book that I am not getting into. But I did take some time today to refill my kindle with library e-books.

I'll catch up on some housework today but mostly plan to veg out and read.

The weather is gorgeous and I will also make sure to get a walk in today.

ccfree's post reminds me than dh and the kids watched a free movie rental last night. I wasn't up to it.

The Turkeys are Out

February 6th, 2016 at 08:16 am



I saw 20-30 turkeys while driving into work today. These guys were keeping the cars in check.

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February 5:
-0- Spending
Dinner: hobo dinner (crockpot meatloaf + potatoes)

Planned spending for the weekend:
Saturday - weekly groceries
Sunday - haircuts

BM agreed to a haircut, which happens never, so I will drag him along with me.

Today's Doings

February 5th, 2016 at 02:06 pm

The Good:

Got free lemons from a co-worker. I am not much of a lemon fan but I though of an excellent citrus chicken recipe that I have, so grabbed some lemons with that in mind.

One of my retired co-workers basically has a mandarin orchard and so she would bring boxes of mandarins every winter. I miss that!

The Bad:

I took the tofu w/coconut rice to work and it was *a lot* so I decided I better take it home to share.

And... Then somehow I totally forgot that I brought it home. I think that is a first for me. Ugh! (I did not refrigerate it. I didn't realize until I packed my lunch today).

Since we keep our house pretty cool I think it was probably fine. Not that I would have eaten that in summer. But it's winter... So I put it in the fridge when I found it this morning and later called dh to tell him the deal. He chose to toss it. I probably wouldn't eat it because I can't afford to be sick. My gut told me it was probably okay and I did smell it before putting it back in the fridge. But I totally don't blame dh for being cautious about it. We can afford the loss. I just put it back because my gut feeling was that it was just fine.

So I am sure our grocery spending will reflect the food waste this month. Probably a slightly bigger grocery run this weekend.

The neutral:

My friend is up for lunch next week. & my co-workers planned a lunch for the following week. Since buying gifts and going out and yadda yadda pretty much *never* comes up at my office... I am fine with it. In fact, it's the perfect month for something like that to come up.

Usually dh and I try to go out at least every other week but that is not possible to do with his job. So I expect this is of no consequence to our overall budget. Less lunch x2. More lunch x1.

We actually very spontaneously took a co-worker out for his birthday last month (my idea) and one of my co-workers mentioned how we used to often order in, many years ago, organized by some lady that worked with us for a year or two. I think she mentioned because she missed that. I was thinking I did not remember that *at all*. ??? & I chalked it up that was early on in our one-income situation when we were flush with cash and wealth. (Our house was worth an additional $250k at the time and we had all his maternity leave savings we never ended up using. Those were some financially zen times for us). But... Now that I think about it. I was probably going home every day (around noon) to breastfeed. And/Or I was on maternity leave. I probably did not partake.

February 4

February 5th, 2016 at 06:40 am

February 4:
$7 Groceries
Dinner: crockpot pepper steak, pasta/sauce

Did another grocery run yesterday. I didn't realize until I got home from grocery store (the prior night) that I wasn't enthralled with dinner situation for the 4th. In the end dh picked up some hamburger and tomato sauce for me (when picking up kids from school). LM and I ate pasta with a meat and tomato sauce. I have started making double batches of this dish (recently) and some of my thinking was I needed some different leftovers for the next few days.

The plus side: Everything we picked up the past 2 days was on sale. Sometimes we just get lucky like that!

Last night dh and BM went to a free advanced screening of Deadpool. Though people had lined up since noon, they squeaked by having gotten there just one hour before the movie started. They weren't really expecting to get in but figured they would try. Movies seem to be on average about once a week (in our region). But this is the first "big" film they tried. IT was in our neighborhood which was the other reason they figured they would at least try. Didn't drive too far out of the way.

My dh was over the moon. Though overall a VERY patient man, he *has to* see movies the day they come out, often times. Which is why he waited in line all day to see Star Wars. I don't know what it is. Now he can see them EARLY and FREE! It will be like Christmas all the time for him.

I do expect that today will be no-spend.

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In other news, dh got paid. I don't know the lead time for his company when it comes to changing 401k elections. So I figured I'd just wait for his check and then change it, hopefully for next payday. The max he can do is 50% of income. I thought I'd just do a Target Date retirement fund, which is what I do for all of dh's retirement because he isn't much into doing more than that. I keep it simple for him. But when skimming the options I was not as thrilled with the Target date funds. I decided to go more aggressive since this is just extra retirement money at this point. But didn't really like the stock mix of the longer term retirement funds. But I noticed a general stock market index with a 0.04% expense ratio and is a good fund we would not have access to otherwise. (Vanguard, of course). So I just went with that. I expect he may put in $5k this year and maybe a little bit next year. Which may end up being like 2% of our investments. Which is another reason I don't mind going more aggressive with this small sum.

To celebrate changing his 401k election to 50%, his work place was so slow that they sent him home for the rest of the week. & he already took Monday off (which they encouraged him to do expecting a slow week). So I guess this will be a pretty piddly 401k contribution, for this week.

February 2 & 3

February 3rd, 2016 at 09:44 pm

February 2:
-0- Spending
Dinner: leftovers*

*Leftovers included sloppy joes, meatballs, gyozas. There was more but these were the only leftovers that I Was entertaining.

Today I Realized that I should probably get a haircut this week. It's a once or twice a year thing for me, but today we posed for pictures at work and it is client meeting season. In all that I realized it's time for a hair cut.

Of course thinking of this I remembered February is not a super low spend month for us because I like to sneak in stuff like this when we have a couple of less days in the month for gas and grocery spending. So more random spending might pop up. It's nice to have a little extra breathing room.

Accordingly, I did reach out to a friend to try to set up a lunch date this month. I've got more budget room for that and might not have the time next month.

Last night we did go to the movies. I had forgotten about that but it was $5 night and dh had a gift card (credit card reward) so it cost us $0 out of pocket.

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February 3:
$6 Groceries
Dinner: Spicy tofu w/coconut rice

I ran to the grocery store on the way home to grab some fruit and dh asked me to pick up some bread. I had also been wanting to make pumpkin bread and so picked up a can of pumpkin.

We tried a new tofu recipe and it was really good! It was a hit with the kids too. Now that I think about it I think I might steal that for lunch tomorrow.

Good Near Term News!

February 1st, 2016 at 06:33 pm

Dh got his MRI results today, 6 months post radiation. I wasn't really expecting much because they expected swelling at this point, and is a reason they don't check sooner. Useful results should be in more like another year.

In the end the Doctor was excited and positive. His tumor is swelling but you can see that literally it is just swelling. The tumor is the exact same shape as it was in his last MRI. Usually it grows more willy nilly. Also, the middle is starting to turn dark which is a sign that it is dying and will eventually collapse.

I really wasn't expecting that much news, and so that was awesome!

They will take a peek again in 6 months.

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I am not expecting to spend much this month and so am doing daily spending tracking. Just my version of playing along. I have not told my dh I am tracking (or that I expect this month to be low-spend) and am not altering our usual spending. It should be a pretty average month for us, but I realize it's a bit of a short month and we will both be pretty busy with work, which just generally means less free time and less spending.

So here goes. Today's spending.

February 1:
$18 Lunch Out, Mongolian BBQ
$65 co pay
$82 Target stock up (groceries, cat litter, cat food)
Dinner: leftovers

I mentioned already we were definitely going out for lunch since it would be our last lunch date for months. Dh took the day off because work was slow and so we decided to go out after his appointment to discuss things.

Paid $65 for medical expenses today. Expecting about $2,000 in bills for MRI and Doctor Visit. Probably won't be due this month though. Just $65 for now.

I had mentioned to dh to pick up some cat litter and cat food next time he went to Target. He just went today since he had the day off.

I expect tomorrow will be a no spend day. Will see!

Oh, and I did get paid today and paid all the bills for the month. Which just means paying off the January credit card charges and paying the 4 bills that I can't charge (mortgage, HOA, gardener, gas/heat bill).

January Savings

February 1st, 2016 at 06:19 am

Received $35 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:

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

Redeemed $45 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $10 cash back on Visa/dining card. {Lots of eating out in January, with a couple of weekends out of town}

I have officially phased out 5th credit card (ROTH rewards) and so all my ongoing rewards are now just cash back. 4th credit card is Target card. I suppose I should add those savings to snowflakes too. For January it's a whole whopping $1.50 saved (I have no idea how or why we only spent $30 at Target this month. Is probably a record low. Dh manages the grocery shopping there). I'll add that to "other snowflakes".

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$25 Ting Credit
--$1.50 Savings from Target Red Card

Snowballs to investments:
--Invested $2,500 tax savings (for funding Traditional IRAs)
(Funded $1,500 with tax refund + moved $1,000 over from savings)

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$200 to investments
+$300 to cash
+$900 to IRAs

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-$750 Various Insurance

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Dh did not work this month. I received a small raise that just covers increasing expenses. So I just kept our savings goals the same as prior year.

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First 4 months of year is low-spend/high-save, generally. Will hoard up cash for medical expenses (dh had an MRI this month) and some home repairs. We also want to save $10k in addition for car replacement.