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Archive for June, 2019

Gift Card Balances, June 2019

June 16th, 2019 at 06:25 am

Just tracking my gift cards. Not *all* credit card rewards, but most of them are.

$ 20 x2 Target

$100 Regal

$50 Ruth Chris
$50 Cracker Barrel
$50 Olive Garden
$50 Red Robin


Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards.

May Savings

June 12th, 2019 at 06:52 am

Received $60 bank interest for the month of May.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $36 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $88 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $10 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 10 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

TOTAL: $144 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:

Snowball to Savings:
+$1,000 MH Paychecks
+$3,200 April/May self-employment income

TOTAL: $4,200 snowballs to savings

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 4,000 Orthodontist (*fingers crossed, this is it?)
-$ 260 Summer college tour for MM (school trip)

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$1,000 Beach Vacation
-$ 555 Dentist/Medical
-$ 70 Misc.

TOTAL: $1,169 deposited to cash and investments


We paid cash for school trip this summer, 4 days/3 nights touring several colleges. $260 is an incredible deal. (The school is also covering all the costs of AP, ACT, SAT tests, etc., which I mentioned recently. I am feeling very spoiled on this front right now).

That reminds me too, MM can also take community college classes for free the next two years (junior/senior year of high school).

*As to Ortho costs, that's still another post for another day. It's almost comical how many canceled ortho appointments we had before we had this quote. Yeesh! We had one ortho decide to retire after booking a consult appointment. I think we majorly dodged a bullet! The good news is that though DL(13) completely inherited my mess, he was only recommended 18 months of ortho, versus the 5+ years or whatever hell I was put through. I never in a million years expected him to end up on the lower end of time/cost. MM(15) was told his situation is just cosmetic but no other reasons to have braces; he is not interested. I was planning for the worst case, which I thought was very likely. (To be fair, we already invested $3k-ish in preventative ortho work for MM, when he was very young. It seems to have paid off).

It's not quite so simple. No cause to overly celebrate yet. MM(15) is being monitored for a new problem and may need (relatively minor?) surgery.

We were told up front that DL(13) need major jaw surgery, which I had already assumed. I was not surprised and is one reason why we chose this ortho. He was very up front about it. I had the same surgery at 16. We didn't discuss the reasons for waiting but I think it's because boys stop growing several years later than girls. We are looking at age 20 for him, or 7 years down the road. They are going to do the braces in an attempt to prevent surgery. I am not holding my breath, but appreciate the effort. It's either this or "wear braces forever" so it's not a purely cosmetic surgery, but I doubt it will be covered by insurance. Overall, I could see that one coming from a mile away and don't feel much financial stress about it. But kicking the can down the road for 7 years sounds nice, of course. So that's a quick sum up of everything ortho. We decided to just pay cash (for braces) due to the short treatment, the smaller dollar amount (much smaller than we were expecting for two kids), and probably mostly because of the significant tax break we get for paying cash this year, in addition to cash discount. I am relieved, because it was my very strong preference to pay cash up front.


June 1 is it. I've managed to kick the can down the road for 8 months, but it's time to accept my lower salary. Unfortunately, the timing hits with MH's summer off work.

June savings update will be similarly nasty, but without all the extra income. I have a $5,000 credit card bill (May charges) that I paid off the first of June. There was probably about $1,000 that ended up being reimbursed by employer (phew) and most the rest was vacation expenses. Plus some medical bills, school lunches for several months, and DMV/insurance on the kids' car.

I did not save all of our side income this month. Well, I suppose I did in a sense. But mostly I was doing a major reset on all things financial. No more, "I have an extra $2,000 coming in this month, and I am completely exhausted, so who cares about $50 here and there."

Where we are at:

Still have 12 months of expenses liquid. Which is very easy peasy with three jobs, but will be more of a challenge with just the one.

I have about $10,000 set aside for 2019 IRAs. Just depends what other big expenses come up this year. Not adding to savings in any long-term meaningful away. Is more "keep afloat level" at this point. I am speaking to just my salary. I realize that I probably have to shift back to letting MH fund IRAs. Which is probably okay with combo of pay cut and work retirement plan (I am able to contribute about 10%, even with reduced salary). Funding IRAs is a very stubborn "live far below our means" goal, and I think is still pretty doable. In the short run, I probably have 2019/2020 covered. In the long run, I am due bonuses/raises (soon) and MH will be looking for more work.

I left enough side income in the checkbook to zero out our checking balance (no projected negative). Mortgage is technically pre-paid by two months. When things are not tight at all, I pay before the end of the month. In addition, am paid ahead one full month. (Other than that, I one million times more rather pay down principal, but I like the buffer of being one month ahead). I am going into June 1 with all bills paid far ahead (still have built-in 6 week emergency fund in that regard). Mortgage paid two months ahead. Credit card balances all zero (as they always are the first of every month). It was mostly knocking the mortgage back to "before the end of the month" to get us started this summer with as much buffer as possible. It would be my preference not to use any of this buffer this summer, but we will have drastically reduced income from what we have gotten used to the past few years. & I have absolutely no plans whatsoever to reduce our savings goals. Will see how it goes.


I am so late getting to this post. So... How is June going so far?

Dining out is at $20 for the month, with the month 1/3 over. I suppose we have done well with the reset. Gas should go down significantly without work/school (MH kids). I think we may be able to rein in adult grocery spending a bit (without all the stress spending). The big splurge so far this month was $4 at Home Depot to get a couple of house keys made for the kids. MM(15) needed a key, and I just made a copy for when DL needs a key eventually. June should be pretty easy as we will be out of town a few days with all expenses covered.

Life is good. I've been "busy", but the vast majority of it has been family time and self care.

Credit Card Rewards Tally 2019

June 2nd, 2019 at 10:33 am

2019 TALLY:

$550 Gift Cards (Citi, Moi)
$150 Bank Bonus

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.


I finally got around to redeeming our gift cards. They had a much wider selection than I expected (better than in the past).

I redeemed the following:
**$100 Target (will help cover summer groceries)
**$100 Kohls (kids both need running shoes)
**$100 Regal

Was going to get the Regal card anyway, but the Regal card was on sale so was able to get an extra $10 out of our $500+ reward. Score! We will mostly stick to the free movies/rewards, but this will buy some extra movies during the summer.

Restaurant gift cards redeemed:
**Cracker Barrel (just because we got a new one here, have only been on the East Coast otherwise)
**Red Robin
**Ruth Chris (will do a fancy date lunch)
**Seasons 52 (for date night)
**Olive Garden (we sometimes order in with my parents)

These gift cards will last us a long time, we don't eat out very much. These will easily last us the rest of this year, but I did redeem with our "reduced income summer" in mind and having more treats at our disposal.

***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of late fees or interest.***


June 2nd, 2019 at 07:16 am

I think that yesterday was the day. Pushing the button on the life reset.

My goals for the weekend:

**Attend aerobics
**Lounge by the pool
**Do some cooking

"Awesome Admin" invited me to dinner next week. Looked on my calendar and was free every night.

This is what my life used to look like. I miss it.

{I haven't mentioned my aerobics class in a while, but it's $2.50 per class. & the class is amazing}.

I presume that I will also start working on getting the house in order. If nothing else, I have papers strewn everywhere. It's not as crazy and overwhelming as it once was, but I Was surprised to find a few stacks of paper in strange places. I think I am just not as conscious of how unorganized I am at the moment.

I suppose we will also be doing a financial reset. I was looking at our financials for this year and it was depressing that with $10k-ish side income this year (through May) we still had $10k less income for the first 5 months of this year, compared to last year. I know it's not apples to apples. But it was still depressing to see. On the flip side, I think we will easily slip back into old financial habits (super frugal). I did not watch a single old movie with MH the past 2 months, so we are diving back into our "Top 100" list now that I have time. I know that will keep us busy for at least a year, probably two years. I have been going to free movie screenings with MH, quite often. We have a museum membership we haven't been utilizing lately, we will go this month.

I think my biggest financial challenge at the moment is feeding teen boys. The one significant difference from our one-income years is that most of our cost savings was on the food/grocery side, before. MH was home and had the time to really keep a lid on those expenses. In the end, we have raised our grocery budget 60% in the last few years. It's still not enough. That in itself is bad enough but MM decided to do cross country this fall, training has already started. I don't even want to know how much food we will be buying with that. My kids already have freakish metabolisms (always have) without adding *two* sports to the mix. (MM already does gymnastics, which adds some crazy amount of calories to his diet). DL will probably follow suit. His art school does not have any sports programs of any significance, but he is way into fitness right now and may start running with his brother (while he pre-conditions for the fall).

MH is done with work for summer, so it's back to one (reduced) income and tons of food spending. It's hard to imagine what else we'd spend money on, so I guess that's the plus side. I look forward to a very relaxed summer with lots of movies (for MH) and library books (for me).