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February Savings

March 3rd, 2019 at 06:47 am

Received $80 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $89 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $13 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$13 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases) ~ this month included some clothing purchases

TOTAL: $165 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$730

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 0 MH Paychecks
+$2,500 December self-employment income

+$ 200 Missed prior month when moving money around - moved back into savings

TOTAL: $2,700 snowballs to savings

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

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 360 Driving School (for 15-year-old)

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
+$ 210 Insurance Rebate
-$1,289 Various Insurance
-$ 175 Dentist
-$ 200 Vacation (Weekend Away)

TOTAL: $3,700 deposited to cash and investments

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Driving school was very one-off and nothing I specifically saved for, so it comes out of the mid-term savings.

Still just hoarding cash. Second job is winding down (I hope). I have $3k medical bills coming up, want to pay cash for braces this year (x2), have to cover all my professional expenses going forward, etc., etc. Just hoarding cash for all that, and preparing for a big income drop this summer.

I don't know what happened to MH's income. I wasn't able to save any of it (around $900) which is totally ridiculous. But I am still pretty buried and it is most likely an accounting error. Either that or we over-spent something like $400 last month and $400 this month. That is more likely. I know we didn't over-spend $900 this month. Anyway, I share to explain why I saved -$0- of that, but will chalk that up to "life is chaos." Because I track our spending so closely, is why I am fine with, "I don't have time to track it down and don't care." I suppose is the flip side of working crazy hours/extra money. Our life is usually more slow/relaxed, and lots of time to pinch pennies. Life is just the polar opposite of that right now.

Gift Card Balances Feb 2019

February 18th, 2019 at 06:44 am

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


GIFTS:
------
$ 20 x4 Target


MOVIES:
--------
$25 Regal?


RESTAURANTS:
------------


RETAIL:
---------


Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In this case, none of these are credit card rewards.

I was just thinking that we had run through all our gift cards. Not sure if someone else was talking about gift cards or why I Was thinking about it. But I haven't done any (one-time) credit card rewards in a long time. I did some easy travel one last year for our road trip, but that's about it. I didn't have any room in my brain for one more thing, that is for sure. But I was thinking about it and I have been wanting to do a specific $500 reward (gift cards) for a while. They had increased the "spending for bonus" to $4,000, so that was the other reason I have been hesitating. But I have $3,000 in medical bills due, so the timing would be good. (I usually just run up these rewards with health insurance, other big insurance bills, and medical bills).

I applied for the card and it wasn't an immediate approval, which is super weird. Will see...

January Savings

February 10th, 2019 at 09:13 am

I am reviving my "monthly savings" posts. I abandoned last year because I knew I would just be in hoarding cash mode. Not very exciting. But in the end, I didn't have time for this, so probably for the best. Going forward, I should have time to keep up with these:

Received $67 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $0 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $10 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$5 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
--$8 "Price Rewind" for washer/dryer purchase

TOTAL: $106 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$686

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 500 MH Paychecks
+$1,500 December work for old/forever employer

TOTAL: $2,000 snowballs to savings

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

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$0 No Mid-Term Expenses this month

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 800 Home Insurance

TOTAL: $4,000 deposited to cash and investments

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I had been putting $300/month to savings and investing $250/month into taxable investments. I just combined these to "savings" for 2019. We are "retirement heavy" with more retirement space and new job situation. If nothing else, will eventually be redirecting that $250/month to our IRAs. Will abandon taxable investments, except for snowflakes.

I like to put snowflakes to either the mortgage or taxable investments, because it's a "small things add up" thing, and if we keep it in cash I have no problem not touching it, but at some point when you have an extra thousands of dollars laying around you will be tempted to spend it. So I always tie up snowflakes in things I won't touch. I am going to fund retirement regardless, so that leaves taxable investments or mortgage.

On the income front, I traded $11,500 reduced salary for $7,500 401k contributions/match and significantly reduced taxes. Just means we can fund 401k with $7,500, without reducing our cash flow at all. So I am really only short $4,000 net; $4,000 less going to retirement. I expect to easily make that up this year with raise/bonuses. (& I've already made that up with side income, but more long term I'd let to get my net salary where I left off, with just the one job).

I've also lost the OT, which we were throwing at the mortgage. So we will stop mortgage pre-payments for the short run. We may stop indefinitely. We just want to pay cash for our next home when we downsize and we have achieved that goal (we have enough equity to do so: $300,000+). But we don't want to make this move until our kids are adults and done with high school. For now, we would rather fund our IRAs, and otherwise hoard cash for college and a down payment on our next home (we expect to buy our downsize before we sell this home, the down payment will keep things more flexible). That's our plan for now, but I do expect things to change significantly in the next 5 years. It's a very loose plan, but just to explain why the mortgage will fall off our radar for a while.

We are doing well on extra cash/side income, but we also want to fund our IRAs (in addition to the above retirement savings). We have three cars now, both kids need braces, college is right around the corner, we have some home improvements to tend to, etc. Oh, and the down payment we want to work on. We are going to be in "hoard cash" mode with the extra income.

We've also already maxed out our medical deductible for the year. I don't expect this side income to really remain in our account very long.

P.S. If it isn't not obvious, our emergency funds remain entirely intact. I did not end up having any time off work, beyond what was covered by PTO owed to me.

Credit Card Reward Tally 2018

January 2nd, 2019 at 05:48 am

2018 TALLY:

$561 Travel Rewards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
-----------
$561 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Other Rewards:
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

Ongoing rewards (through 11/30):

+$315 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)

+$88 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$149 Visa Rewards (3% cash back fuel/restaurants)

+$823 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the big expenses that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $2,096

I just want to add that historical figures below do also include bank bonuses. They just don't generally work very well for us so I do not utilize as much. (We did -0- bank bonuses in 2017/2018).

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906
Year 2017 = $3,578
Year 2018 = $2,096

Total 7 Years = $22,862
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***


Note: I have been tracking since 2011 because that's when the rewards got CRAZY. I have always utilized cash back on credit cards. It's just been extra rewarding during the past decade or so.

***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.***

Prelim Credit Card Tally 2018

December 8th, 2018 at 05:53 am

I don't have December monthly reward totals yet, of course. But I figured I would update all my numbers and see where we are at. This will make it easy to update/finalize at the end of this month.

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
-----------
$561 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Other Rewards:
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)

Ongoing rewards (through 11/30):

+$276 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/3% fuel)

+$88 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$141 Visa Rewards (3% cash back fuel/restaurants)

+$705 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the big expenses that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $1,932

I just want to add that historical figures below do also include bank bonuses. They just don't generally work very well for us so I do not utilize as much. (We did -0- bank bonuses in 2017/2018).

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906
Year 2017 = $3,578
Year 2018 = $1,932

Total 7 Years = $22,698
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***


Note: I have been tracking since 2011 because that's when the rewards got CRAZY. I have always utilized cash back on credit cards. It's just been extra rewarding during the past decade or so.

***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.***

Credit Card Rewards Update

December 7th, 2018 at 07:42 pm

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
$150 Citi Price Rewind
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)
-----------
$721 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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I submitted a "price rewind" (price match) for a Black Friday deal. The cell phone MH had bought was $150 off for Black Friday. So I got a $150 credit for that. Woohoo!

I submitted the washer/dryer purchase, because you never know. Generally Citi tracks the price match, but when we saw the $150-off for the phone we just wanted to be sure it was counted. Washer/Dryer were Black Friday deals. So far Citi is showing I am owed a refund of $8, for those purchases. They track for two months. For smaller amounts like that, they will just send me the money when the two months are up.

I haven't had any energy/time to chase rewards this year. It will be interesting to see how it comes out in the final tally.

I think I can beat 2016, so it wasn't even our lowest year. I probably have around $100/month in rewards, or another $1,200-ish to add to my 2018 tally.

Year 2011 = $4,164
Year 2012 = $2,782
Year 2013 = $2,623
Year 2014 = $3,128
Year 2015 = $2,585
Year 2016 = $1,906

Credit Card Rewards Update

October 27th, 2018 at 08:38 am

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
$ 10 Hulu Credits (American Express)
-----------
$571 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was just paying bills and saw a Hulu Reward offer on our American Express card. Should get $5 back per month, for next 4 months. $10 this year and $10 next year? (We Pay Hulu around $10 per month in lieu of cable).

That reminds me, I need to set up a couple of Citi Price Rewinds (where Citi automatically price matches for 60 days). We had a couple of big purchases this month. I always set up big purchases even if I never expect to get anything. Was just looking and nothing has come within even $100 of the charger we picked up at Costco. But who knows, someone could have some super crazy sale in the next few weeks.

EARLIER POST FROM 2018:

I think I probably would have mostly passed (on one-time bonuses) this year given all my employment upheaval. Life has been CRAZY this year and I am being ultra protective of my credit score since I work in the financial industry. It's always been like 800+, but I just don't feel like it's the year to open 5 new credit cards in my name. Might raise some eyebrows during any employment consideration. (& I am probably just being overly cautious, but that is how I roll). & I did open 4 cards in MH's name last year so I am giving him a break. But anyway, this travel reward was easy and too good do pass up with our travel plans.

In the end, my new employer never ran a background check or a credit check on me. I actually am kind of horrified about their being so lax on this front and will probably chastise them a bit about this in the future. It's on my infinite list of things to address.

Credit Card Rewards Update

July 15th, 2018 at 07:50 am

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
-----------
$561 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

POST FROM 2017:


***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.***

At this point in my life I just pay the balances off the end of every month so that we go into each new month with -$0- credit card debt. This is really simple because there is no remembering bills or due dates or any of that. I just go in and pay them all the last day of every month. I have set all my credit cards to close for the month around the 28th of the month, so that the statement is closed by the last day of every month and every charge for the month has been posted. (I can just voluntarily pre-pay any charges that didn't make it on the statement for the last week of the month). From an accounting standpoint, anything else would drive me crazy, maybe especially since we do have so many credit cards that we use every month for rewards. This way, I just don't have to really keep track of anything and I know they will always be paid several weeks before due date. This also keeps all of our charges on a monthly cycle, which lines up with our monthly paychecks and my monthly accounting.

I expect 2018 to be more like 2016, but you never know. I don't feel like we need to put as much emphasis on the credit card rewards with MH working and with interest rates (on our savings) increasing. We really relied on these to boost our income and to stretch our dollars further when MH was home with the kids. I also have something like $1,000 unused gift cards laying around, which is about $1,000 more than usual. (In the past we mostly redeemed cash back, but those are harder to come by and it seems it was mostly gift cards and travel rewards for this year).


I figured I'd post that as a reminder and/or to fill in newer readers.

I think I probably would have mostly passed (on one-time bonuses) this year given all my employment upheaval. Life has been CRAZY this year and I am being ultra protective of my credit score since I work in the financial industry. It's always been like 800+, but I just don't feel like it's the year to open 5 new credit cards in my name. Might raise some eyebrows during any employment consideration. (& I am probably just being overly cautious, but that is how I roll). & I did open 4 cards in MH's name last year so I am giving him a break. But anyway, this travel reward was easy and too good do pass up with our travel plans.

I needed to spend $3,000 to earn $560, have already done so:

$2,082 Medical bills/insurance
$ 621 Auto Insurance
$ 275 Professional Dues
$ 13 Misc.
-------
$3,000 Spending
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I didn't plan it that way. I would have just pre-paid a couple of months of health insurance to hit the $3k spend. Super easy and takes me just a few minutes to earn rewards. But in this case I just happened to receive a pile of bills right after I applied for the card.

It's been long enough that I was not thinking. I would have just pre-paid the $13 (difference) to my medical insurance but I forgot (and would be a pain to make a separate $13 payment). I instead just used the card for some online shopping that I was doing regardless, to get up to the $3,000 spend. I wasn't thinking that means they won't bill me until the items ship. So it wasn't the smartest way to rack up immediate rewards, but I guess waiting another day or two doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.