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June Savings

July 4th, 2019 at 07:20 am

Received $75 bank interest for the month of June.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $42 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $82 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $8 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 5 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

TOTAL: $137 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$700

Snowball to Savings:
-0- {No side income this month}

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

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 570 Medical Bills

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
+$ 503 work reimbursement (for prior expenses)
-$1,315 Vacation Expenses (Yosemite Rental)
-$ 240 School Lunches (for next few months)
-$ 135 MM(15) car tag renewal
-$ 70 Misc.

TOTAL: $1,034 deposited to cash and investments

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Last post:

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 can't remember if I posted, but my work is going to cover my professional fees (very generously) and so I received a check that covered the last 9 months or so. That was completely unexpected. (My professional expenses aren't particularly related to current job). MH also has a very small side income coming in the next couple of months. I am not entirely sure how I will allocate, but it looks like we might end up with a $200 surplus in the July checkbook (July is basically just paying for June bills; I have July pretty locked down). I expect July bills, paid in August, to be a little more out of control. So I will probably just leave the surplus to handle that. If nothing else, our grocery bill is absolutely insane with the kids home for summer. I used to joke that MH would have to get a job to help me feed teen boys, but it's no joke. I am happy to let his side income cover crazy food overages. Our grocery bills still remain #3 of our top 3 expenses (behind health insurance #1 and mortgage #2). But I can see it getting pretty neck and neck with our mortgage. The other thing in July is we have a vacation planned and it's the kids' birthdays. It will be a little crazy, but then the kids are back to school early August.

June went pretty well. It was a very low spend month. Without all the stress and extra income, we just fell back on our old habits (which is living on a shoestring). It's an easy default for us. We spent a few days at camp (expenses paid for). We took the gas car because it is more roomy, but it's good to put *some* miles on the gas car. We will also take the gas car on our Yosemite trip. MH is going to get the oil changed and the A/C recharged before that trip. So yeah, that's some more expenses for July.

Anyway, back to June. We paid for MM's auto insurance, but that will be the last time we pay for that. We are going to gas up his car, get the oil changed, get a car wash, etc., all in prep for his 16th birthday. But for his birthday he will get the bill when we add him to the insurance. So trying to be nice where we can, I guess. We've covered the expenses of the car for the first 6 months, but will pass the baton on his birthday.

MM(15) is doing work for my office this summer. The help is well needed; he's just in the right place at the right time. He will probably make about $2,000 this summer.

My old employer sent me an email offering to pay me double my last pay rate, to help them keep afloat. It was a hard pass. I would say that quitting was important for my marriage. & my health. & my sanity. I've been somewhat grateful the place is such a mess, because it would be hard to turn down the money otherwise. I think all else being equal I would probably keep the tax season work. After a month off, I don't think it would be a big deal to go back on the tax season schedule I am used to (which is only about 10 hours OT for 4 months of the year). The schedule I have had for the past 20 years... It is what I am used to, and the extra money has always been nice. But given the situation, I won't be doing any more work for them. If nothing else, I have a lot of ethical concerns about the current state of things. I have not done any professional work whatsoever since I first quit last fall, but now that it's clear they have no plans whatsoever to fix anything, it's far past time to distance myself even further from the situation.

If I don't get time to post anything else, life is just very difficult right now. *sigh*

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.


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


MOVIES:
--------
$100 Regal


RESTAURANTS:
------------
$50 Ruth Chris
$50 Cracker Barrel
$50 Olive Garden
$50 Red Robin


RETAIL:
---------
$100 Target (earmarked for groceries)
$100 Kohls (earmarked for kids' shoes)


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:
+$700

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

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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
-----------
$700 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

**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.***

Credit Card Rewards Tally 2019

April 6th, 2019 at 07:39 am

2019 TALLY:

$540 Gift Cards (Citi, Moi)
$150 Bank Bonus
-----------
$690 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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

I just saw that the points posted for my latest one-time bonus.

Citi has significantly better gift card rewards than the last time I did this. Will probably pick up some Target and Kohls gift cards, in addition to some movie theater gift cards. Then a handful of dining out gift cards so we can go out and enjoy a bit this summer. All of this will help us immensely during our "income gap". Which I expect to be during the summer months when MH is not working.

I will probably try again for a Chase bonus. I was denied the last time I tried, though I didn't have anywhere near the "5 credit card apps" or whatever they were denying for. But I only applied for one card this year and last year. It's worth a try.

On the flip side, I told MH that I think this is my last big push. We really relied on this extra money to help us through lower income periods and periods of lower bank interest, but I just don't see continuing to do the same bank bonuses over and over and over again. The ongoing rewards and cash back for everyday purchases, those I have done my entire life and don't intend to stop. But I can see wanting to juggle less bonuses and one-time reward cards, for the long term. Will see...


***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.***

March Savings

April 3rd, 2019 at 04:43 pm

Received $83 bank interest for the month of January.

Also received a $150 bank bonus.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $30 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.
--Redeemed $46 cash back on Citi card.
--Redeemed $9 cash back on dining/gas card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
$ 4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)
$100 Tax Refund
$170 Dividend

TOTAL: $359 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$800

Snowball to Savings:
+$ 0 MH Paychecks
+$ 750 February self-employment income

TOTAL: $1,550 snowballs to savings

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

Mid-Term Savings (cash saved for non-annual expenses/emergency):
-$ 890 Elliptical purchase (dropped gym membership)**

**My super awesome discount gym closed and transferred my membership to a really crappy gym.

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,400 to cash
-$ 450 Misc. Expenses (school lunches pre-paid for a few months, medical bills, etc.)

TOTAL: $2,750 deposited to cash and investments

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

Last month's commentary:

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.


All of this is still true. I put $2,000 medical bills on new reward card. I pulled this out of savings in April, along with $11,000 to fund IRAs (for 2018). All of this will show up on my April report.

{I ended up funding our IRAs today}.

I also didn't save any of MH's income in March (again) and couldn't tell you why. It's kind of moot because March is really just paying all of February expenses (credit card charges). So this month was already over (spending-wise) when I did my last monthly update. I don't know that anything has particularly changed, but March expenses (paid in April) ended up balancing to about the penny. & that was during a crazy busy month when I doubt we were particularly frugal (except for being too busy to spend money). I actually just found $150 I accidentally transferred to savings for April, and will fix that by the end of the month. I expect I might find more stuff like that if I look back the last two months.

Net worth is up about $40,000 for the year. Or about 2/3 of our annual goal. Most of that is stock market recovery from end of last year.

I will try to do some more work posts later. But I am starting to feel more *chill* about dropping second income. Some of my reluctance to drop the second income was not having any real idea how things would go with new job. But after 6 months, I feel pretty confident I have found a long-term work home. I also think it's pretty likely I will replace my old salary this year (with the one job). This was part of my strategy and willingness to take a pay cut in the interim.

February Savings

March 3rd, 2019 at 06:47 am

Received $80 bank interest for the month of
February.

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 January 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: $3,800 deposited to cash and investments

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

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...