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August '22 Savings

September 7th, 2022 at 03:30 am

Received $67 bank interest for the month of August.

Received $180 I Bond interest for the month of August.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $61 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $8 on dining out/gas card 

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $2 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $141 Snowflakes to Investments

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$0 MH Income

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$750

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$472 Kids' Birthdays

-$300 New VR Quest

-$230 Senior Pictures

-$191 Movie/Script Stuff & Crowdfunding (pay it forward) 

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  300 Dentist (MH & DL)

-$    60 Quicken (personal finance/accounting software)

 

Pulled from 'College Savings'

-$7,700 Tuition + Rent

 

TOTAL: -$5,665 Net Pulled from Cash/Investments

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Hybrid Miles Driven August:  860

Fuel Costs: $28 Electricity + $10 Gas (2 gallons)

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

Note: I needed gas to be able to remote start my vehicle (and to pre-cool the car in the afternoons).  2 gallons should last me for 12 months.

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven August: 996

Fuel Costs: $21 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

Most charging (both cars) is done at home or at free chargers.

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 105 miles of free charging this month. 

EV = free 105 miles @ animal shelter 

MH went to the Bay Area once.  After mostly being stuck in isolation for 2 weeks, I couldn't tell you why so many miles on the EV.  Maybe a second out of town trip that I don't remember??  Where the heck did MH go?  Oh yeah, he did also go up to the cabin twice (I remembered one cabin trip & MH reminded me of the second trip).  & ~80 miles going 2x to the animal shelter.  I didn't bother with the free charge the second time.  MH had plugged in and the battery was too full. 

I double checked electricity prices and they were more than I remember.  So this bumped up fuel costs this month.

Saw a crazy online discussion about EVs this week.  Just something new that I hadn't seen before, so was worth sharing.  Was seeing a lot of negative comments re: conserving energy during a heat wave.  When EV drivers replied that they just charge overnight (and don't pay peak $$$$ prices anyway)...  Got a lot of replies like, "Yeah right!" and "You have to wake up in the middle of the night to charge your car!?"  

I had wanted to correct some of the myths out there, and that was a new one.  So I thought I'd share.  Of course all these super computer cars have all this programmed.  But we are pretty low tech.  Our charger just has a delay button that we push.  We choose how many hours we want to delay before the charging starts (and push the button X times, accordingly).  That's it. 

& of course, the EV has a big battery that stores electricity.  MH is charging every other weekend.  Even that is mostly excessive, but the point for us is more to just have a habit and not think about it.  (In addition to working around my more frequent weeknight hybrid charging; we only have one charger).  There's no need to be constantly charging an electric car.  

Edit:  I started this post a few days ago.  The news headlines are getting more weird and fear mongering by the day.  Just saw a headline that CA EV drivers have to walk while it's 110F degrees this week.  🙄  It literally says that in the headline, of some big reputable new channel.  This "news" is garbage.  

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Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in July will be paid off August 1 and reflected in my August numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects July spending & August savings.

Holy cow, look at that interest.  Interest rates just keep going up in our bank accounts.  Our I Bond rate goes up significantly after September.

MH lost two weeks of work re: COVID.  Thus, short ~$700 that we were expecting this month.

This was the spendy no-work month that I alluded to in my July update. (The below is all July spending paid for in August).

The VR Quest 2 went on sale suddenly for 25% off.  MH could not resist that.  I do like the VR too but with my motion sickness tendency I never got too into it.  We have an older Sony VR helmet, so it's not our first VR setup. 

When MM(19) did senior pictures, they didn't do the tux (shared clothing) pictures due to COVID.  & he was too cheap to pay for the cap & gown sitting.  I really wanted to murder him when he told me that. 😁  They clearly phoned it in (with the $0 sitting fee) and we were not interested in any of the pictures.  For DL(17), *we* were able to sign up for him (we didn't tell him he had a choice) and we had to drive him over there.  So he did the cap & gown sitting.  I like this photographer better.  Liked.  Have been able to spend $10-$15 on pictures in the past.  But the senior photos were *ridiculous*.  Like $600 for their most basic package.  I cobbled something together. If DL was another kid, I'd just ask my Dad to do some photos.  But...  We are lucky that DL was a good sport.  I just bought some wallets and scanned them.  We can ponder re-doing photos later, depending on his mood.  The $200 was "DL may never sit for photos again" insurance.  At least the photos were professional and good. 

In the end, August (ignoring college expense) was pretty similar dollar-wise to July.  But the rub was the bigger mid-term savings deductions in August.  If it's coming out of mid-term, it's because I am drawing down "longer term" savings to pay for things.  & that is more "ouch". 

(If it's truly "long term", it's invested.  So is why I use the term mid-term instead, when it comes to cash savings.)  

2022 Credit Card Reward Tally

August 28th, 2022 at 01:57 pm

2022 TALLY:

$15 AmEx Reward (for charing insurance)

$30 Citi Reward (for charging hotel) **pending**

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$45 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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I just redeemed the insurance reward and just signed up for the hotel reward, which will apply to college move-in.  The $30 reward just happens to be for spending the amount we booked the hotel for.  

I was considering a travel rewards card this year.  But the film festival that MH got into ended up being so last minute, we scrambled to lock our travel plans in ASAP.  I could have gotten some nice travel rewards if we had more time. 

I don't foresee any traveling except for festivals, so it seems pointless to plan ahead. (No point in getting a travel card we won't use). But maybe some future festival will give us some more lead time.

I think both kids will both do a ~$150 credit card bonus this year.  

But there's nothing on my horizon.  I feel like every time I say, "Meh, I a don't think I will bother this year," some too good to pass up deal falls from the sky.  Will see...

The (bigger, one-time) credit rewards gave us breathing room in the past.  But I worked in some breathing room into our budget this year, so we are far less motivated this year.  Also, I am still working through gift cards for some 2017? credit card reward.  If it's not a cash reward, I am not going to bother.

July '22 Savings

August 7th, 2022 at 12:46 am

Received $50 bank interest for the month of July.

Received $180 I Bond interest for the month of July.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $48 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 on dining out/gas card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $129 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$750

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$250 College Dining Plan (Fall 2022)

-$100 Animal Shelter Donation (matched by friend)

-$130 New Side Table

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  175 Dentist

-$  150 Amazon Prime

-$  125 Clothing for DL

-$  110 50th Anniversay Dinner

-$  100 Transportation home from college (MM + stuff)

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    58 Smog check on kids' car 

-$    30 Vacation Expenses (camp)

 

TOTAL: $2,253 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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Hybrid Miles Driven July:  810

Fuel Costs: $26 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

Includes 20 *free* miles 

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven July: 867

Fuel Costs: $14 (home) + $11 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

Most charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.

Note:  Home charging rates are higher during summer months.

We did 170 miles of free charging this month. 

Hybrid = free 20 miles @ animal shelter

EV = free 120 miles @ animal shelter & Free 30 miles @ movie theater

We ended up doing a couple of Bay Area drives to help our parents out.  We only need a quick top off to get home, but for whatever reason MH stayed at a charger for about an hour.  He decided to stop and eat dinner, and I guess there was a long line at the bathroom.  It may have been 45 minutes.  We paid for about 100 miles between that and a quick 5-minute charge on the way home (earlier trip).

I tried the free Volta fast charger that is a few miles from the animal shelter.  O.M.G.  It was the easiest fast charger I had ever used.  & it's nice to not be sitting alone in the middle of nowhere.  I got about 60 miles out of a 30-minute charge.  (Would have been more if I went with a more depleted battery versus mostly full battery).  The round trip drive is about 50 miles (with the drive to the charger) so that worked out pretty well.  There was a free Level 2 charger right next to the free fast charger (30 minute limit), so I just moved over to the slower Level 2 when I was done.  

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Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in June will be paid off July 1 and reflected in my July numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects June spending & July savings.

Re: I Bonds, I threw another $10K into a trust account.  I won't be able to do the last $10K until January 1.

MH is off work for the summer, so it's just my paycheck for July and August. 

I had a last minute mid-term savings deduction when I paid cash (venmo) to the animal shelter for a dog who needs a very expensive surgery.  My friend was matching donations.  But July already paid and done (the first of the month) I just pulled from longer-term savings.  If I could have thrown it on the credit card, I'd maybe have been able to cash flow.  Our grocery spending has been unexpectedly low this month.

July was spendy (will sort out in August).  We had a lot going on.  So I think we are through the worst of it.  At least MH should have a paycheck in September, if we need to cover any August spending.

By some miracle, grocery expenses were very low this month.  ???  I thought I'd be more able to offset excessive spending (which will show up in August update).  But things were pretty tight, even with the low grocery spend month.  We have a very solid pattern of spending less when busy with work.  July spending (will sort out in August) was the first month this year I just couldn't balance and don't know what happened.  Clearly spending more with the working less.  Even with the 'breathing room' and low grocery month, the math just didn't work. 

I eventually got it to balance.  & MH was called back to work so it's moot.  I don't know how busy it will be but he will be paid for 1 week? in August.  

I guess that means July will be our only one-income month this year.  This is my July update.  It was pretty benign and everything balanced (income - savings/investments - expenses = $0).  August will be more ugly with the over-spending *and* college bills due.  One small unexpected paychedck will help.

As of July 31, no word on scholarships for MM(19).  It sounds like we won't know 100% until August is over.  After tuition is paid. 

June '22 Savings

July 17th, 2022 at 05:50 pm

Received $38 bank interest for the month of June.

Received $120 I Bond interest for the month of June.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $39 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $69 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $7 on dining out/gas card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $8 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

+ $9 Rounding (to reach an even $1K for first 6 months of year)

 

TOTAL: $132 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$935

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,175 MH Income

+    340 MH Extra Paycheck (worked way later into June than usual)

-     340 Dryer Repair

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$200 Movie Expenses (Film Festival Submissions, etc.)

-$120 New Dishes

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  240 50th Anniversary Gift

-$  200 Vacation Spending (Monterey)

-$  105 Misc Spending

-$    55 Field Trip/School Expenses

 

TOTAL: $3,930 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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Hybrid Miles Driven June:  680

Fuel Costs: $22 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven June: 910

Fuel Costs: $19 (home) + $7 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

Most charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.

Note:  Higher summer rates kicked in this month (home charging)

We did 60 miles of free charging this month. 

Did a separate post due to longer update.

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Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in May will be paid off June 1 and reflected in my June numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects May spending & June savings.

Note:  I Bond interest hit because we got past 3-month penalty time period ($0 interest).  

Big Picture: Emergency fund is funded. Cash set aside for college rent next year.  Remaining cash = $5,000.  Most of that excess was clearly built up this month.

I know we will very likely have $3K in medical bills this year (our deductible).  & would like more buffer for some of the more foreseen.  Home maintenance is the obvious.  In addition, starting to save for junior year college costs, with a general plan to spend sophomore year saving up for the last bit of expenses we expect for MM college.   So there will be some overlap while we have extra funds for multiple school years.  

{This does not include I Bonds, which are loosely earmarked for college expenses.  Or gifted college funds.  We have a few buckets to pull college expenses from.}

July is kind of "meh" and August is going to be deep in the red.  Could maybe squeak by in the black otherwise, but MH is off work, I have the biggest mouth to feed, and tuition/rent will be due in August.  In addition to some other bigger expenses we've already run up (that will be paid off in August). 

I still have *no idea* what our college costs will be next year.  I've heard that scholarships sort out in July, so we should find out soon.

{We were okay with the one-time scholarship because it's a very inexpensive school.  We will need to pull $2K for tuition in the fall, if MM gets -$0 scholarships.}

I peeked at the big big picture recently and we were down $30K.  I feel very *shrugs* about "the stock market being where it was just a year ago."  But am also very happy with stock/bond/cash mix.  Hint: never bought into going all-in on the stock market, which became very popular during very long bull market run. 

There's that, and also in the accumulation stage it is much better to buy lower.  I welcome the rare chance to buy stocks at a discount. 

I am bracing for a bumpier ride.  Non-fussed about it in the moment, but clearly hear the alarm bells and am bracing for the eventual bumpier ride.  

Edit:  I just realized I needed $9 to reach 1/2 our snowflake investment goal for the year.  I just threw $9 to that.  $1,000 of $2,000 invested, for the year. 

Gift Card Balances June 2022

June 26th, 2022 at 10:50 pm

HOTEL:

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$50 Hotel Coupon

 

MOVIES:

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$50  Regal

$50  Art House Theater

 

RESTAURANTS:

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$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$25 Chili's

$5   Jamba Juice (Gift)

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Gifts)

 

RETAIL:

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$100 x 2 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$25  Kohls Gift Card (DL Christmas Gift)

 

REGIFT:

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$25  Starbucks

 

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We just got through a restaurant gift card from 2017!  

I keep passing over larger credit card rewards because they are mostly for gift cards.  & it's taking 5+ years to get through the last batch of gift cards...  But I admit I should probably look into it further.  If there is any gift cards we can use.  Dorm stuff?  I think MM(18) is pretty well set, but he will have a kitchen and more space in the fall.  I should probably look into it and ponder more.  

I mentioned to MH we had the Chili's card and that maybe we should just give it to MM(18).  MH told me there was a Chili's in our neighborhood (I had no idea) and so we are loosely planning a movie/lunch date at some point.  Probably in July.  I want to get that last very old gift card used up. 

I am not sure where we are at with movie gift cards.  We might have used up the art house gift card.  & I think MH ended up buying a second $50 Regal gift card, but I don't remember for sure.   MH has an unlimited Regal movie pass, and earns more points than MM or I would ever use for free tickets, so he gets through the movie gift cards very slowly.  I mentioned in my last gift card update I was shocked he still had some money left on the last Regal gift card.  At this point I think? it's a safe assumption that he used up the old Regal gift card.

 

May '22 Savings

June 11th, 2022 at 03:36 pm

Received $26 bank interest for the month of May.

Received -$0- I Bond interest for the month of May (will kick in next month).

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $40 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $76 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out/gas card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $2 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $124 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$900

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,400 MH Income

-$ 300 Donation to DL(16)'s school

-$ 100 Graduation Gift (niece)

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$950 Movie Expenses (Premier Party, Film Festival Submissions, etc.)

-$585 Drivers Ed

-$180 Show Tickets

-$120 Crowd Funding (paying it forward)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  150 School Band concerts & field trips

-$  144 DMV Renewal (Kids' car)

-$  100 State Tax E-file (x5)

-$   80 Oil Change (hybrid) 

-$   78 Pest Control

 

TOTAL: $2,112 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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Hybrid Miles Driven May:  645

Fuel Costs: $16 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven May: 1,146

Fuel Costs: $16 (home) + $25 (out)

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

 

Most charging (both cars) was done at home.

We did -0-? miles of free charging this month.  I don't recall any free charging.

We did plan about 300-ish miles of free charging for our bigger road trip last last weekend but as I mentioned in my last post we turned around because DL(16) was ill.  It wasn't well planned and we just stopped wherever.  

I am racking my brain because I thought we were out of town every week in May but I just figured it out.  

Week 1 San Jose ~ that was April 30th

Week 2 San Francisco ~ we took the train

Week 3 Bay Area ~ DL(16) had a band event but it wasn't far enough to warrant a stop/charge

Week 4 So Cal ~ spent $25 at chargers

June will be more of the same. 

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Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in April will be paid off May 1 and reflected in my May numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects April spending & May savings.

I expect that this is the last DMV renewal I should be paying for the kids' car.  MM(18) will be back this month covering all expenses for summer (he has a job/summer commute).  Probably a small gap after that but DL(16) should be licensed and taking over the car expenses this fall.  MH and I covered some of the car expenses while MM(18) wasn't using the car and DL(16) didn't even have a permit.  I am happy to cross that extra expense off my list soon.

The donation to DL(16)'s school is somewhat required (in the form of either money or time).  I would have done some of this in December but the website was not working and I could not make donations.  Because of the large chunk, I just took it out of MH's income.  We probably skipped the past couple of years (in the craziness), and just have one more year left.  Something else that I can cross of my list soon-ish. 

The hybrid does need an oil change once every 2 years.  It was time.  Given that this is really our only vehicle maintenance expense and a more specialized car, we just went to the dealership ($$$$$).  

& then driver's ed...  The place we used for MM(18) raised their prices significantly.  It was only $300 before?  This is not a universal price increase.  It was just this one place that raised rates, but they still had amazing reviews (throug the pandemic) and we were really happy with them.  So I bit the bullet.  After the first drive, I am happy with this decision.  Would pay any amount of money to get DL(16) more comfortable with driving.  (Happy to say that it is paying off).

This should be the last big month for MH's movie expenses.  Future expenses will mostly be travel, if he gets into more festivals.

I e-filed taxes for everyone (better and more secure).  Did you hear that the IRS tossed 300 million "information returns" (e.g. W2s & 1099s) without processing them? 😱  I am skeptical that's all they threw away, given the bajillion IRS notices at work re: multiple paper filed entities (corporate and partnership tax returns).  This is on top of my snail mail ID theft I experienced 10+ years ago.  I chose to just e-file this year even if it was more expensive (than just paper filing with a postage stamp).  Our parents are very generous and GMIL is broke, and so I never in a million years would ask them to pay for any of this.  I filed tax returns for them and the kids.  (I've always just e-filed our own tax return, but have snail mailed a kids' 2-page tax return in the past).

MH bought tickets to a show.  We have since discussed two other concerts but they were just too hard to justify financially.   I moved those to the "nevermind" column category.   Both were kind of "would be fun," but not $200 fun.  Nothing we were very passionate about.

April '22 Savings

May 14th, 2022 at 01:59 pm

Received $25 bank interest for the month of April.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $33 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $96 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $3 on dining out/gas card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $10 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $142 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$890

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,300 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$950 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$365 Movie Expenses (Film Festival Submissions, copyright new script, etc.)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  941 Auto Insurance

-$  500 Life Insurance

-$  253 Annual DMV Registration (EV)

-$  300 Dentist

-$  386 Medical 

-$  200 Misc Expenses for MM(18)

-$    25 Driving Course for DL (16)

 

TOTAL: $1,837 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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Hybrid Miles Driven April:  715

Fuel Costs: $19 Electricity 

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven April: 1,185

Fuel Costs: $22 (home) + $6 (out)

Most charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.

We got about 70 miles of free charging this month.  We just got lucky.  We went out to a park and a restaurant one weekend, and they both just happened to have free charging. 

We did also do a Bay Area trip (Easter) with -0- fuel stops.

For the Easter trip, we got home with about -0- miles to spare.  It was a little stressful and I had heard that like a gas car there is still 20 miles left at that point.  But afterwards I read that isn't necessarily the case.  Who knows.   Logically we still had plenty of buffer to get home, even if the car computer decided to freak us out during the last couple of miles.  The miles guesstimate was being a little glitchy.

Accordingly, we decided to err on the safe side and just stop to charge when we went to visit our parents last weekend.  It was probably completely unnecessary.  But I also wanted to scope out more chargers.  In this case, the most convenient stop was at another Outlet (where we usually stop; lots of chargers, food and bathrooms.  So makes a good pit stop).  I am glad we did because by then it was after hours (around 9pm) and I can see I would never feel comfortable going there alone.  In an abandoned/dark parking lot at night.  There is a charger right by my parent's house and I can see it's just wise to stop there for a quick top off.  It's at a grocery store and is probably always bustling.  Those chargers are out front and not hidden in the back like a lot of these chargers are.

We stopped for 5 minutes, spent $1.55, and added about 20 miles to our range.  

In the end, we drove 260 miles and had 30 miles left when we got home.  The buffer was probably not necessary, but it's around the 10-mile mark that the car freaks out and tells you that you need to charge ASAP.  We saved ourselves some stress.

We did also pay $4 for a monthly Electrifty America (EA) pass (which I included in fuel costs above).  With the extra $4 you do get a discount on charging that has always been worth it.  But as EA informed me we saved $0.60 on this one charge (the only one we paid for this month), I told MH I didn't think we need to pay the $4 any more.  We are going to keep it for May because we are going on a long trip.  One big charge/refuel will pay for the $4 (in savings).  But it's clear that we will no longer get any benefit out of this for anything but longer road trips.  So we will cancel that after our May road trip.  Er, after June.  I guess we will be picking up MM(18) from college in June.  After that, we can just activate/pay the monthly pass on months that we know we will be traveling 300+ miles (one trip).  Maybe the breakeven point is 400 or 500 miles but we just don't do anything in between.  (The college is a 600 mile round trip; Bay Area trips are generally 250-300 miles).

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Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in March will be paid off April 1 and reflected in my April numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects March spending & April savings.

I ended up being way too nice to MM(18) when he was here for spring break.  His very liquid cash reserves are getting "low".  Relatively, getting on the lower side.  He needed some nicer headphones but picked out a higher end pair.  I just bought them.  To be fair, I tried to put new running shoes on his credit card (told him we'd sort it out later, based on how jobs shake out for him) but I was unable to put it on his credit card and use MH's REI member discount.  So I gave up and just paid for those too.  In addition to paying for gas for the car, MM(18) was spoiled rotten.

But things are going well on this front.  MM(18) told us at Easter that he has a job for the fall quarter.  It's a TA type position that pays $1,200.  Will be a few hours per week.  That should cover his spending next year, so that was a nice surprise.  (He's only spent $500-ish the last 8 months on campus.  With all food/transportation/extra-curricular mostly provided.  $750 if I throw in the spending I did for him this month.). 

& then it sounded like he got the summer engineering job.  Just talked to him and it sounds like no formal offer yet?   But it's close.  & he already has a lead on another internship *and* an undergrad research project (2 years).  The research project would be $1,700 his junior year (another year of spending money).  Summer jobs will get him a car paid for in cash.  (He already has about $6,000 to that end, it's just tied up in mega high yield savings accounts). 

I expect the extra spending on MM(18) to be very one-off.  

I've already locked in May Spending.  The breathing room is working.  MH has had some weeks of a full working schedule and we haven't tapped any of his income to cover any expenses (for months).  So that is working out nicely.   I'd say that it should be an easy transition to summer (no second income) but maybe not if I am feeding MM(18) during summer months.  I suppose we've had extra extra breathing room with the lower grocery expenses during the school year (one less mouth to feed).   <----I haven't done anything with grocery savings.  2021 was total chaos and we are doing terrible on the food waste front.  But it's hard with how much MM(18) is home and trying to go back and forth between extremes.  Hoping we have the time/energy to be more food efficient in the fall.  

The bigger picture...  We've never had more than $50-$100/month in our budget for misc, spending (things like clothes, haircuts, eating out, allowance spending, whatever random spending might come up in a month that isn't very fixed and predictable).  I put myself through college, we saved up for a down payment in San Francisco (saved 70% of our income for a time), then we dropped our income in half to have kids.  This level of spending is all I know as an adult.  But this year I bumped the misc. spending up to $275/month, and yes we do have some extra extra wiggle room with the grocery savings.

Some bigger picture comments on this:  I was reluctant to increase spending because an extra $100/month spending means an extra $30K to save for retirement (presuming a 4% withdrawal rate).  Financial independence is what is important to us, and I am not too keen to move the needle.  But I also had some unexpected raises and a lot of conversations last year about being too retirement heavy.  So I do think it was prudent to relax our budget a little bit.  (Certainly nothing I ever expected *while* putting our kids through college. I was envisioning 5-ish years of keeping it tight and then, "I'd rather work less than spend more.").

We've enjoyed the extra breathing room, but we quickly abandoned our plans to fit more eating out into our budget.  I've always said that I notice eating out on the scale before I notice it in the checkbook.  I don't care if I order a salad with no dressing.  It's an extra 1,000 calories in a restaurant.  (I am exaggerating, but is how it feels).  This is extremely noticeable when you have spent decades eating mostly home cooked meals.  We've scaled back to 0-1 extra meals out per month.  

In the end, MH and I went to a local college arboretum a couple of weekends ago (completely free) and it was *amazing*.  I'd rather just go back there and have a picnic.  I feel like we have gone full circle.

That is how I am feeling for the moment.  Will just be my income for summer months (plus MM(18) home emptying the fridge and cupboards of all of our food), so it's a good minset for summer.  

This is probably 90% of why financial independence is getting so close for us.  I'd rather just read library books and go have a picnic in the park.  MH is good with the unlimited movie pass.  (He will literally go to the movies every single day).  The electric car is probably one of our biggest frugal wins.  Getting to anywhere just doesn't cost anything at this point.  We have Bay Area trips every weekend this month and that's just going to be *shrugs* financially. 

March '22 Savings

April 10th, 2022 at 02:31 pm

Received $23 bank interest for the month of March.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $46 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $83 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out/gas card (bought some gas for MM)

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $7 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $142 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$940

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$1,550 MH Income

+$300 (for doing GMIL taxes)

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$1,050 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$1,700 New Mattress 

-$  350 Movie Editor (payment for finished movie!)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

 

TOTAL: $3,455 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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

Hybrid Miles Driven March:  903

Fuel Costs: $24 Electricity 

 

Electric (EV) Miles Driven March: 775

Fuel Costs: $16

Note:  I don't recall any free charging this month. 

All charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.

We did a Bay Area trip and didn't have to stop to charge.  !!  Without the crazy (below average) temps, we got a better range estimate.  We got a 277-mile range.  Drove 253 miles and still had an estimate of 24 miles left when we got home.  MH cut it closer on his last winter Bay Area drive (he did not stop to fuel that time either).  But this was the closest I had cut it (I was driving).  Since getting the hybrid and tracking more, I'd say our average Bay Area trip is 250 miles.  This means a 2x gas stop trip is now a 0x fuel stop trip.  (We received a bigger battery due to a recall, so this means more range on the car than what we originally purchased).  We always filled up on the way out and then stopped on the way home (gas cars) so we had gas for the work week.  It's divine not having to stop for fuel at all.

With MH back at work, we've figured out a charging groove.  As expected, I charge every night (for my commute) & MH is just charging his car up on the weekends.  This is for overnight (lower rate) charging.  We can both always charge whenever if we need more miles.  & clearly every weekend is way more than MH needs to charge. (He's getting about 350 miles per charge, with more daily driving and more stop-and-go).  But it's nice to have a habit set, and to not expend any mental energy re: car fuel.  I don't miss the days of schlepping to the gas station. 

 

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

Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in February will be paid off March 1 and reflected in my March numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects February spending & March savings.

This is what I wrote last month, which sums it up pretty well:

February ended up being a really good month and will be reflected by mega savings numbers in March.  Even with the purchase of a new mattress, March should go way the other way with more savings than spending.  

I was able to bump up my paycheck savings to $950/month with raise.  Added an extra $100 with retroactive pay adjustment (to catch up February).

GMIL always insists on slipping me $300 for doing her taxes.  She won't take no for an answer.  I probably usually somewhat count on this money.  Whereas this year the thought hadn't even crossed my mind and it was a surprise.  Probably just because I am not even used to MH being back at work and having all this extra money.  It's just extra extra money, at this point.  

I received this money the same day that we got the final edit for MH's movie project.  So that works our pretty nicely.  The final payment to the editor was $350.  Almost a wash.  

I Bonds were purchased this month.  It ended up being pretty fast/easy to set up. But I won't be reflecting interest numbers for three months.  We won't get any interest for first 3 months, because there is a '3 month interest penalty' if you redeem before first 5 years.  I will just wait until the interest $$ reflects on the I Bond value (starting July 1).  It will be 7%+ on $20,000 so will be a big boost to my interest numbers, the second half of the year.  & I am moving money over from investments, so this will be in addition to the cash interest we already have.  (I had some "cash" in my investment account basically earning nothing.  Want it very liquid because this is either going to be college money or 'next home down payment' money, presumably all spent in the next few years.) 

I cashed out this college money in late 2020 ($20,000).  Should have bought these I Bonds in November 2021 when interest rates hit 7%+.  & would have been wise to have taken advantage of 3%+ interest rates last May.  But I think 7%+ is what is pushing this to the no-brainer category.  It's getting my attention.  Making its way through the murky "I don't have the mental energy to deal with ANYTHING".  I might have been more on top of in better times.  But *this* is getting my attention now.

I can see that if rates stay high for a while that I may just consider this money to be emergency funds instead.  If we'd rather spend down 0.50%-interest cash in the short term.  & leave higher interest I Bond money untouched. 

March spending is done and paid for, so I have a good idea of how April numbers will shake out.   We somehow ended up net positive after a lot of expenses (a lot of insurance came due, some medical expenses, etc.).   The overall goal is to get some of these festival submission fees paid and movie stuff paid for while MH is working (out of his income).  He has the summers off.  

I still don't have much clarity on the college front for next school year.  They doled out scholarships to incoming freshman in March, but now I am hearing that we might not hear about scholarships until July, after grades post (for non-freshman).  So my mode right now is to just hoard money for college and movie stuff, and see how much we can hoard before summer when our income is reduced.   I do think we are about done getting MM(18)'s college paid for (even if he never gets another scholarship or gift).  Would just be nice to have more clarity on that front, so we can work on bigger picture planning and know if we have more freedom to move on to other financial goals.  If we know that we aren't going to touch his gifted college money ($30K), that is also just more financial pressure off of us for more long-term planning.   Just as an example, he's starting to talk about getting a car next summer.  If he has mega paying summer jobs and scholarships, we aren't going to sweat helping him with that.  If he doesn't get a big job this summer and he doesn't get a single scholarship, then we might want to come up with a few thousand dollars to help him.  Just stuff like that.  Is why it matters, even if we have full sticker price money set aside already.   & any money he doesn't need for college, is money that is already saved for DL(16) college, which is our next big financial goal.  So yeah, I am looking forward to more clarity.

Feb '22 Savings

March 5th, 2022 at 05:36 pm

Received $25 bank interest for the month of February.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $37 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $85 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $6 on dining out card

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $4 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $132 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$800

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$600 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$850 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$5,719 College Expenses

- $500 More College Expenses

- $600 Mattress  (used MH's income towards a new mattress)

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

+$  175 Insurance Rebate**

-$1,380 Various Insurance

-$  260 Dentist

-$  266 Annual DMV Registration (Hybrid)

-$   80 Miscellaneous

 

TOTAL: -$4,723 Net Withdrawn from Cash and Investments

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

Hybrid Miles Driven February:  704

Fuel Costs: $20 Electricity 

Note:  I'd estimate my commute at 800 miles per month.  Short month and a couple of days off.

Electric (EV) Miles Driven February: 486

Fuel Costs: $14

Note:  I don't recall any free charging this month. 

We also didn't have an opportunity yet to test out the bigger battery on a longer drive.

All charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.  

Note:  I haven't noticed any gas price changes in months.  Whenever it comes up online, I look at Gas Buddy.  I think as with many things, prices are already high here and so are slow to change.  I share because in the last day our gas prices went up 50-cents per gallon!  At the super cheapie gas stations we frequent(ed).  Last night I thought it was a typo or maybe premium gas, but the other gas station shot up 40-cents today.  So it's official, our gas prices are getting crazy now. 

Of course, I don't want to pay even $4/gallon (much less $5/gallon) for my commute, which is why we bought the hybrid in the first place.  

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

**Insurance rebate was for disability & life insurance through professional association.  The annual rebate was much lower than usual.  I presumed that is due to the pandemic.  I later got an email confirming this.  More life insurance claims last year.

Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in January will be paid off February 1 and reflected in my February numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings). So this update reflects January spending & February savings. 

This is mostly how it goes but I have two exceptions for this month:

1 - DMV.  Ugh!  After many many years of accepting credit card payments with no charge, they switched to charging a fee for payments.  This was before the pandemic?  Keep hoping they switch back and surprised they have not yet.  This bill is not due for a couple of months but I don't want to keep track of it, I just want to get it paid.  So I had to move money for this cash expense.  Paid in February.  Couldn't just charge it and pay it off next month.

2 - College Expenses.  Have to pay cash.  Again, could have paid later but I prefer to pay a couple of weeks early and to just pay the quarter in full (versus dealing with more frequent payments).

College Expenses: Paid for final quarter of freshman year.  This is roughly $730 tuition (will be completely offset by college tax credit) + $3K rent + $2K food. 

After that was done, MM(18) pinned me down to pay a $500 deposit for housing sophomore year.  I knew that was due soon, but thought I might have a couple of weeks of breather.  This is the only deposit I have to pay for next year?  Nothing else should be due until September. 

College Big Picture: 

A - I have money set aside to cover rent next year. 

B - Gifted funds are set aside for tuition, if needed.  Worst case sticker price is $20K for remainder of 4-year degree (tuition/fees).  MM(18) has $27K gifted funds.

C - We do also have $20K set aside to cover rent for last two years.  & we are still working towards saving college money for the next 16 months (basically spending sophomore year saving up for MM's junior year).   This is just in a "prepare for the worst" vein and our final contribution before we shift focus to DL(16)'s college expenses.

D - Waiting for scholarships & MM's summer job to sort out for more financial clarity.   

Another Note:  MH had a lot of time off work this month (just slow at work, plus some seasonal time off).    

I did throw MH's one paycheck towards the mattress; his March paychecks will pay for (most of) the rest of the mattress.  That and my raise should do it.  (I've already paid off the credit card, so technically just paying ourselves back in March).

February ended up being a really good month and will be reflected by mega savings numbers in March.  Even with the purchase of a new mattress, March should go way the other way with more savings than spending.  It was nice to enjoy some rare breathing room we put in our budget this year, so it felt a little splurge-y while also being able to keep aggressive savings goals.  I am sure the short month helped, and also just nothing really came up (by some miracle!?).  

 

January '22 Savings

February 2nd, 2022 at 04:04 pm

Received $27 bank interest for the month of January.

 

Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $32 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $97 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $15 on dining out card (also used for groceries)

 

Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $15 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

 

TOTAL: $159 Snowflakes to Investments

 

401k Contributions/Match:

+$515

 

Snowball to Savings:

+$375 MH Income

 

Savings (from my paycheck):

+$800 to cash (mid-term savings)

 

Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$215 Medical Expenses

-$180 Target Gift cards on Sale

 

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

+$1,500 to cash

-$1,100 Home Insurance

-$ 630 Dentist

-$ 290 Auto Insurance (Kid Car) ~ paying for this while MM(18) is away and DL is not licensed

-$  78 Pest Control

TOTAL: $883 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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

Hybrid Miles Driven January:  668 

Fuel Costs: $12 Electricity 

Note:  Extra low fuel month because this is net of $11 work auto reimbursement (for driving 19 miles).  

Electric (EV) Miles Driven January: 1,392

Fuel Costs: $20

Note:  EV includes 500 free miles.  MH was able to get free electric charging when driving MM(18) back to college after New Years (we paid for the fill up before and after, at home).  In addition, MH got 50 free miles (x2) at the movie theater. 

All charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.  

MH was able to do a roundtrip Bay Area drive without stopping to fuel.  (We got a newer/bigger battery due to recall and so the car has more range now).  I expect this will be easier the rest of the year but was cutting it close in winter.  Range is reduced in colder temps.

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

I stopped doing these updates in 2020.  I don't remember why. 

Since I am not blogging very much I decided to go back to this format.  At the least, I can do a monthly snapshot.   & I will add the driving data now that we are mostly driving electric.  With rare exceptions, we are driving all-electric at this point. 

Notes:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in December will be paid off January 1 and reflected in my January numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects December spending & January savings, if that makes sense.

UGH, January was terrible on the spending/savings front.  But I suppose it was complicated by only receiving one paycheck in January and executing new 2021 budget with only one paycheck (of raise).  February might even out with the shorter month.  It's just a bummer we didn't utilize MH's high income month and save most of his income, but we had too many expenses.  I think I am just feeling too much squeeze.  The pendulum clearly swung after him being off work (no unemployment) for 6 months and just starting to feel like he may actually have a job this year.  So there were a lot of purchases that we felt we could do.  But on the flip side of the coin he is off work now and I don't expect any MH income for February.  I have paid bills through 2/28, presuming no extra income.  So it's a little squeeze on both ends.

We spent way too much on dining out, purchased some clothing and pet items, and also bought a set of pots and pans.  My future self will thank me though.  I probably would have bought just a couple of sauce pans, but I found a nice set for $250 and am keeping the rest for MM(18).  He will have a kitchen/apartment next school year. 

My primary goal is to hoard more cash for college.  We have next 18 months mostly covered.  But of course, want to be more ahead of the curve.  And/or have extra funds for anything else that might happen.  

Secondary goal is funding MH's movie.  It just came up over the weekend.  Will probably pay $350 to the editor this month.  As the movie wraps up, talking about doing a screening party.  Not sure how that will end up but I am encouraging MH to just go all out for that.  To-date we haven't spent any of our own money and we can probably consider the screening a gift from his grandfather.  & then there's talk of festivals and travel, but I think we can absorb a lot of that (frugally) in our (small) vacation budget. 

These are the two big things we want to hoard some cash for. 

If I seem a little blindsided by the movie (less prepared), it's been infinitely jinxed and delayed.  So it is very sudden that there's talk of wrapping it up, and will see if it does actually wrap up in the next couple of months.  🤞 

Today is payday.  Already paid the rest of the February bills (with float).  But needed my paycheck to pay off the big credit card.  We like to pay everything ahead and basically start the beginning of each month debt free.  So I will pay off that credit card right now.  I set all my credit cards to a monthly cycle and just pay them all off the first of every month.  None of this "waiting for statements and due dates" nonsense.  But the monthly credit card cycle is how I have to do it for my accountant brain.  That, and also managing multiple credit cards.  This just keeps it very simple.

Note:  Now that MM(18) has multiple credit cards, I should probably teach him this trick.  You just set the due date so that the card runs for roughly a monthly cycle.  If it closes a couple of days before the end of the month is best.  You can always prepay the charges for the last few days of days of the month.  All my credit cards close around the 28th of every month. 

Our taxes are done.  Just waiting for software updates so that I can file.

Dec 2021 Credit Card Reward Tally

December 31st, 2021 at 03:09 pm

2021 TALLY:

$800 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, MH) 

$30 Venmo ($10 x 3 Sign Up Bonuses)

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

$830 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Ongoing rewards:

+$313 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/streaming services)

+$80 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$108 Visa Rewards (3% cash back restaurants/fuel).  Ended up also using for groceries in Q4 (3% cash back)

+$1,046 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the *big* expense that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $2,377

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 2021).

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

Year 2019 = $2,266

Year 2020 = $2,107

Year 2021 = $2,377

Total 11 Years = $29,612 ***Mostly Tax-Free Income***

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

***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 fees or interest.***

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

Final tally is complete!

Got a boost from charging MM's surgery this month.  So it was a bigger December boost than usual.

So close to $30K!  

Nov 2021 Credit Card Reward Tally

December 24th, 2021 at 05:54 pm

2021 TALLY (Preliminary):

$800 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, MH) 

$30 Venmo ($10 x 3 Sign Up Bonuses)

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

$830 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Ongoing rewards:

+$313 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/streaming services)

+$80 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$76 Visa Rewards (3% cash back restaurants/fuel).  Ended up also using for groceries in Q4 (3% cash back)

+$875 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the *big* expense that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $2,174

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 2021).

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

Year 2019 = $2,266

Year 2020 = $2,107

Year 2021 = $2,174

Total 11 Years = $29,409 ***Mostly Tax-Free Income***

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

***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 fees or interest.***

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

I am just leaving this as a placeholder.  All I need to do is add in the December rewards when I have them, for the final 2021 tally.

Note:  I really lost interest in credit card rewards this year.  The exception was an easy offer to help offset college set up costs.  I used that $800 towards a college laptop for MM(18).  

I've commented in my last couple of posts that I hope to add a little breathing room to our very tight monthly spending budget, given windfalls and raises this year.  We haven't "lived without" the prior 20 years, but it's always the credit card rewards and extras that give us that extra breathing room.  If we can squeeze that out of *my* paycheck, I might not be as inclined to seek our bigger credit card rewards.  Will see...

I suppose that I plan to do a small reward when DL(16) gets his driver's license.  Something he can offset his first 6 months of insurance with.  Because I did that for MM(18).

Of course, the monthly credit card rewards are a no-brainer.  Will probably end up being $1,500-ish this year.  We will continue to redeem these rewards and add them to our investments. 

Gift Card Balances Dec 2021

December 24th, 2021 at 03:19 pm

HOTEL:

--------

$50 Hotel Coupon

 

MOVIES:

--------

$100 Regal

$ 50 Regal

$ 10 Regal (concessions)

$50   Art House Theater

 

RESTAURANTS:

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

$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$50 Olive Garden

$25 Chili's

$5   Jamba Juice (Gift)

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Gifts)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$100 x 2 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$25  Kohls Gift Card (DL Christmas Gift)

 

REGIFT:

---------

$25  Starbucks

 

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just doing an update because we got some holiday gifts.  

We've had that Regal gift card forever but I guess haven't used much during the pandemic.  MH has a Regal specific movie pass and goes to the movies several times a week.  He told me a few days ago he still had $6 left but he is taking MM(18) to the movies a lot during his break.  I should probably just cross that out, they may have already spent that last $6.  I don't think I have been to the movies since the pandemic started?  Not Regal.  We've been to the art house theater a couple of times, now that I think about it.  That gift card is more used when MH brings MM or I along.  & even with his movie pass he just gets so many points and free tickets.  I should probably buy a Regal gift card for 2022 (so I don't have to figure movie expenses from our monthly budget) or ask for that for MH's birthday.  Buying it ourselves would be a nice use of gift cash.  

I insisted that MH use that Cracker Barrel gift card in Florida but they didn't use the entire balance.  Those restaurant ones are all pre-pandemic gift cards too.  Except for jamba juice, got some new gift cards this year.  That's a "would never spend $6 of my own money on a smoothie" thing, but it's a nice gift.   There's a jamba juice right by my work and I enjoy the treat sometimes.

DL receive a Kohls gift card.  I wanted to make sure that we don't lose track of that.  Might just trade him $25 for the gift card.

We bought $300 Target cards on discount this year and I donated one already ($100).  In past years I stocked up more for dorm purchases and school supplies, but don't expect to spend much at Target this year.  They remodeled our Target and it's terrible now.  They no longer stock the groceries we were buying (mostly cat food/litter and granola bars, plus just random things that were very cheap at Target).  

Starbucks is in the regift pile (no coffee drinkers here).  

Edited to add:  MH read my mind.  He bought a Regal gift card for Christmas!  I have no idea why, because we haven't exchanged gifts in like 20 years.  It was just so weird because I was going to do that.  He got $50 (came with $10 free concessions).  I told him to just pick up another one.  Not sure that will use the concessions gift card, but whatever.  We can always regift those.   He told me he *still* has that $6 left on the $100 gift card.  That he has too many free tickets piled up so he has been using free passes for all the movies he is taking MM(18) too over the winter break.

2021 Credit Card Reward Tally

October 20th, 2021 at 01:53 pm

2021 TALLY:

$800 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, MH) 

$30 Venmo ($10 x 3 Sign Up Bonuses)

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

$830 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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

I don't personally have any reason to use Venmo.  I tested a free $10 bonus at some point, just for opening an account.  Was more just testing it out for MM, before he turned 18.  

MH was intrigued since money is flowing around (reimbursements and payments) for his movie project.  So he also signed up for the free $10 and has been using Venmo.  This was probably smart because one of his relatives Venmoed a Graduation cash gift for MM, when MH saw this relative in Florida.  It was very random and unexpected, but doubt he would have bothered if he couldn't just send a Venmo.  (& literally, no one has *ever* asked us to Venmo before.  Talk about timing).

I had MM(18) sign up for Venmo when he turned 18.  I just noticed that he used it for the first time (saw a withdrawal from his bank account).  I figured he'd get some utility from Venmo as a college student. 

Gift Card Balances Oct 2021

October 8th, 2021 at 03:18 pm

HOTEL:

--------

$50 Hotel Coupon

 

MOVIES:

--------

$100 Regal

$50   Tower Theater

 

RESTAURANTS:

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

$50 Cracker Barrel (small balance left)

$50 Olive Garden

$25 Chili's

$5   Jamba Juice (Gift)

$ 25 x 3 Jamba Juice (Gifts)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$100 x 2 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$25  Kohls Gift Card (DL Christmas Gift)

 

 

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Long story, but I got a $50 credit for the beachfront hotel by MM's college.  I don't want to forget about it, so am adding it to my list.

 

 

Gift Card Balances August 2021

August 29th, 2021 at 01:26 am

MOVIES:

--------

$100 Regal

$25 Fandango

 

RESTAURANTS:

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

$50 Cracker Barrel

$50 Olive Garden

$25 Chili's

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Birthday Gift)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$ 100 x 1 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$20 Target gift card (loaded to online account)

 

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I won 3 gift cards at a work event.  It was actually kind of funny because MH is lucky and always wins everything.  Apparently I stand a chance when I go solo.  MH was in Florida and DL(16) was working at my office at the time, so DL went with me.  I think technically he won one of those gift cards.

Two of them were Starbucks gift cards that I immediately gave to co-workers.  No one in my house likes coffee at all or shops at Starbucks.  But the Fandango card was a really nice and appropriate win.  Well, for MH.   Maybe he was really the lucky one after all.   Doesn't even need to be present to win.  Obviously I gave the gift card to him (the cinephile).  

I did a gift card update because I had new gift cards to add, and had removed a lot of gift cards with dorm shopping.

Restaurant/Food gift cards will languish for a while.  We went through them very slowly in the best of times.

College Set Up Funds

June 6th, 2021 at 03:48 pm

My last post was how I decided it was easier to utilize credit card rewards than scholarships (in particular, really ridiculous applications for small dollar amounts).

Then, the in-laws came up yesterday to celebrate MM's Graduation.  So I have some numbers in hand.  They had brought up cards/gifts from that side of the family.

MH's Family:  $670

(Mostly from Grandparents; some from Great-Grandparents and a Great-Aunt)

My Family: $0  

(I will be shocked if MM receives even $1 from my family.  I have by far the much bigger family, but they mostly don't seem to care that I exist.  My parents just are not cash gifters.).

Because of the state of my family, I really just didn't have any idea what to expect.  I thought MH's family was probably going to be generous, particularly his parents.  But...  I don't really have a frame of reference of what is "normal".

In fact, before this turn of events, I started to eyeball all my credit card rewards and thought I might just earmark them all (roughly another $2,000) for college expenses this year.  I don't expect to need all of it, but would raid what I need for college set up type expenses.

In the end, if I add the $300 Target gift cards I have and the $755 credit card reward that I just did (I should get that cash any day)...  

Grand Total:  $1,725

Most of that will go to a laptop, the rest to dorm expenditures.  I think this *should* cover everything.  Will see where we end up.  (Anything extra, we will let MM keep.  I suppose it's plausible that he will have more gifts than expenses). 

With the chip shortages and everything, we are leaning on MM(17) to pick out a laptop this weekend, so that it arrives in time for school.  I probably should also set a hard deadline to make dorm purchases this month.  It just keeps coming up over and over to plan ahead before popular items are sold out.  MH just happened to notice the long lag time in laptop delivery; he was pricing laptops last weekend.  I don't think we would have been this far ahead thinking about it except I was trying to decide if this credit card reward would cover a laptop purchase.  

This is just one more step in ensuring paying cash for college *and* not touching college funds.  At current, that is our goal for freshman year.  Future years, depends on grandparent gifts and MH's employment.  (100% will pay cash, no loans.  But not sure how realistic it is not to touch any college funds). We had decided to pull dorm costs from college funds, but then we had stimulus and unemployment monies to cover Freshman year, in addition to a free-tuition scholarship.  So we have gone back to Plan A, cash flowing everything.

2021 Credit Card Rewards Tally

May 22nd, 2021 at 05:07 pm

2021 TALLY:

$800 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, MH) 

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

$800 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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

I just applied for a credit card reward.  The reward is $800 cash, minus $95 annual fee.  Plus some extra $50 grocery reward and the possibility to get an extra 25% back on some categories?  At the least, should be $750 cash back.

Edited to add:  Ended up being $800 cash back

It's a quadruple dip I did last year.  Will have MH quadruple dip this year.  Which means we will have both done this reward 4 times.

My motivation?  I was thinking about it because I was closing my Sapphire card (before another annual fee kicked in).   

But my motivation this time around is trying to come up with college money.  The scholarships are *ridiculous* this year.  Like $500 scholarships where you need three letters of recommendation and have to write an essay and spend hours on an application.  Meh.  I thought one day, "It would be easier to do a credit card reward."  Which generally work out to about $1,000 per hour of effort.

So...  I looked it up, the reward was really good, and have already gotten MH approved for this card.

I had been kind of counting on college money and scholarships to cover dorm start up costs and a laptop for MM(17).  But the scholarships have been frustrating.  The really big generous scholarship our CU does every year, they had unrealistic community service requirements during a pandemic, in my opinion.  It was $20K that we let go.  & then all these $500 ones have ridiculous requirements.  I don't think it's just us.  The school emailed us the other day that no one had applied for this or that scholarship.  It was one that wasn't too ridiculous, but MM(17) was too busy and I told him I was kind of over it anyway.  I totally understand that he didn't have the time and energy.  

I had kind of figured he'd get some money from family and maybe a scholarship from the school (he is top of his class).  But...  Then a Grandparent sent MM $20 the other day.  & then I remembered how cheap my family is.  LOL.  (That's probably $20 more than anyone from my family will send him).  So I think that was also some extra motivation to hustle.  

I do also have a $300 Target gift card.  So I figure $750 + $300 is a good start to get him all set up for school (dorm, computer, etc.).  My in-laws will give him too much money I am sure.  There is also that.  This is a good start to get costs covered, and I will consider anything else to just be gravy.

Edited to add:  Discussed later with MH and MM.  We tracked down computer specs and MH priced one out (today) at $750.  Is just what it happened to come out to.  If MM(17) wants some extra computer capabilities, he can contribute towards a more expensive computer.

Second edit:  Just saw a $1,000 reward offer on this credit card.  Yeesh!  I really missed the boat!  Could have squeezed out another $200.   MM(17) will be 18 soon but I doubt he has the credit needed for this card.  

 

Gift Card Balances Feb 2021

February 25th, 2021 at 02:22 pm

GIFTS:

------

$50 Barnes & Noble (we always gift these to FIL)

 

MOVIES:

--------

$100 Regal

 

RESTAURANTS:

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

$50 Cracker Barrel

$50 Olive Garden

$25 Chili's

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Birthday Gift)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$ 100 x 1 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$20 Target gift card (loaded to online account)

$24 Kohls credits ($20 + $4), in wallet

$ 75 Kohls ($50 + $25)

$50 Bed Bath & Beyond (for college dorm)

 

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I guess I have nothing to add or change.

I bought a lightweight stick vacuum at Target, using up the last of the gift cards I had loaded to my online account.

I was a little thrown off that we had used *all* of our gift cards.  Until I remembered it was so much I didn't want to load it all to our online account.  

So I just remembered to check, and we still have $300 paper/emailed gift cards.  Which I no doubt noted in this post (last time) that these were paper gift cards, so that I would not forget.

Phew!  I am going to hang on to that $300 for college/dorm type expenses.  That was always the plan, which was why I was thrown off when I thought I had spent it all.

We had also talked about sending this last gift card to FIL but never did.  It can be a belated birthday gift.  Probably rather just give it to him and get it out of our hair.  

 

Credit Card Rewards Tally 2020

December 30th, 2020 at 03:12 pm

2020 TALLY:

$745 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, Moi) 

$ 25 Cash  (Citi Black Friday Bonus; 5% online shopping)

-----------

$770 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Ongoing rewards:

+$283 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/streaming services)

+$65 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$154 Visa Rewards (3% cash back fuel/restaurants).  Ended up also using for groceries in Q4 (3% cash back)

+$835 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the *big* expense that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $2,107

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 2020).

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

Year 2019 = $2,266

Year 2020 = $2,107

Total 10 Years = $27,235 ***Mostly Tax-Free Income***

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

I updated sidebar to finalize the amount of snowflakes we invested this year: $2,074.  This includes dividend re-investments.  Is not the amount of our credit card rewards because I did not invest the big one-time reward; that was more of a snowball than a snowflake.

***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.***

 

Gift Card Balances Dec 2020

December 5th, 2020 at 06:43 pm

GIFTS:

------

$50 Barnes & Noble (we always gift these to FIL)

 

MOVIES:

--------

$100 Regal

 

RESTAURANTS:

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

$50 Cracker Barrel

$50 Olive Garden

$25 Chili's

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Birthday Gift)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$ 100 x 3 Target (Emailed/paper gift cards)

$ 75 Kohls ($50 + $25)

 

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Commentary in a separate post.

Edited to add:  Duh, also forgot to add gift cards received as birthday gifts.   I will add those now too.

 

2020 Credit Card Rewards Tally

November 30th, 2020 at 02:24 pm

2020 TALLY:

$740 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, Moi) 

$ 24 Cash  (Citi Black Friday Bonus; 5% online shopping)

-----------

$764 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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

Noticed some random $24 bonus today on our Citi card.  I vaguely remember singing up for 5% cash back on online shopping?  & then I completely forgot about it.

Googled it and found the details:  5% cash back on 'online shopping' between Nov. 24 & Nov. 30.  

We did about $67 in online shopping the past week.  The only other charges were $5 MH paid for some movie thing (live stream) and we paid a $410 deposit on some rodent abatement.  (This seems to be a 'once every 15 years' home maintenance expense.  We aren't sure if it's just birds or rodents, or both.  Last time we invested in some bird proofing and have to redo some of that).  Anyway, I was a little confused when I saw the dates, because was after we made some bigger splurges.  MH just bought a computer for his parents (they reimbursed us) so my first thought was we got the bonus for the larger computer purchase.  In the end, it looks like they categorized 'pest control' as online shopping.  Also, the live stream got categorized as "shopping".

I am so confused.  They gave us the bonus a few days ago, I have no idea why.  Well that was crazy fast!  It seems moot since we haven't spent any money since that date.  (Or if we have, it still shows as 'pending').  Wonder if they will give us credit for my pending electric bill payment.  The max bonus is $25.

Note to self:  Still need to sign up for $400 Capital One bonus (open checking account and do direct deposit).  <---Just putting this here so that I don't forget. 

 

2020 Credit Card Reward Tally

November 8th, 2020 at 06:30 pm

2020 TALLY:

$740 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, Moi) 

-----------

$740 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

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

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

I logged into Chase to see if statement had closed yet (for the month) and saw that I had about $835 cash to redeem!  Woohoo!  That was fast!

I had been skeptical, given the "can choose not to give rewards any time for any reason" language they use these days.

I offset the annual fee against the reward.  In the past I've been pretty aggressive about cancelling these cards immediately and also getting the annual fee refunded.  Which I guess technically they are supposed to do anyway (or pro-rate if you keep open a little longer).  But I always asked right away.  In this case, it's such a huge reward and I already did this reward *3* times...  I am just going to let it go.   Less hassle.  Easy money.

 

Gift Card Balances Oct 2020

October 28th, 2020 at 01:02 am

GIFTS:

------

$50 Barnes & Noble

$20 x 6 Target

 

MOVIES:

--------

$100 Regal

 

RESTAURANTS:

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

$50 Cracker Barrel

$50 Olive Garden

$25 Chili's

$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Birthday Gift)

 

RETAIL:

---------

$ 50 x 3 Target

 

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Had to redo entry, with new format.

In the end, I found some nice bed sheets to replace our own bed sheets.  Will try to do another post on that.  We liked them so much, I bought some more of the same brand for MM(17).  I had also found a nice mattress protector for our bed, bought a backup (because has been kind of hit and miss) and then decided to pick one up for MM while I was at it.  I went through the Target gift cards and found a nice surprise...  

$80!

In the past, hell would have frozen over before I found a cent lying around the house.  But...  You guessed it.  Bought these gift cards in 2018.  Bought in December when on discount.  They were e-gift cards and they got lost in the mix.  I thought, "Surely I spent these down, they are from 2018."  But..  Nope!  

& we should probably spend down the 2019 ones, because probably just going to buy some more in December.  I never do the max, mostly just buy enough for gifts and school supplies.  I think for the best, we have a big pile to get through.  I didn't bother tallying them all.  But I think I had a good idea of all of them except for the paper print outs.

I had also been saving my Kohls card ($50 gift last Chrismas) to buy the kids shoes.  But...  They aren't going anywhere and seemed to have stopped growing.  I am probably just going to get some more gift cards soon, so figured I would spend it.  

It's not just a pandemic thing, we weren't getting through these cards anyway.  It's just even more slow going right now. 

 

2020 Credit Card Reward Tally

October 3rd, 2020 at 01:17 pm

2020 TALLY:
 
$700 Cash (Chase Sapphire Quadruple Dip, Moi) ~ MAYBE?
-----------
$700 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*
 
**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
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).
 
2019: More of the same. Too busy to bother with, and too much extra income.
 
2020: Less crazy busy, but too much extra income to bother with. That said... I got a $800 Chase Sapphire offer. It's been over 4 years since we did this deal, which is the requirement. I can see from my blog that we both did the Chase Sapphire bonus 3 times already. So... It's a quadruple dip.
 
It's worth mentioning that I have been bombarded by credit card offers. But... I have always considered myself a light credit card churner. Most places where I get the credit card tips, there are crowds of people who do a *lot* more churning, manufacture spending, etc. I share because the flip side of the coin is the opinion that it's morally questionable, especially when doing the same deal over and over and over. To which I can only roll my eyes. It's not like they aren't cramming these offers down my throat, begging me to fall into their credit card traps. They are the ones that are BEGGING me to apply for the same card I already applied for 3 times in the past.
 
$800 is speaking to me though. Net of annual fee, will be $700 cash. If it works out well, it looks like it's also a common public offer. I will have MH also do a quadruple dip, if I can find the offer again next year. (It's a credit card company. I am skeptical if they will really give me a bonus for a fourth time. I don't trust them at all. Will see).
 
In other news, I met my sidebar snowflake investing goal. It's worth mentioning because was entirely funded by credit card rewards (cash back received from monthly spending). $1,500+ so far for 2020. Total credit card rewards will probably end up in the $2,000 range for this year.

Gift Card Balances Feb 2020 (Digging Out)

February 22nd, 2020 at 08:40 pm

GIFTS:
------
$50 Barnes & Noble
$20 x 6 Target


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


RESTAURANTS:
------------
$50 Cracker Barrel
$50 Olive Garden
$25 Chili's
$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Birthday Gift)


RETAIL:
---------
$50 Kohls (Christmas Gift)
$ 50 x 3 Target

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards.

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

This is the "Digging Out" edition of "Gift Card Balance" Updates.

Because... I was cleaning up and found a gift card I apparently completely forgot about. It was received the end of 2017 (just before life became endlessly insane). So yeah, that makes sense.

Edited to add: Ended up finding a second gift card today. MH had been asking me about the B&N gift card and I told him, "That's old, there's nothing on it."

I am too careful to just toss them, so I did double check. But I was really shocked that either card had a balance on them still. That was a nice $75 find today.

I am documenting now so that I don't forget again.

January Savings

February 9th, 2020 at 02:26 pm

Received $70 bank interest for the month of January.

Snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $0 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card (back to 6% with the new year, but it pays out a month behind, thus $0 for now)
--Redeemed $99 cash back on Citi card
--Redeemed $21 cash back on dining/gas card

Other snowflakes to Investments:
--Redeemed $12 cash back on Amazon Prime card
+ $ 5 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)

TOTAL: $137 snowflakes to investments

401k Contributions/Match:
+$415

Snowball to Savings:
+$415 Side Income

Savings (From my paycheck):
+$ 550 to cash (mid-term savings)
+ $100 extra to mortgage

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):
+$1,500 to cash (Bumped up for 2020)
-$ 837 Home Insurance
-$ 160 Dentist
-$ 120 Prepay school lunch

TOTAL: $2,070 Deposited to Cash and Investments

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

Only one paycheck this month. Literally, because my prior check had been advanced 12/31. MH is also off work. Thus, lower 401k #s this month.

Cash/Interest will be on the higher side until we fund our IRAs. It never makes any sense to decide until the year is over. Will start transferring the $12k to our IRAs (for 2019) once we finalize our 2019 tax return. (Until then, I don't have final #s of what we can contribute to tax-deductible Traditional IRAs; the difference will go to ROTH IRAs.)

Of course, I am always a month behind because these numbers reflect January Income minus December spending (December spending charged and paid off January 1). So when I sit down and enter all my income/expenses for the next month, I already know how the next month will shake out. Because spending is already fairly locked in.

Ugh, February is ugly! Spent way too much money in January. I have side income coming in (if I get it billed), MH should have one small paycheck (for at least 2 days) and I have cash out my ears. I know MH picked up a few Christmas things his mom reimbursed him for. & we treated the whole fam out to dinner again (another student concert for DL) and someone slipped us cash. Got some cash gifts for Christmas ($20 here and there). Plus, I sold a treadmill for $250 cash. This was before I got sick, so might have been November. We were going to turn around and buy a newer (used) instrument for DL. But then I got sick and it fell off my radar. I may keep the $250 on hand for that, but I have so much cash piling up otherwise it's past time to make a deposit. I will cobble together the extra money and make February work (and will zero out deposits versus expenses).

I am just going to roll with it this month and hope for a better February (spending). I know the problem is probably that our budget is way too tight. But we rolled with it so much last year I just left it that way. I just added some significant breathing room with my raise, so figured if we were muddling along without the raise, will do fine without. This just works for our personalities, we rather err on the side of over-saving. Better to save $500 and then have to pull out $100 if we were too aggressive. I will give it a couple of more months to see how things shake out. It may be too too tight, and we will adjust if necessary.

Edited to add: MH has one more paycheck than I realized, in February. He is paid bi-weekly and I got confused on the weeks. He just received a paycheck for $12. 😂 But will be a bigger one in two weeks. I am going to go ahead and change my numbers, and do our deposit to investments for January. If nothing else, I have *cash* to cover that.

Gift card Balances Jan 2020

February 3rd, 2020 at 01:36 pm

Just tracking gift cards.


GIFTS:
------
$ 20 x 6 Target


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


RESTAURANTS:
------------
$50 Cracker Barrel
$50 Olive Garden
$ 25 x 2 Jamba Juice (Birthday Gift)


RETAIL:
---------
$50 Kohls (Christmas Gift)
$ 50 x 4 Target

Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards.

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

We've actually been using up some gift cards. Re-gifted a movie gift card and got through some restaurant gift cards.

Credit Card Rewards Tally 2019 (Final)

January 9th, 2020 at 03:31 am

2019 TALLY:

$550 Gift Cards (Citi, Moi)
$150 Bank Bonus
$ 70 Amazon Gift card (Amazon Prime, MH)
-----------
$770 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

Other Rewards:
$ 29 Citi Price rewinds (RIP)

Ongoing rewards:

+$320 AmExRewards (6% cash back groceries/streaming services)

+$83 Target rewards (5% discount Target purchases; mostly groceries)

+$177 Visa Rewards (3% cash back fuel/restaurants)
Ended up also using for groceries in Q4 (3% cash back)

+$887 Citi 2% card (2% back everywhere - health insurance/medical is the big expenses that we charge, is more than our mortgage payments)

Grand Total = $2,266

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
Year 2019 = $2,266

Total 9 Years = $25,128
***Mostly Tax-Free Income***


MM(16) also earned a $150 sign up bonus, a $10 credit for switching to paperless statements, and 5% back on gas for one quarter.

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

***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.***