Rolling into February and Saving

The days are ever so slightly lighter in the evening and my friend’s chickens have picked up their egg production — I’m feeling optimistic for spring even if it might be a bit premature!

Saving

  • DH and I just made it under the data limit for our phones last week!  That’s $ 20.00 easy money.  I think I had been off wifi at home for a little while and that does not mix well with Instagram!
  • The last two times I have bought grass fed ground beef on sale at a particular market they have not rung it up at the sale price.  I’m on to them!  I check the price per pound as soon as they pass me the package across the meat counter.
  • I’m taking advantage of the sales on “party foods” for the Super Bowl and cherry-picking some of the loss leaders at local stores.  Frozen pizza isn’t something we eat often, but at 1.99, I’ll take one and be grateful we have it if there is a snow storm or a late meeting at work.
  • My little joy for the week was getting a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Rose soap for $2.90.  I love having a good bar of soap for my bathtub, and it smells so pretty!

Earning

I sold a Keurig machine that we were no longer using on a local mom resale group.  $20.00.  We have gone back to old fashioned Mr. Coffee type of coffee machine.  I am happy to reclaim the counter space.

Investing

When we rolled my Roth IRA over to Vanguard from Ameritrade, DH was careful to maintain our asset allocation so that we wouldn’t fall too heavy into stocks (we already have plenty of stock exposure).  With the Coronavirus affecting China so heavily, this seems like a good move for the short term any way.

Maintaining

In the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” department…..

Got the car in for an oil change/tire rotation.

Cleaned the washing machine with a cleaning tablet.

Budgeting

DH and I will usually go over out budget every Saturday night and see where we ended up for the past week and allocate any unspent money to savings, home repair or vacation.  Those are our budget categories which are always hungry for MORE!

Hope your week was good!

 

 

 

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Brrr….Saving This Week

Vintage-Winter-Birds-Image-GraphicsFairy-1024x392It’s been a slow, quiet kind of weekend for us.  Our daughter has been studying for her mid-year final exams.  We also got a pretty decent snowfall Friday into Saturday, which gave us another great reason to stay close to home.

Savings and Earnings this Week…

The Cell Phone Game

We have unlimited data (teenager), but if we stay under 2Gig, we get $10.00 back per phone.  Our daughter blows through that in days, but this month both DH and I are close to losing our our 10.00!!!  We are determined to squeak in below our data limit for the 10.00 each!  Ah, its the little things…

Selling

I sold a doll item for $  10.00 in a mom group on Facebook in my community.  This is a great way to sell things without the hassle of Ebay.  I usually just have a porch pickup, which means they can get the item and leave the money.  If you have toys or kids’ items to sell, see if there is a sales group on Facebook for your area.

Dining at Home

There were many opportunities to eat at home this week – we had pea soup in the freezer that I added chicken and apple sausage to to jazz it up the second time around.  We also had tofu bowls with rice, veg, and marinated, oven baked tofu — it’s an inexpensive, vegetarian meal that is always well received.  I also made steel cut oats and froze them in individual packets in the freezer.

I try to eat dairy-free and wheat free most of the time because I have eosinophilic esophagitis, an allergic autoimmune disease.

Staying Healthy

I got an eye exam this week and scheduled some dental work now that we are in a new year for our flexible spending account (money taken out pre-tax for health expenses not covered by insurance).  Every year we use all of the FSA money, so I had been holding off on these two appointments until the new year.  A flexible spending account is a great way to reduce your taxed income, and if you have medical needs, or children with braces or going to physical therapy for injuries (ahem!), you will use that money right up!

Short week ahead for all of us.  We will be staying close to home and celebrating the end of exams by binging on the last episodes of “Cheer” in Netflix once DD is done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Money this Week and Snowmaggedon

How was your week?  We prepared for a big snow event this weekend which kind of fizzled out, but we are enjoying being home, watching football playoffs, and eating the groceries we have instead of going out in search of greener pastures.

Saving this Week

Groceries

I had success this week using my Kroger store’s online ordering/curbside pickup.  Ordering online forces me to be a little more disciplined and think through my meal plan instead of wandering off to the store after work every day.  I can also take advantage of their online coupons which are so much easier to use than the old days of clipping coupons.  This week I saved 31% on my order there, purchasing things we use regularly.  They also gave me a bouquet of flowers which I have been enjoying all weekend.

Medical

Last week I mentioned that our health insurance allows each member two free Teledoc  visits per year.  I tried it! I used the dermatologist for a simple need and I had a response and prescription for a cream within an hour of submitting my request and photos.  No taking off of work, waiting for an appointment, etc.

Investing

DH and I decided to close one of my Roth IRAs which was invested in a variety of funds and individual stocks and consolidate it with Vanguard in a Lifecycle fund.   Simplify.

Planning

This week looks to be a bit busier than last week, so during the evening football game I will get my planner out and make sure I have a solid meal plan for the week.

Earning this Week

I took an extra recess duty shift this week.  I always feel like I’m really sacrificing when I do that!  Hey, I got some free Vitamin D from the winter sun and thankfully no playground concussions or other issues occurred on my watch!

Mining for Wellness Money

When January rolls around I do two things: I look for deals on natural and healthy foods as I mentioned in my last post, and I log in to our health insurance to see what financial incentives are available when we make healthy lifestyle changes.

It took me no more than 30 minutes to:

  • Take their Wellness Assessment questionnaire for which they deposited $50.00 into a debit card I can use to pay for co-pays and other medical expenses.  My wellness score was higher/better than last year, so that was a nice surprise! My buds and can also earn $ 50.00.
  • Review other computer-based health coaching opportunities that pay $30-40.00. These are online check-in programs for things like asthma, high blood pressure, etc.
  • Take note that this year they have offered each family member 2 free “tele doc” visits (online medical consultations) for things such as dermatology, allergy, mental health, nutritional counseling, and general medical concerns.  I definitely will take advantage of this because it saves a $ 30-40.00 copay, plus the stress of trying to get out of work and get to the doctor for an appointment.
  • Quickly check to make sure that our prescription prices haven’t changed in the new benefit year.

It’s kind of amusing to me how my husband and I both have money-saving areas where we excel… for him it is getting the best price on cable/streaming TV, taking surveys, and maximizing Amazon subscribe and save prices.  Utilizing our wellness benefits is one of my specialties!

Does your health insurance have wellness benefits?

 

 

New Years’ What I Did to Save Money

Welcome to 2020! We have had a delightful week with the whole family off work and school, and we used the time for a lot of relaxing, movie watching at home, as well as getting ready for the new year.

Donating and Selling

Our house is small enough that we use every room every day. We went through a few closets and found plenty to donate, share with a neighbor, and some to sell. Sold an American Girl item for $ 10.00 in a mom group.. so much easier than eBay. For us, paying off our house and not moving has been a great way to build savings, so we try to stay satisfied with our home and keep it pleasant to be in.

One of the closets we went through has freed up space so we can better access items we might buy at a good price and store.

Saving on Food

My friends will be traveling this winter so they gave some some terrific food items before they leave. In addition to the items in the picture there is a huge box of Cheerios and some salmon. I need to explore recipes like muffins that use maple syrup, because this is a lot of syrup! Any recommendations?

The morning of Jan 1st I logged into my Kroger grocery store website to load the new digital coupons for the month. At the same time I added items to my cart so I can drive up to pick up my groceries after work. This is one of my favorite months for grocery sales because “healthy” foods are the focus. My daughter loves Special K and it is always on sale in January!

  • Special K Family Size box $1.49
  • Annie’s Box Mac and cheese 2 for .30 cents!

Spending

We are debt free, which affords us some choice about spending our money on things we value. I value having experiences with my family so this week DH and I went out for a date night, which we especially enjoyed after being sick over Christmas. Our teen stayed home and enjoyed her own “Dance Moms” binge on tv.

Any new resolutions or plans for your money in 2020?

Easing out of the Christmas Frenzy

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Happy New Year!  We slid into the month of December with a lot of spending and family fun — so much so that we had trouble getting caught up in our budget(!!), and are limping to the end of December with both DH and I having the latest virus that is going around. Forced frugality.

We have been seeking some balance from the excesses of December by:

  • Making meals like chili that use up pantry/freezer items
  • Using some of the teacher appreciation restaurant gift cards I got last spring
  • Picking up clearance Christmas items that we know we will need next year (cards, 1 roll of wrapping paper, and labels)
  • Watching for holiday clearance grocery items that I know we will use, like canned pumpkin.

We did manage to get our budget up to date after several weeks of too many trips to Trader Joe’s as well as hosting various parties. Whether you are a new or a seasoned budgeter, this is a great time to take a look at what you spent so you can plan for it next year. For example, DH takes his staff out for lunch in December, so we always set aside money for that.

I naturally find myself looking ahead 3-6 months for any major expenses on the horizon so we can plan. This week I realized we have a new expense ahead… drivers education for our daughter. It costs around 400.00 so we will allocate money for that. If you’ve been reading this (intermittent) blog for a while, you might be surprised we are already facing driver’s education!

How are you feeling about your finances after December?

 

Saving with a High Schooler

The weeks just zip by. It seems now that DD is in high school, there is a new crop of unexpected expenses, each one seemingly with an opportunity for learning about money.

Homecoming

Our daughter needed a dress. She shopped around online, saving heaps of time, gas, snacks and Starbucks had we gone from place to place. She found one online at Lulu that was reasonably priced. We used Rakuten for cash back and 5.00 shipping with free returns if needed. She chose a color for her dress that works with the shoes she already has.

We weren’t sure what the plans were for the kids going out to dinner that night. I offered to host a pasta bar which was not well received. We stepped in and suggested a local pizza place that is a bit fancier. My daughter costed out what they might order, tax and tip, and she thinks it will be less than 20.00 per person. DH made a reservation to prevent any surprises if other families land on the same idea.

Physical Therapy

While practicing for dance team tryouts she badly sprained her ankle and now we have come to the point of needing physical therapy 1-2 times a week. We chose a clinic near our house so that we can best fit her appointments in without driving all over the place. Each copay is 30.00, so we are tapping the medical category in our budget where we parcel out a few hundred dollars for copays or expensive medications that come up.

I was able to get her to PT last week and still have dinner at home, which felt like a win.

And more Homecoming shopping…

We may have efficiently ordered her dress, but then she needed to help a friend shop for a dress… in Chicago. I asked her to take money from her bank account for this expedition and she had no problem with that. She bought fries and bubble tea – she said she was keeping it frugal.

Debt-Free College Opportunity

If college is on the horizon, tonight Dave Ramsey is holding a free debt-free college town hall. To join the livestream read more Here. This is the season for college fairs and recruiter visits to schools, so great timing on getting a reality check on paying for the various opportunities.

Saving and Homemaking 4/21

We had a very relaxed Easter with a walk to church (good exercise plus it avoids the jam packed parking lot!), simple meals, and plenty of time outside raking leaves and debris out of the garden.

Saving

The Easter Bunny had some unexpected success at CVS this week. I bought some nice items for my daughter’s baskets with a 32% off coupon, a 40% off L’Oréal Cosmetics, and a $3.00 off 10.00 on Cosmetics. I haven’t paid much attention to CVS but when I know I will buy a number of things I go check out the CVS digital coupons.

I tried to watch the impulse purchases this week because my last check was only 40.00 from not working over spring break!

Planning

We started costing out a trip to Toronto this summer and weighing costs for driving vs. flying. We try to always stay with the same hotel company when we travel to get rewards points, which we have managed to accrue and redeem. IHG has been good for us.

Reading

This week I really enjoyed reading this memoir from Elizabeth of the frugalwoods blog. It’s not really a step by step instruction book, more a glimpse of the decisions one couple made to realize their dream of living in rural Vermont. I could relate to the intensity they brought to the financial planning process. If you have visited their blog, you may also enjoy this book. Check it out from the library!

Earning

This week I earned 40.00 through my health insurance company for participation in their online coaching for asthma. I checked in every few days and logged information about exercise, diet, and medication compliance. I also got a pneumonia shot through the program. Many health insurance companies have online programs for wellness, weight loss, smoking cessation, diabetes management etc. These funds can be used towards medical copays and other medical expenses. Every year I maximize whatever they offer me. The only one I haven’t completed is stress reduction !!!

How was your week?

How Did You Do That?

This morning I said, “Hey it’s our debt-free anniversary!” It’s a good thing I have the blog because that’s how I keep track of how many years it has been. Eight! When we paid off our house DD was in kindergarten and now high school is on the horizon.

She said, “How did you guys DO that?”

Short answer… when we were first married and had less income we paid off all of our credit cards, then our car. We hated interest! After that, we only bought what we could pay in full for (except the house). Then we went after the mortgage.

I shared that most people use credit/debt to pay for trips, clothes, cars.

I never envisioned how quickly our decision to be debt free would become a touchstone for talking about college costs. Many people would say, “Eighth grade is WAY too early to think about college!” I disagree! Three years from now she will be narrowing down choices for college, which is a $100,000 + financial decision. One day you’re deciding how much babysitting money to put on your Starbucks card and the next day you’re taking out a $7,000 unsubsidized loan (interest accrues right away). The steps she takes in high school can directly correlate into money and more choices for college, if she wants them. We have found that when you stop borrowing money you need to think 2-3 years out for major expenses.

If you’re at the beginning of a journey to pay off credit cards or school loans, keep going! It’s a huge undertaking in our culture of readily available credit, but if you are successful you will give yourself and your children an amazing head start at building wealth and freedom.

Back and Saving for the Big Stuff

This morning I was reading old blog posts to get menu plan ideas for the coming week. One theme that really stood out for me was how many years we have saved for big expenses, and how we actually achieved them over time. New siding, basement bathroom, trip to England and Ireland. Done without taking on debt, but with a good amount of budget focus week after week.

Bath, England

We are still at it too!

This spring we had an unexpected opportunity to go to Europe, and when we came back, we just wanted to travel MORE! It lit a fire under the budget process we have used for years and made us want to be a bit more mindful to come in under budget whenever we can so we have more more to put towards future travel.

So this Sunday we are home, waiting for it to snow (Spring, where are you?!), and eating from the pantry. I’ll work up a meal plan for the coming week and we will see if we can save some money this coming week.

Travel wish list: Scotland, Denmark, Germany via river cruise.

It feels good to breathe some new motivation into the budgeting we have been doing for 25 years.

What is your current financial focus?