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Archive for April, 2014

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

April 28th, 2014 at 12:36 pm

It seems like this Challenge is the only update I'm doing! There's not been much going on for me finance-wise, I'm waiting for a few things to shake out and my side gigs really won't pick up until after my annual vacation the first week in May. So not much to talk about! Last week was the last week of Lent, so my $25 CVS savings are gone. (I have been to CVS after Easter, but only because I actually needed drugstore things, and then I got $8 in Extra Bucks that I'll count here if I end up using them.)

I did find $10 in my 'critter bag', and 'sold' an item (actually used the price to knock $ off a bill) for $66. So not a horrible week, all things considered. Still waiting on the $625 invoice to come in, he told me last week he was doing it that day, which means I might see it next month. *sigh*

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 17 [started late, now on my week 8]

Snowflakes
Found Money: $10
Sale/Bill Offset: $66
Total Snowflakes: $76
Rounding (to reserve): $1

Beginning Balance: $555
Deposit: $75
Ending Balance: $630

Reserve: $2.79 + $1 = $3.79

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

April 21st, 2014 at 09:18 am

I cleaned out my car this weekend (finally!) and found $75 in the process. $20 went to my "emergency $20" car stash that I'd spent the other day when I left my purse at work; the rest I'm calling a snowflake. I also went to a movie and saved $1.25 at the concession stand with my Stubs card, so I'll count that, too. Plus I totally miscalculated last week so my total was $5 short, so I'll add that in here.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 16 [started late, now on week 7]

Snowflakes
CVS Savings: $25
Found Money: $55
Correction: $5
Movie Savings: $1.25
Total Snowflakes: $86.25
Rounding (to reserve): $1.25

Beginning Balance: $470
Deposit: $85
Ending Balance: $555

Reserve: $1.54 + $1.25 = $2.79

Various Updates (Rewards, 52 Week Challenge, General)

April 15th, 2014 at 07:40 am

Its Tax Day, which means the end of my 60-hour work weeks (yay!) but also the end of my overtime (boo!). Still, I'm pushing my mental and physical limits, so I welcome getting back to my 4-day work weeks, and my annual vacation in a couple of weeks.

We had a fairly major health issue with one of the critters last weekend, requiring unplanned surgery and overnight vet stays. The high end of the estimate was just about our entire emergency fund, but better that than not having the EF! She ended up staying at the vet an additional day, so I was expecting to hit the high end and perhaps go a bit over. Fortunately, I have a CareCredit card, which you can generally get at least six months at 0%; I figured I'd do that and set aside the money to pay it off, rather than depleting the EF and then building it back up. When I picked her up, though, the total cost was less than the low-end of the estimate! So I was able to just cash-flow it, since I have a little bit of overtime coming still. I won't be able to put as much in savings as I'd planned, but I still have the EF and no new balance on the CareCredit card.

The Chase Freedom Rewards points came through today, so I can update that amount. I'm estimating we'll get about $50 per month in rewards; this month was a little higher, $59.26.

Gift Fund
Goal - $500
Balance - $347.70
Remaining - $152.30

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $0
Remaining - $100

We were planning on going to a movie Sunday, but the scheduling didn't work out, so I've still got $83 left on my current AMC gift card. I am going by myself to a movie on Friday -- one of my post-tax-season treats -- so that will knock it down a bit. I have $10 rewards on my AMC Stub Card, but my membership is due for renewal, so I'll use that plus $2 from the gift card. (I don't usually pay for rewards memberships, but this one truly does pay for itself and then some. My first year of membership was free, so in three years I've paid $24 in membership fees, and between rewards and savings on concessions I've made $127. It helps that my mom goes to the movies with a group of her friends once a month or so, and uses my Stubs card. And of course I haven't really 'paid' the $24, between the rewards and gift cards.)

Finally, it was a pretty poor week for the Savings Challenge. Things were so busy at work I really didn't have time for any side jobs, and no snowflakes spontaneously appeared. I did have a couple of returns and while they're not technically snowflakes, I had already counted that money as spent, so I'll include it here just so I have something!

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 15 [started late, my week 5]

Snowflakes
CVS Savings: $25
Returns: $41.19
Total Snowflakes: $61.19
Rounding (to reserve): $1.19

Beginning Balance: $410
Deposit: $60
Ending Balance: $470

Reserve: $0.35 + $1.19 = $1.54

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

April 7th, 2014 at 07:55 am

I got one side gig done last week for $25, found $3 when I (sort of) cleaned my desk at work, and won Round 1 of my DietBet for $16.31 (my initial bet was $12.50, so net profit of $3.81, but I'm counting the entire amount as a snowflake). I also decided to do a "keep the change" thing in my checking account -- rounding each debit up and each credit down to the nearest whole dollar amount. I just whipped up an Excel spreadsheet and at the end of the month will copy all my transactions over. (There aren't that many, since we use the Freedom card for whatever we can. I generally pay that in whole dollars but maybe I'll change that. I might look at doing the rounding on the Freedom card transactions, too...) Anyway, for the first three months of this year that totalled $30.46. And then I have my No-CVS-For-Lent savings -- so overall not a bad week!

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 14 [started late, my week 5]

Snowflakes
CVS Savings: $25.00
Side Gig: $25.00
DietBet: $16.31
Bank Account Rounding: $30.46
Found Dollars: $3.00
Total Snowflakes: $99.77
Rounding (from reserve): $0.23

Beginning Balance: $310
Deposit: $100
Ending Balance: $410

Reserve: $0.58 - $0.23 = $0.35

March Look Back / April Look Ahead

April 3rd, 2014 at 09:30 am

March
I have a home I'm renting out to someone who is practically family, so I'm very lenient with them if something comes up and they can't make the rent. They always send something, even if it's just $100, and make up the rest as soon as they can. However, that money goes directly to paying off my family loans, so technically if they're late with the rent, I miss payments on those loans. (The family is also understanding so it's not a huge deal, fortunately.) We had our annual family financial summit at the end of March, and so I adjusted the loan schedules to reflect those missing payments. (A little extra interest accrues, essentially.)

The end result is that it decreased my debt principal payoff for March, so I only ended up paying down $1,464 in principal (it should have been around $2,000). I also paid $801 in interest. (These amounts do not included real estate backed loans.) I also paid $141 extra to the current point of attack (highest-interest credit card).

I did join the DietBet 6-month challenge. The first round closes out this weekend and I'm on track to meet the goal, so I should get a little snowflake for that sometime in April. I also made a bet with Healthy Wage, another 10% in 6 months challenge. My initial investment in both was $275, but if I meet the goal (figuring low-average returns on the DietBet winnings), I should end up with around $600. That is more motivating than "health" "fitness" "smaller clothes" etc. -- I wish I'd found this 'dieting for money' thing a long time ago! I'll consider all of that money as snowflakes for my 52-week Mega Savings Challenge.

We also made a decision that probably almost everyone will say was the wrong one to make, but I'm not ready to talk about that just yet.... Smile

April
I have two more weeks of overtime at work, and then I'm back to my 'real' income. Fortunately we are able to set aside a lot of my overtime pay to cover upcoming expenses in the next several months. I do plan to revisit our budget once things slow down to see where we can cut our spending a bit -- really I think if we just got a little organized we could save a decent amount. (Mostly me, I guess, with breakfasts and lunches on work days. It's been better since I've been trying to eat healthily for the DietBet thing, but I don't always wake up in enough time to make a lunch so end up buying it at $5-8 a day. Lots to work on there!)

I'm also going to see if we can decrease our electric usage; we keep getting letters from the company saying we're using so much more electricity than our neighbors, which I'm sure is true. I know exactly why that is (40+ days in a row of round-the-clock below-freezing temperatures will do that!) and we've already decreased our usage by about 50% from last month, but I might try things like unplugging stuff rather than just turning it off (if the plug is easy to reach, that is!), putting things on a power strip and turning that off (if there are no clocks or programs to reset), etc. We do have one light on a timer and I need to adjust the timing for that now that the days are getting longer. I'll look at putting in those pigtail light bulbs wherever I can, too, since they supposedly save money. Our billing cycle starts on the 26th, so I've got some time to formulate a plan of attack, and then get everything in place. (And talk S into participating!)

What do you do to save on electricity? What tips or tricks have worked well for you? (Or alternatively, are there any you've found haven't really made that much difference?)

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

April 1st, 2014 at 12:32 am

Things are still pretty crazy so not a lot of time for side gigs, though I do have one that should pay out this week. I rolled up some coins, though, found six cents, and have my CVS savings, so not a total loss.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 13 [started late, my week 4]

Snowflakes
CVS Savings: $25
Rolled Coins: $19
Found Coins: $0.06
Total Snowflakes: $44.06
Rounding (from reserve): $0.94

Beginning Balance: $265
Deposit: $45
Ending Balance: $310

Reserve: $1.52 - $0.94 = $0.58