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Archive for May, 2014

Kids and Money

May 27th, 2014 at 03:21 pm

LAL's blog entry reminded me (peripherally) of a conversation I had with my sister yesterday, and I figured I might as well get some thoughts from those of you here who have been through this. My niece (E) is 4 and a half, and starts kindergarten in the fall. When school starts, my sister is going to start giving E a small allowance and teaching her about finances.

Of course at E's age (nearly 5 by then), it will be simple, but we were discussing different ways to handle it. Sis doesn't want to just give E money as an "entitlement", so there will be 'chores' attached to it. She also doesn't want to 'pay' E for doing tasks that she should be doing anyway -- making her bed, putting away toys, cleaning her room, etc. Yard work -- picking up sticks, or helping rake leaves -- would be a 'payable extra'.

We got into a grey area with tasks like helping clean the house, doing the dishes, etc. On the one hand, those are things E should be doing as part of living in the house; on the other hand, dusting and vacuuming are pretty typical "chores", I'd think, or at least they were when we were growing up.

The other question was how much she should get. One book my sister was reading said kids should get half their age per week, at least at this age. So $2 or $2.50 per week -- which Sis feels is a lot. (Though I did suggest she start right off having E put 50% to savings, and then dividing the remaining 50% between spending and giving. They're not religious, so there isn't a 'tithe' requirement; I had suggested 25/25 but maybe 30% spending/20% giving would be more appropriate.)

We got an 'allowance' as kids but it was basically just enough to pay for lunch every day, until high school when we got $5 extra. I don't recall having any chores attached to it. My sister doesn't even remember getting an allowance, so we don't really have a lot of our own experience on which to draw!

What have you all done with your kids (or what did your parents do with you)? What worked and what definitely didn't? Do you pay for household chores, or just those that go above and beyond? What's an appropriate allowance for a 5 year old?

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

May 24th, 2014 at 03:50 pm

Slow week (as usual, it seems!). I need to get moving on some side projects; this weeks I should get a couple done, though they won't pay out until next month. Anyway, I remembered at the last minute to turn in some medical bills for last year's flexible spending plan, so that reimbursement came through for $59.68. I also returned a bag of pop bottles that came to $5.20. (I wasn't even paying attention when I left for the store -- there was a whole other bag waiting to go!)

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 21 [started late, now on my week 14]

Snowflakes
FSA Reimbursement: $59.68
Bottle Return: $5.20
Total Snowflakes: $64.88
Rounding (from reserve): $0.12

Beginning Balance: $825
Deposit: $65
Ending Balance: $890

Reserve: $0.92 - $0.12 = $0.80

Those "Almost Paid Off" Debts

May 21st, 2014 at 08:00 pm

I'm working on paying off credit card debt, I have a plan in place and its going well, and I'm also able to save for upcoming expenses, a small emergency fund, etc. I just got the latest statement from one of my Chase cards, and the balance is under $200.

I have money in the bank. It is earmarked for property taxes, but I know I can make up $200 before they come due. The Chase card is second to last in my debt avalanche repayment plan, because the interest rate is only 6%. (In fact, it will be paid off just with the minimum payments before I even get to avalanche it.) It's only costing me $1 a month or so in interest, and the payment is $23.

If I pay off the card and put the $23 toward building my savings back up, it would take me 8.6 months to repay myself. If I keep paying the minimum on the card, I'll have it paid off in nine months. The interest on my savings account is nothing to speak of, so I'm not really losing anything there; paying on the card for the next nine months would cost me less than $9, so not really losing much there, either.

My inclination is to pay it off, add the $23 to my avalanche, and find a way to make up the $197 through side gigs, selling some stuff, whatever.

What do you do with those straggling little debts? Is there a threshold amount where you decide it's worth it to just pay them off and deplete your savings a bit?

Busy Weekend & 52WMSC Update

May 19th, 2014 at 03:32 pm

I actually got some stuff done this weekend -- between tax season and then planning for (and being on) my vacation, it's been a long time since that's happened! I had to renew my notary commission, which means driving out to the county clerk's office which is also the courthouse, so I figured a 1-2 hour wait. I got there at the right time, apparently, because it was only about 10 minutes, so I had time to get my nails done for our anniversary celebration (it's today, actually, but we celebrated on Saturday night).

They finally put the free compost out for city residents -- it's supposed to be available in April, but I'd imagine the weather delayed things. Which works out fine, since the community garden just opened anyway. So I filled several lawn bags to use when we start planting, probably this coming weekend. (Well, I say "filled". Really they're only about 1/3 of the way full, because compost is heavy! So I'm driving around with bags of compost in the back of my car all week, because I don't want to take them out and have to load them back in again.) I have several seeds started, which we got for the cost of postage, and then we went on Mother's day to buy some other veggies for the garden. We had a rather dismal year last year (our first), but everyone said it was a bad year, so we're hoping for more success this time around.

I also filled up my car's gas tank. That probably doesn't seem like an accomplishment, but I'm notorious for just putting in $25 at a time.

[LOL - just re-reading and it doesn't really sound like a busy weekend at all. Smile That was all just on Friday, actually. Saturday was 'anniversary day' so we had lunch, went to an exhibit at the museum, then dinner and a play at the community theater. Yesterday I got caught up on all the laundry from my trip, made a couple of quick small gifts, and then we went to dinner again because the place we were going to go on Saturday had a too-long wait time.]

In the Savings Challenge, I'd forgotten a few things in previous weeks so I'm throwing them in here. I took some of my CVS savings from Lent (the half I hadn't used here previously) and bought some lottery tickets -- well, I think they called it a "raffle", really. It was special thing the state did, they called it a $40K tax-free raffle but really the prize was about $59K and you net $40K after taxes. For every x amount of tickets sold they added another jackpot, plus lots of smaller prizes. At any rate, the big push was "one in six wins", so I figured I'd test the theory. Tickets were $10 and we bought six, all from different places. (Not sure if that increased or decreased the odds of winning.) We did win, twice in fact, but only $15 each time. I was hoping to at least break even. So technically I'm out $30, but since the CVS money was an 'uncounted' snowflake itself I'm counting the raffle winnings as a snowflake here.

As I mentioned, I have my notary commission because at work sometimes a client needs something notarized, and the woman who was the notary retired. So my boss pays for my notary commission and once or twice a year I notarize something for a client. My sister's boss, however, has had a slew of documents she needed notarized, so I did those for her and as a thank you she got a me a $25 Visa gift card.

Finally, my "keep the change" total for the month of April (rounding my checking account transactions) was $12.82.



52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 20 [started late, now on my week 12]

Snowflakes
Lottery/Raffle: $30
Gift Card: $25
Rounding: $12.82
Total Snowflakes: $67.82
Rounding (from reserve): $2.18

Beginning Balance: $755
Deposit: $70
Ending Balance: $825

Reserve: $3.10 - $2.18 = $0.92

That brings me through week 13, or 25% of the year. My progress so far (since I started late, I'm aiming to complete the mega challenge but tracking the regular and double, too):

52-Week Challenge: 60% complete
52-Week Double Challenge: 30% complete
52-Week Mega Challenge: 12% complete

I still have $625 coming from a side gig, someday, and more work to do for that client once they get me the information I need. The $625 by itself will complete the regular challenge, get me past the half-way mark on the double challenge, and to just over 20% of the mega challenge. Slowly but surely I'm getting there!

Chase Freedom Rewards Update

May 15th, 2014 at 03:24 pm

The Chase Freedom Rewards points came through today. I've estimated that we'd get about $50 per month in rewards, but this month was quite a bit higher, $90.06. It helps that the 5% category for this quarter is restaurants, and we do a lot of eating out in May (my vacation and Mothers' Day for this period; our anniversary and my birthday (though we might not pay for that one) for the next).

Gift Fund
Goal - $500
Balance - $437.76
Remaining - $62.24

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

I may have the gift fund fully funded by next month, and then can start on the movie card, which should be funded by August, I'd think, at the latest. After that, I think I'll use 50% of the rewards for the gift fund, since the $500 was random and didn't include our anniversary gifts to each other or our dinner (our annual splurge!). The other 50% will go to the 52-Week Challenge.

I did make it to the movies once last month, so my current movie card balance is down to $62. I will be going again at the end of this month, but I don't see anything beyond that (yet) that I'm interested in seeing in the theater. If I do, though, I'll probably need to divert some of the gift fund money to get a new movie card. It all works out the same, just a different timeline. (Next year, if I repeat this, I'll fund the movie card first. Smile )

Catching Up - April/May and 52WMC Updates

May 12th, 2014 at 04:06 pm

I was on vacation last week (my annual pilgrimage to the Critter National Smile ) and even though I bring my laptop, there's so much going on I rarely get a chance to to use it!

April Look Back / May Look Ahead

April

The adjustments we made at the family financial summit to the March payments ended up being adjusted back, because the renters' catch-up payment arrived on March 31. It's minimal so I'm not bothering to go back and revise the March info; I've accrued a little less interest than I expected, so that's a good thing!

Overall in April I paid off $2,421 in non-real estate loans, and paid $777 in interest. I also paid $141 extra to my 'avalanche' credit card. (I think I said $141 extra in March -- that was actually $146 extra.)

May
I'm back to my normal hours this month, and of course it works out that the paydays are exactly two weeks each (I get paid twice a month), so the two May paychecks will be the lowest amount I get paid if I work every day. (I do have vacation pay, fortunately.) S got a small raise effective the last April check, and we're getting into his busy season so his monthly bonuses should be increasing. It tends to balance out, but I so look forward to the day when I don't have to worry about whether it will or it won't, because we have money in the bank and no huge debts hanging over our heads!

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge

Two weeks to update here. The first week I had a quickie side job that brought in $22, and returned bottles for $72. (Normally the bottle money is used as spending money on my trip, but between a "happy trip" gift from my mom and friends buying me dinner and drinks a few times, I actually didn't spend any of my own spending money!)

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 18 [started late, now on my week 10]

Snowflakes
Side Job: $22
Bottle Returns: $72
Total Snowflakes: $94
Rounding (from reserve): $1

Beginning Balance: $630
Deposit: $95
Ending Balance: $725

Reserve: $3.79 - $1 = $2.79

The following week was my actual vacation, so not much opportunity for snowflakes there (other than the above). I did meet another monthly goal for my Diet Bet, so that was $30.31 in winnings. I'm not counting the money I didn't spend on cool stuff I wanted to buy! Smile

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 19 [started late, now on my week 11]

Snowflakes
Diet Bet: $30.31
Total Snowflakes: $30.31
Rounding (to reserve): $0.31

Beginning Balance: $725
Deposit: $30
Ending Balance: $755

Reserve: $2.79 + $.31 = $3.10