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Archive for December, 2014

Chase Freedom Rewards

December 16th, 2014 at 09:29 am

The final Chase Freedom Rewards points for 2014 hit. I've estimated about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was just a bit short at $40.38.

The total rewards ended up at $826. The December 2013 statement had $202 in rewards, and we had redeemed $200 by the January statement. So I guess that basically evens out, which means an average of almost $69 per month -- a bit higher than my estimate. We did have some large purchases in early 2014, so I think I'll stick with an estimate of $50 per month for 2015 and then see how it shakes out.

Starting Balance: $785.81
Ending Balance: $826.19

Gift Fund
Goal - $500
Balance - $500.00
Remaining - $0.00

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $100.00
Remaining - $0.00

Beginning Balance: $185.81
Current Rewards: $40.38
Ending Balance: $226.19

From the looks of things I won't even need $500 for Christmas gifts, so I think I'll use the $226.19 for my Mega savings challenge. I might throw whatever is leftover from the gift money there, too, but that will be next month.

I need to think about uses for the 2015 rewards, but I'll address that in my "goals post". Wink

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

December 14th, 2014 at 08:14 am

It's been a long time since I updated the savings challenge -- slow month in November! I am about a week behind but one of those 'slots' is for $5 for I can make it up pretty easily. Smile (I do have to keep reminding myself that I didn't start until week 10 of 2014, so I really am not supposed to be done until the end of week 9 of 2015!)

At any rate, I had several little things come in, most of them in the last couple of weeks -- Kohl's cash, $10-15 off purchases at Bath & Body works (plus free product), interest, and rounding on the checking account. I also took back bottles and had some Extra Bucks from CVS, had a return at the Apple store, and had the monthly Internet reimbursement from S' work.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 49 (started late, now on my week 39)

Checking Account Rounding - $15.41
Reimbursement - $22.48
Kohl's Cash - $40.00
Bath & Body Free - $41.87
ING Interest - $2.73
Chase Interest - $0.73
Bottles - $58.20
Apple Return - $10.60
CVS Extra Bucks - $11.50

Total Snowflakes: $203.52
Rounding (from reserve): $1.48

Beginning Balance: $4710
Deposit: $205
Ending Balance: $4915

Reserve: $3.34 - $1.48 = $1.86

This puts me at just over 71% of the Mega challenge, and at 98% of my 2014 goal of $5,000. It will probably be slow for the rest of the year, though I'm sure I'll get the $85 I need to make it to $5,000. One of my side gigs really picks up in late December/early January, so as long as they pay me in a timely fashion that will cover a big chunk of the remainder of the Mega challenge.

November Look Back / December Look Ahead

December 5th, 2014 at 04:14 pm

The look back/look ahead is just my way to try to keep myself on track with my saving and spending. I have an Excel spreadsheet I love for tracking my debt paydown but it doesn't translate well to saving and spending; I find I'm more about words than numbers for those areas.

I mentioned last month that we did a debt consolidation, so it's been nice to see all those zeroes on the cards we paid off with the new loan. Plus, since the new loan is in S's name only and most of the cards we paid off were either mine alone or joint, my credit score has skyrocketed -- up around 40 points, according to the score from Barclay. (Discover's update should show up later this month.) S's score hasn't taken too much of a hit, either, because he doesn't have a lot of debt other than the mortgage.

Meanwhile I'd set some money aside for some home repairs; we got the materials needed on a decent sale and ended up with 0% financing until January 2016. I shuffled the full amount over to my ING savings account, although we do have minimum payments to make so by the time the promotional rate expires, we'll only owe half the balance. I didn't think about that until after I did the transfer, but then I figured we can probably cash flow the payment amount anyway and if not, I've given myself permission to take that amount out of ING if I need it. Now I'm trying to decide if I should leave it at ING at 0.75% interest, or open an account at Synchrony for 1% interest. The difference in a year is really going to be minimal, but since ideally I'll only use half the money, the other half may stay in the account for a much longer time period. Just not sure it's worth the effort for a quarter of a percent on really a rather small amount. (Moving it from my regular bank was an easier decision, 0.1% at Chase vs 0.75% at ING.)

Anyway, I ended up paying $3,039 in total debt in November, $768 in interest and paid $141 extra to my avalanche. The avalanche amounts are going to be quite a bit smaller now with the new loan, but again it doesn't affect my final payoff date.

Gift giving this month, of course. I have the $500 I set aside from our Chase rewards to hopefully cover our costs. I also have a handful of membership renewals and trophy pledges due this month, but of course those are known and planned.

It does look like we're going to have to do something about the wall furnace in our Florida room -- it's on a separate system from the rest of the house, but the room is right next to the room we spend much of our time in so the cold seeps in if it's not heated. It started making a horrendous noise the other night. Turns out some part needs to be replaced; they had some doubt about whether they could find it but finally did a few states away. Cost to replace is about $1000; cost for a new furnace is about $2500. This is the third or fourth time we've had a major problem with this furnace since it was installed (which I think was in 2009) -- they completely replaced it once, but even the new one has had some big issues. I'm really not sure about spending another $1000 on it. I think we're going to have a couple of other companies come out and give some advice on what they recommend -- it may be that a wall furnace isn't even our best option at this point. Whatever we do, it seems we're looking at a minimum of $1000 and probably at least $1800 for anything other than repairing what's there. *sigh* Oh well -- that's what the emergency fund is for, right? (And I might use the reno money instead, pay it back every month to be sure I have what I need when it comes due, and keep the e-fund intact.)

Other than that, hopefully things will be on a more even keel this month. I'm just getting my new Excel worksheet set up for 2015 bill tracking, which is actually a bit therapeutic, especially since I can delete so many payments from last year (for the couple of cards we totally paid off and the others we consolidated).

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!