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Archive for January, 2015

Chase Freedom Rewards

January 15th, 2015 at 05:08 am

The first Chase Freedom Rewards points for 2015 hit. I'm staying with my estimate of about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was slightly over at $53.19.

Since we went on a bit of a movie binge over the holidays (and I have two more tentatively planned), I'm going to set aside another $100 from the rewards for a movie gift card. I haven't decided on the remainder yet!

Starting Balance: $0.00
Ending Balance: $53.19

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $53.19
Remaining - $46.81

52-Week Savings Challenges

January 13th, 2015 at 08:40 pm

(Still need to get to my 2014 / 2015 wrap-up and goals posts!)

I didn't have any specific bank snowflakes this week, so I just pulled out a snowflake from the Mega challenge that made the most sense for crossing out amounts on both. I'm focusing primarily on the Mega challenge since I only have a few more weeks to do that and most of the amounts are on the larger side of things, $100 or more. I had $5 in CVS Extra Bucks and a 50-cent coupon, and I realized that while I've used the rewards/savings amounts I haven't used the sales tax savings (i.e., something that would have cost me $10.60 regular price would have been only $5.30 with the EB, so I really saved $5.30 and not just $5.) I'm not going to go back and make adjustments, but I'll be counting tax at least through the Mega Challenge to bump up my snowflakes a bit!

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
My Week 45

Snowflakes
Postage Reimbursements - $66.00
Found Money* - $20.00
CVS Savings - $5.83
Fishing Show Coupons - $4.00

Total Snowflakes: $95.83
Rounding (to reserve): $0.83

Beginning Balance: $5545
Deposit: $95
Ending Balance: $5640

Reserve: $1.05 + $0.83 = $1.88

*Not as exciting as it sounds -- it was my own money, I'd just stuffed it somewhere and ran across it the other day.

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 2

Snowflakes
Internet Reimbursement - $22.48

Total Snowflakes: $22.48
Rounding (from reserve): $0.52

Beginning Balance: $26
Deposit: $23
Ending Balance: $49

Reserve: $0.53 - $0.52 = $0.01

This puts me at almost 82% of the Mega Challenge and just over 3.5% of the regular Challenge.

52-Week Savings Challenges

January 5th, 2015 at 05:11 pm

I have a post started with my 2014 status and 2015 goals, but it's on my home computer and I'm at work at the moment. I figured I'd go ahead and post this even though it's kind of out of order, so that I don't have a a bunch of posts piling up.

As a bit of background, though, I'm finishing up my 52-Week Mega Challenge in the first quarter of 2015; I started 10 weeks into 2014 and I'm giving myself the full 52 weeks to finish it. One of my 2015 goals is to complete the regular 52-Week Challenge, as well. I could wait until the Mega challenge is done and then start on the regular one (the small-dollar weeks should be easy to catch up) but I'd rather just work on both of them simultaneously. That means I'll be splitting snowflakes for a bit. I've decided that bank snowflakes -- interest and account rounding -- will go to the regular challenge, while other snowflakes -- side gigs, credit card rewards, gift cards, etc. -- will go to the Mega challenge. (For now, anyway; that may change at any moment!)

So two Challenges to report this week.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
My Week 43

Snowflakes
Movie Gift Card* - $25.00
Return #1 - $105.95
Return #2 - $10.61
Chase Rewards - $120.00
Bottles - $7.90

Total Snowflakes: $269.46
Rounding (from reserve): $0.54

Beginning Balance: $5275
Deposit: $270
Ending Balance: $5545

Reserve: $1.59 - $0.54 = $1.05

*This is not the gift card that I bought with my Chase Freedom rewards, since those were already counted toward the Challenge. I got a gift card for Christmas which we used this weekend; I also got two Gold Experience tickets we'll use at some point, and will count those as a snowflake when we use them.

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 1

Snowflakes
Checking Account Rounding - $17.66
ING Interest - $5.23
Chase Interest - $0.10
MSD Interest - $3.54

Total Snowflakes: $26.53
Rounding (to reserve): $0.53

Beginning Balance: $0
Deposit: $26
Ending Balance: $26

Reserve: $0 + $0.53 = $0.53

This puts me at just over 80% of the Mega Challenge and almost 2% of the regular Challenge. Smile

December Look Back / January Look Ahead

January 5th, 2015 at 04:23 am

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.

December
I ended up opening a savings account at My Savings Direct for 1.05% interest. (I had some other reno funds set aside that I figured I might as well get into something paying more than 0.01%.) I tried to open a GE Capital account, which is paying the same rate as MSD, but for some reason they wouldn't let me (the letter they sent explaining why they wouldn't really didn't explain anything!). Now I've got to decide whether I want to transfer the emergency fund and the reno fund over to MSD; interest-wise I should but for some reason I'm reluctant to close my Capital One 360 account. I guess because I've had it since it was ING and they were paying the best interest rates around -- part sentimental and part hoping they'll step up their game, I guess. The smart thing is probably to leave a small amount in there and move the rest over, and if the interest rate becomes more favorable I'll just move it back.

I had decided to set aside $500 of my Chase Rewards for Christmas and birthdays this year. We ended up scaling back on gifts in my family -- not really for any financial reason, but we all have so much stuff, and nothing really that we want or need that we wouldn't just buy ourselves. (I'd like a fitness tracker, for example, but I need to do some research and decide which will best suit my needs, and then decide which 'fits' best. My mom did give me some cash that will cover most of the expense and I'll wait for a good sale.) At any rate, when all is said and done I'll end up at about $380 on gifts. I think I'll put the extra $120 toward the Mega Savings Challenge.

I ended up paying $2,384 in total debt in December, $1,013 in interest and nothing to my avalanche. The debt consolidation we did a couple of months ago was via a peer to peer loan, which has a fixed term rather than revolving like the credit cards we consolidated. As a result, our total minimum payments across all of our debts has increased by about $200 per month (with a faster payoff date). Which means technically I won't be paying extra on my avalanche for a few months, and then it will be small amounts for a few months. (I was paying around $150-200 extra.) I have a few 0% rates expiring in the spring/summer that I'll pay off, so those minimums will then become extra for the avalanche.

January
January should be a fairly low-key month, recovering from the holidays and gearing up for our busy seasons at work. We're going to have to do something about the wall furnace in our Florida room; it quit working about a month ago. We've been using an electric space heater, but temps are dropping and I'm not sure that's going to be adequate for the entire winter. I'm looking at some non-venting heaters that hook up to the gas line; the reviews are great and people are using them to heat 1,000 square foot bungalows, but they cost about $200-300. The quote we got to replace the (natural gas) wall furnace was I think $2,500. I'm a little skeptical that something that's 1/10 the cost will work just as well (or better, actually, since the wall furnace was a bit of a lemon!). We'll be doing some more research, and ensuring it's returnable if we do end up getting it. Hopefully those will be all of our major expenses for the month, except for some belated Christmas gifts to ourselves for which we'd already set aside funds.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge Update - 2014 Goal Met!

January 2nd, 2015 at 06:08 pm

I started the 52-Week Mega Savings Challenge in March 2014, 10 weeks into the year. So I set a goal for 2014 to save $5,000 and finish up the Challenge in 2015. I am happy to say that as of year-end I met and exceeded my $5,000 goal!

The biggest factor was the excess I had in Chase Rewards; I planned on $600 and ended up with just over $800, so I put that extra toward the Challenge. I also had a refund on an entry fee, some side gig income, and spent enough on movies/concessions (all on gift cards)to earn a $10 bonus on my AMC Stubs card.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 52 (started late, now on my week 41)

Snowflakes
Freedom Card Rounding - $29.37
Refund - $29.00
Movie Rewards - $10.00
Chase Rewards - $206.19
Side Gig - $85.17

Total Snowflakes: $359.73
Rounding (from reserve): $0.27

Beginning Balance: $4915
Deposit: $360
Ending Balance: $5275

Reserve: $1.86 - $0.27 = $1.59

This puts me at not quite 77% of the Mega challenge, with $1,615 left to finish it. That's a rather aggressive average of $161.50 per week, but I do have a decent sized invoice out for one my side gigs, and am coming up on S's year-end commission (which is paid at the end of January or mid-February) and my overtime season. While I don't technically consider those snowflakes, I'll use them if I need to! (I also got a $500 bonus that I've set aside for some personal 'wants', but if I don't use all of it I'll allocate what's left to the Challenge.)