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52-Week Challenge/Chase Freedom Rewards Updates

July 27th, 2015 at 04:19 pm

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 30 (saved to Week 38)

I finally got around to taking the bottles back again, so that was a nice boost to this Challenge! I also had a few returns, as well as the Internet reimbursement from S's work. The Chase Freedom card closed so there's rounding from that, as well.

Snowflakes
Reimbursement - $22.48
Freedom Card Rounding - $35.64
Bottles - $90.70
Returns - $87.25


Total Snowflakes: $236.07
Rounding (to reserve): $0.07

Beginning Balance: $992
Deposit: $236
Ending Balance: $1,228

Reserve: $0.69 + $0.07 = $0.76

This puts me at 89% of the Challenge, and we're almost 60% through the year. Only $150 left to go!


Chase Freedom Rewards

I've projected an average of $50 per month in rewards; July was right there, at $52.65. (The billing cycle closes on the 14th of the month, so "July" is really June 15-July 14.)

I did cash in my movie card fund, so there's a $100 statement credit here. I did get the new movie card at a discount, but I applied that amount ($19.50) toward the 52-Week Challenge.

Starting Balance: $207.77
July Rewards: $52.65
Statement Credit: -$100.00
Ending Balance: $160.42

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $100.00
Remaining - $0

Anniversary Dinner Fund
Goal - $300
Balance - $300
Remaining - $0

Slush Fund
Goal - $400
Balance - $160.42
Remaining - $239.58


I'm still just letting the slush fund ride until I decide what to do with it. At an average $50/month with five months left, I should be well set to meet the $400 goal.

52 Week Savings Challenge & Ramblings

July 8th, 2015 at 03:57 pm

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 27 (saved to Week 29)

* The month-end snowflakes hit last week, they're small but they add up!

* I finally used my Chase Freedom rewards for the planned AMC (movie) gift card purchase. I got the cards at Cardpool.com so saved $19.50 (on $100 worth of cards); that extra is going to this challenge. (Just in time, too, as hubs and I went to two movies at the end of June -- a special screening of "Jaws", S's all-time favorite movie and one he'd never seen in the theater, and "Jurassic World", which I thought was almost as good as the first one.)

* Our electric bill budget plan amount decreased quite a bit, so I'm adding the first month savings here.

* I'm a notary for work, we offer it as part of the service we provide our clients, so we don't charge a fee. I had client leave me a "tip", though (he actually snuck it onto my desk after I'd refused it), so that's also going here.


Snowflakes
ING Interest - $2.03
MSD Interest - $6.42
Chase Interest - $0.01
Chase Rounding - $13.18
Electric Bill - $54.00
Movie Cards - $19.50
Notary Tip - $20.00

Total Snowflakes: $115.14
Rounding (to reserve): $0.14

Beginning Balance: $877
Deposit: $115
Ending Balance: $992

Reserve: $0.55 + $0.14 = $0.69

This puts me at just about 72% of the Challenge, and we're about 52% through the year.

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I'm still feeling generally anxious about finances, which I don't expect to ease up for a few months now. I do feel better knowing I have some money in my EF if I really really need it. (I'm trying to avoid that as much as I can, though!) One bit of good news is that our property taxes came in about $800 less than I was thinking they'd be. (I think I was using the entire year's amount for the projected summer bill, because it's not actually too far off from last year; clearly I didn't look back when I did the projection!)

I had mentioned earlier that we have a balloon payment on a HELOC coming due in October. Last week we got a notice from the loan servicing company that in September our loan would switch from an interest-only adjustable-rate HELOC to a fixed-rate, principal and interest payment. Which is great if that's what happens (and the payment and interest rate are reasonable), but our loan agreement doesn't actually have that provision in it. When I'd asked the company about it a month or two ago (this is I think the third company that has serviced this loan, so they're not the original lender), they said whatever the loan documents stated was how it would be handled. So clearly one hand is unaware of what the other hand is doing. I think I'll probably wait until the August bill comes, which I'm hoping will have more details on the new payment structure, and then see where to go from there. It would be so nice not to have to worry about refinancing this!

In anticipation of refinancing, though, and some other things going on, I've been look at my and S's credit scores. My are actually pretty good, averaging around the mid-700s. (Right now I've got 11 different scores from various places, which of course use different scoring models so it's not an entirely accurate picture, but I figure the average is still probably pretty close. I do pay more attention to the scores provided by my credit cards, though, as I think they're closer to what an actual lender would use.) S's are not so great, in the mid-600s, so I'm working on that. His biggest 'ding' is balances too close to the limit. Well, that's because he's had a bunch of 0% balance transfer offers that we've used to pay off higher-interest cards. It's frustrating that credit reports/scores don't look at these things in context! Wink A couple of the 0% offers are due to expire in the next month or two, so I'm looking to pay those off a little early (we have the money set aside), and then I'll probably see about transferring the others to my accounts (that are only in my name) to get them off of his credit. That should boost his score quite a bit, I'd think.

The only other negatives that show up are some inquiries, mostly from when we were looking at refinancing last year, but I know that when they're within a certain time frame lenders lump them together, so instead of 5 inquiries he'd really only have 2. It will be interesting to see just how much of an effect this will have on his score -- and on mine, as I expect a bit of a ding. Still, from what I've read, if we do a refinance, it's better to have two 700 scores than one 650 and one 750, because they use the lowest score to determine the loan terms.

In other news, we finally got our community garden planted, about a month late! We moved to a new spot, which ended up being a mistake because it's in a low area, and we've had a lot of rain. Mud, mud, mud. They couldn't even rototill it until two weeks after the garden opened. So, who knows whether we'll end up with any actual produce this year (although I do think there's a green pepper ready to pick!). It's a bummer because we bought a lot of tomato plants this year, and several heirloom varieties. We've haven't had a lot of heat, though, so no one's tomatoes are doing very well so far. Fingers crossed for a hot, dry July and August!

Long Overdue Updates

June 15th, 2015 at 06:39 pm

I am so behind on updating, I'm tempted to just skip it but then I might as well be somewhat accountable! I was out of town for most of May (I actually was traveling more days than I was home) so fell quite a bit behind. I have been reading everyone's blogs, just haven't found the motivation to update my own until now.

I've been tracking the Savings Challenge amounts but haven't made any deposits lately. We've had a lot of unexpected things come up -- the dishwasher quit draining, the air conditioner blew a fuse, the clothes washer is about to go -- plus some reno/repair expenses that weren't totally unexpected, but as usual cost more than we'd planned. (We're having a major issue with a floor we had put in, improper installation and a costly fix. We're taking that a piece at a time.) Plus we're still fighting with the insurance about replacing the roof -- our guy says we have 6-7 years left of in, they're saying the shingles are curling and the roof has to be replaced. (Reality is the shingles aren't curling, they just have moss on them, but since the underwriters just stand on the ground and take photos they think it's curling.) We'll be getting the roof cleaned and submitting photos to the home office, but meanwhile we'll be looking for a new insurance company, too.

At any rate, I'm a little down about finances at the moment and will probably get a bit panicky come August/September, when property taxes are due. We also have a balloon payment on the HELOC that comes up in October -- for some reason it's not the kind that automatically converts to a fixed loan, so we'll have to try to refinance that. (We should have enough equity in our home to lump it into the mortgage, but it's always a stressful process.) Meanwhile I'm waiting on a couple of things to shake out that should ease things up considerably, but in the mean time I feel like I'm juggling 15 balls in the air and at any moment they'll all come crashing down around my head. (I have an emergency back-up plan, but it's not something I really want to put into action. It beats bankruptcy, though.)

I think I go through this angst every year at about this time! Probably has something to do with my birthday at the end of May.

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 24 (saved to Week 26)

With all the travel the last few weeks, I haven't had a whole lot of snowflakes coming in. Fortunately I was several weeks ahead on the challenge already, so it didn't set me back any! This update covers several weeks, and includes two month-ends of bank interest/rounding and two Freedom card roundings.

Snowflakes
ING Interest - $3.25
MSD Interest - $5.60
Chase Interest - $0.03
Chase Rounding - $10.95
Reimbursement - $22.48
Target Savings - $2.75
Found - $10.00
Freedom Card Rounding - $47.82
Chase Rounding - $11.11
Chase Interest - $0.03
ING Interest - $2.54
MSD Interest - $5.80
Target Savings - $44.28
Freedom Card Rounding - $40.66

Total Snowflakes: $207.30
Rounding (to reserve): $0.30

Beginning Balance: $670
Deposit: $207
Ending Balance: $877

Reserve: $0.25 + $0.30 = $0.55

This puts me at almost 64% of the Challenge, and we're about 46% through the year.


Chase Freedom Rewards

I've projected an average of $50 per month in rewards; May and June were higher, at $74.03 and $68.66. Again, having restaurants in the 5% rewards category this quarter is a big help -- despite not paying for anything the five days we were in Napa!

I exceeded the $300 goal for our anniversary dinner, just in time! (The rewards are calculated on the 14th of the month; we had our dinner on the 16th.) Although our meal came in well below that number, I used the whole $300 as a statement credit on the card; the excess will offset some of the cost of the gifts.

Starting Balance: $365.08
May Rewards: $74.03
June Rewards: $68.66
Statement Credit: -$300.00
Ending Balance: $207.77

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $100.00
Remaining - $0

Anniversary Dinner Fund
Goal - $300
Balance - $300
Remaining - $0

Slush Fund
Goal - $400
Balance - $107.77
Remaining - $292.93


At this point I'm just going to let the excess accumulate as a 'slush fund'. I'll probably use it for Christmas, unless something else comes up. I've set a goal of $400 based on an average of $50/month with six months left, plus what I've already got. Next quarter the 5% is gas and I have a few high-mileage weekends that quarter, so I will probably end up a bit over.

52 Week Savings Challenge and Angst

April 21st, 2015 at 03:43 pm

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 16 (saved to Week 21)

The Freedom card rounding hit for this week. It was a bit more than I expected, so I got to knock out another of the 'higher' numbers.

Snowflakes
Freedom Card Rounding - $40.89

Total Snowflakes: $40.89
Rounding (from reserve): $0.11

Beginning Balance: $629
Deposit: $41
Ending Balance: $670

Reserve: $0.36 - $0.11 = $0.25

This puts me at almost 48% of the Challenge, and we're just past 30% through the year.

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Meanwhile, I've been spending out of control! It's really mostly planned expenses, getting ready for two back-to-back vacations, but still, there's been a lot of money going out lately! Some of it I was able to put on my PayPal credit, which gives me six months of no interest, and the rest is on the Freedom card (which is paid off monthly) so at least I'll be getting 1% back on that. I may have to dip into my slush fund savings when the bill comes due, but I've never gone this far into the year without dipping into that fund in the past, so I'm not too upset about it!

Part of the problem is that the first trip is to Napa for S's work President's Club. While the trip itself is pretty much all expenses paid for both of us, it's "resort business casual" (whatever that means!) and "suit and tie required" dress, which is not the norm for either of us. S only has one nice suit, and he's worn it to the past several work events, so he wanted something new. He really wanted something tailored, since as a competitive cyclist he's hard to fit (big legs, small waist and hips, broad shoulders). He ended up getting a really good price, for what he got, but it was still twice what I probably would have spent!

Then we hit Kohl's for "resort business casual" wear for me, and a nice dress for the suit-and-tie event, since all I have are very dowdy skirts (it's a passive-aggressive thing since my boss won't let me wear slacks) and capris. Of course due to S's schedule we went when I didn't have any percent-off coupons. It was late and I wasn't in the mood to try anything on, so I did that at home, and of course the fancy dress I bought was just horrible once I put it on. I went by myself another night and got a couple other dresses, and a couple of replacements for some other things that didn't fit. Two days later, of course, was the "lowest prices of the season" sale, and $10 cash back for every $50 spent. Given the boatloads of money we'd just spent, I wasn't about to just let that go!

I did find an online-only coupon for 15% off (there as a big dry spell with Kohl's coupons for a while!), so I spent most of Friday morning re-buying everything we'd purchased and were keeping, plus a couple of other little things I'd forgotten earlier. When all was said and done, I ended up saving an *additional* $250 to what we'd originally spent, *plus* I got $90 in Kohl's cash. So I really made out on the savings, but I still spent quite a lot to get there! (I've returned some of the original purchases already, and the rest will go back once the online orders arrive.)

Hopefully, we should have very minimal spending the end of April/beginning of May. The work trip is basically all expenses paid, except souvenirs and if we want to do anything during the few hours of 'free time' we have. My pilgrimage is the next week and I've had the money set aside for that for a while now. Then we don't have much until the middle of the month, with our anniversary; I'm using the Freedom card rewards for the anniversary dinner, which is the bulk of that expense (the gifts are already paid for). I'll be out of town again at the end of the month, but it should be a low-cost trip. I'm going to try to get us focused on a frugal June, though!

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Funny (non-financial) story. When our grandma died several years ago, my sister and I went down to visit with our grandpa, and stayed at their house (which my aunt and uncle had bought from them as a vacation home, when my grandparents moved into a senior/long-term care facility). We were looking through old photo albums and ran across a picture of my grandpa when he was in the Navy, and both said, "Oooh, dreamy!" (Which I guess is kind of weird to say about your grandpa, but whatever.)

We got together with my cousin a couple of weeks ago, after my aunt & uncle's funeral, before she want back down south. (She's now living in the house down there.) My sister mentioned that if she ran across the photo, we'd love a copy. She laughed and said, "I know exactly which picture you're talking about, I have it on my work desk!" When she got back home she sent my sister the picture and sure enough, it's the same one. Smile

What do you think? He was a dreamboat, wasn't he? Even for a grandpa! Wink

52-Week Savings Challenge

April 13th, 2015 at 02:54 pm

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 15 (saved to Week 20)

I had some great CVS savings, which included $26 in ExtraBucks. I'm still getting used to not needing a ton of snowflakes each week (compared to the Mega Challenge I did last year); I have some bottles to return in the next couple of weeks, too; I was going to do them over the weekend but a) I ran out of time and b) I really didn't need them for the challenge. I do these the "Bingo" way and I've already got six of the top ten amounts crossed off. This week will be the Freedom card rounding, which should knock off a mid-range amount.

Snowflakes
CVS Savings - $41.94

Total Snowflakes: $41.94
Rounding (from reserve): $0.55

Beginning Balance: $587
Deposit: $42
Ending Balance: $629

Reserve: $0.42 - $0.06 = $0.36

This puts me at almost 46% of the Challenge, and we're almost 29% through the year.

52-Week Savings Challenge

April 6th, 2015 at 02:01 pm

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 14 (saved to Week 19)

S got a bigger-than-usual reimbursement from work, and since the money it was reimbursing is already spent I'm counting it as a snowflake. Smile It was the end of the month, too, which means interest paid and rounding from the checking account.

Snowflakes
Reimbursement - $65.72
Chase Interest - $0.03
ING Interest - $3.36
MSD Interest - $5.78
Checking Rounding - $10.56

Total Snowflakes: $85.45
Rounding (from reserve): $0.55

Beginning Balance: $501
Deposit: $86
Ending Balance: $587

Reserve: $0.97 - $0.55 = $0.42

This puts me at almost 43% of the Challenge, and we're almost 27% through the year.

Random Thoughts and 52-Week Savings Challenge

April 1st, 2015 at 01:58 pm

I mentioned I had my aunt & uncle's memorial last Saturday. It was a nice service, sad of course, but they certainly were loved by many. My aunt is my dad's half-sister; her mother died when she was young, her father remarried and they had my dad. (Aunt is six years older than dad, so my grandmother was pretty well the only mother my aunt knew.) At the luncheon after the service, we sat with my aunt's oldest friend, who spoke about how much my aunt loved my grandmother and never really thought of her as a step-mother. In fact, when my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, my aunt called her friend and was worrying about whether it was hereditary -- the friend had to remind my aunt that she wasn't biologically related to my grandmother. Smile

My dad, as far as anyone knows, did not show up for the service. (Apparently there is a balcony in the church, so it's possible he came and sat up there.) When my cousin called, his response was "Well, we haven't been in touch for a long time." Of course the gut reaction is "how terrible, that's his sister and brother-in-law, even if you've been out of touch you still go to the funeral" etc. Until it occurred to me that I had no plans to attend his funeral. I haven't spoken to him in 25 years. There's no animosity there, we just decided to part ways when I was 19. He was "born again" and (unbeknownst to me at that time) starting a new family and we really didn't have a lot in common; getting together was an obligation, not something to look forward to.

Still, my reaction to him not showing up at my aunt's funeral made me rethink my position on attending his. Part of it is that you go to a funeral to show your love or respect for the deceased -- I have neither for him -- or to support those who have lost a loved one -- and I don't know anyone in his life. My grandparents are both gone, and now may aunt. My step-mother, whom I had known and liked (they married when I was 7) died years ago. I've never met either of their kids. No doubt the cousins won't attend, especially after this. I wouldn't know a single person at the funeral -- except my sister, of course -- and nor would a single person there know me.

I talked with my sister, though, and we are basically on the same page. We would go to the service, sign the guestbook so that the family would know we were there, sit in the back, and leave without talking to anyone. The reason we would go is because my grandmother would have wanted us to; she was very bothered by the fact that we were out of touch with my dad, and even though we'll never reconcile in his lifetime, for her, we'll go to the funeral.

If, of course, anyone even lets us know about it, which is highly unlikely. My aunt had always told my mom she'd let us know -- because mom will get more Social Security benefits when he dies -- but I doubt the cousins will be any more in the loop than we are. Odds are my sister's ex will be the one to find out; he's just like that.

Not the kind of thinking anyone really wants to do, but at least we've got it figured out before the situation is really staring us in the face.

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I haven't been doing my monthly look back/look ahead this year. Mostly because I have a lot up in the air until around June, when I may be doing a consolidation, and until then things aren't especially progressing. (I'm saving on interest in the long run, but my credit card paydown per month isn't too impressive at the moment.) I may do quarterly reviews, though, just to keep myself on track.

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I also haven't actually been putting my 52-week savings challenge money into my Capital One 360 savings account. I'm keeping track of my total, but since I'll need $2,500 from the CapOne account to pay for the new wall heater we had installed in February (which is due April 11), I figured there was no sense transferring the money for just a couple of months. I might have lost $2 in interest. As of right now I can pay the heater off in full without dipping into the CapOne account, and I'll keep tracking so that if I need some funds in the future, I might have some of that $2,500 available still.

I'm not sure that makes a lot of sense, but on paper, it works!

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I've been basically failing at Lent this week. I did buy lunch out twice a couple of weeks ago -- I was "allowed" one, because I didn't go out on Fat Tuesday, but the second one was not part of the plan. I've bought lunch twice this week already and will need to again today. It's simply a matter of poor planning on my part, I didn't even think this weekend about cooking lunches ahead and we have nothing to 'grab-and-go' in the house. (Although S did bring home leftover subs from his work function Monday and Tuesday, which we ate for dinner. I could 'substitute' the money I spent on lunch as money that would have been spent on dinner, and count the leftover subs as my 'not purchased' lunch. I think that starts to defeat the spirit of Lent, though!) So I'll just extend my Lenten no-buying-lunch rule for as many days as necessary after Easter. It shouldn't be too hard, really, since I'll have Easter leftovers to cover at least a couple days' lunches!

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52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 13 (saved to Week 17)

I cancelled my cable movie channel package last week, so have a credit on my bill for that. I've always justified the expense because if S and I watch two movies a month at home, we've saved money over going to the theater (when you add in snacks). Plus there have been several series that we've watched. For the last several weeks, though, I've barely turned on any of the movie channels; all of the series we watched have either ended or are on break, and even though I check the guide to see what's playing, I've rarely found anything I wanted to watch. So I cancelled it last week -- although, if I'd been paying attention, I would have waited until this week, because I wanted to see the HBO documentary on Scientology which premiered over the weekend. (We did sign up for Amazon Prime, so no doubt it -- and the series we want to keep watching -- will show up there at some point.)

I also had $5 Extra Bucks from CVS (and $5 more to spend in the next couple of weeks -- it's been a good run lately!).


Snowflakes
Cable Refund - $55.25
CVS Savings - $5.30

Total Snowflakes: $60.55
Rounding (to reserve): $0.55

Beginning Balance: $441
Deposit: $60
Ending Balance: $501

Reserve: $0.42 + $0.55 = $0.97

This puts me at just over 36% of the Challenge, and we're 25% through the year.

52-Week Savings Challenge

March 23rd, 2015 at 03:38 pm

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 12 (save to Week 15)

The unexpected $100 snowflake I blogged about last week really bumped me up here, I'm now three weeks ahead on this challenge. (Which might be handy in May, when I'll be out of town for a week and so probably won't have much chance for snowflakes.) I had several good deals and ExtraBucks from CVS last week, stocking up on Easter candy mostly. We also had our "Family Financial Summit" yesterday and I got reimbursed for some stuff, so I'm counting that, too.

Snowflakes
Copyright Fee - $100.00
Reimbursement - $29.23
CVS Savings - $15.08

Total Snowflakes: $144.31
Rounding (to reserve): $0.31

Beginning Balance: $297
Deposit: $144
Ending Balance: $441

Reserve: $0.11 + $0.31 = $0.42

This puts me at almost 32% of the Challenge, and we're just over 23% through the year, so I'm a bit ahead at this point.

Totally Unexpected Snowflake

March 17th, 2015 at 09:40 pm

I have a website for my critters, and on that website I have several articles about various items of interest and/or debate within the breed. I try to be educational, rather than simply opinionated, and without being too immodest I do get a lot of praise for those articles. So it irks me when someone steals them and posts them on their own website -- even if they give credit, it's still copyright theft. (Most people simply think everything on the Internet is free for the taking, but of course that's not remotely true.)

The other day someone linked to an article that, it turns out, lifted quite a bit of text directly from my website (and rephrased quite a bit more). Not only that, but the text was also used as part of an e-book they are selling. Well, that tipped me over the edge -- bad enough to steal, but to steal and then profit from it? Plus it was one of those cookie-cutter sites that's basically the same for every breed, with a few specific items thrown in. So I dashed off an email demanding they either give me credit or remove the text, and also that they compensate me for the use of my work to day or purchase the rights to it for the past and future.

I'm not usually confrontational, unless I get worked up, and of course I immediately felt I'd been a little rash. Of course I also didn't expect any response, or at best a flat-out refusal, and had decided I wasn't going to bother pursuing it regardless. Imagine my surprise to get an email from the site owner apologizing, along with a $100 goodwill payment! I thanked her, told her I'd consider the matter settled, and offered my services on a work-for-hire basis if she ever had a need. Wink

That $100 snowflake will go toward my 52-Week Challenge, knocking out a couple of the larger numbers.

52-Week Savings Challenge and Chase Freedom Rewards

March 14th, 2015 at 03:30 pm

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 12

Somehow I got my weeks goofed up on this, I had myself a week behind where I really am. This week I had more than the highest amount, so now I'm a week ahead of schedule. (Fortunately I track this in Excel so everything is straight there, even if I goof it up here!)

Snowflakes
Reimbursement - $22.48
Freedom Card Rounding - $40.05

Total Snowflakes: $62.53
Rounding (from reserve): $0.47

Beginning Balance: $234
Deposit: $63
Ending Balance: $297

Reserve: $0.58 - $0.47 = $0.11

This puts me at almost 21.5% of the Challenge, and we're just over 21% through the year. So right now I'm on pace!

Chase Freedom Rewards
Another good month for rewards; we actually maxed out the 5% bonus category (grocery stores). We still get 1% on any grocery store purchases, of course.

I've projected an average of $50 per month in rewards; this month was still a bit higher, at $78.19! I think for now I'll be allocating the funds to our anniversary dinner; it's the one time a year we go all out, which of course means $$$; it probably averages at about $200. Since our anniversary is in May, I have two more months to count rewards.

I think I'll shoot for $300, which should be covered if I stay at around $50 per month. (I had $124 extra last month so I'm already at $200.) I'll pay for the bill with the Freedom card and then just transfer the cash after the fact, that way if I have extra I'll just leave it for the next goal. (If S decides to tell me where we're going, I might get a $200 gift card if I can find a good discount. I would get a Visa gift card but I've got to imagine those don't come across the discount places very often, since you can use them just about anywhere.)

Starting Balance: $224.20
Ending Balance: $302.39

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $100.00
Remaining - $0

Anniversary Dinner Fund
Goal - $300
Balance - $202.39
Remaining - $97.61

52-Week Savings Challenge

March 10th, 2015 at 08:36 pm

Week 9

Not a whole lot this week. I expect a somewhat bigger chunk next week with the credit card rounding. I did have quite a few CVS Extra Bucks, and then some money I transferred over from my PayPal account.

Snowflakes
PayPal - $25.01
CVS EB - $8.13

Total Snowflakes: $33.14
Rounding (to reserve): $0.14

Beginning Balance: $201
Deposit: $33
Ending Balance: $234

Reserve: $0.44 - $0.14 = $0.58

This puts me at almost 17% of the Challenge, and we're just over 19% through the year. (That's a little off, since the Challenge is calculated as of last Saturday and the year is as of today.)

52-Week Savings Challenge

March 2nd, 2015 at 04:15 am

Down to just the regular challenge now!

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 8

Interest hit yesterday, of course, and I had rounding from the checking account. I'm including the excess from the Mega challenge. I got a car wash today, since it was finally warm enough (at 23 degrees, sigh). I was out running errands and went to a different place than usual -- which was $3 less than I was planning on spending, so I'm counting that, too!

Snowflakes
Mega reserve - $2.24
Checking rounding - $13.37
ING Interest - $3.03
MSD Interest - $5.22
Chase Interest - $0.03
Car Wash Savings - $3.00

Total Snowflakes: $26.89
Rounding (from reserve): $0.11

Beginning Balance: $174
Deposit: $27
Ending Balance: $201

Reserve: $0.55 - $0.11 = $0.44

This puts me at just over 14.5% of the Challenge. Week-wise we're 17.3% through the year. (I'm not necessarily trying to match that, but it's interesting to me to see how it compares.)

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge - Done!

February 26th, 2015 at 02:54 pm

Phew! My client paid their bill for my side gig, which finished up the 52-week Mega Savings Challenge -- with a couple of weeks to spare! Woo hoo!

Of course, I'm going to have to pull $2500 out in April for the new wall heater, but at least I have it there to pull! (They installed the heater a couple of weeks ago, but I put it off until after the Freedom card closed in February, so the payment won't actually be due until April.)

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
My Weeks 50, 51 & 52

Snowflakes
Side Gig - $535.17

Total Snowflakes: $535.17
Rounding (to reserve): $0.17

Beginning Balance: $6325
Deposit: $535
[b]Ending Balance: $6890[b]

Reserve: $2.07 + $0.17 = $2.24

The reserve will go over to the regular 52-Week Challenge I'm doing this year.

I must say, this was a pretty tough challenge! I wasn't always able to save something weekly, especially once all of the smaller amounts were used up, but fortunately some bigger things came through that covered multiple weeks. I might do it again in the future, but I think I'll stick with the regular challenge for a while! (At least until my credit cards are paid off; it made sense to me to rapidly get to $5K in the EF even though I still have cc debt, and the OCD in me wouldn't abide with stopping in the middle of the challenge, but that's also $5K that could have gone to credit cards.)

So relieved to have this done! The regular challenge should seem like a piece of cake now. Smile

Challenges

February 25th, 2015 at 05:47 pm

February was a month full of challenges, and March looks to be the same. This is my busy time at work, when I switch from four days and 30 hours a week to six days and 58 hours a week. I've been doing double-duty on the savings challenges, trying to finish up the mega challenge that I started late in 2014 while working on the regular challenge for 2015. I decided to give up buying lunches for Lent, which means I've had to challenge myself to be prepared every day and have something ready to take from home. In March I'll be increasing our 401(k) contributions and decreasing our withholdings, which will challenge our budget a little bit. I am trying to lose some weight for our upcoming trip to Napa at the end of April - S won the President's Club award at work and so we get a most-expenses-paid trip. (Actually the one couple who went last year said they didn't spend a dime of their own money, but I expect we'll have a few out-of-pocket expenses.)

Lent
It's only been a week, but so far, so good. I had leftovers from dinner all of last week. On Sunday I made a batch of egg muffins (basically scrambled eggs with ham, tomato, cheese, and mushrooms baked in a muffin tin; some recipes have you put hash browns on the bottom as a 'crust' but I didn't have any handy) and then cooked up a pot of rice, a couple of lean chuck steaks, and some peppers and mushrooms, so I've had stir-fry over rice all this week. (It ended up covering four lunches, but I'll have leftovers for the other two.)

The breakfast wasn't really part of the Lent challenge, but I often pop into the grocery store on the way to work to pick up breakfast and lunch, and figured there's no sense going just for breakfast. Cheaper and healthier to make it at home, anyway! I found a recipe for peanut butter pancake muffins with strawberry-cream cheese 'frosting' I want to try for next week. (I'm also testing these recipes; my sister and I decided instead of a present she didn't need, we were going to treat my mom to brunch once a month. We're having our "Family Financial Summit" in March so I figured we could do an in-house brunch on the same day. Muffins/cupcakes would be easy-peasy and they look cute, too!)

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
My Weeks 48 & 49

Still waiting on my side gig payment, which will cover the last three weeks of the challenge. S's work revamped the way they figure insurance premiums for 2015 (they had four tiers and are now just using one), which means our premiums went up more than usual. Since we participate in the "extra-curricular wellness" activities, they gave us a 'benefit offset' payment to I guess ease the pinch a bit. (We'll get half of the amount next year, too.) It will hit on Friday, so I'm using a portion of it to round off this challenge. (The rest is 'holding' right now, I might need it if this side gig payment doesn't come through!) I also got a payment for a portion of the December rent that I thought was offset by some work they did on the house, but apparently not.

Snowflakes
Benefit Offset - $119
Rent - $246

Total Snowflakes: $365.00
Rounding (to reserve): $0.00

Beginning Balance: $5960
Deposit: $365
Ending Balance: $6325

Reserve: $2.07 + $0.00 = $2.07

52-Week Savings Challenge
Week 8

Smaller snowflakes here, which are much easier to come by! I save $2.99 at CVS the other day, and was paid $34.50 for some writing.

Snowflakes
CVS - $2.99
Writing - $34.50

Total Snowflakes: $37.49
Rounding (to reserve): $0.49

Beginning Balance: $137
Deposit: $37
Ending Balance: $174

Reserve: $0.06 + $0.49 = $0.55

This puts me at almost 92% of the Mega Challenge and just under 12.5% of the regular Challenge.

Chase Freedom Rewards & 52 Week Challenges

February 14th, 2015 at 05:22 pm

It was a great month for my Chase rewards! This is the 10% bonus month, based on last year's rewards (I think this is the last time they're doing that, though), plus it's 5% at grocery stores this quarter.

I've projected an average of $50 per month in rewards; this month was much higher, at $189.01 - woot! This pays off my movie card fund. I still have about $40 on the last card and two passes. I have no immediate plans to see any movies, but once I do, since I can't watch a movie without popcorn, it adds up! I still haven't decided on what to do with the remainder; for now I'll let it sit, but if I get down to the wire on my Mega Challenge I may use it for that.

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $100.00
Remaining - $0

Excess - $124.20


52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
My Weeks 46 & 47

Snowflakes are still a little slow, but they are trickling in. It helps to do multiple weeks at once, with the larger amounts of this challenge. I do have a payment from a side gig coming in, which will cover three weeks of the challenge. That leaves me with two weeks to cover in the next three weeks -- it will be tight, but I've got some thoughts about how to get there!

Snowflakes
Return - $143.39
Found Money* - $2.00
CVS Savings - $20.08
Freedom Rounding (Jan) - $38.91
Joann Savings - $30.78
Writing Gig - $36.50
Reimbursement - $22.48
Vonage Savings - $26.05

Total Snowflakes: $320.19
Rounding (to reserve): $0.19

Beginning Balance: $5640
Deposit: $320
Ending Balance: $5960

Reserve: $1.88 + $0.19 = $2.07

52-Week Savings Challenge
Weeks 3-7

Snowflakes
Critter Prize - $5.00
Checking Rounding - $9.85
ING Interest - $5.11
Chase Interest - $0.03
MSD Interest - $6.52
Found Money* - $28.00
Freedom Rounding (Feb) - 33.54

Total Snowflakes: $88.05
Rounding (to reserve): $0.05

Beginning Balance: $49
Deposit: $88
Ending Balance: $137

Reserve: $0.01 + $0.05 = $0.06

*Again, not as exciting as it sounds, just money I'd stuffed into a pocket or bag and forgotten about.

This puts me at almost 86.5% of the Mega Challenge and just under 10% of the regular Challenge.

Catching Up

February 14th, 2015 at 04:35 pm

I've started several 2014 wrap-up/2015 goals posts, and never get around to publishing them, because a) I start yammering on and b) it gets too depressing!

Some days I feel great about where I am -- I've paid off a lot of credit card debt and have a good start on an emergency fund -- but then I do my yearly budget projections and end up $10-15K in the hole by the end of the year. (I overestimate spending and underestimate income, but still....)

Then I did our taxes and we really need to change our withholding! We had claimed a high number of exemptions for a while, because with the rental we had a fairly decent loss to write off, but we don't get the full amount anymore and it's really affecting our bottom line. We owed around $2,800 last year; we have a small refund this year but only because we had a lot of stuff donated to charity, from his parents and my grandparents (finally cleaning out the basement, garage, and attic!). We won't have that next year, and without it we'd owe about $5,000 so it's time to make a change!

I'm also having us increase our retirement contributions; we're both putting in just the minimum to get the match right now. We aren't able to contribute directly to an IRA or Roth; a backdoor Roth won't work for S because has an existing IRA. I could do one -- I have a teeny tiny IRA and the tax on a conversion would be negligible -- but at this point, having it come directly out of my paycheck, and reducing my taxable income, is preferable. (Plus I actually think we'll be in a lower tax bracket when we retire, so tax-deferred is our better option at this point.)

Of course none of this helps our monthly bottom line any, but it's a necessary evil. We do have lots of areas where we can cut back, and I've already identified about $5,000 I won't be spending on a particular hobby this year. I also haven't included any side gigs I can pick up. Still, my focus has changed a bit for 2015, and rather than working quite so heavily on eliminating debt, I'm going to work more on not incurring additional debt.

I have a refinance to do mid-year, and potentially another one in the fourth quarter. The first will definitely ease up cash flow, and significantly lower our highest interest rate. (The second will probably end up being neutral overall.) I also have a small 0% balance transfer offer through August 2016. That combined with the refi will put my highest credit card interest rate at 3.99%, so I'm a little more comfortable about scaling back on repayments than I would be with the 24.99% I had a couple of years ago! (I will still pay some extra to the cards; paying just the minimums means I'm in debt until 2030! As of now this change will extend my payoff by one year.)

Unfortunately, we have decided that we really do have to replace the wall furnace that died on us back in November. We've been limping along with an electric space heater, but it doesn't do much on these sub-zero nights, and it's expensive to run! So that's $2,500 out of the EF -- the only good aspect being that at least I had the funds set aside!

My 2015 goal, then, will be to replace the $2,500 and get the EF back up to $5,000. Since I'm still finishing up the 52 Week Mega Challenge ($1,890) and doing the regular 52 Week Challenge ($1,378), I'll easily meet and exceed that goal. My original goal of $7,500 in the EF is a little ambitious now (given I still need to save up $3,700 for property taxes in September), but I think I'll stretch the EF goal to $6,000. That's only another $232 I need to come up with, which seems do-able.

(Actually my EF goal hasn't changed -- save up $2,500 this year -- it's just the final account balance that's changed because of the heater.)

Anyway, my other goal of paying off $17,500 in credit card debt is adjusted down to paying off $12,000. That includes a few 0% balance transfers that will come due this year. It doesn't include the one card I'll pay off with the refinance, since I'll still owe that money, just not on a credit card.

To end on a happier note, I did negotiate a 7% pay raise (which is a lot less than it sounds like!), which will help offset my increased 401(k) and withholding. S should get his standard 2% increase, which will help a bit, too.

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

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.)

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

December 14th, 2014 at 04:14 pm

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)

Snowflakes
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.

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

November 17th, 2014 at 04:28 pm

Snowflakes are still coming a little more slowly than I'd like, but I suppose that's not too unexpected with the holidays coming up and my free time becoming more limited. I had one side gig done, rounding on the Chase Freedom card, and the reimbursement from S's work for our Internet service. I also got a very small check from the HELOC I refinanced quite some time ago -- I either never got or forgot to deposit the first one, so they re-sent it.


52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 46 (started late, now on my week 38)

Snowflakes
Freedom Card Rounding - $29.84
Reimbursement - $22.48
HELOC - $2.61
Side Gig - $155.00

Total Snowflakes: $209.93
Rounding (from reserve): $0.07

Beginning Balance: $4500
Deposit: $210
Ending Balance: $4710

Reserve: $3.41 - $0.07 = $3.34

This puts me at 68% of the Mega challenge, and at 94% of my 2014 goal of $5,000. (Last time I mistakenly said I was at 95% of that goal; I meant 90%!)

Chase Freedom Rewards

November 15th, 2014 at 05:18 pm

Another round of Chase Freedom Rewards points. I've estimated about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was fairly short at $29.05. This is the first time it's been that far off, so I think my average is still OK. I also had a $500 credit so lost $5 from that. This quarter's 5% categories aren't places where I generally shop, so I haven't been able to take advantage of those.

Starting Balance: $756.76
Ending Balance: $785.81

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

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

Excess
Beginning Balance: $156.76
Current Rewards: $29.05
Ending Balance: $185.81

At this point I'm just going to let the excess build up, and then see where/if I need it at the end of the year (gifts, 52 Week Challenge, etc.)

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

November 2nd, 2014 at 07:38 pm

Slow couple of weeks on the snowflake front. I do have a couple of side gigs that should be picking up, one next week and another in the next month or so, so those should help. I had some CVS savings, of course, the month-end rounding on my checking account, and interest on the ING savings account. S got a $10 gas card for a study he's in and since he has a company car he gave that to me. I also withdrew some money from PayPal, which technically has already been counted here because it's come from various snowflakes, but since I was able to save the amounts without withdrawing from PayPal until now, I'm just going to count it again!


52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 43 (started late, now on my week 37)

Snowflakes
Checking Account Rounding - $13.52
Gift Card - $10.00
CVS Savings - $6.58
ING Interest - $2.17
PayPal - $187.53

Total Snowflakes: $219.80
Rounding (from reserve): $0.20

Beginning Balance: $4280
Deposit: $220
Ending Balance: $4500

Reserve: $3.61 + $0.20 = $3.81

This puts me at 65% of the Mega challenge, and at 95% of my 2014 goal of $5,000.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

October 16th, 2014 at 01:55 am

The writing gig paid fairly well this week, but I'm not sure that will carry on. It was good while it lasted! The Freedom card statement period closed, so I rounded those amounts. I also bought my next $100 movie gift card -- I've got $30-something left on the current one, but I always go to a movie on Halloween which will use up a good portion of that (and I might treat my mom this year, since S will be out of town). S has been wanting to go see something, so we might do that one of the next few weekends. I've had the card since at least November last year, if not earlier. Anyway, thanks to the suggestions here I went to giftcardgranny.com and got the $100 card for $80.50. Since I'd earmarked $100 from the Chase Freedom rewards for the gift card, I'm taking the whole amount and allocating the savings to the Challenge. I also used $5.50 in CVS Extra Bucks and had $5.04 in savings there.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 41 (started late, now on my week 36)

Snowflakes
Pact - $4.48
Writing Side Gig - $82.50
Freedom Card Rounding - $46.37
Gift Card Savings - $19.50
CVS Savings - $10.54

Total Snowflakes: $162.39
Rounding (to reserve): $2.39

Beginning Balance: $4120
Deposit: $160
Ending Balance: $4280

Reserve: $1.22 + $1.39 = $3.61

This puts me at 62% of the Mega challenge, and over 85% of my 2014 goal of $5,000.

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

October 6th, 2014 at 06:17 pm

One of my writing gigs has picked up on assignments again, so I'm getting some good snowflakes there. I also had an order for some items I make, and I did the monthly rounding on the checking account.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 40 (started late, now on my week 35)

Snowflakes
Pact - $1.38
Work Reimbursement - $22.48
Writing Side Gig - $84.50
Other Side Gig - $154.70
Review Side Gig - $26.62
Checking Account Rounding - $10.89
ING Interest - $1.89

Total Snowflakes: $302.46
Rounding (from reserve): $2.54

Beginning Balance: $3815
Deposit: $305
Ending Balance: $4120

Reserve: $3.76 - $2.54 = $1.22

This puts me at 60% of the Mega challenge, and over 80% of my 2014 goal of $5,000.

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

September 29th, 2014 at 04:09 pm

I skipped a week of updating again, but it seems to work out better this way anyway, I can get some of the bigger amounts checked off if I look at it two weeks at a time.

I had forgotten that S's work reimburses us for his Internet (he's based at home), so I'm counting nine months of that here; I returned some items to CVS (and just happened to hit a round dollar amount for the refund); I had two good trips to Kohl's with 30% off and two $10 free coupons (gotta love it when you save more than 2x what you've spent!), and then miscellaneous Pact and side gig income. Plus, inspired by Banker Gurl Wink, I had $6 in Extra Bucks at CVS, they had a battery sale going on buy one get on 50% off, and a coupon for $2 off an $8 battery purchase. Of course, they didn't have anything that worked out exact, but I found two packs of AA batteries that were $9 with the sale, less the $2 coupon, less $6 in ExtraBucks, so $1 total cost. Not too shabby. Smile

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
[/i]Week 39 (started late, now on my week 33)[/i]

Snowflakes
Pact - $3.86
Work Reimbursement - $202.32
Side Gigs - $11.70
Kohl's Savings - $174.83
CVS Refund - $9.00
CVS Savings - $11.00

Total Snowflakes: $412.71
Rounding (to reserve): $2.71

Beginning Balance: $3405
Deposit: $410
Ending Balance: $3815

Reserve: $1.05 + $2.71 = $3.76

This puts me at 55% of the Mega challenge, and over 75% of my 2014 goal of $5,000.

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

September 16th, 2014 at 07:27 pm

Slow-ish week, but I've had worse! I had $65.60 from a side gig and $21.19 reimbursement from a mouse I bought for my work PC that I completely forgot I paid for until now. The Chase Freedom card statement closed last week so I did the rounding for $37.82, and then some miscellaneous Pact earnings and CVS savings.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 37 (started late, now on my week 31)

Snowflakes
Pact - $2.04
Chase Rounding - $37.82
Side Gig - $65.60
Mouse Reimbursement - $21.19
CVS - $2.68

Total Snowflakes: $129.33
Rounding (from reserve): $0.67

Beginning Balance: $3275
Deposit: $130
Ending Balance: $3405

Reserve: $1.72 - $0.67 = $1.05

This puts me at 49% of the Mega challenge, and over 2/3 of my 2014 goal of $5,000. One of my writing gigs finally has assignments available again, so hopefully I'll be able to pick up some good snowflakes from that over the next few weeks!

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

September 8th, 2014 at 03:02 pm

I missed last week on this, but it was worth the wait! Several good snowflakes came through the last couple of weeks. I got a $50 rebate from my contact lenses; S got a $50 check for his birthday; I found $8 I'd forgotten about at the bottom of my purse; I took back bottles for $56.90. S is working on a project with the help of his cousin, who is retired military; they went to Lowe's to buy some supplies and cousin got us a 10% discount. We also had a return, rounding from the checking account in August, and I decided to count the $150 I'm saving on my hair by switching to a stylist that works out of her home rather than a salon. Plus my DietBet ended and the final round paid out $171.68 - woot! (That ended up with a total payout of $328.96, less the initial bet of $125, for a net gain of $203.96.) Then some various Pact earnings (plus I'm penalizing myself the $10 they took when I simply forgot to log two vegetables. Duh!), a small side gig and CVS savings.

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 36 (started late, now on my week 30)

Snowflakes
Found cash - $8
Pact - $13.73
Lowe's Discount - $21.80
Book Review - $3.01
Birthday - $50.00
Bottle Return - $56.90
Rounding - $12.28
ING Interest - $1.52
Refund - $19.22
Contact Rebate - $50.00
CVS - $2.18
Hair - $150.00
DietBet - $171.68

Total Snowflakes: $560.32
Rounding (to reserve): $0.32

Beginning Balance: $2715
Deposit: $560
Ending Balance: $3275

Reserve: $1.40 + $0.32 = $1.72

This puts me at 48% of the Mega challenge, and almost 2/3 of my 2014 goal of $5,000. It also helped clear off a couple of the big amounts, although there are still plenty to cross off!

52 Week Double Savings Challenge - Met!

August 16th, 2014 at 12:05 am

I'm early on this but am too excited to wait. Smile I went back through and rounded the Freedom card transactions for January through June and for August (the statement closed yesterday). Doing so got me to (and past) the total for the Double Savings Challenge -- woot!

CVS was $5 Extra Bucks plus Extra Care savings. I bought four chairs for our family garden (it's a decent-sized plot so we have a little sitting area if we want to sit and chat, or sit and reflect if one of us goes on our own), I had planned to pay $9.99 each for them as that was the lowest price I'd found, but then it turned out they were on sale for $6.99 each. Score!


52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 34 (started late, now on my week 27)

Snowflakes
Kroger Savings - $5.49
Pact - $2.15 Pact
Freedom January - $38.39
Freedom February - $36.53
Freedom March - $40.68
Freedom April - $38.79
Freedom May - $40.33
Freedom June - $42.09
Freedom August - $57.30
Book Review - $25.00
CVS - $6.42
Chairs - $12.00

Total Snowflakes: $345.17
Rounding (to reserve): $0.17

Beginning Balance: $2370
Deposit: $345
Ending Balance: $2715

Reserve: $1.12 + $0.17 = $1.40

This gets me to almost 40% of the Mega challenge, and almost 55% of my 2014 goal of $5,000. If I'm doing my math right (and I may not be) I'm about 57% of the way through the challenge (considering my late start date), so I guess I'm not too far behind. It's all the 'big' numbers to cross off now, though!

52 Week Mega Savings Challenge Update

August 13th, 2014 at 05:20 pm

I decided to start rounding the Chase Freedom card transactions, since we use that card for everyday purchases (yes, and pay it off monthly); I was rounding the checking account (and will continue to do so) but it gets far less traffic than the Freedom card. The Freedom card statement end date is the 14th, so I'll use that as the "monthly" amount, and do the checking account rounding for the calendar month. I just used June 14-July 14 here; I might go back and add up the previous months, since I do still need a boost to my snowflakes, but I haven't had a chance to do that yet.

S and I went to the movies this weekend, finally. I have a gift card from previous Freedom card rewards, so no cash out of pocket. (Total includes the movie tickets and concessions, plus the upgrade savings I got from the Stubs membership.) CVS savings includes some ExtraBucks and savings via the ExtraCare Card.


52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 33 (started late, now on my week 25)

Snowflakes
Pact: $2.11
DietBet: $34.93
Freedom Rounding: $56.15
Movies: $26.75
CVS Savings: $4.68
Total Snowflakes: $124.62
Rounding (from reserve): $0.38

Beginning Balance: $2245
Deposit: $125
Ending Balance: $2370

Reserve: $1.61 - $0.38 = $1.23

This puts me within $350 of the "double challenge" and just over 1/3 of the Mega challenge. I'm still a little worried about making the full Mega challenge by the end of the year, but then I was looking over my goals and realized I only intended to get to $5,000 savings in 2014, since I started 10 weeks into the year, so that's a little more doable!


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