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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.

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.

Chase Freedom $200 Cash Back Offer

June 4th, 2015 at 03:51 pm

I received a "Refer-A-Fried" offer from Chase Freedom card where a new cardholder can get $200 cash back for spending $500 in purchases in the first three months. I would get $50 for every referral who applies, is approved, and uses the card by 9/23/15. The offer expires 6/15/15.

Chase Freedom also gives 1% unlimited cash back (well, it's rewards points that you can use for various things, including cash back) on purchases, and has special quarterly categories that give 5% cash back (up to $1,500) -- some generic categories such as gas stations, restaurants, or grocery stores, and then specific retailers such as Kohl's or Starbucks.

You have to receive an email from Chase to qualify for the offer -- they state that they will use your email only for the purpose of sending this offer and will not provide it to any third parties.

If anyone is interested, I would need your first name and email address -- leave the in a comment and I will delete it when I've sent the invite, or if personal messaging works through the forums you can PM me there. They say you will receive the email within seven days.

(If anyone has a Chase card, you might want to check to see if you have the offer, too. It was just a small image on the upper right side of the Accounts screen when I went to Chase online.)

Chase Freedom Rewards

April 16th, 2015 at 06:36 pm

I've projected an average of $50 per month in rewards; this month was a little higher, at $62.69. The 5% category this quarter is restaurants, which is always a good time of year for us, with Mother's Day, my birthday, and our anniversary all falling in May. (My annual pilgrimage to our critter national is also in May, and while I try to limit my meal expenses we do go out to a nice dinner at least once.)

Starting Balance: $302.39
Ending Balance: $365.08

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

Anniversary Dinner Fund
Goal - $300
Balance - $268.08
Remaining - $34.92

I should hit the $300 next month (which, again, will hopefully be more than I actually need for our dinner). I'll need to come up with something else to save for -- probably Christmas again, I guess!

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

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

Chase Freedom Rewards

December 16th, 2014 at 05:29 pm

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

Excess
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

New Citi Double Cash Back Card

October 31st, 2014 at 01:55 pm

I saw a commercial last night for Citi's newest rewards card, called "Double Cash Back". You get 1% cash back with every purchase, unlimited. You also get 1% cash back for every payment you make to the card, again unlimited. (So essentially an unlimited 2% cash back card, if you pay it off every month.)

I'm not in a position to open another credit card at the moment, but thought some of you might be interested. Smile

http://tinyurl.com/k7y52z5


Chase Freedom Rewards

October 15th, 2014 at 02:50 am

Chase Freedom Rewards points came in today. I've estimated about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was a little over at $63.98. The 5% category through September was gas, and I had another 450-miles-in-three-days weekend at the end of the month, which boosted up gas spending.

Starting Balance: $692.78
Ending Balance: $756.76

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

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

Excess
Beginning Balance: $92.78
Current Rewards: $63.98
Ending Balance: $156.76

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.)

Chase Freedom Rewards

September 15th, 2014 at 01:58 pm

Chase Freedom Rewards points came in today. I've estimated about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was just a tiny bit shy at $47.59. The 5% category this quarter is gas, but that only got me about $8 this time, as I don't drive much in August. (S has a company car so they pay for his gas.) I have another 450-miles-in-three-days weekend at the end of the month, which will boost up gas spending.

Starting Balance: $645.19
Ending Balance: $692.78

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

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

Excess
Beginning Balance: $45.19
Current Rewards: $47.59
Ending Balance: $92.78

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.)

Chase Freedom Rewards

August 15th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

The Chase Freedom Rewards points came through today. I've estimated that we'll get about $50 per month in rewards; this month was a little higher at $75.91. The 5% category this quarter is gas, and I've had a few 320-mile round-trips this month, so it adds up fast.

Starting Balance: $569.28
Ending Balance: $645.19

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

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

Both goals met, yay! Now I need to add a new line item:

Excess - $45.19

I'm still in theory going to allocate 50% of the rewards to bulk up the gift fund, and 50% toward the Mega Savings Challenge, but I think I may just let it build up until the end of the year and then see where I could use it most. Ideally I won't need it at all and it can roll over to next year's goals. Smile

Chase Freedom Rewards

July 15th, 2014 at 02:52 pm

The Chase Freedom Rewards points came through today. My estimated is that we'll get about $50 per month in rewards, and this month was pretty close at $55.17. The 5% category this quarter is gas, which hits at a good time because there are two weekends in the quarter where I drive about 450 miles in three days. (Normally I drive 25 miles round-trip for work each week, and maybe 10 additional miles the rest of the week, so 450 miles is a lot for me! S has a company car so they pay for his gas, so it's only me and the lawnmower that use the Chase card for gas.)

Starting Balance: $514.11
Ending Balance: $569.28

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

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100
Balance - $69.28
Remaining - $30.72

The movie card should be finished next month. I was considering using 50% of the rewards to bulk up the gift fund, and 50% toward the Mega Savings Challenge, but the way my snowflakes have been going, I might just add it all to the Challenge! I think I'll just play it by ear, and use the rewards to round out the Challenge if they're needed.

52 WMSC & Rewards Updates

June 21st, 2014 at 08:01 pm

I've been "down country" and had limited wifi access, so I'm behind on updating. Rather than do separate updates for each week I missed (I think I missed three), I'm just going to skip ahead and count them all together. There are probably some snowflakes I'm forgetting, too!

I had a $5.29 return at CVS and I used $5 in Extra Bucks. I'd forgotten an item on my expense report for my critter club, and since the money ($119.76) was long gone in my mind I figure I'll use the reimbursement as a snowflake. I also got $50 for my birthday a few weeks ago.

Still expecting some big snowflakes in the next few weeks, $625 from a side gig (I need to start getting tough on that one, it's been 3-4 months since I sent the first invoice) and $203 from an insurance reimbursement. I also just got a quick review that will bring in $25, probably next week. Those aren't counted here, of course, but it's nice to know there are some things to look forward to!

52-Week Mega Savings Challenge
Week 25 [started late, now on my week 16]

Snowflakes
CVS Return: $5.29
CVS Extra Bucks: $5.00
Club Reimbursement: $119.76
Birthday: $50.00
Total Snowflakes: $180.05
Rounding (to reserve): $0.05

Beginning Balance: $935
Deposit: $180
Ending Balance: $1115

Reserve: $3.83 + $0.05 = $3.85

(Somehow my reserve amount was off; this amount coincides with what the bank has.)

That puts me at 80% of the regular challenge, 41% of the double challenge, and 16% of the mega challenge. I need to step things up if I want to hit the mega challenge -- even the $853 I have coming only puts me 1/4 toward that goal, and we're just about halfway through the year!


Chase Freedom Rewards
Still beating the estimate of $50 per month, again most likely due to the 5% restaurant category and eating out quite a lot, between our anniversary and our vacation. Some of the vacation awards will carry over to next month, as well. We ended at $76.35, which finishes up the gift fund. Woo hoo!

Gift Fund
Goal - $500
Balance - $500
Remaining - $0

Movie Card Fund
Goal - $100.00
Balance - $14.11
Remaining - $85.89

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 )

Various Updates (Rewards, 52 Week Challenge, General)

April 15th, 2014 at 02:40 pm

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

Chase Freedom Rewards

March 15th, 2014 at 01:33 pm

One of the things I'm actually doing right is not using credit cards. For a long time everything went on our debit (Visa check) cards, so the money was pulled right out of our account, and we were getting rewards for the spending. Then Chase discontinued the debit card rewards program. Boo.

After a few months of no rewards, though, on a whim I decided to apply for a Chase Freedom card, which gives 1% on everything, and 5% on quarterly categories. Since I'm in a hardship repayment plan on three Chase credit cards, I really didn't think I had a chance of getting the Freedom card, but I figured I might as well give it a shot. Lo and behold, they gave me a card!

This was also a test of our dedication to not incur more credit card debt. We made a deal that we would pay that card off as needed to ensure we never pay interest on it. (Since we use it constantly, it's never really 'paid off'. I keep the balance low and ensure I pay at least the last statement balance before the next due date.) I'm happy to say we've had it for over a year now and no interest paid yet!

At any rate, we're getting rewards again and have taken advantage of them from time to time (movie gift cards, restaurant gift cards, a TV and a new vacuum). I've gotten a little bit wiser now, though, and have decided it's in my better interest to take the cash as needed and purchase the item or gift cards with the Freedom card -- that way I get another 1% on the purchase that I'm paying for with the rewards. (I will check to be sure the price is comparable; it used to be that a $25 gift card cost the equivalent of $20 in points, but now it's been a dollar-to-dollar purchase.)

Somewhere I read that someone was using their rewards points to pay for Christmas, and I thought that was a great idea, so I'm setting that as my goal for the rewards money this year. (Christmas and birthdays.) We have a small family, so although I've never really added it all up, I'm guessing that $500 will more than cover our spending on these items for the year. So my first goal is $500 in the gift fund. Then I may set aside $100 for a movie gift card. (I honestly don't think I can actually pay for a movie again; I've been using rewards gift cards for close to a decade! I know it's the same thing in the long run, but psychologically it would just bug me.) We don't go to the movies very often, so $100 will last a while. (I just got a $100 gift card in November, and there's still $83 left on it.)

It looks like we average about 5,000 rewards a month, or $50, so that's $600 a year. However, I started out with $80 and apparently they give a 10% annual bonus, plus we had some large expenses in January/February, so I'm ahead of the game right now. I'll figure out what to do with the additional rewards once I get to that point!

Rewards Gift Fund
Goal - $500
Balance - $288.44
Remaining - $211.56

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