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2023 Credit Card Rewards wrap up

January 16th, 2024 at 05:56 pm

I make a lot of free money from credit card rewards for a little bit of work.  I have a lot of credit cards and we don't carry a balance and I do NOT recommend this for anyone who carries balances.  It's a nice bonus of tax free money if you are responsible enough.   This is dense post, but if you have questions ask.

Let's start with Costco rewards.  We have a executive membership which costs $120 a year.  We make 2% in rewards which this year appear to be $225.57 which means we spent $11,278.50 at costco this year.  Makes sense since we buy most groceries and all of our gas there since it's 1.5 miles from our house and pretty much the closest grocery store.   We also earned on our costco citi credit cards $282.73 and $136.08 in cash back for a total savings of $644.38 with a net of $524.38.  

Next up is simple cash back rewards.  We earned $288.82 with discover.  Typically I can redeem this for restaurant giftcards at a minimum 10% off so 1.1 redemption rate so $317.70 is the value of this cash back, but for simplicity I just used $288.82.  Discover I keep for the 5% rotating categories cash back and it's $0 annual fee.  We also have the Wells Fargo active 2% cash back card.  We earned $478.67 in 2% cash back and I typically apply it to the charges.  It is also a $0 annual fee credit card.  Finally we have the Chase Amazon CC also for $0 annual fee and 5% back at amazon.  We earned $211.40 for spending $4220 at amazon this year.  YIKES.  I had no idea my DH spent that much let alone me.  That does not include my mom's spending at amazon so I guess we netted $61.40 for our amazon prime annual fee.

Now we're getting to complicated rewards.  But we'll start with the easy Alaska Airlines CC.  We have two CC, one for each of us.  The annual fee is $95 and we mostly use it for the companion fare coupon.  The companion fare costs $150 in taxes and fees for a free ticket to travel together.  This year i used it on Hawaii at Christmas so the tickets were $1017 roundtrip.  So we ended up saving $867 x 2  (each credit card) minus the $95 annual fee x 2.  So we basically netted $772 in rewards per credit card.  That and of course free luggage when booking (never use this), and 3x miles for alaska airlines purchases.  While this card is barely use the companion fares for us is worth just having.  We've had it for about 10 years and I think it pays for itself annually.  This is the type of credit card reward where even if you don't really use the card if the benefit is greater than the annual fee it's worth it.  This year they have an interesting deal where you spend $10k on the card and get 4k in EQM bonus up to a maximum of 20k miles so I'm trying to earn that for DH and myself, i'm not sure I'll be able to make it.  I also used the miles to book our trip next summer.

We also got a chase marriott card.  It's annual fee is $95 and we got three free nights  up to 35k points for opening the credit card. Again I think the $95 fee worth 1 night in a hotel.  You also get silver elite and 15 nights a year as well as earning some points when you charge on the card.  Typically we use it when we happen to book marriott and I've found that we can find one brand of marriott usually where we want to stay.  We also earned 19,186 points for 2023 because they give 3x points on grocery stores and 16x points on marriott stays.  Typical redemption says it's worth 1 cent a point or $191.86 for cash value.

For the Chase rewards I have the Ink $95, Sapphire Preferred $95, and Freedom $0.  I earned 48,475, 11,769, and 94,313 points for 2023 respectively for the credit cards = 154,557 points.  That is worth $1545.57 if we use 1 cent per point which is the cash equivalent redemption.  However I used it for flights this summer to singapore so I got closer to 2 cents per mile.  With the sapphire preferred I get a $50 hotel credit once a year to help offset the annual fee.  My daily driver card is the chase freedom earning 1.5% back on everything because I can redeem it for 1.25 on travele on the Ultimate Rewards portal and typically get 2% or 2 cents per mile transferred.  So the redemption rate is closer to 3% or more.

Finally the big expensive cards are our American Express.  I had the gold this year to try out.  The annual fee is $250.  I get $200 in uber credit which I used and $60 in dining credit (I stupidly missed 6 months) which i spend by buying a $10 shake shack gift card monthly for free.  So $260 in free cash but the real earnings this year was the $75.99 in Amex Offers on the card which I redeemed for charging stuff like internet, or cell phone and getting statement credit.  So I earned $335.99 cash back on the card last year. I also negotiated a $125 credit towards the annual fee this year.

DH got the Amex Platinum Charles Schwab for an annual fee of $695.  But CS gave us a $200 credit for accounts with them.  He also got $200 hotel, $200 airline, $189 clear, $60 Amex Offers statement credit, $240 digitial credit (NYT, WSJ, Sirius), and $171.24 for Walmart+ (we use for paramount subscription) for a total cash back of $1260.24.  We also earned 123,607 point = $767 in statement credit according to Amex.  The net credit card reward is $765 for the year.  Not including the $100 statement credit for fine hotels bonus or free breakfast for 2 at the hotels.  So that's usually worth another $60, so we had a bonus $160.  I actually used it this weekend for my overnight and saved $160 bonus on top of the $200 hotel credit for 2024.

So wrap up is we spent $1490 in credit card fees, costco/amazon membership for 2023.  We earned back $5002.96 in cash rewards and 297,980 in points equivalent to $2979 in cash back.  So we netted $3512 in tax free money by just our spending on our credit cards alone.  

It also did not include the value of the points I used to purchase tickets.  Pretty good for just using credit cards and getting tax free bonus.

My recent stupid tax

January 12th, 2024 at 04:39 pm

I don't know if others every have doh! moments but I do occasionally.  I've had a lot of them lately.  The most recent one was that I bought 4 tickets awhile ago to the Lion King.  Thought the kids and DH would want to go.  They didn't want to it turns out and I am stuck with 4 tickets.  Things have come up and tickets you buy months in advance well when you have other activities don't seem so desirable like a week before.  It happens!

Anyway I start to panic. I am freaking out going wow I'm out $300.  And also I want to see the lion king, but that's just a bonus.  So I text a bunch of friends and everyone says no.  So I post it on Stubhub and ticpick.  Then it gets bought immediately on stubhub. I log in after 5 hours and realize all four tickets have sold.  Yay right?

Boo - nooo. During that time I had a friend respond they'll take two and i say yes.  They venmo me and I transfer the tickets.  But I forget to take down the ad at stubhub and ticpick.  Then I have another friend say yes she'll go WITH me.  So I'm like YAY! I get to go win win.

But I had forgotten to take down my ad which wouldn't have mattered since the tickets sold immediately anyway.  But still. I had panicked and listed the tickets even though I should have waited and let everyone I ask respond.  So then I had to pay fees to stubhub and ticpicks for listing the tickets but not selling them. Boo!!! 🤦‍♀️

I could have explained to my friends the situation, but I was embarrassed and didn't want to. So I decided it was my own personal stupid tax and I would suck it up and just live with it.  How much did it cost me? 

Well $40 for ticpicks to replace the tickets and $166.50 for stubhub.  So I guess like $206.50.  Now my goal is to raise money outside of normal means to pay for my stupidity.  

Life is like that sometimes.

Singapore & Thailand financial wrap up

January 11th, 2024 at 11:46 pm

So we went to Singapore and Thailand and had a lovely time.  I had fun posting only some of the photos.  The photos were better than I posted. But I guess I have to do a financial wrap up.

We flew to Singapore on Singapore Airlines connecting through LAX.  I used miles for me and both kids.  I bought a one way ticket for DH.  Miles on Alaska airlines for me and both kids were 47,500 each one way plus $54 cash.  Then I bought DH's ticket for $786.50.  So our miles were worth 1.66 cents/mile.   I also upgraded our seats for $150 or $50 for each of us for front of the cabin premium seats.  These seats allowed us to not have anyone sitting next to us so we had 3 seats for me and DK2, DH and DK1 also had 3 seats for the two of them.  So we were able to spread out and sleep better.  Worth every penny.

Then I used miles on United to return through SFO.  That flight was 58,100 miles and the cost of the tickets fees were $206 for 3 of us.  DH's ticket was $863 one way so the miles we got were 1.49 cents/mile.  Which wasn't as good but we also don't normally fly united, and we've been trying to burn the miles.  Then I got offered a deal for upgrading to premium economy for $450 per person or $1800 total.  It ended up going for thousands more in premium economy.  Premium economy on united dreamliner is like domestic first class seats.  It really helped with sleeping and the jet lag.  

Then our flights from singapore to thailand round trip was $544.74 including seat selection.  So in total we spent $4405 on 4 tickets round trip to Singapore with a detour into Thailand with premium economy and economy plus seats and of course miles.  It did wipe out a lot of my alaska miles and thankfully our united miles which we've been trying to use for years.  

Then when we got to Singapore we stayed at the JW marriott hotel for 5 nights because we booked with points.  Marriott has a deal where you book 4 nights with points you get the 5th night free.  Average cost there is $500/night if not more and the location is spectacular and the hotel as well.  We paid $328.49 in fees plus 199,000 marriott points so averaged around 40k points a night.  At 1 cent per mile it's $400/night and I think it cost much more than that.

Then we went to Krabi and stayed at Centara Resorts with a private pool.  For 3 nights we paid $735 including airport transfers.  Then for our last night in Singapore when we returned we stayed at the Marina Bay Sands.  I'm cringing to write this but we paid $844.59 for 1 night although it included breakfast at a super fancy buffet.  Was it worth it?  Yes.  I don't know if we'd do it again. I've never paid that much for a hotel for one night or airbnb.  But it's not just any hotel. I could have used points to cover the trip if I wanted, but i just decided to pay for it.  

What else did we spend?  Well gocity cards in singapore for $1166 for the four of us.  Did we get our money's worth?  Well adult tickets for everything we did would have cost around $714 adults and $398 for kids so yes we did.  Now universal I would have skipped but for the pass because we literally rode like 3 rides.  But it was fun and we had a fantastic time eating there and we always like eating the local food of amusement parks where we go. I did mention the best buffet i've ever had was disneyland hong kong right?  I mean asian fusion buffet with inexpensive labor means premium food and disney quality and hong kong is just world class dining to begin with just like singapore.  Also shows in these parts are often much nicer than you would think because they start working at a much more inexpensive cost and put on a bigger production.

We spent $380 on other entertainment like feeding rhinos, extra tickets to things not covered, tour in thailand (was $100 for the 4 of us!!!), etc.  We spent $859 on food, eating is cheap in asia especially Thailand.   And $545 on ubers in singapore/thailand other travel expenses.  

All in our trip for about 12 days cost us $9265. This is not a realistic budget though because many people would not have the miles to pay for tickets for 3 out of a family of 4.  Also most people would not be upgrading to better seats necessarily.  And many would not pay $844 for a hotel for 1 night.  So I think it could be done similarly if you didn't have miles and made some changes to the itinerary.

But overall right on target for what I was hoping to spend if not less than what I budgeted for disney.  That being said on our macchu picchu trip, I need to start a spreadsheet.  I have spreadsheets for all my trips to figure out the total cost.

Tickets to hawaii pricing for the year

December 31st, 2023 at 03:36 am

I usually never travel this much to hawaii.  So I was curious how the year stacked up.  I know from chatting with friends who always ask me LAL what's a good price and when should we go? I tell them end of April and late October is typically cheap and easy. Also January after MLK weekend is another cheap time to come to Hawaii.  January might even be better with hotel pricing and winter for many folks.

But what have you spent LAL and did you get a good deal?  I am about to do an end of year shakedown which normally I would cringe about spending so much but life is short.  And my DH said when I mentioned it, this is a short term spending because when will I be coming to hawaii so often?  Never again.  

Traveling on 12/19 and returning 1/1 we paid $2034 for 4 tickets.  We used two alaska airlines companion fares which on each purchased roundtrip ticket.  That means the $95 annual credit card fee for a $121 companion ticket (this is the fees) was used as a BOGO on $896 ticket for DH and me.  Pretty good ROI on $95 was $896.  Average cost of Xmas ticket?  $508 per person which for hawaii at christmas is a steal.  Miles run around 50k one way if you can land it.  Hawaii is very expensive always to visit at the holidays and I don't recommend it.

October 12 $179 one way

October 17 $179 one way

August 9 $115 one way per person (1 paid for 3 of us) = $345

August 15 $102 one way per person (I paid for 3 of us) = $306

June 23rd $323 one way per person (I paid for 3 of us) = $970, our flight was cancelled that day by Delta and I had to rebook in a emergency, I had bought tickets on delta for 17,500 miles one way per person Frown

July 6th $265 one way per person (I paid for 3 of us) = $795

May 3rd $269

May 7th $228

Feb 20th $347, i flew to hawaii via boston and hawaiian airlines direct with miles I believe 35k miles.

Total for year for me was $2515 for me out of pocket 6 round trip tickets = $419 average round trip ticket to hawaii.  Total spent? $5652 for a total of 6 LAL + 3 DK1 + 3 DK2 + 1 DH = 13 rountrip tickets for an average of $434 per roundtrip.  

So if I were a family looking to budget I would say $450 to be conservative from the West Coast as long as it's not Xmas holidays. 

I had my suspicion but if we backed out the Xmas tickets which I think blew everything out of the water, the spending on our airline tickets to hawaii wasn't bad.

Next up?  Maybe our total travel spending for the year.  All in I am going to guess we're close to the $20-25k/year I budget and use in our numbers.  

working for myself

July 7th, 2023 at 11:06 pm

I work for myself now.  It's fun, interesting, and I really like it. I don't think I'll ever go back to working for a company.  It's harder in some ways and easier in others.  I'm fortunate to be married to a person who has a company job that provides benefits.  Would I be doing what I'm doing if I had to buy insurance?  Maybe yes still. I don't know.  But if I had to provide insurance, the question would be why is my husband not working for a company?  The answer being that he started his own consulting firm, then probably yes because if he did we did well enough to manage.  But otherwise he's more the corporate type.

Well thsi is my second year and first really full year working for myself.  Last year I did it but I wasn't sure if I was coming back to it. This time my answer to client is yes, spread the word. I am doing this.  I'm not saying I'll do it forever, but there is a pretty long horizon. I can see myself doing this another 10 years until the kids finish college and then reevaluating.  Maybe even sooner. I could be done by 2030 when my youngest leaves for college.

But in the right here, right now moment I have to look at my business income and expenses.  Currently I've made around ~$35k and I set aside already $22.5k for my 401k for the year.  I haven't contributed yet because I'm not sure if I want to do a Roth 401k or traditional 401k.  I've paid for my software, insurance. But I haven't paid my taxes yet or any other expenses.  I'm debating.  My taxes could be minimal if I do the traditional 401k.  Thus I'd have extra money to spend.  Or I might have to pay the current amount to taxes.  

How to balance spending and saving?  It's a question constantly posed on this board.  Right now I feel like I've basically worked to fund retirement, taxes, and I've contributed nothing to the household maintenance or fun spending.  But i'm unsure how much more I'm making this year.

Do I pay more bills with the remainder or send it to taxes later?

reflecting on the past

February 7th, 2023 at 07:53 pm

On the post your wins thread it was a nice post by amastewa93 about how far she's come in 6 years!  I'm really impressed.  So I thought a lot as well and it's amazing how fast things can change on a dime.

I'm the mom of a teenager as of last month (DK1 turned 13!!!).  When I started blogging and I on this site I had no children.  I had been with my DH about 6 years and we were married a couple of years.  Those first few years were very, very lean.  We leaned on 0% CC, student loans, car loans, etc to make everything happen.  We rarely ate out or traveled.  I will also say the first few years  of having kids and going to one income it was super tight as well.  We were still paying off the 0% CC which was used to help buy us time to pay our student loans.  

But a decade has past and it's weird how comfortable we are.  Rich?  I guess by many standards but I don't feel it.  I don't feel that different than the young 20 something struggling to make ends meet.  But 20 years later I am.  My body is more tired and older.  The credit card now is paid in full and I don't blink at whipping it out. Instead of whipping out the calculator and figuring if I could afford something, now I pay for it and don't worry knowing we have buffer. 

I would use a calculator at a grocery store to stay on track.  We ate a lot of the same foods over and over.  When we met our "date" nights quickly devolved into a 3 item combo from Ranch 99 shared and a movie once a week.  I don't even know if DH remembers the fact we were so thrilled to not cook and eat leftovers once a week and a $5 - 3 item combo was a splurge.  $5 for a meal out was indulgent and to be shared.  We rarely drank because it wasn't in the budget.  Soda was bought only in 2L bottles and we recycled everything for extra money.  We dumpster dived everything and everything was second hand including our grill and smoker and dog.  

When we got our first dog we had no money and thankfully he was young and healthy.  By the time he needed care we were in a different position financially but in 2002 we were broke and living on a shoe string.  We used student loans to help sort our budget after all it was subsidized and free money.  We calculated DH would get a job in 6 months after graduating and we'd be able to pay it all back.  It didn't happen when he first graduated, we needed 0% CC for a few years rolling from one to another.  But by the time DK1 came along in 1/2010, in 6/2010 we paid off all our student loans and 0% CC.  It only took us 5 years after he finished his phd but he also went back and got an MBA and sunk us more into debt during those 5 years.

Our kids know we're frugal and they can tell I still struggle with spending.  I'm still careful.  My mom says "we never bought anything without a red sale tag or secondhand."  I grew up very, very poor.   And now it's ridiculous.  My kids still look at sale tags because I don't know how else to shop and goodwill/marketplace is still our friend.

But now I really can buy anything I want. I can walk into a store and not whip out the calculator. I can buy what I want to eat because I feel like it.  I can go out to eat because we want to.  It's a weird feeling sometimes.  The life I lead now is one I definitely aspired too.  My mom again always said "i want to walk into a store one day and not look at the price tag."  And she totally does now.  She doesn't care.  Everything is affordable.  Now the shirt doesn't have to be on sale or secondhand.  She also grocery shops and buys what she wants to eat instead of what's on sale.  She doesn't have the envelope of cash and calculator (my entire family used to do this).  My uncle said he'd stand in grocery store and calculate down to the last 10 cents what they could afford for groceries for the week and what they'd put back.  And now he has so much money coming in he can't spend it fast enough.  

Did you ever think you'd get here?  Did you ever think you'd live a life you dream about?  I joke now about what I would do if I won the lotto.  I'd hire a cook and a driver asap.  But life is pretty good and I'm grateful that I'm another year older and here to spend it with my family.

Happy Holidays and a long catch up

December 21st, 2022 at 07:08 pm

I just peeked and saw the last time I posted was beginning of November.  A lot has happened since then and I haven't been online much.  I've been exhausted with everything.

I went to see my parents over Veteran's day weekend.  My mom asked and I obliged.  Thankfully I went home because my dad ended up in the ER that Sunday before I left from being impacted and in terrible pain. I managed to carry him into a wheelchair and into the car and to the ER.  My mom couldn't have done it and they were in no way ready to have my dad be immobile.  That weekend I managed to get a wheelchair ramp ordered, hospital bed, and internet installed.  Fortunately my kids were off Friday for veterans day and they were all sick so they all stayed home and skipped all activities.  I ended up staying to wednesday but my DH was desperate for me to come back, he was struggling with work and the kids.  I depended on others to help me which is not how I usually do things.

Things have been a bit difficult since.  I've pushed my mom to hire help and she has someone occasionally.  She's exhausted and unwilling to consider someone to help at night.  But we returned again this past weekend and I'm watching my dad all day as my mom went to the dr.  He is pretty wheelchair bound and bedridden. And this past weekend before i got here Monday, again went to the hospital for the same thing.  

We are staying through the new year.  When I bought the tickets this summer I hemmed and hawed over the costs. If I returned before new years the ticket prices were substantially cheaper.  But with the way the new year's fall it is ridiculously expensive until about the 1/4 and the kids and DH go back to work and school.  So DH and DK1 are going back on 1/1 and DK2 and I are staying until 1/5.   I am glad we're staying.  Yes it's expensive but I told my friends i'm in the endgame.

I bought my tickets back for february without DH and the kids.  They'll be off for a few days and DH can work from home and not worry about school or activities.  The truth is that no matter what I pay now for tickets home or buying stuff this is short term.  I am doubtful my dad will be here next holidays but I'd love to be wrong.  

People hate suzy orman but she always tells called "people first then money."  I always agreed but until now I never really lived or felt it.  Now I feel like yes I need to be prudent, but at the same time I have spent my life being prudent. I have spent my life being frugal and watching every penny.  But now I need to stop saving at the rate I've always saved at and spend it so that I can enjoy and help my parents at this end stage. It's not forever and it's not something that is a continually money drain.  This is short term and something that will end.

I am grateful about our ability to cover these expenses.  But I've really come a long way to realizing that money isn't everything.  Saving and planning isn't everything. That sometimes goals fall the wayside and life happens because you can't control everything. I'm a planner, saver, and overal meticulous record keeper. I'm also naturally frugal.  But in the position i'm in I can't do it all.  And something has to give.  To me it's money.  I'll make more and if we have to work 2 months more then so be it.

Has inflation changed your behavior?

October 10th, 2022 at 07:16 pm

Disneysteve asked this on the forum boards and I said yes.  But it's a bit of a layered question.  There are a lot of things that have changed.  Covid forced at least us to stay at home and be less busy, which was nice, but also forced us to cook a lot more.  Restaurants weren't open and even if they were, we weren't interested in leaving the house.

Over the past 2.5 years i will admit that we used to eat out, well do mostly takeout, 5-6x/week pre-covid.  We might sit down 1x/week pre-covid.  But eating out was a lot cheaper.  We could do it for $150-200/week for that many meals out.  The kids were smaller and we could share meals, the portions were larger, there was less service fees, etc.  But being less busy, less activities meant we also just had more time to cook and enjoy our meals at home.

Then it seems like life has been getting back to more normal.  The pace of life is much faster and there are more things going on.  So it would be so easy to slip back into at least picking up take out during the week like I used to.  2-3x/week I'd grab takeout.

But now I don't.  It's the expense.  It's shocking how expensive a meal from Chick-fil-A is now for our family of four.  Or burgers from a local place. It's insane how a pizza at a fancy place is $35 for large or even 2 pizzas from Papa Johns is $25.  A takeout from our local thai place for 3 dishes cost me $57 and the portions were enough for the 4 of us for 1 meal.  We had no leftovers.  So eating out 5-6x/week now there is no way to do it for $200/week. 

Even cooking every meal $200/week isn't a lot of money for the four of us from the grocery store.  The price of meat, veggies, fruit, milk has gone up a lot. I understand it's likely due to the fact that we have had long term inflation.  But I don't think I'm alone in looking at my DH's paycheck and thinking we did not get a 10% raise, our investments are down, and our medical/vision/dental/auto/home insurance premiums are up as well as a lot higher property taxes.

So our real purchasing power took a severe hit.  We already took a massive paycut with DH's job switch and I don't know how long this will go on for.  But to compensate we've really tightened up on eating and groceries.  This seems the new normal how expensive everything is.

$1000 saved

September 17th, 2022 at 08:25 pm

I just bought my DK1 a Yamaha 362H flute.  It was about $1700 on Amazon but I decided to check facebook marketplace before buying it.  There were two options.  One was unused for $1300 with receipt.  They had bought it and then covid hit and their child had never used it.

The other was $750 but just been cleaned by the shop and looked nice in the photos. I decided if I'm going used I'm going all the way so I bought the $750.  I have an appointment on Friday with a repair store to do another full tune up for $90.  If it needs a total overhaul it will be $200, but that still is a good deal I think.  I'm pretty happy for 5 minutes of work online and 30 minutes to drive and meet and pay the guy I saved $1000.

I usually buy stuff new/sale/used depending on how hard it is to find.  But the most luck for me is usually facebook marketplace.  Where do you look mostly?

tipping out of control

July 11th, 2022 at 10:43 pm

Now because of square and everything else everywhere you go and everything you buy has a tipping. You can be buying clothes or a small items at a store and it goes to a tipping screen.  Enough already.  I'm annoyed.  I want to tell square stop.  Can you tell owners how to select no tipping.  Or are we expected to tip for literally everything?

It appears that now we are expected to supplement people's wages 100% .  That anything you buy you need to tip.  I'm really annoyed by it.  I get that the owners use square and clover because it's cheaper. I'm a small business owner now but I am still annoyed by the fact that everything is tipping.  And it's tipping on every single thing.  How much longer until we go to grocery store and have to pass over the tipping screen?

I just am so done with tipping. Even in restaurants I just want either a set fee or added into the cost.  I prefer it.  It's way easier.  Last night we had dinner with DH's cousin.  They took us out and I pointed out it was already added a mandatory 18%.  She loved it.  Didn't have to feel cheap or decide what to tip. The decision out of hand.  Service was okay, but way eaiser to just have it there and not worry about it.  Yep stellar work won't get you more.  But maybe they should just pay people more.

I'm still frustrated over this minimum wage not being tied to inflation.  How is it fair to pay people $7.20 minimum wage and not tie it to inflation like SS and medicare and then never argue about it again.


new cell phones

February 11th, 2022 at 05:51 pm

We are not cell phone people.  Not by a long shot.  I can say that because this is probably the most expensive cell my DH or myself has ever had.  What do and did we have and what we paid.

So currently we were paying $120/month plus taxes and fees = $138/month for 4 cell phone lines and 2 tablet lines.  It is a super old unlimited calling, texting, data plan.  The tablet lines were free add ons. I still used the free table until this year from 2015 so 6 solid years of use and I finally upgraded Black Friday a samsung 4g A7 lite tablet for $199.   That was my "christmas" present to myself.  DH dropped his but upgraded his tablet about 2 years ago.  I love to use mine traveling and reading on it more than my phone.  DH barely uses his so free works.

I was sick and tired of trying to use google voice for my new business phone line. I was struggling getting 2 step verification working which doesn't usually work with google voice.  So i decided I would "splurge" and get another cell phone line for work.  It would be exclusive use and i could turn it off or leave it if I got annoyed.  

So I went into t-mobile and asked to add a line.  They said it would be $20 a month. I said of course.  This was a better deal than mint mobile/cricket/google fi/ting. 

Ting was $25/month for 5 gb cost more and get less. Or $35/onth unlimited.  

Cricket was $30/month for 5 gb for 1 line or 5 lines for $25/month a line = $125/month but no tablets and no 6th line (more on this later).  Not a bad deal but also doesn't work internationally.  Our plan allows free international roaming and 2 tablet lines and 6th line.  So far this was the best switch.  But 

Tello was $19/month for 4 gb. It also maxes out on 4 lines.  We need minimum 5 lines.  But sure let's go with 4 lines.  So $80/month for 4 gb.  Perspective is unlimited is $39/month. I know we don't need it but we also get it for an apples to apples comparison.

Google fi was $30/month for unlimited up to 6 lines.  So $180.month might be best deal. Mint was $35/month for unlimited plan.  Best deal was probably bewteen cricket, google fi, or maybe ting.  

So I walked into Tmobile and thought I'd get a line and I did.  But they offered us BOGO for $20/month including all taxes and fees for 2 cell phone lines. I thought okay for $20/month I get my business line and a free line for future use of my DK2.  So now we would be paying $138 for 5 lines and 2 tablets and I pay $20/month for a business line exclusive use and I do.

But getting a 2 new lines meant we could get 2 new phones on deal.  Since DH had a pixel 3 and I had a free phone from May of last year (DK1 had a new phone) I had a samsung a12.  So I decided DH's phone has been dying fast the battery so I told him pick one.  He picked the google pixel 6 pro for $899 but we paid $400.  I paid $99 for pixel 6 regular price $599.  $99 for a phone I have to say that is way better than anything I've had before.  I used it for my personal phone and instead am using the A12 for my business phone.  Yes it's a bit cumbersome keeping a personal and business phone but I sort of like the freedom of turning it off.

But overall I think we aren't doing badly.  Yes we have to pay monthly for our two new phones as "credit" and I paid the balance $399 and $99 in full this month.  But $160/month for 6 lines and 2 tablets is not a bad deal.  Free international roaming and unlimited data/text/messaging plus free hotspotting.  

We also get good service with T-mobile where we live.  So it's a plus.  The people at the store say that our plan is ridiculously good because it's super old and we are grandfathered in.  I don't know if that's true or not.  But I wonder at what point do we kick off my BIL and 2 kids? Or is this a permanent thing?

Spending, saving and more

July 1st, 2021 at 03:58 pm

Where do I start?  Well I guess our retirement is on track at $1.5M we breached the number, up $280k from the start of the year.  We completed our refi to $845k @ 2% for 7 years.  I saved June and July difference of $720 into Robinhood and have $1443.  I'm investing it into VIOO (small cap index).  It'll be an interesting experiment if I can significantly invest in VIOO and help offset the potential increase in rate.  Of couse that's using the assumption I keep the house that long or don't refi again.  We did with our numbers hit our FI before DH's 45 birthday so that's good.  And no we aren't going to do it though.  And interesting tidbit is we have saved since the beginning of 2021 $79476 and if we count last year's savings of $16k for Roth/ESA in january then we are at $95473 for the year. My end of year goal is $100k (so $6k or $22k).  That $22k seems like  a large stretch.  $78k is about 29% of our gross saved.   

Spending in June was pretty good.  $669.45 groceries, $435.92 eating out, $438.91 dog, $519.73 (current trip gas and alcohol), $245.93 Gas (went camping and clamming), $400.63 Utilities plus other categories $3668.  Not a terrible month.  I was budgeting aroudn $3600 so we are on track. 

I moved $9k to our brokerage today wiping out our sink fund.  So we have $8k property taxes and no sink funds.  Things I see in August are our auto insurance and kids activties we need to pay.  I would guess around $3k.  But we have $4k in our checking just sitting so I'm debating moving the next two paychecks $1000 each to sink or brokerage.  

I have to admit once things go to our brokerage they don't ever come out.  So it's basically gone like our retirement.  I think that's why I struggle with moving money to our brokerage accounts from our cash savings.


An update - it's been a busy 2 weeks of june

June 15th, 2021 at 05:50 pm

Where should I start?  Guess with the most interesting.  DH's company turned down the buyout.  They didn't want to go back and work for a Megacorp.  I was surprised but at the same time someone pointed out they left their soul-sucking jobs to do something they believe in. They made enough money already that making more money didn't seem the point.  I can't believe it.  I'm glad because my DH is happy and still moving forward.

Spending for May

Groceries $454
Eating out $473
Alcohol $242.50
Dog $831.59
Travel $1802 (paid for August VRBO)
Utilities $752
Kids Camps/activities $1502
Business LAL $2491

It was a very spendy month. So good thing we refinanced our mortgage last week June 10th. No payment until August 2021.  We are doing pretty well though with our spending otherwise.

EF $40k
Property Taxes $8k (done for 6 months ready for 11/1 Payment and insurance in August)
Sink $5000 (haven't had to touch yet)
Roth $2000 (already saved $10k this year moved it)
Robinhood $700 (my difference in refinance and old mortgage June $700 saved!)

I believe we managed to save $2k from last month and float all the extra charges without touching our sink funds which is what was part of the budget.  My goal is to pay our insurance without really touching the sink funds or property taxes in August (home $1200, auto $1000, umbrella $300) and then also still continue to save $700 7/1 and 8/1 and 9/1. I invested the $700 in small cap ETF Vanguard IWOO

Our networth was up in May by $3886/month.  The markets were down.  But we are up for the year $293469.  Also I did not move the needle on the value of our house.  It appraised by the bank lower for sure than what we could get and a lot higher than what we paid.  



Spending so far in April 2020...sold AG gift card!

April 19th, 2021 at 05:51 pm

No breakdown of groceries but a bigger deeper dive into our spending.  I so far put down at $500 deposit on our refi so that was unexpected. I also traded our American Girl $140 e gift card for $99.96 Home Depot gift card.  Unfortunately we got the american girl gift card last year from girl scouts. Well the store closed down during covid and we never had a chance to go and use it.  So rather than hanging I took the advice of everyone here.

Spending so far this month has been a lot. I'm a bit stressed out but what can be done?

Groceries $344.70
Eating out $174.60 (brunch was $93.90)
Alcohol $77.18
Dog $120.09
Travel $759.03
Gas $45.57
Utilities $557.31
Home Maintenance $600.06 ($200 gutters, Fence $345)
Personal Care $35.27
Auto $12.60
Home Goods $77.13
Gifts $121.29 (unsure if I am returing one to amazon)
Misc $509.61 (refi $500 deposit)
Services $180
Amazon $154.20 (mostly home maintence DH buys stuff for house)
Kids $778 ($610 camp, $135 piano)
Activities $80 (living social paddleboard rentals)
Clothing $99.15 (will return 2 out of 3 jeans)

Total so far $4726.11 for the month.  We have $800 for our mulch and stuff for our yard is on the books for next weekend.  Ugh.

Hope I keep spending under control the rest of the month.  I have a plans for maybe another $200 for groceries and no more eating out.  Since we are tracking our spending so closely it's weird how I predicted $100 for brunch and spent $93.09.  And how much it hurts now to see that 1 meal out for us which did last us until dinner and we had lots of leftovers, could cost $100.  

Maybe I should have a budget.  I should allow us to eat out a set amount.  The truth is that I am just trying to be "normal" and not tell my family the budget. It makes my DH feel constrained and he hates that.  He's hated it since the days of us making very little money.  Now he still makes 5x what we made and are back on a "budget".  I think it better being 20 years wiser instead to carefully watch our spending and not say budget but "spending" plan.  He'd tell you that he barely spends anything.  He buys nothing.

But the truth is that he spends a lot on the house and things for the house.  There is no budget monthly I'd say he's more an annual person.  That there is a certain amount of spending to be done on the house.  And this is why homes are money pits.  Kids are money pits too!

Subscription charges

March 10th, 2021 at 07:01 pm

Do you know what you spend on subscriptions either monthly or annually?  I have a lot of payments recently including our auto insurance every 6 months and annual Amazon prime.  When covid started my mom really wanted amazon prime again we'd been without for like 2 or 3 years and so I bought it and added her on.  

So we now pay 
Amazon $119 annually for prime = $10/month

Amazon Kindle Unlimited - $140 / 24 months = $5.83/month

AAA just renewed $101 - I wonder if it's worth it?

Paramount Plus $50 annually - just bought from March 3rd 2021 to March 3 2022

Spotify - $10.85/month but it includes hulu $130.20

Sirius XM - $6/month  $72/year - this my DH just signed up for and I don't know what to say

He loves music and so he's enjoying the sirius online radio along with spotify. I don't know how to curb him.  I already am not fond of amazon but I keep that for my mom.

I am a little annoyed looing at stuff, but I guess if I get kindle unlimited with the kids he can have sirius and spotify?  I got paramount but we watch tv so littel I will likely cancel it next year.

How much do you spend on monthly subscriptions.  It's annoying that we're spending $45/month on subscriptions.  What do people have?  How much does it cost?

February Grocery spending and saving wrap up

February 28th, 2021 at 11:43 pm

Well I made it to March 1st.  How it happened I have no idea. Turns out I had a lot more food than I planned. In fact I am so inspired that we are going to continue eating out of the freezer before I go on a really big shopping trip.  I do need to shop a little bit for fruits and veggies and milk,  but I am going to stretch this out so I am forced to eat what's in my freezer.  Here's what happened.

2/18 - leftovers dumplings

2/19 - bolognese/puttanesa 

2/20 - beef wellington 

2/21 - pulled pork

2/22 - sandwiches and pulled pork left over dinner

2/23 - lemongrass salmon soup

2/24-Dumplings and fried rice

2/25 - penne vodka sauce

2/26 - leftovers

2/27 - Tacos - ate outside with neighbors and smoked 4 lbs of ground beef and made a taco bar.  We fed 6 adults and 5 kids.  We still had leftovers.  Not doing too bad.  We still have fried rice, penne vodka sauce, and taco meat.

2/28 - smoked the other pork shoulder from costco.

The new plan?  Everyone is suggesting a walmart run. So the nearest walmart is 15 miles and 25 minutes away.  I'm going to try it.  I'm also going to try regular grocery stores but looking at flyers for deals. I always shop for coke in flyers and I used to wait for chicken to go on sale.  Now the same thing.  I'm going to do a costco run and price out common items i buy and sort of keep a price book.  

We spent a grand total of $1056.29 for the month for groceries and $45.56 eating out for 1 costco hot dogs & fruit smoothies, kids had burgers 1x, and DH had 1 coffee out.   My goal for March 2021 is $950 or 90% of our February spending.  I also want to keep eating out to under $100.  I figure like dieting I should try small reductions until it hurts, which it hurt this month because of poor planning.

We still had a good month overall up $24k for the month.  Next month even better.   Fingers crossed. I'm debating adding in toiletries and non-perishables to my $950 budget at some point. I did not add in batteries and stuff to it.


Why do we have stuff?

February 26th, 2021 at 02:01 am

I feel like we have a lot of stuff.  We don't have a huge house so it seems like we have more stuff than we really need because of it.  I have friends who say "oh they don't have much stuff." But when I point out that having a 4000-5000 sq ft house you probably have more stuff than our 2000 sq foot house it's hard to argue.  Mostly I argue this point with my mom, who has aforementioned 4000 sq ft house and 600 sq ft condo.

So there they are with two homes packed literally to the gills.  Stuff is in every cloest, every cabinet, everywhere.  There is no dealing with the amount of stuff.  Patient saver got me thinking as she managed to get her hands on her mother's art.  The sentimental value is astronomical.  That being said will her own children value it the same?  Or will they only focus on maybe 1 piece?

I was thinking about what it means to have all this stuff.  My neighbor I walk with is an only child.  Her dad passed 3 years ago and her mom is in a facility since January 2019.  This year around September she went to her parent's home and rented a uhaul and drove to a storage facility everything she thought was important and valued.  Everything else she left.  The interesting part is she hasn't done anything in the past 2 years.  Her mom moved into a facility with 4 suitcases 2 years ago and they "pretended" that she was just trying it out and my neighbor would take her back to clean her house.  It never happened.  I can't help but think that might be me.  Avoiding the experience of actually cleaning the house but rather instead just waiting until the person passes even if they don't live in the house to go through things. 

So here's an interesting tibit to chew on 8.5 years ago my grandmother moved out of her apartment and into my aunt's home because she couldn't live alone anymore.  But my mom and aunts instead of cleaning the apartment and throwing stuff out literally packed everything in boxes and put it in my aunt's garage.  They promised that one day they would go through it with her.  8.5 years later they haven't unpacked most of it.  Instead she lives in a tiny with only a few things and everything that was SOO important to throw away they just shoved into a box and went on living.

I know that's what my neighbor has done as well.  I wonder is that the fate of my parents things?  For me probably not.  By the time I have to deal with it, my dad will for sure be passed and my mom at 69 well I don't know.  My dad is 90 and when he passes can she really deal with it? I doubt it.  Will I do the same thing? I don't know.

But how do you actually get rid of all the stuff?  And how do you let go enough to give things to people? I'd love a few of my grandmother's art pieces she made (at least 1) but no one wants to give anything might be valuable.  So instead it's hung onto. 

Ideally i think it'd be nice if parents would ask kids before they are forced to deal with it.  What to do?

2020 Spending

February 17th, 2021 at 09:56 pm

I'm embarrassed by our spending, but there is nothing to do but admit it.  We spend a lot of money.  I knew this after 2019.  It was bad then and it's still pretty ugly.  Our baseline budget is terrible because we have a large mortgage.  There is no way we can be that family or couple.  I guess I might as well write this today since DH is starting a new job today.  New job = new salary.  Lucky for us we're on savingadvice and can swing not getting paid.  But still our spending is ugly.  How ugly?  Let's go for a ride.

Personal Capital which is having problems with our credit card updates says we spent $22,847 on travel last year.  Totally possibly more. I wish they could tailor credit cards better and update it using algorithyms to learn how you classify things.  We spent $22804 on home improvement.  Probably more because a there was a big chunk of miscellanous general purchases.  We spent $15727 on Groceries, $6965 on pets, and $6021 on eating out.   We also spent $1773 on Fuel, $2927 gifts, $3986 on utilities, and $13048 on crap with $4000 on amazon.  A lot of amazon was for the shed building.  Either which way we spent a lot. 

This year our overall spending is down probably because I'm trying to be better.  But this month alone I've spent $863 on groceries and the month is only half done.  UGH.  But we've also spent $30 on hot dogs and drinks at costco for our only meal out.  So I guess it evens out.  More cooking = less eating out.  But I'm sitting here going how much more am i going to blow the rest of the month on groceries?  This year alone we've spent $3724 on our dog for 2 surgeries (joint flush and stitching up lesions).  What can I say?  It's not pretty.  Technically we've spent more on him than anything else.  Hopefully it'll ease up soon.

Right now with the new job and less money coming in we need to contemplate everything. 

the bar in the backyard - come and see

February 11th, 2021 at 05:46 am

Did I mention DH built his own office shed?  Did I ever post?  So he started it August 5th by cutting a tree down.  This is on top of working full time from home at a crazy job that is not in any sort of labor.  Yes he very handy compared to many.  He didn't think so until he did this.  I have to say I have no idea if this was going to work.  DH did this because when I told him the price like $30k of having it built he said "i can do it for less".  It still cost us probably $20k but it was 12 x 16 instead of 8 x 10, and much nicer than what priced out. I guess we're more mustachian than we thought.  I should have posted along he way.  I will dig up the costs later.

August 5th - cut down tree.  He rented a chainsaw.  I thought he'd cut his leg.

Poured piers with friend

This was the hardest step and also the most risk to make sure he calculated the piers correctly

Here's the floor

This was back Sept 3rd.  Lots of progress fast

November 6th Exterior and roof done before the winter set in

I have to go scare up an interior shot but he basically finished 12/20 and is still working on perfecting it because that's how he is.

He even joined a group on FB called pubs in backyard.   Yeah he built it to work but it's really a man cave.  I mean 65" tv, beverage fridge, kegerator and 35" and 30" monitors for work.  He's set to hide like a boss!

my purchases thus far

October 14th, 2020 at 07:33 pm

It's been an interesting couple of days. I mentioned prime day and I've bought quite a few things.

1. $199 Roomba from Amazon - wasn't on the list but something DH and I have tossed around since covid and we can run it since we are home all the time.

2. Secura Spice Grinder - amazon flash sale $34.95 unsure if I'm keeping this one of the cuisineart one from BBB.

3. Breville Toaster Oven - BBB $319 with $50 credit for future purchase (important for deciding on spice grinder) with 20% coupon

4. HB 12 cup food processor - $50 Target

5. Mini Processor - Target $9.99

Deciding on

1. Slow cooker $39.99 Target Crock Pot Cook and Carry
2. HB 7 qt slow cooker $44.99 BBB (also need 20% coupon)
3. Cuisineart Juicer/blender/processor $199 but also want 20% off coupon
4. 23 and Me $99 or Ancestry $49
5. Cuisinart Spice grinder $39.99 BBB but need 20% off coupon

I'm unsure if I need a juicer/blender/processor combo. I already have a blender though that I do use and I could get rid of and it'd be nice to have a juicer but is it worth the space?

For us it's more a space issue for everything. I am replacing our toaster oven that we use all the time almost daily. Can't wait because the breville is an AIR FRYER. Everyone swears by it. I can't wait for a bigger slow cooker since I use mine at least 1x/week. I use the food processors a lot in general no questions asked I cracked the bowl on my last one and I've been still using it. But waiting until a deal happened.

Recent purchases and future purchases

September 11th, 2020 at 05:53 pm

LuckyRobin reminded me of some stuff I've bought, will buy, and planning on buying. I bought this summer a new knife and three new frying pans. I got the pans from william sonoma at 50% lowest discounted price from william sonoma clearance so I ended up spending $159 for three frying pans and lids. Very good deal when you consider how that's the price of usually 1 pan. This was a purchase I had been waiting for and mentioned to DH since the beginning of the year it was time to replace our calphalon pans from 2005 when we got married.

I painted the kids rooms and bought them

Text is new mini loft beds. and Link is
new mini loft beds.

I also got a
Text is new desk and Link is
new desk for myself instead of working on the kitchen island. This is a more permanent setup and DH is moving out to our office shed. I'm so excited and will try to post pictures when we get it done.

Finally I dropped our food processor and cracked the container. I think it's time for a new one. Another item from our wedding registry. I also would like to replace our crockpot which was a black friday $10 deal in 2000. I'm debating buying in instapot. But is it worth it? I heard it doesn't work quite like the slow cooker and i love love love my slow cooker and I don't pressure cook much. And I don't have space for both.

Just some cute stuff to look at.

last month spending and update Net worth

June 8th, 2020 at 05:27 pm

So last month we went away for 3 days and spent $59.29 on gas to get there and backs. Otherwise we filled before we left for $24.72 for all the driving we did for the month. Our hotel $547.88 for 2 nights. And we spent $168.47 for take out. Very nice weekend.

Otherwise we spent $874.23 on groceries, below our normal $1200 we've been averaging for the past 2 months. I suspect June it'll be higher because I'm eating so much more fruits and veggies. We still spent $421.92 on eating out probably because I was eating out beginning of the month before the whole 30 "diet" kicked in. I am curious how this will affect our budget.

Our retirement investments are down about $52k though we've been contributing since Feb 1st consistently.
February 2020 Retirement
$149k LAL Roth
$373k DH Roth
$542k DH 401k

June 2020 Retirement
$128k LAL Roth
$357k DH Roth
$524k DH 401k

Taxable accounts Feb 2020
$110k Investments
$131k Cash

June 2020 Taxable
$169k Investments
$185k Cash

We've surpassed our Net worth in February not because of investment gains but because we have been just saving money.

I made a mistake on my investments in April 2020. Well technically I made a mistake on my DK 529.

Going back to the way it was?

May 5th, 2020 at 06:01 pm

Okay so here's the question are you going out again one the bans lift where you are? Will you go back to eating out, shopping, living the way you lived? Are you still going to live austerely? Will you travel?

Right now all I want to do is get on a plane and see my family in hawaii. But that is on the backburner and i have no idea when that will happen.

But otherwise? I don't see us changing much from now. I asked my DH we don't see ourselves going traveling. We don't see ourselves eating out. So we are going to sit at home and not spend more money than we do. I mean we spend quite a bit, but on other stuff no. It's just not going to happen. How can it?

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we go back to the way things were. But even then I know we'll likely buffer ourselves with airline tickets, hotel rooms, etc. Even eating out I don't know. How to go away for the weekend and not eat out? Or only camping?

Do you see yourself doing the normal life? Will you change at all or same as before?

YTD spending

May 1st, 2020 at 12:08 am

I was interested to see if our spending habits changed. It has slightly.

Jan $260.42
Feb $192.75
March $200.66 - stay at home started but we took two weekend aways before it did
April $38.71 - filled each car once

Guess we are saving on gas.

Groceries - this is interesting
January - $1237.4
Feb - $413.15
March - $966.25
April - $1322.01
= $984.7 Average

Eating out
Jan - $628.49
Feb - $559.78
March - $614.83
April $404.28
=551.84 Average

Not really a huge savings. I know we are supposed to be saving more but it feels like we aren't. But then again I just shopped today 4/30 and spent $414 at costco included in that $1322 total.

We haven't been buying stuff online so I guess that's savings. But in general we don't. I guess it'll be interesting because our April shopping for groceries is really for May. How much will I really spend in May?

I also know I stocked up on essentials and bought a lot of stuff at costco that wasn't "groceries". Today I bought two bike helmets and 2 LOL toys for $100. I also bought all my alcohol for the past two months and juices and toilet paper, paper towels and a lot of stockpiled laundry detergent, etc.

I will admit that my overall CC is much lower than normal. Also the eating out is like 1x/week but we spend more I think because we want to have more than 1 meal from takeout.

Anyway today I bought beef brisket, bulgogi, pork short ribs, carne asada meat, carnitas. That should last us at least 3 weeks of meat without going to costco. I also bought veggies and fruits.

2019 spending

January 7th, 2020 at 07:25 pm

Okay so it's been bad year for spending.

I was perusing our spending. Big budget categories

$25k traveling - big was the WDW trip that was about $10k. Seriously awesome though and I got a christmas card photo out of it. This year I'm not sure we are going to spend less I'm feeling around $20k I usually predict.

$15k dog. Seriously unexpected. He had surgery for $6k, then all his visits to vet with every other week blood measurements. Then his $500/month medications. He turned 2 in May and yes he's a rescue. I'd have probably been better off with a purebred bought from a breeder. But he's our third rescue and honestly he's a GREAT dog. Last night our husband teased the kids and said our best kid is the DOG. Hahaha. But I must admit that when my kids are pissing me off the dog is sometimes the only person listening to me. He goes on walks while I just think and talk. He lies on the couch and bed with me and kids. He guards the house when my DH travels. I'll admit to being very attached again. Sigh. I did tell my DH because of his disease I bet he won't live as long as we thought. And we'll likely get one more dog.

Home - $27k mortgage interest, $11k property Taxes, $10.5k new driveway, Yard $2k, closets $500. Homes are a money pit. Next year I am thinking we are maybe doing a new shed and I'm going to work on the addition I wanted.

Groceries and Eating out $24k about $1k/month for both. I am trying to rein in eating out but the groceries well what can I say? Our eating out is about about $50-100/meal 2x/week. The real budget buster for eating out is when family/friends visit and we pick up that check. Thanksgiving and Christmas looking at it we spent over $1k during those weeks both times. Then we're spending $100-200/meal plus a week in the summer with my inlaws and two weeks in Hawaii. It runs up our eating out amounts fast.

It was a crazy year.

Amazon Prime update

March 25th, 2019 at 03:55 pm

So it's been almost 2 months since we ended amazon prime. It finished end of January 2019. Have I missed it? Not one bit. I've ordered 1x from there Natori Bra $70 (that's another topic OMG) and hands free blue tooth. Free shipping over $35.

But otherwise have I or my DH bought anything? Nope. Makes for saving money. Yes we buy stuff. We got to the store.

Like today I need toilet paper and paper towels and groceries. We bought stuff for science project for kids.

But I suspected we didn't shop much and we don't watch TV, so I guessed we didn't need prime. I was right. We haven't missed it a bit.

Shocking. But it confirms what I suspected too. That a lot of "frugal" finance people probably don't shop a ton online or in the stores. You buy things with regularity and purpose. Very little is wanted and you buy a lot of needs.

At least that's my take. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm losing money but I'm pretty sure I'm not spending by not buying and I'm coming out ahead of those who shop a lot online. Of course I'm not sure if that's because I don't shop versus shop poorly.

$4500 tax refund

March 25th, 2019 at 06:17 am

It's been a long time since we got a tax refund. It's a bit surreal. Anyway we got back $4500. I know it was an interest free loan to uncle sam but I thought we were going to be owing so it was surprised.

Now what to do with the money? I don't have a clue. Guess just pay our bills.

I know doing taxes a lot of people were surprised both ways. Some were shocked by how much they owed. Mostly because the IRS changed the withholding tables. So people who didn't change anything owe a lot unexpectedly. Then there were those expecting to owe and getting larger than expected refunds. People who normally owe so they kept on paying.

I think all these new tax laws changes shocked people.

cancelling amazon prime

November 28th, 2018 at 05:58 pm

As I finished my holiday shopping and as I bought stuff in stores and other online merchants this year I confirmed we don't need amazon prime. I still bought some stuff from Amazon. But we certainly don't need the 2 day shipping. Nothing we ordered did we need rushed. And we no longer watch the TV shows for the kids downloaded on their kindles.

We do have kindles for them bought $50 last year. We do travel more. However now we have a DVD player in the minivan and we can download netflix shows. At $13.99/month Netflix is expensive but we don't pay for it (it's a gift from the girls uncle LOL). But for $170 a year we'd rather do that than Amazon prime anyway. We also use it daily to watch the kids shows instead of TV.

So what do we need amazon prime for? It's certainly not the cheapest. I bought Calico Critters Lakeside Lodge Gift set on Black friday from Walmart. From Amazon? $73.50. No thank you. The Dog crates? From Chewy for less than half the price. Dog food? Cheaper from Petco. Couple of items we did buy from Amazon I don't need asap so slow shipping so what's the difference between waiting from regular $25 shipping?

I admit to having a costco memebership for $120/year. Amazon prime is $119. But I get 6% back on cheaper gas than anywhere else and live 1.2 miles from a gas station and costco. I walk there on the weekends and meet my family for a cheap hot dog. So costco more than pays for itself. This year we spent $3000 on gas almost. That is $180 with 6%. That pays for the membership. Next year when we switch back to Ameriprise auto I'll save even more. That doesn't count the groceries we save on. Lactose free milk at $10/1.5 gallons is about $2 a set and we buy every week. So that's 2 * 52 weeks = $104 on just milk. I've given up on shopping for deals on toilet paper and paper towels because we only have a bartells nearby and no CVS. But truthfully shopping costco I know I get a pretty good deal

Last year I was on the fence at $99 to renew and my DH convinced me. I knew we didn't need it but he said one more year. This year he's on board we'd done and jettisoning Amazon prime.

Do you spend a lot on amazon? Our renewal is up in January.

Christmas shopping

November 27th, 2018 at 01:03 am

So we did do some black friday and christmas shopping. I'm going to try and be better because I usually have no idea what I spend on christmas but it's typically I know under $500.

this year

Lego Advents - $30 x 2 = $60
Razor Scooter DK2 - $20
Calico Critters DK2 - $40 Treehouse + $40 Lodge
HooverBoard DK1 - $100
Bath Bombs Costco DK1 and 2 - $18 x 2 = 36
Shopkins Bus DK1 - $20
Kidizoo Watch DK 2 - $30
Total = $346

That's it for kids except for stocking stuffers.

They each spent $5 on gifts for each other. Very cute taking them shopping this weekend.

Parents and grandma $20 making blanket and $20 each for stuff so $120 total.

But for DH and I? There isn't anything we want or can't buy so I'm unsure. As I type this I realized I didn't buy his usual beer advent calendar I make for him. Gotta get to work. I think we might go away for the weekend as a family so that's $1000 on the weekend with hotels, gas, dog boarding, eating out.

What are you spending for Christmas?

Tax Reform?

November 16th, 2017 at 06:14 am

My thoughts on the tax reform? It appears the reform is going to hurt all families with more than 1 kid. If you had 2 kids before and took the standard deduction you had $12k standard deduction and $16k in personal exemptions for $28k. Now with the standard deduction raised to $24k but personal exemptions gone by the way side it appears to be less than the $28k the family with 2 kids had. Assuming a larger child tax credit is $600/per child for $1200 in tax credit.

It really depends on the bracket but if I had to guess most families will end up paying more in taxes with more than 2 children. The $600 tax credit won't offset the personal exemptions.

As far as the SALT I think they should keep it instead of the mortgage deduction to be fair. After all it's a double taxation. And honestly they should probably do away with the mortgage deduction period. But that's impossible with the lobby groups. I also have seen a lot of elderly people use the medical deduction and if you are in nursing home care the bills for that are astronomical and easily fufill the 10% income minimum to write off.

Something that does bother me is that estate tax going away. Seriously so $22 million tax free inheritance is not enough? And the middle class needs to give away inheritances above that tax free? And it's inherited at a step-up basis? Really those 5000 people who have enough to leave more than $22 million need the tax break?

I have to admit I'm pretty liberal. But I'm a bit stunned these tax cuts have come without really cutting the budget. That republicans are okay with increasing the deficit so much? I thought it was supposed to be cut taxes, shrink government and deficit? Seems resonable and responsible budgeting. But instead we're cutting taxes and still spending wildly?

I am curious what will pass. It'll be an interesting sell.

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