I waited kind of a long time to get my snow tires off... but I finally made an appointment for this morning at a place I've been going to since I moved here 27 years ago.
They know me, and so I didn't feel uncomfortable asking if I could drive my car onto the thingy (what is that thingy called?) instead of having someone in my car. He said sure!
It was actually sort of fun, and they guided me onto it. Then I drove it back off. I waited outside while they did the work and even got some work done (brought my laptop).
I gave them my credit card, and they didn't make me sign. The credit card was the only thing I touched, but I used a paper towel. The total was $82.
So all in all a painless experience.
Then I went home and worked. I've been really productive, but for some reason today was kind of a low energy day. I did manage to do a load of laundry and work out our meal plan (fingers crossed the store has what we need for dinner).
Viewing the 'frugal living' Category
I waited kind of a long time to get my snow tires off... but I finally made an appointment for this morning at a place I've been going to since I moved here 27 years ago.
We were supposed to be leaving on May 29th for Europe; even if things open up we all decided that we did not want to be on a plane, or traveling, or far from home. So we canceled our summer trip, and I'm super sad.
The good news is that we are not out any money.
- Plane tickets - United put the miles back in my mom's account (she gave us the miles) and also is crediting our credit card for taxes/fees. This was a straight cancel, not rebook or delay. I am super thankful to United, and we will fly with them again hopefully next summer.
- AirBnb - We had paid half, and while we don't get the money back, it is on account with AirBnb to use any time before December 2021.
- Travel Insurance - Travelguard said we can apply our insurance from this trip to a future trip, so next trip is paid for.
The only thing that hasn't been returned are the theater tickets. We were going to see Wicked for my daughter's 15th birthday (she is super sad, I am trying to work something out for her birthday) and they haven't canceled those shows yet. Pretty sure they will, and they said that if so they will refund our money. Again, hopefully next year.
Have you canceled summer trips?
It has been a REALLY long time since I posted anything. Here is what's up:
- In toilet paper tracking news: we are using one roll every 10 days in one bathroom and one roll every 20 days in the other. I am sad that my weird habit is so relevant these days.
- We had a trip planned for March; I was sick, and went to the doctor, so our travel insurance paid for the cancellations. Still waiting for reimbursement.
- We have a trip planned in late May. We'll see what happens; we won't go (no way!!), but if the EU extends their travel ban just two more weeks (currently it's to May 15) then insurance will reimburse this too. We would be flying into the Netherlands. The sad thing is we were going to visit Ds family in the UK, too, and that is on hold for the near future. He talks to his parents daily via Skype.
- I am teaching my group fitness class on Zoom. I am not being paid, but I asked my members to contribute something to the gym owner because we'd all like the gym to be there for us when this is all over. It is a small gym, not a chain. I still have to buy the choreography and insurance, but it only amounts to about $25 per month. I was putting the remainder in my daughter's college fund.
- We received $136 for the airbag settlement fund and a $90 refund from the PT I went to, so I will put this into Fs college fund instead.
- My bank temporarily raised the limit for online deposits for my business so I can remotely deposit my checks. People are still giving me checks, and that means I have to pop into my office to get them. That's ok though since I only share the office with one other person (and I miss him a lot!). He's not often there. I pop in every Wednesday.
- Wednesday is when I pick up my CSA box from our local farmer's market. We decided to sign up because it supports farmers and we knew it was a way to ensure we had some good veggies on hand. This week's box had green garlic, daikon sprouts, Spinach, kale, a cucumber, dried apples, frozen blackberries and super cool looking purple carrots.
- Tuition for my daughter went up, but my husband got a raise, so we're ok.
I think that's about it! I hope you're all doing well!!
I am trying so hard to be frugal, but it's hard right now. Some wins, some losses.
Here are some thoughts on spending and saving:
1. It's hard because we are going to Iceland in March and we need some clothing items (including thermals!). Actually they are probably things we should have gotten a long time ago (we live in a cold climate). I am trying to buy sale, sale, sale items where possible and have taken advantage of holiday sales. I put together a list in September and have been gradually finding things. It's like a weird scavenger hunt! Have not been able to find what I need in thrift stores.
2. When something doesn't work, I send it back! Amazon is great about refunds.
3. I actually got a compliment from the checker at the grocery store the other day on the quantity of groceries I got for my money. He said I was a good shopper!
4. I am slightly splurging on gifts for teachers (movie vouchers) because I want them to have something they can use.
5. My husband got a gift tag at work for a child; the girl (same age as our daughter) wanted a portable speaker which is cool because we got one for F, too, before he picked up the tag! So we'd already done our research. They were on sale at Target today. Got 5% off with my Target card. We can get her an itunes card, too, since we saved (no need to skimp on this one in my opinion!). Wondering about putting in a cute little cuddly toy, too... 15 year olds are still little girls, right?
6. My nephew is just 4 1/2 months old. So instead of a big gift, I am knitting him a little ball with scrap yarn. F still has the ball my friend knitted for her when she was little - squishy and easy to grab.
7. Going to the Twinkle Light parade this weekend (free, but we have to stand in the cold - but hey we have our new thermals!)
8. I got paid by the gym today - yay! $163! This money goes to F's college fund.
9. My lunch today was leftovers from last night: posole, two cuties and a couple of squares of chocolate.
Hope you are having a great day, too, and enjoying the holiday season!
Hi! I feel really bad that I haven't written anything in a while. I've been saving money and spending money, still sticking with my budget.
I have developed a spreadsheet that works really well. It's based on YNAB, but I ended up divorcing YNAB for two reasons (that you couldn't carry over a negative balance and that it was expensive!). I still have buckets and every dollar has a job.
The thing I am saving for now is: college. It's not that far off (F is in 9th). So I'm putting all of our extra in there, plus $230/month from our budget.
We also have a big vacation planned for March: we are going to Ireland (to see family and friends) but stopping in Iceland for 5 days on the way back. The tickets were $1714 total for all three of us out of Denver and I had purchase eraser rewards, so in the end $1264. We have to drive to Denver. The 5 day layover in Iceland is free! I am spending a little extra because we have to buy some clothes (long underwear! Sorel-like boots) where there are gaps in our wardrobes.
So the key buy of the week were Aleader boots - they are cute, super warm and mine were $50. They look like Sorels; I can't wait to try these out this winter here in New Mexico - it's supposed to snow this Thursday, actually.
- I got at $10 credit for Amazon from Whole Foods
- I got a $25 gift certificate from Swagbucks
- I got a $13 Big Fat Check from Rakuten
- I bought Hannukah candles online for $4 as opposed to getting them from Whole Foods which is the only place that carries them here ($11!!!!!)
- I am knitting a cute little ball for my baby nephew for Christmas rather than buying more plastic stuff
- I am still making money teaching at a gym (and I've added running to my exercise routine - doing a 5k and also a shorter run each week; there is a nice track near our house at a local elementary school).
So it's Spring Break!! D had to go to the UK to see his parents, but there wasn't enough for all three of us to go, and F has soccer and track anyway, so she and I are having a staycation.
Try explaining that to my clients, though! I've had to do at least some work every day. Thankfully, I can do some work while F is at practice. And she is also working on a musical about the suffrage movement (no, not for school; yes, she is a super focused person), so I try to do work while she's doing that.
I still haven't finished our taxes (I probably have one more hour to finish up - grrrrr).
And I am trying to figure out a workable banking system for us. My local bank is being bought by another bank, and I am seeing some really annoying changes. I have a business online account with Barclays and personal accounts with Capital One 360. I am thinking of opening an account with HBSC because they have an opening bonus, sweep money into there to earn some interest, and then using it to move money back and forth from our personal account so we earn some interest on the money we don't need right away. Specific categories we let build up are: household repairs/projects, vacations/rewards, camp. I could sweep in a lot of money, and return it to our account as necessary so that the bricks-and-mortar bank will act only as a check-writing bank. Have any of you done this?
So, Spring Break this year - a two week break, and we are staying put.
D is going to the UK to be with and help his parents ($713.53 flight plus rental car but no hotel or food because he'll stay with family). F and I are not going for several reasons:
- why spend an extra $1400 to go over there to only stay 1 week (when we go, we maximize our time there)
- F has soccer and track (practices, meets, games)
So we will give him a list of things to bring back (Nairn's rosemary and sea salt flatbreads and Tesco GF chocolate wafers which are like kit kat for F), and then plan a fun couple of weeks.
On the agenda:
- a chocolate tour and tasting at a local chocolate factory that was a gift (so no charge to us)
- trip to Albuquerque to get lunch, hopefully find an 8th grade graduation dress
- online scavenger hunt (also already paid for Christmas present)
-a splurgy lunch out (not somewhere expensive, it's just that we are normally pack lunch people)
The weather will probably continue to be cold for a while, so that eliminates a lot of outdoor activities, but if we get some nice weather, we can go on some hikes. Or just play board games at home.
My daughter is such a great kid - she says she doesn't care about going places and that all she wants is to go see her new cousin in August in San Francisco (and see Hamilton!). Her friends will be going all over, though - one skiing in Pagosa, one to Belize, etc. What are you doing to make Spring Break special?
My husband got a raise this year- yes! Not a huge raise, but we are super happy! The result is $98.90 per month net.
Now for the increases in expenses for 2019:
- 83.33 more to the IRAs which gets us to our limit
- 58.67 increase in F's tuition
- food cost increases - our old food budget is not cutting it anymore - probably need to add about $75 more a month to be safe but $50 more would be ok
So budget needs to change by about $192 and we have $98.90... need to find another $93.
One way to do this is to take money out of other categories:
- 20 from karate (since she does so many sports that there isn't time for a lot of privates and the testing will slow down, too)
- 10 from camp (since F doesn't really like camp anymore and will do one or two at most - one karate and one soccer)
- maybe some money from the tuition savings (we try to save a little extra each month) to offset the tuition increase
Another option is a small distribution every so often from my business, but I hate doing that.
What categories do you use to offset budget increases?
Because I had been reading so many stories about refunds v. owning money as a result of the new tax changes, I decided to do our taxes two ways: using last year's tax code and this year's because everything else could be a result of withholding/different earnings/other factors.
This was easy to do, because I do my own taxes and I use Turbo Tax. I just opened a new file in last year's program and entered the info side by side with this year's program.
My dad said he had been planning to do the same thing: like father like daughter! My dad is 86 and still does his own taxes. The first time I did mine, he sat patiently with me as I did my (then) very simple return.
Ok, so this year we are getting back $4475 more than we would have under the old tax code. That is insane (and not in a good way, except for us it's good, but not for the country).
This is the part of the post where things get nerdy. But this is SavingAdvice, so you're probably into this! This is why I think the difference is so much in our favor:
- Standard deduction - we always took the standard deduction so the difference is pretty dramatic for us (we never itemized)
- Child tax credit - this gained us $2000 (would have been 0 under the old tax code)
- I made some pass-through money (my business profit which is taxed as personal income, and under the new rules, 20% of that is just written off
- I guess we end up in a lower tax bracket because they changed the brackets (we would have been in the 28% tax bracket last year, and now the same income is 24%)
All of this is great for us, as I mentioned, but completely unfair. Of course we can use the money (D may have to go back to the UK, but that's a different post and we are saving for college) but we shouldn't have been the ones to get a tax break. We make a good living (with both of our salaries about 120k) and I feel like this should have been aimed more at people less fortunate. Besides giving to college, some of this refund will be given as a charitable donation (along with the money F raised by making friendship bracelets for a local non-profit that deals with domestic violence).
1. Spent the weekend playing around on Excel to make sure we have enough to pay for school. I also called the school's financial office to find out what we save if we pay the full tuition by June v. paying monthly. It's $75, and it would be super hard to pay by June, plus we keep the money that we're saving for education in an account that makes interest. So - monthly it is! But good to do the research.
2. We bought our plane tickets to visit my brother and sister-in-law after they have their baby. Not cheap, but it's our vacation this summer and we're going to help with the baby for a few days. (We'll also do some driving trips around our state - maybe Chaco, Very Large Array). My mom let me know there was a sale, so I got on Southwest. The choice was Oakland v. San Jose, and although San Jose would've been more convenient (a little closer to Palo Alto), it also meant two flights and a lot more time spent traveling, so we opted for Oakland.
3. I am finishing up a library book - Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (one of my favorite writers!). A super fun book! I'll return it tomorrow along with books that F read. I truly love our little library.
4. We now have a professional soccer team in our state (second division, but still - how cool for our young soccer players)! The are having a youth clinic up here (they play in Albuquerque, so that's super nice). You get to watch them practice, then you get a meet and greet, then a training session with them!!! I had to get a ticket but the ticket was FREE! They just want people to register. The whole team is going.
5. More free stuff - our wonderful soccer coaches have been putting together some winter programs for the team including what they call "soccer class." These are in addition to indoor practices, and each week covers a different subject: athletes + sleep, focus + relaxation, goals + habits, game day prep. And I talked to the owner of the gym where I teach and she let me do a class for three weeks on resistance training for free.
6. Track is starting and uniforms are - gulp - $95. But not unexpected, and since it's a school sport, everything else is covered. F told the coach she wants to run the 800 and 1600 and his eyes lit up. She came in first in the soccer team timed mile (6 min. 45 sec.), and I'm excited to see what she can do with training. The coach said he has picked several meets at lower altitude to take advantage of the fact that our students train at 7000 feet.
7. We spent $138 on groceries this week, which isn't great. May need to do "eat out of the freezer" at the end of the month. This does include bringing a meal to my friend B who has a concussion (and is a single mom).