<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Home > Category: Personal Finance

Viewing the 'Personal Finance' Category

Gift Card Roundup

January 4th, 2015 at 07:14 pm

As of today:

Quick Lane Rebate (from tire purchase last year) $1.50

Dutch Bro's coffee $7.00

Starbucks $10.00

Macy's $9.01/$10.26/$50.00

Kohl's $9.50/$25.00

I'm hanging on to my clothing cards to purchase items for Spring/Summer.

Happy New Year and updates

January 1st, 2015 at 07:36 pm

Been a bad blogger these past few months but hope to keep it up much better.

We ended the year on a pretty good note. DH received a 3% raise effective next paycheck. I received $1000 Christmas bonus at work, and finally, my very generous parents gifted us at Christmas, $14,500.

We also met our goals, with the exception of paying off the credit line. This was from last year's bathroom/laundry room update. It was almost paid off and we decided to remodel our mater bath. In October, the balance was about $3000. We added $14,000 to that that by the beginning of December. However, with some diligence,(and using some of the money from my parents) as of January 1st, it is $10,000.

I will blog about the bathroom remodel in another post. I am excited to share how we cash flowed a big portion of that.

We also had our water heater replaced the day after Christmas. It was 17 1/2 years old. As the girls have been in and out for the holiday break for Christmas, we discovered when all 4 of us needed to shower one after the other, some people were getting cool water. DH found a good deal on a new water heater from Lowe's, and for opening a Lowe's card, we saved $80 (and it will be paid in full when the bill comes) and we will also receive a refund of $125 as it is an energy saving model.

2015 goals include: paying of the credit line ($10,000)....getting the mortgage down to $100K (currently at $112K) and cash flowing a new roof in the Spring/Summer(amount unknown....5 to 7K).

That's it for now...off to update the sidebar.

Wishing everyone a Happy and prosperous New Year and good thoughts for meeting our goals!


October 29th, 2014 at 08:50 pm

With all of the spending on the Wells Fargo card (vacation and bathroom remodel), we have earned two more $25 rebates towards our mortgage principal! One posted 9/30 and one just posted 10/28....it also appears we are less than $1 away from earning another.

I had 8000 points in my account at My Points. I cashed one out at 3700 for a $25 Regal gift card. We will save that and use it for a date to see the new Hunger Games Movie.

I think I am also going to cash out 3700 for a $25 Starbucks e-gift card. I can load that on to my registered gift card.

I have also in the past few months, earned several $5 Starbucks gift cards by using some various apps on my phone (ShopKick and Ibotta). I also started using another shopping/rebate app called Checkout 51. I am $9.25 towards earning a $20 check.

I love free stuff Smile


October 28th, 2014 at 08:28 pm

Once again I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon! Here are a few updates:

Master bath remodel. We have taken the plunge into another remodel project. If you remember, last October we remodeled/updated the girl's bathroom and our laundry room. DH really wanted to do our master bath so here we are. They started yesterday and this should take a total of about 3 weeks. The neat freak in me is full of anxiety. DD1's old bedroom is filled with stuff for the new bathroom (2 sinks, toilet, faucets for the sinks, tubs and shower, plus the new vanity we had made). The new bathtub is finally out of the garage. DD2's room is filled with everything from our closet and bathroom, plus the girl's old bathroom is filled with the stuff we use daily. It is all so disorganized. The upside? We will have a beautiful new bathroom and it will be a great opportunity to purge!

I am happy to say we have cash flowed a portion of this project. We agreed since we had 40K in savings, we would purchase everything we could on our Wells Fargo card (plus earn 1% back) and pay it off every month, which we have. The only thing we can't put on the card is the payment to our contractor. That is going on the credit line (via check to him), and depending on how things play out, we may pull a bit out of savings to pay it down, but not completely off. We are ok making payment on the credit line and paying it off as fast as we can...because....

Property taxes are due Nov 15th in our state....isn't that nice? Right before the holidays. Plus they went up a this year over $200.

DH's tires are paid off!

We took a quick trip to Vegas a few weeks ago for our anniversary. Saw Blue Man Group and KA (a Cirque show) Both were fantastic and the weather was great.

That's it for now.

I hope to be better about posting Smile

Long overdue update......

August 20th, 2014 at 08:27 pm

Hi all!

I am still around....haven't been blogging but reading and commenting.

Things are well around here since I last posted. We have paid off my tires and owe $400 on DH's. Final payment (no interest) is due in November. We also have about $3,000 left on our home equity line of credit. Just as that is being paid off, we will run it up again as we are going to be redoing our master bath. We have the money in savings to pay for it, but do not want to deplete it. We will work at paying it down as soon as possible.

We have been enjoying summer, much warmer weather in the NW than usual, thus running the a/c a lot more too.

Since we took our big vacation for the year back in April, we did a 3 day road trip in July to visit Crater Lake in Southern Oregon and then headed over to the coast for a night. We are also looking a doing a short trip to Vegas in mid October.

DD1 is living in her college town, working and taking classes. DD2 came home for the summer in mid June. She will head back to college in mid Sept. She was lucky enough to get a job transfer from her college town up to the franchise in our town for the summer. She will also be returning back to the store in her college town when she heads back.

I guess that's it for now. Am really going to try to be better about posting. Lot's of things to share!

Off to update my sidebar Smile

Back to blogging/updates

May 18th, 2014 at 07:47 pm

Hi SA friends!

Well I am back to blogging. Finally feel in the mood Smile

I updated my side bar figuring it was time as I still had 2013 goals on there.

You will notice a little debt. The story behind the tires...first mine...back in February, I had 2 nails in one of my tires....DH also noticed my tires were pretty bald. My vehicle (2010 Ford Escape), it would seem was due for some new tires after 4 years. We went ahead and got them...0% interest for 6 months. DH's tires are another story. In 2012, he gave up his Ford Fusion for a more economical car (Ford Focus). He loves cars, and really wanted to add a bit of 'dash" to the Focus. He doesn't really have any hobbies, and rarely spends money on himself, so he wanted to use his bonus for new tire and wheels. I didn't feel like I could say no, so he shopped around and got new tires and wheels. Again, we are at 0% interest for 6 months. On both sets of tires, we also got visa rebate gift cards.

With $38K in savings, you might wonder why we don't just pay them off....I definately would, but DH thinks it's better just to keep the money in savings since we are not paying any interest. They WILL be paid off at the end of the promotion though. I have just divided the payment into 6 months, and they will be gone. I just hate having it hang over our heads, and it's one more bill to remember to pay. We have purchased many, many things over the years on promotions like this and have never paid a penny of interest.

Our home equity line of credit should be paid off in about 5 months...just in time to start a new remodel project...lol...that's another post.

My mom is still giving me the $500 a month...for now, I just put it into savings. We have had some big visa bills the past few months, mainly from our recent vacation and a few other purchases, (a new mattress for one)however, I have been able to pay in full each month, but have had to transfer some from savings. I hope with this months bill, it will be the last time we will have to do that and we will be able to start earmarking the $500 for something else.

That's about it for now Smile

An unexpected credit...

March 31st, 2014 at 06:43 am

First off, thanks for the info about taking food on the plane....I knew you couldn't take liquids (until passing security) so I have no idea why I thought you couldn't take food. Our last few vacations have been long flying times and I can't believe I didn't know this.....this really helps a lot and I am excited to be able to bring some healthy snacks and food!

I received an email awhile back from Barnes and Noble about a settlement and that I would be receiving a credit soon. It has something to do with the Nook (and possibly other e-readers) so I was pleasantly surprised to receive my credit this weekend of $16.00! I loaded it on my account along with a $25 gift card from my birthday so I have $41 to spend. Obviously, this comes as a great time with several long planes rides coming up. I found a couple of books I loaded last night and have a few more in mind to finish up the credit. Yipee!

Using it up and vacation meal planning.....

March 30th, 2014 at 07:56 pm

We will be leaving on vacation next Saturday, so I decided to get creative in the kitchen for the coming week. I went to the store this morning and only bought a few fresh produce items (apples, banana's, strawberries, raspberries and a cucumber) I have milk, eggs, cereal, bread, cheese, lunch meat, a few frozen entree's and some canned soup)to get us through for breakfast and lunches, along with the fresh fruit. If we run out, we have canned fruit we can use. Dinners will be using odds and ends from the freezer and pantry...nothing fancy, but enough for Monday through Friday.

We plan to eat breakfast at the airport on Saturday morning and buy some snacks for the plane ride. Our first leg is almost 5 1/2 hours with no meal. We will have a little less than 1 1/2 hours before our next flight which is almost 4 1/2 hours to grab a bite to eat, and then that will be it....we do not get to our final destination until 9:40 pm, so I doubt we are going to want to eat that late. I hate the thought of buying snacks at the airport due to the cost, but I don't think we would get through security with food in our carry on's and I am sure not waiting until we land to eat. I get a little cranky when I am super hungry Smile

We will spend the night in a hotel and part of the reason we chose it was because they offer a hot breakfast in the morning. It will be nice not to have to find a place to eat. We will board the ship in the early afternoon so our meals will be set for the duration of the trip. Our only other meal should be lunch during our layover on the way home (we will eat breakfast before disembarking), but we may have to purchase some more snacks for the flights home as it is another 10 hour travel day with no meal service once again.

Quick check in....financial & fitness

March 14th, 2014 at 06:51 am

Not much new on the financials....having low/no spends days....it's not hard during the week, but is harder on the weekends when we have more free time.

Paid the water/sewer bill on Wednesday and also the garbage bill. DH and I both needed gas on Thursday, other than that, no spending except my iced coffee addiction.....I am working on that!

Workouts are going well....this week I went Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday...took Tuesday off as my stomach was bothering me....been doing cardio (at least 40 min) and some form of weights (working a different body part each night).

Seems to be paying off...I have lost 2 pounds and definately feel slimmer....I think I haven't lost as much weight as it is all turning to muscle.

Happy Friday friends!

Updates...financial and fitness

March 9th, 2014 at 08:38 pm

First....fitness...worked out 6 out of 7 days last week....M,T,W,TH,Sat,Sun....took Friday off! Working on the treadmill for 40 min and then doing weights of some sort. Stepping on the scale tomorrow to see if anything has happened. I don't think I lost much (if any), but I definately feel slimmer.

Finances...on autopilot....not much new to report. My mom is still gifting us the $500 per month. For now, it is going directly into the savings. I will be increasing my SEP IRA at work tomorrow.

Working on plans for the next 4 weeks. Making lists of what needs to be accomplished before we leave on vacation. Financial, household, and personal.

I am really looking forward to getting away! So glad it is coming up soon, AND that is is paid in full!

Mortgage payment & workout

March 5th, 2014 at 08:53 pm

Paid the mortgage today...with an extra $82 going to principal. Just received another $25 reward from Wells Fargo that will be applied to the principal.

We have received 2 rewards so far this year as we have spent quite a bit on the card. We have charged our upcoming vacation and a new mattress which has really added up.

We get 1% back on all purchases and when we reach $25, we have it applied to the principal.

To be clear, we always pay the statement balance off each month and never pay any interest.

Work out today: 45 min treadmill (392 calories burned)
also work ab's.

Have exercised 3/5 days so far.

Happy New Year from Oregon

December 31st, 2013 at 10:27 pm

So it's about 10:20pm here on the West coast. I am just hanging out by myself....DH is in bed (he has to work New Year's Day) and the DD's are out with their friends celebrating. I'm not bummed we are not going out...we never do. I would rather just stay home and be cozy.

We ended up pretty much meeting the 2013 goals. We paid off both cars and a new wedding ring for me. We didn't up DH's 401K contribution to 15% but we did increase mine which probably made up for the 1%.

If it were not for my parents and their most generous gift, we would not have made the savings goal.

We would have been debt free except for the mortgage, except we took out the home equity loan to renovate a bathroom and laundry room. I don't regret this as those rooms were going to need renovating at some point. We will not be staying in this house long term....we have been here 16 1/2 wonderful years, but will be looking to downsize at some point in our closer to retirement years.

Looking forward to 2014!

My generous parents

December 29th, 2013 at 08:43 pm

DH and I enjoyed a very Merry Christmas courtesy of my very loving and generous parents. They gifted me with a check for $10K and DH received a check for $5K.

These funds for now, are sitting in the savings account. We would not have met that goal if it were not for them.

Plans for the money include making a large payment on the home equity line we took out in October for some home renovations. (I have already made one $500 payment).

We are also planning a cruise for April.

Next blog post will be about 2014

Got my Christmas bonus!

December 16th, 2013 at 08:53 pm

It was slightly smaller than last year, but that's ok....I feel so lucky to even receive one at all.

It was $1000. It has gone into savings for now.

I am not counting on a raise in January at my review. There are some big changes coming to healthcare next year and it is going to be costly for healthcare employers.

I am not just talking about the new healthcare plans. There is also going to be a new medical coding system in place starting in October.

We also may be looking at getting an electronic medical records system. That will be very expensive, not to mention the training it will involve.

So for now, I am just feeling thankful for what I have and for what I have been blessed with.

Feeling very blessed & what a day

December 4th, 2013 at 08:23 pm

I blogged a while back about my mom giving me $500 a month....she has been doing this for about 4 months now.....not really sure why, she just says cause she loves us. My sister gets the same amount, my brother (due to some family issues) gets nothing.

We have been throwing the money into savings for now.

Today I received a check for $2000!

That also will be going into savings for now to replenish after paying property taxes in November.

I had a few nice things happen today, all before 9:00. I stopped at Starbucks and the person in front of me paid for my drink....how nice....so....I paid for the person behind me. Wonder how long it went on?

I drove by and found out that a Panera is coming to our town....oh happy day...I love that place! Rarely get it unless we go to the mall (which we do not very often).

And finally, several co-workers complimented me and said I looked like I had lost weight/toned up. All that work at the (new) gym membership must be paying off a bit.

I would say this has been a great day! Smile

Well I sure feel dumb

October 27th, 2013 at 03:18 pm

A few months ago I upgraded to a smart phone. I wasn't really checking the bill (bad bad bad I know).

I discovered I was being charged for insurance and phone protection (which of course they never "told" me)

A few weeks ago, I was just browsing the bill and came upon these two charges. I immediately logged online and deleted those services.

This will save $9.99 a month. DH also downgraded his DISH movie package and that should save $20 to $30 a month. He had a special they offered him for 6 months and it has now expired. He decided it wasn't worth it anymore, except I am sure he will be missing Game of Thrones when that comes back on.

Our electric bill and water/sewer bill went down also. I imagine it is because both girls are now away at college and the usage has gone down. I am not spending as much on food either.

The natural gas bill however, did go up. Obviously that is because the weather has turned colder and we had to turn on the heat.. We have a programable thermostat which we feel really helps. We were also notified that our garbage bill will be going up also but I don't know how we could save anything there. If they offered every 2 week pick up we might be able to swing that, but I think it is either every week or once a month. I definately will check into that.

Going back into debt again.....

October 23rd, 2013 at 08:02 pm

It is good and bad.

The bad....DEBT! (and just when we were $400 away from being debt free except for the mortgage) Frown

The good.....we are doing some renovations on our house....since we are now empty nesters, we are redoing the hall bath/girls bathroom and the laundry room which is upstairs right next to said bathroom.

We are planning on staying in this house for 3 to 5 years, possibly longer depending on many circumstances.

Over the years, we have done many updates to our house....some small...some bigger. A little background...when we moved into this house a little over 16 years ago, it was brand new. Because we had sold our previous house and had exactly 21 days to find a new house, this house was about 2 weeks away from being completed worked out well for us....that being said, we were not able to pick anything such as flooring ect, so over the years, we have slowly been updating it.

Every year, we would choose 1 or 2 things to do and slowly but surely it has come around.

I took before pictures and will take after pictures to share if anyone is interested.

It will take about 2 weeks for completion. They came today and did the entire demolition.

In spite of the mess/chaos, it is exciting!

Property taxes going up

October 16th, 2013 at 03:36 pm

We were watching the news the other night and they said property taxes for the coming year were going to go up as much as 9% in our county.

We have not received our bill yet, but I did go online and managed to find our new rate.

The somewhat good news is that it appears it is only going up $123 from last year.

I guess some of it depends on which city you live in, and if certain bonds ect are expiring or taking effect, so it appears we got off somewhat lucky.

We do have a school bond measure and a parks and rec measure coming up for vote in our city and if those pass, I have a bad feeling about next year.

Not going to worry about that now, but just be thankful they didn't go up too much this year.

First time ever

October 6th, 2013 at 08:46 pm

to get hit with a late fee. Crud!

I was thinking last week there was something due...got sidetracked and then suddenly remembered Thursday night after I got home from yoga that the small credit card was due....I was one day late.

$25 fee....going to call on Monday and see if they will waive it.

If not, we may just cancel. Right now, the only thing on it is our Verizon (internet) and Netflix. Those would both be easy to change over to the Wells Fargo card. I had asked DH to do it a while back, but he just keeps forgetting.

We will see.

So irritated with myself!

An investment & the title came

October 2nd, 2013 at 11:13 am

In me that is....now that I am an empty nester, I decided to sign up for a yoga class....$89 twice a week for 10 weeks. I think that is a pretty good bargain. It is through our local community college.

I have never done it before, but so far, I am loving it!

Also, the title to the Focus came last week. Now it is official! BOTH of our cars are paid off.

My Points

September 27th, 2013 at 08:49 pm

My 2 gift cards came in pretty quickly.

$25 Regal Entertainment

$25 Target

Regal will probably get used pretty quickly, but I think we will save Target for Christmas.

Small snowflake, but every bit helps.

The check cleared!

September 16th, 2013 at 08:06 am

It's official! We now own both of our vehicles. Can't remember a time in almost 26 years of marriage that this has happened.

The really nice thing? We really buckled down and paid this loan off fast....1 1/2 years. Smile

Paying the Focus loan off!

September 9th, 2013 at 01:24 pm

Yep! We are going to do it! I am calling the credit union today and am going to mail the check off after work. We are at $1499 and some change, so I will need to get the exact payoff.

Part of the reason we are doing this, is that my generous mom gifted me with another $500 this weekend.

I wish I could say we were debt free except for the mortgage, but I forgot to add our Zales account to my side bar. You see, a few months ago DH really wanted to get me a new wedding ring. We went to Zales and purchased one on 12 months deferred. I originally divided the balance by 12 months, but then last week realized, if we want to be debt free by December, I would have to up the payment. I figured out how much that would be with a final payment in December.

We will most likely be paying it off next month as the balance is $608.79. We will find the cash to do it, and then I can really say:

We are debt free except for the mortgage!

Extra to the mortgage

September 4th, 2013 at 08:16 am

Our regular payment is $918.62...I sent an extra $31.38 to round it up to $950. I have been doing this for some time now. When DH's car is paid off by the end of the year, we may consider upping that extra amount.


August 26th, 2013 at 08:02 pm

Electric and gas were down....water/sewer UP! By about $40.

DH has been doing LOTS of watering. He has been having to water his flowers every night. He has the sprinkler come on in the wee hours of the morning almost every day.

Will be glad for some cooler weather.

Also, with DD2 leaving 9/25/2013, I imagine water will go down even more. Not as many showers or laundry.

But that kind of makes me sad..that means we will officially be empty nesters Frown

Focus loan

August 16th, 2013 at 07:58 am

Sent $1000 to the Focus Loan yesterday...that brings us to under $1500!


August 6th, 2013 at 08:38 pm

We were at Target last night getting some dorm room essentials for DD2. DH said he needed socks. The pack we bought came with a $5 gift card.

I also have 2 coupons for travel size items at Bath and Body Works. One expires on the 8th, so I need to make time to pop in there and grab something.

I am sitting on over 7000 my points, but can't decide what to do with them.

I also have enough points to redeem through Shop Kick, small gift cards to Starbucks, Target, or Redbox. For now, I am just going to hang onto them.

Heat wave and an update

June 30th, 2013 at 05:09 pm

We are in the midst of a heatwave here in Oregon...at least in the Portland area. Usually our "summer" doesn't start until July. We hit 100 today and the forecast for the upcoming week is in the low to mid 90's. All I can say is thank goodness for air conditioning.

We are wrapping up a few months of crazy entertaining and attending events. One more to go (parent's 50th wedding anniversary party on 7/14) and then we are done! June was very busy with dd2's 18th b-day, graduation, and her graduation party. The other events were luckily spread out a bit more.

I am looking very much forward to vacation on 7/24. Tomorrow I can officially see it on the calendar! I am looking even more forward to it knowing everything but our food (except lunch and dinner) is paid for. We did pay for the breakfast buffet that is offered at the resort. We hit the Goodwill yesterday and found a small collapsible cooler for $3.99 to take with us, so we can pick up sandwiches and drinks to take while we are out and about exploring and hitting the beach. That should save some money by not eating lunch out in a restaurant every day, and bringing our own snacks and drinks.

Life will be slowing a bit after vacation, and we will use that time to get back on track spending wise.

This and that (update)

June 2nd, 2013 at 08:14 pm

May was a bit of a spendy month. Other than regular expenses, this is what was spent.

1. Storage racks for garage $1100

2. 3 family b-days $75 (3 gc's at $25 each)

3. $140 for a gps for DD2 graduation gift

4. $220 for a new spring for the garage door opener that broke on Memorial Day.

5. $160 on Friday to have furnace and a/c unit cleaned and tuned up.

6. $156 for luau for upcoming vacation.

June is looking to be a little spendy also. DD2's 18th b-day is next Saturday. We are having a family lunch and still need to get her a gift. She wants to take 3 friends downtown for part of the day to Saturday market. We will give her money for lunch and also treat her friends. She is graduating on the 13th and we will also host a small graduation party for her soon after.

In July, my sister and I are hosting a 50th anniversary party for my parents. We already have the venue reserved and my sister has already paid me back for her half. We will have to pay for coffee and punch as they will not allow us to bring in our own. We will split the cost of that, plus a nice cake. She has purchased some decorations and such so I will owe her for that. Her bday is also in July, so we will need to get her a gift card for that (she prefers gift cards for b-day's and Christmas). Vacation is almost paid for (last payment due on the 7th), so we will just need to mainly worry about food and maybe a few small trinkets. We are thinking of doing a cave tubing excursion, but are not completely sure. If we do, we will book that online and pay with the Wells Fargo cc, which will give us points.

Luckily, most of this has been planned, and we have had the funds to cover it, but I try to always be aware of those surprises that seem to pop up!

Focus Loan

May 23rd, 2013 at 07:32 pm

Another $500 to the Focus loan...that takes us down to $3475.00.

It's exciting to think next month we will be under 3K!

It's looking good to have this paid off in December Smile

<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>