So here is how my month went.
I came in under budget on groceries, gasoline, and utilities. I "overspent" on savings and credit card debt.
"Everything Else" this month included $400 for my new fence, $31 for my new sheets, $80 for J's birthday gift, $73 dining out, and $50 to the American Red Cross.
So I am pleased with how I did. Having a nice low Visa bill was awesome! It will be low next month as well, so I should be able to "overspend" on savings again. And, fingers crossed, hopefully next month I will be able to kill my credit card debt. Our Christmas dinner is on Dec. 8th, so then I will know.
ETA: And I nearly forgot! As today was payday, I did a wallet sweep and sent off $11.00 to E fund.
Archive for November, 2012
So here is how my month went.
...and I am doing OK with the old budget.
I did send a bit extra off to Citi MC, an extra $30.20 to be exact. This whittled the balance down to $1,400.00.
I estimated my 2012 income tax returns, and it looks as though I will net about $500. So, I did OK with my tax planning too.
I stopped at the grocery store tonight and whipped out my AmEx card for the very first time. I learned that they don't take AmEx! This particular grocery store is conveniently located, just a few subdivision blocks away. It has low prices. I do most of my grocery shopping there. So, I don't know if I will apply for that Preferred Blue AmEx card or not, the one Monkey Mama mentioned (and I think I read that CeeJay has that one, too) which gives 6% back on groceries but charges a $75 annual fee. I am going to try using the one I have (Blue) for a few months and see how much I can use an AmEx without changing my shopping habits.
I have been working on switching automatic payments to my WF Home Rebate Visa. If something falls into the "and 1% on everything else" category, I prefer to earn a principal reduction to my mortgage.
I have also been working on getting payees set up on bill pay, for those vendors who will not accept a credit card as payment, or who do but charge a fee.
I'm looking forward to whittling down the number of open credit cards I have. I want to get down to just AmEx, Chase Freedom, and WF Home Rebate Visa. I will keep my Kohl's store card open too, but that is the only store card for which I have any use. I think I am only one month away from being able to make that happen.
I do very little on-line shopping. (Heck, by most standards, I do very little shopping period.) But today I saw an advertised deal on NoMoreRack and I had to bite.
Right now, I have only 1 set of sheets for my bed. I have been wanting to pick up a second set. NoMoreRack is selling 4 piece sets of 1600 thread count sheets for $29 today! Shipping and handling is an additional $2. There are 15 colors available. I've never owned 1600 thread count sheets, so I am looking forward to sleeping on them.
On Thanksgiving, I went to my mom's house with J (son), S (daughter), A (son-in-law) and BF. My nephew was there too. We had a very nice, low-key day. We had decided to do a small dinner and spend the afternoon playing cards instead of cooking and cleaning up.
Yesterday, 2 of J's friends came over to spend a few nights, and the boys are having a good time playing videogames and D&D. In between, they "cut up" and act silly. It is nice having them and I am glad they are enjoying themselves.
I think today I may put up my artificial tree. Or maybe not, maybe that's too ambitious.
I'm trying to get smarter about both of these things.
Quite some time ago, I wrote about trying to pay utilities with rewards cards to earn more points. At the time, I was under the impression I couldn't pay either my local electric or water, sewer, garbage bill with a credit card without being charged a fee. Since then, I have learned the trick for both is to register as a user on their respective websites. I have registered with both now, and will be using rewards cards in the future.
Lately I have been using my Well Fargo Home Rewards Visa for things such as groceries. I use it instead of my checking account debit card, then within a day or two, log on and transfer money from checking to the Visa. This particular rewards card will only redeem in increments of $25, and I had $7 or so in rewards already, so I wanted to get to $25 and redeem. I'm still working on it, but I think when I get to $25 I will stop using it. The reward is 1% on everything, and redemption is a principal reduction on my WF mortgage. I will not close this Visa.
I have also been using my Chase Sapphire some lately, as I had $15 or so in rewards, and need to get to $20 to cash them in. Once I do, I will close this Visa. I opened it last year for the sweet 50k rewards pts bonus. However, this card has an annual fee of $95. They waived the fee the first time, but it has to be coming up and I am not interested in paying it.
My main "go to" rewards card is my Chase Freedom. I will not close this Visa either, but believe I am going to stop using it in favor of....
My American Express rewards card. I've had it for more than a year, and haven't even activated it yet. (!) The rewards are 3% on groceries, 2% on gasoline, 1% on everything else. That's a pretty good deal, so why aren't I taking advantage? Must be inertia.
I will still use Chase Freedom on occasion, such as when the 5% rotating bonus applies to gasoline, etc.
And I heard the other day that stamps are going up yet again. I don't have a whole lot of bills to pay by check, but I am about to have none. I am hanging up my checkbook. From now on, I will use bill-pay for all of my bills. I will still need to write the occasional check, but those will be few and far between. Most importantly, they will not be mailed.
I mentioned that the house next door to me recently sold. Zillow says it is worth 106k. It just sold for 120k. This seems like good news to me.
The man who bought the house is an investor who owns several rental homes in the area already. He seems rather astute.
The family who had owned the house previously had 4 young children. The house is a 3/2 with 1296 sq. ft. The family had made an extra room out of the garage. They had walled off, so that the garage door was no longer an entrance into the home, but the garage door was still in place. In other words, you couldn't tell from the outside that the garage was no longer a garage, yet the family had some additional living space. They did this without any permits. So the buyer knew he would have the expense of converting that extra room back to a garage. He was still willing to pay 120k.
So, I am hopeful that my home value may not be quite as bad as Zillow says. It doesn't really change anything, but does make me feel better.
My house is a 4/2 with 1441 sq. ft.
Thursday was payday. I had $28 in bills plus a full coin purse left from my allowance. I deposited $25 and sent it off to E Fund.
I paid all of the bills I have received, subtracted my automatic payments (life insurance and Roth IRA) and sent $420 to Curveball. As always, I am still waiting to receive my Citi MC statement. I had too much left in checking! I love it when I have that problem. To solve it, I sent an extra $216.17 off to CurveBall. I may send a bit extra to Citi MC too, but will have to buy groceries before I decide on that.
CurveBall's balance didn't advance too much as I pulled out money for my new fence. The new fence is in and looks great. My cost ended up being $400, not $350 as I posted earlier. I had forgotten that I have an extra section of fence which I do not share with the neighbor. The neighbor called and said he had not counted that part, but said they would go ahead and replace that too while they were at it for an extra $50. I agreed as I felt that was fair.
So far this month, I am doing fine on my budget.
When Lucky Robin asked for an update, I realized one was overdue.
I sued the neighbors over the fence. (There is a law in California that both owners are responsible for shared fences.) I lost. The commissioner (no judge in small claims) said that law could not be used to force someone to pay for a fence. This is not what I have heard elsewhere, and have had quite a few legal type people express surprise. Nonetheless, that is what happened in court. There is no appeal from small claims.
I have decided not to pursue suing for the vet bill.
As expected, they were nasty and accusatory in court. They even claimed I had trained the dogs to attack them. (A ridiculous claim.) The commissioner would not listen and instead only wanted to discuss the fence.
Since then, they have not bothered me or our dogs.
In other fence news, the new owner on the other side and I have agreed I will pay $350 towards our new fence. I am quite happy with this arrangement.
Today I discovered that if I register my MID account on their site and log-in, I can pay my bill with a credit card without incurring a fee. So, I whipped out my WF Mortgage Rebate Visa and did just that. I'm going to do it this way every month from now on.
I received a check in the mail yesterday for the Allstate Class Action lawsuit in the amount of $10.26. This amount is going straight to E Fund.
The house next door to me recently sold (unfortunately, not the dog poisoner) to an investor who intends to use the house as a rental. He has been doing work at the house, and yesterday came over and spoke to BF about replacing our shared fence. BF took his name and number and I called him back this morning. He wants to replace the fence while he has hired help on site. I said yes, I am all for it. He says he has most of the lumber we would need, can provide the labor, and has a concrete guy coming out today anyway who could also do the fence holes. He said he will call me back later today with an estimate, but he thinks we could do it for $400 - $500. So, I'm excited at the prospect of that. I share my back yard fence with 4 different neighbors, and this section is now the oldest.
My decoy mail volume is steadily increasing. I receive mail more days than not, usually 2 - 3 pieces at a time. Yesterday, I had 6 pieces.
Last night I bought J a video game he has been wanting. It is his birthday present, he turns 17 on Saturday. My baby. Where has the time gone? Hug your little ones while you can.
When I went to see the lung doctor, he did a throat swab and prescribed a cough suppressant (Benzonatate). He stated he suspects I have pertussis (whooping cough). Later I thought, but that is contagious. I have been coughing for months and I have not infected anyone. I go back in December for a breathing test, then a second time for the results. Meanwhile, the Rx is greatly reducing the coughing so that is great. The co-pay for a specialist is $40 per office visit.
I did some poking around on MID's website and I learned that Balanced Bill Pay amounts are adjusted every February. So, I will be paying $238 per month until then. I expect to have quite a large credit by then, so it should adjust down substantially at that time.
I did not make my budgeted savings contribution, using the money to cover October's Visa bill.
I'm quite pleased with how my spending went. In November, my Visa bill is going to be less than $300. I will have no trouble whatsoever with paying it in full and making my budgeted savings deposit.
My utilites were under $500! I now have credit balances on both my PG & E (gas) and MID (electric) accounts. PG & E just adjusted my balanced bill pay amount from $62 to $43. November will be the first month I pay $43. I have received my MID bill for November too, and my balanced bill pay has not adjusted yet. I currently have a credit balance of $100 odd dollars and I must pay another $238. Since we are going into winter when the bill is much lower I've been expecting it to adjust down. My Ting bill was $35.27 in October. I am loving Ting.
I ended the pay period with $16 plus coins in my wallet. I withdrew my cash allowance of $60 for the next pay period, then sent $20 off to E Fund.