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FancyPants Planner

May 21st, 2017 at 05:36 pm

I mentioned in my March budget report that I had spent $50 on a fancypants planner. It is from Plum Paper. I am enjoying this purchase immensely! I think I may buy one every year from now on. This is a look at how I have been using it.

I customized the cover:



I am using the monthly calendar to track the ins, outs, and daily balance of my checking account:



I am listing each credit card charge as I make it. I think I may start a running total on the side:



I do a mini-budget for each paycheck:



I have a dedicated page each month for listing each bill I must pay, and I highlight the amount when it has been paid:



I made a chart to track my progress on my Heloc repayment:

Home From Cruise

October 13th, 2016 at 12:00 am

Well, I got home Sunday from the cruise. SB and I had a great time, and we caught some new Pokemon. Stick Out Tongue It was nice to have time to re-connect as a couple with no other distractions.

The service for my cousin was very nice. He taught math at both a high school and community college in San Diego. The service was on his college campus and was attended by hundreds of colleagues and students. His mother especially was comforted that he had been so well liked, loved, and respected by those who knew him. Still, it is sad to say goodbye to someone so young. My cousin was not married but left behind a partner of 10 years. I had never met the partner before; he is a very nice man and is just devastated.

Seeing family I had not seen in many years was nice. Of course, this sort of thing makes you contemplate your own mortality. It is sobering to realize how many years it has been since you have seen cousin so-and-so; how quickly your life goes by.

This trip was a bit pricey. A group of my family were staying in a Marriott Suites hotel, so I stayed there too. I usually opt for more economical lodging, but I wanted to be where my family was. SB paid for the cruise, but the additional 3 nights of lodging is all on me. That is only right since it was my family and my desire to attend the service.

So my little CurveBall Fund at WF will be taking a hit. Otherwise, I would have to carry credit card debt and that does not appeal. I am not certain I will have 5k earmarked for a new roof this spring. I could maybe put it off another year, but I don't really want to do that. I am still not even certain 5k will do it. I used an online estimator tool which said my roof should cost 4k - 6k. More than a month ago, a local roofing company said they would be coming by to measure and then email me an estimate. I am still waiting for that. I emailed them again today.

I have applied for a HELOC at Wells Fargo. We will see what they say. I'm not certain I will need to borrow, but it doesn't cost anything to have the HELOC open and ready to go.

Well, I am off to my second job. This is my third night, and I may or may not need one more to finish up. The week I work at my second job in the evenings is always a long week.

Bill Fixer Results; Cash Flow Bottleneck

July 19th, 2016 at 03:29 am

Bill Fixers was able to reduce my internet bill by $13.96 per month. Not much, but something. I have to pay them half of it, so I am ahead $6.98 per month.

In other budget news, I cancelled my gym membership. A payment was due in July, and that is that. So, there is another $19.99 per month ahead.

I have added dvd service to my Netflix, and will probably keep that for a few months. Our list of movies we wanted to see which are disc only grew to the point it made sense to restart that service. I got the first month free, but afterwards will pay $12 per month.

So as you know, I recently switched to cash only for groceries, gas, and personal spending. Since I had previously used rewards cards for those things, in July I had to pay some of June's charges, plus pay as I go for July. (For budgeting purposes, I count spending when I make a charge, not when I pay it.) As it turns out, I am also parting with the cash for two electric bill payments in July*, which is further impeding my cash flow. It is a temporary bottleneck and will ease next month. However, July's savings account deposits are very anemic.

* My electric company bills me around the 5th or so, and I need to pay by the 20th or so. Usually, I use my Citi DoubleCash MasterCard to pay the electric company. The Citi billing cycle cuts off around the 6th of the month, so I typically charge the electric bill on the 10th. When I get paid on the 15th, I pay the charges which appear on Citi's statement from the 6th. In practice, I don't part with the cash for June's electric bill until July 15th. Which I have just done.

In the pursuit of credit card rewards, I have recently applied for and received the new Ally Visa. The sign-up offer is to spend $500 in the first 3 months and receive a $100 bonus. Since my electric bill is $252 per month, I decided to use it twice to pay my electric bill, thus I don't need to bother with it further. So, I used it this past July 10 to pay July's electric bill. And then the statement cycle closed, and I need to pay by August 12th. A bit inconvenient as that's 3 days before payday. So, I just paid it tonight. That $252 is coming out of my planned savings account transfer.

I will use the Ally card for August's electric bill and pay that in August too.

In September, I will go back to using Citi DoubleCash and won't need to pay that statement charge until October, thus picking up a bit of extra cash flow to throw into savings.

So there you have it. Other than that, just plugging along as usual here at Chez Petunia.

Bill Fixers

April 9th, 2016 at 02:30 am

Have you Saving Advice peeps heard about this?

Text is http://www.mymoneyblog.com/bill-fixers-haggle-bills-review.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mymoneyblog+%28My+Money+Blog%29 and Link is
http://www.mymoneyblog.com/bill-fixers-haggle-bills-review.h...

This is a new company which will negotiate your cable, phone, and internet bills for you. They charge you half of your first year's savings to do it. If they can't help, you don't pay.

I'm thinking of letting them have a go at my Comcast internet bill, which is too high.

Disgruntled With Ting

December 9th, 2015 at 11:40 pm

I am disgruntled with Ting at the moment.

My phone is older and has gotten to the point it has a fair number of quirks. For example, when I am texting someone it will stop, tell me it has "saved as draft" my text message, then it will begin calling the person I am texting. That's an annoying quirk.

So I have been wanting to get a newer phone, but I don't need all the bells and whistles and I don't want to pay for them. I have been considering my options.

On black Friday, I bought a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S3 from Ting for $147. When it arrived, I noticed the screen was a bit cloudy and it had a scratch. But over the next several days, I realized that the scratch is a crack. I will be honest, I am less than thrilled about them selling me a phone, refurbished or not, with a crack in the screen.

I charged the phone overnight, and the next morning it went dead less than an hour after I took it off the charger. It hadn't even been activated yet, so no phone calls or texts or data usage. I tried charging a second time to make sure it wasn't some sort of fluke, with the same results. So it came without a functional battery, and I will need to buy one. I'm liking the phone even less.

But here is the real kicker: it won't activate. I spent several hours total between two sessions with support trying to get it activated. I tried this and that and did everything they told me to do and...nothing.

I e-mailed customer support asking if I can return it and they have not answered. It has been several days so I assume they are not going to answer.

I had been without phone service as my old phone stopped working once I transferred my number to the new phone. Yesterday morning I transferred my number back to the old phone.

This morning I emailed the support guy and just said no to his latest request. I stated that I am unhappy with the condition of the phone, that I'm done trying to activate it, and that if they won't take it back I am just going to e-cycle it. He politely thanked me for letting him know.

So, I'm not certain what I am going to do next.

I guess the moral of this story is do not buy a refurbished phone from Ting. If it is not in acceptable condition, tough cookies.

Phone Woes

November 13th, 2014 at 05:44 pm

J's phone has been acting up. Last night, it stopped working all together. Perhaps it will magically begin working again, who knows? I ordered him a new one. The phone was $149. I went ahead and bought him a car charger too for another $18 (was $20, but I Googled and found a 10% off accessories code). With shipping, it is setting me back $187.65.

I browsed both Ting and Republic Wireless plans. RW is still the better choice for him, even though the $19 per month plan we had is no longer available. Because I am ordering a new phone, I have to choose from the plans currently being offered. We went with the unlimited for $25 per month.

My ex-husband has retired from the sheriff's department. Because he is retired, his share of cost for medical insurance has changed. Our divorce decree stipulates that he is responsible for providing J's medical insurance. The cost for J has risen to approximately $800 per month. We looked into adding J to my plan, and I can add him for just under $400 per month. Of course, that is what ex wants to do. So, we have submitted the paperwork. I will have the cost deducted from my paycheck, and ex will reimburse me. I hope he will regularly reimburse me promptly, but history suggests otherwise.

I wish we could insert spreadsheets into our blogs. I had posted my amortization schedule for my car note into a "page", but the spaces are eliminated and all of the numbers run together. I figured out how to insert an image into a "page". It took three images to show the entire schedule, but at least it is legible. (You load the images to a draft of a blog entry, then just never publish it. You can paste the image number into your "page", and voila, Bob's your uncle).

I received $3.75 from HauserNet, and so made my first tiny extra principal payment to my car loan.

Introducing My New Car

November 6th, 2014 at 02:41 am

Well, I bought the car. With sales tax and registration, it came to $16,493.71. I borrowed 16k from Wells Fargo and coughed up the 493.71. The balance of car fund is going towards car insurance.

Here it is:



J is so happy to have his own wheels. I am glad he gets to enjoy the rest of his senior year with his own car. He has named the Accord "Rose", since I bought the Focus in Roseville, and that event triggered the Accord coming into his possession.

I added a page showing the amortization of my car note as scheduled. I will edit and update it as payments are made. The first payment is not due until Dec 20th. I will make a full payment on Nov 20th anyway, which will give me a nice start. All extra bits of money will now go towards the car loan.

I keep checking every day to see if the loan appears when I log in to Wells Fargo's site. So far, it does not.

Where will the car payment money come from? I'm so glad you asked. The car payment is $248.65. I had been budgeting $170 for Car Fund which will now go towards the payment. Additionally, I have trimmed $50 each from budgeted E Fund and CurveBall Fund deposits.

I'm trying really hard to come in under budget on groceries, miscellaneous, and discretionary spending. After everything is paid for the month, if I have more than $500 in checking, I will sweep it to CurveBall.

Craig's List Score

August 4th, 2014 at 10:17 pm

My oven has been behaving badly for several months now. On Friday, I had MrsM180 pick up some take and bake pizza. Well, I had a heck of a time getting that dough to cook. BF was here, and he said I should look for a new stove on Craig's List. I pooh-pooh'd that idea. I mean, I don't want to deal with Craig's List people and looking at used stoves, not knowing what questions to ask, etc.

Sunday morning when I woke up and trotted out to the living room, BF was sitting on the couch with my laptop. He said "look at this", and I saw he had found a stove and microwave just listed that morning. They looked clean, and very similar to the models I have now. They were asking $100. (The microwave is the built-in kind that matches the stove).

I talked with the owner yesterday. He stated they both work perfectly, but that he and his wife had upgraded their appliances to stainless steel. He was working yesterday, but said we could come this morning (Monday) to see the appliances. BF said he would deal with it, and I handed him $100.

BF texted a bit after nine that he was on his way to my house with my new appliances. I hope the installation went well. I can hardly wait to get home and see! Smile

Money In, Money Out

January 5th, 2014 at 11:34 pm

Yesterday I received a check for $160.00 from my part-time job and have sent it off to E Fund.

For my new homeowner's policy and new auto policy, I charged a total of $1,068.90. Yesterday, I received a credit to my CC in the amount of $184.82 from the old auto policy. I have transferred 1068.90 - 184.82 = 884.08 from CurveBall to pay the credit card. I am still waiting for the old homeowner's policy to refund $912 to my escrow account. When that happens, I will request a refund of the overage, and that money will go back to CurveBall. I expect it will be at least a month before all the dust settles.

So many hoops, but worth it for the $300+ savings.

This is the downside to having an escrow account. However, I do find it convenient for the most part. Also, I enjoy the 2% interest it earns.

Money In, Money Out

November 22nd, 2013 at 05:19 pm

Yesterday I received $160 from my part-time job, which has gone off to E Fund. Inching ever closer to 2 months of take home pay. Smile

My NFL rewards Visa statement closed yesterday. I had 10,550 rewards points available which I redeemed for a statement credit.

So, I had $1,408.15 sitting in checking with nothing due for the rest of the month. But, I have things going on. Namely, my new 6 month auto insurance premium (will be cancelling the old one with 3 months left, but still, that is 3 months out of pocket now), my new homeowner's insurance premium (will have to wait for refund from current company), the new vacuum cleaner I charged, the $75 gas cards charged at Staples (it will take up to 8 weeks to receive my $25 credit), and I am getting a 100k tune-up on the car today, which will be about $500. I don't have to cough up any of this money now, but it is only a matter of time.

Here is what I did:

$445.54 to NFL rewards Visa (balance less $105.50)
_280.44 to WF rewards Visa
__75.00 to American Express
___7.17 to CurveBall Fund

This left $600.00 in checking, so I am done.

Neither the WF nor AmEx statements have even closed yet, so the payments were VERY early.

Notice, I have ended up using my NFL rewards Visa sign-up bonus towards expenses instead of as a mortgage chip. I'm not thrilled about this, but keeping credit card debt out of my life is a higher priority.

Also, I have not sent much extra to CurveBall. But hopefully, I am making it possible to avoid dipping in next month.

I felt a bit of panic when CurveBall dipped down to $54 two months ago; it's offering more cushion now.

Detritus

November 20th, 2013 at 05:20 am

Yesterday I received $3 from PineCone and $3.50 from Hausernet, and have already applied those odd bits to my mortgage.

In recent expenditure news, I shelled out $165 plus tax for a new vacuum. It has 12 amps and seems to be doing a fine job. Also, I spent $50ish dollars to buy a mattress cover which protects the mattress from dust mites. My allergy doctor recommended it. After much mattress flipping and cover wriggling, MrsM180 and I successfully got the cover on my mattress.

Last week, I started allergy shots. I will be getting two a week for 10 weeks. After that, I will be getting one a week for some unspecified period of time, before I taper off further. I can't really tell a difference yet, but they said it would take awhile.

Tonight I made a trip to Staples to take advantage of that AmEx offer. I chose three $25 Shell gift cards, and expect a nice $25 statement credit. I was very tempted to get only two, and get a $25 Starbucks card as well. But, I didn't. I was strong.

An old, dear friend of mine from childhood e-mailed me yesterday. He attached some pics of the kids and I, taken 13 years ago when we were visiting him in Seattle. Oh, those sweet little faces, and arms still pudgy with baby fat. *sigh* Where did they go?

In Swagbucks news, I am really liking the new "first goals". It is much more achievable than the total goal. For me, anyway. I have hit it each day for the past 4 days. I'm going to try hard to hit it every day, for the winning streak bonus.







Mercury Casualty Company; Credit Declined

November 15th, 2013 at 04:31 pm

Since my last post, I have received the written policy quote for my new homeowner's policy via e-mail. The company is Mercury Casualty Company. The quote is for $579, slightly higher than the $575 I reported earlier.

While she was at it, she went ahead ahead and quoted me auto from Mercury as well. The quote was for the same exact coverage I have now, and is $483.90 for 6 months. In August, I paid $532 to Allstate for 6 months. So I believe I will switch that to Mercury as well. Although, I do need to check if my Allstate policy uses straight-line or sum of the years digits when calculating refunds. If it uses SOTYD, it will cost more to cancel and start a new policy than it will to just let the current one run out, and switch at renewal.

I got paid yesterday, did my banking, did a wallet sweep and sent $4 off to my mortgage.

MrsM180 paid me $300 yesterday for November. I used the money to make an extra payment to my electric company. Because my electric usage has increased with 2 additional people in the house, I am expecting a large jump when my balanced-bill-pay plan is recalculated. Paying an extra $300 now means it will jump less. I plan to do this next month, too.

I used my Barclay's NFL rewards Visa to pay the additional $300, and that put my activity over $500. When I receive my first statement, I will have earned my $100 bonus. Now I just need to wait to be able to redeem my rewards, then I will close the account. Well, that and the small matter of paying them. Big Grin

Yesterday I applied for a Citi Dividends Visa which offered me the same deal, spend $500 in the first 3 months, receive a $100 bonus. This card features rotating 5% bonus categories each quarter, just like Chase Freedom. If I am approved, I just may keep that card permanently, to take advantage of the 5%.

Why would I not be approved? Well, I was recently declined by the SwagBucks Visa. I could not believe it! It seems I have opened too many new accounts of late, and may need to wait for some of my hard pulls to drop off. I can't recall the last time I was declined for credit! I am certain it has been more than 20 years.

I still have a few November bills to pay, but it is looking as though my checking account sweep this month will be fat. I will leave $600 instead of my usual $500, since my 11/29 paycheck will be for 10 days instead of 11. Even so, I expect to have about $300 to sweep. Smile It is nice to see my penny-pinching rewarded this way.

J is asking some girl to the winter formal today. He was so nervous this morning. He made a sign on poster board which reads "K, will you go to winter formal?", and he brought a rose and some chocolates. How sweet is that? How will the girl resist? I told MrsM180, I hope she says yes or he will be crushed. MrsM180 confided that the girl has hinted heavily she wants him to ask her, but he is nervous just the same. I've been working at my second job this week, so have been getting home late each night. I have missed the unfolding drama. Thank goodness MrsM180 keeps me in the loop.