So I just ordered 2 photo albums from Shutterfly. I used a code for 1 free book from Groupon which I purchased using my referral bonus. I also used another code for 1 free book from Borders. I couldn't qualify for free shipping because I didn't actually spend any money. But I did order with my cash back credit card for 1% back and used upromise to get another 9% back. So after both of those it cost me $12.82 for 2 8x8 photo albums and 2 of my Christmas/Channukah presents are completed.
Viewing the 'Saving Money' Category
Upcoming events in my financial life:
October - Closing old checking account and moving extra money into my savings.
November - Sign up for new health insurance and a flexible spending account.
January - Insurance & FSA begin.
March - If DH doesn't get RIF'ed, we reduce our e-fund to 3 months.
Right now our biggest savings challenge is getting an extra $10,000 in our e-fund before we try to get pregnant. Right now that's not going to happen by our goal date (April 2012), but with the extra money from the checking accounts and monthly interest, we might be able to d it. If DH doesn't get RIF'ed, we already have enough money in our e-fund. So here's hoping for a good time next March.
So summer is basically over in our house. DH is back to work which is a blessing. He was offered permanent substitute positions at his old school and another in district school. We still have hope that he can work in our county, but this is the best backup plan.
Over summer we have had to stop all our saving to retain positive cash flow. This is upsetting. It means we still haven't started contributing to our Roth IRA. We should be able to start up again in October. When we do, I will be adjusting our contributions so that they = money needed/months to achieve. I disregard interest for this so hopefully I can adjust the contributions down in the future to make room for other goals. Any extra money will go into the soonest, most urgent goal.
This month has been hard as DH needed major dental work. He maxed out our dental coverage! He still needs his wisdom teeth removed, but that will have to wait for next year. I think I will have to take over choosing the medical coverage this year. I am not pleased by that.
So I "zeroed out" my checking account for March yesterday. I always keep $4000 in there, but I like to move any excess to savings at the end of the month. I opened our "Frivolous Spending" account and put 25% of the zero out in there and 75% in my home downpayment. So that means $568 to frivolous spending and $1706 into the home downpayment! My little ticker says we are 43% of the way to the downpayment and that doesn't include the interest on our CD!
We talked again about starting a Baby Savings Fund. I'm thinking that might just involve adding $10,000 to the Emergency Savings instead of opening a new account. I'm torn if we should start one right after we finish the downpayment fund or wait until the car fund is ready also. We decided to reassess after we hear back about DH's financial aid. Right now we are contributing to savings for a car, auto insurance, DH's Masters, and the downpayment.
I had a nightmare last night that my parents could not afford to retire. They were selling their home in Southern California and moving to Florida. I was trying to convince them that they would be spending a lot o money traveling between California and Florida for at least three holidays a year.
Whether my dream had any logic to it, I still worry about their ability to retire. My mother recently broke her arm and had problems working while she recovered. I just worry so much because both of our parents are trying so hard to get enough money in the next few years to get near retirement. I just really don't want this for us. I really want to finish our home downpayment fund and up our retirement contributions. Only 1-2 years.
Today H and I sat down with our new fancy budget and decided some savings allocations. This money will be directly pulled from our checking into various ING savings accounts (I love the subaccounts!).
Retirement: $300 (for now it's out of gross)
Net Pay: ~$4600
House Downpayment (Due 6/2013): $800
Car (Due 4/2012): $580
Car Insurance (Due Yearly Aug): $400
(This one will decrease next year as I save over 12 months not 4.)
H's Masters (8/10-6/12): $300
So $2080 allocated into some sort of savings!
After all of that, I will balance our budget at the end of the month and transfer out any money not spent on Needs & Wants and any extra money we earn (including H's overtime and my side projects). Basically I always try to keep a $4000 buffer in our checking account and anything above this will go out. 75% of it will go to our top savings goal (right now the house) and 25% will go into what H has deemed our "Frivolous Spending" account. This will pay for vacations, concerts, or any other extravagant thing we want to do.
Future changes to the budget will include:
- Reducing the insurance allocation next year to 12 months of savings, not 4
- Reducing H's Masters allocations once we get his financial aid (I hope!!)
- Reallocate money to save for my deferred undergrad student loans
- Hopefully reallocate money to a baby fund for after H graduates!
I just have to say, this really shows the power of planning far into the future. We can easily save towards all these goals. Even better, I've over-allocated money to these accounts so hopefully we can rollover the leftover Cash to boost other savings goals (like baby!). Snowball Savings!
So yesterday FedEx came buy with the certified letter. H has been riffed again. He says I shouldn't worry as this year he is going to attend more job fairs and they are laying off less people. I hate Union negotiations because every year they cause this stress to our family. I really can't wait until he has enough seniority to be past this point.
On that note, I reassessed our savings goals. I often use the calculators at CalcXML (http://www.calcxml.com/english.htm) and they have a handy one for saving goals where you can increase your contributions every year and calculate your yearly contributions to meet a goal. I did this for all of our ridiculous numbers of goals. I assumed a conservative 2% growth in our income.
With this estimation, right now our extra income will only go toward the Downpayment and the Barebones Retirement goals. Barebones Retirement is for age 75-100 whereas my Goal Retirement is age 65-100.
Does anyone know of a good way to calculate our "snowball" savings using an increasing amount of yearly contribution?
So I earned my first bit of extra money today. After a week of collecting cans, I turned them in for $.60. My husband kept smirking at me afterward, but I reminded him that it didn't cost us anything to collect and return the cans. In fact we got a lovely walk today in the beautiful weather.
I just recommended to a newly unemployed friend that he sign up for surveys. He could use the money, but even more he needs the stimulation and the sense of accomplishment.
I'm going to start a page to track the extra money I bring in.
So this week I began my quest to earn a little bit of extra money. I signed up for 3 survey companies. My husband was skeptical because of the low return on time invested, but I pointed out that I could do them while I watched TV and will maybe earn a couple bucks. Plus I like doing them.
Next I started collecting bottles and cans. Our friends come over every Thursday night for a game of Dungeons and Dragons (yeah we're really nerds) and they used to drink us out of all of our soda. We're talking a 12-pack of soda every Thursday. Now they rotate bringing soda. So between this and our own soda habits, I hope to collect a few cans. There's a recycling machine outside our grocery store that I hope to walk to when we need groceries, which is rarely.
Finally, I signed up for Associated Content. I have had a few friends try to write for this service. I'm still debating how often I'll be able to do this, but it definitely is the best side income.
As a postscript I should also say that I'm trying to learn Java programming. If I can get that down it opens up a lot more job prospects for me for future primary income and current side income. I think I shall focus on this.
So H and I discussed yet again placing our downpayment money into a Nationwide 2.4% 36 month CD. We have been debating this as ING quickly drops its interest rates on our saving account. There are 2 things holding us back:
1) Needing the money for H's Masters
2) Interest Rates rising enough in the next 3 years.
We decided that we would delay a decision until H hears back from the financial aid office. In the mean time he's filling out scholarship applications.
Here is a money saving tech tip for people currently paying for or wanting a game system or DVR. First how hooking your TV to a computer saves you money (Only legal ways listed. Piracy is a crime):
1) Free, low commercial television is available easily online. Hulu.com, cbs.com, and tnt.com are places I regularly go to watch TV. Many of these offer HDTV as an option.
2) Netflix offers their Instant service for free with all but the lowest subscription. This includes even more TV and thousands of movies.
3) Bluray drives for computers cost half that of a standalone system.
4) Some old video games are offered for free for computers (liberatedgames.org) and programmers are constantly offering free flash games.
5) cheap video games are offered by companies such as Steam (down to $2). These are full games and the download is protected and can be transferred to a new computer.
NEXT TIME: How to Hook your Computer to Your TV