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Archive for August, 2018

Making a little more headway

August 22nd, 2018 at 11:09 am

I sold another little batch of stuff, this time to an antique dealer.

I got notice that I'm receiving a full refund on the blouse I'd bought for my mom on my credit card. (It didn't fit.) I paid for the return postage out of her funds.

I wrote to the developer of some software I'd bought a few months back, which turned out not to be usable on my computer. He was nice enough to send me a refund.

I cancelled my domain name registration, which was up for renewal. Back when I was trying to maintain a career, it seemed important to have a domain for my real name, and maintain a website. This was supposed to be a good idea to make sure when prospective employers google you, you have better control over what comes up on the search results. Plus, at my age, I felt it was important to show I wasn't technology-averse.

But I'm no longer looking for a job. Last year I let the web hosting lapse, but kept the vanity domain name for another year. This year I'm ready to let that go, too.

I received a $15 gift card for letting our health insurer do auto-billing to a credit card. I set that up so long ago, I'd almost forgotten about the offer. Now they've sent an email saying I can get a $50 gift card for filling out some kind of health assessment questionnaire. I guess I'll at least consider it, if the questions don't seem too intrusive.

With all these little un-budgeted bits of income and reduced expenses, I've been able to shift things around in my envelope budget in GoodBudget to fully fund my upcoming dental appointment and pay a doctor bill that came in the mail. I was almost ready to skip this dental visit and go back in the spring, if money was too tight.

Now I can concentrate on funding the Christmas envelope.

Reimbursements

August 17th, 2018 at 04:11 pm

I have a bad habit of paying for things for my mother, and then forgetting to reimburse myself. She has never used credit cards, so it's not like I can just be an authorized user on an account of hers to purchase things.

She has the funds to pay for her own clothes, but I have to do the shopping. Things get busy, I lose track of receipts and can't reimburse myself right away, and all of a sudden months have gone by and I'm out a significant amount of money.

Sometimes I order things online that need to be returned by mail, and I fall behind on that, too. I won't get the refund until I mail an item back, which just keeps my own credit card bill higher than it needs to be.

We go out for meals once in a while, and I've been paying. It seemed only fair after years of her paying for my meal, and me leaving the tip for both of us. But I've started to feel the pinch.

Tonight I caught up on things related to the clothes shopping. I wrote myself a reimbursement check for over $88, and I have a return packed up to be mailed tomorrow morning. I should be getting a refund on that of over $30.

Tomorrow I'll figure out her share of our last meal out, and reimburse myself from a petty cash envelope I started a few months back. I've started to take a photo of the tab with my phone when we go out, so I have some sort of receipt.

I've got to keep on top of this better for my own sake. I keep up to date with paying all her other expenses, filing billing statements and receipts, etc. If anyone ever asks how I'm spending her money, I don't want there to be any question of mismanagement. But I end up shorting myself sometimes.

Day of little money tasks

August 16th, 2018 at 03:59 pm

I faxed a letter to our new mortgage company this morning, because I now distrust what I might be told over the phone. I've specified that I want a refund of our extra payment for August, rather than having it applied towards principal. The automatic payment did finally kick in, but only after I sent them a money order as instructed on the phone.

I also made a stop at Big Lots. They have a deal where you get a $5 coupon after every three visits, and it doesn't seem to matter how little you purchase each time. So whenever I'm in the area, I run in and at least check out their clearance grocery shelf. No $1 Triscuits or Archway cookies today, so I just picked up a jar of regular price capers for $1.50.

There's a Shoprite nearby so I picked up a few (sale) items my regular store was out of this week.

Mainly, I was in the area to sell a couple of old gold chains to a jewelry store for scrap value. I'm continuing to use GoodBudget (an envelope budgeting system), and it's helping me see how tight things really are. There's a DVD set my husband and I both want to get, but the money's just not there in the Misc. envelope right now. If we're going to get it, I have to find extra money somewhere. I'm not going to spend down our savings for something like that.

I need to declutter anyway. But my method in recent years has been to donate items rather than try to sell them. It's faster, and much less hassle. But right now we could use the money. I'm thinking of creating a separate new email account just to use for Craigs List for privacy reasons.

Noodles

August 12th, 2018 at 02:32 pm

I've been trying Aldi versions and store brands the past month or so, and it's been working well. No really bad experiences yet. I was inspired by the Downshift Challenge at a website in the UK: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/downshift-challen...

We don't use up egg noodles very fast, but when I need to buy them, I get Pennsylvania Dutch wide noodles. It's sort of a brainless habit because we always used that brand at home. But they're going for $2.39 right now, for a 12 ounce package. It seemed a bit steep.

Today I checked at Aldi, and theirs are $1.09 for a full pound! Less than half the price and more noodles. Good grief, the cost of brand loyalty. I can't imagine there's all that much difference in noodles.

Errand planning

August 11th, 2018 at 04:01 pm

It was a rainy, stay-at-home kind of day. In between doing laundry, I spent some time today looking at Google Maps and making a spreadsheet.

I'd like to save some time and gas money by planning out my errands better. I'm terrible at remembering exactly where things are located. I'll head out to one place, and pass another one on the way where I could have gotten some business done. Except I forgot I'd be passing it so I didn't bring along what I needed. It could be mail, a bank deposit, dry cleaning, etc. Then I'll have to make a separate trip later.

If you zoom in on Google Maps, you can get really detailed info, like exactly which stores are in a shopping plaza. So I was able to make pretty comprehensive lists of businesses along certain roads, in order of when I'll be passing them, as well as notes to myself about where the turns are to get to other main roads.

We've been living here for over 20 years, so you'd think I'd know my way around by now! But it's built up a lot over the years, and it's been a long time since I bothered to update myself on everything that's nearby. For example, I found out there's an Asian ice cream place nearby that has bubble tea and rolled ice cream. I'm not going to be dropping a lot of dollars there, but it would be fun to at least try it.

Another non-action

August 7th, 2018 at 08:31 am

We have a service contract with an HVAC company which covers annual check-up, basic maintenance and priority scheduling should we have a problem.

Today was a/c check-up day, and a $135 deep cleaning was recommended. Thank goodness, my husband came inside to ask me about it before saying yes. I think what I've been saying about money worries has sunk in.

The a/c seems to be working fine, so we decided to say no for now and rethink it next spring. We do want to keep this old system going as long as possible.

Not taking an action

August 6th, 2018 at 07:09 am

It occurred to me that I might be able to save a little on a couple of ongoing prescriptions if I used a different pharmacy. I was even willing to consider getting them by mail, as long as I could still get emergency prescriptions filled locally.

So I spent some time on the Blue Cross website this morning. Based on today's pricing, the most I would save is $1 per 90-day prescription by going with the mail option. I also wouldn't save money by switching to Walmart, Sam's Club, CVS, Walgreens, or the pharmacies inside supermarkets.

The extra $8 a year I'm paying for the convenience of using the Rite Aid on the corner is worth it to me. Besides the location, I don't have to worry about the prescriptions getting delayed in the mail or being exposed to super hot or cold weather while sitting in our mailbox a long time. So I'm going to sit tight on this.

Taking Action Aug 5

August 5th, 2018 at 05:36 pm

I was playing around with budget scenarios again, and things didn't look good. I decided to cash in a CD and bring part of the proceeds into our checking account each month, until my Social Security kicks in. The early withdrawal penalty is small compared to credit card interest if I have to start carrying a balance.

Someone here or on Reddit had mentioned Goodbudget, an envelope budgeting website and app that has a free tier you can use indefinitely. Unlike YNAB, which only has a free trial. So I signed up and I've been working with it for a couple of days.

I'm only going to use it for variable expenses. I already have reminders set up in Quicken to automatically fill in the bills that are the same every month. And I'm handling food spending in the Daily Budget app.

To save some more money, I just suspended my membership with a self-improvement website which costs $29 a month. I still find it useful. But at this point, I can see it would be better to keep that money for things like upcoming doctor visit co-pays.