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It's all in the details

April 12th, 2006 at 08:22 am

And sometimes it's tedious and frustrating.

Last night I was happy to find some lipstick on Ebay that I can't always find in stores, and went through MyPoints Insider's Club just in case they refunded shipping on Ebay purchases. However, even if they do, I'll be out of luck. I forgot the purchase had to be done on a credit card that's registered with the Insider's Club...and paid for it out of my checking account. Duh!

I just got an offer from Citicard, where I get $10 extra dividend dollars when I make my first purchase through their Dividend Merchant Network. So I went to register for it, and it said I already had. It said I could have a new username and password emailed to me--but apparently I'd used an email address I haven't had in over a year. So I had to call and find out what to do. It took calling two different phone numbers and going through 3 CSRs to get it straightened out. (Although I'd signed up before, I'd never used the program, so it looks like I'm still eligible for the $10.)

I figured while I was setting things like this up, I might as well get Fatwallet Fat Cash up and running. I tried to use it before, but it didn't work for me. So today I got around to looking at their "Cash Back Solutions" where they walk you through computer settings that might be hindering things. There were 13 printed pages of things to go through!

So. I now have access to all these programs. Plus AAA deals, and AARP deals, and general Mastercard and Visa deals. How on earth to keep track of which program has which stores, what the % off is, which cc and email address I need to use with each one, who has free shipping anyway, and which stores I can easily get discounted gift cards for.

The only thing I can think of is to assemble a spreadsheet with stores down the left, and then columns for each discount program where I can enter the % discount and any other notes. If anyone's seen something like this online, already assembled, I'd sure like to use it and save myself some work!

I could kick myself! -- Insider's Club

April 10th, 2006 at 07:19 am

I joined the Insider's Club at MyPoints over the weekend, and re-explored the stores on MyPoints. Sheesh--just within the past couple of weeks I've bought stuff at several of their stores. I did look up coupon codes and used the cc with the best rewards, but I would have certainly saved more money with the shipping rebates. Not to mention, I didn't earn the MyPoints! So thanks for all the info on it.

I didn't know they'd offer $10 back on my next purchase through MyPoints, over and above the shipping rebates. I'm about shopped out now, and have spent way too much time trying to figure out what I could really use at this point! Finally settled on some batteries at Ace Hardware. After the $10 back, it will come to 59 cents for an 8-pack of C's.

BTW, the offer I got was $6.99 a month for membership, but billed annually. So I'm preparing for a hit of $83.88 after the 30-day intro period. The good news is, if you quit before the year's up, you're supposed to get a pro-rated refund. Also, it looks better than Amazon Prime because it covers so many more stores.

Thanks again!

4-week report

April 8th, 2006 at 03:44 pm

Total cc debt as of 4/8 - $3537, ($3906 on 3/11), down by $369

Emergency fund as of 4/8 - $511, ($441 on 3/11), up by $70

We aren't quite caught up to where we were as of February 11, but we're moving in the right direction again.

Everyday expenses 4 weeks ending 4/8, $506, which is fine. Anything around $545 or under, I feel pretty good about.

I think it was a very good month, especially considering--

It was quarterly utilities month, about $190 for water and two sewer bills (one municipal and one county)
It was time to put money on the Virgin Mobile phones, about $111
It was our nephew's birthday, which required a gift, $20
I did quite a bit of discretionary spending on clothes, about $115
Joined TOPS, $24
Bought that beer! $18

I did charge quite a bit of this for convenience and the rewards, but paid it off right away. It helped that I worked some extra hours, and we didn't have to pay an electric bill this month.

Today's money-generating task was calling Discover card, and trying to cancel. I really was ready to cancel, as there isn't much reason for me to keep it. But I figured if they made me an offer I couldn't refuse, I'd keep it awhile longer. Wink They did--a $20 rebate when I make a purchase within 30 days. Smile

Two more money-generating tasks

April 7th, 2006 at 06:59 pm

First, thanks for all your supportive comments. Smile

This morning I opened a Netbank checking account for the $75 bonus. I'm hoping that once I've left $500 there for the required 30 days, I'll have another $500 free to add to it. Then I can put $1000 into their money market for another $75.

I missed doing anything to generate money yesterday, and was looking for something small to catch up with today. And...

After months of nothing, tonight I got the chance to do a survey for Stanford Research for a $5 Amazon gc. I hopped right on it so I wouldn't miss out. What an exciting Friday night! Wink

Car inspection, and gift cards

April 4th, 2006 at 06:51 am

These are my little money tasks for the day.

I haven't posted about this before, but I'm doing something different with the the PNC account I opened awhile back. I found out I could split the direct deposit of my paycheck, so I now have $140 a week going into the PNC account. That's just enough to cover the Everyday Expenses budget, the newspaper subscription and Netflix.

My current Everyday Expenses cycle is over on April 8, and there isn't much left in the budget. But there IS money left in the PNC account, because part of the spending was from Petsmart gift cards. So I'm using part of the extra cash to buy more discounted gift cards, which will help even more cash build up in the account. Kind of a snowball effect.

It's car inspection month for me, and I think I'll get it done this morning. I'm anxious to do the Netbank checking account offer for $75, but they want you to keep a $500 balance for at least a month. Before I tie up that money, I want to know how much I might have to spend to get the car up to snuff.

Credit Protector, part 2

April 3rd, 2006 at 07:30 am

I decided I'd try to do one little thing each day this week, to help our finances. No matter how busy the day is.

Today is my long day at work, but this morning I called Credit Protector and asked if there was any way I could get more of the rebate vouchers like the $20 one I got when I signed up. (Over at Fatwallet, rumor was you didn't really need to threaten to cancel, just ask.) It worked! $50 in rebate vouchers should be here within 7-10 days. (5 x $10 each)

Easy money, although slow. I can send in receipts for anything, such as groceries or gas I need to buy anyway, so it's not much of a risk. And rebates aren't taxable. No reason NOT to do it, really.

Harry and David gift card deals on Ebay

March 31st, 2006 at 04:44 pm

Thought somebody might like to know about this--

I was browsing the gift card auctions that were about to end, and found one for Harry and David $50 gift cards in the $30+ range. That is, about 65% of face value, where most other gift card auctions run 85% of face value and up.

When I started searching, I discovered there were quite a few of these auctions, and most of the sellers had multiples to sell. I wondered, what's the deal?

Turns out some Costco stores have been clearancing them at $40 for $100 worth of gift cards. People are buying them up and selling them on Ebay. They make $10 or so per card, and it's still a great deal for the buyers on Ebay.

You could combine the discounted gift cards with a 10% off coupon from the Entertainment Book, or a 15% discount through Passport to Fun. I just ordered 3, for holiday gifts for the in-laws. Luckily, I already have the money on hand in the Xmas account. Smile

Great day at Entenmann's Outlet :)

March 20th, 2006 at 07:45 am

I had an early errand to run, and since I had some extra time and was near the Entenmann's Outlet, I figured I'd stop in.

A long while back I stopped counting on them as my main source of bread and rolls. Too often I'd go in and they'd be completely wiped out of regular bread. But if you hit them on a good day, it can be worthwhile.

Today I got all this for $5.03--hot cross buns, crumb cake, 16 hot dog rolls, multigrain bread, and onion rolls. All of them with expiration dates almost a week away. They were running a buy 2 get one free deal on the bread and rolls. I got the crumb cake free because I'd filled up my frequent-buyer card. And I think they plain forgot to charge me for one item.

The full retail value if I'd paid full price at the supermarket would have been over $17. This is going to stock the freezer for awhile. Smile

$20 Challenge

January 30th, 2006 at 07:19 am

DH put up the can crusher this weekend, so things are finally moving. I crushed a month's worth of cans we'd been saving--it was quite a workout! I can tell it's going to help my upper arm and shoulder strength. Wink The bin I have to keep the crushed cans in is about 1/2 full, so I guess I'll have to take them in every 2 months. It won't come to much money each time, but I don't want to get overrun with the things.

I have between $2 and $3 left of the $20 to use on Ebay listing fees, but I'm not quite ready. I need to play around with the digital camera and figure out how to put pictures in a listing. Also, I need to look into free photo hosting services again. I had one lined up (called Y44 or something), but I just got an email from them saying they're going out of business. I've sold on Ebay before, but not things that required photos, so this is why it's a new project for the challenge.

Last time I voted, I signed up to be a (paid) election board worker. They don't often open it to new people, so I jumped on it. But it's a slow process. This week I'm mailing back the card saying I'm still interested and am willing to go to training. Then there will be the training, and waiting for someone to drop out so I'll be called. But once you're in, you can make some decent money for a couple of days' work a year.

Another thing I need to do is change settings on my computer so Fatwallet's cash back feature will work. I found instructions on their site awhile back, but never got around to fixing things.

Four-week report

January 15th, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for the encouraging comments, guys, it helps. Some days I just reach my limit, and I guess Friday was that kind of day...

OK, raise or not, insurance problem or not, the 4 weeks ending yesterday did not go badly at all.

Once again, my grocery spending was $287, same as the last time. I'm hoping this means I've gotten into some sort of groove, with knowing how much food we really need and how much I should try to stock up and do rebates.

Overall Everyday Expenses totaled $502. For comparison, here's how it's been going over past 4-week periods:


So, it was the second best since I started keeping track.

Credit card debt went from $4016 to $3829, down $187
Emergency savings went from $166 to $272, up $106

I'm pretty satisfied with that, considering I paid two yearly vet visits in cash, bought quite a few household items, got through Christmas, and had a car repair.

I wanted to track how many "deals" I did. There were 11:
0% cc deal with HSBC
$25 Mazda test drive
Filtrete rebate
Credit Protector rebate
5 regular grocery rebates
Emailed Campbell Soup with a complaint (due to receive coupons, but haven't arrived yet)
Emailed Birds Eye with a compliment (received 5 coupons)

Still reading up a storm, and not exercising much. Frown

DH and I are getting ready to go out for a steak dinner. I have a $10 coupon for my birthday, and we haven't been out alone since well before the holidays. It's still nice getting out with DMom, but it's just not the same as a date. Wink