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Home > Archive: January, 2014

Archive for January, 2014

Chase Sapphire Reward - Woot!

January 23rd, 2014 at 08:27 pm

I am kind of kicking myself for not getting DH one when the extra bonus deal was on.

I am thinking of him getting one now, but it would *only* be $400 bonus.

Do you think I should go for $400 or wait until the bonus is bigger again?

We are only charging purchases we would normally make to get the bonus these credit cards offer. We don't pay interest on these credit cards by paying our balances in full. It doesn't make sense to get a bonus if you end up losing it to interest payments. The bonuses are being applied to other debt or to fund savings. Please do not attempt this type of plan if you are not able to pay balance in full every month.

Warm, Dry Weather. Cash Mondays.

January 21st, 2014 at 04:23 pm

It is a lovely 70F day again. The news folks are starting to refer to the month as JUNEuary. To be honest, there are days in June that are not this nice. We need rain badly - it is so dry! I just hand-watered the back yard lawn because it needed *something*.

DS has a slight cold and just was complaining that his right ear was hurting. I gave him some Advil and a pudding cup. Hopefully we can get him to feel better soon!

Last Monday and yesterday I made the "standard" $80 for the care of the old cat.
$160 Two weeks.
-$20 DD needed PE sweats. She kept the change for school lunch.
-$20 Cash for my wallet.
$120 deposited to checking

Total YTD side work: $180

Paying More for Health Insurance

January 18th, 2014 at 05:27 pm

I wish, wish, wish, wish that the government wouldn't always take a good idea and f*ck it every which way so that it ends up being a near worthless pile of crap!
Health care should be easy to get, effective and inexpensive for everyone..period.

Anyway, moving on..
Both DH and I are lucky enough to have 100% employer paid health insurance that covers us. I also have a very good dental plan that covers the entire family. I am very thankful for all this.
We have to purchase insurance for the children privately because adding them to either my or DH's plan costs so much. (I have NEVER understood WHY this is?!)

We worked with an insurance agent again to help us chose coverage. I HIGHLY recommend using an agent - It doesn't cost you anything and they are extremely knowledgeable (at least ours was).

Here is a portion of the spreadsheet he provided to compare monthly premiums, deductibles and total annual costs (best and worst).

I'll get to the point here.. we are now paying $258/month for insurance, an increase of $76/month more. Same amount of coverage, but a new plan from a different company - had to change because the old plan doesn't even exist anymore.

We are not eligible for any premium assistance/pre-paid tax credit on the kid's policies because DH and I have "affordable" employee sponsored plans.

It hurts the pocketbook and I'll be neglecting other things I'd rather throw money at.
Somehow I will come up with a way to cover this added outflow.
What about other families?

Abundance of Produce. Two Soups for Dinner.

January 16th, 2014 at 03:30 pm

We get local, organic produce delivered to us by two different companies. We get them once monthly. I try to set it up so that a box shows up every other week.. Well, things got screwy with the holidays and we recieved both our boxes on the same day.

Lots of produce!
(aka bounty of California agriculture)

Just the fruit...

The pears are AMAZING! Like candy. DS and I have already shared three this afternoon. Big Grin

I have several more butternut squashes from last month.
I am getting up right now to go make a big pot of butternut soup. I am also using my fabulous leftover pot roast and the DIVINE broth for a beef, veggie and barley soup.

I have sourdough bread to go with both. Can't wait - Yum!

Reminding Everyone of the Low Cost Tax Prep Site I Use

January 15th, 2014 at 07:37 am

I know many people are starting their tax returns, or will be soon. I just wanted to remind everyone about the web site *freetaxusa.com*.

It is *free* for federal and $12.95 for state (up from the previous fee of $9.95 - shucks!)

This year will be the eighth year I have used this site to file.

You don't pay until the very end when you are ready to e-file, so you can see if you like it for no cost. Save yourself some big bucks and check it out!

Good Morning! Recent Spending.

January 13th, 2014 at 07:13 am

Sunrise from the backyard.

DD had her annual eye exam, $64. She needed new glasses and frames. (I glued her frames several times in the past several months. No option to reuse those!)
She ended up liking a pair at Lenscrafters again. She also really wanted to get the new ones right away and LC made them for her in an hour. They give 50% for children 12 and under, so I told DD this is likely the last year we will go there. We paid $249.50.

She is going to a weekend 4H leadership convention in a few weeks. It is pretty large; delegates from clubs in all the northern California counties. I am excited for her to have these types of opportunities. The total cost for the weekend was $140. (Paid half months ago when we turned in her application.)

Last Monday I earned my usual $80 for administering fluids to an elderly kitty. I gave DD $20 for her afterschool bus fare for the month.

Side work Total: $60

Really Need Rain Here...

January 8th, 2014 at 07:27 am

We are so dry here in California this winter. It is so bad - we had one day of rain in December and the news keeps showing how the reservoirs are at their lowest point in like ever?!

Not much snow pack up in the mountains either. Frown

So, while nearly the entire country is in full-blown, hard hitting winter we keep seeing the sun. We have been below freezing overnight, but into the 60s during the day - drastic temp changes.

This is the type of weather/time of year that makes for nice beach days. Sunday morning we drove out for some play time with friends. You might remember that we bought a county park pass in September, so there wasn't any fee. It is 28 miles from our house and a very enjoyable drive. I figure it costs us under $10 for gas. We pack food from home so we aren't too tempted to go to one of the several seafood restaurants along the coast.

This is the sandcastle the kids were working on.. they tore it down before they finished it. Smile

Here is Cleo!

Hope all our SA friends are keeping warm and safe out there in the *Artic Vortex*.
If you head this way bring some of your snow with you! Wink


January 4th, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I was not good about posting progress on my goals throughout the year or updating my sidebar much. I find that sometimes I add money or make a transfer and *want* to post about it, but when I finally get time to make a post I either forget or it seems like it happened SO long ago.

At any rate as of 12/31/13..

$5K EF

$2K New Auto Savings

Reduce CC Balances
Diverted more cash to savings than to cc payments. Silver lining - almost all of this debt is at 0%.

Lose 20 lbs
[lost/kept off 5lbs]

I want to do a better job of tracking my snowflakes, cc rewards, side money etc this year.

Feeling optimistic about 2014!

Tiny Bit More About Our Trip...

January 2nd, 2014 at 03:46 pm

(MonkeyMama asked about our rental car..)

HA! Yes my kids are *crammed* into the backseat! Wink

It's funny you comment about the size because the Ford Focus was in the "compact" category (There is a level smaller - "economy"). My DH was very worried about the size not being adequate (he's a good sized guy). For the weeks leading up to our trip he would point out any Focus on the road and say,
"There's your Focus - I don't think I can see us in that for xx hours."

I told him we'd see what we thought at the rental lot and if he wasn't happy we'd upgrade to the next larger size ($40 more, so no big deal if that's what it took, but rather save that $ if the smaller car was okay).

When we rented the car we saw the Focus parked out front and I asked DH if it looked okay. He said yes. Then I asked the rental car worker which car we'd be getting and he pointed to a tiny, two door, red Fiesta type thing!
I thought my DH was going to lose it. Big Grin
He was like, "That is NOT a FOCUS!! Our paperwork says FOCUS!"
I just asked if we could please have the white Focus we saw out front and the guy was totally accommodating.
Yeah, it was a close call there. LOL!

I am not fond of cars per se because I don't like to be so low. I did think it was pretty fun to drive - Zippy. It also had these pretty cabin lights at night and you could change the color (blues, purple, pink, green, yellow, red, orange) and brightness.

Both DH and I had the driver's seat slid back for our comfort which was fine with DS in his car seat. A person with average length legs would have to have the driver move the seat forward. The 6.5 hours to Disney were very comfortable. DD said the backseat was more comfortable than in our Pathfinder. I was pleased with the large trunk.

The car had fancy computer read-out and it said we averaged about 31 mpg for our trip. I never calculated the mpg myself. I was happy enough to just pay under $40 whenever we stopped for gas.

Happy New Year from California!

January 1st, 2014 at 08:26 am

Happy 2014 everyone!
May this year be filled with health, wealth and love.

I am kicking off the new year with a cup of coffee and the Rose Parade (those floats are always so amazing!).