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*Had* to Update Quicken

April 17th, 2015 at 09:34 pm

I bought Quicken Deluxe in 2012 at Costco for $20.
I had never used Quicken before and quickly fell in love with using it. Honestly, I open and update our accounts in Quicken probably three to four times each week. I love the colored charts and how easy it is to track every penny. I also use it to plan my bill paying a month ahead of time.
It's like a game for me when I'm on Quicken. Smile
(My DH has even referred to me paying bills/accounting as "playing on the computer"!)

About two months ago I started getting messages about how if I didn't update to the latest edition I would lose the ability to download transactions directly into the program. This is a big deal for me. It saves mucho time to just click a button and have all my financial accounts updated. Oh sure the program would still work after May 1st; I'd just be manually entering all transactions.

Had I known at the beginning of the year they would shut off the auto downloading I might have bought it at Costco again. They have Quicken on special every January. I checked the price now - $49.99.

The biggest rip-off is the maker of Quicken - Intuit - says "upgrade now and we will give you $10 off". The cost on their website is $74.99, so $64.99 for all the loyal current customers. The highest price out of anywhere I checked.

Last night I broke down and purchased the 2015 version through Amazon - downloaded and installed it with about three clicks. That process was very easy and smooth.

So far the new version works the same as the old one that I was quite happy with, plus these "improvements".
* The chart and graph colors are in a new color scheme - whatever. Rolleyes
* Some things have been moved from one side of the screen to the other - I find that annoying.
* I get my credit score listed in the side bar - wow (not).
* You can access your account from your phone - I opted out of that for now as I want to try to limit exposure to sensitive account info.

It cost $39.99 on Amazon. BUT, I still had gift card money from the CC rewards so it cost $0!
*Silver Lining* Big Grin

And honestly, $40 every three years for something I use so often is a good deal. I just hate being pushed into it.

Auto Insurance Paid for the Year

January 3rd, 2015 at 03:14 pm

I paid our car insurance for the year in a single payment. It was $579.

This is the third year I've been able to pay it in a single payment using savings. Boy, is it a good feeling. Smile

It's nice that it saves me a little time because I don't have to make the monthly payments. But, I do it because it saves us money.

The insurance company charges a $7/month billing fee. They split the bill into 11 payments, so we save $77 dollars for the year by paying all at once.

I can't think of another bill where we could save by paying all at once.
Do you have any bills that save you money by paying all at once?

Mower Repair & Pre-Sale Gym Membership

August 17th, 2014 at 03:59 pm

Our lawnmower wouldn't stay running. DH had to take it the repair shop. He picked it up this last week. $146 for a new carburetor. Ouch!
We were told that to prevent this from being a problem in the future we cannot use "cheap gas". (Who knew?)
It was recommended that we only use Chevron Supreme in the mower.
(I hope that helps any other mower owners out there.)

------
A new health club is being built in our city. They are running a pre-sale special that has the rates about 50% less than regular.

DH really wants to get back into the gym again. Unfortunately this club doesn't offer racquetball (for the sake of his knees maybe that's not such a bad thing).

The cost for our entire family with the special rate is less than the single member rate at the club we had used previously. And the special rate is locked for the length of the membership. If me or the kids end up not using the club we can suspend the additional memberships (me, DD, DS) and reactivate later still keeping the promo rate. At the minimum we can get DH in there working out a few times per week and squeeze $35/month into the budget. We can cancel anytime without fees, so we felt like there wasn't any risk to giving it a try.

My Friday - Spending & Making Money

August 8th, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Spending.
We got new tires for the Pathfinder.
It had been three years and three months since the last tire replacement and at least 70k miles. They were really worn, to the point that I was worrying about driving too far on them.
Four new tires, an alignment and taxes/fees came to $960.

Making.
I redeemed my Wells Fargo AmEx points for cash into our checking account. That was $550! Big Grin

I made $60 for pet sitting this weekend.

Won $25 cash prize at a veterinary technician meeting this evening.

And I booked a pet sitting job coming up soon that will pay $400.

Scholarship Money

May 19th, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Good news for us - had a letter today from DS's preschool that we will be receiving $1k in tuition assistance for next school year. Tuition is broken down into 10 monthly installments, so that is $100/month savings! Big Grin

We also received a check from DD's 4H club for $50 toward her week at 4H camp this summer.
The camp is a deal at $245 for six days/five nights of sleep-away camp with all meals and activities.
The $50 "scholarship" brings the cost to under $200. Smile

Charged $71 to the Propel AmEx today for a tank of gas. It was $3.95/gallon at Costco.


Treading Water

April 23rd, 2014 at 03:44 pm

Last Friday our paychecks managed to meet our budgeted amount, so that was a good thing.

Need more though..

Easter weekend was very nice. We visited my sister, her DH and their baby. The money we spent was on gas (about $80) to drive there and back. To save money we slept on her living room floor in our sleeping bags instead of getting a hotel room. And we didn't buy any candy or any Easter treats this year - not even one. (My sis did get the kids a few little candies - I was glad for that.) My mom and dad came and brought my Grandpa with them. That was extra nice because we rarely get to see him as he lives so far from us. It was really special.


Yesterday I transferred $5 to the "special focus" just to feel like I was making progress *somewhere*.
I'm only kidding myself because in reality the "special focus" now is just getting enough into the checking account to cover regular bills.

Not going to be able to swing much extra to any of the cc debt for the next few months. Hopefully there will be money to put back into savings starting in June or July.

Some of the savings that I used recently I had earmarked for new tires. The current set we purchased in May 2011 and they are worn. I think I can get by for a few more months without any trouble.

Truck still needs a water pump...

Car Repairs. Two More Short Paydays.

April 13th, 2014 at 06:21 pm

My car was repaired last Sunday.. sort of..

I took it for a little test drive just to be sure it didn't give me any trouble before my commute Monday morning. It was a beautiful late Sunday afternoon. I cruised just out of town and through rolling green hills with houses, gardens and animals. I was really enjoying my drive and then the car started running badly again..

Even worse, actually, because it had no power whatsoever. I was glad I was on a quiet country road with nobody behind me. I puttered for a few miles, pulled into a school parking lot and had to call for a tow home.

I was glad it was only me stranded and that I was in a safe place and not on the side of the highway.
I passed the time by watching baby goats playing in the field next to the parking lot and catching up with games on my phone.

Unfortunately, I was 9 miles from home and we just have basic roadside service that covers up to 5 miles of towing (or to closest repair garage), so we had to pay the 4 mile overage. Frown

Turns out there was a second sensor that needed replacement. The car would run fine until it got hot then it would crap out. Our mechanic neighbor finished that replacement early Tuesday afternoon (and the car has been running great since *KNOCK on WOOD*). We returned the rental car that night - we had it for five days.

$542 - repair
$ 82 - car rental
$ 40 - tow


AND as if that isn't financial headache enough, we had two more paydays short of the weekly income I budget for.

On 4/4 we came up short by $240.
On 4/11 short by $318.

The costs for the repairs and the funds to balance the budget have come out of the now pitifully depleted EF.

Frown

Ting Cell Service Saves Us $80 (or more) per Month

April 3rd, 2014 at 01:03 pm

As most of you know we use Ting here and LOVE it.

Recently we were able to switch DH and his beloved iPhone over to Ting. That simple change has saved us $60/month. Which came at just the right time because we ended up needing $60 more per month to cover the new health plan for the children.

As stated in the title Ting service actually saves us more than $60 each month.
Here is how I am basing that statement:

Sprint (network Ting uses) is now offering it's "Framily" plan. So assuming all three of us phone users in our family used that plan it would be $45/pp/mo. That is $135 per month. And say another $6 for taxes and fees, so $141 total per month.

Here is our Ting bill from February 18 to March 18.
(so you all don't think I made up numbers!)



(Our texting is high due to DD. She pays difference between the $5 Medium level and whatever level her texting lands us.)

Yes, that total is $61.97 for three smart phones. Really it could be much lower if we tried harder to limit some of the usage.

AND the amount I actually *paid* last month was $36.97 because I had a $25 referral credit (THANK YOU dear person!).

I think the savings are even greater if you compare plans from AT&T or Verizon. One of them is offering a "special deal" - a four line plan for $180/mo.

SO, if changing your cell service to Ting sounds like something you'd like to do you can save $25 right away by using my referral code:

Text is https://zlibcgmej.ting.com/ and Link is
https://zlibcgmej.ting.com/

MonkeyMama and Ceejay are also using Ting. I know MM likes it. I am interested to hear if Ting is saving CeeJay money and if she likes her new phone.

UPDATE: CeeJay was the first one to comment! Big Grin

Tuition Assistance for Preschool

March 28th, 2014 at 11:16 am

The wonderful preschool DS goes to has a scholarship program. I was a bit on the fence about applying.. Paperwork to fill out, tax returns to copy and a $27 application fee. I had pretty much decided not to apply.

I know it seems silly that here I am blogging on SA and I WASN'T going to apply. It seems silly to me now that I really think on it. The reason is that I don't look at our family as a family in *need* and I don't want to take from a family that truly has *need*.

(Have you ever found yourself stepping aside for others; assuming someone has a greater need than yourself?)

The front office lady, EL, swayed me to going for it when she told me these two things.
First, there is a pool of money and some years it doesn't all get used. (Um.. What?!)
Second, our part as parents is to apply; not decide if we qualify for anything or not. That is the job of the tuition company the application goes to.

When she put it in that perspective I thought "why not?" EL was very encouraging about applying. (I hope that hints at a favorable outcome!)

Last night I filled out the application. The most difficult questions was "How much can you pay toward tuition?". If I put too small of an amount am I trying to get more than I need? If I put too high, then am I shorting the possible assistance payment? I settled on $5k less than full tuition - that would be a huge savings.

This morning I made copies of the W2s and tax returns. I just put the packet in the outgoing mail here at work.

Any help would make a difference to the budget next year.

Back on the Horse

March 22nd, 2014 at 04:04 pm

I have decided to dig my heels in and I just applied the $60 cash to the cc I have special focus on.
I let snowflakes "melt" into our checking account way too often.

Feeling much more collected today. Smile
And absolutely confident that I will not have lunch out or a family meal out for the rest of the month. I will need to go to the store for bananas and dinner fixings for next Saturday, but other than that we have a ton of food.

A friend and her family are taking a weeklong trip to visit family. She was going to board their little dog at a local kennel. I told her I would watch her dog at my house for half the cost of the kennel. She was thrilled.

It is a Win/Win/Win. I'll make $150. She'll save $150. Pup will have totally tailored attention.

Speaking of horses.. got notice that our boarding rate is increasing by $10/month to $170/month. Operating costs going up for the ranch owner -especially the cost of hay. I figure the drought is only going to make that worse.

April is also vet visit month for our horse. Likely $100 for that.