1 Million Dollars

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fully Switched to Ting, And Loving IT!!!

My husband switched to ting four months ago.  We were on a family plan with Verizon paying $55-60/month together, and had previously talked about switching but had planned to wait till January when both our contracts were up.   But then his phone up and died on us.  We switched him to TING using a flip phone we got off freecycle.  We used a referral code so he started with a $25 credit so no matter what we would be ahead of the game.  Two weeks later he said, I'm buying a smartphone, ting is fine but not having a keyboard is not.  Up until then, both DH and I had dumb phones with a qwerty keyboard but that was it.

Since then, my dumb phone's speaker has stopped working for private calls, so all I can use it for is speaker calls and texting.  Therefore, I have been using google talk much, much more and since the person I text the most is my husband I have gotten used to using google chat for texting.  DH still has not paid a penny for ting because someone used our referral link and the first time one gives a referral one gets $50.  Every other referral is $25.  So, so far all DH has spent on ting was the phone, which he bought used for $120, and a case for $20.  I have still been spending $35/month and the savings of $20 has been going to pay off the phone and case.  We have budgeted $10/month for the phone costs but the case cost went into our miscellaneous spending.

This weekend I too bought a phone and case for the same amount of money (total $120).  Our bill now is $26 plus tax and since we set aside $10/month for phone costs, we will upgrade every other year, just like the big plans with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, but for much, much cheaper.  $36 compared to $55-60 and to even get that low on Verizon we had dumb phones, another person on family plan and often we had to spend some amount for the phone (often less than $50).  I am not sure we could even find a similar phone to what I have without paying about $50 which adds an additional $4 expense per month.

Since Ting is on sprint's network I have not seen much difference and am loving the money savings.  This does require some preplanning and money upfront but for us it has been a win.  What do you do though, if you don't have the money up front?  Well, you don't have to buy the phone from ting, you can buy it from amazon and you can earn gift cards from swagbucks so no cash required.

It will take bit to earn the swagbucks needed, so start now with an extra 150 swagbucks. You will start a third of the way to your first gift card.  If you are unmotivated like I am, you'll only get about $5/month but if you are like some of my friends who are always running swag videos in the background and playing video games on their site, you can get about $25/month.  So it is up to you, can you afford a new phone and a cheaper plan by the end of the school year?  Let me know if you are up for the challenge.  If you are up for it, start off with a free $25 by using my referral code.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Join or create a buying co-op to save money

When I first started looking around on blogs to learn tricks to save money many people talked about how wonderful stores like Costco are.  But often unless gas is much, much cheaper and you drive a lot, as a single person, Costco is not a good deal.  But what if a whole group of people went in on the large box items together?  Sometimes then it is a good deal.  And what if one of those people can get free access to a big box store via their parents?  It might become a wonderful deal.

And you can take this idea further than just Costco.  A local butcher shop in Buffalo will occasionally have major deals on chicken and steak but you have to buy 40lbs in chicken or 15lbs in steak.  Besides the fact that 40lbs won't fit in my freezer, I can't afford 15lbs of steak.  But if a bunch of grad students chip in, we all can get a little bit and save a lot of money.

That is the idea behind co-ops, groups of people getting together to buy large amounts.  I have notice quite a few high end co-ops for organic groceries, but you can create your own as well.  So all you need to do is fine one person with a car, one person with a membership to a big box store and a few people who want to buy in and you are set.  Each person picks a store to watch and then a text or email to the whole group when a deal comes and everyone benefits.  

This collaborative approach towards saving money can save you money, time and space, all things many college students lack.  Are their any readers that have tried this before?  Or do you plan to try this during the new year?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

School Health Care Clinics, savings?

I went to my college health care clinic for the first time last week because money is tight around the holidays but I needed a refill of some prescriptions but because my insurance is grandfathered in, it would cost a pretty penny to see the doctor.  I did not need much, just basically signature. I have been taking these meds for nearly ten years now yet once a year I need to see a doctor to stay on them.

So I called the clinic to see if they could help me.  And it was great.  They made an appointment in the evening, no copay and I sent in the script to my online pharmacy.  The pharmacy accepted the script and I got my meds just like I would have, if I had spent $50-100 and gone to a private doctor.

So, how much did I pay? Nothing, my school fees covered it.  They don't care blood work or such but for simple problems, I can't see going anywhere else.  I am so excited to find a new savings and be able to remove that cost for next year!

As I always say, never stop looking and you'll never stop finding a way to improve!  So that is my holiday cheer, what about you?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Changing our side income strategy

A few years past, once my husband had taken his subsidized student loans out, I looked around for a place to put the money.  High yield savings accounts were only offering me about 1%, was there are better deal?  I found one, a high checking account offer 3%, with only 10 debit purchases, a monthly transfer in and online statements.  That extra cash became our yearly emergency fund (EF).  But as time past the deal got worse and worse.  First they increased the purchases to 15, then made a requirement that the purchase had to be above $5.  All the while, decreasing the interest.  By the time we closed the account it was only 1.85%, where a high yield savings account ranges between .75-1%.  And with knowing that most of our money would be gone come December to pay off the student loans, why should we keep it?  So we closed it and moved all the money to a high yield savings account.  But I will miss the $25/month in interest.

And that is not the only decrease we have had this year.  When we moved my daughter to her new daycare we found out that they did not take AMEX, so we got a VISA, but that only give 1.5% cash back instead of 2%.  But the VISA is better than the discover (the other card we used when AMEX was not accepted) which only give 1% (except for certain categories), so we started using the VISA instead of the discover.  But, we had been using the discover to get about $50 a year in CVS gift cards.  We did not get that this year and coupled with the serious lack of deals we ended up spending part of our food budget on expenses I did not expect to.  That does mean that we need to find extra money somewhere but how?

Normally that would have come from the yearly EF, but now my interest is pitiful and won't cover it. What else to do?  Well my husband and I discussed opening credit cards for the bonuses and we agreed to count this as part the side hustle.  Our agreement is that half of any side hustle money belongs to the person who side hustled and the other half goes towards savings.  We separate the saving as well.  If the money is tax free, like gifts or credit card bonus, half goes to EF and half to retirement savings.  If the money is taxable, all of it goes to retirement.  Right now we are trying very hard to stay within the 10%, and save any additional money in the Roth IRAs.  We are very lucky to be able to stay within it, so I want to get as much out of not needing to spend money as we can.
So what have we gotten so far?  Well my husband opened an account at key bank when they offered $250.  I did the same, but I'm missed the better deal and sadly they only offered me $100.  So far my husband got the $250 and I am still waiting on the $100.  But we need some non-taxable money in here, otherwise how can we fund the EF?  So we both opened credit cards.  He got a $100 bonus offer and I got a $200 bonus offer.  Neither have come yet, but I expect at least the $100 bonus to come soon.  We plan to rotate these offers at least every three month for the credit offers, so assuming we get $100, half to the person who found it leaves $25 for retirement and $25 for EF gives us $100 bonus every year. Not up to $300/year but it is getting there.

Granted I only can do this because we have great credit scores and sooner or later all the hard inquires will hurt that, but since we don't plan to buy another house for at least fives I am ok with that.   The next question is where else can I find money to put in my EF.  Any ideas from my readers?  My motto is to never stop trying to improve and I won't!

What have you changed this year?  How are you trying to improve, financial or otherwise?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why I decided not to stockpile.....

No, I have not decided to give up on all stockpiling, but there comes a time for each item, even things that don't go bad, when you have to say ENOUGH.  We are over budget on groceries, and even though the sale on toilet paper and bathroom tissue was great, we have enough to last us over three month and that level of sale should come back within twelve weeks.  So I said, enough, I am not spending the money.  I'd rather keep the $18 in my pocket today.  Maybe a few months from now, I'll rather buy items but for now, cash wins.

If you don't stop spending, stockpiling is not for you, because that does not save money.  Not spending saves money.   I stockpile so I can stop spending when I need to and right now we are $366.19 over budget so I need to stop spending.   In addition I am waiting till I get another CVS gift card to spend if I can.  I think I'll be getting it in January so we will have some extra money then. 

Stockpiling is not just when there is a good deal, it is also when you have extra money.  I try to set money aside so I can take advantage of all the deals but no one is perfect.  DH and I have a strict budget because we can't afford otherwise, but we do try to set aside a little money for slip ups.  That is why swagbucks, mypoints, ebates, credit card rewards and rental are not part our budget.

So, are you doing anything different as we finish up the year, to save money?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Joining Moneystepper’s 2015 Savings Challenge

I found two amazing new bloggers last week, Simple Cheap Mom And Money Stepper.  I have been having a blast reading both blogs and highly recommend both of them.  Money Stepper has a great challenge for 2015 that both Simple Cheap Mom I have joined.  He has challenged people to make two goals, 1) increasing your net worth and 2)saving a portion of your income.  Given that I joined the blogger group trying to save 50% of your income, yet I am not saving 50%, I am always up for trying to improve.

In 2014, the highest savings rate I had was 30%, but I just got a COLA raise and in 2015 my employer is putting $600 in my daycare FSA, which given that I spend $9,900 annually on daycare counts as a raise too!  So I think I can improve even more in 2015.  My budget says I should be able to save 37% but I don't think that is good enough.  I am going to aim for saving 40% of my gross income which will require some pretty decent side hustles but also should increase my net worth by 50%.  It is a lofty goal, but I think I can do it.

So, what is your 2015 goal?  Will you join Money Stepper's challenge with me?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gas is under $3/gallon AGAIN

And I am loving it!  Finally gas costs have dropped down and we are saving a ton of money.  I bet gas will go back up though, so I am not changing our budget one whit!   I am using the savings to make up for the overages we occurred when we bought our second vehicle, a truck with stick shift.  It is a lower MPGs than our car so we had planned for me to drive it and my husband, the one with the long commute, to drive the car.  We overspent the entire first month because I was learning to drive stick and DH was driving the truck 120 miles per day, every day.  Plus his old job paid a lot less and we budget based on the last month's earning so our budget that month was a lot lower.

So how much are we short?  We are short $370 as of today but I expect to cut that about $200 by the end of the month.  So, if we could keep the low price for two more month I'd be ecstatic!

Will I change my budget if by then, gas is still this low?  Sort of, actually.  We don't have enough set aside for car repairs and would have to dip into our EF if something huge happened so I'd like to save more for repairs, and any extra money will go there.  But I'd never budget it towards anything else, because you know that gas can rise and with it food costs and I don't want to be stuck.  Any savings from a discount, IMO, should go straight into savings.

What have you changed now that gas is cheaper?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Financial Carnival for Young Adults December Edition

I'm hosting the Financial Carnival for Young Adults again this month and there are some amazing articles and I discovered a few great new blogs, my favorite being:  The Money Principle.  It is a UK blog so not everything is applicable but I learned a good deal and spent a good deal of time reading.  But enough of my chatter, on to the articles:

Tre @ House of Tre writes Walmart Savings Catcher Update - Have you tried the Walmart Savings Catcher? I did an experiment and this is how much I saved.

Mario @ Adventures in Frugal writes http://adventuresinfrugal.com/favorite-black-friday/ - My favorite thing about Black Friday has nothing to do with the holiday cheer, the name, or the low prices

Maria @ The Money Principle writes Take these seven steps and watch your income grow - When was the last time your income increased?

Alexa @ Defeat Our Debt writes Should You Take a Vacation if You’re in Debt? - Your debt is stressing you out. Work is stressing you out. And you just need a little break from the normal day to day grind.

Alexa @ Single Moms Income writes 10 Small Business Ideas for Women - Are you looking to earn some extra money on the side or to potentially start your own business?

Brad @ Enemy of Debt writes Why You Should Walk Away From Free Offers - When you go shopping and you see a sign saying, "1+1 Buy one and get one free!" what do you do?

Kayla @ Shoeaholic No More writes Updated Plan of Attack - I’ve talked before about my debt attack plan and in which order I was planning on focusing on my debts and why.

Natalie @ Debt and The Girl writes We Paid off the Car Loan!!!!…And Got a New One - I did something last weekend in which I have been waiting to do for the better part of two years.

Justin @ iPlugin writes Apple just sold 10 Million new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units - The new iPhone 6 was recently released and, in its first weekend alone, Apple sold over 10 million units, which was better than their previous record of 9 million that was sold during the weekend launch last year of the iPhone 5.

Danielle @ TeacHer Finance writes How Does Cash Advance Work? - A cash advance is very similar to a payday loan, except the terms are generally a bit longer.

Aaron @ Aaron Hung writes Watch out for these Back to School Spending Mistakes - Much to the chagrin of children everywhere another school year is about to start, and that means that parents across the country are busy stocking up on school supplies.

Justin @ Edward Antrobus writes 6 Ways Shoppers are Deceived! - Brands and advertisers use specific marketing tactics to convince shoppers to make purchases There are some tactics that they use that, while not illegal, border on being unethical.

Marissa @ Thirty Six Months writes You Should Always Seek Value - To get yourself financially free, to make good investments and to get through life in a calm and relaxed manner – you should always seek value.

Marissa @ Finance Triggers writes Best Way to Collect Superannuation Funds during Retirement - If you work in Australia, then you are likely to have at least one superannuation account set up to help you out financially during your retirement.

Sam @ The New Business Blog writes Want to be Successful? Avoid These 5 Emotionally Charged Habits - There are, to be sure, many things that contribute to your overall success. Things like your attitude, your ability to lead, your people skills and so forth all have a big influence on it, no doubt.

Katie @ IRA Basics writes 4 IRA Withdrawals that Actually Make Sense - Withdrawing funds from a traditional IRA before a person turns 59 ½ usually means that they’re going to pay a lot of taxes and penalties.

Lily @ Paying Debt Down writes Some Facts to Consider before Filing for Bankruptcy - For many consumers the thought of having to file bankruptcy can cause quite a bit of anxiety.

Bob @ Dwindling Debt writes Looking for a Store Credit Card? Don’t Look Here -

Andrea @ So Over This writes You’re Handling Retirement Savings All Wrong! - Saving money for retirement is something that is very near and dear to me.

Hadley @ Epic Finances writes Stock Investing Myths and Truths Part 4 of 4 - Even though there's plenty of information about what works and what doesn't when it comes to investing in the stock market, many myths still refuse to die.

Lenny @ Best Money Saving Blog writes Stock Buybacks are Booming! - After faltering for a couple of months, buyback announcements from many major US companies shot up to a three month high recently, putting 2014 on track to be one of the biggest years ever for buybacks.

Amy @ Money Mishaps writes These are the Biggest Money Mistakes Couples Make When Divorcing - When people get divorced, it's the spouse who hasn't had a whole lot of experience with the family's finances that often ends up on the short end of the stick.

Jack @ Money Saving Ethics writes These 5 Savings ‘Tricks’ might not be so good after all - Even the best intentions that you have for saving money can sometimes lead to financial problems.

Matt @ Budget Snob writes Investing Doesn't Take Genius Intelligence, Just Common Sense - A quote that's attributed to Albert Einstein goes something like this: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Danielle @ Saving Without a Budget writes Common Money Mistakes - If you're not keen on throwing your money away, the mistakes below should definitely be avoided.

Jay @ Daily Fuel Economy Tip writes How to Save on Gas – Uncommon Ways - I will describe a few less common ways you can save on gas – I hope you will find them useful.

Oscar @ Money is the Root writes Paying Off Debt Smarter and Faster - There are few things better for your financial health than paying off any debts that you have as quickly as possible.

Daniel @ Make Money Make Cents writes The Expenses of Buying and Owning a Home - From finding the perfect mortgage with the appropriate fees, to the year round upkeep and maintenance, this investment requires a lot of time and capital.

Kay Johnson @ For the Complete Me writes 5 Reasons Why You Need a Plan for Your Life - There is a Divine Plan for your life. Sometimes you may do something that does not line up with this plan, but rest assured, He is not surprised by anything that you do. You need a Plan for your life; a Plan that was designed through prayerful guidance from Him. - See more at: http://www.kaynijo.com/plan-for-your-life/#sthash.fU5wR8sK.dpuf

Brock Kernin @ Clever Dude writes Rotate Your Tires, Or Pay The Price - If you ignore basic car maintenance, it will cost you!

Natalie Bacon @ Financegirl writes Chocolate and J. Crew: The Moment I Stopped Struggling With Money - Here's how a skinny girl uses the "weight loss" analogy to save money - think about money like you think about food.

DW @ The Money Template writes The Top 11 Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget - Follow these simple ways to save money on a tight budget and you'll be able to squirrel away more cash than you knew you had.

Kalen Bruce @ MoneyMiniBlog writes My Biggest Money Mistakes (That I’m Glad I made) Part 2: Wholesale Club - Here is my experience with a wholesale club that cost me several thousand dollars and provided little in return. Learn from my mistake!

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes How to Make the Most on Your Used Car - What did Warren Buffett say was the most important rule of investment? “Never Lose Money”. Now, Warren probably uttered this phrase with his trademark wry grin.

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes Quality, Quantity, and Content – Making a Good Blog Great - You’ve seen them – the content-mill blog with a hundred posts a month, none of them good, selling posts to advertisers and doing nothing else for the world. Or the blog with 6 posts, from 2011, and nothing since.

Jeremy @ Modest Money writes How to Choose and Maximize a Niche in Blog Posts - If you blog it they will come. Right? Well, not necessarily. The web is teeming with unvisited blogs churning away with little effect. How do you make sure that you money blog ends up among the top finance blogs? The only way to get things moving is to work work work. You’ve got to create content constantly,

Erastus @ Wise Dollar writes Motif Investing Review: Get Up To $150 Cash Back With A New Account! - This Motif Investing review covers the unique broker and their themed based investing approach. Get up to $150 when opening a new Motif Investing account!

Erastus @ Sprout Wealth writes TradeMONSTER Review: Trade Free For 60 Days! - TradeMONSTER offers trading at $4.95 per trade! Read my TradeMONSTER review to see how you can trade free for 60 days when opening a new account.

Erastus @ Frugal Rules writes SCOTTRADE REVIEW: GET UP TO $2,000 CASH BACK! - Read my Scottrade review to see how you can get up to $2,000 from bringing them your outside accounts. I use Scottrade for my investing and love using them.

Jon @ Increase Credit Limit writes How You Can Increase Your Credit Limit - Even if you might know that you should increase your credit limit, that information will do you no good unless you know how to get it done. So, here are some tips for how you can increase your credit limit.

Connie @ Savvy With Saving writes 10 Easy Ways To Make Extra Cash For Christmas - While the holidays are filled with fun, festivities, and family, they can also be quite a headache for your budget. Here are 10 ways to make a little extra cash.

Little House @ Little House in the Valley writes My Time Sucking Side Income That I Love - On top of the day-to-day hours I put in teaching our future generation, I’m also creating a side income stream through TeachersPayTeachers.com.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Three week grocery round up, with a Serious Fail!

Single week shopping does not work for us!  We averaged 68.97 every week and were careful, so very careful.  We did fine at the main store, but not good and we still spent at the "deal" stores because of course, we found deals. 

We were over a total of $8.97 which makes us owe $366.19 with a month to go till the end of 2014.  Granted only being over by 8.97 with thanksgiving in there is pretty decent, but we can't go with decent, we need good.  We could not shop one bit and still not be within budget.  And, not shopping won't work at all.  So my plan is to go back to once every three weeks shopping (though maybe I will stretch it to once a month, what do you think?) and do my best. 

This has taught me that screwing up is hard to fix, and much easier to just not screw up in the first place.  Now if I can just keep to that.  I am going to be keeping a better eye on my accounts, one reason I got mint in the first place and trying for some more cheap meals during this winter.  This is going to be a struggle for me, but one I fully intend to win.  See you soon.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Updated Millionaire Plan December 2014

We blown past $25,000 and now have $26,316 in our retirement accounts.  Our next goal is $32,200, only $5884 to go!  I have no doubt that baring another Great Recession we will make that goal in 2015.  The goal I really want to focus on after that is my husband's full annual paycheck of $41,700.

Some of my longtime readers may remember that he just got the post-doc position which is paying such a lofty amount and in August of this year his income was just $26,000 as a grad student.  One great thing about being a young person is that your income can jump, but then it does make your savings look a little pitiful. But given our savings rate, if nothing goes wrong I think we can hit $41700 in 2015 too.  It may be a stretch but I think we can do it.  I'm making a few changes for 2015 because of what I learned being a full time student, employee and mom especially for the later half 2014 when my husband worked his post-doc job outside of the area.  These may streamline a few things and save us a couple dollars in the process.
What are your goals as we finish up 2014 and move into 2015?