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Expensive Day!

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Yesterday was an EXPENSIVE day, though not as bad as it could have been.

My car is a 2011 and, all in all, it has been pretty reliable. We’ve had some bad luck in the tire department in the past year, but (knock on wood), we’ve never had any major mechanical issues. All we need to do is regular, routine maintenance and the car has been great for us!

So when the brakes started squeaking a few weeks ago, I knew it would be time to replace them soon.

But life has been busy with work, school, and the holiday season approaching. I’ve kept putting it off, not wanting to spend the money. Then over the weekend, the brakes progressed from what I would describe as a “squeal” to what I would describe as a “grate.” It was truly an awful noise – the kind that hurts your ears, like nails on a chalkboard. I knew it was time to get in STAT!

I called around to a few shops to compare prices and went with a nearby shop that I trust. New brakes, rotors, fluid, and a serpentine belt later, my bill came to $643.28. Ouch! 

But never forget to Google for coupons! I’d taken my laptop and was working in the waiting room while my car was being serviced. As a last-minute thing, I decided to google coupons for the services I was receiving. And I stumbled across a 15% off coupon, good for all parts and service at the shop I was using!

When I went to pay, they scanned the coupon from my phone and my bill dropped to $549.11. BAM!

But it gets better still! The brakes I got came with a $50 online rebate. I had to wait 24-hours to enter my information, but I did so today and will be receiving a $50 rebate check in the mail in the next couple weeks.

That officially brings my total down to $499.11!

Still an expensive day, to be sure, but not nearly as bad as it could have been! And all because I was willing to do a little Google search to find applicable coupons while I waited.

No one wants to drop $500 on car repairs, especially around the holidays and at a time when we’re really not doing well financially. But to put things in perspective, $500 amounts to less than 2 months of the old car payment (I paid off the car in January 2016). Since we’ve owned the car an entire 2 years since then free-and-clear, a $500 investment here and there to keep the car in good running order is not too bad. I’m very grateful we no longer have that monthly payment in our list of bills!

 

Have you had any major car repairs lately? 


The Best $0.46 I spent this Christmas

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How many of you are members of rewards programs at the different stores you are shopping at this Christmas?  Go ahead and raise your hand, we can’t see you.  I think I’ve mentioned before different earnings I’ve gotten from the rewards programs.  I am members of a ton of them…only free ones.  And this month I’ve gotten lots of freebies or special coupons because it’s my birth month.

I mentioned that Christmas was going to be very learn, even non-existent from me in regards to actual purchased items in my last post. Then I collected our mail before we headed out of town.  And there it was a $10 coupon to Dick’s Sporting Goods, no minimum purchase required.

Princess and I dropped Gymnast at the local gym for his practice and ran across the street to the store.  I ran right to the clearance rack in the boy’s section and found my $10.46 pair of gym shorts for little Gymnast.  I paid $0.46!

I should have taken a picture, but I rushed back to wrap them.  They are white.  I would never buy white, even though he’s begged every time he gets new shorts .  But I figured at $0.46, if he ruined them, I wouldn’t cry too much.  Now he will have 3 pairs of shorts to work out in (he’s going to the gym 20 hours a week.)   A great blessing since we don’t have a washer and dryer so keeping him in clean shorts daily can be a challenge!

Tell me about your shopping win this Christmas season!  (I will post a picture of him in his new white shorts when tries them on after Christmas!)


New Shoes and Sports

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I could certainly relate when Ashley wrote about her daughters’ First Children’s Activity; while that was many years ago for me, I remember it vividly…Mommy & Me Gymnastics classes…me with two children.  Little Gymnast and Princess must have been 2 and 3 respectively at the time.  If I could do it again…well, I probably wouldn’t.  It was a lot of work keeping track of two during the class, but I do remember it being fun too.

So this week I splurged just a little bit.  I know, not the best idea when you are struggling to pay the most basic bills, but in my defense, I have been hired to do 4 websites this month in addition to my on-going part time job and new part time job starting next month, so I’m not just twiddling my thumbs.

First splurge, knowing that we are now going to be staying here when our lease is over in April and that school would also be over for us, I decided to sign the kids up for a new activity session (spring session, Princess has been playing basketball during the winter session.)  So Sea Cadet, Gymnast and Princess will all be playing volleyball for the spring session and Princess will also be playing softball.  This will give us something to do and get us out of the RV for a few hours each day.  The total cost for all four activities was $185 and the season will run from March thru the end of May.  This will take us right into swim season so I’m happy with it.

Second splurge, new athletic shoes for the four kids.  All the kids were overdue for new athletic shoes and in light of the new sports, I decided to bite the bullet and buy them.  I knew I wanted name brand shoes that had lots of support, all my kids are really rough on their shoes.  So Rack Room shoes, buy one get one half off combined with an earned $15 discount from their loyalty program that I had been saving, plus a gift card from returning shoes Princess received for Christmas…and all of them got shoes they wanted, fit them well and are exactly the support I wanted.  Average cost of shoes $45 per pair.  I’m please with that.  (All my kids are now in adult sizes with two of them with exceptionally large feet, so felt like this was a great bargain.)

I did not make these financial decisions lightly, especially looking at bills that are past due, but I am pleased with them and feel that the intrinsic reward my family will get from these two purchases will far outweigh the financial cost.  And I am continuing to seek more work and make much healthier financial decisions overall.

 



Month in Review- June 2015

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Hey Everyone! I hope you’re all having a great week.

It’s July 2nd, so that means it’s time for a month in review. June went by in a flash, didn’t it? The summer months always seem to fly by so fast.

Since I didn’t post on Tuesday, I want to share a couple of items that happened over the weekend:

  • The same couple that I went out with earlier in June, invited me and GF out again; this time for dinner AND a movie (BTW- Jurassic World is AMAZING). I happily said “Yes!” but it also broke my “fun” budget for the month, which I carried $50. It wasn’t a big deal since my buddy asked me earlier in the week and I was able to budget for the dinner and movie out of my paycheck vs. having to dip into my emergency fund. I’m just really excited that I don’t have to say “No” to everything anymore.
  • I didn’t have a debt update to share since my last paycheck of the month is delegated to paying my mortgage and some other smaller bills. If I didn’t have any plans during this week, I could normally set aside $70-80 for a debt payment. Since I went out to dinner instead, I made no debt payment this week.

As for June, there was a lot that happened, so to review:

  • Firstly, now that most of my smaller debts are paid off (with only one more to go below $10,000) I had an internal struggle (The Hard Wins) on how to deal with the the fact that the payoffs are going to be few and far between now.
  • The day after my “Hard Wins” post, I increased my 401k contribution from 4% to 10% (which I mentioned in the comments of that same post). Update: I think this was a wise decision. For one- I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my take home pay. It ended up being about a $60 difference, but it’s definitely not hurting my ability to pay my bills. Plus, it’s awesome to see my retirement account grow so much faster!
  • In the following post (Time Off), I decided to use the month of July as a vacation from paying off debt to both enjoy my vacation to Disney and clear my head so I can hit August refreshed and ready to go. Update: vacation is only 7 days away (yay!) and this Wednesday’s paycheck marks the first paycheck in a LONG time (if ever) where I didn’t have to make a debt payment. I’m using all the extra  money to buy myself some new clothes and to stock up on supplies (more on this on Tuesday)
  • I went out for dinner and drinks with a with an awesome couple, in which my “fun” fund came in really handy (here) and was most definitely worth it.
  • In this post (Birthday Party), I went to a good friend’s son’s 1st birthday party. Since I started an ESA account, I figured I give the gift of some cash for my buddy to start one of his own for his son.
  • In the same post, we began our planning for Disney. Since we are driving down, a lot of you had some great ideas our how to make our trip as fun and as frugal as we can. We’ve incorporated many of the ideas into our plan as we want to spend as little money as we have to on our drive down and then back up.
  • Lastly, we had a little Father’s Day celebration (Father’s Day) where GF did some amazing little things for me, as I am the father to our kids (lol, they’re dogs). We also started cementing our Disney plans and GF used her couponing skills to get us a whole bunch of goodies on the cheap.

As for my debt paydown, no big milestones met this month, but I still paid off $1,592.21. Down to a balance of $48,466.83. Not my best month, but not my worst, either.

Hope everyone has a great holiday!


Free Gas

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Remember when I told you guys about how I Save On Groceries?  Well today I wanted to show you what it is like.  I spent a total of $45.00 during the month to get this deal.  Giant Receipt

Now granted about $15 of this was used on things I really didn’t need.

But the question remains… Would you spend $45 to save $111?