We reviewed our monthly expense and decided to cut back on some things.
First, we cancelled landline. $33 per month savings.
Then, we raised our deductible of home insurance. Approx. $400 savings per year.
The latest one is cable TV. We were paying $95 and I hardly watch TV. My husband watches it but he was complaining about the quality of channels, too many re-runs, commercials, etc.
So, he called the cable company and told them we will cancel it. Guess what? They kept offering him lower rate and the lowest they offered was $22 per month for next 6 months and they will even give us $50 rebate!
He didn't take the offer and went ahead and cancelled it. But, we were amazed how low they were willing to go in order to keep their account. At the same time, I was kind of upset that how much they were charging us for so long for so much!!
Anyhow, it is $95 per month savings.
Total savings so far
Home insurance $400
Cable $1140 (Wow!)
Total annual savings $1,936
Viewing the 'Savings' Category
We reviewed our monthly expense and decided to cut back on some things.
I was checking my bank account balance as usual and noticed the amount was larger than I expected. Then, I realized my incentive was paid out from my previous dept.
I was managing a project in my previous dept. and we were incentivized by project milestone. I left the organization about a year ago (but I still work for the same company in different dept.) and I heard from my ex co-worker that our project reached a milestone to pay out incentive.
Of course, it was nice surprise for me. I was not planning this income at all, so it will go straight to my EF.
I called a phone company and cancelled our landline.
We all have cell phones and hardly use our landline. For some strange reason, maybe it is called a peace of mind, I've been procrastinating to cancel it. But I finally did it.
We were paying about $30 per month, so this is about $360 savings per year.
My DD came home for Christmas and my husband and I took her shopping at Outlet. She found a jacket she was looking for. According to her, it was exactly what she was looking for.
We also bought her a couple of pairs of pants, a skirt, and a nice coat.
This outlet offer free membership in their website that members can receive extra discount with coupons, but I didn't print out these coupons because I didn't know which store she wanted to go. I stopped by the information center and asked them about the coupons, then they told me to go to the website with out smart phone and show the store cleark coupon code.
We did with my husband's iphone, and it worked and we received extra 15% discount at a couple of stores.
It never hurts to ask.
Wow, I didn't realize I haven't written anything since September. I guess I was more focused on my job than blogging during my work hour ; )
Anyhow, 2009 has been a great year for me and I made another accomplishment. I will be contributing full $16,500 to my 401K this year. Yipeeee!!! I've always wanted to do this, but I did not make enough to reach this amount before. (There's a max % I can contribute from my pay.) I am super happy and very proud what I accomplished.
to see gain in my Sharebuilder account.
I've been buying stocks of different companies every month. I pick these companies depending on how I feel. Sometimes it's drug company, sometimes it's bank. I do it for fun and I consider $100 as my monthly hobby expense rather than saving or investment.
Anyhow, I had this HUGE loser stock that wiped out other stocks' gain for a longest time.
I saw gain of $100 first time since I started my investment! (which is about 2 years or so...)
It's so nice to see gain instead of loss. Hahaha : )
I've been checking my 401K balance and so happy that it's back to 6 figures!! Yay!!
I checked my 401K balance and I am very excited. It is back to 6 figures!! Return % is still low but I really don't care. I have 15 to 20 years till retirement. I will just ride out this bump.
This week has been great for some deals. So far, I bough 15 boxes of Special K cereal and planning to by 5 more. I paid $1.38 each for first two trips, and 38 cents each for the third trip. Big thanks to fellow couponer on HCW Target forum that new printable showed up on coupons com and Kellogg website. I printed some more coupons and cut out coupons from cereal box, and I will pay 38 cents per box for my next trip as well. $17.60 for 20 boxes of cereal (88 cents each) isn't too bad.
I viewed this Friday's paycheck. This is the first paycheck my raise is 100% incorporated. My take-home increase by $137 per pay-check. Nice : ) I'm still contributing 20% to my 401K. 401K contribution limit in 2009 is $16,500. I thought about maxing this out, then, I decided not to do it.
Reason: I need to save for a car.
I drive 2004 Toyota Rav4 that has about 105K miles. Well, I am planning to drive it until it totally dies on me. However, I commute over 60 miles a day and not having a reliable car is out of question. So far, my lovely Rav4 has been super dependable, but you just never know with high mileaged car.
So, I decided to start saving for a new car, in case something happened to my Rav4. I was thinking about investing in two or three stocks (like GE or Citi) for next 2 years in Sharebuilder account (say, $100 per stock per month) and see how much it grows by the time I need to buy a car. I guess my return will determine what kind of car I can buy.
Or, should I resort in regular savings account??? I think this car should last at least two more years. (I drive about 20K miles a year.)
What do you think?
I hope you all had a nice Easter. We were really low key. Yesterday, I did a couple of deal hunting, Office Depot. and Rite Aid, then, came home and clipped coupons & organize them for a couple of hours. I finally found trading card holders at Office Depot. When I started couponing, I learned many people use binder method for their coupon organization and they use trading card holders. When I went to buy them before, they were out and I have been using bigger pocket type (picture holders) that holds less number of coupons.
I was really happy to find trading card holders this time. They were $2.49 each, so I grabbed two packages and added a scotch tape that were on clearance for 25 cents to make total more than $5. After $5 coupon, I paid 25 cents : ) Free coupon organizer for me.
By the way, I went to Lens Crafters to order my new glasses on Saturday. I have a pair but they are almost 10 years old and I can hardly see anything. It was waaay over due to get a new pair. Why did I go on Saturday? Because the expiration date for 50% off lenses coupon was Saturday. I know, I know. My life goes around coupons. Anyway, I checked other deals and coupons, but 50% off lenses seems to be the best deal. I knew there are BOGO coupons, too, but I don't need two pairs of glasses. I normally wear contact lenses and glasses are for night time use.
Anyway, at the end of the day, it saved me $200. Original price $569.95 - $200 = $369.95. Still, a good chunk of money. I called my benefit company on Thursday and made sure that I can buy my glasses with my FSA card. So, the money came out from my FSA fund.
I suppose some of you had a lot of fun getting Register Rewards for P&G products last week at Walgreens. Trial size worked like a charm and I ended up getting $92 worth of RR. (My out of pocket was $65.36, so I made $26.64 from this deal.) Unfortunately, 99 cents trial size were wiped out, and I could score only once. Still, I could find 1.39 trial size that gave me about $3 profit every time I bought. So, that was nice. What do I do with all these mini shampoos? I will donate them when holiday season comes. My office donate household necessities, i.e. soap & shampoo, to homeless people every year.
I used $4 to buy one of FAR items, and thinking what to get with the rest of $88. I may have problem buying gift card because it's $4 coupon and says one per order. We will see. I was planning to buy some Windex this week since we're running low. I have a couple of BOGO coupon for antibacterial kind, but I heard Safeway has them for BOGO this week, so it's cheaper to get theses at Safeway. (free....) I need to sit down and figure this out. It's only Monday, so I still have a whole week to think about it.
I'm leaving work at noon today because I have an exam for my accounting class tonight. It's about capitalization & depreciation. The teacher was really nice and held a review session yesterday afternoon that helped me a great deal. Very nice teacher. I hope his exam is as nice as he is LOL
February coupon & rebate savings $304.47
Safeway's Savings Rally was a huge contribution factor. Also, this includes some restaurant coupons we used when we went out for dinner.
$304.47 will be added to my EF.
Feb. interest was also paid to my EF account. $5.19.
These will bring my EF balance to $2,310.53.
I need new contact lenses (I use disposable kind), but my prescription expired. So, I went to check my vision yesterday. The exam was $109 and my co-pay was $10. And I ordered four boxes of contact lenses, two boxes for each eye. They were $147.92 and insurance covered $67. My portion for contact lenses, $80.92. I paid $99.92 with my FSA debit card.
I really like this FSA debit card system. It is so much easier than sending paperwork to the FSA processing company and wait for a check to arrive. I set $3,000 aside this year for medical expense, so I have enough fund to cover upcoming medical expenses for my family and myself. Fortunately, we do not have any major health problems, just dental and vision related items, and regular health check-up. But as you all know, these cost can add up really quickly.
Well, speaking of dental expense, I just received an estimate from my dentist for a crown I am planning to do in March. Estimated cost is $998, and insurance will cover $438.50, so my out of pocket will be $559.50. I am glad I don't have to stress about this money as it's funded in FSA already.
January coupon savings total $166.76
January rebate savings total $98.90
$265.66 Transferred to my EF
Previous balance $1,730.06
+ Interest $5.15
New balance $2,000.87 : )
Transferring $191.92 I earned from selling textbook at Amazon to EF.
Previous EF balance $1,538.14
New EF balance $1,730.06
I got a raise. It was around 3%, I think.... I barely remember because I really didn't care. OK, let's say my raise was $100. 25% will be taken away by tax so I only see $75 of it. Making $100 more is actually making $75 more. Sucks.
I coupon because couponing stretch $$. If I reduce my grocery bill by $100 using coupons, that's pure profits to me. In order to make $100, I actually have to earn about $130 considering tax effect. So, saving $100 by using coupon (or other saving methods) is actually same as making $130.
Of course, I am not complaining about my raise. It is nice. I turned around and increased my FSA contribution for next year, so I don't have to pay tax on my increased portion of my salary, and I can recoup money I used for some rebate items.
I'm done with my mid-terms! Yay!!!
I took my last mid-term on Saturday morning. I felt like I used all my energy and I felt really exhausted after that. Fortunately, I've been doing pretty good on all the subjects I'm taking. So, I think I can relax a bit from now on.
Since I was focusing on my exams, I did a minimum deals last week, even though Walgreens had a super good deals last week.
On Saturday (the last day of sale cycle) I bought:
3 Crest tooth pastes $1.99 x 3 = $5.97
Less Walgreens store coupons $1 x 3 = $3
Less Manufacture's coupons $1 x 3 = $3
Final price Free
2 bags of M&M Dark chocolate
$2.5 x 2 = $5
Less Walgreens store coupon $2
Less manufacture's coupons $.75 x 2 = $1.50
Final price $1.50 for two bags
Tylenol Allergy $4.99
Less Tylenol printable coupon $5
Final price Free
I knew I could get 4 Excedrin for free, but didn't even bother getting them.....
Then, I recouped my energy yesterday afternoon. I went to Rite Aid. My Sunday paper didn't have a Rite Aid Weekly ad, but I knew there were some FAR this week. It turns out it was really worth a trip because they had many FAR items available. Also, L'Oreal Vive Pro shampoo & conditioners are BOGO sale this week. So, more free shampoo and conditioner!
I had to go to our supplier meeting, then, I found Target on my way home. Perfect! I stopped by and bought:
4 bags of Kit Kat
$1.66 each. Used 2 $2 off Target cpn. and $1 cpn. (I only had one manu. coupon left...)
$1.64 for 4 bags of Kit Kat.
$1.52 each. Used 3 $1.50 off cpn. 6 cents for three 2 fl oz. Purell
1 Renu contact solution
Target gave me a $1 off cpn. last time I shopped. So, I got the travel size which is 99 cents. So, free.
I noticed that they are very careful about accepting coupons. The cashier examined my coupons carefully, then called her manager and the manager also examined my coupons and produts. She told me there are so many troubles with coupons. I hope people are not abusing coupons
Another thing I noticed was prices are going up. Milkbone (Dog treats) used to be $1.98, but it was around $2.30 now. Sigh....
Higher gas price pushes other prices up, too.
We just received our energy bill (both electricity & gas). My husband opened the envelop, and told me "You are not going to believe this." I was like, "What? What?"
The bill was $96 and this is the lowest as far as I can remember since we moved in this house!! I haven't seen two digits energy bill for a looong time. Thanks for nice weather (no A/C or heater needed) and we were careful about running a washier, dryer, dish washier, pool pump, etc.
This is a nice saving because I normally budget $250 for our energy bill. (Yes, that's our norm, and I talked to neighbors, and they're in the same range or even more.) Our DD is taking a driving test on Monday, so our insurance premium went up significantly. We also need to pay pro-rated premium for the remaining period, which is $557. We can use the savings from energy bill to pay a part of insurance premium.
My 401K is doing pretty good. The return percentage normally picks up really good starting October. (The trend I noticed last few years.) My return so far is 11% this year, and I am happy about that. I'm not a risk taker, so I am diversifying my 401K balance to 10 different funds. Some good, some ok, but overall, 10% return is a good percentage for me.
It's amazing how money makes money. The return on my 401K has been better than my raise, so I really don't care about my meager raise anymore. Actually, a couple years ago, I didn't notice that I got a raise because the amount was so tiny LOL
My daughter asked me to take her to the bookstore. She has a long list of books recommended to read from her English class. I mean, long list with many book titles....
I thought about it for a second, and said "Let's go to the library."
Unfortunately, our library is small, and I didn't expect that they have all three books she wanted to read this weekend.
But, at least we found one, and we also found "The old man and sea" which is one of books in her list. I told her "This one is short. Get it, and read it this weekend, and just be done with it."
I asked to hold other two books they didn't have today, but the library should get them in 10 days or so.
We haven't been to the library for a long time. One reason is we often cannot find the book we want. But we should usee it more often even we have to wait for the book. It sure will save a good chunck of money.
And I'm looking for some good stocks to buy.
I have a couple of K to play with. First, I was thinking about having the $$ in some type of CD, but since stock market is going down these days, I thought it's a good chance to buy something.
There's one stock I have my eyes on, and it was down about $1 today. Needless to say, I was excited about the price coming down! LOL (That means my 401k balance is down, too, but I don't care at this point. I just won't look!)
My advice is to implement "Strategic Purchasing" for your personal purchases.
My three effective tools for strategic purchasing.
1. Store flyers
3. Rebate books from drug stores
This is my weekly routine.
Sunday: Buy a newspaper and read drug store weekly ads and see if there's any "free after rebate" items. After checking free stuff, then look for other items I can get dirt cheap with coupons.
Tuesday: The sale cycle for grocery stores around here starts on Wednesday and they distribute store ads on Tuesday. I go through three store ads that are around my house (Safeway, Bel Air, and Save Mart) and look for $1 items and BOGO items that I can match with coupons. Also, they announce deals in their ads (like movie deals, etc.), so I keep my eyes on these.
As many of you know, people who don't care about saving money often laugh at coupon clippers like me. But, in my opinion, I'm only buying things strategically, utilizing large corporations' marketing strategy.
OK, I will talk about some marketing stuff, so stop reading if you get bored with these "academic" BS
In marketing, there are "Pull Strategy" and "Push Strategy."
Pull strategy is that manufactures "pull" customers into the store and have them look for the product. For example, companies often give out high value coupons to consumers. (like, "Try me free" type of coupons.) Consumers bring the coupon to the store, and they will ask a store clerk where the product is. This is the "Pull strategy."
"Push strategy" is that manufactures "push" stores to sell their products aggressively. They provide programs like "Buy 10 items from XYZ brand and get $10 free coupon for next purchase." type of deal. This is the "Push Strategy."
Well, we, the very smart consumers, take advantage of both ends and get these products at the bottom price, often "free."
I've been clipping coupons and using rebates for only a couple of years, but it saved me so much money.
Like everyone is mentioning, the balance of my 401K is down, down, down....
The balance reached 6 figures a couple of month ago, and it's back to 5 figures again.
I'm not worried, though. I have about 20 years to catch up LOL
Actually, I am thinking about increasing my contribution while market is down.
One reason my 401K return has been good is I contributed a good portion of my salary around 2001 when market was really bad.
I didn't plan it that way. It was totally a serendipity kind of thing, but it worked out.
We tend to forget "Buy low, sell high." Maybe I should start looking for good stocks to buy.
Since I made my last entry.
Recently, I reached my major financial goal. My 401K savings exceeded 100K.
This is a big milestone for me.... to bring the number to 6 figures. My first goal was to save the amount equivalent to my annual income. (which wasn't hard because I don't make much LOL) Aaaand, I set another goal to save 100k. It really helped that I saved 20% of my gross income for three years. After those three years, I had to improve my cash flow, so I'm only saving 6% now. (With 6% contribution, I can fetch company's match.) The stock market was down during years I saved 20% of my salary, so I guess it really helped to boost my balance.
My next target is 250K. I know it will take a while, but I will do it!
I didn't have any addition for a while, but finally my software was sold.
Sale price $26.99
Shipping credit $3.49
My take $24.21
This is going to be added to total.....
Only $43.69 to reach $1000!!!
Bank A $421.78
Bank B $285.32
Software rebate pending $225
Software sale pending $24.21