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Recent Excel Budget Crunch = Excitement

February 24th, 2016 at 12:48 pm

The closing of the sale of my townhouse was today! Hooray! In honor of such a big event, I decided to create a spreadsheet of all my debits and credits to represent the "Before" (all my monthly expenses and income during the ownership of my townhouse) and "After".

Monthly expenses that I will no longer have to pay after today:

$18.92 - Rental Unit Insurance
$28 - Tenant's Water/Sewer Bill
$175 - Homeowners Association Dues
$822.20 - Mortgage + PMI

With the check I receive from the sale, I will be paying off my vehicle and my student loans! This means after that point I will no longer have to pay:

$181.65 Student Loan payment per month
$271.14 Vehicle Loan payment per month

I'm going to have an extra $1496.91 in my bank account each month. Woo hoo!

I'm currently paying $850 in rent (technically $425 since my boyfriend and I split it) and looking to buy a home (again) instead of wasting money on a house I don't own (or like).

I'm pre-approved for a conventional mortgage loan of $250K and extremely happy that I won't have to pay mortgage insurance anymore.

I never thought that I'd be free of my student loans before the age of 30 and I'm beyond thrilled that that time is fast approaching!

Digital Antennas (Thumbs up!)

September 10th, 2015 at 12:30 pm

My boyfriend and I moved to Montana because we love the outdoors (especially hiking the mountains!) We have been here since June and had never subscribed to any cable companies. We just don't really watch TV... but now it's football season!

I'm a HUGE Packers fan and he's a Bengals fan, so we needed a way to watch football. I read online that antennas can pick up pretty good HD channels, but living in a town surrounded by mountains I didn't think it would work for us. After researching a few different antenna companies, I decided to buy an external antenna for $29.99. Not only did it not cost much, but the company offered free returns if it didn't work out.

I'm here to say even in a place surrounded by mountains, this little antenna picks up GREAT HD TV! I have CBS, FOX, The CW, NBC, and PBS channels that come in crystal clear! Bring on the NFL kickoff!

So, if anyone else has been hesitant on cutting cable, do it... you can still get football!

Sometimes Online Coupon Purchases Just Don't Work Out

April 30th, 2015 at 02:42 pm

I've had [mostly] great luck saving money with Groupon, LivingSocial, CrowdCut, Amazon Local, etc... but I have to share a *blah* purchase experience.

A couple months ago I saw a coupon on Amazon Local for professional carpet cleaning and thought "Score! This will be great for just before my new tenants move in!" I bought the coupon which was for 4 rooms (up to 250 sq ft each) and a hallway for $55.20 (really was advertised as $69 but I had a promo code.)

I called the company early April and scheduled an appointment for 4/29 at 4 PM. That was the latest they could come out so I gave in and just decided I'd take off work an hour and a half early. Not too big of a deal.

Well, 4/29 was yesterday. They called and left me a message around 2 PM saying they were running behind and asked that I call them back. I called them back around 3 PM (work and all that delayed me a little) and I got a generic "This caller is not answering at this time" voicemail. I wasn't sure if it was the correct number so I didn't leave a message. They tried calling me back around 3:15 and I didn't answer (again, I'm at work) and they did not leave me a message this time.

3:30 rolled around and I originally planned on leaving at this time to meet them at my rental property at 4. Because they had said earlier that they were running late I left at 3:40 instead. As I am driving to my house, I call them again just to get an ETA since we'd been playing phone tag. The guy answers the phone and says he's JUST arriving at another job site that is located in a city about 30 minutes from me. They were JUST arriving. Keep in mind that they were supposed to be at my house at 4 PM and it's 3:40 and they are JUST arriving at a DIFFERENT job.

Tell me if I am wrong here, but leaving me a voicemail message at 2 PM saying "We're running a little behind" does not equate to not even starting the job before mine until the time my appointment was supposed to occur.

The guy said he'd be at my house around 5 or 5:30. Keep in mind, this is my rental house, not where I currently live so no TV, no Internet, no food, no water, no nothing for me to busy myself with while I wait. I decided to run to Trader Joes to pick up flowers and a card for my new tenants and then sat outside the house for an hour while I waited since it was nice out. I could have been working... but no. I left work early thinking they would only be "running a little behind."

They arrived around 5 PM and proceeded to then complain about how the owner of the company overbooked them, etc... etc... and also told me they had to charge me an extra $80 for "heavily soiled carpeting." BS. I don't wear shoes in the house, I don't have children, and my cats were indoor cats so never brought dirt inside. There was no way my carpets could have been considered "heavily soiled." I told him he should give me a discount since they were an hour late and because I didn't have a hallway for them to clean when my coupon includes that. He then told me $80 was a discount.

Anyway, there is my rant about my most recent online coupon purchase fail. Do you guys have any experiences you'd like to share?

Facebook Garage Sales

April 13th, 2015 at 08:04 am

Because I am moving to Montana, I have LOTS of things I have been trying to sell/get rid of. The less things to pack and move, the better!

Who still is only using eBay and Craigslist to sell stuff? I was up until about a month ago, then an angel in disguise (a co-worker) told me I should try selling my stuff on Facebook. I had no idea there were "online garage sale" groups on Facebook. Did you? Anyway, you can join these local groups and start posting For Sale ads (for free) and start selling ASAP. What's especially nice about selling on FB is people can easily and quickly comment, ask questions, give offers, AND you can see what the person looks like, unlike Craigslist which can be a little scary sometimes.

So, three weeks ago I joined 5 local garage sale groups on Facebook.
Here's a rundown of what I've sold so far:

2 laminate wood bookshelves - $75
1 original Playstation w/ controllers - $5
1 original XBOX w/ controllers and 5 games - $10
1 XBOX 360 16G game console - $50
2 wireless XBOX 360 controllers - $30
5 XBOX 360 video games - $25
5 board games - $20
1 North Face track jacket - $10
1 small wooden table with drawers - $20
1 large decorative clock - $35
1 framed copy of Monet's Water Lilies print - $20
1 George Foreman Healthy Cooking Griddle - $10
1 Hamilton Beach blender - $10
1 Swiffer Wet Jet - $10
1 laptop - $50

That's $380 worth of sales in 3 weeks and 25 items I no longer have to pack and move to Montana.

YAY Facebook Garage Sale Groups!

5 Ways to Save Money Each Month

April 1st, 2015 at 11:47 am

HBO announced that they will be offering their online streaming service starting this month (April). Do you hear that? That's the sound of millions of cable subscribers jotting the note "cancel cable" into their 2015 planners. To follow this up, here's a tip: go get an antenna. No, not those contraptions with the bunny ears and tinfoil, but one of the new streamlined antennas that you can hide behind your TV. Unless you're living in an extremely remote area (we'll have to see if this works out in Bozeman, Montana!), you'll be able to pick up local HD channels like FOX, NBC, CBS, etc. for a one-time fee of about $40. This way when you cut the cable cord, you'll still be able to watch the news, sports, and your favorites like Modern Family and The Blacklist. It's a great way to save a few bucks every month.

Another way to save a few bucks is to shop with apps. Target's Cartwheel app and Cub Food's Rewards app are my two favorites to grocery shop with. I basically take a few minutes before heading to the store to look at their featured coupons. I then plan my meals around the deals. (Not to mention the Holiday Station gas savings with Cub rewards points!) I know Costco and Sam's Club are also two places to save money when grocery shopping, but I'm a single woman with no children. I don’t need to bulk grocery shop.

Amazon Prime. Do I need to say more? Okay, I will. Amazon Prime is a great tool to save money. An annual fee of $99 gets you a streaming TV/movie service, free (or discounted) Kindle books, free two-day shipping, and a free music streaming service (with no commercials!). Find a pair of jeans you like at the store, but they are just a little too expensive to justify buying? Look those up on Amazon - 90% of the time they are cheaper. Need a present for little Timmy this weekend, but don't have enough time to go to the store? Boom. Amazon will have it at your front steps in two days. Recently canceled your gym membership to save money and now want to buy a treadmill? Amazon will give you a deal and deliver it for free! Need to buy kitty litter but don't feel like straining your back trying to lift the 40 pounds into the trunk of your car? Amazon. Okay, that may make me sound lazy, but time is money. Also, I look like an idiot trying to lift those massive bags into my trunk. But think of it this way, you now can take the time to go for a walk around the block enjoying the Spring weather instead of going to the store.

Summer is coming. Save some money and buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to your ideal temperature (mine is 71) only the hours you're at home and for when you're at work set it so it's at 78. Your energy bill and wallet will thank you!

The last money-saving tip I'll pontificate on is being a do-it-yourselfer. I'm the daughter of a plumber. He's been preaching to me since I could crawl on the importance of learning to fix things yourself, or at least try before calling a professional. A few weeks ago my vacuum stopped working. I started Googling the prices of vacuums and looked on Amazon at different reviews. I almost bought one, until I thought "You know what, let me first see if I can fix this thing before dropping 100 bucks." I Googled the make and model of my vacuum and watched a YouTube video on how to take it a part. In 20 minutes I had that thing working like it was brand-spankin' new. I immediately called my dad and told him all about it. So, not only did I save about $100, I also felt great about myself. You can find a video on how to fix pretty much anything on YouTube. And you can find a video on how to make pretty much anything on Pinterest. Last month I made a personalized jewelry box for my niece's third birthday. Had I bought it in the store, it probably would have cost over $40. And just let me say, I'm the last person you'd pick to be in a crafting club, so if I can do it anyone can.

Let's quickly review.

Five Easy Ways to Save Money Each Month:

Cancel Cable, Get an Antenna
Use Grocery Apps
Amazon Prime
Programmable Thermostat
Be a Do-It-Yourselfer