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Viewing the 'Sensible Spending' Category

That was a TEENSY bit sneaky, Geico

July 15th, 2013 at 05:39 pm

I get a 10% discount on my auto insurance because I've completed an on-line defensive driver course. Whether or not you can get the discount depends on your state laws. In many states, the discount is only available for seniors. Fortunately, here in Texas it is available for all drivers. A course certification lasts for 3 years. The course currently costs $19.95. (Edit: Looks like it cost $19.95 back in 2007 too! Nice to see that the price of something has held steady.)

DH has completed the same course. Because we have 2 cars, we both have to take the course to qualify for the discount on both cars.

I got an Email on July 9 from Geico that read in part:

QUOTE:
It has been almost 3 years since you took the National Safety Council Online Defensive Driving Course for your Geico policy. Your insurance discount may be running out. You can check with Geico to verify your eligibility.

In appreciation for being a loyal Geico and National Safety Council customer, we are offering you a 10% discount when you take the recently updated Online Defensive Driving Course and use the coupon code ...
END QUOTE

It's a rainy night so I thought I'd curl up with a cup of tea and complete the course. First I pulled the "Auto Insurance" file out of my trusty Rubbermaid tote that contains all of our important financial documents and looked at the certificate from when I completed my last course. It expires Oct 24!!! I have over 3 months to go. Nice try, Geico. Instead of completing the course today I just entered a reminder to re-take the course the weekend before the expiration date on my Google calendar. I also checked the date DH's certificate expires and entered that too so I can remind him.

Glad I took the 10 seconds to check the expiration date. Saved me some time and a bit of money too.

I *really like* Geico ... We have been insured by them for about 20 years ... But I think their Email was a tad sneaky, if not misleading.

"Trust, but verify."

On and On It Goes

June 30th, 2013 at 02:10 pm

cc Rewards: Called Am-Ex to have the rewards balance on our Blue Cash Preferred Card ($275) applied to our statement balance. I can't believe I let the balance get so high before "cashing it in." This is a card that offers 6% cash back on supermarket purchases, which is why I chose it.

Ironing Board Cover: I can't remember when I bought my current ironing board cover but it has to have been over 25 years ago. It's so thin that the diamond pattern on the board transfers to the clothes I'm ironing. The actual cover is still fine but the cheap foam padding is completely shot, and has been for awhile. I was going to buy a nice cotton pad from Amazon for $14, but I found a new cover on clearance at Tuesday Morning for $2. I'm going to put the new cover right on top of the old cover for a bit of increased thickness. I don't know if the new cover will last as long as the old one or if I'll end up having to buy the pad some day, but not now. And hey - If the new one lasts 25 years it may be the last one I ever own!

Speaking of Tuesday Morning: I bought some extra items at their clearance sale that I'm going to sell on eBay later in the summer, when I catch a bit of a break at work. My goal is to net $100 on eBay sales this summer. Not a very ambitious goal, but I'm keeping my focus on my regular job since that is what helps our bottom line the most.

Next Finance-Related Project: Purging the Rubbermaid Bin. I keep all our important financial files in a small rectangular Rubbermaid tote bin. I know it's time to purge when the files won't slide down all the way. It's time!

Legacy Project: Paid for 10 beds for shelter dogs today. Smile

Every Once In A While I Don't Bargain Shop

April 14th, 2013 at 09:20 am

Usually when I have a purchase to make I take the time to shop around for the best deal. But not always.

On Friday I found out that a neighbor's dog (who we jokingly called the "girlfriend" of our late pooch) was diagnosed with cancer and is going to have an eye removed on Monday. She's a sweet little dog and the owners are fantastic people. To illustrate how kind-hearted they are, when our "boy" died they made a donation to the animal welfare group where I volunteer.

Yesterday I went to a local doggy boutique and bought a stuffed animal and bag of treats, paying full retail price. This morning I wrapped them up and will deliver this afternoon when I take my walk. No time to bargain shop this time.

People and pets first, then money, then things.

Celebrating

April 7th, 2013 at 06:46 pm

We celebrated a "milestone" anniversary last week and celebrated in style!

We went to a nice view restaurant for a great meal. We used a Groupon that I purchased and had been saving for the occasion.

I bought a single serving of Tiramisu at a local bakery, and we got 4 servings out of it (for the 2 of us over the course of 2 evenings). I also bought a single can of Sofia Coppola champagne at the liquor store that we shared.

Everything was such a treat.

Total Expenditure = $47.50 plus driving expense, and worth every single penny!


Urban Farm Visit

February 15th, 2013 at 05:21 pm

Bought some nice little "food splurges" from an urban farm in my area today:
Big bunch of golden beets ($3)
Huge bunch of broccoli florets ($5)
Half-dozen free range eggs ($3)
1-lb Longhorn hamburger ($8)

Total spend: $19

The hamburger is from a place less than an hour away. The veggies and eggs are produced on-site.

The prices are on the high side, but the food is delicious! DH had one of the eggs this evening and we both had some of the broccoli, and it is so fresh & much more flavorful than what we get at the supermarket. Tomorrow we will have oven-roasted beets. (The hamburger is in the freezer for later.)

I am NOT a Locavore. The whole "shop local" movement is just not my cup of tea. But I'm happy to support a small farmer once in awhile, and I enjoy learning about what is grown in my area. And of course we enjoy fresh local food products for the YUM factor.

Well, that was my weekend splurge. Do you have any planned?

The Cost of Fruit (aka the "high" cost of healthy eating)

February 2nd, 2013 at 03:21 pm

Bought 3 kinds of fruit today at the neighborhood HEB.

Bananas: 48 cents per lb ... 80 cents for 5 bananas = 16 cents per banana

Grapefruit: "small" (weighing just under 1 lb each!) @ 3 for $1 = 17 cents for half of a heavy, juicy grapefruit

Organic Gala Apples: $2.98 for a "2-lb" bag that actually weighed 2.3 lbs ... 9 apples in the bag = 33 cents per apple

Bananas are a staple in my house. I like to have one each morning. I chose the grapefruit because it's grapefruit season here in Texas (lucky us). And when organic apples go on sale, I usually buy a bag.

Not gourmet or trendy choices for sure. Pretty basic stuff. But "really expensive" or unhealthy? Naw ...

What does a candy bar cost these days?

Catching Up: The Dog (aka: A Time to Spend)

January 12th, 2013 at 04:56 pm

This is by far the most difficult "Catching Up" update to post.

During the time I was away from SA our beloved dog developed terminal cancer. After consultations with specialists and heartfelt conversation, DH & I decided not to put him through surgeries followed by confinement for a couple weeks and then months of chemo. Instead we have focused on keeping him happy & comfortable for as long as we can. He is doing very well and has stayed with us longer than expected already.

Our decision was based on what we felt was best for the dog. All of you who have been through this know just how badly we wished we could have sat our boy down and had a chat with him to find out what HIS wishes were. But since we couldn't, so the tough decision fell on us.

I am thankful that we had the money to pay for the surgery & followup treatment, had we chosen to go that route. My heart aches for people who have to choose their pets' care based on what they can afford.

Even so, our pet-related expenditures have gone up. He is getting daily medication. We bought a 3rd doggy bed for him, so that he would have a comfy place to lounge in ALL the rooms he hangs out in. I buy cheese just for him when I go to the grocery store ... it's his very favorite. Smile And cleaning costs are up. Bedding (human & dog) is being laundered more often, carpets are being steamed (DIY) more frequently, and I even broke down and bought some Arm & Hammer carpet powder that is supposed to help get your carpets cleaner when you vacuum. Today I took the comforter to the cleaners for a cleaning that it wouldn't have needed if he wasn't sick ($33).

And this spending is perfectly OK! This is one of the reasons why we have saved so hard for so long. To see to his needs and keep him comfortable.

Suze Orman has a mantra that we change up a little bit in our house: "People AND PETS first, then money, then things."

Catching Up: Credit Card Shuffle

January 2nd, 2013 at 09:47 am

I am loyal to the people (and animals) in my life.
I have zero loyalty to cc companies. Smile

I'm not as good at it as some of you (like MonkeyMama), but I do like to milk the cc rewards.

In 2012 I opened a *Marriott cc so that I could stay for free when I attended my HS reunion. I closed it today b/c my 1 year anniversary is coming up and I would have incurred a $85 annual fee that I was not willing to pay. I know that this was a "one time deal" and that *Marriott won't be offering any special promos like that to me again. That's OK with me. I don't travel that much that involves staying in hotels.

I also opened an American Express Blue Cash Preferred card for a $150 bonus and 6% cash back on groceries. I like that I can call in and have my rewards credited to my account, in $25 increments. There is a $75 annual fee but with the 6% cash back on groceries I will probably opt to keep it. (Towards the end of the year, our favorite grocery store HEB offered 12-cents off on gas if you used one of their prepaid grocery cards, so we were able to double up the 6% cash back and 12-cents discount. HEB's gas is competitive even without the discount. This promo, which HEB runs periodically, is always popular. On Dec 31, the last day of the deal, there was a line at the gas stands!)

Opened an Amazon cc in exchange for a $50 Amazon gift card. Used it to order a b-day gift for my brother, with some leftover for a future purchase. DH will also get an Amazon cc. He likes to buy some of his "ethnic" groceries from Amazon.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Opening & closing cc accounts isn't a good strategy if trying to build up your credit score. My credit score is decent, and I don't anticipate ever having to take out any loans, so I don't have to worry about qualifying or paying a higher interest rate.

P.S. - I had to edit my entry to refer to the hotel chain as *Marriott, otherwise a hyperlink to that particular hotel chain automatically appeared. That is something new in the SA blogs, isn't it?

This 'n That

January 25th, 2011 at 09:00 pm

1. Tax-Deferred Retirement Savings: Finally moved from Wellsley Income to a mix of Target Retirement 2005 & Target Retirement 2010 (all Vanguard funds). It means I am now invested a bit more conservatively but more diversified, and expenses are a bit lower. Had been considering a move for months. I tend to chew on "big" decisions for what to some must seem like way too long time (plus I take the time to actually read the prospectuses), but once I make a decision I usually take action right away. I made my decision over the weekend and did my Exchange Order online, so the exchange was done yesterday. DH decided not to make a change for now, so we now have a little bit of a friendly competition going to see whose funds do better!

2. Work: The organization I volunteer with wants to hire me. If all works out, I would work for the non-profit part-time and continue working with my current employer part-time from home. If it doesn't work out it's OK because I'll just keep doing what I'm doing right now.

3. Mattress Cover: When I took our mattress cover off to wash it, the zipper "broke" (the pull tab came all the way off). I am NOT a seamstress. I have an old Singer, and I can sew more or less a straight line when I need to, but I rarely sew. I'm also not clever at all when it comes to mechanical things. But other than the zipper the mattress cover is in perfectly good shape, so I knew I had to try to figure out how to fix it. It took over an hour, it was not easy for me, and at one point I had to recruit DH for an extra pair of hands, but I did it! It's now fixed! It looks a little funny because I had to do something to make sure the zipper pull wouldn't come off again, so once I got the zipper teeth put back together and the tab back on, I pinned teeny safety pins at the ends, one on each side. It may not be pretty, but it works! Didn't have to buy a new one ... didn't have to take it to a repair shop ... Don't have to leave it unzipped (losing the anti-allergen effectiveness). It's ridiculous how proud I felt for being able to fix that zipper. DH was really happy too and gave me a big high-five. (He never would have been able to figure out how to fix it. I don't think he has ever held a needle in his hand.) It may be of interest to my fellow frugalites that the teeny safety pins I used came from sewing kits that I got in hotel rooms back in the day when I used to travel for business. Smile

4. Groupon: I signed up for Groupon months ago (last summer I think) but just recently made my first purchase. It was for $14 at the restaurant Which Wich and it cost $7. I redeemed it today for DH & I ... 2 sandwiches & a large shake that came to exactly the face value of $14 (yes, I planned my order so I wouldn't go over the $14). Usually the Groupons are for things we don't buy (spa treatments, expensive restaurants, etc) and while they do offer golf packages regularly they aren't that good of a deal so DH has passed on all of them. While we were happy with today's deal, I'm not sure if it's worth the time of getting a daily Email when there are so few offerings that we would use. Anyone else had better luck with Groupon?