We are budget billed on our gas and electric provider, still using less than previous owner as our budget bill was set-up using their average 12 months. We pay the budget amount every month, but the meters are read every two months.
I logged on our account and noticed the meter has been read, and I compared it to same time last year:
2014/01/10 703kWH $139.76
2013/01/09 731kWH $137.64
**Average daily cost for billing period was $2.1838/ day.
**Average cost of energy purchased was $0.06605/ kWH.
2014/01/10 226CCF $314.09
2013/01/09 232CCF $320.02
**Average daily cost for billing period was $4.9077/ day.
**Average cost of energy purchased was $0.56027/ CCF.
Using less, however, obviously, it appears electric was cheaper the previous year for the same period.
In addition, it appears we could have done even better in the gas department if it wasn't for the Polar Vortex!
We are budget billed on our gas and electric provider, still using less than previous owner as our budget bill was set-up using their average 12 months. We pay the budget amount every month, but the meters are read every two months.
DW surprised me the other day and mentioned she signed up for a a Chase Freedom card with $200 bonus after spending $500! I had mentioned it two months ago to her, but thought she forgot, but she surprised me! How the spend went down in one weekend:
1. $110 in medical expenses. 100% reimbursed from employer, already received the checks and deposited.
2. $55 auto maintenance. Oil change and NYS yearly inspection for DW's car.
3. $210 for a book for one of my classes. The other class book was purchased last semester and is used again. 100% reimbursable from my employer under tuition reimbursement.
4. Now we came across an App a couple weeks ago called Boxed. It is very similar to our Sam's Club, BJ's, but we never renewed our Sam's club membership as we only went twice a year for bulk paper goods, and I hated how you had to pay a membership fee and could not use a our Visa Card as credit, only debit. Well Boxed doesn't have everything as the Sam's Club, prices are pretty much identical, but has everything we need or would buy, plus it is a new App, adding items almost daily. We figured we were really low on all those items so we gave it a try. We figured we had no other large regular expenses coming up to use the card, so we put together a $200.05 order. With that being said, we effectively paid $0.05 for the whole order, most likely none as the other items above will equal more than $0.05 in rewards! In addition, it was free shipping on orders over $75, and will be arriving in two business days!
Of course once the statement closes and points are awarded, we will take the $200 statement credit and pay the remainder in full!
Sent $115.00 extra to mortgage principal and $275 extra to auto loan principal!
Both 'thousand place' digits changed, even though it was intentional! Haha!
Mortgage - $167,998.42
Auto Loan - $1,994.11
In addition, the 'ten thousand' digit changed on our total debt, which is just the two added together, also intentional, which is why I took advantage of this whole "unique" situation!
Total Debt - $169,992.53
Happy New Year!
It's that time again; 2014 Goals!
1. Auto Loan paid off by June 2014. This will actually happen by itself with regular payments, which will be 18 months early on our 48 month loan. Once it gets down below $1,000 I may reevaluate with a lump sum payoff. Right now, it costing us less than $6/ mo. in interest.
2. Mortgage principal only payments. Sending $50/ mo. additional principal only payments for 2014. I have automatic payments set-up from our savings account.
1. ROTH IRA (ME), fund $50/ mo. I have automatic contributions set-up from our savings account.
2. ROTH IRA (DW), fund $50/ mo. I have automatic contributions set-up from our savings account.
3. Emergency Fund to $10,000.
1. Fence for rear yard. DIY project. $1,500-2,500 depending on materials used.
I made the goals a little more accessible this year. I had hoped to have the auto loan paid off six months ago, but other things came up and DW switched job to a much less stressful one, but at the expense of less wages.
Here's to 2014!
We finally did it!
I have been pondering this for over a year. We set up our accounts through Vanguard. I originally wanted to have $10,000 in EF before we did this, but I figured we're missing out on compounding interest! The saving account interest is pitiful. Have to start somewhere, right? So we funded both with the initial minimum of $1,000 and set up automatic monthly contributions from our savings account, not much, but I feel good about the decision!
I figured I would ask here in the Blog section before I asked in the Forum section, but those of you who have Wells Fargo Mortgages or Mortgages Serviced by Wells Fargo, are you able to set up automatic additional principal payments further than 1 month out? I only have the option to set up one month ahead, which is kind of annoying if you ask me. I wanted to set-up the whole year, so as to set it and forget it, but no avail. They probably are doing that hoping I would forget so they can make more money on interest! Haha!
After being hospitalized in July for a few days, after receiving all reimbursements from my employer (in a very timely manor, I just need to get the request in early in the week on a vendor pay week not an employee pay week) except for one part.
On my bill I was assessed for a "NYS Surcharge" for $389, for which I was not reimbursed. I am supposed to have a $0 out-of-pocket expense for In-Patient hospital services. The HR department said it was a tax and they can't do anything about it directly. The insurance was no help because when I call the insurance they see a plan that does not reflect my actual benefits, so they denied it.
I just had a nice chat with our benefits coordinator stating I had spoke to some people that were hospitalized with the same insurance as me and were not charged that, but apparently the in-network facility I went to is billing as a separate line item. She is looking into it for me and stated it is not my employer's fault or my employer's 3rd party reimbursement agency as they can't pay a tax with pre-tax dollars. The hospital should have never charged it being it is included in the policy cost. I hope I am going to get reimbursed easily. I don't care if the employer cuts me a check and they go after the facility or if the facility cuts me a check directly. I don't care, as long I get the reimbursement I am owed.
I looked it up, the NYS Surcharge is fairly new, as so I am told, and it is to help fund the indigent care pool.
Zero dollars, means zero dollars, not zero dollars plus tax!
Our Auto Loan had a minor milestone of under the $3K mark! I did add $55 to principal only for that to happen. I get an "extra" paycheck extremely early in 2014, January to be exact, so a good chunk will most likely be going to the Auto Loan. Once it is down around $1300 is probably when a lump sum pay off will occur.
The Mortgage also had a minor milestone of under the $169K mark this month. Not much progress there at all besides regular payments. There is a home for sale a street over that is very similar in size and style to ours that is listed for $169K, so I will keep an eye on final sale price once and if it sells. I expect high $150's low $160's.
The reduction of Verizon services is already paying off, the first bill saw a savings of $61, so that works for me.
DW changed jobs, less hourly pay, less hours until January 1 and much less stress. After that, a raise and back to 30-35 hours instead of the current 25.5 hours. So the dept shovel has been reduced a bit, for the short term. However, the new job at the Dental office does provide opportunity for a monthly bonus of $500-$5,000, so in reality, the effective pay could be significantly more than her previous employer. There is also a yearly bonus on top. I just had to rework our budget schedule as she now gets paid weekly and not bi-weekly.
So today I called Verizon to downgrade our Triple Play bundle (FiOS Extreme TV [340+ channels], FiOS Quantam 50/25 Internet, and Unlimited Home Phone). We wanted the promotion that was being advertised for new customers for FiOS Double Play (FiOS Select TV [190+ channels] and FiOS 15/5 Internet, as our original intent was to drop the Home Phone. In order to downgrade AND drop the Home Phone, we would have encountered a $140 ETF.
I spoke to the customer service representative and she stated we could keep our Triple Play with the downgraded TV and Internet and that would be $79.99/ mo. I kindly told her that would not work for us and we would rather pay the $140 ETF, have my wife sign-up as a new customer to get the current promotion as the savings are $35/ mo. from what we currently pay and we would break even in 4 months. Of course she was not able to authorize the price, so I kindly mentioned I would like to cancel the service.
I was, as expected, transferred to the customer retention department where they were able to get us the Double Play at a rate of $79.99 - $10.00 monthly statement credit totaling the $69.99 price for the FiOS Select TV and FiOS 15/5 Internet for 24 months. The person was able to waive the ETF as we maintained service with them. Just a new 2-year agreement starts today, which is fine.
Out of all those channels we are "losing", there is only 1 channel we semi-frequent that we would be losing. In addition, those FiOS Quantam 50/25 Internet speeds are only good for wired connections, not wireless as I have called to complain such when I ran some diagnostic testing in the past and only coming up with 20/15 speeds via wireless connection. Much different than what is advertised on their commercials!
No ETF. Saving $35/ mo. = Win!
Next will be Verizon Wireless. We are in an old plan, I am still Unlimited Data, but we will save $20/ mo with a new Shared Plan as we never use more than 2GB of data combined a month.
I am estimating a $60/ mo. savings between the two, easily, as less costly product means less taxes!
I've ran a Google search for credit card sign-up bonus that requires a $1,000 spend. After 4 years we are looking to finally purchase a snow blower for to up coming winter season. With tax, the unit we are set on will just be over $1,000.
Any one have suggestions? It will need to be a $1,000 spend (or less) in 90 days, no fee (at least for year one), and can be for gift cards or statement credit. I have done pretty much all Chase cards recently. I would like a $250 sign up bonus.
DW got her Chase Sapphire Preferred card statement with the bonus points. Also sent in the auto insurance policy net difference with it, so, $700 total went to the auto loan.
$500 will be sent toward the end of the month when my other Chase CC sign-up bonus hits.
In addition, the regular September 2013 payment will put it under $3,000 by end of month!
So the last week I received an email from our current auto insurance company, but through a different agent. The email stated they had a new "plan" and rate reductions in the area I live. Usually I am like "yeah right" and delete it, but this time I decided to humor them. Same exact coverage through the same insurance carrier just different "plan" and agent, our 6 month premium went from $1,410 to $948. We pay in full upon renewal and what does this mean for the monthly budget? A decrease of $75! Usually I would budget $235/ mo. for the old plan and now I am budgeting $160/ mo. for the new plan for the same coverage limits, deductibles etc. Glad I humored them and didn't brush it off like in the past. It also means we will receive a prorated check from the old policy as I paid the new policy in full over the phone with a cc. The difference between the unused portion of the old and new will be about $310 we will net. Not sure what to do with the money yet.
Central Air vs. Window A/C Unit electric usage for the past 2 months increased $41.92 over the same time the previous year with window a/c. So the total we have seen over the 4 months has only been an increase of $67.41 over the previous year. That is much less than I originally estimated for the majority of the cooling season.
I received pretty much all of the large reimbursements from my job for our recent medical expenses to the tune of around $7,000. I cashed and deposited them a couple days ago. We are just waiting for about $800 more as I grouped a bunch of smaller ones together. I should receive them this week.
All of them are split between two new cards to receive a total of $900 in sign-up bonuses. The statements will close mid-late September and won't be due until early-mid October. I will keep the money in the savings account as long as possible to to gain the pesky interest.
We received our third paychecks this month today, so, $2,000 to the EF as well, but the account shows $15,000+ and there is a CC payment due mid-September that will be paid in full on my Chase Freedom account. I will probably use a statement credit for the current points worth around $35.
It would be nice if all the $15,000 was 'ours' as that would be $2,000 from a fully funded 6 month EF, or the auto loan would no longer exist! Haha!
At least the EF is now $8,000!
DW received her Chase Sapphire Preferred over the weekend and activated it. Today I paid my tuition and 2 medical bills (all 3 totaling $3,050.09) to reach the $3,000 minimum spend. All of which is being 100% reimbursed by my employer! Therefore, we literally made $400 on the deal!
I just realized that the title I came up with appears to be a gateway phrase to a scam! Haha!
Has anyone ever signed up for one of these cards ever to get the sign-up bonus?
I live in the United States of America, where anyone can be in business for themselves, i.e. Sole Proprietorship.
This goes along with my last post regarding me recently being hospitalized and how my employer reimburses us the deductible and co-insurance (confusing the way it was negotiated, but whatever). Well, I just received yet another bill from the hospital and this one is for $4,500, in which we will be reimbursed 100%.
The Chase Ink Plus Business Card is offering 50,000 sign-up bonus points ($500 statement credit or $625 travel rewards) after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
I figured, we could easily spend $500 additional to make the minimum by purchasing already budgeted gas, groceries and some of our Christmas allowances with the card.
With DW signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for the other reimbursable medical bills and tuition we could potentially be making $900 total if I could successfully get approved for the Chase In Plus Business Card.
Worth a shot, and nothing to lose I guess!
I had my wife apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred today for the $400 bonus cash after $3,000 spend in 3 months.
If she is approved, we will be able to reach the requirements in one day, get this, on items we will be reimbursed for anyway!
The health insurance through my job opted for a high deductible insurance plan, but reimburses us the deductible. It is confusing the way Administration negotiated with the Union, but whatever, that could be a whole other 5 posts! Haha!
So I was in the hospital mid-July and we have finally gotten bills and explanation of benefits so I can begin to process everything.
So far we have the following bills to be paid:
$675 Medical Bill (100% reimbursable [Already have check actually]
$1,975 Medical Bill (100% reimbursable)
$635 Tuition and Book (100% reimbursable) [I knew there was a reason I was waiting to pay that!]
A quick easy way to make $400+!
The $400 would either go to Auto Loan or Christmas savings.
These are the actual numbers when comparing this year with Central Air vs. Window A/C unit last year.
As requested by a few:
05/08/2012 - 07/06/2012: 1136 kWh = $194.28
05/07/2013 - 07/08/2013: 1272 kWh = $219.77
Even though there are some variables, we paid $25.49 more over the same time period a year ago with the much less capable window a/c. Not bad. I will update again in September 2013 on our next meter read date!
The auto loan is at an amount that we could just pay off immediately if we wanted. I am tired of waiting for each months payment, but retiring the loan now would leave our EF way too low, but still tempting. Next month is 3 pay periods for us which means an extra ~$2,000 to savings on top of our normal amount. My plan is to bring loan under $4K after August regular payment and additional $400 to principle. We also want to increase our EF to $10K by December 2013. I don't think we can have both and the auto loan is only costing us $14 a month in interest. Of course that gets less with each payment, but I just want to be done with it! At that point we would only have the mortgage!
Some have asked that I keep track of Central Air vs. Window A/C electric usage. The central air was installed around the time we would have put in the window unit which was beginning of June. Our utility bills every 2 months so below is the kWh usage for both 2012 and 2013. Keep in mind that I needed to read the meter yesterday and estimated cost based on the cost for electricity in 2012. I will post actual most likely this coming week when I get the ebill.
05/08/2012 - 7/06/2012 = 1136 kWh --- $194.28
05/07/2013 - 7/06/2013 = 1202 kWh --- $205.00
The window a/c would cool and dehumidify only the living room and dining room, leaving the bathroom, two bedrooms, kitchen, and hallway to be desired. The central air cools and dehumidifies the whole house, including the finished laundry room in the basement. The central air is set for holding 75 degrees at this time. I have it programmed to keep 75 degrees when home and 78 degrees at sleep or work, but during the heat wave I placed it on hold.
I have accumulated a couple cards within the last year or so due to sign-up bonuses etc. and it is time to close all but the Chase Freedom.
1. Chase Sapphire
2. Chase Freedom
3. Sears (VISA)
4. Sears (Master Card)
5. Sears (Store Card)
6. J.C. Penny (store Card)
7. Best Buy (Store Card)
The Chase Sapphire was closed the other day to make sure the yearly fee didn't kick in and I was sure to transfer all my points to my Chase Freedom before doing so.
All of them except for the two Chase cards remained in our lock box, and quite frankly, I am not sure if they are all activated.
Closing all except for the Chase Freedom will be removing $22,800 in available credit. May effect our credit score slightly, but it is not like we are looking to apply for any loans in the next few months anyway.
Between the Chase Freedom and my local credit union credit card (oldest card), $15,000 total available credit between the two is enough, not that it matters to us anyway.
The auto loan this morning was at about $5,150.00, but I couldn't stand to see it that close to being under $5,000 so (as I already had planned), I transferred an additional $175.00 to the principle and brought the balance down to $4,979.69!
So, in June, two 'milestones' were reached:
1. Mortgage Under $170,000
2. Auto Loan Under $5,000
In other news...
I got into my vehicle this morning and while on my way to work I noticed my clutch pedal having a lot of free play in it, as if there was no hydraulic pressure. I limped it to work, checked the clutch fluid reservoir and the reservoir was empty. I checked and I hope it is just a loose fitting where the clutch line connects to the clutch master cylinder (I can't see that connection unless a few parts are removed [these cab-forward designs on all these new cars make it so difficult to see parts of such), as the other end of the line connecting to the clutch slave cylinder is dry. Inside under the clutch pedal is dry, which hopefully rules out my brand new clutch master cylinder I had installed a few months ago along with the clutch. I put some fluid in it and attempted to pump it a few times and I noticed some fluid that is running down the line and dripping on the ground. I hope it is just a simple clutch line being loose, but it is at the side I can't get to myself. I have an appointment on Wednesday to bring it to the shop, but we may drop it off tonight as I don't want to really to push it.
I will say, I love my 2007 Honda Civic Si Sedan, but they just don't make them like they use to in the 1980's and 1990's. Bummer.
Our central air was installed last Friday and works great. It is nice to have the whole house cool and dehumidified rather than just the immediate room as with a window air conditioner.
Speaking of the window air conditioner, we listed it on Craigslist and sold it last night for $175. I will deposit that tonight and put that toward the principal on the car loan so that it will be below $5K after regular payment hits June 24. I will be sure to blog that milestone separate as well! Haha!
DW bday is June 26, so she asked for a Fitbit One, so they were on sale for $10 off. We purchased at Best Buy and they guy asked if we were using a Best Buy credit card. We said we didn't have one, and asked if we wanted to sign up. I asked if there was any incentive and it was $20 off current purchase if approved. So after we were approved, we walked out spending $75 after tax on a $99 purchase before tax! Plus, we didn't need to use that card to pay for it! Now, just another card with a ridiculous amount of credit for a retail store I need to cancel. Haha!
Speaking of credit cards, the remaining $2,000 balance of the central air was able to be charged to my Chase Freedom card. We will have no problems paying that before it is due by July 12 or so. I will use my existing $65 in rewards as a statement credit so only really $1,935 will really be due!
I need to renew my NYS drivers license by June 14 as it expires this year, which is $80.50. Again, no issue paying that, but those little things like that tick me off sometimes!
Our June 1, 2013 payment posted and the balance is under $170,000!
Thanks to all who had commented on my previous post regarding credit card sign-up bonuses!
So we got an updated price on getting central air installed.
2011 Price = $2,430
2013 Price = $2,870
An increase of $440 in 2 years!
Oh well, the quote was for a Lennox Merit 13ACX (13 SEER, 2 Ton system) w/ Condensate Pump installed etc. I wrote out the 30% check yesterday when I met with the sales person. They will be installing it next Friday (May 31, 2013). There isn't really much time to get DW to sign up for a reward CC, so we will use my Chase Freedom card for 1%. Come to think of it, I should have asked if they even accept credit cards.
I am already adding ways to subsidize the cost of it:
$200 from sale of window a/c, $65 in rewards on my Chase Freedom card already I can cash out for a check, and $150 from sale of home entertainment receiver system I have laying around that is well worth that cost! So, hopefully looking at about $2,455 total spent in the end. Not bad, and slightly less if I can charge the remaining $2,000 on my Chase Freedom Card, plus, it won't be due until mid-July and be able to cash flow with-out touching EF!
We are looking to possibly subsidize our Central Air purchase with a decent sign-up bonus credit card. Anyone know of any decent ones?
I already have Chase Sapphire ($400 back after $3,000 spend in 3 months) and Chase Freedom ($300 back after $500 spend in 3 months [the good offer!]).
My wife has yet to sign up for any, but Chase Freedom changed their bonus to $100 + 0% On balance Transfers for 15 months and 0% on Purchases for 15 months after $500 spend in 3 months.
The central air quotes back on 6/2011 for the install of central air were $2,100 - $2,350 depending on the manufacturer of the unit, so I am hoping they are still around those numbers. I will know when I meet with the company tomorrow on how much prices have changed in 2 years. A Chase Freedom card in DW's name might work for this.
The Chase Freedom card, unless there is another someone can recommend (looking for cash bonus mostly), sounds like it is top choice. Unfortunately, at least $1,000 of the EF would be used for this if we purchased outright and the EF currently sits at $6,000. However, being the Chase Freedom card is offering 0% for 15 months on purchases, we could float a month or two and cash flow the purchase until July 2013 since there would be no interest. Knowing me, I would just pay in full anyway and be done with it, but I do like to see the EF stay consistent.
It looks like the mortgage will be under $170K next payment on June 1, 2013! I can't wait to see that $169,xxx number.
Too bad we are underwater by a good $40K though.
I am going to try to have auto loan under $5K by June 24, 2013.
Our auto loan is now under $6,000!
It is sitting at (as my side bar reflects), $5,765.37!
Loan Originated December 2011 for $14,300...59% paid in 16 months! Hope to have it gone by late Summer or before December 2013.
My car went in the shop yesterday for a clutch replacement, charging labor only as I supplied all the parts. Got the call that it was ready today and he mentioned he prefers cash or check as he will be charged 3% for the swipe. The shop has some really fair prices and someone I can trust. I had originally planned to put it on my Chase Sapphire card to earn some points as I need to cancel it before August or pay the yearly fee. I also wanted it on there to float the payment as it would not have been due until May 9. I have no problem paying by check, but the EF will be seen below $5,000 until April 26. So going against my previous post, I guess I did touch the EF with all the expenses previously posted. Oh well, at least we have the cash available!
Been a couple months so I will give an update on this around here!
DW is getting NYS Certified for the job she has been doing for the previous two years. After the course, she will be able to sit for the exam and get her full certification without being a trainee for two years as she has the experience. All that ran us $2100 and we cash flowed that.
My 2007 Honda Civic Si 4 Door Sedan, after 6 years of ownership, finally needed repairs. The suspension components were wearing out costing me $600 in parts and installed them myself. Brakes were changed, $300 in parts and had DWs grandfather's auto body shop to the work as it was cold outside for me to do them, $185. The major one is scheduled for clutch work. I sourced my own parts as dealership costs are ridiculous, all parts sourced were $860 and a shop to do the work at $75/hr x8 hours is $600. So $2545 in repairs we also cash flowed.
The IRS, also apparently wants money this year, Haha, so $1146 is set to be debited from our account April 1. I was messing with my W4 all year and DW also made about 15k more than previous year. I adjusted myself back to claiming zero allowances on both fed and state for 2013. We always set DW to zero for both, so no changes needed there.
If it wasn't for all that, DWs Auto loan would have pretty much been paid off! At least we didn't touch our EF!
So the last couple years, in Jan. we have decided to make a list of what home improvements we want to do for the year. We usually get a few quotes for projects if a contractor is required, or I spec, source and do the work.
The newest idea is a PVC fence for the rear yard, so I spec'd out the product and solicited bids.
- Contractor 1: $6,700 installed (high overhead)
- Contractor 2: $5,500 installed (low overhead)
- Contractor 3: $6,200 installed (high overhead)
Being I work for the City Engineering Department, I have worked with Contractor 1 and 2 before on City jobs. In addition, installing a fence is not really that difficult and a great DIY project, so I have been dealing mostly with Contractor 2 on a materials only price.
- DIY $3,350 + Sweat Equity! Sounds good to me!
Basement Windows - $2,500 installed
Electrical Upgrade from 100A to 200A - $1,800 installed, permitted, inspected
Central Air - $2,500 installed
Attic Insulation - Adding another layer of R30 for a total of R60 (max recommended in NY) - $300 - DIY
So we will see...
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