December 2015 Recap

Welcome to the December 2015 Accountability & Budget Recap post – last one for 2015. This is exciting!

This post is broken into two sections: Budget and Debt Eradication.


Budget Accountability for December 2015:

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Woohoo!:

  • Overall, still under budget!
  • Did not have to pay for some kid activities I was planning on, home services (lawn care), and the gas prices have been great on our trip, which have helped keep the rest of the budget balanced (such as it is).

Whoops!:

  • We still do have two days left in December, and honestly, we may go over budget by the time we pay for our food out on the trip back and the gas. Sigh. I may transfer money from our sinking fund to cover the cost of gifts this month, since we do have a gift category. (I just knew we would be spending in that category this month, and I wanted to budget in extra for it.)

Total Debt Eradication for December 2015: $2,433

 

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Debt Eradication:
  • $542.60 extra payment sent to Loan 1 & Loan 2

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December 2015 Net Income: $2,377.58

 


Snowflaking: $407.85 (all of this went into our Student Loan Debt Eradication Fund – if it was prior to the middle of the month, it became part of the big supplemental payment we made; if it was after the middle of the month, it’s still hanging out in the account to be used in the following month)

  • $100Swagbucks (<– referral link, but it’s totally awesome!) via PayPal
  • $141 – H’s side hustle
  • $166.85 – H’s second side hustle

2015 Consigning Totals: 
I’m curious about how much we will make in one year by consigning our clothing and L’s old toys at my favorite consigning store (and any other sales, if I decide to participate). 
  • $0 (January)
  • $56 (February) – yeah!
  • $20 (March) – woot!
  • $80.31 (April) – yay!
  • $44.20 (May) – whee!
  • $20 (June) – woohoo!
  • $12.82 (July) – what what!
  • $60.35 (August) – wowie zowie! (can you see that I’m running out of imagination on my happy exclamations?)
  • $44.48 (September) – good golly!
  • $40.16 (October) – yippee!
  • $15.42 (November) – hurrah!
  • $0 (December)

2015 Consigning total: $393.74


2015 Mintly Snowflaking Goal Progress:

My goal originally was to snowflake at least $50 per month, for a yearly total of $600. As you can see, we’ve done quite a bit better than that:
  • $110.01 (January)
  • $929.75 (February)
  • $649.58 (March)
  • $534.50 (April)
  • $289.84 (May)
  • $273.91 (June)
  • $292.02 (July)
  • $430.55 (August)
  • $539.38 (September)
  • $288.27 (October)
  • $412.63 (November)
  • $407.85 (December)

2015 Snowflaking total so far: $4,4870.02

To see more 2015 Mintly Goals, please click here.

Life Accomplishments this Month:

  • Getting food poisoning! … Okay, that wasn’t so great.
  • Spending Christmas with family. 🙂

TL;DR: Chugging away, but looking forward to 2016. The checks from my Citibank experiment came in and I sent them on to Navient, but they haven’t posted yet… Not sure when they will show up. Changes coming in the way recaps are done in 2016!

November 2015 Recap

Welcome to the November 2015 Accountability & Budget Recap post!

I know it’s late, but… better late than never!

This post is broken into two sections: Budget and Debt Eradication.


Budget Accountability for November 2015:

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Woohoo!:

  • We saved money on home services this month – they didn’t cut our grass at all (too bad it needs it now…)
  • Bills and utilities came in under budget again, which is nice!
  • We overestimated on gas expenses for the month, which was nice.

Whoops!:

  • We had more slush fund spending this month than anticipated – we bought tickets to two events, which I don’t regret at all and am even considering writing into the budget next year!
  • Restaurants were tough because we did spend quite a bit of money when we went out for our Thanksgiving family meal (on the Saturday after Thanksgiving) – I just estimated low, I think.

Total Debt Eradication for October 2015: $861

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Debt Eradication:
  • $577.22 extra payment sent to Loan 1 & Loan 2 (This wasn’t as big as usual because we put a good chunk into savings instead of sending it to Debt Eradication. This money came from snowflaking and the little bit of money we had left over beyond $5000 from our paychecks.)

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November 2015 Net Income: $2,840.22 


Snowflaking: $412.63 (all of this went into our Student Loan Debt Eradication Fund – if it was prior to the middle of the month, it became part of the big supplemental payment we made; if it was after the middle of the month, it’s still hanging out in the account to be used in the following month)

  • $20.68 – Pact (<– not a referral link) via PayPal
  • $15.20Ebates (<– referral link, but it’s totally awesome!)  via PayPal
  • $50 – reimbursement for Mom for clothing for L
  • $100Swagbucks (<– referral link, but it’s totally awesome!) via PayPal
  • $211 – H’s side hustle
  • $.33 – interest
  • $15.42 – consignment

2015 Consigning Totals: 
I’m curious about how much we will make in one year by consigning our clothing and L’s old toys at my favorite consigning store (and any other sales, if I decide to participate). 
  • $0 (January)
  • $56 (February) – yeah!
  • $20 (March) – woot!
  • $80.31 (April) – yay!
  • $44.20 (May) – whee!
  • $20 (June) – woohoo!
  • $12.82 (July) – what what!
  • $60.35 (August) – wowie zowie! (can you see that I’m running out of imagination on my happy exclamations?)
  • $44.48 (September) – good golly!
  • $40.16 (October) – yippee!
  • $15.42 (November) – hurrah!

2015 Consigning total so far: $393.74


2015 Mintly Snowflaking Goal Progress:

My goal originally was to snowflake at least $50 per month, for a yearly total of $600. As you can see, we’ve done quite a bit better than that:
  • $110.01 (January)
  • $929.75 (February)
  • $649.58 (March)
  • $534.50 (April)
  • $289.84 (May)
  • $273.91 (June)
  • $292.02 (July)
  • $430.55 (August)
  • $539.38 (September)
  • $288.27 (October)
  • $412.63 (November)

2015 Snowflaking total so far: $4,462.17

To see more 2015 Mintly Goals, please click here.

Life Accomplishments this Month:

  • We spent a truly lovely day with H’s family after Thanksgiving (which allowed us to spend Thanksgiving on our own in a very quiet way, which was also lovely)!
  • Got a bunch of Christmas shopping done… which is why the slush fund went so far over….
  • I keep on clearing things out and finding things I can take to consign or to donate (ka-ching on the ItsDeductible app!).

TL;DR: Same old, same old – looking forward to December! We have some bonuses coming in (fingers crossed) and the checks from my Citibank experiment should be coming in to send on to Navient to send another big payment to our student loans!

Paying off Student Loans with Credit Card Points

Okay, first of all – sorry I haven’t gotten to last month’s round-up post or this month’s budget post – but it’s that time of year. I’ll get there, promise.

Secondly, I didn’t come up with this myself – I learned it from Jacob at I Heart Budgets, who wrote this post on paying down student loans with credit card rewards.

At first, I have to say I was skeptical. I mean, why wouldn’t I just continue to do what I do with my Chase cards? I charge to the cards, I get the points, and then I use the points to pay down the balance on the card. Then – and here’s the important bit – I transfer the same amount of money from my checking to my savings, from which I send out a student loan payment in addition to my monthly minimum payment. (You with me so far?) So, it’s LIKE getting a direct payment to my loans, but… yeah, not so direct.

But even if I wasn’t sure I wanted to try to use Citi’s ThankYou points to have them pay down our student loans, I did know that I wanted to get in on that 50,000 bonus ThankYou points offer they had going on (and still do!). So I signed up and chose NOT to make my husband a joint user, because if this worked, I planned to have him open his own card and then do the same thing all over again!

So, I was approved for the card and got to charging everything (groceries, gas, everything) to rack up the required $3,000 of spending within 3 months. I just received our bonus of 50,000 points today, and immediately went to the ThankYou Points area to look for redemption options. Here’s where it gets interesting, and here’s the reason you DON’T want to redeem your points for statement credit or something else:

When you redeem your points for a student loan payment, the points transfer like so:

1 ThankYou point = $.01

If you redeem it for other things (like statement credit), each ThankYou point is worth LESS than a penny. That’s no good. In order to get the most from your ThankYou points, you need to redeem it for Student Loan Repayment.

So, I followed Jacob’s steps (calling Navient to make sure they would accept a check from a third party) and the steps on the Citibank ThankYou site (you have to call them to do this transaction), and now I’ll just wait the 1-3 weeks (sigh) to get the checks in the mail. I was able to get one check for $500 and one for $25, as I had about 53,000 points (they do have to do the checks in separate transactions, and you may need to request that they do – the lady I spoke with did not immediately know that the checks could be cut in such small increments). After I receive the checks put in the account number in the memo line, I will mail them off (again, snail mail) to Navient. So the actual amount of time it will take to post to the account is kind of long, but I think (if it all goes through as planned), it will be worth it!

This will get you started: Citi ThankYou Premier card (<– not an affiliate link). Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

Update: Everything went very smoothly! We received the checks and sent them off right before Christmas to Navient. The payments posted before January 1st, 2016, so that’s a total win! We are thinking we will sign up H for his own card (since I didn’t make him a user on my card) and do the same thing again! Woohoo!