Friday, September 17, 2021

Pot of Possibilities - August 2021 - Final

This will be my last Pot of Possibilities post, at least for awhile! We are buying a home, which is what much of these funds were meant to support. The original goal was $200,000 by end of 2023. Not sure we would have made it, but we really might have been close. Let's see where we ended up!

Paycheck 8/1 $1,022.77
Paycheck 8/15 $1000.77
USAA Rewards $3.20
Amex Rewards $88.73
FNBO Interest $12.87
NFCU Interest $42.76

August Total $2,167.90
YTD Total $20,427.46

POP Total $112,487.84

I really wanted to reach the original goal, but it's time to put down roots. It's time to spend and invest in our home. These years of savings and tucking funds away have allowed us to get to this point. And it's quite gratifying honestly. After the move I will be back with new goals, new plans. Keep saving! It's all worth it. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

A College Savings Windfall

Our youngest daughter is about to start her final three semesters of college this month, so it's been time to evaluate how to pay the bills! As planned we are beginning to use her Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits she received from her dad. 

For at least the next two semesters tuition and fees will be paid in full by the VA, each semester is equal to about $6365. 

Her housing cost and meal plan is $4,066 per semester. The VA will provide housing allowance and a book stipend for each of these semesters. Each semester should net $6,517. Clearly more than the cost of housing we pay! 

I found out yesterday that her scholarships with are $2,250 per semester can be applied to the housing costs! This means that the actual housing cost owed will be $1,816 each semester, after scholarships are applied. Her sister had a scholarship at another university that didn't benefit us in this way when the VA paid. I think this has to do with type of scholarship and that one university was out of state tuition, while this current university is in state tuition. So we are pleasantly surprised to have this $4,500 benefit and windfall in our favor.

I have been saving $500 a month since the end of last year and have set aside $4500 in anticipation of paying the housing cost out of pocket, knowing we will eventually get the housing allowance (it's paid out monthly). I basically don't need this savings at all to handle the upcoming bill, because on top of these benefits she still has nearly $7,500 in her Educational Savings Account. I have already made a transfer out of her ESA to cover the housing we owe after scholarships are applied. 

Now remember I said she has three semesters left? The final semester her scholarships will have ended and depending on her housing choice, cost may increase, to as high as $6K. And we know how universities love to increase costs. I expect we will owe between $10,500 and $12,000 for her that final semester, but we have plenty of funds between the VA payments (and they may pay a small portion in the last semester) and her ESA.

Funds currently available
Cash $4300
ESA $7504
Expected VA payments
$13,034
Total Funds
$24,838

Expected Costs
Fall 21 $1,816
Spring 22 $1,816
Fall 22 $10,500 (min) 
Total $14,132

We have more funds available than expenses!
$24,838-$14132 = $10,706

The next two semesters will come from ESA funds and I will shift the $4,300 I saved this year to other priorities! We will stockpile the VA payments as they come in, drain the ESA the final semester, pay the difference with VA funds and keep the remaining amount, which appears to be $6400! Interestingly enough the VA does not require that housing and book payments be used for these costs. If you don't have books to buy or housing to pay (say you are living at home) than you are allowed to keep the funds for any other use. 

So yes, a $10K+ windfall!! Whohoo! 

Because we over saved for our youngest daughter and our oldest daughter took out a small student loan her final semesters of college in the amount of $5,500, we are going to pay her loan off which is about $3100 remaining. She hasn't paid any money to the loan yet because of the deferment currently allowed. She is sitting on a housing reimbursement since the college closed early in March 2020 and a small VA payment that total $2400. 

I'm almost shell shocked that we did it, or are nearly there. With our college savings efforts, cash flow and VA benefits we paid in full for our two daughters to attend college (19 semesters). 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Pot of Possibilities - July 2021

Another month of 2021 in the books and we have saved money once again in our Pot of Possibilities!

7/1 Paycheck $962.77
7/15 Paycheck $1000.77    
Ebay Sale $8.65
FNBO Interest $12.87
NFCU Interest $37.48
USAA Interest $0.15
Amex Rewards $72.19
Chase Rewards  $4.89
USAA Premium Refund $538.48

July Total $2,638.25
YTD Total $18,259.56

POP Total $110,319.94

I'm calling that another milestone! Over $110,000! 

The original goal of this big savings goal was to reach $200K, by the time my husband retires. With the idea that we could put a large down payment on a home. At the time I thought we might buy a home worth about $200K! Of course home prices are rising rapidly since that time. We are likely still on track to meet that goal with about 2.5 years to retire. But things are changing. We have orders to move to our final assignment. We are likely going to buy a home there since it's in the Midwest and closer to our girls. So it will be time to dip into the Pot of Possibilities. The amount we have saved is plenty to put at least 20% down on our next home. 

It's been a fun ride building up the cash, but it will feel good to have it work for us in another way soon. And it's time, since interest rates are not in favor with savers once again. 

I expect there to be another month, or two of POP contributions. The savings never really stops, but I will likely stop reporting it in this way. 

Thanks for following our journey! Oh, and check back tomorrow I have news on another bit of a windfall!  

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Pantry Eat Up and More

Hello friends! Yes, I actually have a post that is not a Pot of Possibilities update!

Our oldest daughter came for a week long visit last week. That causes extra spending. Groceries and some expenses to enjoy the town. As a result of that and just a few days left before my husband's paycheck, I decided to keep the grocery shopping on Sunday lean and use up what we already had on hand!

This week we have used up:
2 buns
frozen corn and edamame
fresh blueberries
cilantro 
hummus
green onions
2 apples
shredded carrots
tomato
can of black beans
steak fries
tomato sauce 
half a can of refried beans
three frozen everything bagels
3/4 lb ground beef
skirt steak

I meal planned around these items and made several of them into my lunches this week. I did have to supplement at the grocery store for a few things and to stock up on some normal needs. I spent less than $50 on Sunday and will go back for a full grocery run again on Thursday! It does feel good to use up things already purchased as well as to shop from the pantry. 

In other news, we received a check from USAA for $538.48. This is apparently a refund for a extended vehicle protection plan we purchased on our used truck. We made the purchase of that in 2011. USAA did a quality review and found their EVP products did not meet member expectations. I don't believe we ever made a claim with them and the vehicle was paid off a long time ago. Interesting business decision on their part. We are grateful for any money we weren't expecting. 

We should probably put this money into the Pot of Possibilities, but we are traveling by car next month and don't have a lot set aside for gas, food and hotels specifically, so just might use this money! Once the trip is over any extra we didn't use could go into the Pot! 

Have you received any unexpected cash recently or eaten down your pantry stores? 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Pot of Possibilities - June 2021

First half of the year of savings complete! We are looking to roughly save $30,000 towards our Pot of Possibilities this year. We are on target and slightly ahead at this point. 

6/1 Paycheck $858.82
6/15 Paycheck $1029.84
NFCU Interest $55.08
FNBO Interest $12.45    
USAA Rewards $6.13
Chase Freedom $4.28
Amex Rewards $76.80

June Total $2043.40    
YTD Total $15,621.31

POP Total $107,681.69

I usually have a US Bank reward of $3.50. The bank now requires a minimum of $25 in rewards before redemption. I'm currently only using for our AT&T internet bill for 5% off. The small amounts add up, but I'm getting less interested in keeping this card. 

Interest is declining as two of our CDs matured this month and we cannot get anything close to what we had for interest now. It really isn't the best time to be holding cash. I plan to open a money market at Navy Federal rather than having the proceeds from the CDs in regular savings account. That will help a little. 

How did you do with your savings this month?



Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Pot of Possibilities - May 2021

Five months of the year already complete?! Time is moving fast in our world. Time once again to report the contribution to our Pot of Possibilities. I failed to redeem some Amex Rewards some time back and only realized it at the end of April, which is why the amount is so large in comparison to other months. I'm not sure exactly how that happened, but we will take it. 

5/1 Paycheck $979.28
5/15 Paycheck $941.12
AmEx Rewards $202.24
USAA Rewards $9.95
US Bank Reward $3.50
Chase Rewards $20.07
USAA Interest $0.14
NFCU Interest $72.29
FNBO Interest $12.86

May Total $2,241.45
YTD Total $13,577.91

POP Total $105,638.28

May was a spendy month, but we did manage to put the full amount we originally allocated each pay period into the pot. We have another line item of $250 per pay period towards unallocated expenses. We spent it all this month and dipped into what we saved previously. Mentally I don't like to dip into savings, but I set this up for that very reason! It's just something I have to remind myself when it happens. 

We are still making progress on our Pot of Possibilities! After five months we have done very well, and may possibly be on track to save at least $30K in 2021. Good luck with your June savings goals!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Pot of Possibilities - April 2021

A new month! Time to report the progress on adding to our Pot of Possibilities! This is the least amount we have added in awhile. April was full of spending! We flew out of town to help our daughter move from one state to another. We also had a repair to my van that we didn't have fully funded. Remember when I took our sinking fund down to zero at the end of last year? It's all the same money in the end. 

4/1 Paycheck $979.34
Amex Reward $5.00
USAA Interest $0.10
US Bank Reward $3.50
Anniversary Gift $50
Chase Reward $5.71    
NFCU Interest $69.89
FNBO Interest $14.04
Chase Freedom $5.74

April Total $1,133.32
YTD Total $11,336.46

POP Total $103,396.83

I have another trip back to help our daughter move out of her college dorm room for the summer. Hotel expenses and restaurants will add up. We have a little set aside, but will mostly come from current income. I am grateful we could still move the meter on the balance to the positive! It all counts.  

While doing this update, I realized I forgot to redeem American Express rewards in April. Another $50, but will add in May since it has not yet hit our bank account. 

Good luck with YOUR savings goals!