Thursday, April 24, 2014

Great Way To Save Cash

You may recall I almost cried a few weeks ago when I took cash I had at home to the bank to make our hospital payment but ever since that happened it got me thinking, how can I not spend the cash I have at home? It was there, it was easy to spend but in a way I liked having cash at home. I have decided instead of keeping brand new $100 bills at home, why not save old vintage $100 bills? Yes, I will probably pay a bit more to acquire them (eBay) but I won't really be able to use them. Yes, they are still 'legal tender' and I could take them to a bank and deposit them since notes don't have expiration dates but since they are antiques I don't think I would do something like that. Over the past few weeks I took my remaining $100 bills and started buying old $100 bills. This is what I have so far:

In there you see 2 $100 bills from 1928 (top right), those notes have a redeemable for gold clause but were changed shortly after FDR came in to office and made all gold ownership illegal. Next we have a $100 bill from 1934, that's the note you see with a bright lime green seal. Next I have 2 $100 bills with red seals, these are actually 'United States Notes' and they were printed in 1966. Existing United States Notes remain valid currency in the United States but none have been issued since 1971. I picked these up since they are becoming more rare and they look really cool. On the top left I have a couple of the older $100 bills you may have seen in circulation prior to 1996. These are brand new, one is from 1990 and the other is from 1977. On the lower left I have a 2001 note with the large portrait, these are still in circulation today but I got it brand new so I'll hold on to is as a collectible. I have a couple more coming in the mail with brown seals, those are actually called 'National Currency' notes which means they were issued by National banks chartered by government. 

That's all the bills I have right now. Hopefully I can continue buying them. I found a list online of all the series released and there's also a 1928 Gold Certificate which goes for $1,000 and up! I can't really spend that much on a $100 bill so I'll pass on that one for now. The reason they cost so much is because these are the notes FDR confiscated so very few remain. Below is a picture of what it looks like, if you have one around the house then you have a lot of money in your hands. Ask your grandparents or relatives if they one...

What do you think? Good way to save cash?


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Swing Set Purchase

My wife requested a swing set for the backyard so like a good husband and avid shopper I tried to save money and ordered it online. I had my eye on set at our local Toy's R Us and it was $599, if I remember correctly that set came with free delivery and setup but it could have been more for that. I was more excited about a cheaper set I found at which came with free shipping to store and was only $399! Of course that meant I had to pick it up and assemble it at home. This is what the swing set looks like:

And the price still $399 at

Great! I saved some money! I got the email that my order was ready for pickup. I went to the store Saturday morning and they loaded it for me. When I got home I had someone help me unload it and that's where the fun began. This thing had close to 2,000 pieces to put together! I got the drill and worked on it most of the day on Saturday but by Easter Sunday this thing was not even halfway assembled. I kept working on it Sunday but I haven't had time to finish it yet. I have half of it put together but I still need a full day of work to finish this thing. Not fun! This is a lot of work and now it is taking up a lot of my time...

Lesson learned, next time spend the extra $200 locally. Even if they charged me more for delivery and assembly, it would still be worth the extra cost. I hope my daughter gets a lot of use out of this swing set because it has not been fun putting it together.

This is how much hardware is left after I stopped working on it Sunday night:


Monday, April 21, 2014

Playing Catch Up

I’m officially playing catch-up with my Discover bank savings. One of my goals for 2014 was to send $250 out of every pay period to that account but so far I've missed both $250 payments for March and I also missed the first week of April. This morning I went ahead and sent a payment for $558 but that still leaves me close to $500 behind. Here’s the payment confirmation (sorry for quality, I've reached blogger limit for pics):

I need to be more consistent and think of my savings payments like our bills. Would I ever miss the electricity or water payments because ‘life’ happens? NO!! So why did I not make those payments?? I guess because there are no real penalties involved. Not paying the electricity has real consequences, not paying yourself has none so I've been looking at ways of making the payments be more automated. At work we can elect a portion of pay to be direct deposited to a different account so I may set that up where $250 automatically goes to Discover. The main issue is working with HR / Payroll to set this up but it would be convenient and would prevent me from forgetting or using the money elsewhere. Another option is to enroll in the company’s employee share purchase plan. I can set aside a percentage of pay which is withheld for six months to purchase shares. At the end of six months, shares are then purchased at a discount but that would mean I would have to sell the shares (taxes) and then send that money to Discover. Second option is a lot easier to setup and has a nice discount on the share purchase but selling them is also expensive, the commission is somewhere around $28.

UGH! Saving money is hard but I need to get used to it…


Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Long Should a Purse Last?

Wife text me a picture this morning that her new purse had arrived. She got a Michael Kors 'summer' bag as she called it. I will admit I liked this one and I love the color, here's the actual picture:

This bag was probably $250 with shipping. Wife seems to buy a new purse every 3 to 4 months. Last bag she had was a beautiful pink Kate Spade with a matching wallet. I must say as a guy I really like the classy look of Kate Spade but the trend now seems to be Michael Kors. Also remember Coach? what happened to them? I haven't seen a Coach bag out in public in a long time.

Anyways- since I seem to have a large female audience, I was wondering if you could help me answer a couple of questions. How long do you make your purse last? AND how often should you get a new handbag? Do you follow the latest trends and styles? Do you think 3 to 4 months a good time to update the look of your purse / bag?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pregnancy Bed Rest and Finances

Doctor officially put wife on bed rest again for the remainder of our second pregnancy. We've already been there done that with the first so this is nothing new. Since she's considered 'high risk' he also had her spend 24 hours in the hospital last week for tests. All tests came back normal and since we've made it well over week 36 we are definitely not looking at doing any time at the NICU, our little daughter spent 14 days there. Baby is weighing over 6 pounds and the delivery is still scheduled for the first week of May. Everything at home is ready, furniture is in, decorations are up and as usual we have way too many baby clothes. We are ready for this baby so now I can turn my attention the the finances.

Wife was scheduled to stop working at the end of April. She had some vacation saved up so with summer around the corner we we're only looking at losing 2 weeks of pay. Now we are looking at 6 to 7 weeks so I'm going with 2 months pay which equals 4 paychecks. After taxes and retirement savings each one of her paychecks is exactly 1,600 dollars so it looks like bed rest is going to cost $6,400. That's a lot of money to us and it comes at the worst time in the year which is the summer. Summer is when we spend the most money but I think we can manage. I won't have the day care costs so that should save money. There's always emergency money in savings but as usual I'm going to try not to use any of that money.

The other headache I have is trying to figure out a way to pay for my brother's wedding. There's close to 75 people going and most of them are already booked. The longer I wait the more airfare is going to go up. I may need to go ahead and book the airfare but I'm worried about medical bills that are going to come after the baby is here.

Money, money money... “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” 
― Oscar Wilde


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Fifty Dollar Lanyard

When I wont the lottery a couple of weeks ago as a result of my wife asking for 50 dollars for a lanyard, our friend 444 asked 'What kind of lanyard costs $50?' At the time I was also thinking the same thing so I asked my wife what brand it was and she said it was 'Brighton'. I'm guessing her friend sells them since the price is a little bit lower on their website. I looked around eBay and Etsy and sure enough, some people are selling them for $50 and up:

So there you have it, there is such a thing as a $50 lanyard. Actually they call them badge holders which is exactly why she wanted it, to put her school ID in it. My wife said it should last her 10 years. Somehow I doubt it will last that long but will see...


March - April 2014 eBay Sales

eBay sales! Great couple of months selling stuff on eBay. I finally figured out how to make money selling money (currency). I had most of my items posted as ‘Buy It Now’ and nothing was moving, no views, few watchers so I decided to send a few items to auction and then things finally started moving. With watches or sunglasses I have more luck with Buy It Now but with currency people seem to like auctions better. Below are the totals for the past 60 days or so:

I’d say I spent around $500 and made well over $1,100. I got my invoice for April and they are going to take $110 in fees so I’m happy with $500 in profit. I know $500 is not a lot of money but all I do is order stuff online, take better pictures, add a story and then sell it for a higher price. There’s really not a lot of work other than opening a package, re-listing and then packing it for shipping. My wife says everything I touch turns in to gold but sometimes I do take a loss or just get my money back. It’s really is more of a hobby that keeps me on my smart phone app 24/7. I also go around local pawn shops and pick up stuff like watches, that does take a bit more work and gasoline but I don’t do it that often since they don’t get a lot of good inventory, I pretty much have already picked up all the good items.

I am now turning my attention to U.S. coins. I see a lot of activity for coins made since 1900 so I spent around $200 and picked a few older coin collections. I’m going to see if I can make money on those, if not I’ll just store them and wait for them to go up in value. My father in law also has an amazing coin collection, probably 30 pounds of U.S. coins from the last 100 years! He was showing me his collection and I offered him $1,500 in cash and he said HELL NO. I’m going to offer him $2,000 in cash next time I see him, I’m hoping he says yes. I don’t know that I would sell a lot of the items he has but I know I could get well over $5,000 on half of those items. He also has buckets of dimes and quarters so I was trying to get those for $100 in cash and he still said no, I estimate each bucket to have at least $400 or more. I think I need to take him golfing and buy him a good lunch, maybe then he’ll be more willing to part with his loot.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

AT&T Wireless Bill

A couple of months ago AT&T set up new wireless family plans which, according to the carrier, offered the “best-ever prices". I went ahead and changed our plans and basically we get 10 GB of data as well as unlimited talk and text. That plan starts at $130 a month. Included in the plan is two lines, but of course if you add more lines you pay more. Here's the plan we have:

Mobile Share Value Plan - 10GB: Includes 10 gigabyte of domestic data, $15 per each additional 1 gigabyte of data. Additional monthly charge applies for each device on the plan. Unlimited talk & text on mobile phones. Unlimited talk on Wireless Home Phone. Mobile Hotspot, tethering, video calling, and Visual Voicemail available with compatible devices. Unlimited domestic data usage on the AT&T Wi-Fi
Basic network for smartphones and select data devices.

It has been two months since I made the switch and we're already saving money and getting more data. Our previous plan only offered 4 GB of shared data and we we're paying a lot more. Below you can see our average billing as well as the total for April:

Not sure why the bill was only $96 for March but I was happy and paid it. Now in a way this is too good to be true, only $123 dollars per month going forward??? That comes down to $65 per line! The only thing that worries me is I may be saving money now because we already had our own devices?? My wife has the iPhone 5 and I have a Nexus 5 so when we want new phones we are probably going to pay full price. I think we are on AT&T Next for the devices and we do pay $15 per month for each device.

The wife and I both want the iPhone 6 our whatever the next iPhone will be called so if we can keep our plan at this rate I may just pay full price for both devices. I know I can sell our current phones so that should offset some of that cost.

AT&T is awesome! Never thought I would say that about a wireless carrier LOL


Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Hospital Payment

As most of you know, we're having a baby next month so this past weekend I paid our patient's portion of the delivery bill to the hospital. When we got the bill it said 'Estimated Patient Payment: $1,397'. I've been putting this off for months but this weekend I decided to go up there and pay it in person. When I was there the lady said it was only going to be $1,100 since our deductible has already been met (I don't understand insurance, I don't think it has been met). I am not one to complain when I just saved $300, in fact I was very happy and handed her our Citi Forward card. The charge is already pending:

$1,100 still a lot of money but I'm more worried about the bills that are going to come in the mail once the baby is home. Luckily this time around it looks like our little one won't be doing any time in the NICU so hopefully that means less bills. Our daughter spent 14 days in there and my wife also spent a few nights in the hospital pre and post delivery. We kept getting medical bills for at least 6 months after she was born. Hopefully this time around it will be a smooth delivery and we won't get as many bills.

Now on to the fun stuff! Where is all this money coming from? I refuse to go back in to credit card debt or touch our Discover savings so tomorrow I am going to deposit $1,100 in cash at our local Bank of America. The money is coming from my obsession of saving new 100 bills which in another post I had mentioned I was kind of done with. I will say I almost cried when I took the money out of my safe so I had to take a couple of pics to remember my beloved $100 bills:

Believe me, it was not easy saving all that cash. The good news is I still have another 10 bills left so the new goal is to try and keep saving 100 dollar bills here and there. They don't have to be brand new bills like my previous obsession, this money would be more like another emergency fund in case something breaks or we get more hospital bills.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Citi April 2014 Statement

Goodbye March 2014, it was a great month but very expensive. I got my Citi Forward statement this morning and as usual I was shocked to see how much money we can spend in a month. We had great times and good memories but I need to watch our spending in April. Here are the latest numbers:

I'm actually happy that my new balance is lower than my previous balance. As you can see we pay as we go so we sent them $3,500 dollars! back. I also did a cash advance just for fun, I had never taken money out at a ATM with my credit card so it was nice to see the machine give me a bunch of 20's, felt like free money since it wasn't coming out of my bank account. The ATM did charged me $2.50 but I was not expecting Citi to tack on a $5 charge. For now I will only use cash advances for emergencies only since the APR is also higher with cash. Luckily we pay off the entire balance so they still haven't added any interest this year.

On the Thank You rewards we made another $50 in gift card or $46 at Amazon. 6,000 points equals $50 for most stores (used to be 5000) but for some reason it's a little less on Amazon. Right now we have $100 there saved up. I don't think I'm going to use it, I'll keep there for now in case we need anything for the baby. Here are the latest numbers on the rewards:

The baby is scheduled to arrive the first week of May. Wife's doctor says everything looks good so hopefully this is our drama free pregnancy and everything goes smooth. I still need to pay the hospital fee which is close to $1,400 so that charge will probably also go on Citi.

Does your family spend over $3,000 a month??