Friday, December 19, 2014

Teacher Gifts!

One of the minor overlooked perks about being a teacher are the gifts! My wife is a teacher with one of the local districts in the Houston suburbs. Her pay sucks, she only makes $50,000 per year but she does get a lot of time off and then there's the teacher gifts. This year as it happens every year she got tons of stuff. Most of the stuff like cookies and candy stays in the teacher's lounge. A lot of teacher gifts are stuff that people don't like for example this year she got a set of soaps, bath sets, a cooking dish and a serving piece for deviled eggs. Stuff like that we also re-gift and stuff that you know came from the dollar store we usually trash, yes teachers get a lot of crap. But then you have the good gifts! Every year she gets 6 or 7 gift cards and this year she even got a $20 bill and a lottery scratch off ticket. Here's what she come home with last night, and yes even the scratch off ticket won her $5:


The good stuff:

$50 Dollar Visa Gift Card (last year she got $100).
$50 Walmart Gift Card.
$50 Target Gift Card.
$15 Starbucks Gift Card.
$15 BJ'S Brewhouse Gift Card.
$15 Spec's Gift card (liquor store, not pictured- she picked up a 12 pack on way home)
$20 Bill.
$5 from a scratch off ticket!

Gotta love those hard working parents :) Keep in mind today is Friday so she may still get other stuff. She also gets a lot of stuff for Valentine's day and during Teacher Appreciation Week before school gets out in the spring. If you've been considering a career as a teacher now you have another reason to do so but keep in mind the kids, parents and your principal could will drive you crazy.

Have a good weekend!

HS

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Year End Savings and Cash Updates

Our Discover Savings account is back up and over $20,000! As much as  I love spending money I'm also a huge fan of saving it. Every time I have extra money in my checking account I send it to savings, it could be as little as $50 or sometimes as high as $250 and any 'found' money goes there. For example the other day I got a check for $65 from a hospital over payment, it may not be much but it was money I wasn't expecting so it goes straight to savings. Discover Bank's mobile app also lets you deposit checks by taking a picture so that makes it easier to save. Here's the latest balance as of this morning:


As you can see Discover has paid us $118 for the year in interest. I noticed their savings rate went up to 0.90% APY. I'm guessing as soon as the fed ups interest rates, banks will follow and hopefully we can earn more on savings. Of course those of us with credit card debt will also see the rates go up and loans will also go up.

Cash!! You know me and I also love physical money. I'm still down to 2 $100 bills at home after using 9 to pay our yearly HOA fees. I did up my vintage currency savings and I now have 15 $100 bills which I can't really spend but money is money and cash never expires. Any time I make a good profit on eBay I purchase a vintage $100 bill to save. From time to time I may also post a 100 bill for sale, right now all I have is a 1996 $100 bill - brand new for $160 but only 1 person is watching it. I also have close to $300 in other denominations which I don't really keep track of, most of that money is what I buy and sell on eBay and it's worth way more than face value. This is the kind of stuff that I buy and sell:


That's all the money updates I have for now, I can't wait for the holidays to come and go so that I can focus on my crazy credit card. As usual, our spending is out of control but I'll leave that for another post. 

HS








Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Citi Forwad Still Has 5x Bonus Points!

For those of you that still have the older Citi Forward credit  card and who are obsessed with credit card rewards, this post is for you. The other day I noticed that my Citi Forward card still does 5x bonus points on all Amazon purchases. As you can see below I spent around $250 at Amazon in November and noticed when I got the statement 1,250 bonus Thank You points:


The purchase category comes up as 'Book Stores' and that was one of the benefits everyone liked about this card, you get 5 times the dollar amount at any book store and Amazon still a book store after all these years! This means for every $2,000 spent at Amazon you can get $100 back in gift card to most major stores. Of course, most of us don't spend $2,000 all the time but if you're looking for a new computer or a TV why not get an extra $100 back? If you are going to use credit cards, you might as get the rewards, this year I'm already well past $1000 in gift cards and I don't think I've paid more than $100 in interest or fees on both of my cards.

HS

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Selfish Christmas Gift

This holiday season I've decided to get something for me! Screw everyone else LOL. Every year I spend a ton of money getting stuff for other people but I never really get what I want. Also, most of the gifts we give and receive never go over $100 so that leaves out a lot of cool tech stuff. I know, I already spent a ton of money at Best Buy but that was more to upgrade our home computers and network which I hadn't done since 2007. This purchase is more something I've been wanting for a while. This year I’m going to get a brand new GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition camera:


I've been wanting one of these to capture and create memories of all my physical activities. My hobbies are running, playing golf and fishing so why not flood YouTube with stuff I like to do. I enjoy video edition and photography so this purchase would be a great gadget addition to my collection. The good news is I will not be adding any new debt! This camera is basically free! I will be using $200 in Thank You rewards points courtesy of Citi which I redeemed yesterday for Best Buy:


I also have a Best Buy store credit for $150 and $55 in Reward Certificates from the stuff I just paid off in the previous post. That should cover most of the purchase for the GoPro, I will pay cash for the remaining amount. I've been hinting to everyone in my family to get me accessories for it for Christmas. If this is something I hate I can always put it on eBay and get a lot of money back.

What about you? Any selfish, 'screw everyone else' gifts this year?

HS

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bye Again Best Buy Credit Card

Goodbye Best Buy balance. My Best Buy credit card is now paid off! I sent in the final payment on Friday after getting my variable pay at work. This balance should have never happened but I learned my lesson, don't buy stupid tech stuff that didn't really need to be updated!! Here's the latest balance:



I will keep the card open in case we  need any major appliance purchases or use  it for very minor purchases to maintain the credit line. This card does offer good financing specials so if something breaks at home it is always nice to have.

HS

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Crazy Credit Card Numbers

I bet you have never met a blogger with a debt blog who can charge over $6,000 in a single month on credit cards BUT now you can say you have. Last month we managed to charge a lot of money! I'm a bit ashamed to admit it and show you but that's how crazy and dynamic our lives are. Below are the latest numbers for our credit card and as usual they are not very pretty. Keep in mind the amounts don't include monthly bills like mortgage, car notes or cell phones.

Citi Thank You Card:


Yup, close to $5,000 on this card alone! short of 3 dollars but don't worry, something was pending so by now I'm well over 5K. As you can see I managed to pay back close to $4,000 so yes, I can manage all this debt but over time the balance slowly creeps up. As you can see they are also starting to charge interest on the account but so far only $44 for the year. I'm way ahead of them on the rewards, pretty sure I've already redeemed over $500 and as you can see on the total I have close to $400 left that can be redeemed for gift cards at major stores like Macy's, Walmart or Best Buy. For the Thank You points earned this period, I made close to $75 so at least that gives you an idea of how much $5,000 will get you in reward points with the bonus.

Best Buy:

Yikes! I promise Best Buy won't happen again unless a major appliance goes out. I swear I have never gone and charged $1,500 on computer stuff (made a payment) but I will admit it was a nice feeling. I had not done any tech upgrades at home since 2007 so it was probably time to make some changes but after doing all that I haven't really noticed much of a difference. Seems like RAM and processor speeds are still the same as 5 years ago. I also upgraded our network but speed feels the same. I'm not too happy with the Best Buy purchases but I plan to just pay this off and move on. As I mentioned yesterday, my bonus payment should take care of this one.

There you have it, my crazy credit card balances that I think no other debt or personal finance guru could match LOL

HS

Monday, December 1, 2014

November 2014 Updates

Greetings! I can't believe November 2014 is already over so here are some updates. As usual another expensive month but always glad for that one day of the year that we get to be thankful. This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with the in-laws down at the beach in Galveston TX. I started off my day with the TXU Houston Turkey Trot, I ran the 10K race and my timing was a little bit over 1 hour. After that I headed down to the beach to be with the family. This year I was especially thankful for my little baby boy who was born back in April. Lately he can be a handful, gets very fussy and wants to be held all the time but when he looks at me and smiles I forget about all the bad stuff. I am so glad he is in my life and I'm looking forward to all the good times in the future. Couple of pictures from the Turkey Trot at the Start line:




In other updates, the credit cards are still a little high. The Citi Thank You card is probably around $4,000 and Best Buy CC has a balance around $1,300. I finally got information about my bonus at work and the amount will be a little bit over $5,300! Most of that money will go towards the credit cards. Keep in mind I won't get the full amount since Uncle Sam and my 401K will take a huge chunk out of it. I can't wait to  see Best Buy paid off. I don't think I will ever charge the Best Buy card again for tech upgrades, looking back it really wasn't worth it. My new computers don't feel any faster and my network seems to run at the same speed. Let's call this one stupid tax, stupid tax!

November is also the month when I pay my HOA fees. I complain about this every year but there's not much I can so I just send them the money. This year I was a bit short on money since we took the trip to New Orleans so I had to dip into my last batch of my $100 bills at home. I took 9 brand new $100 bills to the bank, not fun! so here's a picture to remember them:


I have $200 left at home in $100 bills so I will probably have to start saving cash again. It is a nice feeling to have money sitting at home.

Speaking of money, November was a great month on eBay. I continue trading vintage currency and I'm getting much better at it. I made close to $900 last month just by buying and selling money! Of that amount $400 was profit so I'll probably continue buying more stuff. I still have a ton of supply at home but no time to post it, hopefully when I take some time off in December I can list more items. My seller dashboard shows that I've made $6,192 over the past 12 months! This is purely play money and I don't count it as income since I keep most of it on PayPal:


In more updates, I did a little bit of fishing over the weekend. The temperature was 75 on Friday so I walked to the beach and was hoping to catch a speckled trout or redfish. I was too lazy to get bait but did get a few bites with my artificial lures. I was not lucky and did not catch any fish but had fun doing it. I love collecting vintage reels. On that day I used my Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 5500c reel from 1977:


Over the weekend we also took my daughter to Rainforest Cafe in Galveston. She had a great time and loved looking at all the animals. She's at that age where everything is real so she was not too happy with the elephants but she really liked the frogs. I had a great time and can't wait to do more stuff like that. I had an amazing beer there, Samuel Adams seasonal but I didn't ask which one. Tasted like Boston Lager. I had no idea that if you order a draft beer you get to keep the glass (which I didn't really want) so now we are the proud owners of a beer glass with the restaurant name on it:


That's all the updates I can think of for now! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I'd like to say November will be a cheap month but with the holidays ahead I can't make any promises :/

HS

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Credit Card Debt Updates

Remember my credit card debt? I swear I had the credit card numbers under control and always close to zero but when you charge close to $5,000 per month, the debt will slowly come back. Going to New Orleans the first week of November didn't help much but did have a great time. There we managed to charge close to $700 on food and drinks which looking back now is no fun. I had the balance on our Citi card as high as $6,000 but have managed to get that amount down close to $4,600. Here's the latest balance as of this morning:


The issue, as usual is we charge way too much money... as you can see I'm really good at making payments but we charged over $4,300 already with stuff pending and November is not even over yet!


I'm still waiting on my variable pay at work so hopefully that will bring down this balance but I also have Best Buy ($1,400) and I need to pay my HOA fees which are $920. I do have close to $500 in gift cards at Amazon through Citi Thank You points so that should offset some of the upcoming holiday expenses.

“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”
-Ogden Nash

HS


Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple Stock Will Hit $115!

Have you seen Apple stock lately? it is currently trading around $114.45. I knew it was going to do this and I bought it at $92 knowing it would go up but as usual I sold too early. Of course I did make a little bit of money by selling around $100 but if I had kept the money in there I would made over $2,000 right now! Ugh!


I know it will hit $115! I wish I had kept Apple!

HS

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gas Prices, How Long Can They Go?

Have you seen gas prices lately? I took the picture below last week and drove by the same gas station yesterday and gas was down to $2.50 for regular! I wonder how much more can prices drop? It sure would be nice to see $2.00 per gallon again...Price below was at the new HEB in Cypress Texas.