Digital Calendar

online calendarMy transition to a digital calendar is complete. It’s easy to maintain and update by simply copying and pasting entries from one week/month to the next. And it’s going to be a useful memory jogger. For example on Presidents’ Day I noted two things I often wonder about – it’s a holiday for Jay and the trash does get picked up. Next year, I will transfer these reminders and, hopefully, we’ll remember to put the trash out on Monday rather than Tuesday. ;)

I also like the following:

- I won’t be buying calendars any more
- I won’t have to keep old ones in a drawer
- I won’t have to wait until stores deem it necessary to finally stock next year’s calendars to get one. In the past, they are never in stores as early as I’d like.
- it doesn’t take up any space on my already messy desk, just my “desktop”


Return Envelopes

return envelopeI’ve found a good use for those return envelopes that come with bills. (And, yes, I still get paper bills unless the issuing company charges me for them. I keep them on file for tax purposes, for comparison purposes and, no, I don’t want to use my own paper and ink to print them off.)

Since I pay virtually all our bills via online bill pay or auto pay I used to throw the return envelopes away. But I’ve started to use them for my grocery lists, tucking the coupons I plan to use inside the envelope.

Very handy!

Track Your Medical Expenses

doctorEvery year I keep track of all our medical expenses – copays for prescriptionsdoctor visits, and emergency room visits (remarkable how many of these our kids rack up), vision expenses, dental expenses. I’ve even started keeping track of what our various prescriptions would cost if we had to pay out of pocket.

As a result, I know that, in addition to the monthly deductions Jay’s employer takes out of his paycheck, we spent $3,529 in 2012, $1,402 in 2013, and $3,136 in 2014. I can quickly determine how much we spent on each person, and for what. Should we have to make choices on new health care options, or by the time we’re choosing supplemental health care coverage once Jay retires, etc. I will have years of data to help us analyze our choices.

Today I Got My American Express Cash Reward Coupon

This is different than the Costco rebate. This is the Reward Coupon that comes from using your American Express. We have the True Earnings card.

A couple of years ago it was only $9.02. But that’s because I’d been buying Costco cash cards online to get points. For awhile I could buy them using the Vanilla Visas I was buying at Office Depot with my Ink card, racking up 5x points per dollar. But, alas, that ended and I was back to using my American Express card at Costco.

Anyway, last year my Reward Coupon was for $97.27 and this time it was for $104.81. As I posted before, it’s a no brainer!

FitBit

fitbitJay was very sweet and surprised me with a FitBit last week. Except it was the more expensive Charge HR version. And, since he doesn’t shop much, he isn’t “outfitted” with coupons and discount gift cards etc.

He bought it at Target for $149.99. With tax, it came to $162.20.

The non-HR version is $129.99 pretty much everywhere. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to get it. After using a 20% coupon and paying with a discount gift card, it cost me $102.99 (including tax), saving almost $60.

It can be both my Valentine’s and birthday presents. Now I just have to figure out how to use it! ;)

King Soopers Personal Prices

personal pricesEvery month or so I get an email from King Soopers suggesting I sign up for digital coupons on specific products that I frequently buy. These “My Personal Prices” are usually good for the month. This month, for example, I get bananas for $.39/lb, Barilla Pasta for $.89, and Land O’ Lakes Half and Half (1 qt) for $2.59.

I’ve saved $17.61 since the program began not too long ago.

Yesterday, they were out of the Land O’ Lakes Half and Half. I didn’t want to buy the other brand, which is more expensive than the regular Land O’ Lakes price, let alone the Personal Price. The dairy “guy” told me to tell the clerk that he (Travis) said I could have the other brand for the $2.59 and the clerk was perfectly fine with that.

So, my $17.61 in savings is actually closer to $19, because that particular purchase isn’t reflected.


Write It Down

IMG_1231I’ve posted before about “writing it down” whether it’s a reminder for your To Do list or plans for bigger, less administrative, things you’d like to do. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed about my obsessive lists and spreadsheets.

But I really think it works.

Maybe it’s my compulsive nature, but I get such satisfaction from checking something off a list. And in order to check it off, you first have to “do” it. ;)

So, while I’ve been toying with the idea of going snowshoeing, the fact that I had actually put it on my list of things to do in 2015 helped me to say “yes” when a coworker suggested I sign up for the last spot on this week’s trip through the rec center I work at. Now I have to make a list of everything I need for the trip!

Also on my list for 2015:

- get back on track with appointments (doctors, dentist, hair)
- the Cartier exhibit (done)
- the Matisse exhibit (done)
- Denver friends’ trip to Florida
- Calgary friends’ trip
- two trips to Calgary (one done)
- trip with Jay (maybe Florida, probably not Europe)
- go to a concert
- go to a play
- sell another children’s book manuscript
- learn to play pickleball

I Am Updating Our Wills

will testamentIt’s been awhile since we had our wills drafted. We have a “subscription” to a company named Legal Shield. For about $26/mo and have access to a local law firm, as well as identity theft protection. We’ve used the legal benefits before, but Jay’s company now offers something similar and we’re thinking of dropping Legal Shield. Not sure if we’ll keep the identity theft protection. I have alerts set on all my credit cards and I check our bank activity regularly. When we were the target of credit card fraud a few years ago, it was me who immediately discovered it, not the identity theft company.

Anyway, one of the benefits is having them draft a boilerplate will, free for the main member, and $20 for a spouse. We had this done years ago, but we are redoing it. The kids are no longer minors. The guardians we appointed back then are no longer married. And I’m changing executors.

Having a will is a good thing. It does not, however, mean that your estate will avoid probate – something many people erroneously believe. Probate is avoided by having beneficiaries designated on all of your assets. We have this done for our mutual funds and 401Ks, etc. But we haven’t recorded Beneficiary Deeds for all our properties – something that is on my To Do list.

Petal by Petal

petalsIn one of the latest (and best) books I’ve read, Lit, Mary Karr describes her elderly mother ‘She’d quit painting, quit buying pretty clothes. Petal by petal, she’s been shedding herself.’

Wow.

This really hit home and I brought it up the last time my friends and I went for a walk. All of us are dealing with aging parents in some stage of decline. I lost my father about 14 months ago and, luckily, my Mom is doing pretty well. Very well, actually, when compared with my friends’ remaining parents. But the metaphor is still applicable and I hope to keep it in mind as I age.

I already see signs of it creeping in. For example, I judge my Mom’s almost total disinterest in cooking while, in the next breath, congratulate myself for only having to prepare 3-4 meals/week now that the kids are out of the house. As far as my Mom goes, it seems that every effort that can be cut out is being cut out and I worry I’m destined to take the same route? I’m already thinking about moving into a house low maintenance home. I’m somewhat obsessive about saving money. ;)

Hopefully, not. I will try to remember Mary Karr’s line ‘Petal by petal, she’s been shedding herself. ‘ and keep it from being so. It will require some vigilance. Maybe I’m overreacting. For me, saving money is a very active pursuit. I might even go so far as classifying it as a hobby. A low maintenance home will make it easier for us to travel. It will probably make it easier for Jay to keep working. (And, speaking of, I recently got a job – quite the opposite of retiring!)

In other areas of our lives, I’m planning to take a more active role – for example, babysitting our niece once a month so my brother and sister-in-law can go out, driving up to Boulder, Vail or Fort Collins every month to take one of our kids out for dinner. I’m contemplating getting a FitBit, and taking golf lessons, and signing up to learn how to play PickleBall at the rec center where I work, swim and go to yoga class.

Another thing that might keep me engaged longer is the fact that I’m an older mother than my Mom. At 29, she’d finished having her kids, while I’d just started. I’m about 12 years behind her and, hopefully, that will force me to stay on my toes!

An Inexpensive Get Together

wash perkA group of us try to get together at least once a month to do something. We call it “We Women”. Some of the “events” are expensive – like a week in Florida (although we stay at one of the gal’s vacation home, making it a deal (but still expensive)). Some of the “events” are moderately priced – like going to an exhibit at the Denver Art Museum ($27) followed by lunch ($20).

And some are downright cheap (or free).

Last Friday three of us met for a walk at Washington Park – free. When it was over, my friend mentioned that she thought there was a good coffee shop, named Wash Perk, nearby. None of us had ever been. It was a short ways away, about .5 mile, so we walked there and back. One of the best cups of coffee ever!! I was starving, so I had a scone, as well. In the future, however, I’ll know our outing will include going for coffee and I’ll have a bite beforehand. For about $5, a walk and great cup of coffee is a cheap and fun outing.

I’m hoping we can do it every month. The weather in Denver is so great can almost always find mild days in the middle of winter. The trick in the summer is to get your walk in before it gets too hot!