Check Your Receipts

receiptI try to pay attention when cashiers are ringing up my purchases. But, all too often (and especially when there’s no line), I’m distracted. I’m loading merchandise onto the belt, or getting my coupons or credit card out. That’s what happened yesterday when I was buying wine and Jack Daniels at Rite Aid. I had also grabbed three Terry’s Chocolate Oranges to put in the kids stockings. Most years I’m running around trying to find them at the last minute. One year I got them something else and, sure enough, the kids were bummed. I hadn’t realized that they liked the tradition so much!

Anyway, last year I noticed that Rite Aid a) carried them, and b) they came on sale. So, yesterday I looked and, sure enough, they were marked down from $3.99 each to 2 for $5. The whole transaction was rushed and I was concerned that the box, balanced in the kid seat of the miniature cart, would fall, so I didn’t look at the receipt when it was handed to me. I just stuffed it into my purse. I was about to throw it away this morning, when that little voice made me take a look at it. The chocolate oranges were $3.99 instead of $2.50.


I’m not that irritated because I have to go back there today, anyway, to pick up two prescriptions (since I’m stocking up on meds before the end of the year). Also, I’m just glad I noticed. Better late than never.

The Jack Daniels, by the way, is regularly $47.99. I would never pay that since I can get it for $37.99 at Costco. But, this week it was $33.99 at Rite Aid. And I used a discount gift card, making it closer to $27! Last week I was in Calgary and I checked the price at the Co-op liquor store when I was getting a bottle of wine for a party. It was $75!! The Canadian dollar is at $.75 right now, but still….

I will remember to stock up on Jack the week of Thanksgiving next year. In fact, I put a note on my calendar. 😉


topcashbackI’ve been trying to remember to use TOPCASHBACK when making online purchases. Most recently, I used it when I bought some things on Groupon, yielding a nice $8.58 in cash back. :)

But I forgot to access Home Depot via the TOPCASHBACK website when I bought some rugs recently. :( And I’m pretty sure I forgot to use it when I bought a discount gift card at Cardpool.

Must remember!!

Checked Social Security Calculations

my social securityI’m in retirement planning mode and just updated the figures on my spreadsheet. It’s been months since I visited the Social Security website and I’m happy to see that both my and Jay’s benefits have increased. I’m still thinking that I’ll start taking benefits at 62 and Jay will wait until his full retirement age of 67. We’ll see, though – things could change in the next 7 years. My spreadsheets are based, for the most part, on reality and what I think will happen. What actually happens – when Jay retires, real estate values, stock market, investment choices, life events – will definitely affect my projections and I will constantly be tweaking things. We’ll consult a professional, too, before committing to any decisions. It’s a big decision with a lot of considerations to take into account.

I can only claim early benefits w/o reductions if my earned income is less than $15,720 (for 2015). Right now my earned income from my job is far less than that. The royalties, interest, capital gains, rental income etc. from our other streams of income are not considered earned income. Yay! But, who knows – maybe I’ll be working more and making more money in a few years. Anything’s possible.

Know Your Retirement Variables

retirementJay’s not ready to retire – yet. He’s only 55. Plus, two of the kids are still going to college. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t figured out what our financial picture looks like – both now and in the near future – in case he wants to/has to retire. There are rumblings that the company he works for are making plans to get rid of his group. He’s in a union and maybe the company will simply let them attrition out, steadily reducing the core work force. Or maybe they will simply cease negotiating future contracts. Either one is possible. And we’ll be fine either way although we’d far prefer the first scenario.

Some of Jay’s coworkers are already retiring or planning to retire shortly. One of them reports that he should have retired years ago as he’s better off now. He seems to think he’s making more now than he used to. When he was working he was a) earning a salary, b) adding to his 401K, and c) increasing his pension fund. Now that he’s retired he’s not earning an income, not increasing his 401K and drawing an annuity based on what his pension balance was when he retired. Clearly, he has no idea how the numbers work. This is the same guy who refused to participate in the 401K plan for 20+ years because he felt there was some trick behind it.

Another guy is retiring next month. He was surprised to find out that the company doesn’t pay for unused sick leave. He was expecting a check for his 2,000+ hours of sick leave.


He also isn’t willing to wait an extra month to retire in order to get the $1,500 seed money the company is going to deposit into the new HSA plans being set up for everyone now that they are going to an HDHP in January. Nope – not going to wait, even though he’s not even going to work anymore. He got a doctor’s note and is using up as much of his sick leave as he can, now that he knows he can’t take it with him.

Even though Jay is in one, ask us what we think about unions. He works his butt off. And so do many of his coworkers. But too many of them hardly do anything. No wonder the company wants to get rid of them.

Birthday Cards

birthday cardsNovember is a big birthday month – our two sons, our niece here in Denver, and one of our nieces is Calgary. I’m not much into cards, especially spending $5 for one that’s going to immediately get tossed. I’d rather put that money towards a present.

It’s one thing if the card is the “event”, like when you send a sympathy card and your words are what you are sending, not a gift. Or if you’re sending a birthday check and need something to put it in. My mom sends our kids birthday cards with $50 in them. We just transfer money into their bank accounts. 😉 Plus, we celebrate their birthdays by taking them out for dinner, or having a birthday dinner at home. I don’t buy them cards. Our niece in Calgary is an adult – married, in medical school. I Facebook her a birthday message and, hopefully, will get to see her when I’m up there visiting. I do, however, buy presents and a card for our five-year-old niece here in Denver, as we always celebrate her birthday together. However, I always try to buy the card at Party City, as their cards are $1.

I’ve also discovered that I can buy very nice sympathy cards in packs of five at King Soopers. :(

Multiple Streams of Income

multiple streams of incomeYou often hear that it’s important to have multiple streams of income. I remember, when I was younger, wondering exactly what that meant. Over the years it became clear and we’ve successfully developed multiple streams of income – some very deliberately, and some more haphazardly. They are all independent of us having jobs (ie. they are passive income) and will continue, to some degree or other, into or through retirement.

The rental income will continue as long as we hold on to the properties. My royalty income will continue as long as my books sell. We have much less control over this than other income streams, but it’s nice to have. We earn interest on loans we make. When Jay retires there will be income from his pension (although we are leaning towards a lump sum which we can invest to generate income). There will be social security, to some degree or another. 😉 I’m also assuming that one or both of us will continue to work in some capacity, making sure to keep our earnings in line with IRS rules to minimize taxes and penalties. As a writer, I can make money doing school visits or giving presentations or mentoring wanna be writers. This blog is intended to generate income, although the results have been pretty sad! However, if I can make $5/mo who’s to say I can’t turn it into $50/mo or $500/mo? It won’t happen if I don’t try… 😉

Grocery Shopping

king soopers custom couponsI’m heading to King Soopers today. I spent 15 minutes going through this week’s insert online (Jay takes the paper in the morning, so I don’t see it until he gets home from work). I also loaded some digital coupons to my King Soopers card. The coffee I buy to make my yummy Vietnamese coffee every morning is a) on sale; and b) has a digital coupon. So, instead of paying $4.99 I’ll be getting it for $2.99. I think the digital coupon is good for each one I buy. Will have to double check that. It’s on sale until the end of the month, so I’ll probably stock up with 3 or 4 over the course of the month.

Oatmeal is also on sale. And I have coupons. So, I’m stocking up on that, as well.

King Soopers has also been having a promotion where, every week, you can get something for free if you load the coupon to your card. I’ve loaded the coupons, but have forgotten to get the free item. Today, I made a note to get the last two freebies – a pack of Oreo Thins and a 3 count K-Cup. I’ll give the Oreos to one of the boys and the K-Cups to our daughter.

I’m lucky to have the time to devote to saving. But, even when I worked (albeit part time) and had three small children, I clipped coupons and shopped sales. If helps if you consider it a hobby vs. a necessity (even if it is one). When you think of something as a hobby, it sounds and feels much less onerous! I probably save $100/mo on groceries alone doing this. And I’m not even shopping for a family anymore.

Buying New Furniture

lazy boySo, in addition to getting rid of stuff I’m also acquiring stuff. 😉 The loss of our friend has affected me deeply. I’m motivated to stop putting things off – in particular, finishing the decorating of our TV room and planning a trip. More about the trip later.

When we moved into this house we decorated on a budget. We bought a couple of inexpensive fake leather recliners for watching TV. Trouble is, we’re short of seating when there’s more than just Jay and I watching TV. And the room a) doesn’t look right, and b) isn’t comfortable for visiting. I want to have my critique group over, or other groups of my friends. It’s no wonder most of our entertaining over the past four years has been during the summer months, or has only involved family.

I hate shopping and the week I was shopping for a sectional was a misery. Too many options to deal with. Where should I get it? What configuration? Should it involve at least one recliner? What fabric? Should I get a matching love seat or chair? Once I settled this decision, and we settled on La-Z-Boy, I started to actually enjoy the process. They were having a 20% off sale and the price point was reasonable. I settled a four seater with a chaise on one end. No recliners as this dramatically increased the price, increased the size, and decreased the choices. I picked a fabric I think we’ll like.

Instead of getting a matching chair or love seat, we’re going to use an existing, nice, armless chair we got when we moved in. I’ll find a coordinating chair, hopefully the same manufacturer and model. We need a coffee table for the sectional and a table to go between the two chairs. We already have a side chair table and a console that we got when we moved and that match the entertainment center. So, rather than starting from scratch, I decided to see if we could find the coffee table and end table from the same collection. Unfortunately, American Furniture Warehouse doesn’t carry them anymore. But they are available from a number of online sources.

In a flash of sheer brilliance, I decided to check Craigslist. Half the furniture on it is from American Furniture Warehouse. I found the exact coffee table I wanted and got it for $110. It retails for 3-4 times that.

We need a couple more rugs. And we want a big tapestry for the huge wall that leads downstairs. Right now I have a collection of interesting framed wallpaper. I like them and will move them into the guest room. But they were never intended to be a permanent solution. Same with the recliners. They will get moved downstairs and we’ll sell or give away the couple of recliners that we inherited from Jay’s dad when he died.

I’m guessing the room will be ready early in the new year. I’d love to have the sectional in time for Christmas, but am not counting on it. Now I need to get on top of finding the rugs and tapestry and chair and table. I’ll be watching Craigslist and RubyLane for the tapestry, and finding the least expensive sources for the rugs, chair, and table. I don’t think I’ll have any luck getting them second hand. But, you never know…

Sold Lladros on Craigslist

058I posted the other day that I was getting rid of stuff. Well, I sold three of my four Lladros to someone on Craigslist. She got a bargain. I got $60.

I’m not sure if there’s a better way to sell this stuff. If I wanted to sell it via Replacements, Ltd I would have to provide an inventory, it would have to be in perfect condition, I would have to pay to ship it and probably pay insurance on it as well. Plus, I’m sure they take a hefty percentage. I know that local consignment shops take 50%.

It feels good to have them gone!

Getting Rid of Stuff

goodwillWe recently helped a friend who was moving and it involved taking lots of stuff to Goodwill. As in truckloads. When I got home I was seized with a maniacal resolve to purge. I couldn’t sleep and got up at midnight to go through some drawers in my office before going back to bed. I woke up at 5:53 and continued, resulting in nine bags of things (clothes, knick knacks, blankets, garbage) to either throw out or take to Goodwill. I wasn’t willing to wait for the next time a truck was in our area and hauled it to the closest location. (Of course, I noted the donation for tax purposes.)

Afterwards, I went through my “collectibles” (all of which were actually gifts either given before getting married or as wedding presents). I decided on a couple to take with me to Calgary in November, as gifts, and took pictures of the rest and posted them on Craigslist. I recently sold a few Hummels this way. I’d rather have $75 than collectibles wrapped in newspaper sitting in a box. None of our kids will be interested in them.

Go to an estate sale or help someone with too much stuff move and you’ll be bitten by the same bug to purge!