So let’s do a check in shall we?
In the last few weeks I have been taking a lot of steps to make changes to get my financial life in order. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
- Started freelance writing for a few regular clients. This is awesome since I really enjoy writing and really need the extra money coming in. I think I am giving my clients some pretty awesome content too, so win-win! *shameless plug warning* If you are looking for some kick-ass personal finance articles I am your girl!
- FINALLY got our budget caught up in Everydollar and balancing the checkbook. I was like a month behind before and the financial stress of that is awful. I was afraid to spend money and didn’t know where we were at budget-wise and if we could afford to spend what we were spending. Also, I felt like I wasn’t making the best use of our money because though I had some extra coming in I wasn’t being sure to allocate it to debt payoff and was just inching by instead, dropping the money into our account when the money ran out and we had bills that needed to be paid before payday.
- Built up our emergency fund. Baby Step #1 is done! I am not sure how long it will last and I am afraid we will have to dive back into that emergency fund because my husband’s income situation is not steady. But that is precicely why it is there and I am grateful for it.
- Had the AC/Heater man come check out our system for the winter and when he said we needed a new blower, we paid the $108 on the spot without a worry. Like a boss! Thank you emergency fund! Our house is over 30 years old and we know things will need to be replaced and repaired. We have only lived there for 3 years and I stress a lot about making sure we have money socked away for the inevitable home disaster with a burst pipe or when the refrigerator finally dies. Seriously, this thing is a dinosaur.
- Ordered 6 Filtrete air filters on Amazon so we are set for the next 6 months and I can finally get responsible and change the freaking air filter every month. I am marking it on my calendar and everything. Buying in bulk brought the cost per filter down to around $4 each which is way cheaper than buying them individually at the grocery store. Its even cheaper today on Amazon then when I bought it two weeks ago!
- I am keeping a detailed spreadsheet of my Christmas gift and related purchases. We have a very tight budget this year and I have to be very strict about our spending. All told we are planning to spend $425 on gifts, a tree, cards, and decor. That sounds like a big enough number but nope, its pretty tight. But, so far so good. I am almost done with Christmas shopping and we will get a tree this weekend and diligently tracking it all in a spreadsheet so we stay on course.
- I found an amazing Living Social deal which got us 70 cards for $22 (of course using a promo code on top of the deal at Living Social) and only $8 for shipping. I love the cards and am so excited to see them arrive in the mail and brighten our friends and family’s faces.
- During open season, I did a deep dive into our health insurance and made serious determinations as to how much coverage we needed and the costs we were paying. We had switched to the high end health insurance plan offered by my work a few years ago right before I got pregnant, but in comparing the plans I realized that we were paying $2300 extra a year in premiums for the ability to use out of network docs, which we don’t use! I had to make several calls to the insurance company, many trips to the company website, detailed reviews of the coverage comparison PDF (wow, its crazy long!), and multiple consultations with my husband and my sister (who has the insurance plan we were going to switch to). I even had an insurance company rep incorrectly tell me that I wouldn’t get coverage for emergency services if I was taken to an out-of-network hospital which seemed crazy so I am glad I double checked and it turns out that was wrong.
- I did the same deep dive with our dental insurance and found out two interesting things: 1) my dentist has been charging for flouride treatments which are covered by our dental insurance so they will be recieving a call from me to collect that $80 from the last couple of years ($20 a pop for four appointments) and 2) my dentist told me a few years ago that my nightguard (surprise surprise, this anxiety ridden lady over here grinds her teeth) wasn’t covered by insurance and gave me an estimate for $600. Ouch! can’t i just get a football mouth guard and call it a day, or night? But turns out it is covered 60% by my insurance! Perhaps the coverage has changed but at least now I know I can replace my nightguard for about $245, way more reasonable and better for my teeth and wallet. I was right on the verge of dropping my dental coverage because I felt that they weren’t giving me much coverage for the money we were paying in premiums but after I learned about what they actually covered I learned I need to take up some issues with my dentist more than with the insurance company.
- Hubs and I finally got our phones onto a family plan! For yearsVerizon hasn’t had data plans that worked for shared lines and fit our needs while saving us money so we just kept two different plans. Now we finally re-evaluated it again and found that we could upgrade my husband’s plan AND save us about $15 a month, which will increase to saving us $50 a month when we get the veteran’s discount applied. I’m so glad that Verizon is doing a veteran discount! And yes, I know we could get cheaper plans with Sprint or even Ting but we want the Verizon network which did not go down when it flooded in Baton Rouge in 2016 and it works well no matter where we are in the US.
How are you saving today? Leave a comment with your personal finance win!