Weekend Recap

It has not been a great weekend. I’ll start with the absolute worst thing ever and end with some halfway good news…

Worst

Our family suffered the devastating loss of our beloved family dog, a 6lb Chihuahua we’ve had for 5 years. The sweetest, most lovable dog you’d ever meet. He had the best personality, unlike any Chihuahua we’ve ever met! Tragically he was snatched by a coyote in our backyard Friday night. A coyote!! It was horrific. We tried to get to him, but it was dark, the brush was thick, and I knew. I just knew after that one last yelp, he was gone. ūüė¶ ¬†I want to insert an image of our little guy, but…anonymity….sigh. ¬†The kids are devastated. ¬†Not much else to say about this.

Meh

Capital One increased DH’s credit card interest rate from 14.9% to 20.55%. It was already high, but that’s a crazy increase! He called and was able to get it lowered to 16.6%. I’m not happy about this at all. This damn card has the highest balance, so we need to get it paid off asap. I’ve waffled with the idea of using savings. But I’m scared to touch the cash. Someone kick some sense into me please.

Also, the rental property. Not getting sold this year. I’ve been watching the market in the area of that property and it’s just not moving. We missed our chance, which is January-March. Those months were HOT for sales, now it’s stagnant. ¬†I confirmed this with our realtor friends. ¬†On top of that our renter (a relative) has requested to stay put through winter. And so that’s the new plan. That will give us time in cooler weather to work on repairs vs 100 degree summer months, and then get it listed in early spring 2018. Not sure how I feel about this. Ambivalent I suppose.

Decent

IMG_6786My application for Amazon was accepted and I was moved into the second phase of hiring! Unfortunately I didn’t see this email until much later Friday night. We were out running errands and then the dog incident. ūüė¶ As a result I missed all of the appointment times. ¬†They filled up so fast. ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†It says they will add more, but I don’t know when or how long it may be. ¬†I hope soon. ¬†I already went and bought an ethernet cable long enough for my office.

I’m hoping they post new appointment times this week. ¬†I am ready. ¬†I am all prepared to work. ¬†I am excited. ¬†I am determined. ¬†I want to earn that measly $10 per hour, because it’s $10 more per hour than I am making right now. ¬†Please Amazon, please please open more time slots.

I hope all of you had a much, much better weekend!!

Posted in Budgeting, Debt, Extra Income, Family, Home, Real Estate, Rental Property, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Priceline (Agoda) Annoyance

Let me share my wonderful experience with Priceline!  I booked our hotel (for our upcoming road trip) on April 13th.  Including taxes and fees, my total was $159.12.  This is the amount I agree to and paid for in full using my credit card.  Receipt proof:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.13.21 PM

While paying bills I noticed I was charged $174.10 by Priceline. ¬†I immediately hopped on live chat to inquire about the discrepancy. ¬† ‘Albert’ joined the chat and took 15 minutes to tell me that he see’s the discrepancy, but it’s not Priceline’s problem. ¬†Instead I have to call their partner, Agoda. ¬†Agoda customer service is open 24/7 at a long distance phone number – no toll free.

I called Agoda six times. ¬†Six times I was immediately disconnected when I selected ‘3’ for payment problems. ¬†Seventh time was a charm and someone answered. ¬†I could barely understand her, but she argued about the pricing. ¬†Here is my exchange with Agoda:

“I see we charge $174.10, which is correct price.”

I have my receipt and confirmation pages right here in front of me.  My total is $159.12.  I was overcharged $14.98.

“Well what do you advise is problem?”

I was overcharged for my hotel reservation.

“I see with tax and fee this price is correct.”

Then why does my online Priceline account and my email confirmation clearly show that I agreed to and paid in full the amount of $159.12?

“In good faith we refund $15 US dollar. ¬†Is this ok?”

The difference in $14.98 US dollar, I would appreciate the refund, thank you.

“I in good faith request no proof from you and will refund the $15 US dollar even though billing amount was correct.”

I received an email from Agoda about the refund before I was off the call. ¬†We’ll see if/when it hits my credit card. ¬†“PLEASE ALLOW 30 BUSINESS DAYS FOR REFUNDS!”

I’m annoyed that a) I had to go through a Partner instead of Priceline for a refund and b) Agoda rep repeatedly insisting I was wrong and refusing to look into the charge. ¬†I’d like to know what the discrepancy was?! ¬†I went back and double checked taxes and fees and in no order can I get to a total of $174.10. ¬†I asked a few more times to clarify the breakdown of the order, but she just kept repeating her good faith refund offer.

Anyway, just a reminder to always check your statements. ¬†ūüôā ¬†Mistakes happen, even if companies refuse to admit it lol. ¬†I realize it’s only $14.98, but that’s $14.98 I can put towards meals or activities, and it wasn’t¬†the amount I agreed on!

Posted in Budgeting, Travel, Vacation | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Job Hunt

I did it.  I applied for two jobs within the last week!  This is huge for me.

I worked for the same company for over a decade before it closed. ¬†Since then I’ve been a stay at home mom, which is nice, but difficult. ¬†I definitely feel like there’s something “missing” since not working. ¬†I am fortunate to be able to stay home, but a part of me longs to be a monetary provider again. ¬†Plus…adult interaction, please.

A few months ago, a position opened up with our county that I qualify for. ¬†I had to wait to apply, because DH’s job changed and his schedule shifted to nights. ¬†I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out, but we’ve found our groove now.

I applied for the county job last week. ¬†On their horrible, slow, outdated, highly inefficient, typical government website. ¬†It literally took three hours to load seven pages during the process. ¬†But I did it! ¬†Today I received a confirmation email that they were reviewing my resume and application, and noted that they would officially be hiring for the position “within the next 3-6 months”…..wtf?

That pushed me to apply for another job. ¬†Except this is an at-home position with Amazon! ¬†I’ve had it bookmarked for a couple of weeks, but was waiting to hear about the county job first. ¬†Since there is a significant hiring delay, I figured why not.

I passed the assessment tests and virtual job tryout. ¬†Now they’ll review my results and get back to me at some point. ¬†At least with Amazon I can log in and check the status of my application, unlike the county job.

I’m excited. ¬†The county job is $15 per hour. ¬†The Amazon job starts at $10 per hour during training, then $12 after that. ¬†Granted neither job has the best pay, but this is supplemental income for us. ¬†Part will go to childcare, the rest towards debt pay off. ¬† Both jobs are part-time, which is what I need, since my youngest still requires a lot of doctor and specialist appointments.

Wish me luck! ¬†This was a big step for me, as my anxiety tends to prevent me from getting this far in any type of application process. ¬†I am determined. ¬†I want to contribute and I want to fill this “hole” that being a SAHM has created for me.

Posted in Extra Income, Work | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Planning a Road Trip!

Spring break was a bust. ¬†Illness, bad weather, just overall blah for everyone. ¬†We haven’t had a family vacation since 2014 – before my youngest was born. ¬†We’ve always cruised each year, it’s our ‘thing’ we do with friends and family. ¬†Due to DS2’s¬†medical conditions, we’ve postponed cruising for the last two years. ¬†We’ll be back onboard when he’s around 3 years old, I hope.

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 11.25.25 PMIn the meantime, we’re all itching to do something. ¬†So I’ve decided to plan a little road trip to Tennessee! ¬†We’re going to check out Ruby Falls and Nashville. ¬†I remember going to Ruby Falls as a child and loving it. ¬†I was also a geology geek and collected rocks. ¬†Much like my 6 year old! ¬†He will love this summer adventure!

Budget

My budget for the entire trip is $1,000 Рincluding all spending money.  I have just over $2000 in Digit right now, which is our newly appointed slush fund for traveling.

I haven’t figured out a food or gas budget yet. ¬†I’m thinking $300¬†on food, max. ¬†And gas around $200. ¬†Which would eat up a chunk of the remaining budget, leaving only $214 left for fun money, but I think that will be plenty. ¬†Unless there’s more tickets for activities to purchase, then I’ll reevaluate.

Accommodations

I’ve been watching for deals online through Priceline, Expedia, and Hotels.com for affordable hotel options. ¬†This is the list I’ve created over the last few weeks….

$388.34 –¬†Chattanooga Hotel
$272.26 –¬†Hilton
$248.12 –¬†Comfort Inn
$215.74 –¬†Holiday Inn
$195.10 –¬†Wingate

As much as we’d love to splurge and stay in the ritzy Chattanooga Hotel, it just didn’t make financial sense for this trip. ¬†Plus you have to pay for parking and internet there!
In the end I didn’t book any of those above, because I caught a lightning deal for a 3.5 star hotel for $59.99/night (normally $149.99/night) on Priceline last night. ¬†I booked for two nights and with taxes and fees the total came to $159.12!!!! ¬†Not bad! ¬†Includes: free parking, free WiFi, indoor pool, fridge and microwave in room, and a free breakfast.
  • $126.70 – Tickets
  • $159.12 – Hotel
  • $285.82 – Total
  • $714.18 – Remaining Budget

After our second night in Chattanooga, we’ll be heading up to Nashville. ¬†We are fortunate that some family friends live right outside Nashville in Murfreesboro, and have offered us a place to crash for several days! ¬†They’re empty nesters in a five bedroom home, meaning plenty of space without feeling like we’re being a burden. ¬†Plus the wife is excited to babysit, which will give us one evening to go out exploring the town on our own – kid free!

Activities

I bought our tickets last night for Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Incline Railway.  For two adults and one child, the total came to $126.70.  Our youngest is free!

I’d like to take the kids to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, but tickets are around $80. ¬†I’m holding out for a discount or groupon or something. ¬†It’s not the end of the world if we don’t make it, we’ve been to the Atlanta aquarium (which is even more expensive), but I remember the Tennessee one being a lot better.

As for Nashville, I have no idea what we’ll do there yet, we’ve never been. ¬†Any suggestions? ¬†Kid friendly! ¬†And something for a date night.

I’m excited. ¬†Our little family needs some time away. ¬†It’s not the big trips we normally do, but it is our first family-only trip. ¬†We usually travels with friends and extended family. ¬†This time, it’s just the four of us. ¬†And it’ll be my little one’s first vacation ever!

Edit: ¬†So we can’t bring a stroller to Ruby Falls or Rock City. ¬†Now I have to find a toddler carrier to wear for the trip. ¬†My son wears orthotics and cannot walk extended lengths of time, so a carrier is a must. ¬†This might already be putting us over budget. ¬†Or should I even consider this carrier purchase part of the travel budget?? ¬†The carriers I’m finding are $150-$200. ¬†ūüė¶ ūüė¶ ¬†I have a moby wrap, but I don’t see that working out well.

Posted in Budgeting, Family, Planning, Travel, Vacation | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up

IMG_6318Last week¬†I tried out Wal-Mart’s grocery pick-up service for the first time. ¬†It was spring break, and we were being pounded by some of the scariest thunderstorms we’ve had in years. ¬†(Lots of tornados!) ¬†The last thing I wanted to do was go out in stormy weather, then wander around the store with them, and drive home in even worse weather. ¬†No thank you.

I came across a $10 off coupon for Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up and figured I’d give it a shot. ¬†Loading up my cart was easy. ¬†Every thing I needed was on the website. ¬†Produce, dairy, snacks, diapers, etc. ¬†Great selection and I didn’t personally come across anything that was unavailable during the purchasing part. ¬†If they’re out of something, you can opt for them to provide a substitution. ¬†If the substitute is more costly, they still honor the lower price of your original selection.

IMG_6352Pick up was easy. ¬†I downloaded the Wal-Mart Grocery app on my Iphone. ¬†When my order was ready, I just clicked the ‘check in’ button to let them know I was on the way. ¬†15 minutes later I pulled into the pick-up parking spot, opened my app, and it automatically noted that I had arrived, and an employee would be out soon with my order. ¬†About 30 seconds later, a lady came out with my order, and proceeded to load it into my trunk. ¬†She let me know what item was out of stock (Teddy Grahams) and that I was not charged for it.

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I was also presented with a cute little welcome bag full of free samples. ¬†I can definitely appreciate the freebies! ¬†Of course there are pros and cons to this service, so I’ll lay it all out below….

Pros

  • Convenience, convenience, convenience!!!
  • You can use your receipt for the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher app. ¬†Enter the TN number at the top of your emailed receipt and enter the date of pick-up (not date of order.) ¬†I got back $4.97!
  • NO IMPULSE SHOPPING! ¬†You get what you order, and since you’re not walking around endlessly, you’re not adding unnecessary items to your cart.
  • Easy to use. ¬†Shopping, check-out, check-in with app, and pick-up are easy!
  • They will adjust prices! ¬†For example, I bought boneless chicken breasts for $11.64, but the pack I receive was $10.79. ¬†I was charged the lower price, not the website price.

Cons

  • My main gripe is that Ibotta (a grocery savings app) does not accept the grocery pick-up receipts. ¬† I found this out before ordering and adjusted my list accordingly.
  • Someone else is picking out your produce! ¬†My experience was great, but this could bother some folks.
  • You cannot use manufacturer coupons for the products you purchase.
  • If you do not have an Iphone, you’ll need to call 15 minutes prior to pick-up, and upon arrival. ¬†Not really a con, but not as convenient.
  • The Grocery app itself is very, very slow to load.
  • You need to order 24 hours before pick-up. ¬†Well, 16-24 hours. ¬†If you need something Monday, don’t expect to order it for pick-up that same day, it will have to be Tuesday during your selected reservation time!
  • Edited to add: ¬†As noted in the comments section, the grocery pick-up service isn’t available at all stores! ¬†My closest store did not offer it, and I did drive a bit further for it (10 minutes.)

Final Thoughts

I LOVE it. ¬†Primarily for staple items that rarely ever have coupons or rebates. ¬†Meats, produce, dairy. ¬†I’ve used the service a second time already, and it was another great experience. ¬†As someone with young kids, who hates going in Wal-Mart to begin with, this is a wonderful, convenient service.

It doesn’t rule out in-store shopping completely, because I will try to save where I can. ¬†The $10 off $50 helped sway me the first time – and the bad weather – but if I have coupons or rebates for items we typically buy, I’ll suck it up and go inside.

If you’re interested in trying it out, here’s a referral code for $10 off! ¬†Not a paid post (ha!), I really did try this out on a whim, and noticed the referral codes while screenshotting some pictures for the post. ¬†ūüôā

I’ve heard of similar curbside pick-up services with Kroger and CVS, but haven’t tried them out yet. ¬†Anyone given Wal-Mart Grocery Pick-Up a try? ¬†Good/bad experience?

Posted in Budgeting, Family, Food, Home, Savings | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Digit Subscription Fee

IMG_6362I’ve been a loyal user of Digit since January 2015. ¬†Digit is an automated savings app, designed to monitor your bank account, and withdraw small increments to save. ¬†I’ve had anywhere from $0.11 to $230 withdrawn and placed into my Digit savings account. ¬†This is my out of sight, out of mind savings account and has worked wonders for my family. ¬†Over the last 2 years, we have saved thousands of dollars we otherwise wouldn’t have. ¬†For that I am thankful.

However, today I received the following email:

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One of my biggest pet peeves in our tech world is subscription services.  Now Digit wants to charge $2.99 per month to save my own money.  Mind you this savings account is not interest bearing.  I knew that when I signed up.  I accepted that.  It was a trade off for the free service that would force us to save extra.

I suppose $2.99 per month isn’t a lot, but it bothers me enough to withdraw, and cancel my account if Digit goes through with this change. ¬†I have 100 days to decide. ¬†I am disappointed. ¬†Maybe an annual fee, but monthly? ¬†And their new “perk” of 1% doesn’t offset the subscription fee unless I average $4,000 in my account for three consecutive months. ¬†I could just manually transfer money into my regular savings account, for free, and gain interest. ¬†Or invest.

Digit was our “travel slush fund” – we recently decided that. ¬†Now I’m bummed. ¬†We planned to use this account to save for a huge family vacation in 2018. ¬† Right now we have $1,977 in the account, and $1,000 of that is (was?) earmarked for a mini road trip in June. ¬†More on that later.

Anyway, it’s a bummer. ¬†Obviously Digit was making money in interest off all the saved money of their users. ¬†How is that not profiting? ¬†I just can’t justify $2.99 a month to save when if I am diligent, I can do this myself for free. ¬†Note: if.¬†

Any other Digit users? ¬†Any thoughts? ¬†I still love the concept of the app, but the subscription fee’s kill it for me.

  • Affiliate links in this post, because it’s still a great concept/service, if you’re willing to fork over $2.99/mo. ¬†Sign up with link and we both get $5. ¬†At least for the next 100 days – lol!
Posted in Budgeting, Savings | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Unexpected Repairs

What a waste of a spring break. ¬†DH ended up with the mystery plague that landed our six year old in the hospital a couple weeks ago. ¬†Then we had some of the scariest weather we’ve ever encountered. ¬†Now I’m sick!! ¬†That’s not even the worst part….

The new (to us) truck cost us a pretty penny this week.  DH took it in for routine maintenance.  We budgeted the $225 for this visit, which included an oil change, air filter and cabin filter replacement, fluids checked and topped off, and tires being rotated.  What we did not budget for was a battery replacement and axle replacement.

A few hours after dropping the truck off, they called to say the battery wasn’t fully charging, the right axle seal had a leak, and the right axle was severely worn. ¬†Would we like them to fix it?

Cost: $699 for axle only, $100 battery…

I mean really.  Could we not have enjoyed a new-to-us vehicle a little longer than a month before needing something so costly done to it!!

I mentioned in my March debt update that I had set aside the $2500 from the sale of our two vehicles.  I did this just in case we had anymore buyer problems.  Thankfully we never heard another word from that psycho buyer.

Anyway, I forgot all about the cash stash from the car sales and was panicking about having to touch savings. ¬†Thank goodness DH remembered. ¬†We didn’t have to hit any of our accounts and paid for the repairs in full with cash!

  • $225 – Maintenance
  • $100 – Battery
  • $699 – Axle + Seal + Labor
  • $1,024.00 – TOTAL ¬†ouch ūüė¶

Other than that the truck checked out perfectly! ¬†So here’s to hoping no more costly repairs in the near future.

Posted in Auto, Budgeting | Tagged , | 3 Comments