Tag Archives: Mint

To Zillow or not to Zillow

One of the reasons I particularly love using Mint is the property value feature that shows the current value of my home and car.  The car value estimate is provided by KBB and the home value is provided by Zillow – known as a Zestimate.

I have been enjoying my Mint account for about 2 years now.  Every couple of months, I find new ways to learn about myself and my relationship with money through my spending and investing processes.  I am really grateful that this tool exists.

Until a couple of years ago, I had never known the value of my home.  Then I started watching the Zestimate on my Mint overview page.  And it was great to watch!

I didn’t care that the interweb naysayers talked about how artificially high or low the Zestimate was in relation to actual value. I had a number I could look at and hold on to.  Plus, my number was going up!  How could I not appreciate that? (I bought my home at the extreem high of the housing bubble and tumble like a house of cards immediately after.  It was only in the last 3 months that my house Zestimated at the amounted I paid for it – 10 years later!!!!)

Then last month happened.  In the last 30 days, I have lost $22,000 of the value of my Zestimate.  And  with the way the Zestimate is incorporated into Mint, it is actually a $22,000 decrease in my net worth.

Sigh.

I feel like I have been doing so many things right which would build up my net worth.  Yet, to have something upon which I have no influence come along and drag me down is a bummer. My home accounts for 1/3rd my net worth.

The truth is though, much like how my 401Ks rebounded in value after the very painful gutting during the recession, my home value may likely grow as well.  I just don’t like feeling teased.

Zillow – the frenemy.

What tool do you use to estimate your home’s value?  Zillow? Redfin? Another?

Thrifty Image

Purchase, Purchase

I Love Shopping Picture

I have made it a point to be very intentional in my purchasing the last 2-3 years.  I run the usual investigative questions through my mind for most purchases – Do I really need it?  Why do I want it?  Do I already have something like it? How will I feel about it in the near future?  Do I have room for it? Will it really make my life better?

With these questions, I have been successful in a 2+ year handbag shopping ban and a clothes shopping ban for 5 months.  But, nature abhors a vacuum and some other interesting purchases have made it to the forefront.

I purchased a new phone last week.  I moved from a MOTO E from Republic Wireless to the MOTO G. I wanted to wait until they had a new selection that was similar to the MOTO X but my phone was dying by degrees.  I couldn’t even turn off the alarm in the mornings anymore — oh the horror!

I have discovered couponing!  I have LOTS of dish detergent, paper towels, hair products and vitamins.  I justify this shopping by letting couponing experts tell me I am saving money in the long run.  It must be a really looooog run because my MINT account is going crazy. You should see the notifications I am getting about the Shopping category.

With the exception of a few items that I only picked up because they were free, I know that I will use all the products personally or as goody bag stuffers. But I recognize the truth.  I just wanted to try something new and I wanted to SHOP.  I did a good thing by implementing shopping bans.  I did poor follow through by not replacing the shopping activity with a healthier option.

Now that my eyes are open, I am beginning a new plan. I will take full advantage of the soon to be nice weather and focus in on our garden work. Usually on gardening days I am too tired to want to do anything else anyway and that is just the way I like it.

I also plan to pick up some inside tasks.  Junior wants to paint her room and some of her furniture and that is definitely a distraction.  Her favorite colors at this moment are grays, blacks and whites. Should be interesting.

Oh yeah and I plan to eat more.  Not exactly the usual goal that is written but what can I say?  I am at an age where I finally enjoy trying new recipes, have learned a reasonable substitute for Cream of Tarter and no longer care about my weight in relation to popular culture.  A healthy enough weight is fine with me.

So there.  I am putting down my coupon clippers  and picking up my garden shears. It’s time for some growth.

The Thrifty Image

Fresh Start – It’s Gonna Be May!

Empty Desk Calendar - Green

We may not have gotten all of the April showers that I am use to having here on the east coast but, I am looking forward to those May flowers.  It is time for a fresh start.

The end of March and all of April were filled with tests and trials of the financial and non-financial type.  I am looking forward to getting back on task and taking back control.

In March, during Spring Break, we visited the grandparents in the Seattle/Tacoma area.  It was a great visit but I always get a little out of control in relation to food when I leave my “home” zip codes.  For instance, we ate lovely Dungeness crabs at Pike’s Fish Market.  The experience was about $70 for 3 of them.  Yikes!  Still, I wouldn’t have given back one bite because it was awesome!

In April, thanks to the generosity of her grandparents and as a reward for her great grades, Thrifty Image, Jr. was able to get a new fancy schmancy phone.  We continued to use FreedomPop, just upgraded her device to AWESOME.  We took advantage of all of these department store Friends & Family sales to outfit Junior for Summer camp – t-shirts and shorts and undies, oh my!

I also indulged in buying A LOT of product for my hair this month.  I have naturally curly (and dry) hair and I have decided to grow it out.  Healthy hair requires a commitment and some of that is in dollars and cents as well as time.  So, I have purchased many, many, many conditioners, leave-ins and styling creams to help in my journey.  My plan is to spend a little more on products healthy hair from home rather than spending A LOT more for healthy hair from the salon.

And the snacks.  I have over indulged in everything from Oreo’s and DeMet’s Turtles to the new Frosted Coffees from Chick Fila.  OMG has anyone else fallen in love with those?  I am hooked on those the same way I used to be hooked on McDonald’s Sweet Tea.  Oh no, now I want some Sweet Tea!  Spring came and my self-control seemed to have fled. What is interesting is that I have been busier than ever so I am not even sure how I had the time to devote to so much snacking but apparently, where there is a (lack of) will (power), there is a way.

Well. To not quote NSync “It’s Gonna be May!” And I have a plan.

Beginning May 1 – 30 day water challenge drinking one gallon per day.  I found when I did this in January, not only did I get the benefits of the additional hydration, I had less desire for processed sugar.

Join a gym – There is a new You Fit in my neighborhood and it would just be un-neighborly to ignore it.  I am going to have Junior join with me.  Soon, school will be out and I need her too tired to think up mischief or to use the word “bored”.  Did I mention we are going to Jamaica later in the Summer using my Rapid Rewards points?  I have a couple of months to get beach body ready.  More on how I scored a practically FREE vacation with points in another post.

Yard Sale – A May yard sale would be a make up sale for the one that was rained out last Saturday.  Even with the rain we made $12 because buyers knocked on our door. So I think that next time, we should do well if the sun shines upon us.

Test new recipes – In an unusual move, I got caught up in fast food and restaurant eating way too much over the last 5 weeks.  Well, enough of that.  It is my least favorite expense when I look at my Mint account.  I think it is because even when we eat out, it doesn’t correlate to my spending less time in the kitchen.  There is no benefit because Junior and the dog are ALWAYS hungry.  So yes I will cook more but, I will save more – both my money and my cholesterol levels. This is thanks to Aldi’s consistently low prices and bonus – now that they accepts credit cards, I can use my Chase Freedom card this quarter to get 5% cash back of grocery purchase up to $1,500.

Even with my wayward ways in April, I still maintained my savings levels and charitable commitments so no regrets there. However, Junior and I will be having a chat about potentially lowering our cable/internet plan soon.  Expect to hear the sobs.  Like me, she loves her television shows (her-Disney, me-National Geographic).

I have a chicken that I will roast tonight, a half bottle of white wine and some trash tv shows to get through between now and April 30 – tomorrow!  Then, I am back in frugal mode because

It's Gonna by May

Have a great weekend!

Thrifty Image

Procrastination and Finances

Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow

I spent a lot of money and time in February getting some areas of my home organized.  My bathroom closet, craft and laundry supplies cabinets and new spice drawer are now functioning in a way that makes my time spent in those situations much better.  I will admit when I checked my Mint account and tallied how much I spent, I was a little affronted. That did not last long. I used money, in this case wisely and frugally, to achieve more peace in my home.  I am pretty sure that should be in the Top 10 of what money is to be used for.

That being said, by diving into home organization, I completely stalled on some other goals that I had planned for myself by the end of February.  March 1 is bringing a reckoning…

Below is a list of goals that I have put off and my musings as to why:

Finalize my will and trust and have notarized

  • Not done because I will obviously live forever
  • Not done because the notary I plan to use is a co-worker and she is out on short-term disability not to return until March 7. There are no other notary public in the world (even though I am a licensed one myself and have access to a listing of notaries).

Move my funds from current accounts to a Betterment account that I created A YEAR AGO

  • Not done because I have not had time (although I did start a blog, organize several areas of my home and caught up on the entire first season of Legends and The Expanse in that same year)

Reach out to a handyman service to arrange for attic project (clean and insulate)

  • Not done because of being genuinely perplexed as to what to do with all the items that are in the attic while the project is getting done.  The attic is huge and anything that comes done will overflow any space downstairs that is is temporarily relocated to.  Plus, I don’t want all that stuff to go back upstairs anyway.
  • Not done because because it is an $1100 commitment to pay the handyman for the project. I am hesitant.

Move Mirror Image’s College Fund from the current account to the Maryland 529 College Plans 

Not done because I haven’t gotten an answer on monthly contributions which takes into account the fund to fund transfer.  The website tool, while helpful, doesn’t completely answer this.

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~ William James

None of these are good excuses.  Just excuses. So, while February has finished a little light on certain goal accomplishment, many other goals were accomplished and March is giving me a new opportunity.  I anticipate the following mixture of financial and non-financial goals to be accomplished in March:

  1. Make dentist appointment
  2. Contact and pay handyman service for attic clean-out
  3. Have trust and will notarized
  4. Finalize Maryland 529 application and start the funds transfer process*
  5. Travel to Orlando for a work conference
  6. Spring clean in advance of having family over for Easter dinner

And, by the way, I am doing a 30 day vegetarian challenge this month, too.  I anticipate this will be the best March ever!

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

*I want to transfer funds from the current account to get the State tax deduction as well as to be able to see this account on Mint. Currently, the Private College 529 is not supported by Mint.

Monday Money Review

Magnifying Glass - Results

This weekend had its highs and lows.  Nothing went quite as planned.  Mirror Image’s friend left homesick for her family LATE Friday night so there was no actual sleepover. Since there was no sleepover, we decided to make this a mostly errand running and crafting weekend.  This had an impact the Weekend Money.

But, I will justify the spending later in the post, here’s is where we work out if this past weekend matched the expected weekend money. So here we go:

Before

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $25
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $0
  • Dollar Tree = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $0
  • Fun Outing = $25
  • Total = $88

After

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
    • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $25
    • Gas = $22.73
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
    • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $0
    • Groceries = $41.66
  • Dollar Tree = $10
    • Dollar Tree = $7.92
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
    • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
    • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
    • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
    • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
    • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $0
    • Prescriptions = $0
  • Michael’s = $0
    • Michael’s = $4.23
  • JC Penney = $0
    • JC Penney = $3.17
  • Fun Outing = $25
    • Fun Outing = $0
  • Total = $88
    • Total = $107.71

Sam's Club Membership Gas Price

I was excited about this gasoline outing.  I have been a member of Sam’s Club for some months now but still hadn’t remembered to take advantage of club gas prices.  Fortunately, I saw the sign while driving on a different errand for only $1.52/gal.  I knew this was .14 less than at the Exxon closest to my home so I filled up.  The only downside is that when I saw my transaction on Mint, it registered as shopping, instead of fuel.  That means I won’t be seeing the 5% back on my Chase Freedom this time around.  Still, membership clearly has its privileges. Funny thing, I was so mesmerized by the price, that Sam’s Club and Walmart’s relationship to each other didn’t even register in my mind at the time. So the question becomes, do I keep my Walmart shopping ban strictly with Walmart or stretch to it’s other entities as well?  Dunno yet.

Ahhh, groceries. So with the unexpected free time this weekend, there was no reason to not visit the grocery store.  Especially once Mirror Image showed me this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCAQMRAZVuY . What an awesome project for a Saturday.  Aldi doesn’t sell a huge selection of Jello and gelatins so we also had to shop at Shopper Food Warehouse.  While there, I also picked up some Cadbury eggs and Yokisoba noodles.  I had awesome coupons for both. While at Aldi I also picked up a big Chuck Roast for Sunday dinner.  For March, my family is eating vegetarian meals only. This was our meat celebration meal before the meatless challenge begins.

I picked up a 16oz bottle of Sprite, some cleaning supplies and garbage bags from the Dollar Tree.

There was unexpected shopping – I wanted to give the girls a paraffin wax hand spa treatment so I picked some up at Michaels with a 20% off coupon I had.  I also had a $10 off $10 coupon from JC Penney.  I tried to stay at the $10 purchase to make it a FREE item, but ultimately had to come out of pocket at the $3.17 for a new bath rug.  It was TOTALLY worth it considering the sorry state of my current bath rug.  Interesting fact, while at the JCP, I learned this location is closing on April 8th.  I have to admit to not shopping there regularly.  In fact, I only go when there is a $10 or $10 coupon floating around.  But, I will stop by in the next couple of weeks as they slash prices on inventory.  If the prices are low enough, I may start back-to-school shopping for Mirror Image and just hide them until August.

We decided to not go to RockinJump but rather, to have fun at home with our crafty projects, DVDs rented from the library and the Thrifty Pooch.

I failed at the Weekend Money plan overall but still didn’t spend on clothes and restaurants.  I will have to console myself with the small wins this time.

Thrifty Image Mirror