Level 140: Finishing the month

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Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

We had a work related social event that we had to attend this past weekend. I stressed about it wondering if my hair would be okay and I really needed a pedicure. If you are a woman, you know I’m talking about spending some money.

Now that I’ve started learning that planning ahead can often save us money, I did a test drive. I got dressed up ahead of time and was okay with everything. George thought I looked fine and suggested I wear white jeans. They go with some sandals that go well with nude polish that isn’t too hard to screw up on your own.

We went to the event this last weekend and I looked okay. The other wives were super laid back, approachable and fun.

And I now have an extra $150 for the Money Game.

Level Completed: 140 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,493.36
Total Balance: $4,640.86
Our Money Game fund has increased 47.45% so far this month.

$219.42 is needed to reach the next level.

 

Have fun, grow money and level up!

Level 139: Leveling up with our monthly savings deposit

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Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

George’s paycheck hit the bank and that comes with a monthly deposit of $125 into our Money Game fund. It’s the end of the month and the really big question for me – will the money budgeted to cut and color my hair stay put or will it go into the Money Game? Can you stand the suspense? All I can say is it’s a good thing the stylist I use is in Santa Rosa Beach on maternity leave.

Level Completed: 139 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,343.36/strong>
Total Balance: $4,490.86
Our Money Game fund has increased 42.7% so far this month.

$137.98 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!

GCG delivers again – an 8% gain

img_1616barnesnoblereceipt

Update: I hope you read the post below. It happened last Friday.

We were heading out of town to the GA Tech/Duke game yesterday when a reader commented that she was just inspired to try GiftCardGranny too. Her experience wasn’t as good. She got to use part of her gift card but then the rest of the balance was spent by someone else several states away. She can’t get help from the gift card vendor until Monday as they don’t offer customer support over the weekend. The vendor she used was ABC Gift Cards. I’ve been using Gift Card Zen with no problems so far (but only 1 completed transaction to date).

I write the posts that appear here ahead of time and schedule them to publish later. Her comment and this post crossed. That’s the reason for this update.

Meanwhile the physical card I ordered from Publix came in the mail while we were gone. I won’t be in Chattanooga until next Wednesday so I’ll try using it for lunch next week.

Please check for your own reviews and consider starting small if you decide to try this for yourself. One of my online friends routinely buys $300 gift cards for QuikTrip at 8% off and she said she’s done at least 30 transactions through Gift Card Granny with no problems at all.

I haven’t used any affiliate links on my blog for Gift Card Granny so this isn’t about recommending a site that will make me some extra money. I would love to find a tried and true way of making 5% quickly on smaller amounts of money. This sure did look like a way to do it. As always “buyer beware”.

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Would you sign up for an 8% gain on your money delivered immediately?

Of course you would.

Today I have to buy a birthday present. I knew Barnes & Noble had gifts that would be well received and Gift Card Granny had printable gift cards available at 8% off face value.

I have the full value of $50 (my budgeted amount) to spend and a $4 power up to transfer to the MG. This time I bought a printable gift card and it cost me exactly $46.

Score and score. Off to shop for a very nice gift for someone I love.

Level Completed: 138 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,218.36/strong>
Total Balance: $4,365.86
Our Money Game fund has increased 38.7% so far this month.

$42.56 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!

Powering up with our power bill

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Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

It’s the end of the month which means our power bill hit our mail box. It’s kind of sad that the months that have the biggest savings also left us the most comfortable. Delight temps meant no heat and no air and nothing to really conserve. We came in 148.19 under budget which is a huge lift for this level.

Level Completed: 138 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,214.36
Total Balance: $4,361.86
Our Money Game fund has increased 38.6% so far this month.

$46.56 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!

Powering up with Gift Card Granny

The biggest part of your time will be in finding a gift card for something you need to buy anyway with a big enough discount to be worth the effort.  Please don’t go broke saving money.

It took me a while.  Most of our buying is at Costco (we pass it at least once a week) and we’re rewarded handsomely with two rebate checks a year.  Last year’s big check was over $500.

I wanted:

  • a physical gift card (I’ll be less apt to lose it and my printer is on the fritz right now)
  • at least 5% off
  • a card that would cover something we’ll buy any way

Since they weren’t offering Costco gift cards at any price, I knew I was going to be on a hunt.  After several bad starts (please carefully read what you are buying – is it the type of card you want (physical, printable, etc.) for the type of purchase you want (in store only, online, etc.), I settled on a Publix card for a 5% discount. The retailer ended up being Gift Card Zen (Gift Card Granny acts as a broker between buyers and sellers).

I volunteer in Chattanooga once a week and often do a Publix run (their spicy wings in the deli are legendary here – good luck getting some on a big game day) while I’m there.  The card cost $32.75 and it’s worth $34.47.

The Money Game paid for the cost of the card ($32.75) and my personal spending category paid for its value.  That means I moved $34.47 from my personal spending to the Money Game category in YNAB.  $1.72 profit resulted and I physically transferred $1.72 from our checking account to the Money Game savings account.

I’ll report again when the card gets here and I’ll check the value of the card and report that too.  If this works, I can see using this process for clothing, makeup, our Whole Foods runs and ToysRUs. It “almost” makes me wish we eat out as there are lots of restaurant gift cards to be had.

The website says it will take up to 10 days to actually receive the gift card.  I’ll keep you posted. As an update (I write for this blog and then schedule posts in advance) I got an email the next day on the 26th saying my card had shipped.

Does it seem like a lot of work to earn $1.72? Yes and no. I chose a smaller card to figure out their system and to learn how this process works. If I made a mistake, I wanted it to be with a smaller amount of money. Now that I understand the process, it will be a lot easier to reorder and naturally I’ll get the largest amount offered that we will actually use on a normal basis. At this point, it feels like free money in exchange for some clicks and a willingness to wait for my card to arrive.

A parting thought: Do you see why it’s important to have a tool like YNAB to track your budget categories?  Otherwise, I’d just be getting a little more food in my tummy (not needed trust me) instead of more dollars in our bank account.  If you want to play the Money Game, it starts with a good budget system.

 

Gift Card Granny

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Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Gift Card Granny is a gift card exchange where you can sell a gift card you know you won’t use or buy one that you know you will use.  Why would you bother buying one here? Because people who want to unload theirs give up part of its value and you can pick on up for less than it’s actually worth.  Discounts vary from day to day and also by the store (Today Walmart gift cards were going for 2% off their face value while lesser known stores were being offered for a better discount.)

I learned about this on a frugal living forum. Several members are chatting about it saying they have used it and that it works. I’m about to test drive it in real life and I’ll report back.

Cards are offered for all kinds of things and can be stacked with other discounts.  One member pointed out that she works the CVS rebate game and that CVS gift card offers abound.

I was excited to see that Costco gift cards were on the list but when I clicked through, none were actually available at this time. (If you have a Costco gift card that you’ll never use, have a heart and offer it for sale!)

The site offers more details about the gift card you intend to buy.  The ones I considered were actual physical gift cards that would be mailed to our home at no additional charge.

One poster on the frugal living forum said she learned to grab $300-$500 gift cards for QT when they sometimes come up at 8% off to use for gasoline.  You can sign up for alerts for the stores you prefer to learn of availability and good discounts.

Since we want to grow the Money Game fund at least 5%, buying a gift card with at least a 5% discount for things you’ll buy anyway (like gas or groceries) is a guaranteed way to do it at least at the lower levels of the game.

For example, you could buy a $100 grocery store gift card for $95 out of the Money Game and then transfer $100 from your grocery budget to the Money Game. Guard your gift card as carefully as you would cash or your credit card. This is your grocery money after all. Your Money Game fund will net slightly more than 5% on $95 in this case.

Wash, rinse and repeat. This alone could carry you through making profits through the first 100 levels or so. It could continue to deliver you a nice power up as you continue to progress through the higher levels.

I’m about to buy my first card and I’ll report on how it goes.  Forum members said they haven’t had any problems.  They pointed out you need to pay attention to make sure you understand if the card can be used on line, in store or both.  Make sure it matches the way you intend to shop.

Have you tried anything like this? I think you can also buy gift cards on eBay for a discount.  I’ve just never thought about it until I saw it being discussed on line today. If you have any tips to share, I know people would love to read them.

Level Completed: 137 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,043.37
Total Balance: $4,190.87
Our Money Game fund has increased 33.2% so far this month.

$7.62 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!

Level 137: Under budget on annual home property tax

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

We got a huge bump coming in under $361.46. We were just shy of completing Level 138 so perhaps a small power up will get us there sooner rather than later.

Stick to the budget, come in under and the overage is free to apply any place you like. I like putting it in the Money Game. I’ll like it even more when that money starts working for us.

Level Completed: 137 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,043.37
Total Balance: $4,190.87
Our Money Game fund has increased 33.2% so far this month.

$7.62 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!

Weekly meal planning is like solving a puzzle that pays a cash reward

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Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Keeping your food budget under control will deliver huge savings for most families. I like to start with the best value I can find for quality protein and take it from there.

For us, that’s Costco rotisserie chicken. They are perfectly cooked and delicious. They are made from chickens that are hormone and antibiotic free. One will serve both of us enough protein for 3 meals plus make a quart of bone broth for a hearty soup.

My puzzle is an empty template of 21 meals. We have challenging food allergies so the foods I choose are probably different from yours. The process works the same way though.

I know the Costco chicken (I’d use one chicken for every two people) will serve up three meals. I write those in usually every other day so we don’t get sick of chicken. We have salmon patties once a week. DH loves this one shot at fried food and they are really tasty. He won’t eat any other fish but it’s an economical choice that works for us. Did you know that canned salmon is always wild-caught? The fish is actually canned on the boat from which it’s caught. It’s a great value for the money even if choose to buy boned salmon.

We buy grass fed beef 4 or 5 pounds at a time when it goes on sale. So a pound of beef gets doled out for two more meals. I finish the week’s dinners with a vegetarian meal. 2 beef, 3 chicken, 1 fish and 1 veg. Lunches are turkey hot dogs with heavy vegetable sides alternated with leftovers from dinner. It amazes me how many leftovers we have as you’d think one chicken divided by 3 would be a small dinner. Our secret is all the fresh produce we eat that stretches our meals. Other families do with this by also adding potatoes, rice, bread and/or pasta.

A rotisserie chicken from Costco is $4.99 and we buy grass fed beef on sale for $4.99 a pound or less. One can of salmon is less than $2 and it makes a huge meal for us. We also use about 3 dozen eggs a week (when you can’t have cereal, bread or potatoes at breakfast, you eat eggs). I buy Applegate turkey hot dogs when they go on sale for $5 or less (usually way less). Adding all our protein for the week is $25 or less. That leaves $75 for veggies, green apples, olive oil, organic butter and anything else we need to round out our meals. Since we buy organic produce whenever we can, we start by checking to see what’s in season. That helps us get the best prices for local food at its peak freshness.

If I’m faithful to plan meals, shop the sales and clean out our fridge daily in order to use up the leftovers, we stay under budget. It’s worth it to me to have that extra to use to get a power up for our Money Game fund at least a few times a month.

Level Completed: 136 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $68.911
Total Balance: $3,829.41
Our Money Game fund has increased 21.7% so far this month.

$169.15 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!

Something from nothing

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

I have been working in a little spot of my garden that was bare.  I piled wood chips there and also poured out the water I used to rinse our Vitamix after making green vegetable.  I was curious if the soil had improved and it had.  I could easily dig down almost a foot and the soil was rich, loose and crumbly.

It’s still just a small empty plot of dirt right now.  I thought of the few tiny seeds (probably more greens) that would get sown there when the weather cools a tad. Just a bunch of dirt and a few tiny seeds.  Nothing.

I look at the big garden on the back side of our property and I’m blown away.  It was a dirt pile too last winter.  Now it’s spilling over with sqash, okra, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and watermelons.

I love to read the One Year Bible as it takes me through the whole book each year. I’m in Romans right now and read this morning from Romans 4 that “Abraham believed in God … who creates new things out of nothing.”

I see it in the garden and now I’m seeing it in our savings account. Maybe it’s a stretch but I’m seeing a lot of dollars that sprung up from nothing – we had no idea that money was there for the picking until we started paying attention.

(I actually wrote this post last month. The lettuce seeds are sprouting and there are also green plants that are about six inches tall so far. As a beginner gardner, I don’t know if there’s enough time to actually harvest green beans but it’s fun to try anyway! I kept thinking about this post as it seemed almost silly to publish it. George and I went to the big garden out back and finished harvesting the butternut squash. These literally sprang out of the garden (we never planted butternut squash last season) from our compost pile or something. Maybe a bird dropped some seeds? We have 2 dozen now and we’re told they will keep through the winter if we store them carefully in a cool place. They are organic and rather pricey at Earth Fare right now. I wish I had a formula for making some things out of nothing and I don’t. I just know it can happen.)

Level Completed: 136 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $68.911
Total Balance: $3,829.41
Our Money Game fund has increased 21.7% so far this month.

$169.15 is needed to reach the next level.

Have fun, grow money and level up!