Travel hacks and other savings

Thanks to CC reward sign ups I was able to book multiple trips for free!

2 southwest round trip flights for my parents (they will pay me back eventually). Used 46,332 points worth $745.60. 42,000 of these points came from my new chase sapphire which awarded me 50,000 points after spending $4000 in 3 months. So 100% free for doing nothing other than spending money I would have spent anyway.

2 delta roundtrip flights to Canada in September for M and I. Used 38,000 points of which 30,000 was a sign on bonus for M’s delta CC and the other points were earned from flights he took for work. Savings are weird since delta doesn’t do it the same way as southwest where each point has a value for southwest each point is 1.6 cents in $$. Booking this far in advance the tickets had lower miles cost but would have cost us $1034 (in cash)so it’s a nice savings. I’m thinking the tickets will be closer to $350 if I had waited to book and was paying cash so our points value will be between 1.6 and 2.4 cents. Not too shabby. The tickets weren’t 100% free as we had to pay taxes of $106.98 which $50 was credited back to us thanks to using his new CC within 3 months. Taxes from Canada are a lot more expensive. $5.6 each vs $47.89.

I have also booked our rental car which I got a mid size SUV since M does better in them and we have a few longer car trips planned that week. It will be $399 in Canadian $$ which the conversion at the moment is $287. Here’s to hoping that the US dollar continues to stay worth a lot more than the Canadian dollar. I got the cheap rate via Priceline and sadly there is no pay now allowed to lock in the cheaper price. Plus gas is a whole lot more expensive there so I am hoping I will get more out or my $$. I am trying to find a bank in the US where I can get Canadian $$ but Bank of America is the only one I have found so far and they require you to have an account with them (which I don’t). Oh well.

I have also been crazily booking all of our summer camping trips. It amazes me how fast these places fill up. We have 5 weekends reserved now and I am working on #6. Since our trailer batteries were stolen early last year and we haven’t replaced them I have been holding out on camping at any sites without electric hookups. Maybe this year I will bite the bullet and we will try a non electric campground and hope that our lone battery will survive. It’s $300ish for 2 new batteries so we haven’t quite had the desire to replace just yet.

Back to normal

Life is back to normal now. I am no longer sick, I have weekends off again, and lots of upcoming trips are in the works. This weekend we are headed up to Idaho for my first trip to the state. We splurged on a nice room at a bed and breakfast, spending about half of the bonus I recieved for all the extra hours I worked in March. In two weeks I leave for Wisconsin for a week for my sister’s wedding. I have already booked myself solid for those 9 days too lol. During that time will be two nights just my mom and I as we head up to Wisconsin dells to relax. This will happen after the wedding and my taking care of my niece for two nights so it will be much needed.

Once I get back from my trip it will be summer here and that means camping! My goal is to camp at least twice a month from May – Oct. A lot of the places I want to go are already filling up so I am finding myself booking now for months in advance. We have two weekends in May (including Memorial Day weekend), and then 4th of July booked. I’m such a dork I even have a spreadsheet to keep track of it all.

In financial news, our savings account is back to $10,000 which makes me happy. The goal will be to maintain that at a minimum as an emergency fund, well except when we pay off the truck and it dips below that for a couple of months. I also opened a betterment account and am auto depositing $100 a month to keep from having to pay a $3 monthly fee. I figure baby steps is the best way to begin investing in non tax advantaged accounts. I really want to focus on savings so that when it comes time to buy our next vehicle we can pay cash. Since my car is only 6 months old and M has only had his truck for 3 years, we still have a lot of years to go.

Feeling better

The end is here. Just a few more days and this whole work thing will be over. I am in a much better mood this morning. I cleaned the kitchen, did laundry, organized the over flowing pile of mail, and took out the trash all before getting in the shower to head to work. I am working a weird shift today 11 am – 11 pm so it was nice to sleep in and have a little time to get some stuff done around the house. Not sure how today will go at work but hopefully the time flies by.

Today is Friday meaning payday. Now that M is on a bi weekly pay cycle we will have a paycheck coming in every week from one of us. This one was more important since it tells me how much his regular paycheck would be from his new job. His last check only had 9 days on it. I don’t think they are taking out enough taxes but since we can still write the house off we should be ok for next year’s taxes. The goal is that once he is eligible for 401K contributions (6 month mark) we will put 99% of his paycheck in to his account for the remainder of the year. This will allow us to lower our tax burden as much as possible and save more.

His truck should be paid off in July which will then mean we are 100% debt free except for the house mortgage. I can’t wait for that day when we make the last truck payment!

Beat down

I am feeling so beat down and am officially cracking around the edges. Work is stressful, allergies are kicking my butt, my acid reflux is through the roof, I’m eating like crap, no time to exercise, and even though I am getting 8 hours of sleep a night it doesn’t feel like enough. And to top it all off M has been grumpy the last two weeks as well. Can’t say I blame him since he’s still mourning the loss of the cat but it’s just more then I can handle at the moment. All the medical issues with family members isn’t helping either. I am thankful my dad does not have cancer but he does have a precursor to it and lots of symptoms that he is going to have to manage. He’s still worried and there is nothing I can do besides feeling helpless.
I don’t want to be at work. I don’t want to be at home. All I want is a bed in some far location away from everything where I can hibernate for awhile. I have survived just over 3 weeks with the work situation and with less than 1 to go I know I can make it. I’m not the type that cries very often but when I do it’s a clear indication that something needs to give and quick.

Allergies

Allergy season is upon us here in Utah along with horrible weather where it is warm one day and cold the next. I stupidly drove with the windows down over the weekend and inhaled even more pollen so Tuesday at work I was really feeling the pain. My symptoms tend to be sinus pain and dizziness. Since I had no other medicine with me besides Benadryl I took one knowing that they normally make me sleepy. It was a risk but to alleviate the pain I figured it was worth it. Well it wasn’t. I felt half dead the rest of the day and had to do everything in my power just to stay awake. My new approach is going to be take Benadryl at night so that the sleepy effects go away but the medicine keeps my symptoms at bay during the day. Here’s to hoping!

I started a to do list of stuff that has been piling up that I can’t get to because of my work schedule. The light is at the end of the tunnel but I can’t find the tunnel just yet. lol

Still waiting on one more piece of paperwork for our taxes. I was told the deadline is today or they have to pay a $50 fine. Last year the paperwork didn’t come until March 17 and we didn’t get paid anything extra so I don’t know what to believe. It’s just so frustrating!

Today will be day 23 of my schedule with me working 22 of those. All my days seem to be blending into one long bad dream and I desperately need another day off to recharge my batteries.

On a positive note, I booked our hotel room for April for a place in Idaho. It will be my first visit to the state so I’m excited about that. We will be hitting up a local hot springs and even our hotel room uses the hot springs water for the whirlpool tub in our room. It was pricy for two nights but it will be a nice weekend getaway for M and I to relax. I will write a review of the place once we get back.

I have also booked two weekends of camping for May so we are looking forward to that as well. The places around here all fill up fast especially during holiday weekends so I snagged one of the last places for Memorial Day. In the past we never did 3 nights since I didn’t like leaving the cat home alone for that long but now that isn’t an issue and I know M will enjoy being gone for 3 nights. I need to start booking for June and July as well.

Half a day off and home show

So I was able to get out of work at 12:30 pm on Sunday which gave me at least a few hours to do something fun and boy did I need a distraction from all the work lately. I have always liked going to the home show that is held at a local expo center so off we went for a few hours.

It ended up being extremely pricy as we bought stuff there. I found an online coupon which brought our entrance fee down to $8 each. We started off with a $321 purchase for lawn care spraying. This is the total cost for 6 treatments for weeds/fertilizer and then 2 free outdoor bug sprays. The last two years have been a nightmare for weeds so I’m hopeful this local company can be helpful in that area. While I guess it is a splurge if it ends up saving me time from pulling weeds myself it will be well worth it. Plus I really liked the sales guy who actually does the work. I have learned that I need to start listening to my gut when I pick companies to work with. In the past when I haven’t it has always blown up in my face.

Next up was a $15 wall outlet that has two USB ports. I got this for my bedroom so I can charge my phone but also use the other outlets. M said they normally cost $20 in the store so I thought this was a good deal.

The best purchase of the day had to be the $25 painter’s tape applicator. This thing is amazing. Taping off windows, trim, walls in preparation for painting is the absolute worst thing in the whole world. This little tool lines everything up perfectly with minimal effort. He even let me try it out myself so I could see how easy it was. I totally wish I owned this years ago when we first bought the house!

The next largest purchase was a steam floor cleaner. We have been eyeing them the last two shows we attended but I never wanted to spend the money. This year we splurged and bought one for $160. This way we can steam clean our laminate floors, tile, and carpet as well as clean windows, caked on grim on the stove, etc instead of using nasty chemicals to kill the germs. I am crossing my fingers this works out as well as I hope.

At this point we were at $522 spent, yikes! But we also got a few leads on other items. We have an estimate scheduled for next week to get a quote to replace all our downstairs windows. At the time I really liked the installer I talked to but the sales guy who is giving us the quote is a little weird. Not sure what will happen there. Windows probably won’t be done until we have the truck paid off though.

The other awesome contractor I found was someone who does railing and cabinet refinishing and painting. I have been looking forever to find someone who would redo our banisters in the house but was having no luck. Sadly the contractor wasn’t actually at his booth when we walked by so I snagged a card and need to call to set up an appointment. We were planning on doing it ourselves but if I can get someone to come in and do it for us at a reasonable (to us) cost I will be so ecstatic. Otherwise it’s back to plan A which is a whole lot of our time sanding and staining it ourselves. I realize that will be a lot cheaper but some things I just have no desire to do!

We also found a contractor who could reseal our master bathroom tub so it’s white instead of the beige color it is now. They also do countertop refinishing so that’s an option as well. We have beige countertops in all 3 bathrooms, yuck.

There were a handful of other good leads but I can’t remember them all. I also sadly gave my number/information out to some companies I am not interested in. Normally I am pretty good about saying no, even forcefully if I have to but a few got past my internal barriers.

All in all it was a fun couple of hours talking about all the future house projects we want to do. My feet were aching real bad after that but we trudged on to Walmart afterwards for some shopping. Then the evening ended with my butt on the couch exhausted from an extremely long day.

Still alive

It’s day 19 for me and the 18th day I have worked. I was really hoping for a day off this weekend but it’s not looking too promising.

I am beat. Mentally exhausted and the end can’t come soon enough. I am estimating at least another 7 days of this before it’s over.

In other news, I paid off my car on my lunch break so it’s officially mine!

I have absolutely nothing exciting to write about so I will just end it here.

Updates

So, not pregnant this month which is probably good since I have been spending time outside at work near all the chemicals/air pollutants. on the plus side I was able to drink a good dose of NyQuil last night and I slept great! I am still struggling with this cold that will not go away.

The family friend who I mentioned is having health issues is my brother in law’s father. The same person who has invited us over to family functions, helped us with our house, and made me feel like part of the family. They found out he has a huge brain tumor and so he is scheduled for brain surgery Friday. I am trying to stay positive but I don’t see this ending well. My poor sister now has not only her own dad having health issues but also her father in law.

My dad is still having symptoms but they now think he might have valley fever which he might have picked up in Vegas when he was there for my wedding. Talk about me feeling guilty if that’s what it is! He has an appointment on Monday so nothing new to report until then. I really hope whatever is causing all his issues is not serious!

Found out that my great aunt (my mom’s favorite aunt) has breast cancer. I guess in my life when it rains it pours. My great uncle (my late grandma’s brother and her favorite sibling) died not too long ago from cancer as well so a lot of heartache there. My mom was pretty sad then so this must be killing her too.

M is doing ok. He still misses the cat terribly and he is also having issues with his sister again. Sometimes I really want to go over and punch her!

Tomorrow is my first day off in 13 days. I am ready! And will probably just sit and do nothing lol!

M recieved his payout for his vacation time at his last job but the majority of it went to paying for the cat. A bummer but I’m glad we had the money available.

We recieved one of the two K1’s we are waiting on so we can finish our taxes. I am planning on entering all that this weekend so when the next one comes it will be quick to enter and then I can submit and be done. I am impatiently waiting for that almost $5000 to come back to me!

My dad

No cancer! My dad is going to be ok. It was the best news I could have heard today. They still don’t know what’s causing his symptoms but at least they ruled out the ugly possibilities.

And then he was gone

Two nights ago, M and I both got home late to find the cat laying on his back and refusing to move. We got him up but he wouldn’t stand and We assumed he had fallen from his cat stand and he hurt his back leg or hip. We rushed him to the Pet ER but the doctor didn’t find anything wrong so sent us home to have us follow up with our vet. M decided to sleep downstairs with the cat but ended up not sleeping at all as the cat continuously paced around the house. At 3 am, M woke me up to say that he was going back to the animal ER since the cat had been puking. At the ER he started having seizures and by 5:45 am the decision was made to put him to sleep. I was still at home sleeping (still in crazy work mode) so I got up rushed over there to be with M. Looking back I wish I would have been there at 3 am when he went. It wasn’t like I slept much anyway and M could have used me there. It was a tearful event and I am working hard to keep it tucked back in the dark abyss of my memory. M had 15 minutes of sleep but since he is at a new job he had to go to work and of course I had to go too.

It was a rough day. He left work early and so did I. We spent some time cleaning up the cat’s stuff and it’s either thrown out or in a pile to donate. We spent the evening on the couch watching tv and trying to keep our brains numb. I know I complained about the cat all the time but at the end of the day I cared and it’s really sad that in a span of 10 hours it was over and hit us like a ton of bricks.

The kicker is everything else that is going on (work schedule while also being sick with a cold, my dad being sick with some undiagnosed issue, a family friend here having problems too): when it rains it pours and I feel defeated.

I know I will make it through all this but I need some sunshine at the end of the tunnel and this waiting game is killing me.