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Monthly Progress Report (#7)



It’s the last day of June, which means it's time to check in and see how I'm doing with my debt.

Before we do that I feel like I should apologize. I know I've been a bad blogger, things just get so crazy in the summer. I really admire people that blog daily. It seems weekly has been a struggle for me lately with the warm weather and so much to do around the house. I’m not promising I’ll get any better in the next few weeks because I think things are only going to get crazier. But I am trying. And one day, I promise I’ll be a better blogger.

Anyways, enough about my poor blogging habits. Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, maybe you're curious and want to check out last month's progress report?

Alright, now let's see where we are after seven months of trying to get my financial butt in gear.

June has been kind of a rough month for me. Still no renovations, my car needed new brakes (both front and back!) and I bought tickets for a couple of different events. Why? Because I'm not going to miss my favorite band playing an hour away even if they're playing at 10 PM Thursday night and I have to work Friday. Also, because I'm impulsive and want to make the most out of my summer and I'm in a bad mood about my renovations... so not spending money isn't going great.

Here it is, here are my debt totals:

Mortgage: $148,600 
Car Loan: $8,100
Student Loans: $4,400
Credit Cards: $3,100
Grand Total of Debt: $164,200

My student loan balances


I'm not thrilled. It seems like any time I make some sort of improvement on those credit card balances, it never fails I end up with some unexpected mess the following month. All these messes seem to be car related recently. Hopefully, since everything has been taken care of I'll get a break for a little while. Just kidding, I'll have a car insurance bill in August before I know it. UGHHH.

Such is life, I guess. I'll have to make more of an effort to get those card balances down.

The good news about my renovations continuously being pushed back is I have more time to knock the balance needed down.

Renovation fund requirement: $950
New Grand Total of Debt: $165,150

I was so surprised by that number I had to recalculate it twice to make sure I wasn't missing something huge. But it really is right! The majority of the decrease is due to some extra money I earned at my mom's garage sale.

I'm so happy to be under the $1,000 mark in my shortfall. Of course as the renovations are dragged out it leaves me with a ton of time to think and add more things I'd love to see done.

Even without all my newly dreamt up wishlist items, I anticipate there being unexpected expenses. I've never took on a project quite this size so I have no idea just how many surprises can arise. Hopefully I'll get lucky and we come in under budget! Yeah, I'm skeptical about that too.

Now, onto the depressing news of my savings accounts. Since I’m still so focused on debt, nothing much has changed in my savings. Well, nothing good. 

Here's a quick look at the savings side of things:

Savings account: $2,000
P2P Lending account: $250
Investment account: $150
Grand Total of Savings: $2,400

I actually lost money in my Lending Club account - two loans look like they're going to be uncollectable. Two fairly new loans. That's what I get for writing I had been fairly successful - a $50 loss and a foot in my mouth.

It's ok, I knew P2P was riskier than the rest and overall I'm still happy with my returns.

June was an ok month, I'm $700 better off than I was at the end of May. I'd like to eliminate my renovation fund shortfall ASAP and it looks like I'm finally in the homestretch. Now if only I don't end up with any major expenses in July, I should be well on my way to being where I need to be.

Do you have any big plans for the Fourth? It's one of my friends birthdays so we'll be celebrating with a pig roast and fireworks! Hope you have a great Fourth of July! Be safe.
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Earn Big with Shopkick this Weekend 6/21-6/23



I’m having a rough week so this post is more PSA than anything remotely insightful. But I hope that it helps you out. And more importantly, I hope you’re having a better week than I am!

Y’all know I’m a big fan of Shopkick - the app that pays you to walk into stores. If you aren’t using Shopkick, you should be. It’s easy money. So download the app, check out my little Shopkick tutorial and start racking up the kicks!

Whether you’re new to Shopkick or a seasoned pro, this weekend would be a great weekend to hit the stores - Shopkick has announced today June 21st until Sunday June 23rd is a Blue Weekend!


What does that mean? Blue Weekends are weekends where Shopkick goes crazy. Crazy with the kicks! 

Ok, I sound a little crazy. Let’s try this again. Blue Weekends are offered from time to time, usually holiday weekends like Labor Day - you know the big shopping weekends. On Blue Weekends extra kicks are offered for walking into stores and linked card purchases (both online and in store purchases).

Here’s a look at some of the walk-in offers this weekend: 


And some of the online offers: 


Now let’s get shopping! A little retail retail therapy is just what I need. I hope you get some fab deals this weekend if you hit the stores and even if you decide to stay in, enjoy the first weekend of summer! That’s right, it’s finally here!!!
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Adventures in Christmas Shopping: Call in the Reinforcements



Since Tara and I were beginning to lose a little steam on our Christmas shopping goal we decided to switch it up a little bit when we went shopping this past Saturday.

First, we skipped the month of May since so much was going on (seriously, as soon as the weather starts to get nicer, weekends seem to disappear). Then, we decided to ask our friend Gloria to come along. I figured telling Gloria all about my goal and then buying myself some new summer shirts was pointless, so it was time to buckle down and get some Christmas shopping done.

Honestly, I'm starting to sweat what I’m going to get my parents. I basically have nothing for them (especially my mom - sorry Mom!) and I’m getting nervous!

I did buy my dad a coffee mug at a specialty gift shop during May in order to make sure I stuck to my one gift a month rule. The total was $13.12 - expensive for a mug but I had bought him one last year and he dropped it. He specifically asked me to replace it so at least I know he'll like it!

My goal was to end the day with something for each of them. It didn’t matter if it was something small or big or cheap or expensive. I just needed to start making some progress.

We started our day with TJ Maxx. They had a ton of sneakers on clearance and I would love a new pair of running shoes but I don't like buying stuff at the first store we go to, especially for myself. So I passed. And now I'm hoping some will still be there on our next trip!

After TJ Maxx we headed down to Homegoods. The stores are so summered out now, I love it! I looked at patio furniture, coolers and picnic baskets (seriously, picnic baskets!) for a while before settling on a gift for my mom! Finally!

I passed up the pretty neat flamingo wine glasses and bought her a Yankee Candle. My mom is kind of a candle snob and won't burn anything but Yankee Candles. I mean, they are nice candles but they can be pretty pricey at $20+ for larger sizes so I was excited to see them at Homegoods!

Even cooler, these candles were scents that had been retired and brought back - they call them “Returning Classics.” I thought it was a neat little touch the label told you when the candle was originally made. Honestly, I was way too excited about these candles. But I'm still kind of excited just writing about them now.

If you totally get my excitement and decide to go out hunting for your own throwback candles, I have a word of advice for you - skip the Orange Creamsicle candle, it sounds like it should smell amazing but it's kind of a disappointment.


Honeydew Melon & Strawberry

Yeah, I actually bought two candles - because my candle drawer is empty and the scents were so good! I spent a total of $32.33 - so about $16 each. Not too bad for Yankee Candles.

Next we went to Macy's and checked out their Backstage area. At this point I decided it would be a good idea to pick up swim trunks for Mike as summer is really starting to get into full swing. I spent most of the time in the men's section looking at all the fun prints. Since Mike is 6'6" and likes board shorts the new short shorts style wasn't something I thought he would like but they had a decent selection.

Gloria had never been to a Macy's Backstage so it was great to see her try to take it all in. Ultimately she decided TJ Maxx and Marshalls were priced a little better and had a bigger selection. But to be fair both stores are at least twice the size. And not just stuck in the back of Macy's. I havehigh hopes for Backstage - I'd love to see Macy's expand their bargain section in the future.

I rounded out our mall visit with a pretzel while Tara and Gloria went for the healthier smoothie option. But is there anything as good as a nice warm mall pretzel? I don't think so. My pretzel set me back $3.99.

After the mall we headed over to TJ Maxx. Now that I was stuck on getting Mike swimming trunks I knew exactly what I was looking for. They had three options that would do - flamingos, elephants and little tiny sharks. All navy blue. I let him pick out which ones he liked best and to my surprise he went with -

Sorry about this shoddy photo -
obviously, I need to work on my photo skills!

- the elephants! I was pretty excited since they were my favorite too. I didn't buy anything else, so I got out of TJ Maxx fairly cheap - my total came to $10.73.

Our last stop was Burlington but by this point we were all pretty hungry so we didn't wander around too much. But they had a ton of swim trunks! I was happy with the elephants from TJ Maxx but Burlington had every color I could imagine.

We ended the day with hibachi. It was a perfect end to a nice girls' day. My portion of dinner was $26.93. I know that sounds expensive but it was more than enough food to have for dinner the next night. And it was delicious.

Total for the day: $73.98. I've been doing good keeping myself under my $100 limit!

Total for non-Christmas items: $57.81

Cumulative total for Christmas 2019: $223.75


Overall, I'm going to say it was a success. It was nice to have Gloria come along and keep us on track a little bit. We definitely needed a little change of pace. 

And I'm happy I finally bought something for my mom! I didn't find anything for my dad but at least I have a couple things for him stashed away.

How are you guys enjoying the nice weather? Have you found the perfect swimsuit for this summer?
  
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A Ticket for Your Thoughts - Two Free Mets Tickets!



I was a little bummed yesterday, my renovations have stalled for the foreseeable future and my contractor’s response time leaves a lot to be desired.

But then as I checked my email for the 20th time to see if said contractor responded I saw an email from the Mets titled “A Ticket for Your Thoughts..”

Two things - 1) Yes, sadly I am a DIE HARD Mets fan and 2) I was expecting some cheap bleacher seat in exchange for a crazy long survey. But my, oh my did I underestimate the Amazins. Not only were they offering two tickets, they were offering two field level tickets for the completion of a ten minute survey. 

You better believe I didn’t hesitate to fill out the survey. I would have filled out an hour long survey for field level seats but it really only took the promised ten minutes. The questions mostly focused on how I felt about the Mets as well as the other professional sports teams in the New York area. 

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t a bad survey at all - I’ve filled out way worse for 50 cents on Swagbucks. Hey, 50 cents is 50 cents!



After answering all the questions I received a code that I could use to purchase two tickets to any home game Monday through Thursday (excluding July 2nd and 3rd). I lucked out and was able to pick a Mets-Cubs game right before Mike’s birthday. 

Relax, I told him about my free tickets - I’m not cheap enough to gift them as a birthday present. Although, I am a firm believer that tickets make the best gifts!

So for ten minutes of effort on my lunch break I received two seats right behind the third base bag (definitely gonna be on my toes with those foul balls!) that would have cost $160 plus fees. Definitely one of my favorite survey prizes!

Moral of my little blog post? Sometimes it’s worth signing up for promotional emails! I wish I could share the link with you. I’m hoping you have a similar email waiting for you in your inbox if you’re a baseball fan. Even if you’re not, going to a free game and seeing all the commotion and eating ballpark hotdogs has to be a good time, right?

Have you gotten a survey from your favorite MLB team in exchange for free tickets? If that’s not your thing, tell me what your favorite survey prize was/is!
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