Thursday, March 26, 2015

Amazon Mom?

After ordering a big box of Seventh Generation wipes and Diaper Genie refills from Amazon, up popped an offer to join the Amazon Mom program.

The Amazon Mom program is a spin off from the Amazon Prime program.  The basics of Amazon Prime are free two day shipping, access to films, t.v. shows, music and e-books as well.  The annual cost for Amazon Prime is $99.

Amazon Mom is part of your Prime membership so it costs $99 a year and includes the above Prime benefits.  In addition, it offers discounts on diapers, wipes and other baby related products.

Specifically you get:

5% off baby wipes. Get 15% off wipes when you subscribe to 5 or more items.
15% off Subscribe & Save:  Save items when you subscribe to 5 or more items.
20% off diapers (15% Amazon Mom discount + 5% Subscribe & Save discount).

Lets talk about subscriptions, that means that you sign up for automatic delivery of certain things, diapers, wipes, formula but also things like soap and toothpaste and non baby items too.  My research indicated that there are pros and cons to subscriptions for baby items including the fact that babies grow and change so you need to manage and update things like diaper sizes and formula preferences, etc.

Amazon Mom used to be a better deal, but I guess folks with fake babies triggered Amazon to close up the extra 5% discount loophole for Subscribe & Save.

I have friends and Mom friends who swear by Amazon Prime, it IS a lot easier to simply order what you need for baby rather than trying to run errands with a baby in tow.  But, Amazon doesn't offer these discount programs or free shipping and then lose money on it.  They know enough about consumer behavior and habits to know that many people will order more items (that cute outfit or toy) such that Amazon will make enough in profits if the shipping is free or if there is a discount.  Certainly there are people out there that are disciplined enough to only order the items they truly need and they make the program work for them.  I also think Amazon Prime probably makes great sense if you are located in a rural area or an expensive area such that you can't get discounted products in a quick and easy fashion close by.

So far, I've not signed up for Amazon Prime or the Amazon Mom program, I'm still thinking about whether it would work for us and whether or not I would truly come out ahead.  Back to my earlier Amazon order, I still obtained free shipping on all the items I ordered without paying for a Prime membership.  

What about you, do you have an Amazon Prime membership, what has been your experience with these discount programs?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Updated Net Worth and Housekeeping

I'm continuing to work on getting our finances back under control. I spent some time this morning working on updating our net worth numbers.  Our net worth is now above the $1.5 million number.

Net Worth IQ web site continues to be flaky, but when its up I prefer to keep my data there.  I've added entries for November 2014 - February 2015 but they are not accurate.  I will be working to add the correct data over the next couple of weeks.

Additional good news, our primary mortgage is now below $220,000.  I will be super excited when its below $200,000 although prepaying the mortgage is unlikely to be something we will be working on any time soon.

In baby news, I opened a savings account at Wells Fargo for Baby Sam for monies received as gifts.  We have been researching college savings plans and at this point we have settled on a 529 plan rather than Florida Prepaid.  More about that research later.

Finally, I am almost done with our 2015 Spending Plan which will influence and direct our 2015 Plan.  More about that later too.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2014 - Final Savings Numbers

(1) Max out 401k(s) -        $22,588    65%  (goal is $35,000)
(2) Max out IRA(s) -         $11,000    100% (goal is $11,000)
(3) Add to e/r fund -          $10,400    104% (goal is $10,000)
(4) Roof project -              $5,000       100%  (goal is $5,000)
(5) Vehicle replacement -  $5,000      100%  (goal is $5,000)
(6) House projects -          $3,000       100% (goal is $3,000)

Total:  $56,988  83%  (Goal is $69,000)

So, we saved almost $57,000 in 2014.  While a respectable number, we missed our goal by $12,000.  Mr. Sam was not eligible for his 401k until midway through the year and that is one of the main reasons that our 401k savings number was reduced in 2014.

We did have some major expenses in 2014 that are not reflected (entirely) in our savings goals.  First, a new car for Mr. Sam which was paid in part with cash.  Second,  a new roof for one of our properties.  The roof was a savings goal, but also cost more than what we saved and we could no longer put the project off.

We also incurred some debt in 2014.  Mr. Sam's new car was paid in part with cash (about 40%) and the rest is loan.  Second, we added to our family in 2014 (which is why I've been away from the blog for so long).  We had considerable expenses related to the conception (via IVF) and related to the nursery and birth (most covered by insurance, but a big chunk that was not).   We also had a major house project prior to the baby arriving.  We are working on paying down the baby debt and it will be part of our 2015 savings/debt killing plan which I am working on creating.

I've been gone so long

I forgot my password.

But, I'm back.  More about why I was missing in action later.

Monday, August 25, 2014

$2 MM

According to today's update, our assets have snuck over the $2 million dollar mark.  While a number is just a number and I recognize that the value of our assets are mostly variable (except for the cash), I always get positive vibes when I hop over one level to the next.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Round Numbers

After paying the mortgage this month, our primary mortgage debt is now below $230,000.  Does anyone else get excited about getting below (or above) certain markers?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mr. Sam's 401K

After more than a year, Mr. Sam is finally eligible for his 401k.  And it even comes with a match.  Hooray!

To start, since we are having a year of financial set backs and struggles we have set the contribution amount at a reasonable number.  We will, hopefully increase it as we work it into our budget.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fidelity Faux Paux

So, yesterday I spent some time on our finances, paying bills, updating our savings chart, updating our net worth numbers, etc.

I was on the Fidelity site to determine if some of my recent limit orders had gone through (trying not to let my IRA money sit idle in cash).  I'm a big fan of Fidelity and, in fact, I've been a Fidelity customer for many years.  I generally have nothing but good to say about them.

But, of course you knew a but was coming, I'm puzzled by something that I just noticed.  When I pull up a statement online (and same for paper, because I checked), my name is nowhere on the statement.  The statement is addressed to my husband (alone).  It lists our various accounts, mine are listed first, I assume because they are older accounts but it doesn't reference ownership.  These are not joint accounts, these are accounts that are individually owned by each of us (we do have a joint trading account) and in fact were established prior to marriage.

Am I bothered by this, yes.  And, I'll tell you why.  While I very much agree that the money on this statement is "ours", if you look at the numbers, I own, individually, the bulk of the money in these accounts.  And that is simply because I've been saving for retirement for a longer period of time.  The statement should be addressed to both of us and the accounts ought to be listed by ownership.