I’m a big believer in little amounts of money.
Two years ago, in July of 2012, I wrote about the $318 in proceeds from my garage sale and what I was doing with them. I didn’t realize it at the time but that was the first of what would become regular found money update posts. Since that time I’ve done six more updates and it’s time for another, which I’ll get to in a minute.
But since we’re at the two year mark of these updates I thought it would also be interesting to summarize the July 2012 – June 2014 totals. So you’ll find that bigger update and what I learned from putting it together towards the bottom of this post.
First, regarding the quarterly update: I’ve simplified the format a bit, with no real explanations of the sources, so if you’re new to the updates and want to know more, you can check out my previous found money updates or follow the links in this post.
Here we go:
April – June 2014 Found Money Update:
Where it came from:
- Reimbursements (mostly insurance plus a few other sources) = $1811
- Selling stuff (some furniture on Craigslist) = $250
- Blogging = $1918
- Bookkeeping = $2008
- Found Money from Business = $158
For a total of $6145
Where it went:
- Reimbursements and the Craigslist sale went into our emergency fund.
- Blogging and bookkeeping income went into college savings.
- Business found money went into a savings account earmarked specifically for business.
That’s a pretty standard quarter as far as the amounts and sources.
Now onto the two year totals…
Two Year Found Money Update for July 2012 – June 2014
Here’s the spreadsheet that gives a snapshot of the totals. (Click on the spreadsheet to see it larger.)
Creating this spreadsheet was a great exercise for me. Here are some of my observations:
Rebates and Gifts
The first column – rebates ($416) – is pretty much going to be what it is. We already take advantage of the rebates that are available to us, and it obviously wouldn’t make sense to buy something just to get the rebate to up this number.
Ditto with gifts ($710). These represent birthday and anniversary checks from our very generous parents. I guess we could try to be a little nicer to them to up these amounts (I’m kidding!) but these are going to be what they are.
Still, taken together, reimbursements and gifts represent over $1100 in savings that we probably wouldn’t have anything to show for if we weren’t using the found money strategy.
The cash back total of $1231 represents cash we’ve earned from the way we pay for things. Namely: cash back from credit cards, our Costco business membership, and the cash back I get for doing my online shopping through the sites Mr. Rebates and Ebates.
Our cash back took a big jump at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 and that’s because of a change we made in the credit cards we were using. I’ll write about that in a future post.
I think there’s room for a little bit of improvement here by being more strategic in how we pay for things.
Reimbursements are one of the hardest found money sources to describe. One common source is when we front the money for something (a group gift, a shared hotel room, a deposit on something) and then are reimbursed for it. Usually we’ve already absorbed the original expense so can put the reimbursement right into savings.
Another source is insurance reimbursements. This can be from auto, home or – more commonly – medical insurance. Again, if we’ve already absorbed the cost, we can pocket the reimbursement. Not always possible, but sometimes it is.
I run hot and cold when it comes to selling stuff vs. donating it, but when I do sell something (i.e. that garage sale, but more commonly Craigslist or eBay) it’s definitely found money. I’ve also gone back and forth between putting it in college savings vs. the emergency fund. I think I’ve settled on the emergency fund for now.
Which reminds me, I have some new print cartridges for a printer we got rid of that I need to throw up on eBay.
Blogging and Bookkeeping
These are my part-time jobs, or more accurately my side businesses, and they’ve made a big difference in our ability to pay cash for college. As far as the future goes, I would expect the bookkeeping amount to get smaller and I’d like the blogging income to grow.
Business Found Money
This category is actually found money from my husband’s business, for which I do the bookkeeping. These amounts are small, but over two years we’ve been able to start a business savings account, which we’ve never had before, and put over $2000 in it. That’s a win.
The Big Takeaway
You guys, look at the individual numbers on that spreadsheet. Here they are again:
They’re not big.
The bookkeeping and blogging totals might seem big, but when you divide them monthly over a two year period, they’re not at all.
And yet by capturing these little bits of money and giving them jobs to do, we’ve been able to make a $43,000 difference in our finances.
And I believe anyone can do the same thing.