January 2021 was a month of extremes in my family’s finances. On one side, it could go down as a very resourceful month. We found over $1600 in extra cash…and on the other side…well, you should scroll down for the details!
Found Money in January: $1681
Found money can be found from various sources, such as rebates, refunds, online sales, or even the ground. Yep, I found a $20 bill last year on the beach!
Finding extra cash is a fun game for me and this month has been our biggest month yet.
- I started donating plasma in January!!! A friend referred me and by the end of January, I made $591. I referred my husband and he made $240, but he started much later in the month. We think we’ll use the money towards summer vacation. Read: My honest review: I donated plasma to earn extra money.
- We sold a sectional sofa and matching ottoman on Facebook Marketplace for $400. I was sad to see this set go, as it is in great condition. The money is going towards new furniture for our basement. We’re converting our basement to a family room area and the original family room (in the pic above) is becoming a home office. We would have used this sectional in our basement, but it’s too big to get through the basement door. New furniture wasn’t in the budget for this project, but we sold some other unused furniture in November and we now have enough to pay for the new furniture.
- We received a $300 reimbursement from our Aflac supplemental policy for an injury my daughter sustained at volleyball in the fall. This money will go towards paying the actual medical bills from the injury.
- We earned $150 from our Upromise Mastercard. This money gets sent automatically to the 529 accounts we set up for our girls in 2020. Credit cards are a tricky subject and we pay off the balance every month, so I will write more about this soon.
We…took out a car loan
Yes, you read that correctly! I said goodbye to mini-van life in January when we traded in our 2007 Honda Odyssey for a 2018 Toyota Highlander.
The backstory: In November 2019, my van was in need of new tires and I was debating on whether to get the new tires or start looking for a replacement vehicle. I started searching and test drove a pre-owned Highlander in January 2020. We had very little saved for a new-to-us car and we would have had to take out a loan to cover most of it, and that made me uneasy about purchasing the car. Instead, we opted to replace the tires and take a year or so to save for a car.
Then the pandemic hit and I was so grateful we didn’t take out the car loan.
But by the end of 2020, I started looking again for a pre-owned vehicle.
We were able to save some money during the year and we also decided to use money that we had set aside for a trip to Germany to visit friends in July 2020. For obvious reasons, this trip was canceled and at this point, we’re not sure when it will happen. The replacement vehicle became the priority.
I had two dealers looking for specific requirements. I wanted a vehicle that was 2-3 years old, in great condition, and I preferred white with a beige interior. In January, I got a call from one dealer that he found exactly what I was looking for. We went to test drive and made an offer. I put down half the money and financed the other half.
My husband asked me, “are you sure, you’re ok with taking out a loan?”
Yes, I am. The sliding back left door of the van was no longer able to open from the inside, and that’s a safety issue that I didn’t feel comfortable with and honestly had no desire to fix. I was also looking forward to having a backup camera and other safety features that weren’t around in 2007.
So in the effort of transparency, I took out a car loan. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it to you. However, I don’t want to hide it from you either. I talk a lot about debt freedom and that is still a goal of ours, and our Debt Freedom Plan will be adjusted. We will work hard to pay this off as early as possible.
I like to think that buying a pre-owned vehicle is the best possible scenario. I did a lot of research leading up to the decision of what specific vehicle I wanted and then worked with two dealers to help me find it. The original sticker price on the pre-owned car we bought was $14k more than what we paid.
We calculated our average annual mileage and expect to get 8-10 years with this vehicle. We are “buy and hold” car owners, as evidenced by the trade-in of a 13.5-year-old van. My husband drives a 2012 vehicle and in 2019 we got rid of a 2001 Honda Civic, which we bought new during my previous commuter life–pre-kids. In fact, every car we have owned, we have kept for at least 10 years.
Taking out a loan is not ideal, but we now have a much safer vehicle. And we paid off six figures of business debt before, we will pay off this car loan too.
Rest assured, I will not make this a habit though.
That’s our January finances in a nutshell, how was our month? Share your thoughts in the comments.