Category Archives: Money Savers

Tips for budgeting or saving you some cash!

Tesla Turns Gets Power Going At Children’s Hospital In Puerto Rico

I’m so thrilled for them!  After all the hardships they have been enduring, it’s wonderful to see some good news from there.  Read the original article here at NPR.

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Weeks after Tesla founder Elon Musk and Gov. Ricardo Rossello spoke about the tech company aiding Puerto Rico, Tesla says it has restored electricity to a children’s hospital, using solar energy and batteries.- Tesla

I am a Tesla fanatic, I won’t lie. When I had the chance to pick up a handful of stock, I got a total of 7 for a decent price and have been sitting on them for years. I am not sure if or when I will ever sell them.

Is Elon Musk the second coming? Of course not, he’s a human with good traits and character flaws. But I do appreciate his innovations during a time of stunted growth in the US. We used to invent things, we used to build things, and he is one of a dying breed who actually still do.

In addition to the Tesla Powerwall, I am really excited to see the long term reliability of their Solar Roof.  I would love to disconnect from the electric grid and just use solar energy, and to have a roof that looks just like any other so it blends in?  What a bonus!  Look how gorgeous these tiles are:

TeslaRoof

Digging that slate look!

Where are all my fellow Tesla fans!?!

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How To Save $1500 or More Per Year!

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I’m all about saving money, I’ve written before about couponing and budgeting.  For a while now I’ve been intrigued by the idea so foreign to those of my Generation X and older: cutting the cord.  A lot of people have already, and know how easy and money-saving it can be, but for a lot of others, it’s a whole different world.

We take our entertainment seriously in this household, which means we are willing to pay for certain entertainment luxuries.  Multiple TVs in the house, multiple boxes so people could record shows, fast internet connection for gaming and mobile device usage.  About the only thing we never sprung for was all the pay channels like Showtime and Skine…I mean Cinemax.

Of COURSE we had HBO.  We had to have our Game of Thrones.

But I was already feeling the wallet pinch with our regular $180/mo bill when our 2 year contract with Verizon FIOS was about to end and they informed us it was going up to $230+.

OH HELLS NO.  A girl has no patience.

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So I finally talk my husband into researching how to cut the cord.  I’d already heard that Optimum was introducing 400 Mbps, with talk of service being available up to 1000 Mbps (Gigabit).  For reference, our FIOS service was sitting at 150 Mbps and we were already stretching the limits with all the devices in our house in use.  But my husband made the argument that he much preferred to stay with Verizon and liked the FIOS stability much better.

Calling Verizon FIOS

So we called them up and asked about their highest level of internet speed – they offer straight up Gigabit for about $90/mo!  We were already sold right there, but here’s where we had to compare the shows we watched with our availability to access them on streaming services alone.

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Priorities, yo.

When we looked at things honestly, we realized we spent the majority of our time watching Netflix or Amazon Prime which we would still be maintaining, so no change there.  However, the biggest concern was looking for a streaming service that offered our regular shows from places like DisneyHD (hey we need our Star Wars Rebels!), Syfy and DiscoveryID.

Calling Verizon Wireless

For this we turned back to Verizon, only we spoke with Verizon Wireless, which is the cell provider for my husband’s plans.  They were advertising a very nice deal with DirecTV.  After adjusting to a new plan (4 phones on unlimited data), they offered to add the basic DirecTV streaming bundle for a change in his bill of… $1/mo.  That’s right, for a single dollar extra per month, we could stream all the channels we always watched, AND we also gained BBC America, which we hadn’t had access to before!  And we should have no trouble streaming on any device, whether it’s the TV, desktop, laptop or smartphone!

Streaming Gadgets

Ok, so now we had to look for products that would help us stream all these shows (like a cable box) – the most obvious choice we went with was the Amazon Fire Stick.  As it simply plugs into our TVs and you can load up whatever app you subscribe to, it’s the easiest and most straightforward flat purchase to make.  Not to mention they worth with Amazon Alexa, which makes it SUPER easy to find what you want.

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I’m PRETTY sure it’s not an alien facehugger. But don’t quote me on that.

The next thing was looking for a powerful wireless router.  While Verizon does provide a wireless router calibrated specifically for their Gigabit service, they do charge $10/mo for it and the model is mid-range residential.  We’re pretty hardcore when it comes to gaming and streaming already, and we wanted to be sure our house was set up with the best we could.  Ultimately we decided that purchasing this Netgear Nighthawk would be the best for our needs.  We were super lucky to get it on sale and with some rewards cash we had saved up, we sprung for the 3 year warranty and still saved at least $100 over what we would have spent renting.

The Transition

giphy (4)So at this point we place our orders for the gear we need, which is definitely an outlay of funds in the beginning.  But since our new month was JUUUST about to roll over, we wanted to take care of things right away.  We made the changes, we installed the gear, and started testing things out.  Without boring you even more to tears, everything works great, with some small bugs with DirecTV, but nothing that makes us think twice about going back to the old ways!

Now, THE BILL

We just got our bill, and though I trash previously paid bills to avoid paper clutter, I was able to bring up my bill payment history online.  Here is what we paid from January through October:

Verizonhistory

 

And this is our current bill:

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Breakdown of costs over the next 3 years:

What they wanted to charge us for 150 Mpbs, cable service and a landline we done even know the number to because we haven’t had a landline in 7 years – $8,280!

What we will pay for 1000 Mpbs speed, streaming all the same channels we want plus some we didn’t have before, no more landline, and straight purchases of streaming gear and equipment – $3,600!

Total savings over the 3 years – $4,680!

Excuse me while I book a vacation to Europe….

5 Ways to Make Quick Cash IMMEDIATELY

I know, there’s a ton of these kinds of posts out there with BOATLOADS of ideas, but so often they are ideas you need to have skills for. I’m always down for a few ideas on how to grab a few extra bucks, so here are 5 of my favorite and PROVEN ways I’ve pocketed some money without needing a special talent or experience at.

These Boba Fett stools are guaranteed to get some interest!

1. Join a Facebook Swap and Sell!
Look for a local group, like a town or county group.  Not only have I found some spectacular deals for things I really needed, but I’ve made some cash by putting some of my unused household stuff up for sale.  In my neighborhood, it’s popular to also advertise “easy porch pickup” which means they will leave the item on their porch and you can tuck the cash under a mat or plant pot – makes swinging by and taking care of things much faster!  Sales tip: unusual décor, collectibles and upcycled furniture sells! Things people can buy at Walmart new for the same price does not.

2. Join UserTesting.com!
I did this for quite a while and made a few hundred dollars at it.  If you qualify, you are tasked to review a website, often with specific objectives (Find a red sweater in the menswear section, or pretend to check out using this checkout information), and you record yourself as you go through the site, noting any stumbling blocks or positive things about the site as you use it.  Most tests take about 15 minutes and pay $10, with quicker tests paying a little less, longer/more involved tests paying more.

3. Sell Your Old Cell Phone to Gazelle.com!
While you may not get the BIG bucks, your unused cell phone isn’t making you any money sitting in your top dresser drawer.  With the cost of cell phones now, we can ALL use a few extra dollars for our next upgrade.  Check the website for pricing, you can get a check to cash or a little more in store credit if you think you may like to turn around any buy something from them.

4. Return Unused Purchases!
Did you go shopping 2 weeks ago and realize you haven’t even pulled out that sweater you bought?  Apparently you don’t love it as much as you thought you did in the store, so RETURN IT!  Most stores have decent refund policies, some will even give you cash for the return (but of course credit back on your checking account or credit card is still awesome!).

5. Classic Yard Sale!
I would be silly not to mention the good ol’ fashioned garage sale.  There is a house on my street that seems to have a yard sale every Friday-Sunday, and more power to them!  Don’t feel like uploading pics and setting prices on each individual item for a Facebook group?  Just announce that you’re having a garage sale on it with a couple of sample items people will see and wait for people to show up!

BONUS IDEA: Find Your Hidden Cash!
We’ve all had it happen, you put on that jacket or pair of jeans, stick your hand in the pocket and VOILA, you find a bill you forgot all about!  Check between/under seat cushions, check those winter coats, clean out the purse or backpack and look in the bottom for fallen currency.  A short sweep once netted me $27 – woo hoo!  PIZZA!

Silicone Sponges – YAY or NAY??

siliconespongesTHave you seen the movie Inside Out?  The character Disgust is usually wearing the face I make when I see a gross, old dish sponge.

NASTY.  Excuse me while I nope out of here!!!

I’m not huge germaphobe, but this is one thing that I just can’t stand.  I go through sponges so fast that I am spending a lot of money on them (yeah only about $2-3 for a 3 pack, but when I go through them so fast it adds up).  So when I started seeing ads for silicone sponges, I thought it might just help me with my problem.

I ordered these three pictured here on Amazon for about $12.50 and immediately trashed the sponge I had…

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If you decide to try out these kinds of sponges for yourself, I recommend this pack of silicone sponges instead of what I purchased.  You get SIX of them for only $12.99, a much better deal!

Ok, so here is my list of Pros:

  • Can be used for more than just cleaning dishes (I’ll list some ideas below)!
  • Durable – have been using for over a month and zero damage, despite using it along sharp edges
  • Can be put in the dishwasher to clean/sterilize
  • Holds suds really well – some people did not find this to be true but for me it was no different than a regular sponge.  Perhaps it’s the brand of dish soap, but Palmolive and Seventh Generation has worked just fine
  • The ones you’re not using yet can be squished together to save space – remember the old Bristle Blocks?  Can’t save that space with regular sponges.

The different ways you can use these – I love multi-use items!

  1. Dish scrubber (obviously)!
  2. Pot holder – because it’s silicone, it can handle the heat!
  3. Open those tight lids – these have great grip on those jars that are sealed tight!
  4. Body loofah – NO KIDDING, people use these in place of their loofahs because they can be tossed in the dishwasher to get cleaned, no more buying and throwing out those wasteful loofahs, more money saved!
  5. Clean foods with them – because they are easily sterilized in the dishwasher (or a pot of boiling water if you want it faster), use them to wash fruits and veggies from the store of any pesticides or dirt!

Now for the Con:

Admittedly, I found it is not 100% in replacing the classic sponge.  Due to it’s nature, it cleans countertops well, but won’t soak up the water, just pushes it around.  Here is where I would grab a paper towel or a kitchen towel and finish the job.  HOWEVER, I was already doing that because I don’t want to use a nasty old sponge to “clean” a countertop!

TL;DR version:

Totally worth it.  Buy them today!  They could make awesome inexpensive gifts for the holidays 🙂

Budgeting 101

One of the most important things that so many people have never learned is BUDGETING.

I know, budgeting sounds scary, overwhelming, and restrictive.  For some it can make them look like deer in headlights, but trust me, once you get the hang of it, you can find it becomes easy, fast, and even enjoyable!

What is a Budget?

A budget is your estimated income and expenditures for a certain period of time.  Essentially: what you get paid and what you have to pay for with that money.

Why do I Need a Budget?

Without a budget, you are more apt to living paycheck-to-paycheck, make late payments, get assessed interest or late fees, and live beyond your means.  For many, this means living in a state of anxiety – who wants to live feeling anxious about money all the time???

How do I Make a Budget?

There are MANY ways to make a budget.  One of the simplest ways is by gathering bills and paystubs you’ve received in the last month or two, taking a piece of paper and hand-writing in 2 columns what each was.  For example:

SampleBudget
This is a very simplistic budget that covers a lot of the basic expenses a young adult might see.  Obviously individual situations will vary.  In this instance, this person is living within their means, with $400 left over at the end of the month.  This helps them to cover unexpected expenses, or just get a jump on the next month’s bills.

But I Live in the 21st Century!

Then guess what?  I have the perfect system for you!  It’s called You Need A Budget 🙂

There are a lot of budgeting programs out there, and I have tried quite a few, including the Dave Ramsey method (which I liked, but at some point felt got too preachy and judgmental) and Mint (which I found a little too simplistic for what I wanted), but until I found YNAB I just didn’t feel very successful.

YNAB allows you to budget not only from your desktop/laptop, but also lets you do it right from your smartphone!  Out at a restaurant?  Easily log your cost before you even leave the table.  With direct importing from banks there’s no need to go hunting for wayward charges, either!

What is You Need A Budget?

What I found with other programs was that you did a lot more “forecasting” – making estimates of what you will get coming in and going out in the future.  This can be nerve-wracking and problematic, especially if you get variable incomes and bills, or you have kids or elderly pets that may need emergency doctor visits, or you get sick and can’t work as many hours if you’re an hourly employee.

YNAB starts by focusing only on what is most important to you and making sure you give your money a job so you can plan ahead.  Confused?  Here is a quick video that explains the basics:

Are you going to make mistakes?  SURE!  We all do, but YNAB offers a variety of ways to get the help you need, especially when you’re just starting out – with a free online classes, a vibrant forum and an active Facebook group, you’ll only be a few clicks away from getting the answers or directions you need.

So what are you waiting for?  Go use their free, 34-day trial to give it a test run and see how you like it, and let me know if I can help you myself!

Note: this is not a paid post, I use this program myself and love it so much!  The annual fee is $50 for this program, which I have saved MANY times over and find it worth every penny, however if you choose to sign up for the program, both you and I will get a free month added to our subscription!

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