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Be the Best Gift Giver in the WORLD!

In honor of Husband’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about gift giving.  Yes, the perfect gift ought be thoughtful, from the heart and all that other mushy stuff. But really, a gift should be useful, long-lasting, and life-enhancing. 

But what do you get for the person who has everything?  Take Husband for example: he has all the camping equipment and guns a boy could ever dream of (seriously, he’s a real Daniel Boon).  Rather than buying him another coonskin cap that he wouldn’t wear, I coordinated with our families to buy one big gift that none of us could afford singularly.  Although I’ve barely seen the man in two weeks because he’s been playing his new Xbox so much, it’s satisfying to know we got him a gift that he really likes; really really really likes. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 19/08/2010

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How to Cut Cable and Survive

In other news this week…horror of horrors! … the cable went out!  It is true, the box with little entertaining people inside went dark this week and I hate to admit I was somewhat in a panic.  I follow quite a few shows religiously and thanks to my dear friend Mr. Tivo I am usually able to keep up with all of them.  But when the cable died, determined not to miss out, I had to find alternative ways to partake.  It really got me thinking that maybe I don’t need cable after all, goodness knows I could do without the bill.  So if you are considering letting cable go, here are some other ways to get those shows you can’t live without.

Check out the broadcast network websites like ABC.com, CBS.com, NBC.com, FOX.com.  They stream content only a few hours after it airs on TV.  So watch it on your computer or grab an HDMI cable and send those soap operas straight to your big screen.

Missed your favorite primetime TV show?  Fear not, Hulu.com has got you covered.  Hulu streams most major network shows the day after they air for free.  Missed the whole season?  Get Hulu Plus for $7.99/m and watch back episodes and have the option of watching content on your TV or mobile device.

Apple TV is a device that uses iTunes to stream movies and TV, iCloud for pictures, and music, and a variety of services to get everything media on your TV.  It also gives you access to the ever-popular Netflix.  You’ll be happy to find special programming for News and live sports too; some of the things people miss most after axing cable.

Netflix is hugely popular for a reason.  The selection can’t be beat and it plays on so many different devices.  And here is some good news; you may already have a Netflix compatible device.  Apple TVs (as stated above), many Blu-ray players, and even some Televisions are rolling off the lot Netflix ready.

We all love shopping on Amazon, but did you know that a feature of Amazon Prime is that it gives you unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows.  And yes, the rumors are true, Amazon officially sells everything—you can buy individual shows and movies on regular Amazon (no subscription fee) that play on your Amazon compatible device.

Last but not least, consider going old school.  Put an antenna on your roof.  It may seem like you are going back to the dark ages but local networks are broadcast in HD now and it is free!

Long story short, thanks to these fine establishments I was able to find out who had Danced with their last Star and if Schmidt had to put a dollar in New Girl’s D-bag jar.

Do you utilize these cable alternatives? Does it save you money?  Would you be willing to cut the (cable) cord?

Article publié pour la première fois le 23/04/2012

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Your Friend the Secondary Market – Part 2

In an earlier post we discussed what secondary markets are and one simple way to take advantage of them. Today we are going to look at a little less obvious use of secondary markets.

You can utilize the power of secondary markets by factoring them into your thinking when purchasing new items. We rarely, if ever, consider how or if we are going to sell something we are purchasing. For most people, we buy things, use them, they sit in a garage until they annoy us, and then we donate them to charity. But, by simply using a little forethought, we can take advantage of secondary markets even when we are buying new items.

Let’s consider buying the new Dan Brown novel. It recently was released and many people purchased it in hardcover format or as an e-book. Imagine you really want to purchase the new Dan Brown novel, but you can’t decide what is the cheapest way to do that. You price search and sure enough the price is essentially the same across retailers. You look to buy it used, but because its only recently been released, there are only a few selling it used and by the time shipping is calculated, it is essentially the same price as buying it new. You look at purchasing the e-book and notice that it is a few dollars cheaper, so that sounds like the best option, right? Not so fast hotshot.

Take a moment and consider the secondary market. “But wait,” you yell, “I did consider the secondary market. I looked to purchase it used and it wasn’t any cheaper.” Correct, but consider the effect of the secondary market on your purchase of a new copy of the Dan Brown novel. If you spend $12 and buy the e-book you save some money over the hardcover book, but what can you sell it for down the road on the secondary market? Here is where digital media can end up being more expensive, even when its cheaper to initially purchase. You cannot re-sell e-books (at least not yet). Consequently, if you only get half-way through the book and hate it, you are stuck with a $12 e-book that you have no use for and that cannot be resold.

Now, if you purchase the $14 hardcover book, once you are finished with it, you have a market whereupon you can recover some of the value you already paid for it. Again, let’s say you read it half-way through and hated it, now you can go to Amazon.com, and resell it at whatever the market is asking for. Even better, if you know you only want to read it once, you can hurry up, read it, and resell if for almost the same amount you purchased it for, thereby essentially reading it for free.

And, this thinking goes for any type of digital media. Music, movies, software, etc. all have secondary markets for their physical forms. Until a secondary market is created that allows the exchange of digital media, you are almost better purchasing the physical item and utilizing the secondary market down the road.

What about you savvy shoppers? How do you utilize secondary markets to your advantage? Let me know below.

Article publié pour la première fois le 15/08/2013

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Home Economics: Beer Brewing

This guest post from Trey in New Mexico goes with the theme of the week: living thrifty does not equate to joyless living.  The Thrifty are not an unhappy, deprived people.  They simply know how to weigh their wants against their really-wants and are able to set the former aside.  Read how Trey was able to turn a passion into a hobby, and a hobby into a way to save some cash.    

 

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Before we get started, there are a few things I need to clear up.  First, let’s just say that brewing beer is not so much of a hobby as it is a passion for me.  It produces something that I really enjoy.  Next, this article serves as a sort of justification to the world (my wife) for allowing me to continue this passion and potentially one day use “grocery money” to support it. 

 

With that out of the way, let me continue by confessing that:

  1. I am thrifty (some say cheap).
  2. I am meticulous.  I am also anal (and now this blog is being read by a whole new demographic that were attempting to search that word on their favorite search engine and now find themselves here).  Welcome perverts! – RR
  3. Last but certainly not least, I love beer.  I love all kinds of beer.  I love IPAs, Porters, Stouts, Amber Ales, Pale Ales, Pilsners, Bocks, Browns, Bitters, Lambics, Barley Wines, Lights, Darks, Lagers, Ales, Imports, Micros, Domestics, Malts, or Hops.  I love beer from 3.2% by weight to 21% by Volume.  I buy bottles that range from $20 for one 750ml bottle to 1.25 Euros for 24 cans (while on business in Spain).

All of these facts combine together and bring us to the crux of this article, the financial feasablily of homebrewing vs. “consuming”.

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 03/09/2010

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The other day in Reader’s Digest – which I read mostly for the reader-written humorous anecdotes and silly cartoons – I came across a quote from Peter Buffett.

It is an act of love to say, “I believe in you as my child, and you don’t need my help.”

On his billionaire father Warren’s refusal to help during financial hardship.

Isn’t it wonderful?

Do me a favor.  Put it in your card printing software now, print out 10 cards and tape them to your cubicle wall, refrigerator, mirror, windshield, toilet lid, children, forehead, lunch, television and bank statement.  

 

Pride is a major motivator for why we handle our money the way we do. 

It can be positive: saving enough to make sure we never burden our children when we retire.

It can also be negative: purchasing more stuff than we can truly afford in order to give the appearance of financial prosperity. 

Pride is what tells us to hide our mistakes and to be ashamed when our financial efforts fall short or when we fail to make an effort at all.  Pride can make us hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold everyone else.  Pride can be a humongous downer, demotivator and can even make the situation worse.

Nobody’s perfect.  I’m surprised your mother hasn’t already told you this. 

This thought brings me to the heart of this post: successful people, who you are undoubtedly measuring your own success against, made/make/will make mistakes too. 

When I started writing this, oh, about thirty minutes ago, I had Sam Walton in mind (you know, the founder of Wal-Mart?).  Did you know that Sammy filed for bankruptcy? Him and quite a few others:

  • Macy’s
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Hershey’s Chocolates
  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Donald Trump
  • Lady Gaga
  • MC HAMMER!

You did know that?

Well did you know that Steve Jobs, the creator of Apple, was actually fired from Apple?

In his 2005 Commencement Address to Stanford (WATCH IT), he names this so-called failure, “the best thing that ever happened to me.”  It was during that time in his life that the college dropout invented NeXT, founded Pixar and met his wife.

Talk about making lemonade.

 

Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick.  Don’t lose faith. 

Steve Jobs

A brick to the head won’t necessarily kill you, but it will probably concus you.  Maybe you should invest in a helmet.

And don’t let your pride and your past mistakes discourage you from achieving your goals from this point on.


Article publié pour la première fois le 09/11/2010

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Home Improvements That Can Save You Money

Home Improvements That Can Save You Money is a guest post by Amanda @ Car Insurance Comparison, dedicated to helping you make sense of the auto insurance industry.

Every month, a good portion of our income goes toward paying off utility bills. Consequently, every month we may find ourselves gawking at these bills because it seems like the price of everything, from water to electricity, keeps going up. While it may remain a mystery as to how you managed to use of $300 worth of natural gas on your latest bill, there are certain fixes you can make around the home to bring down the annual cost of utilities – and help you save money.

Install Low Flow Faucets

Did you know that faucets account for at least 15% of water use in the home? That may not seem like very much at first glance – that is, until you get your water bill. The worst part is that most of that water technically doesn’t get used, it just comes out of the faucet in excess.

By installing low flow faucets you can reduce how much water comes out of the faucet when it’s being used. These faucets will use no more than 1.5 gallons a minute, thus significantly reducing your water usage and your bill.

Install High Efficiency Shower Heads

Installing new shower heads is probably the easiest and fastest way to start conserving water and saving money in your home. If you’re concerned about performance don’t worry, these high efficiency bathroom staples use much less water without hindering the outcome.

Install Water Saving Toilets

If you thought faucets were the problem in your water bill you should think again. In the average household the toilet accounts for about 30% of water consumption – making them the largest water consumer in the house. By installing eco friendly water saving toilets you can save up to 20% in water and a lot more than that on bills. If your current toilets were made before 1994 you could even see savings upwards of 60%.

Change Your Light Bulbs

Most homes are still using incandescent light bulbs, meaning that your lights are eating away at your electricity and your wallet. If this is the case in your home you may want to consider switching to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs for short). They use up to 75% less energy and seriously cut the costs of your energy consumption.

Seal and Insulate

Another easy home improvement that will save you money is making sure that your home is ready for the weather outside. That is to say, when its winter make sure your home is properly insulated. This will reduce how much energy you use when heating your home and drive down the cost of your bill. Similarly, make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed during those hot summer days so as not to let an air conditioning escape.

Use a Tankless Water Heater

The initial cost of a tankless water heater may cause some sticker shock, but it will undoubtedly save you hundreds of dollars annually. A tankless water heater runs on 98% efficiency in comparison to the 80% efficiency of conventional heaters. In the long run this can save you upwards of 20% on your bills.

By making some minor adjustments around the home you can not only save water and energy, you can also save a ton of money. Fortunately, most of these projects are easy fixes so that you can start saving as quickly as possible.

Article publié pour la première fois le 08/12/2011

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