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Posts tagged with: frugality

6 Reasons I Want to Cut Cable, Save Cash

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I’ll begin with addressing my own concern and letting you know that I have cable. I have U-Verse and wish that I didn’t. My cable bill in my previous house was $100+ for 3 cable boxes and internet as a bundle package. Yesterday, I searched for cable/internet packages for my new house-hack and was offered $165 for 4 tv boxes and internet. That’s more than my student loans, more than half of my car payment, and entirely, utterly ridiculous. I know that we can all also find tons we would do with our money if it weren’t tied up in a cable bill.

I have cable only because I am renting rooms in my home to other people and marketing housing that comes with Hulu Prime, rather than cable, would probably sound a bit odd to renters. If it weren’t for that reason, I would not enter a cable contract again. If you are considering ways to save larger amounts of money, here are my pros and cons about cable:

I need to save money

I don’t want to save money, I need to save it- which means that I need to make some sacrifices. The more intentional that I become about my finances, the more I understand the value of making larger monetary cuts. For example, cable can easily cost me, at the least, $1200 a year. I could significantly decrease my debt with $1200 a year, buy assets or make investments, or maybe even take a quality, week-long vacation abroad- all by eliminating cable. When I examine all of my expenses, cable gets chopped.

I don’t watch many channels

Confession: I think I watch what is considered bad TV. My TV is probably stuck on only a few stations, including Bravo TV for Real Housewives episodes, the Gameshow network for Family Feud, and FX since the American Horror Story season has started again. (Are there any other junk TV watchers out there 🙂 ). My TV screen pretty much never even sees any other stations. So I don’t need to pay for 250 channels, many of which are seldom viewed. Do you know about many channels you watch? If so, do you feel that the number of channels are worth the cost?

Don’t watch much live TV

I think that cable still has a major advantage over options such as HULU, Roku, and Amazon Stick because it offers consistent and quality live and local TV programs like the news and sports games. If you are a big sports fan, this may be something to consider and is what my boyfriend is still debating. Missing out on local programming does not bother me much because I opt out of watching the news and don’t need a play by play of sports games. My boyfriend has pulled up streaming for NFL games on our Amazon Stick, and I must admit that there was a noticeable difference in the quality. However, since I’m not the biggest sports fanatic, watching a sub-par football game without cable is worth the sacrifice.

Technology can frustrate me

If you substitute cable for an option like Amazon Stick, then you may spend some time programming the stick. My boyfriend programmed the amazon stick at his house and it took about 15 minutes. Although this is not necessarily a long time, the task seemed tedious and I did not want to do it. If technology like this can frustrate you as it can me, you may want to take this into consideration. (There are options of purchasing jail-broken Amazon sticks that already come programmed that I have seen on resale sites like Craigslist, but I cannot vouch for this as I have not done it).

Is is just me, or are HBO and STARZ pretty bad?

I recently stayed with someone who had HBO and Starz and browsed these channels for a few days. I think that HBO showed that yawn-worthy horror movie “The Boy” 4 out of the 5 days that I turned to it. I would turn to Starz once a week for the show “Power”, but that’s about it. I seldom saw programming on these stations that piqued my interest and simply didn’t think its worth the extra payment in a cable package. (Plus, I believe that most of the movies and programs shown on these stations are on Amazon stick anyway.)

Weighing the value of my entertainment and time

I recently had some spare time, and one of my goals was the finish a new season of a show that I started watching (and now I’ve gotten hooked on the Good Doctor and have given myself a new addiction, great!). I say this to illustrate that I enjoy laying on my couch and watching TV and value this relaxing time. However, I’ve recently given thought to how much more productive I would be if I substituted some of my TV watching for other time fillers.

As a teacher, I firmly believe that we should never stop learning. Since I’m serious about my financial goals, I want to time reading books about finance rather than watching TV every afternoon. Since I want to invest in more real estate, I could spend time going to conferences rather than binge Mr. Mercedes all weekend long. I thought about taking a cooking class at one point, and could put the money saved from cable into my cooking class. So I don’t believe that $1200 a year is worth all of the other things that I could be doing with money and do not want to pay that much for this form of entertainment.

My verdict

There are several reasons why someone may or may not choose to have cable, as well as many alternatives. The amazon stick is the alternative that I am familiar with and would chose if I could eliminate cable. This could result in a difference of a $1200 cable bill per year or a 1-time $100 purchase fee and the yearly cost of WiFi which could be about $360 a year ($30 a month). The cost of cable does not support my financial goals and I would eliminate it if I could, as I think that an alternative would be best for me. Does anyone use any cable alternatives? How do you like them and how do they save you money?

 


How to be a Frugal Mom and Still Buy Pampers

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By Sleeping Mama

This is a guest post: “Sleeping Mama” is a 30-something mom to a two-year-old little boy. Her blog, Sleeping Should Be Easy, chronicles the day-to-day life of her toddler, from proud moments to challenging days and everything in between.

I buy Pampers instead of generic, shop at a farmers market, and buy new toys for my toddler. Despite all that, I still claim to be a frugal mom.

How? By choosing to spend on what’s important to my family while aggressively cutting back on what’s not.

Take diapers, for instance. We tried several brands and even considered cloth diapers, but Pampers won my baby’s heart (and bottom). If I ran my budget strictly by the numbers, I would have insisted on buying the least expensive brand, regardless of its performance and ease. Instead, I’m willing to spend more on what works for us and find ways to lower costs as much as possible (I buy Pampers in bulk online using my credit card rewards mall, which gives me an extra 15 points per dollar for that particular online store).

Buying organic food is another example. We shop at the farmers market so for several reasons—to support local communities and eat tastier food among them—but we limit how much we spend per week (that $30 fish would just eat up our budget!) and use most of our purchases to cook at home.

Frugality is a lifestyle, and like any long-term lifestyle, needs to be sustainable. Yes, we could deprive ourselves and live bare bones, but that mindset will hardly go far and is likely difficult to maintain. Instead, we’ll gladly pay the cost of something we enjoy (assuming that it doesn’t eat up most of our income) and skimp on everything else.

So while diapers and food remain a high cost for our family, we’ve tightened our budget on a few other categories:

We frequent the library

Every week I borrow at least six library books for my toddler to read. I can run a search through my library’s website, place holds on the books I’m interested in and pick them up at my convenience—all for free! If my toddler isn’t interested in particular books, I don’t have to worry about buyer’s remorse since we don’t own them. We still buy him books, but at least he’s “test-driven” them before we even spent a dime. The library also hosts free children’s events such as story time or musical performances that we’ve attended.

We cook at home

We hardly eat at restaurants and rely on home-cooked meals. Since we don’t mind spending time in the kitchen, we’re able to save quite a bit, especially since we use leftovers for lunch at work the next day.

We hang out at the park and find free entertainment

My toddler loves going to the park, whether it’s to run on the grass, climb around on the playground, look for pine cones, scoop some sand, or even simply sit and pick flowers from the ground. We’ve gone to practically every park there is in our city. We also find free entertainment or venues: parades, festivals, free museum days. Even shopping centers offer free playgrounds or fountains (if you can avoid walking into the stores!).

We don’t drive fancy cars

When the time came to replace my dying Corolla, we were tempted to take the money we’ve saved and use it as a down payment for a fancier (or even larger) car. But we had enough money saved that would have allowed us to buy another basic Corolla with cash, which is what we did. For us, we just wanted a car that functions and provides basic comfort.

We look for promo codes and printable coupons

Although we buy our toddler new clothes, we opt for lower-cost brands and look for promo codes or printable coupons. Any time I shop online and there’s a field to enter a promo code, I’ll quickly google the store’s name and the words “promo code” to see if anything comes up. Or if I’m planning to go to the actual store, I’ll google the store’s name and “printable coupons.” Usually there’s a code for free shipping or a coupon for a percentage off your purchase.

We don’t buy our toddler too many toys and gifts

This past Christmas, we bought our toddler one gift—and it cost $16. For his birthday, we didn’t buy him any gifts and instead threw a little party with his immediate family. Children don’t really need too many toys and gadgets. I even think boredom is good for them since it forces them to crank up their imagination. And when we do buy him a toy, we’re almost always sure he’ll love it (because we know what he’s interested in) and they’re usually good-quality, long-lasting toys.

What’s important to you?

Our expenditures may be similar to some families while completely opposite for others; neither is necessarily more frugal than the other. So long as you’re clear about your priorities and your budget has room, you can continue spending on what matters to you and cut back on those that don’t.


Are the rich bad people?

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According to an MSN article, rich folks aren’t good. They are ‘less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish.’

Really?

I was floored by the statement, ‘They think that economic success and political outcomes, and personal outcomes, have to do with individual behavior, a good work ethic.’

Call me crazy but… I agree. I don’t want to talk about politics or government but I do believe that individual behaviors (like frugality, a good moral compass, and a hard work ethic) have A LOT to do with personal and economic success.

But then again, I guess I’m an optimist.

Read the article. Agree? Or Not?


Spending ‘Free’ Money…

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My company has a very generous per diem rate for traveling employees. You’d think after all this time spent penny pinching, I’d be pretty awesome at spending other people’s money – especially on the one item I tend to pinch the most… FOOD.

On my first night out, at a restaurant chosen by my coworkers, I could have ordered the filet mignon.

Totally covered in my per diem rate? Yes.

Something I love and haven’t had much of… OK, OK, haven’t had any of for as long as I can remember? Yup.

Something I didn’t order because I couldn’t wrap my silly little brain around the concept of spending nearly $40 on instead of the$12 veggie plate?

Yes.

The veggie plate was fabulous by the way.

In the whole scheme of things, our company is HUGE and very few employees are paid to travel. Will my week of penny pinching someone else’s dollar make a difference? Not in the very least.

Admittedly, I should have loosened up and ordered something I REALLY, REALLY wanted at least one of those days but I guess my frugality isn’t as easy to ditch as I thought.


My husband is changing…

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My husband was helping my mom move some large furniture and accidentally jackknifed the trailer while pulling it up over some uneven ground. Fortunately the trailer didn’t do any damage to the truck body…unfortunately, it shattered the back taillight.

He went to the discount auto parts store down the street to buy a replacement but came home empty handed.

‘Didn’t they have it in stock?’ I asked.

‘Yeah. But I’m not paying $125 for a piece of plastic and a couple screws. I’m going to shop around and see if I can get a better deal’ he said.

I blinked… then stared.

My husband is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He walks into a store, finds what he wants, and buys it. From grills to socks, the man doesn’t waste time with comparisons – which may explain how I was lucky enough to marry the guy.

So I don’t know who that man was in my kitchen – but he certainly wasn’t my husband.

He spent the next hour researching different suppliers until finally settling on a company who was willing to provide the part for a little less than $60 with free shipping.

Meanwhile, I was still standing in the kitchen, staring off into nowhere, completely confused.

This morning, as my husband was driving to work at 3:30am, he was pulled over by a police officer. My husband explained what happened and then shared his experience with the ‘rip off auto parts store’ and his attempt to save money by ordering the part online. The cop laughed, agreed with him about the ‘rip off auto parts store’, told him to have a nice day, and let him go.

He now brags to everyone that he saved 50% by shopping around and bonded with a cop over the experience.

I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know when it happened. But somehow, somewhere, my husband embraced frugality.

We’re getting there.