Archive for the 'Frugality' Category

While I have long maintained that I’m not a fan of Sprint, I’m still using them, partially because while their customer service has been horrible, their coverage and network speeds have been fine, meaning that I’m almost never in need of customer service. But in order to use my Epic 4G I had to change my plan from the $30 SERO plan to a $40 SERO Premium plan with a $10 per month “premium data” surcharge, bringing my total to over $50 per month. I killed off my stand alone mobile data cards when this happened, but I’m still thinking of the future for phone and mobile data.

So I’m now considering Virgin Mobile; they have a $25/month no contract 300 minutes, unlimited data, unlimited SMS deal which would work fine for me. Unfortunately, none of their current phones are as nice as my Epic 4G and while they ride on the Sprint network none of their devices uses Sprint’s WiMax (self proclaimed 4G) data.

This bears more watching.


How Much are the Movies?

I gave up going to the movies awhile ago, partially because they were getting more expensive, but I had a revelation from a friend the other day who stated that going with her boyfriend to the movies was, essentially, a $50 date.

Yes, $50 for two between movie tickets, snacks, drinks–and this doesn’t include parking (which is, at least here, usually free, or “free”) or dinner.

I can get a pretty decent dinner for two for $50 in Honolulu.

At those prices, I’ll keep waiting for streaming video or DVD.

I haven’t done this in awhile, but I decided to look hard through this month’s Costco coupon book and decided to find the ones I liked best.

As a reminder, with the large quantities that Costco provides, non perishables are the best to buy. If you can finish consuming the perishables before they expire or go bad, then you’re doing great; however, if they aren’t consumed, you’ve got waste, and waste is indeed the enemy of frugality.

Also, as stated previously, Costco often has coupons that list discount amounts but not total prices, resulting in incomplete advertising. While I realize their pricing is different in different regions, this is the kind of thing that drives me crazy and requires me to do more research for comparison shopping than I’d like.

With those important points made, here’s what I like best this month:

$2 off Bounty or Bounty Prints Roll Towels
$2 off Charmin Ultra Soft (I use this daily just like everyone else!)
$5 off Kirkland Signature Diapers
$2 off Greenworks All Purpose Cleaner and/or Pine-Sol
$2.50 off Q-tips Cotton Swabs (I use these daily!)
$3 off Centrum Silver Ultra
$11 off Sandisk 8GB SD Ultra Hi-Capacity 2 pack
$7 off Sandisk 4GB SD Ultra Hi-Capacity 2 pack

The last two don’t require the coupon. Happy shopping!

Groupon has been making news everywhere, but unfortunately, not the best news recently.

Groupon’s suffered from concern that while its business is fine and the deal for the consumers are great, the companies offering discounts through them often get hammered financially, despite the great promotion that it offers.

More recently, a Super Bowl ad that was considered racially insensitive and a deal with FTD that apparently ended up being close to worthless for the consumer as FTD’s special Groupon Web site had prices that were raised enough to negate just about all savings from Groupon.

Still, I check Groupon and its workalikes daily and I hope that they are able to rebound from this. I still love you, Groupon!


Virtualizing All Your Media

It’s possible not to own all of your media in physical form. In fact, it’s possible to own close to none of it, and to make what is owned virtual, as in electronic.

Ripping DVDs and CDs for movies and music is one way; using a subscription service such as Rdio is another. Reading everything online or in eBook format (such as on a Kindle) is a way to keep that media electronic. Using Netflix, Redbox, or a similar service to rent or stream video is another way to avoid owning physical media–and let’s not forget my old favorite the public library.

While I’m far from virtualizing all of my media, with books, music, and video, I’m very sold. I’m trying to keep the clutter–and the costs–down as much as possible.


Good Parts are Hard to Find

Recently I lost the dust cap on the front hub of my bike, on one side only. It’s a simple piece of rubber that has proved impossible to find a replacement for.

I thought about doing without–which is what I have been doing–as well as buying new wheels or relaxing new hubs. Which would cost a lot more than a simple piece of rubber does.

It’s unfortunate that it’s so hard to find this particular part; repair vs. replace is always a question that I keep trying to come down on the repair side of. But without the parts, it’s hard to do that.

When I can’t find parts for bike repairs–or car repairs or computer repairs or (fill in the blank)–it makes it much more inviting to go new rather than to repair. And unfortunately, going new is often not the best idea. But it’s tough when good parts are hard to find.

I’m not a fan of time sinks, but I have to admit, I’m involved in lots of them: even the kind of exercise I do–endurance events of running and cycling–are serious time sinks. So is writing code, blogging, photography, or just about anything else I have more than a passing interest in.

However, I’m taking a different view of time sinks: some time sinks are better for my financial health.

For instance, when I’m on a bike ride, I never spend money, except possibly for a G2 on the way. But nothing else.

Perhaps entering more time sinks would help me out even more financially.


Sometimes Shopping Stops Spending

I’ve discovered that comparison shopping–the only kind of shopping I participate in, since I greatly dislike going into stores–can not just find me the best prices on items, it sometimes stops me from buying things period.

For instance, from price comparison shopping, I know that currently, the lowest price I’d see on a Nikon D7000 body (refurbished and straight from Nikon) is right around $1,000–on sale. Now that they’ve sold out and the sale’s over, I’m very hesitant to spend more than that on a body.

That kind of shopping doesn’t make me spend more–in fact, it makes me spend much less, although I believe I’m in the minority on that.

Cross posted with my other blog, The Athletic Diabetic:

Since I’m interested in health as well as finances, I often look for where the two intersect. One of the places it does is in taking fitness classes.

For what it’s worth, I think that, provided one important caveat is kept in mind, I think classes are fantastic, and that caveat is: as long as you get something out of them.

Some things are better done in a group and being taught by professionals: yoga, swimming, aerobics, zumba. These are activities that are best done with leaders and teachers in my opinion.

And there are people who do better with the social obligations and pressures of a group.

But there are other activities–running, cycling, jumping rope–that can be done solo and don’t require much in the way of instruction.

I believe that if you use the professional services of a fitness class or group, it’s worth every penny, but if you don’t, then it’s essentially a waste of money.

Keeping busy for kids often helps them stay out of trouble; same can work for adults too. I find if I’m ever at risk for spending more than I want to it’s when I’m not busy (which kind of explains the three jobs).

What else keeps me busy? Hobbies.

Some hobbies are at least a little income producing–this blog, for instance, is largely a hobby. Photography could also be a hobby. Working on network equipment is a hobby. Helping fix people’s home networks is a service project, but it’s a hobby as well. So is working out.

Hobbies are things I do for fun and for free. Yes, if it pays (like blogging) I have more of an obligation to do it, but I’d do that anyway. It keeps me busy, which hopefully keeps me out of trouble–financial and otherwise.

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