Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Women in Red

No, this has nothing to do with heart disease. I learned from a money board I go to (The Nest) of a group of women who are brave enough to discuss their deepest darkest secrets... the contents (or lack thereof) of their bank accounts. There are both articles and a discussion forum.

There are tons of tips and hints here to save money, find motivation, get great deals, spend less and get support. I browsed a little and only touched the tip of the iceberg. There are discussions about practically every topic related to debt, savings & money in general. The format leaves a little to be desired, but the content is gold.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Netflix Rave

I love me some Netflix. I always get excited to see this in my mailbox. We've been using them off and on for years. We rent old movies, new releases, entire series of TV shows (Entourage, anyone?), documentaries, etc. Instead of paying $50/mo for cable, we pay $19/mo for Netflix. My favorite things about Netflix are:

  • you can pick the number of movies you get at once - and pay accordingly ($19/mo is 3 movies at once)
  • fast 2 day turnaround - we send a movie back on Monday & get a new movie on Wednesday
  • their incredibly user-friendly website
  • they save your queue if you want to cancel your service for when you come back
  • their Watch Now feature, which allows you to watch selected movies & TV shows streamed online
I know some people prefer Blockbuster, but I have always loved Netflix. Any experience with Netflix or Blockbuster, please leave a comment.

UPDATE: I just got an email from Netflix saying they were lowering their prices to $16.99/mo plus tax. Do you think they saw this? :)

Weekend Update

It's been a busy week! This weekend was more expensive than usual, but we had planned for it all. Saturday night we went to a wedding and had a fantastic time. To save money, I borrowed a dress from my sister - and she's borrowing one from me for a wedding this coming weekend!

Part of our philosophy toward money is to spend money when it's worth it. A friend's wedding is a rare occaision that is worth it. We also stayed in a hotel room that night so we wouldn't have to worry about driving.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cheap Date #1 - Let's Go Ride a Bike

Ah, Summer. There's so much to do when it's nice outside. Unfortunately, with the social bloom of the season, spending can increase. Nights out, BBQ's weekend getaways can all add up and break your budget.

My husband and I try to find inexpensive activities to do together. This summer, we've taken up bike riding. We had bikes and my parents gave us their old bike rack. Our only expense is the gas to get to the bike trails!

Saturday we hooked the bikes onto the car and drove to Cape Cod to ride the trail along the canal. There's a trail on each side of the canal; the Cape side ends at a marina & the mainland side ends at the beach. We meant to end at the beach but mistakenly took the wrong trail. Oh well, next time we'll get it right. Total ride: 13 miles. Here are some pictures from the day:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Baked Pasta & Watermelon-Champagne Cocktails

OK, I know this isn't a cooking blog. But I love food and it can be difficult to make good meals when you don't want to spend a lot of money. So I will be including good & inexpensive meals I come across.

The other day my parents came over for dinner with Cory and me. I made baked pasta comprised of 2 boxes pasta, 2 jars pasta sauce, a bag of frozen broccoli, 2 bags of italian cheese, an onion and 4 hot Italian sausages. Total price was $13.50 for 10 servings. Leftovers! Sorry I forgot to take a picture.

Of course, I balanced out the savings with a nice cocktail! Puree the watermelon in a blender, and mix one part watermelon puree with one part champagne. Delicious and summery!

Since I used cheap champagne (technically sparkling wine, $5/bottle), the total cost was $10. This used less than half the watermelon, so we have the rest to eat too!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The cheapest days to buy

Nice article, originally from Smart Money. Nothing I hate more than paying more for something than I have to - especially things like flights where the person next to me could have paid less.

The Cheapest Days to Buy

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Book Review: Pay it Down by Jean Chatzky

Pay it Down
by Jean Chatzky

This book has the premise of getting out of credit-card debt by putting an extra $10/day toward your bills. If it sounds like a simple solution, that's because it is. The book is very much a beginner's guide to paying down debt. While it does have some good suggestions, I would have enjoyed it more if I picked it up a year ago.

Putting $10/day aside for debt sounds like a bit of a sacrifice to make until you consider how much it adds up to be. About $300/month. Which equals (according to Jean's math) a payoff of $8000 of debt in three years (assuming 18% interest). Personally, I choose to be much more aggressive in my debt payoff. If I only put $10/day toward my more-than-$8000 debt, I would be paying it off forever.

However, there were a few tips I plan to use to help me reach my goals faster:
  1. Consolidating student loans & student loan rate discount possibilities loanconsolidation.ed.gov
  2. Shop around for car insurance
All in all, if you're starting out, pick up this book. If you've already tightened the belt on your budget, there's not much for you here.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Twist on a Classic

Dinner and a movie on a Saturday night is the classic date. With prices these days, it can run anywhere between $50-$100. That's a lot to blow on a random Saturday - especially when you're married!

Enter our alternative: Italian subs at the drive-in. Not only did we save on dinner, we got to see two movies for $20/car. The savings compound when you double date!


Cost: $3.65/sub


Cost: $20/car


TOTAL: $27.30/date & 2 happy people!

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Beauty of the Coupon

I have always disliked coupons. They seemed like a huge waste of time to cut them all out and figure out which ones to use and how to actually save money. But I have seen the light. After hearing many success stories, I decided to give them a try. The first week I used coupons at the grocery store I spent $40 on $80 worth of food. Since then I have been using coupons to save money and found that I actually enjoy using them to plan my shopping list.

Then I got a little lazy. I would cut coupons and throw them in an envelope. It would take me forever to see if I had an for a particular item. It was a sloppy mess.

I stopped using all my magic money saving coupons. Something had to be done. Then, a light at the end of the tunnel. Or in the aisle at Target.

I am so ridiculously pleased with my results! I have found a $3.99 solution and a bunch of coupons I should have already used. Moving forward, I definitely see this helping me stay organized.

My tabs are:
  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Sides
  • Condiments
  • Snacks & Desserts
  • Household
  • Paper Products
  • Personal
  • Beauty
  • Dental
  • Store
  • Restaurant