amazon prime

Amazon Prime Membership Benefits

When we first signed up for Amazon I had used their Mom membership. We just had a our baby daughter and I heard about the significant discounts Amazon had for diapers and other baby supplies. When that deal ran out I used Prime and really enjoyed the shipping benefits. I also loved their Instant Video options and this year, some of shows are available to watch as they air. Since we’ve cut back on cable, this has been a huge plus for us as I don’t have to miss some of my favorite shows or wait for them on Netflix.

Our anniversary date is coming up and we will be charged the new membership fee of $99/year. As with all of our subscriptions and memberships, we take a review to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs.

Amazon Prime Beefing Up Benefitsamazon prime benefits

As I went on the site to check things, I discovered the company has been adding new features and benefits to Prime.

  • Free 2 Day Shipping for eligible purchases
  • Unlimited streaming of movies and videos with Amazon Instant Video
  • Borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
  •  Unlimited, ad-free access to hundreds of Prime Playlists and more than a million songs  on Prime Music
  •  Download a new book for free every month from the Kindle First picks
  • Access to Prime Pantry, allowing members to get  low priced grocery, household, and pet care items for a flat delivery fee of $5.99 for each

I’m glad I reviewed the benefits because I discovered even though we are saving just with the shipping and television benefits, we weren’t really using all that we could.

Thoughts on Amazon Prime

It looks like we’re going to stick with our Amazon Prime membership. I’m also going ahead and try out some of the other features including the Prime Music and the Kindle First download. Hopefully we can save some more money taking advantage of these.

summer savings

Save Money This Summer: Adopt These Habits Around the House

summer savingsFrom summer camps to family vacations and soaring cooling costs, summer is full of expenses. Do your wallet a favor and adopt these six habits to save money around the house:

Close Closet Doors

Leaving the closet doors open isn’t just a bad habit that makes your home look disheveled; it costs you more, too. By simply shutting closet doors after you get what you need, you’re decreasing the square footage of your home that is actively air conditioned. This is especially important to do for closets along the exterior walls of your home, as they act as extra insulation.

Skip Artificial Lighting

Make the most of the longer days of summer and use the natural lighting that comes with them instead of flicking on the light switch. Open all of the blinds upon rising and avoid turning on lights until after the sun goes down. Be sure to close the curtains or blinds before leaving for work to minimize cooling costs while you’re out. To continue saving after dark, switch all light bulbs in your home to a lower wattage. You can also use less energy by installing dimmers throughout the house to avoid using the lights on full power.

Turn Down the Water Heater

Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees, recommends the Department of Energy. While 120 degrees is plenty hot to take a steamy shower, most manufacturers set the thermostat to 140 degrees by default, which costs you much more to heat over time. Going on a trip? Turn it down to 80 degrees to save even more while you’re away.

The same goes for the water heater in your pool or spa. You can save 20 percent in energy costs just by turning the temperature down 10 degrees, according to HotTubWorks.com.

Plug into a Power Strip

Use power strips instead of standard outlets in high-powered areas of the home such as your office or media room. Get a surge-protected power strip with a switch ($9.97 at NewEgg.com) so you can easily switch off the power at the press of a button when your gadgets aren’t in use. Powered items like the TV, DVD player, printer and computer suck up energy when plugged in, even if they aren’t in use, so it pays to turn them off.

Replace Air Filters Regularly

Help your AC do a little less work this summer by replacing the air filters every other month. Not doing so causes your air conditioner to work harder and use more power to cool your home to the same temperature. Over time this causes premature wear and tear on your unit, reducing its lifespan and leading to costly repairs.

Get a Time-of-use Energy Plan

Many electricity providers offer time-of-use plans that offer lower energy rates for electricity consumed at off-peak times during the day and night. Contact your local providers to shop around for the best plan that suits your needs. In addition to saving money, this also helps lessen the load on the power grid.

couples dates money

Planning Romantic Outings With Your Special Someone

For everyone in America, it’s been hard times as far as the economy is concerned. Budget is everyone’s top priority, especially considering that many families that were once duel income now live on a single family income. These economic realities are making it difficult for couples to get by and even harder to keep going in the face of such adversity. There’s been a lot of belt tightening lately, but in order to weather this storm, it’s important that we keep our focus on what’s most important, our spouse and family.

In order to keep things going and morale high, it’s important that you don’t neglect your husband or wife, and continue look at this current struggle as a team effort. That’s why it’s so important to plan special outings and events with your loved one, and doing so doesn’t have to break the bank in the process. Great ways to treat each other include: couples dates money

First Date

Consider reliving your first date. It can be as simple as a dinner out, but if you still live in the same area, make it a special occasion by retracing the first steps that you took together as a couple. It can be a way for you to rediscover the foundation of what brought the two of you together.

If you’re lucky enough to live near by, then start from the beginning and, given the fact that most first dates are inexpensive, you can do this affordably. If the restaurant is now closed down, go to another place with the same kind of atmosphere and try to recreate it as best as you can.

Renewed Commitment

If you can’t afford an expensive vacation, try to think of ways that you can renew your vows to one another with matching jewelry or promise rings with personalized engravings. We often take the symbols that we wear everyday for granted. After years of living with someone, it’s easy to let the spark die down. Don’t let this happen to you.

Consider going in together and picking something that the two of you can share that you’ll keep on you at all times. It doesn’t have to be jewelry. It could be anything. It just has to mean something to the couple.

The Great Outdoors

Camping or having a picnic is an excellent way to get away from the kids and spend a few nights together underneath the stars. It doesn’t really matter where it is because it’s all about sharing your time together. The focus is all about the time you’re spending together.

Camping out is also really cheap and many camping grounds charge close to nothing. All you need is a few camping supplies and you’re set to lie out and sit around the campfire while spending some quality time together.

In all honesty, when planning something special with your spouse, it doesn’t really matter what it is. What makes an evening or gift special is when it’s from the heart. Doing something special together can renew your resolve, even when you can’t afford to backpack across Europe or take a super expensive vacation. You don’t have to be rich to enjoy life because enjoying each other doesn’t cost anything.

Photo Credit: flyskyfrp

online shopping tips

5 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Adoption of online shopping closely followed that of home internet access a couple of decades ago.  Despite fear of something new the advantage of not having to drive to a retail location was too strong to resist.

Initially people were not used to entering personal information into a computer and especially hesitated when it came to payment data.  Gradually it became commonplace and there are many who do a majority of their shopping online today.  Although it is a fairly safe practice, it is important to be smart about it and use the following guidelines.

Shop at Home

With public Wi-Fi widely available users should remember that it is not secure and hackers can access the connection to steal your information.  For the same reason, you shouldn’t log into private accounts or enter confidential information when using public computers at locations such as libraries and hotels.

My email was hacked shortly after using a hotel business center computer during business travel.  It may be a coincidence but is an effective reminder about the lack of security.

Pay with Credit

online shopping tips

There are a couple of  reasons to use credit cards when paying for your internet purchases.  There is only a $50 limited liability for unauthorized purchases with a credit card while it can become unlimited after 60 days with a debit card.

Additionally, if you do not receive the products or services purchased a credit card issuer will investigate a disputed charge  and usually refund your money.

Review Transactions

Before making the actual purchase review the amount and all charges.  Are there any “hidden” fees you weren’t expecting?   Make sure all coupon or promotional codes are applied.

I’ve had the browser error when making a purchase and didn’t know if it went through and not.  When you get your bills, make sure the transaction matches and there are not any unauthorized charges.

Keep Records of Your Shopping

Keep all correspondence related to a transaction until you at least receive the merchandise or service.  I don’t leave the site until I either get a confirmation email with the details or print out the page.

For larger purchases,  make sure you have a copy of the terms.  For example does that vacation package include meals or not?  What is the cancellation policy for the hotel reservation?  These are important details that can end up costing you money if you don’t know.

Navigate to Website Yourself

Don’t click on links from search engines unless it is a URL you recognize.  Scammers work to get their fraudulent sites  returned by search engines with the goal of phishing your personal information.  Make sure the site accessed includes a security indicator such as a lock (depending on browser) and the URL includes https before entering personal information.

Be suspicious of unsolicited emails even if it appears to be from a known retailer.  Go to their site directly to make sure it’s not a scam message.

Shopping online can be convenient and safe by taking a few precautions.  Do you have another tip for safe online shopping?

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Photo Credit: izzatFulkrum

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