Browsing Category: Saving Tips

Amazon App Store

While games like Words with Friends can be fun online, I prefer games that I can play without a wi-fi connection on my tablet. I tend to get free apps, but honestly some for them aren’t that challenging or fun.

However constantly buying apps will drain my budget. One solution is grabbing a paid app for free when it comes up.

Amazon App – One App to Get Many

One app that has help me grab some great games for free – Amazon App Store. Every day they have a paid app available for a free download. Even though the app is free, you do have to have an Amazon account and you need to sign up for 1-click shopping.

Since I already use Amazon for some household shopping items it was not a big deal for me. Check it out if you’re interested in getting more details.

Great Free Apps

Besides what you can grab from Amazon’s App of the Day, there are some apps that are extremely helpful that I want to share.

  • TripIt: When traveling, it can be a bit crazy carrying all the paperwork for the flights, hotels, and car rental for everybody. With trip it, you can have all of that information in one spot on your phone.
  • Evernote: I love using Evernote for post ideas, notes on articles I love, and keeping a back up of my important stuff.
  • Pocket: Like an article, but don;t have time to read it right now? Use Pocket to grab the post for offline reading when it’s more convenient for you.
  • Ninja Fishing: A simple, yet addicting fishing game (that’s right-fishing!) that is better on tablet than phone.

Thoughts on Getting Free Apps

How many of you grab free apps through amazon? What are some of your favorite free apps?

Is a Frugal Lifestyle For You?

savings account

As the economy is slowly improving, many people are looking at ways to adjust their finances so they can not only pay their bills, but also retire at some point in their future. One topic that I cover here and on Couple Money is frugality. It’s a part of our strategy to pay off our debts and to minimize lifestyle inflation.

ING Direct Savings

If you’re on the fence on whether frugal living is a good fit for you, I want to share some advantages:

  • It’s sustainable and flexible. With some tweaks and adjustments to your living, you can alleviate some of your recurring expenses. You can crank it up and minimize your expenses to the bare essentials or you can turn teh knob just a bit and optimize one part of your budget.
  • It can change your mindset. I didn’t believe it at first, but frugality can be a powerful force in your finances. You can start to see that many times, it’s not your income that’s holding you back and keeping you in debt, it’s actually your lifestyle. Many times we get caught up with what we think is convenient and cheap, but is really not. You don;t have to eliminate eating out, but you can acquire cooking skills that will not only save you money, but can add some joy to your day. (Plus you can save on gas as friends flock to you and your place.)
  • Frugality can help others. Not all, but many frugal people discover they have more resources than they need and decide to help others. Some have cut back their hours at work and volunteered at charities that matter to them. Others can contribute more money to their favorite causes.
  • Less stress and competitive. Living a frugal lifestyle can cut down on the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality which can be stressful.

Of course there are plenty of other benefits, but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites. If you’re interested in learning more and picking up some practical tips, there are some great money savings tips here on My Financial Reviews.

These tips are great for many as you don’t have to give up on what you need and like, you just have to find better deals. Of course there are some other resources you may want to check out like books and other personal finance sites.

Books

I’m a big fan of using your local library – it’s pretty much a free resource for books, internet access, and entertainment options (some libraries rent out movies and CDs). I’ve listed a few books that I personally used to get started with incorporating frugality into our day to day routine.

  • The Complete Tightwad Gazette-This book has the complete series of newsletters Amy Dacyczyn published. It packs a ton of information and if you use even 1/10 of her tips, you’ll be able add some significant wiggle room in your budget.
  • Your Money or Your Life – One of the first personal finance books that I read that showed the possibilities of a frugal lifestyle. It’s less about saving money just to save money, but really examines the why in finances. There are lots of exercises you can do to get you away from living paycheck to paycheck into financial freedom.
  • The Millionaire Next Door – For myself, this book really showed me that just because you look rich, doesn’t mean you are. It examines how millionaires really live, they didn’t inherit their money, they just used it wisely. It highlights that looks can be deceiving.

Blogs and Online Sites

Of course as a personal finance blogger, I have to include some sites I think you should check out online. My list has been updated as some frugal bloggers have moved on.

  • Mr Money Mustache – MMM has quickly become one of the most popular sites around the personal finance sphere for his hardcore frugal living tips. Some may assume that he and his family live on deprivation, but they don’t. He shows how one can live well on a modest income, providing they aren’t chasing the Jonses.
  • Man Vs Debt– When Baker started his site in 2009, he and his family were determine to wipe away their debts, simplify their lives, and move overseas. While Adam has recently turned the reins over to his colleague Joan, the mission of the blog is the same – to help others not only debt of their debts, but to remove clutter from their lives and do what they love.
  • Financial Samurai – I will start off by saying while Sam’s site isn’t a traditional frugality blog, his aggressive saving and investing strategy makes his blog a must read in my opinion. Sam has many thoughts on real estate, car purchases, and investing which he backs up with data. Agree with him or not, Financial Samurai will get you thinking about your finances and how you run them.
  • Debt Free Adventure– DFA has hundreds of posts filled with practical advice on getting your life in balance while learning to do things for yourself. Matt has done a fantastic job demonstrating frugality as a tool for change.
  • Surviving and Thriving: Donna Freedman, the voice behind MSN’s Frugal Cool, has been writing about frugal living for years. She’s not only showing readers how to save money, she’s also showing how much fun you can have doing it.

Thoughts on Frugal Living

I’d love to hear from you. When did you decide to try out frugality? Where do you fall on the frugal spectrum? What sites and books have you used to become more frugal?

Cheap Smartphone Plans at Republic Wireless

Looking for a way to have a smartphone plan without draining your wallet? Republic Wireless may be the solution. As we’re looking for ways to save money in our monthly budget, I’ve noticed that we may need to re-evaluate our cell phone plan.

Right now we just finished a two year contract with Sprint for their Unlimited Plan. It’s served us well and in fact it may be more than we need. When I was checking our usage, I saw that we were using the phones a lot less than I expected.

After checking Mr. Money Mustache’s post on low cost cell phone providers, I decided to test the waters myself with Republic Wireless.

Republic Wireless – Smartphone Plans for $19/month?

Republic Wireless is a new mobile player; their program started a year ago.  They offer smartphone plans for $19/month through hybrid calling.  They are a  mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) of Sprint.

Hybrid calling basically has your phone using primarily Wi-Fi for calls, web, and texts. If there isn’t Wi-Fi available then your phone uses the cellular network.There are no contracts or termination fees. Sounds like a dream, right?

First off, Republic Wireless is upfront that this plan is still considered a beta service. If you need technical support they have an active community on their forums, but no dedicated customer service line.

If can’t afford to have any bumps with service and you like being able to call someone ASAP if you have a problem, you’d probably like to wait. That said, their forums are constantly monitored and the customer service representatives do respond quickly to resolve questions.

The plan is to use Republic Wireless for the next 3 months and see if it is a low cost solution for people.

Signing Up for Republic Wireless

I decided to go ahead and sign up for Republic Wireless’ Beta Waves. It was fairly simple process. For myself I got a confirmation from Republic Wireless to join up and grab my phone about a week after I originally signed up.

Currently there is only one phone that Republic Wireless is using – Motorola Defy XT. For phone fans, this is an adequate, but not a top of the line model. It’s an Android phone that runs Gingerbread. It has front and rear facing cameras and it’s relatively lightweight. I would love to see the ability for users to bring over their own phones to Republic.

The cost was $278 plus tax -$249 for the phone and a $29 start-up fee including the first month service. I created an account online and chose my cell phone number. You can also request to port your number, but I decided to get a new number and to use exclusively for my work.

If you’re interested in using Republic Wireless and getting unlimited talk, text, and data, then sign up today.

Other Options for SmartPhone Plans

Besides Republic Wireless, there are plenty of options to check out for cheaper smartphone plans. Many of these are mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) that use the bigger carriers’ network.

Check and compare each of the providers to make sure you can get the coverage that you need.

Thoughts on Cheap Smartphone Plans

How about you? Have you found cheap cellphone plans that offer good coverage?

Streettalk Live

Just wanted to let everyone know that tomorrow night I’ll be a guest on Streettalk Live (KSEV Houston) hosted by Lance Roberts. The planned topic is about saving and investing, but since it’s live radio, we’ll see where the discussion goes!

About Streettalk Live

Streettalk Live is lead by Lance Roberts who has over 25 years of investment experiences and his team (Mike Smith, Luke Patterson, and Max Gains) with the goal of taking complex topics of investing and economics and presenting them to listener in a clear, informative, and hopefully entertaining way.

 

Saving and Investing

Before I go on the show tomorrow, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on saving and investing for both short term and long term goals. I’m a big fan of automating finances to help you save money for your goals like an emergency fund ans use for paying down debt.

We have been using Mint to track our spending. It’s free and it’s easy to use. We use Mint to help us manage all of our financial accounts and to get snapshots of our net worth for our personal review. When it comes to savings we use both ING Direct and Ally Bank or our short term and medium term goals. They offer higher interest rates than many brick and mortar banks around the area. The service has been great and it’s encouraging to see our money grow and not worry about getting nickeled and dimed.

When you have an emergency fund and you’ve gotten your debt snowball in place, looking at investing for retirement is a logical next step. Again, if possible automating your retirement contributions, both to employer sponsored plans like 401(k)s and self funded accounts like IRA.

Here are some places to consider for opening an IRA if you haven’t already started.

Check Out Streettalk Live!

I can’t wait to see how things go on the radio. I think talking about how couples can work together on their finances and sharing our takes on what has worked for us can be extremely beneficial. I hope you tune in Friday and call in to say hi.

If you haven’t listened to to Streettalk Live, please listen to the podcasts of some their past shows and check out their blog! Call in (281)558-5738 tomorrow night

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. We actually use these services ourselves and love them. 

Photo Credits: Streettalk Live