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Archive for November, 2013

Ting Black Friday!

November 29th, 2013 at 03:17 pm

We were going to switch over to Ting next week. I believe our early termination sweet spot was Sunday. BUT, dh talked to Sprint a while back and they told us our early termination fee was already lowest it will get: $350. (Not sure I believe this because does not make sense - but whatever - we could argue that is what they told us).

& now Ting is having a big Black Friday Sale, so we will probably transition our phones over today. Sunday is fine, but we were supposed to be at the beach. Today was a "Definitely not leaving the house" kind of day with Black Friday...

Here are the details on their Black Friday Sale:

https://ting.com/blog/just-about-every-ting-device-on-sale/

In addition to their devices on sale, they are offering a $25 per device credit for bringing devices over to Ting. Of course, we have a family plan with my parents, so this is a substantial bonus for us - $100!! $125, since we decided to just switch over all our phones. We haven't decided which one to drop yet (with dh getting a new phone). So we can try them all out for a bit. We will eventually drop the 5th one - I don't see the older kid getting any use out of a cell phone yet (though we will keep the extra for him - maybe could use in the next couple of years). We had already decided a while ago that when the kids get cell phones we'd put them on Ting. It may only be $6/month/each for their level of usage.

& I have a referral code:

https://z181d126bt4.ting.com/

By using my Ting referral code you get $25 off your phone purchase or $25 account credit if you bring your own phone, and I get a $25 account credit.

This referral code works in addition to the Black Friday deal!!

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These are not the exact numbers, but the figures work out to something like this...

Early termination (4 lines) is $350. It will be $350 for each of the last 5 months of our contract. Last month would have cost more.

Ting will pay 25% of our early termination fee and we will get $125 credit (at least) for switching today.

$350 Fee
- 88 Ting Credit (25%)
-125 Black Friday and Referral Code
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$137 Net Fees for switching

Cell phone bill (pre-tax) goes down from $180 to $60 per month. That is a monthly savings of $120 per month. Which means, we about break even on the first month - maybe so with taxes. I expect the taxes to decrease - just not sure by how much.

Going forward, our own household will save $60 per month ($120 x 50%). The catch is that the phones are not subsidized. But, there are a slew of lower cost non-contract phones coming out on the market right now. Which is actually what motivated our switch right now. By the time I need to upgrade my own phone I expect this to be a non-issue. Dh just bought a new phone and so I expect he will keep it many years. (We usually keep our phones for a long time). The rest of us will keep our phones, though we might drop the most out-of-date phone (since we now have 5 phones for the 4 of us). The kids will have hand-me-downs to use, eventually.

When we were on Verizon (for over a decade) we never got new phones every 2 years. SO wasteful, and that way we didn't have to be on contract all the time. I am sure we were off contract more than we were ever on contract. I am beyond happy that those contract days are OVER!! I knew we'd eventually jump ship, but just didn't expect it to be so soon. Woohoo!

{I suppose it was for the greater good and cost savings that dh's phone broke??}.

ETA: We aren't sure if the $25 credit - Black Friday AND referral code - is really $25 per device or $25 per account. I guess we find out for sure on Tuesday. (Confusing wording on both accounts. Their customer service is REALLY good, but we've already called them like *FIFTY* times so we figured we will just figure it out when we get the credit. Just because we had a lot of questions about various unique situations - not because we had any problems).

Chase $550 Bonus

November 21st, 2013 at 04:56 am

Yes, of course Chase upped their bonus considerably right after dh applied!

But, I kind of figured that would happen and I am up for a double dip or a triple dip myself (I don't remember off the top of my head). & we can also always ask them to match the offer on the card we just applied for.

Anyway, here is the 55,000 bonus I just stumbled across today:

http://www.creditcardwatcher.com/chase-sapphire-preferred-ca...

I already applied.

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Dh's total bonus will be $430, and mine should be $580, for a total of $1,010. The reward is CASH.

I am going the "super lazy" route:

For one, I don't think I will bother to ask them to match on dh's card.

Secondarily, I have to come up with $6,000 to spend in the next 3 months for both of these cards. It's not really a big deal because gas + groceries + health insurance is about $2k per month for us. So, we could charge anything and everything and make it work. BUT, that is a lot of accounting on my part.

I've already got dh's $3,000 spent, so the easiest way to do mine is to charge our property taxes. We will pay a $50-ish fee to do so, but this will be infinitely easier in the grand scheme of things. That is one charge versus an entire month of charges to track on some random card we will only keep for a few months. Anything more than that is too complicated for my sensibilities.

So, this is what we did:

--Charged $140-ish to AAA this month.

--Dh's card closes next week (billing cycle closes) so after that I will charge November health insurance, December health insurance & home insurance and flood insurance.

This brings us about exactly to $3,000 (with the bulk of it due January 31). I already have every single one of those bills set to pay after next week.

My new Chase Sapphire Card:

--Charge Property taxes $2,000
--I will probably pre-pay January's health insurance. Or just charge it in January since it is well within 3 months.

--Dh will have to do one small charge for the extra 5,000 points. Hopefully something really small.

& that is how we will spend $6,000 in like one month, so we can get these rewards in hand ASAP.

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Rewards Spending:

--$400-ish is going to dh's new phone (why I applied for the other Chase card in the first place).

--I still owe $350 for BM's field trip for this year so will just knock that out.

--Leaves about $200-ish after the property tax fee. Might just use that to shore up our beach weekend. I didn't pay the entire hotel yet, and will have the kitty hotel. & eating out always adds up so quickly (since we are so used to such cheap home cooking).

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While I am doing a credit card reward post...

Progress on our ongoing credit card rewards:

--Will earn about $600 this year from Fidelity AmEx (Deposited to ROTHs)

--Will earn about $500 with our gas/groceries reward card (has all gone to mortgage)

--Earned $160 on our CU visa (we racked up a lot of charges last month because they had a 2% cash back promotion - I don't get this reward until January - it accumulates all year and we usually don't use this card much - will probably throw the $160-ish at the mortgage when I receive it).

--I looked and we saved $80 at Target this year. Once I get the year-end total I will throw this sum at the mortgage. At 5% back this works out to about $1600 purchases. The bulk of that is groceries.

The credit card reward grand total is going to be close to $2600 this year.

0.035% Expense Increase

November 14th, 2013 at 09:11 pm

So, I got the HOA financials and everything, and an apologetic letter about how they had to increase our HOA dues during these trying times.

My spouse, who HATES the HOA with a passion starts griping while I flip through the paperwork trying to find actual dollar figures. I tell him, "Oh chill out - our HOA dues have only gone down over the years - which is crazy unheard of in any economy - much less THIS ONE." I mean, the majority of the homes around here are in default - no one's paying their dues. I hate the HOA too, but they have their financial crap together. I have no idea how we got so lucky. I'd like to say I poured over financial statements and did my research, but we were an early buyer in a completely new neighborhood. There was nothing to research about the HOA at that time. We just got lucky.

Anyway, I finally found the dollar figure. We have to pay an extra quarter per month.

Who wrote that letter?!? If it was me, it would be, "In spite these hard economic times and the over-bearing amount of non-paying homeowners, the dues will only need to increase 25 cents per month to balance our budget". I mean, seriously. Write a sad apologetic letter over a quarter?

It is the first time in many years they raised the fee at all. Somehow we survive. Wink

{To be fair, we live in the cheapest neighborhood. Some of the others, especially the gated parts, have extra services included. Theirs went up $1.25 - $2.25 per month. & theirs always goes up, so the apologetic letter was probably for them}.

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I am pleased with how 2014 is shaping up. I think I have got all the budget numbers I need except for any potential raise. I think odds are I won't get a raise and so will just plan on that for now. (I will find out for sure in January).

I'll have to post numbers later. I am pleased I have managed to offset all cost increases with other cost decreases.

Where To Begin? Just The Usual...

November 14th, 2013 at 04:37 am

This is my past week or so:

**Mom was in a car accident. She is okay; it was minor.

**Mom's cat passed on. This was the cat we were really worried would pass within weeks of my mom's mom passing. SO, we are relieved (and very surprised) that she held on as long as she did. She did go fast and sudden though, so was kind of shocking in that regard. But I still can't believe that cat outlived mine by a solid 8 months. !! (That cat was very sick for many years; ours was only diagnosed with cancer a few weeks before she passed).

It's been a rough year for pets in our family.

**I had a scary medical thing on Monday. It turned out to be "nothing", but you know, you don't know that at the time. More on that later. It's really nothing that exciting, but was just scary when I had no idea what it was.

**I suppose the crappy luck is in my parents' court for now. I am fine and I Was able to be evaluated at a routine medical appointment. I just sped up the appointment to yesterday and so am not out any extra money for the evaluation. (I was worried I'd be sent for an MRI, so glad it worked out the way it did).

I don't like to be cheap with medical stuff, but it has been one heck of a year!!

Oh, anyway, so today was at least a little good news:

Today was the big dental appointment that I was thinking we should see out before booking winter vacation. BUT, it went about as well as it could have. BM had 2 teeth pulled (Expected).

LM may cost a small fortune next year but is currently in "wait and see" mode. I am so relieved to have a 6 month financial reprieve on that. (They did not even pull his baby tooth, which was expected today).

Yes, *only* spending $100 for a routine doctor appointment and $400 at the dentist is GOOD NEWS around here. Lately.

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So that my post is not just whiny and "woe is me" and accidents and death and doctor bills...

**I got called for jury duty and already got excused (As sole breadwinner/non-paid for jury duty). Oh - they called me in for the worst possible week of the entire year as far as work. That was stress I did not need. (I started to worry maybe my excuse was not automatic and I had used it too many times). Let's just say... "Phew!"

**Last year at this time I got some school shorts on clearance for $3.88 per pair. I hit a couple of Targets last night but no such luck. I think I just got lucky last year.

While out, we got a sympathy card for my mom. I bought the kids a couple of shirts on clearance.

**Dh made 21-ingredient-chili, which was raved about on the crockpot365 website. It was interesting... & I mean that in a good way. IT was tasty and different and good. But, I think we will toss that recipe aside as it doesn't fit our preference for "less complicated".

In case you are intrigued:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2011/12/21-ingredient-chili-...

It just couldn't hold a candle to our very simple/tasty recipe. Much preferred by ALL of us:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/corny-chili

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**Last, but not least: Have you heard anything about 3D printers? Dh and my dad are engineer types and so there had been talk about this technology. I saw probably towards the beginning of the year that our library had a 3D printer. O.M.G. I think it took them a while to get staff and support for it though.

So anyway, dh finally went over there to check it out. Now that they have regular hours and information and so on.

HE found a site with designs you can take over to the printer:

http://www.thingiverse.com/

HE found a cup holder kind of design for his new phone (a phone stand to keep in the car cup holder). & so he decided to experiment with that.

Well, it ended up taking about 3.5 hours to print. On a day where the printer was only available for 4 hours. That said, while I was in there, a guy walked in and said, "I promise it won't take 6 hours this time!" So, I guess it happens...

There are several things of similar size that only take 15 minutes or 1/2 hour to print. It seems like it is maybe a little hit and miss.

All of the above said, no one knows about it (the library printer) and it appears to be generally under-utilized.

This thing is a frugie's dream!

Practical applications:

--To make replacement parts to fix items

--To make gifts or toys (or jewelry)

--To make small practical items like key chains. Or cell phone cases.

--Useful for school projects?

The possibilities are probably endless...

Actually, there was a local news story about some young entrepreneurs prototyping their invention at the library.

Here is the 3D printer in action:

Nexus 5, Ting, Updates

November 10th, 2013 at 11:16 pm

**Dh and I had a nice lunch date last week. It had been a while, for whatever reason. Maybe just busy busy busy dealing with life.

We had a coupon so spent a whopping $11. I had leftovers for dinner the same night.

We had gotten the coupon at the last school fundraiser. We also scored an hour of free bowling and $20 in arcade credits (at bowling alley). That will be something we should go do Thanksgiving week.

**That reminds me, I did get our post Thanksgiving vacation booked.



After one heck of a year and more than one ruined vacation, I am a little wary. BUT, since my birthday fell on that weekend it sealed the deal for just going. We went last year and had the entire hotel mostly to ourselves. IT was DIVINE. I figure this year we will get rained out or a flat tire or something. But, will try!! Trying to be positive.

**So, how about that Nexus 5?

It's a $400-ish non-contract phone that works with most cell carriers.

I don't know if dh would care so much, but his phone broke and he really HATES the one that he is making do with.

So yeah, he is all over it!! Which is making me think this broken phone thing was a blessing in disguise.

Because... He is ready to switch to Ting!

Last we ran the numbers it just wasn't working, but I think it was mostly because he didn't want to. We were probably assuming all new phones, and higher prices of phones. So, this Nexus 5 changes things dramatically. In addition, if we switch now, the rest of us can just keep our current phones (barely 18 months old, so no need or wish to upgrade).

One final point - we weren't quite sure on data usage before we tried out our latest cell phone plan. BUT, since the sprint network sucks so much our data usage has been pretty small. Our current actual usage puts us around $30/month for two phones. (Before taxes and fees). I would expect we will use more data with time, and so did not factor this low usage in our past calculations. (Which is fine - even if we quadruple our data we will still be saving a ton on the monthly bill).

We are on a family plan with my folks and are all on the same page. If we stick with Sprint at all, might as well just go to Ting and pay half as much for the same crappy coverage. Either that, or let's just splurge on Verizon and actually get decent cell service.

But the Nexus 5 does not carry to Verizon. So, that seals the deal. Dh's love for the phone and kicking the big guys (and contract BS) to the curb is trumping all else. Plus, maybe he is a sucker. We are supposed to get 4G any day now. (So they have said for the entire past 18 months). I am just relieved he is willing to wait it out.

I would not be surprised if we eventually end up with Verizon, but am happy to save money in the interim. Environmentally, we are really opposed to upgrading all our phones just to switch carriers again.

Anyway THANK YOU to the SA Ting guniea pigs. I really appreciate it. It's an easier choice having heard so much good things about it.

I will have to do a numbers post later. We are terminating our contract 5 months early, so somewhere around December 1, or maybe a little later - depends when we get dh's new phone. Though since there are no activation fees, I am pushing to just switch December 1. He can sort out the new phone later. Anyway, Ting will pay 25% of our termination fees, so that is cool. We will still come out ahead regardless, terminating early and cutting our monthly bill for those 5 months.

**One final thing. That new phone is not going to cost me a penny. I was waiting for the Chase Sapphire card to bump back up to a $500 reward again (I think it was $500 earlier this year??). But, I give up. The $400 reward came to mind as a great way to pay for this phone. So I already applied, and I have enough insurance bills due to hit the $3,000 spending requirement by 12/31. I hope to get that $430-ish reward check by the end of the year.