Showing posts with label app. Show all posts
Showing posts with label app. Show all posts

My Three Favorite Gadgets

So you know, frugal readers that just because we like to save money on most things, doesn't mean we deny ourselves of some of lifes simple pleasures and conveniences. Sometimes these pleasures and conveniences cost money, but of course we can try to frugally obtain these items.

I am a gadget hound. I love to get the newest things and I use them. Some I don't really need, but some I convince myself I really, really need. I'm dreaming of getting another computer (which admittedly I don't need) But I was at a conference where everyone had Apple Macbooks, and if those aren't the coolest, fastest, slimest machines made on earth. But they cost an arm and a leg. I'm scheming how to get one on a discount by waiting for tax free school sale (this three-day tax holiday is in effect from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, August 2, 2013, through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, 2013) see FL DOR publication here. This year the tax break includes up to $750 for laptops and computers.

Anyway, heres my list of my three favorite gadgets:
1. Ipod Shuffle - I got this little music machine about seven years ago for entering sweepstakes where you sign up for a bunch of stuff to get points. So it was free, but I had to set up a spam email account and then cancel some some I signed up for with a prepaid debit card I had. It was kind of a hassle, but this is my favorite gadget so far. I use it everyday when I ride my bike to work, and then again when I go for a walk. I have it loaded with songs that have 120-140 bpm for optimum workout pleasure.

2. Android Samsung S4 phone - I've had smartphones for several years now and they have helped me save tons of money with my Grocery Tracker app, and avoid getting caught in rainstorms with my Weatherbug app. I also can track my finances on Mint app, and Dropbox is the most effective way to store documents when you use multiple devices such as Ipads, laptops, desktops, phones and my wifi camera. And since the demise of Google Reader, I have started using Feedly to capture my daily web feeds.

3. Ipad - I bought this refurbished last year and it has performed flawlessly so for $299 this Ipad2 has been worth it. I usually use it at home in place of the laptop, or when I want to read or watch a movie in the backyard. Amazon prime offers thousands of movies and TV shows for free and this device is great for that. I probably don't really need this gadget, but it is fun to have.

What's your favorite gadget?

30 Day Weight Loss Results

A month ago we stepped off a cruise ship after a long holiday weekend of lazing around and eating lots of yummy, fattening food. We each gained several pounds that needed to come off so our clothes would fit better and we would feel healthier. Here's a picture of us at St Johns USVI where we went on a nice catamaran and snorkling excursion. This is the "before" picture.

This is us each five pounds heavier, the "before" photo UGH
At first we kept up our regular meal plan of a carbohydrate rich breakfast of raisin bran with a banana, or homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal. But the problem was we were hungry for a morning snack about an hour later. Recently, the past couple weeks we've made turkey bacon for breakfast, alon with zuchinni patties (shredded zuchinni, parm cheese, egg beaters fried in a pan) Snacks in the morning are protein snack bars, cereal bars, almonds, beef jerky, fresh cut up melon or berries. Then lunch is a lettuce salad with chicken and veggie toppings, along with a nonfat yogurt for dessert. After work, we have a small snack of hummus or corn salsa on chips, then dinner is usually something from the stockpile like fish, pasta, rice or pork and of course frozen veggies steamers. Oh, and a couple beers. But no night time snacks, no eating after dinner for me.

our lunch salad, and a yogurt
I track my food and exercise using the MyFitnessPal app on my smart phone, If I am trying out a new exercise I track it live with the CardioTrainer app which uses a GPS to calculate steps, miles, calories, time etc so I know what it's all worth (It's a 2 mile trip around Busch Gardens). I try to eat about 1200-1400 calories a day, and burn up 400 to 600 calories with exercise (biking, walking. treading water in pool) each day. On Fridays and Saturdays, I may go out to eat (love those buffalo chicken wings!) so my calories can jump to 2000 per day. But my activity is up too so I think it evens out.

 I also read a diet book I checked out from the library (an ebook) The Adaptation Diet by Charles A Moss, which outlined a basically low carb diet with other ideas too. I've implemented some of the ideas, like eliminating anti inflammatory pills like Aleve or Advil because they cause a "leaky gut". I've pretty much cut out bread, and corn products and potatoes. I've cut back on drinking beer and we've never been sugar lovers, so sweets are easy to ignore.

Well, I'm pleased to report we have each lost five pounds in a month with this plan. DH doesn't bike like I do, so his plan includes less exercising, but men lose weight easier anyway. And the wonderful thing is, this lifestyle is frugal. There are no special foods, or pills, or drinks needed to lose weight. It's good old fashioned healthy diet and exercise. It's a lifestyle that can endure and be long lasting, with occasional treats that will not sideline your efforts because overall a healthy lifestyle can sustain the bumps in the road.

When we lose 5 more pounds, I'll post an "after" photo. Stay posted.

Planning for the Demise of Google Reader

With the upcoming death of Google Reader at the end of the month; I've had to set up RSS feeds with another feed reader to capture blog and news updates from hundreds of web sites. I've set up with Feedly, TheOldReader and Netvibes so far and none of them compare to Google Reader. Maybe its just me needing to learn how to use all the features, but they don't all sync or display nicely across my devices - computers, Ipad and smartphone. The problem with Feedly is it requires the use of a non internet explorer browser to view on a computer. This is not an option at my work so I can't view my feeds in the day. On the Ipad and Smartphone it's my favorite though. So, I've settled for netvibes which doesn't require a special browser or downloading software, so I can use it a work - for now, until they block it.

I've noticed I'm viewing my feeds less often since it is not as simple as Google Reader, and that certain deal and coupon sites really are borderline spammers with ten to fifteen posts per day. If I follow 50 deal sites who all post 10 times a day that's 500 feeds. So, I've grouped them together under one tab because they clutter my other feeds. And guess what, I rarely take the time to read them. I simply click "Mark As Read". For a while I will probably continue to do this, but eventually I suspect I'll just delete that tab. One of the greatest benefits of not viewing all these feeds, is that I don't get the temptation to spend money on stuff. It's saving me money to not read those blogs.

Another feature that's nice about Netvibes is that you can set up different "dashboards" where  you can put different types of feeds. I could have one for deals, and one for personal finance and one for news. I have noticed that if I put all my hundreds of feeds in one dashboard it errors out and cannot pull them all. I think it is from the spamming type accounts like news sites and deal forums. These sites send out hundreds of updates a day and netvibes can't seem to handle them.

If you use Google Reader, I would recommend you find an alternative now so you can export your feeds to a new vendor instead of creating them from scratch. You can also download your feeds into a file to be imported later if someone develops a great new reader. However, if you wait too long - Google Reader will be gone and you'll have to start from scratch building your feed list.

There are a couple other apps that I've started to use also, to help capture articles I want to read later. Since I don't really care for netvibes on my smartphone and Ipad I use Feedly. When I see an article I want to read, I bookmark it, or send it to Pocket or Dropbox. I also can send my photos from my phone to Dropbox and then access them on my computers. These sites also have free apps at Google Play and App Store on your phones and Ipads.

This is not a sponsored post, I am simply telling you how I am dealing with the demise of one of my most useful internet applications. It's kind of teaching me not to get too dependent on one entity because they could sell it or get rid of it, and you don't want to lose your stuff. I personally don't trust Google to not end any of their features including Picassa, Drive and Blogger. They are shutting down iGoogle in November which will force me to figure out a new homepage. That will again change how I manage my time on the internet.

2012 Yearly Shopping Totals

This is complicated calculating yearly totals since there are so many factors that everyone uses differently. My yearly totals include all household products that are consumed, including gasoline for the vehicles. I pretty much only shop at Publix, I went to Sweetbay three times and Winn Dixie twice. I did not shop at CVS, Walgreens, or Target. Using manufacturer, store and competitor coupons matched with sales and occasional rainchecks we were able to get all our household products essentially free this past year.
  • We had 444 transactions and purchased $32,729 worth of products and gift cards.
  • Of that amount purchased; $3755 was gift cards ($1005 Publix, $2750 gas cards).
  • Total spending was $2951, for a profit of $803 in gift cards plus all the product was essentially free. 
  • On average, we spent $245 a month to purchase an average of $2727 worth of product.
  • The largest transaction was $179 spent for $384 worth of product including $200 in gas cards.
  • This does not include rebates and gift card offers received - I didn't track those.
You may notice we purchased a lot of product. We consume a normal amount of product and have stockpiles of paper goods and non expiring products to last years.  With food and products that expire, we determine our usage and purchase enough to have through expiration. If items are free or very cheap (less than $0.25 ea) we will buy to get our totals up to use a $/$$ coupon, or to use up the coupons I have. We donate a lot of product, and also have a yard sale to move any products that are extra and we cannot consume before they expire. The cash we earn from the sale goes into my coupon envelope and is used when we need to get gas cards, so the months with lots of cash spent - it is yard sale money. We are still learning how to manage a stockpile and determine what is appropriate amounts to keep. It is very frustrating to sell extra laundry detergent at a yard sale, and then the good deals disappear and we come perilously close to running out of a household item. 

 $   1,925.47 cash spent  $ 546.48  $     (3.28)  $     (23.34)  $     438.88  $      (4.65)  $    219.26
 $   1,025.82 GC spent  $   97.14  $   136.30  $      75.24  $     121.32  $     92.96  $      76.04
 $   2,951.29 Total Spent  $ 643.62  $   133.02  $      51.90  $     560.20  $     88.31  $    295.30
32,729.70 Value of Goods 4,322.47  $2,729.67  $ 2,534.65  $  3,856.14  $ 2,458.57  $ 3,212.34
$3,755.00 GC purchased 890.00 270.00 145.00 910.00 65.00 520.00
$803.71<---earnings 750 Gas 50 Gas 750 Gas 400 Gas

 $     (42.62)  $      1.32  $     (5.04)  $   562.52  $      42.07  $   193.87  $   160.46
 $      83.84  $     33.57  $     55.93  $     32.98  $    108.04  $   112.46  $     85.49
 $      41.22  $     34.89  $     50.89  $   595.50  $    150.11  $   306.33  $   245.94
 $  2,366.35  $1,308.27  $2,529.04  $ 3,323.63  $ 1,860.68  $2,227.89  $2,727.48
10.00 0.00 0.00 705.00 0.00 240.00 $1,005.00 Pulbix CG
700 Gas 100 gas 2750 Gas CG

There were a lot of coupon policy changes in 2012 and a lot of the usual coupon offerings dried up - Publix booklets weren't as good, MQs are smaller value, and limits on usage make it tougher. I expect it to continue to be a challenge in the future. It does seem that empty shelves aren't a problem as much now and there are less opportunities for rainchecks. We have had to decrease the size of our orders and increase the number of transactions to take most advantage of the $/$$ coupons. My goal with every shop is to pay less than a dollar. I don't really like to have my orders go negative and have them pay me. It does happen occasionally, but I don't plan it that way. I spend my overage on non coupon items. One advantage of frequent transactions is that you are in the store almost every day and usually get the coupon booklets before they are gone, or you can ask CS each time you're in the store and get the amount you need.
My strategies for the upcoming year - continue multiple Sunday newspaper subscriptions, multiple computers to print coupons, frequent smaller transactions, review forums for deal ideas, use GroceryTracker app for planning each shop.
Hoping for good coupon karma in the upcoming year!
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