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Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found?
Old 06-16-2004, 07:11 PM   #1
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Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found?

I may be slow to the party on this one.
I just got an REI Visa card that give you back 1% cash back on everything you purchase. Previously, I was using Discover but you must spent $3,000 in a year to get the full 1%. I also, found out that while traveling in foreign countries getting an MBNA Visa credit card might be best because it only charges the Visa 1% exchange fee and does not add another 2% on top like most cards; including the REI Visa.

Question is: What money saving organizations (AARP?) or tools (such as the 1% cash back Visa) have you found? I'm not asking for suggestion like watering down the milk or putting the car in neutral while rolling down hill to save on gas.
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Old 06-16-2004, 07:19 PM   #2
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It's easier to digest these tips a few a week than to try to scan the whole website in an hour.

http://www.stretcher.com/index.cfm

And Fidelity just started a 1.5% rebate card from MBNA. Customer service varies but MBNA probably does this with most major banks, brokerages, and other businesses...
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-16-2004, 07:57 PM   #3
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Another one is fatwallet: www.fatwallet.com. Generally the majority of the deals there are on consumer electronics, but early on I found out about a mortgage product that ended up saving me in the low four digits.

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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-16-2004, 08:46 PM   #4
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

i look over fatwallet every day. the only problem is it makes me wanna buy stuff I dont need at bargain basement prices.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-16-2004, 10:00 PM   #5
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

OK, this is a small one but it all adds up. I realized yesterday that I've been paying too much for bank checks for 20 years. I had never given it a thought before - just went on auto-pilot and re-ordered checks from my credit union. I've been paying too much in a couple of ways: First, I've been buying duplicate checks (the kind with the carbon copy under the actual check). That's what they told me I needed when I signed up 20 years ago, and I never gave it another thought. It recently dawned on me that I don't need to do that (I'm thinking clearer now that I'm retired). Single checks are much cheaper and I don't need those carbons. Second, I can get checks cheaper at Wal-Mart (and probably a hundred other places) so I stopped buying them through the credit union. I can order online in minutes.

Another one is long distance. Malakito told me (here) awhile back about www.onesuite.com. My Sam's Club long distance balance is dwindling and I plan to switch soon.

Here's one more some may not be aware of. Many here may be Vanguard Voyager clients (those with $250,000-1 million at Vanguard). They waive all those $10 -$25 fees (custodial, etc.), provide free access to Financial Engines, provide a "Household Statement", discounts on brokerage fees, and a few other things. Flagship clients are those with a million plus at Vanguard and they get even more. Most here probably know all of that. What they don't advertise very prominently, however, is that family members of Voyager/Flagship clients are also eligible for that status. My adult daughter and her husband just opened their first Vanguard account with a grand total of one thousand dollars and received Voyager status immediately based upon my status. So if you have a family member who is a Voyager or Flagship client, and you also invest at Vanguard but don't have enough there to qualify, all you have to do is ask to be upgraded (they'll also need confirmation from your family member, which I sent via email).
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-16-2004, 10:48 PM   #6
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Onesuite is pretty good. I've noticed sometimes when I dial someone I get a busy signal when they arent on the phone, and sometimes the person on the other end reports low volume or a delay. I wonder if they're using some "voice over IP" stuff. Hadnt had that with sams club phone cards. If you use a LOT of long distance and have a cable modem or DSL, look into Vonage or Packet8...long distance calling over your high speed internet line using a regular phone to anyone in the world. For $20-35 a month you can talk all you want in the US.

For those with low adjusted gross income, see if you qualify for any "low income" service rates. Because I have no taxable income, I qualify for $5 a month phone service and 20% off my utility bills. I feel a little weaselish, but I didnt make the rules.

Whole house fans are very nice for quickly and inexpensively cooling down a house. I bought the smallest one and just screwed it into the attic opening, ran a cord to a wall outlet and plugged it in, and hooked that up to a small x10 remote control. Voila, for about $100 I have a remote control house fan.

Instead of cooling the whole house on hot summer evenings, I just put a high efficiency window a/c unit in and for 1/10th the cost of cooling the whole house, I cool just the room we're in.

Check out your shopping options. I found a little cash only market not that far away that has great produce, pretty good meats, a heck of a bulk section, and a surprising array of what I would consider moderately "gourmet" foods. Its the food stamp crowd and its nowhere near as pretty as the fancy "bel air" market, but the prices are 30-50% cheaper for the same merchandise. I make heavy use of the bulk section - I can refill a $3 container of hot cocoa mix for 75c and buy a variety of hot cereals, rices, beans and grains for about 1/2 of the packaged rate. Pasta in whole wheat or regular is about 50c a lb. I also have a grocery outlet near me that handles a lot of closeouts and merchandise nearing its expiration date. I wouldnt buy any fresh food there, but I occasionally pick up canned and dry goods for about 80% off to refill my pantry. They had a bunch of pretty good wine there, originally about $10-12 a bottle at the regular store for $2.99 a bottle. I buy all my gas at sams club and anything I can use in large quantities from them as well. We go through a lot of orange juice, so I get the six packs of concentrate there for a buck a can, each makes a half gallon.

Gets hot here and pools cost $15-30k, so we bought one of those little inflatable collar Intex pools at walmart. A 10' one for under $100. Comes with a pump filter, a skimmer and a cheesy but surprisingly effective little bottom vacuum. Takes me about 5 minutes a day and 10 minutes a week to clean and adjust the chemicals, respectively. I've had an in ground pool and except for not being able to swim laps, this is every bit as good for sitting in on a hot day or a warm evening. Surprisingly tough, we've gotten 3 years out of them and they still look good. The 8' model which is clear in case you have kids and want to see them when they're in it costs under $50. Its not really deep, but for people with a small space its not too bad.

When you buy appliances, buy energy star models. My new fridge cut ten bucks a month off my electric bills over the 17 year old hunk of junk that came with my house. The front loader washer I bought a while back uses half the detergent, water and electricity.

If you like having a big tv, consider a DLP projector instead. I paid $750 for my Infocus X1, and throw a 10' picture on a regular wall over the fireplace. Takes computer and video connections. Requires a somewhat dim room; you wont be able to use it at 2am with all the drapes pulled back and the sun blasting in. You need a separate stereo for the sound, but I imagine most people have one of those already. If you have a seldom used room, like I did in my old mcmansion, you can set up a "movie room". Between the projector, a low cost dolby digital setup, and a Netflix dvd subscription, we havent been to the movies in years. And we dont want to.

Its a lot of pennies and dollars here and there, but wow does it add up.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-17-2004, 06:24 AM   #7
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Hey TH - do you have a dog? Hubby and I have been looking at pools like the one you have. You mentioned it's tough, but I'm afraid our dogs will want to jump up on the edge and see what we're doing in there. Of course, we'll do our best to discourage this, but I'm wondering if they're going to put holes in it? Thanks.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-17-2004, 06:38 AM   #8
 
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Bob_Smith,

Do you still actually write a lot of checks? I find myself writing on average about 1 per month! I have not bought checks in a few years.

All of my monthly utility bills are set up Electronic Transfers (this saves the cost of a stamp and the Hassle). Even my Property Taxes are done this way. Everything else is paid by Credit Card and that Bill is paid with a One-Time Electronic Transfer.

Get rid of Checks and Save even more!
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-17-2004, 06:41 AM   #9
 
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Quote:
Requires a somewhat dim room; you wont be able to use it at 2am with all the drapes pulled back and the sun blasting in.
With the Sun Blasting in at 2am, you must live pretty close to the North Pole! - Isn't it a little cool for an outdoor pool?
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-17-2004, 10:54 AM   #10
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Doh! I meant 2pm. Smarty pants.

Football games and movies look great on it, but I do have to pull the shades and drapes. For half the cost of a decent big screen tv that has half the picture size, its a great deal. Since it weighs under 10lbs and is the size of a thick phone book, you can also pack it up and take it to your buddies house for superbowl sunday or whatever televised event is on tap.

Yelnad - I have two giant dogs and I had the same concern, expecting the pool to last about a month. They jumped on it a little at first, no damage, and a couple of times the one that likes water jumped in with me and walked around a little before I heaved her back out. The stuff is amazingly tough. I 'stir up' the water on a warm day by putting my foot into the side and kicking it quite vigorously. My wife had a 15' version out in her backyard...we just laid it out on the ground, some small rooty things poking at it, a few stones, never has had a leak in 3 years. I put my 10' on a couple of sheets of rubber backed outdoor carpeting on my concrete patio...that gives it a nice soft plush feeling on the feet. I've patched two pinholes in two years. I'm not sure how the holes were made as they werent there when I put the pool away last fall but they were when I set it back up. The only thing we've had to replace is the hoses that connect the filter to the pool; theres no stress relief for them so after 2 years they split at the pump side. Surprisingly the company sells replacement parts online at very reasonable prices and low shipping costs. Usually these guys try to kill you on a part. Worst case though you huck the whole thing and spend $80 on another one...

On banking costs, I joined my companies credit union when it was formed (digital credit union). Curiously, the bank outlasted the company. They charge me absolutely nothing for anything, and pay out pretty good rates. They're at www.dcu.org. Anyone I know can become a member and they pay out a bonus for that. Free checks, free online banking, zero fee HELOC's, etc.
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Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-17-2004, 12:29 PM   #11
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Quote:
Bob_Smith,

Do you still actually write a lot of checks?
Yes, my wife writes quite a few, but we're reducing that since I now have the time to pay attention to details and take over some of that. In a small town there are quite a few businesses that don't take credit cards, so we won't dump checks altogether. We can't use a credit card to buy groceries, for example.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 02:45 AM   #12
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Quote:
All of my monthly utility bills are set up Electronic Transfers (this saves the cost of a stamp and the Hassle). Even my Property Taxes are done this way. *Everything else is paid by Credit Card and that Bill is paid with a One-Time Electronic Transfer.
Same here. Bills are always paid on time no matter where I am. Metavente doesn't cost me a thing so I save on my time, check & postage costs, etc. I get a $20 gift cert to Nordstrom for every $2k charged (thinking of changing to Starbucks since I seem to go there more now).

I dropped my landline's long distance carrier and use my cell for those calls (1000 anytime, unlimited nights / weekends / mobile-mobile within ATT). Got my landline down to 16 a month and the cell is about 45. Was spending 45 on both with the old carriers.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 04:17 AM   #13
 
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

I pay nothing on-line. Everything is by check unless
I am running out of mailing time, in which case I might
do a transfer to save a late fee. Never owned a debit
or ATM card in my life, and don't want to. Sometimes
I will switch my bank account and talk them into giving me free checks, but I wouldn't do it just for the checks
alone. My wife pays a lot of her bills on line. She is more techno-savvy whereas I am basically a Luddite.
BTW, if anyone is thinking "his bills vs. her bills",
this is required by our pre-nup. No commingling of
assets. That will mess up a pre-nup faster than anything, other than one spouse claiming there was
coercion. A word to those multiple marriage folks,
present and future.

John Galt
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 04:45 AM   #14
 
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Alas, GDER, my "marital assets" are not producing nearly
the return they once did.............

John Galt
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 05:55 AM   #15
 
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Quote:
I pay nothing on-line. Everything is by check unless
I am running out of mailing time, in which case I might
do a transfer to save a late fee. Never owned a debit
or ATM card in my life, and don't want to. Sometimes
I will switch my bank account and talk them into giving me free checks, but I wouldn't do it just for the checks
alone. My wife pays a lot of her bills on line. She is more techno-savvy whereas I am basically a Luddite.
John,

I know you use a computer, otherwise you wouldn't be on this forum. How did you come to this technolgy, when you seem to leave all the other useful ones behind?
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 07:38 AM   #16
 
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Hi Cut-Throat! Short answer, because it's fun!
I use the computer very little for any business
purposes, and in fact even back in my
"Captain of Industry "days, I only learned just enough to
get by. For example, although I was mostly
financially oriented and in fact, was CFO of several
companies, I could not run a spreadsheet to save my
life. Never learned. Lazy. Just faked it until I retired.
No, the truth is except for e-mail and the stuff I can
look up on the Internet, I'd go back to snail mail
and sell this damn thing.

John Galt
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 10:35 AM   #17
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

We use rewards credit cards (frequent flyer miles) to pay for nearly everything. We find the mileage earning cards more rewarding than 1% cash back cards as we value miles at about 1.35 cents each. Bills we can't pay for with a credit card, we pay for on-line. It's rare that we write a check; no checks means not having to pay for new checks or postage.'[

I'm surprised many people still have a landline phone. When we moved into our townhouse last month, we decided not to get a landline phone. Seems like a waste of $30+ a month plus long distance charges. Our cell phones provide everything we need.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 10:45 AM   #18
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Winco is around here to and is the absolute cheapest. Next cheapest is Walmart, then Fred Meyer, then Albertson's.

How do y'all without land lines do internet connections and so forth? I have a landline through Qwest at ~$28 a month which I'd just as soon drop except I need it for dialup. Suggestions?

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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 10:46 AM   #19
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

Quote:
Our cell phones provide everything we need.
Some of us live out in the boonies where we don't get a cell phone signal...not always a bad thing, but necessitates having a land line.

We did use DirectWay for internet (satellite) and just switched to DSL when it became available, since we have to have the land line anyway. We need the high speed for the business.
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found
Old 06-22-2004, 11:13 AM   #20
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Re: Such a deal-What $ saving ideas have you found

While buying the equipment and supplies we need to move aboard the boat, we are shopping e-bay like there's no tomorrow. (As well as selling anything I can reasonably package up!) Otherwise, use Costco, etc. as much as possible.

We tried switching to cheaper beer, but it just hasn't been worth it. Life is too short to drink cheap beer. So far unable to find it on e-bay...
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