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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 12-24-2003, 12:13 PM   #21
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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Next, after looking at the requirements, I found that my income met the requirements for not only 'low income' telephone but also for low income gas and electric. *There were no limits on assets, just annual household gross. *Works for me because I live alone. *Dropped my phone bill from $17 to $5. *Dropped 30% off my utility bills.
Wow. This is creative. Do you have to include realized capital gains in your income? And didn't you say your portfolio icome was $34,000 - does that qualify for low income where you live? Do they want your US 1040 on file?

I would be amazed if this worked for me, but I would probably give it a shot.

Mikey
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 12-24-2003, 04:52 PM   #22
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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Couple of things. *First off, I get 2.97c on phone cards from sams and costco locally..... *Next, after looking at the requirements, I found that my income met the requirements for not only 'low income' telephone but also for low income gas and electric...... Your best bet for long distance? *How about almost free. *If you have a cable modem or DSL, look into www.packet8.com or www.vonage.com.
Thanks TH. Great information. I'm checking into Sam's Club for the lower rate phone card. And I do have cable modem service, so I may try that too. I love saving money that way; no reduction in standard of living, just lower costs. No lazy money, as John Galt would say.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 12-24-2003, 07:26 PM   #23
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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Wow. This is creative. Do you have to include realized capital gains in your income? And didn't you say your portfolio icome was $34,000 - does that qualify for low income where you live? Do they want your US 1040 on file?

I would be amazed if this worked for me, but I would probably give it a shot.

Mikey

I'm carrying about $150,000 in short and long term capital gains from the "internet boom". I walked away with most of my capital intact, but sold some losers in the last few years. My gross income on my tax returns is about $18k. Phone company wants 20k or less for a single, the utility company wants $26k or less for a single. I may pull this off for another year or two but at the point where my retirement gross exceeds these, paying an extra few dollars a month on my utilities wont bug me.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 12-24-2003, 07:31 PM   #24
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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Thanks TH. Great information. I'm checking into Sam's Club for the lower rate phone card. And I do have cable modem service, so I may try that too. I love saving money that way; no reduction in standard of living, just lower costs. No lazy money, as John Galt would say.
Amen and glad to help. I heard recently that the big LD companies like at&t are beta testing a similar service to break into the local/local LD business without having to use the phone companies copper. Likely to be more towards Vonage's $35 than Packet8's $20. I read a research report a couple of years ago that said sustainable business was closer to the $35 level, but since packet8 makes their own terminal adapter and appears to have minimal customer care, they may be able to limp along with a lower charge.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-06-2004, 09:50 PM   #25
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

Thought I'd share a couple of other cost savings ideas that maintain or improve quality of life.

One is a pretty cool website, www.fatwallet.com They post great deals on stuff, but the real meat is to go to the main web site, go to the "forums" (like here) and look through "hot deals" and "deal discussion". A lot of people "find" cheap deals, closeouts, wacky coupon/rebate combinations and whatnot that produce really exceptional deals. It can be a bit addicting and the posts come fast and furious. I ended up having to remove it from my favorites list so I didnt spend an hour a day snooping for bargains and buying stuff I probably dont need. That having been said, in the last month I scored six 12oz bags of starbucks coffee for $19.99 with a free travel mug, a brand name slow cooker for $4.99, and a dozen big crystal Spiegelau wine glasses for $24...shipping and tax included.

One other thing I've found improving my standard of living and simultaneously cutting my costs, hopefully there are other movie nuts besides me that can make use of this. I installed a bargain basement home theater in my living room. In my old McMansion I dedicated a long thin bedroom to the purpose. I was sick of paying $30 for two people to go to the movies, sit in uncomfortable seats, and stare at the back of somebodies head. The video portion employs an Infocus X1 dlp projector. Similar to the projectors you may have seen used in conference room presentations, this one can do that, and its also made for video. Its about a foot square, sits on a table, and projects a picture; size is limited to how bright the room is and how far away from the wall the projector is. This projector has great resolution, excellent contrast and color, and throws enough brightness to make a 100" picture in less than medium light. Too dim for fully sunlit rooms but in my living room with the drapes pulled, its good enough even at mid-day. I project this right on a flat texture painted wall, no need for any special screens although those will give you more brightness during the day. Cost about $800 after rebates. Try buying a big screen tv this big for 4x that price. A good dolby digital reciever, I have a pioneer that didnt cost much and has a lot of connections, about $180. I spent more on the front left and right speakers, for music and good fidelity reasons, but I went cheap on center channel, subwoofer and rear surround speakers. This is more controversial than investments. My take: subwoofers make loud rumbly boomy noises; they dont need to cost $1000. I bought mine for under $200 at costco, its 250w, the size of an end table, and when something blows up or a helicopter flies in, your spleen vibrates. Good. The center channel speaker does primarily dialogue. I spend $70 on a brand name good sized one that sounds great for the spoken word. The rear channels primarily make sounds to support the surround sound. I have a pair of cambridge soundworks cheapos that do great and take up little space.

The content is powered by Tivo and www.netflix.com. The tivo is set up to gulp down any football games that come on during the weekends, and any good movies during the week. Netflix is a great deal for dvd junkies that dont want to spend the bucks. For $19.99 a month you make a list of all the dvd's available that you want to watch on their web site. They send you three at a time in the mail at no additional postal costs. You watch them, send them back in the postage prepaid mailer, they send you three more. You can easily go through 12-15 per month. One of the best entertainment deals in the world. Get rid of the "premium" channels on your cable or satellite bill, for about the same monthly cost you can see a dozen new movies, instead of a couple.

My total cost for all this stuff was about $1500. Everyone comes to my house on weekends for football on the 100" picture on the wall. We watch a couple of movies every few days, mostly new or newer releases. You can pause the show, skip any commercials, refill your drinks, eat good food, and relax in your recliners.

Other than needing a new $200 bulb in the projector every 4-5 years, this stuff will last indefintely. Against going to the movies twice a month, this paid for itself in about a year and a half.

Hope these are interesting to some folks!
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-06-2004, 10:29 PM   #26
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

Ever since retirement, I have to keep telling myself "a bargain you don't need is no bargain."

My big indulgence these days is buying a bunch of books online. *I use a Chase StockBack card (gives 1% back in SP500 shares) to go shopping at Overstock (about 18% cheaper than amazon for books) via a link from the stockback.com site (which gives me another 4% kickback).

I also find good book deals sometimes at bn.com, use a discover card for the 1% kickback, and go through the discovercard.com shopping site for another 7% back.

I too did the home cinema projector setup a couple years ago, but found that the fan was annoying. *I got a good deal on a Plasma as a replacement, but have been pretty disappointed with the color depth. *And amazingly, Plasma's have fan noise problems as well (they tend to run hot, and the bigger they are, the hotter they run).

Got rid of my Tivo and cable, and switched to Dish (echostar) satellite with a PVR receiver. * Just like Tivo, but no extra charge for programming info.

Also, check out walmart.com for a cheaper version of netflix.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-07-2004, 11:50 AM   #27
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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I'm with you on the cell phones and phone card, Cut-throat. I know people who don't have two nickels to rub together, but everybody in their household (including each kid) has a cell phone. My phone bill is about $18 a month for local service, plus 3.47 cents a minute for long distance calls with my Sam's Club card. By the way, does anyone know of a cheaper LD rate?
Bob,

I use www.onesuite.com which is 2.9 cents per minute if you use the 1-800 number, or 2.5 cents per minute, I think, if you use a local access number.

Downsides: It's a prepaid thing where you go to their website and charge, say, $10 worth of LD in advance, then use it. You have to dial a 1-800 access number then the number you want to use.

Upsides: You can see your phone call history anytime on the web, just log into the website; you don't have to wait for your monthly LD phone bill (may be different if you use a calling card; I don't know.) You can configure it to automatically recognize several phone numbers so you don't have to remember or dial any PIN # when you're calling from home. No added fees of any kind (but you may get charged 55cents for using a pay phone.) Apparently pretty good international rates as well. You can print off what in effect is a calling card. You can set up speeddial numbers on the website -- up to 50, I think, so you can just dial "01" to get Grandma or whomever. I could go on, but you can just check it out for yourself at

https://www.onesuite.com/features.htm

If you decide to sign up with onesuite, you can get yourself and anyone you use as a referral 20 bonus minutes. If you want to use me as a referral you can; my "SuiteTreat" code is "malakito1". Hopefully that's not considered unethical on this board

A similar thing is www.bigzoo.com. I have heard both highly recommended in many different places; I chose onesuite because of the lower rate for where I live, plus they seemed to have nicer features.

malakito
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-07-2004, 12:13 PM   #28
 
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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disappointed with the color depth. And amazingly, Plasma's have fan noise problems as well (they tend to run hot, and the bigger they are, the hotter they run).

Got rid of my Tivo and cable, and switched to Dish (echostar) satellite with a PVR receiver. Just like Tivo, but no extra charge for programming info.
Wabmester,

Yeah I am going to get a LCD TV when the prices drop a bit more and the Sets get larger. My LCD computer monitor is very, very sharp - runs cool and is flawless so far. I have had it 3 years.

I have an antenna in the Attic for my TV and FM reception. An amplifier for the whole TV/FM network in the basement. I had my communication company install this unit and wiring for only about $400. Paid for itself the first year with no cable bill. In my metro area -reception is sharp as a tack. And no monthly bills except the electricity to run them!
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-07-2004, 12:32 PM   #29
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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. . . I have an antenna in the Attic for my TV and FM reception. An amplifier for the whole TV/FM network in the basement. I had my communication company install this unit and wiring for only about $400. Paid for itself the first year with no cable bill. In my metro area -reception is sharp as a tack. And no monthly bills except the electricity to run them!
I'm glad to hear someone else who doesn't subscribe to cable or satellite. I was beginning to feel lost in this discussion. The previous owners of our house had been wired for both cable and satellite (maybe not at the same time) so I put an antenna ($13.00) in the attic and tapped into the cable already in place. We get more clear channels of crap available in every room than either of us want or need. We do enjoy watching movies, but have found that the local library has an endless collection of DVDs and VCR tapes that keep us extremely happy. They have classics and newly released movie collections. Occassionaly we go to the theatre to see a new release that has lots of special effects, but lately these have been universally disapointing. Hollywood seems to be under the assumption that if you fill a movie with enough special effects, a plot, good writing and decent acting are not required.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-07-2004, 12:58 PM   #30
 
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

We don't have cable or satellite either and don't miss
it too much. I will say that when I am traveling, it's
kind of a treat to have cable at the motel.

John Galt
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-07-2004, 06:58 PM   #31
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

No cable either. We got rid of it when the kids were so glued to it they were insolent when asked to do something. One day, my wife disconnected it and took the decoder back. That was about 4 years ago. We miss a few shows, but use netflix for DVD rentals. Since there is a local (Denver) warehouse or whatever you call it, we mail one back on tuesday, get the next on thursday.

Wayne
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-07-2004, 10:01 PM   #32
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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Yeah I am going to get a LCD TV when the prices drop a bit more and the Sets get larger.
Me too. LCDs are on the classic cheaper/better/faster technology curve. I expect them to displace all other video technologies in the next few years.

At least until somebody comes out with a practical holographic 3-D projector....
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-08-2004, 08:55 AM   #33
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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I use www.onesuite.com which is 2.9 cents per minute if you use the 1-800 number, or 2.5 cents per minute, I think, if you use a local access number.
Malakito,

Thanks. That info is much appreciated. My wife just bought 1000 minutes at Sam's Club and when that dwindles down I plan to switch. This looks better in almost every respect. I will use your name (malakito1) as a referral when I buy. Thanks again.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-08-2004, 10:08 PM   #34
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

Uh oh, a group of non-tv watchers.

Actually if I had any kind of decent tv aerial reception, I would probably not have cable either. But...but...I'd have to give up the sunday night ESPN games. Cant take that quality of life hit!

The walmart dvd thing is ok if you live near one of their distribution centers...I think they only have two. Netflix has a lot more, turnaround time is supposed to be lower on getting your new set of dvd's.

My old projector had a pretty loud fan, but it was mounted on the ceiling where it was hard to hear. The infocus unit I have now has a little fan, frankly I dont hear it when a program is running. Its no louder than my laptop pc.

I have a cheap plasma too, bought it 2 years ago. You definitely get what you pay for. My old McMansions master bedroom had this little recessed area opposite the bed that was just screaming for a flat tv. Ah the days of wanton consumption! The recent generation plasmas have no fans and much better PQ. The contrast on mine is awful. With a progressive scan dvd it looks ok in all except darker scenes. I'll probably end up making it my desktop pc monitor sometime soon, it'll suit for 16 color use quite nicely.

LCD's have their advantages, but fast movement scenes isnt one of them. The Flat DLP's that will be coming along in a year or two at lower prices might be the ticket.

Re: the dish network pvr vs tivo. I've had both, the dish network thing is ok but its no tivo. On the other hand, I got one of my two for free and only paid $150 a pop for lifetime service rather than the monthly fees. Didnt hurt that I'm friends with a former board member. After four years, I've gotten my moneys worth. I've taken my old tivo from directv to cable to dish network and back to cable, without the need for a new box. Given that the tivo 'insulates' you from the program source, I've been able to pick the cheapest provider of the channels I want while using the same remote control and not much visibility to the content source provider. It helps that my parents and my fiancee have one also, so any of us can go to the others house, pick up the tivo remote turn on the tv and watch a show with complete familiarity. Middleware for television, if you will.

I guess the quality of life thing is very subjective. For me, creating what amounts to a movie theater experience in my living room for what most people pay for a low end 50" tv makes the cut. Getting over a dozen dvd's a month for the price of buying one, with no hassles, also does it.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-09-2004, 04:28 AM   #35
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

Adult toys are - well - adult toys.
My last big one was a new pickup truck(drove the econo box into the junkyard). Isn't the idea to cut the 'boring expenses' so you can subjectively indulge in what floats your boat?
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-09-2004, 11:34 AM   #36
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

Malakito - cool find in onesuite. I've been using the 2.9c cards from sams as well but they're a pain to use. This is much easier and cheaper since i have a local number.

I used your referral code, thanks for the tip!
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Old 01-09-2004, 02:30 PM   #37
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;)Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

For you home theatre enthusiasts . . . I was just listening to NRP on the car radio and they were having a report from some kind of large electronics trade show. The reporter was talking about an 80" flat panel display that Samsung was showing off.

The display is apparently not available for sale yet, but I thought I would give you guys a heads-up in case you need to start a remodeling project to make room for the new display.
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-09-2004, 05:04 PM   #38
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

Hah. At this point i'll have to buy it at a yard sale in 2011
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 01-10-2004, 12:25 PM   #39
 
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

I am kind of a closet Luddite, and really don't care if they never come out with anything new again. We do have four (4) TVs in the house and a couple of VCRs.
Total investment in the whole works is $120. We either
got 'em as gifts or bought at auctions, etc. Same with
books. We probably have a thousand, but never buy a new
one. With furniture, clothing, household equipment/tools, etc.
we ask these questions:

Can we do without it?
If not, how can we get it used/cheap?

We apply the reverse side of this coin to objects we already own and no longer use, i.e. . how to turn the item into cash quickly? Keeps the clutter down
too.

John Galt
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement
Old 07-09-2004, 10:51 AM   #40
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Re: Cutting Costs in Retirement

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... *The video portion employs an Infocus X1 dlp projector...size is limited to how bright the room is and how far away from the wall the projector is...*throws enough brightness to make a 100" picture in less than medium light...
Hi, TH. I found your post very helpful--thanks for sharing!

My house is small and I do not have much blank wallspace. I have one room in which I may be able to implement the projector-plan you suggested.

My question is: how far back does the projector have to be from the image wall to project a 100" image? Really, I'd be happy with an 84" or 72" image.

I suppose I could borrow a work projector and try it out in my room.
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