Sunday, September 28, 2014
Cable and satellite providers are constantly quarreling over who is the best and is therefore more deserving of your hard earned dollar. If you visit DirecTV's website, they claim that they are number one is satellite TV and "beat cable". If you visit Time Warner Cable's website they tell you you can "Enjoy Better".
So, which is better?
...How about NONE OF THE ABOVE!!
About twenty months ago, we were moving to Elizabeth City. We were in a two-year contract with DirecTV (one which we voluntarily but regrettably signed). We informed DirecTV that we were moving and they visited the new town-home to determine the best satellite location to transfer the service. Since our landlord would not allow us to place a dish on the roof, we could only have the dish on a pole. Unfortunately (well actually fortunately), given the positioning of the trees in the backyard, we did not have a clear view of the southern sky. DirecTV allowed us out of our contract without penalty since we had no logistical way of continuing service from our new residence.
As we started taking a look at our local cable option, we started to weigh the benefits of having some form of upgraded television. I enjoyed watching ESPN, Comedy Central, and USA; and my wife enjoyed Oxygen and HGTV. Other than those channels we were not particularly interested in other shows on TV. (Ok there was one or two shows on A&E that we were interested in, but that was really about it). We started to look at the cost of us enjoying these television shows. We saw the range was between $60 and $80 each month for cable alone. There were bundling options available (triple play, etc), but seriously who has a house phone anymore and even those were starting around $100.00. My wife and I made the conscious decision to go without cable or satellite for a few months to see if we could survive without our favorite shows.
We purchased an indoor/outdoor antenna and continued our Netflix subscription (which at the time was only $7.99). After the first six months, we realized we were really not missing much. Most of the TV shows we enjoyed would pop up on Netflix (albeit sometimes six to eight months after they aired), and the antenna received okay reception (like four channels). Given where we live, we are right on the cusp of reception limits. Most TV stations are around 35 - 40 miles away. On a cloudy day we can receive seven or eight channels, but we only expect to receive four or five normally. While our selection is fairly limited, it is sufficient for our needs. We find ourselves watching tons of PBS, which contrary to by belief as a kid, isn't all that bad. One TV show in particular, North Carolina Weekend, has become a favorite Saturday morning show for Aimee and me.
Getting rid of satellite/cable for twenty months and netting out the cost of Netflix and the antenna has saved us around $1,389.
Yea, that's big money! "Franklin, Grant, and Jackson!"
Just as equally important, not having the upgraded TV options has allowed my wife and I to focus our spending on other, more useful items.
Getting rid of satellite and cable has become a somewhat popular trend recently. There are other alternatives that we are not taking advantage of currently. Hulu plus allows you to watch more current TV shows and Chromecast/Apple TV/Roku provide other options as well.
If you have a money saving story regarding television, and would like to share, please feel free to post a comment. Also if you have a savings idea you would like to share please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, September 15, 2014
In the movie, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" there is a scene where Judge Doom (the villain played by Christopher Lloyd) is attempting to catch Roger. In order to locate Roger, Judge Doom taps the famous rhythm to Shave and a Haircut. He goes from wall to wall tapping the same rhythm "tap....tap tap tap... tap.." As cartoons cannot resist finishing the phrase, eventually Roger bursts out through the wall from the area he was hiding and yells, "two bits". (Click HERE to watch the scene)
Unfortunately, a haircut costs much more today than "two bits" (which would have been equal to 25 cents). Several years ago, I became tired of paying for haircuts. While I always appreciated the work of the barber or hair stylist, I disliked having to make the time to physically go barber shop, and spending the funds to have it cut. Unfortunately my hair grows about as fast as a Chia pet on miracle grow, so there was no possible way to skip a month and save money that way. The cheapest cut I could find averaged around $12.00 plus tip. There are certainly some hair cutting specials that are much cheaper than this, but I decided to leave the world of organized hair cutting and employ my own barber. Ever since February of 2010, my wife has taken on the task of cutting my hair each month. We purchased a set of Wahl clippers for about $25.00 with multiple accessories (similar to those seen below).
She watched several YouTube videos to learn a variety of cutting methods (there are literally hundreds of tutorials out there). When she first began cutting my hair, I kept my hairstyle fairly simple with no need to use the hand clippers that came with the set. As her cutting skill advanced, so did my desired hair cut. Assuming an average of $12 per cut and netting out the cost of the clippers, we have saved around $635.00 since she started cutting my hair 55 months ago.
If you have a suggestion for a savings tip, please email me at PennyPinchingPaul@gmail.com
Sunday, September 7, 2014
My food of choice for breakfast is (and has always been) cereal. I am generally not very picky as to the brand or type although my favorite is Frosted Flakes. Since I eat cereal almost every morning, we tend to go through quite a bit of it. Walking down the aisle at your local Walmart or grocery store, you'll see an endless selection of brands and types. There are the name brands offered by General Mills, Kellogg's, and Post as well as store brands. Store brand cereal does not bother me.
In 2011 I first noticed while shopping at Walmart that pricing of their cereals were constantly changing. I began not paying attention to the actual price I was paying, but rather the price per ounce. After several years of watching the price per ounce, it seemed that most cereals averaged a little over 20 cents per ounce. The Walmart brands were lower, but still ranged between 13 and 19 cents per ounce. There were a few cereals (mainly the Walmart brand of Frosted Flakes and Honey Bunches of Oats w/ Almonds) that were less than 12 cents per ounce. Those were generally the cereals I would purchase.
When Aimee and I moved to Elizabeth City in December of 2012, we discovered Ollie's. We had always heard about the store, but never ventured into the discount retailer until we moved. Among many of the other cheap items they had for sale, we found Ollie's generally sold cereal on the cheap. At first, we were apprehensive and wondered about the quality of the cereal (expiration date, staleness, etc.) but nevertheless gave it a try. None of the cereals we purchased were out of date, nor did they taste stale. When doing the math, many times we were purchasing cereal between 8 and 10 cents per ounce, and some of these were name brands! At one point in 2013, Malt-O-Meal (the cereal in a bag people) had a campaign to put some of their cereals in a box in order to try to raise awareness for their bagged cereals. They figured that if people tried their cereals in boxes, maybe they would switch to the bag and effectively "bag the box". I'm not sure if their campaign worked, but they had quite a few leftover boxes of cereal on closeout at Ollie's. These cereals were priced around 8 cents per ounce and included their off brand of Captain Crunch w/ Berries, Frosted Flakes, and Apple Jacks. On one occasion in early 2014, we were able to pick up a box that contained two bags of Frosted Flakes at 5 cents an ounce.
One might wonder, what the difference is in a few cents per ounce. Assuming I consume around 2 ounces of cereal each day six days a week and another ounce once a week as a dessert, my annual cereal consumption is 676 ounces. Conservatively, if am saving around 7 cents per ounce (most of the time it is more than that) my annual savings is $47.32. Some might balk and say that is not much, but in my Toyota Corolla, that is a tank and a half of gas (600 miles worth).
I have often times wondered the potential savings of purchasing in bulk from Sam's Club or Costco. Unfortunately, I do not own a membership so I cannot analyze whether or not the bulk savings is equivalent to that of Ollie's.
If you know of a way to save on cereal or have a suggestion for a savings tip, please email me at PennyPinchingPaul@gmail.com.