Buying – Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:48:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 Best Ways to Avoid Holiday Sales Traps http://yourpfpro.com/best-ways-to-avoid-holiday-sales-traps/ http://yourpfpro.com/best-ways-to-avoid-holiday-sales-traps/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:00:48 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7554 With just two weeks until Christmas many people who haven’t hit the stores yet will be hustling around to get their shopping done. Stores will be overflowing with people as some shelves begin to empty. But don’t worry. There are still plenty of holiday sales to help you save money. Or are there? Sure, you […]

The post Best Ways to Avoid Holiday Sales Traps appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Avoid Holiday Sales TrapsWith just two weeks until Christmas many people who haven’t hit the stores yet will be hustling around to get their shopping done. Stores will be overflowing with people as some shelves begin to empty.

But don’t worry. There are still plenty of holiday sales to help you save money.

Or are there? Sure, you will probably still see signs advertising decent savings on holiday merchandise. But I guess what I am really asking is whether or not you will actually save money from these “sales”.

With Christmas becoming so commercialized we all know many stores are just trying to increase their profits before the year ends. They employ lots of tactics to help them do this.

So let’s talk about some of the best ways to avoid holiday sales traps.

Make a List

I almost always make a list before I shop. It doesn’t matter if I am getting groceries, other household goods, or Christmas presents. Having a list prevents me from forgetting to buy important stuff I need.

In addition, I try to stick to what’s on the list and stick to what’s in my budget.

But when I prepare the list I also figure out ahead of time about how much I am willing to spend on each person. This helps me stay on budget and avoid holiday sales traps when I shop.

Compare Prices

Before making a shopping trip I like to compare the prices at two or three stores. This is something I especially like to do if I am making a larger dollar purchase.

Sometimes comparing prices has saved me from $20 to $50 or more. This is one of the best ways to avoid holiday sales traps so you can avoid overspending.

Watch for Sneaky Sales Tricks

If you pay attention you will notice some of the sneaky sales tricks retailers use to suck you into a holiday sales trap.

For example, there is FOMO, or fear of missing out. Stores will offer a fantastic sale on a high dollar item but only have a few available.

Because you fear missing out you will go to the store hoping to snag one of these great deals at rock bottom prices. However, once you get there you find the store has sold out of the item.

To make your trip worth it you buy a few other items. Those other items are the trap because you end up overpaying for them.

Avoid Pushy Sales People

Some people cave in when pushy sales people try to stop them to try the latest perfume scent or makeup sample in a high end store. I avoid these sales people or ignore them when they try to get my attention.

All they are interested in is making a sale. Unless I actually have an item on my list and approach them, I steer clear of those areas of the store completely.

Don’t Procrastinate

Another of the best ways to avoid holiday sales traps is to not put off buying your gifts until the last minute. When you put off your holiday shopping you are less likely to pay attention to the price.

One of the reasons for this is, of course, desperation. As you become desperate to get the perfect gift, or sometimes any gift, you may end up paying more than you would if you planned more carefully.

Buy Throughout the Year

You can also shop throughout the year to avoid holiday sales traps. This is a very helpful way to afford Christmas on a tight budget.

Obviously that won’t help you out this holiday season. However, you can start earlier for Christmas 2018 by watching for real sales and shopping throughout the year.

Save Ahead of Time

Saving ahead of time is one of the best ways to avoid holiday sales traps. You can set aside money each week for Christmas next year and start your shopping earlier.

Open a dedicated bank account to put your money in and don’t use it for anything but Christmas gifts or other holiday related items.

Day by day Christmas is drawing closer. But there’s still time to get your gifts, avoid holiday sales traps use some the tips above, and save some money too.

Have you ever gotten caught in a holiday sales trap?

The post Best Ways to Avoid Holiday Sales Traps appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/best-ways-to-avoid-holiday-sales-traps/feed/ 0 7554
7 Things You Should NEVER Buy in Bulk http://yourpfpro.com/15-things-you-should-never-buy-in-bulk/ http://yourpfpro.com/15-things-you-should-never-buy-in-bulk/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 13:30:04 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6712 I’ve never been much of a Costco or Sam’s Club fan, but my parents love it. They love it so much, they get extra excited when I visit them, because they make me go to Costco with them. They say they like having “someone strong” to help them carry the heavy groceries. I guess I […]

The post 7 Things You Should NEVER Buy in Bulk appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
I’ve never been much of a Costco or Sam’s Club fan, but my parents love it. They love it so much, they get extra excited when I visit them, because they make me go to Costco with them. They say they like having “someone strong” to help them carry the heavy groceries. I guess I should be flattered that my puny muscles are useful?

That said, I do love a lot of things from Costco. Lightbulbs, Nutella, alcohol. There’s a lot to love in Costco, but it’s easy to buy too much and have it go to waste (not the alcohol. Alcohol never goes to waste!) But how do you know what’s going to be a worthwhile buy (Nutella) or a total bust?

Here are the top 7 things you should never buy in bulk – some I’ve learned through trial and horrific, horrific error. Learn from my mistakes and never buy these 7 items in bulk!

Love to shop at Costco or Sam's Club but don't know what's a deal and what's a dud? Here are the top 7 things you should NEVER buy in bulk!

Cooking Oil

This will likely go bad before you’re able to use it all. After all, how much cooking oil do you use, and do you use the same cooking oil every single time? If you are using that much cooking oil, you may have a heart problem and should probably get that checked out. Or you’re an independent KFC, in which case, carry on.

Some oil can last a few years, but not once it’s open. So unless you’re going to be cooking up a ton of fried chicken, skip the cooking oil.

Condiments

Similar to cooking oil, are you really going to go through 2-4 jars of ketchup before the expiration date? Maybe, but what about taste and freshness? While mayo can last a long time, it’s just not worth it to buy several jars of condiments under the assumption you’re going to eat them before they lose their taste (or expire!)

Nuts and Seeds

One thing you should definitely never buy in bulk? Nuts and seeds! Once open, nuts can lose their taste relatively quickly, so unless you’re taking them camping or to the ballpark, buy your nuts and seeds at your local grocery store and not in bulk.

Grains, Flour, Sugar

I learned the hard way you should not purchase grains, flour or sugar in bulk. Trust me when I say opened flour, not stored in the freezer, turns into a horror show pretty quickly.

You could avoid this by storing your bulk grains, flour and/or sugar in the freezer, but eventually things will lose their freshness. Plus, you’ve lost valuable freezer space so, unless you have an extra freezer laying around, skip these items in bulk.

Spices

Another bulk item purchased that I learned the hard way, never buy spices in bulk. As much as you think you love garlic or cinnamon, there’s no humanly way for you to eat bulk spices before they expire or lose their flavor. It’s sad (and expensive) to throw away good spices, so just buy them in their smaller jars at your local grocery store.

Bleach

I never actually knew bleach had an expiration date, but that explains why my bleach isn’t effective – it’s just not meant to work as well after more than a year in storage. Unless you’re… well, let’s not get any ideas. Just buy bleach from your regular store.

Sunscreen

Yes, the person from sunny Phoenix, AZ is telling you not to bulk-purchase sunscreen. Am I crazy?! No, just realistic. Even most people in Phoenix aren’t able to go through a whole tube of sunscreen in a summer, let alone a bulk-sized version of sunscreen.

Exceptions: you’re a lifeguard or your family is outside a lot and you all share the same type of sunscreen.

But honestly, you’re better off purchasing a smaller bottle of sunscreen for yourself and different bottles for your family depending on allergies, age, or sensitivity. With sunscreen, one size rarely fits all – which is why it doesn’t make sense to purchase sunscreen in bulk!

While doing research for this article, I found a few articles that had even more things you “shouldn’t” buy in bulk, but I disagreed with a lot of them. Who’s to say you don’t eat frozen items a lot? I LOVE frozen stuff, I buy it in bulk, and I eat it usually within 2 months. Bulk straws? Don’t get me started – I LOVE straws and I hope I’m buried with straws to take to the afterlife (just kidding – checking who’s still reading! :))

It’s ultimately up to you to decide what’s worth it to buy in bulk and what you personally should never buy in bulk. Do you agree or disagree with this list, and are there things you’d never buy in bulk that I missed?

Save

The post 7 Things You Should NEVER Buy in Bulk appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/15-things-you-should-never-buy-in-bulk/feed/ 1 6712
LoopPay Charge Case & FOB Unboxing Video and Review http://yourpfpro.com/looppay-charge-case-fob-unboxing-video-review/ http://yourpfpro.com/looppay-charge-case-fob-unboxing-video-review/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 15:30:43 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5572 (If you’re an e-mail subscriber, please click here to view the video) In case you haven’t realized it by now, we are living in the golden era of technology and efficiency.  You can do more, stay more organized and have access to more information and data than ever before all with the touch of a […]

The post LoopPay Charge Case & FOB Unboxing Video and Review appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>

(If you’re an e-mail subscriber, please click here to view the video)

In case you haven’t realized it by now, we are living in the golden era of technology and efficiency.  You can do more, stay more organized and have access to more information and data than ever before all with the touch of a button on your smart phone.  I’ve talked a lot about how I’m using Personal Capital to streamline the budgeting and investment side of my finances but today I’m going to talk about a product that will help me with my every day transactions: LoopPay.

What Is LoopPay?

In case you didn’t watch the video, LoopPay is a company that is aiming to revolutionize mobile payments.  Unlike Google Wallet or ApplePay which uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and is only accepted at around 3% of stores, LoopPay is accepted at over 90% of merchants.

LoopPay relies on Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) which is just a fancy way of saying you hold your LoopPay device right next to a regular credit card swiper and it transmits your card information.  The merchant doesn’t need to have any special device or touch pad or anything like that.  LoopPay works with existing technology, so you can think of it as a virtual swipe of your credit card.  Pretty cool huh?

Who Can This Help?

If you only have a couple credit cards in your wallet you might not think you need a LoopPay.  But one of the neat features is that you can also can store gift cards, loyalty cards and pretty much anything with a magnetic strip.

A few weeks ago I talked about my new wallet and how I only hold one credit card because I’m going for a more minimalistic approach.  Ideally, I would like to hold a couple more to take advantage of double and triple point categories but I prefer simplicity over a couple extra bucks.

The LoopPay is going to change all that though because I’ll now be able to carry all my cards at once.  Here are a few of the new additions:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: This is one of my favorite cards because it gets me 2x back on travel and dining and the points are extremely flexible and easy to use.  Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points can be transferred to Hyatt, Southwest and United, just to name a few.  (If you’re interested in signing up for this card, let me know and I can send you a referral link for the 40,000 point offer!)
  • Amex Premier Rewards Gold: I like holding this card because it gets me 3x back on travel and 2x back on gas and groceries.  The points aren’t quite as valuable as Chase UR but there are still some decent transfer options.
  • Barcaly Arrival Card:  If I can’t get 2x or 3x back on my purchase, I usually default to this card since it gets 2% back on every purchase.
  • Airline & Hotel Cards: I’ve got quite a few different airline and hotel cards that really only come in handy when I’m staying at that particular hotel or flying on that airline.  Now I don’t have to worry about bringing those cards, since I can just bring my FOB reader and it will have all the cards pre-loaded.
  • HSA Purchases: I’m starting to use Wave to keep track of all my HSA purchases so I dedicate one credit card to those types of purchases and then they auto-import into my account.  These purchases are somewhat rare though so it doesn’t make sense to always carry that card around.
  • Business Credit Cards: I’ve got three businesses now and similarly to my HSA purchases, I use Wave to manage all three of them.  Each business has a dedicated credit card but again, the purchases are few and far between so it’s nice to be able to store them all on my LoopPay.

How Can I Get One?

I first read about LoopPay on my friend’s blog (Bald Thoughts) and it seemed like exactly what I needed to help me manage my finances more efficiently.  If you’re interested in ordering a LoopPay, you can do so on their website.  I receive a small commission for every customer that I refer so if you end up buying one please let me know so that I can thank you personally!

Order Your LoopPay today and start streamlining your wallet!

Readers, what do you guys think about my quest for efficiency and minimizing the cards that I carry in my wallet?  Does LoopPay seem like a good solution?

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post LoopPay Charge Case & FOB Unboxing Video and Review appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/looppay-charge-case-fob-unboxing-video-review/feed/ 4 5572
Guess How Much I Spent On My Wedding Ring http://yourpfpro.com/guess-how-much-i-spent-on-my-tungsten-wedding-ring/ http://yourpfpro.com/guess-how-much-i-spent-on-my-tungsten-wedding-ring/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:42:19 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5536 Weddings are a lot of fun.  And since I’m right around the age where a lot of my friends are getting married (including myself), I’ve been going to a lot lately and been having a pretty great time.  But I also know just how much work and how much money goes into each one.  And […]

The post Guess How Much I Spent On My Wedding Ring appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
My $20 Wedding Band

My $20 Wedding Band

Weddings are a lot of fun.  And since I’m right around the age where a lot of my friends are getting married (including myself), I’ve been going to a lot lately and been having a pretty great time.  But I also know just how much work and how much money goes into each one.  And as a self-proclaimed cheap SOB, weddings and I don’t get along particularly well in the finance department.  Amongst all that spending though, I was able to score a huge win during my own wedding planning and no one seemed to be any wiser

My Wedding Ring

For me, the thing I was most worried about when picking out a wedding band was finding something that I liked and looked nice.  I could care less if it was made out of white gold or platinum or tungsten or whatever.  Just because some guy in a suit tells me that a metal is supposedly ‘rare’ doesn’t justify me spending an exorbitant amount.

I will never understand why people pay so much for brand names when the actual product is nearly the same.  I have a fake Lacoste shirt that my wife got for me from the Phillipines for $4.  Whenever I wear it, I almost always get compliments and people tell me how nice it is.  I’m quick to point out though that it’s fake and there’s no way I’d ever be dumb enough to pay $80 for a shirt that costs less than $4 to make.  I apply the same theory to wedding bands.

My $20 Wedding Band

It only took me a couple trips to the jewelry store to get an idea of the type of ring I wanted.  I couldn’t tell the difference between the rare metals (gold, silver, platinum) and the non-rare metals (tungsten, titanium, etc) so it obviously made sense to go with the cheaper ones.  The ring I ended up liking the most was about $300 in the store but I had a hunch I could find it cheaper online.

Within a few minutes of searching, I was able to find a nearly identical ring (same material, style, etc) for $20 (the price has actually gone down to $9 since I purchased it!).  The ring arrived within a couple days, it was high quality, looked great and it only cost $20!  Since then, I’ve received numerous compliments and also talked to numerous friends who have spent 10-20x more on similar non-rare metal rings.  What were they thinking?

What Will Other People Think?

My wife was pretty cool about letting me pick out my own band but I have a friend going through the process right now and the bride’s parents don’t want him to ‘cheap out’ on a wedding band.  I actually suggested that he just buy it off Amazon for $9 and tell everyone it cost $300.

One of the reasons why I think it’s a gigantic waste of money to buy material products like high-end jewelry and clothing is because most of the inherent value is associated with the brand name or style instead of the actual product.  If tungsten was all of a sudden a rare metal and the cost of my ring skyrocketed to $1,000 does that mean my ring is now worth $1,000?  No way!

Just because someone is dumb enough to pay $1,000 for a $9 ring doesn’t mean it’s worth $1,000.  I’d rather save my money to pay for something that actually matters.  And yes I did buy my wife a nice diamond engagement ring but we’ll talk about that one in a future article.

Readers, what do you think about my $20 wedding band?  Do you think it’s dumb to pay for a name brand or pay extra for a metal that some jeweler tells you is rare?

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post Guess How Much I Spent On My Wedding Ring appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/guess-how-much-i-spent-on-my-tungsten-wedding-ring/feed/ 17 5536
How’s My Shun Knife Holding Up After Two Years? http://yourpfpro.com/hows-shun-knife-holding-two-years/ http://yourpfpro.com/hows-shun-knife-holding-two-years/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:45:29 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5503 Almost two years ago, I wrote one of the top 5 most popular articles on this site about my brand new Shun Chef’s Knife.  I didn’t know it at the time but apparently there are a lot of inquisitive minds out there when it comes to high end knives.  At the time, I wrote that […]

The post How’s My Shun Knife Holding Up After Two Years? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Shun Knife

Credit

Almost two years ago, I wrote one of the top 5 most popular articles on this site about my brand new Shun Chef’s Knife.  I didn’t know it at the time but apparently there are a lot of inquisitive minds out there when it comes to high end knives.  At the time, I wrote that article because I was in love with my new Shun Chef’s Knife.  I’ve always liked to cook, but that was the first real knife I ever owned and it made a huge difference in the kitchen.

If you don’t cook often, then a standard $30 block knife set will probably do you just fine (I actually use one of these in conjunction with my Shun knife).  But if you cook as much as one big meal per week, with lots of chopping and cutting, your life will never be the same after a knife like a Shun.

Wear and Tear After Two Years

I’ve probably used my Shun 1-2 times every single week for the past two years.  Now that’s not a ton of use, but my wife has probably also used it once a week for the past two years too.  So together, it gets used 2-3 times a week (probably closer to 2) and it’s held up surprisingly well.

For those who aren’t aware, the Shun has a very thin but extremely sharp blade.  You can cut your finger just by touching the blade, that’s how sharp it is.  But since the blade is so thin and sharp, it isn’t meant for cutting things like bones, avocado seeds, etc.  This really hasn’t been a problem for me in my two years of ownership and I can only think of a couple times where I had to get a more heavy duty knife out.

The only major damage my knife has ever sustained in its two years of existence was a small chip in the center of the blade and a slight bend at the tip.  The chip was barely noticeable and didn’t affect cutting at all but it was still kind of an eyesore with a blade as beautiful as a Shun.

Keeping The Blade Sharp With Free Sharpening

They say that the best way to test the sharpness of your Shun blade is to see how easily it can cut through the skin of a ripe tomato.  It should be able to slice it without much resistance.  This is actually a pretty good test and after about a year of ownership my blade could no longer pass.

Shun has flip-flopped on its free sharpening policy a couple times but as of today, they currently offer free sharpening.  You have to pay for shipping both ways but that’s relatively inexpensive and they have a pretty quick turn around time.  I sent in my blade and it came back as good as new within a week or two.  They were able to get rid of the chip and straighten the knife out.  And the best part was that it was free!

I got quite a few recommendations on how to sharpen a Shun knife using a whetstone in the comments section of my last article but for me, all that hassle just isn’t worth it.  I only own one Shun (although I’d love another) and it’s a lot easier for me to just mail it in once a year for sharpening than it would be to figure out how to sharpen it using a whet stone.

My Knives Going Forward

My latest knife purchase was actually a Wusthof bread knife.  This might seem like kind of an odd purchase for a second knife but it’s amazing how well these knives can cut bread!  I eat a lot of croissants, bagels, etc and it’s tough to cut those suckers without a sharp bread knife.  Now I can slice through pretty much any pastry in no time.

Going forward, I think I’d like to add one to two more knives to my collection but I have no idea which one.  I really like the Shun knives for the more delicate cutting and chopping but I think I prefer Wusthof for the more brute force cutting like with bread, bones and meat!

If you have any suggestions for me or feedback about Shun vs Wusthof, I’d love to hear your take in the comments below.  What do you think would be the next logical knife pick to help bolster my collection?  Is it weird that I really love my bread knife?

[widgets_on_pages id=2]

By the way, if you’re considering buying any of these knives, I receive a small commission if you use any of my Amazon links.  Happy Chopping!

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post How’s My Shun Knife Holding Up After Two Years? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/hows-shun-knife-holding-two-years/feed/ 6 5503
How Much Would You Pay for an A/C Unit? http://yourpfpro.com/much-pay-ac-unit/ http://yourpfpro.com/much-pay-ac-unit/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 12:26:02 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=4784 In my 27 years on this earth, I’ve never lived in a place with A/C.  I’ve always been about 10-15 minutes from the beach so the ocean breeze has helped keep things cool.  But it seems like over the past few summers here in Socal, it’s been getting hotter and hotter.  I know the weather […]

The post How Much Would You Pay for an A/C Unit? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
How Much Would You Pay for an A:C Unit?In my 27 years on this earth, I’ve never lived in a place with A/C.  I’ve always been about 10-15 minutes from the beach so the ocean breeze has helped keep things cool.  But it seems like over the past few summers here in Socal, it’s been getting hotter and hotter.  I know the weather here is pretty mild most of the year but when it does get to a hundred like it has a few times this spring/summer, it can be pretty unbearable.

While I empathize with those who don’t have an A/C, I’m also a landlord so I know just how expensive it can be to provide an A/C unit.  In places like Arizona, it’s actually illegal for landlords to rent units without A/C’s since the weather regularly tops a hundred for weeks at a time during the summer.  But I’d say a majority of rentals and even owner occupied properties out here go without them due to cost.

I spend most of the day in a cool office building so even when it’s 80-90 degrees outside, by the time I get home everything has cooled down.  But when it’s over 90, things get hot and they stay hot.  I broke into a sweat the other night just trying to cook dinner.  That’s how I knew it was time for a change.  Since I wasn’t able to live my normal life and go through my daily routine, I figured it might be worth it to buy an A/C.  

Sticker Shock

Once I’d made up my mind, I quickly went on to Amazon and checked prices for A/C units.  I found a nice highly rated window unit for $120 but it only fit vertical windows, all the windows in my place were horizontal.  I found a couple YouTube videos (Warning: this guy is kind of a weirdo) that showed how to jimmy-rig the unit into my window type but I didn’t think it would work or be worth the hassle.

Instead, I had to get a portable unit that would sit on the ground and exhaust hot air to the outside.  After some research, I found the unit I wanted but it was priced at just under $400.  $400 to stay cool for just a few weeks out of the year seemed like a lot but I had just about had enough.

Worth It?

The 10,000 Btu A/C unit that I bought uses about 1050 Watts or 1.05 kW and my electricity company charges me $0.12/KWH.  It turned out to be pretty inexpensive electricity-wise since it costs me less than 15 cents per hour and it’s pretty quiet too, it sounds like a medium sized fan is on.  The set up was extremely easy and I had it up and running in less than 15 minutes.

So far it’s worked out pretty well since I can walk around the house again without breaking into a sweat.  But it does cool only a small area, it isn’t made to cool an entire house or more than 1 large room or 2 small ones.  If I want to cool the living room I have to move it in there and if I want to cool the bedroom, I have to move it in there.  I still haven’t figured out what to do with the multiple exhaust pipe setups.

Looking Back

I’ve always heard about how people succumb to lifestyle inflation and I wonder if I’m in the midst of it.  As you get older, you tend to want nicer things and that means you’ll spend more money.  I try to weigh each financial decision carefully though and I like to consider more than just the monetary value of a purchase.  For me, things like convenience and time can often outweigh the financial cost of a product or service.  In this case, I was fed up of coming home after 8 hours of work and sitting in a freaking sauna.  I wanted to be able to relax when I got home, not break into a sweat every time I got up to pee.

Everyone’s situation is unique though so I can’t tell you if a $400 A/C is a good purchase or not.  That’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own.  If you’ve got other more pressing financial needs, this might be one of those luxury items that you’ll have to pass up.  But if you have the money and you value comfort and relaxation, then a $400 A/C might be one of the best purchases you ever make.

If you’re on the fence, remember this saying: when it’s cold out, you can always put more clothes on.  But when it’s hot out, there’s only so much clothing you can take off.  #wordsofwisdom


Readers, how much would you pay for an A/C unit that you’re only going to use a few weeks out of the year?  Is it worth it to be comfortable or would you rather just be hot and deal with it and spend that money on something else more important?

The post How Much Would You Pay for an A/C Unit? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/much-pay-ac-unit/feed/ 10 4784
Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For Everyone http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/ http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 13:45:42 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3478 For regular readers of my blog, you probably know how cheap I am by now.  Any time I have to make a purchase of significant value I make sure to weigh all my options and figure out if I really need that product.  Sometimes I’ll ask myself, will this product improve the quality of my […]

The post Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For Everyone appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For EveryoneFor regular readers of my blog, you probably know how cheap I am by now.  Any time I have to make a purchase of significant value I make sure to weigh all my options and figure out if I really need that product.  Sometimes I’ll ask myself, will this product improve the quality of my life or make me happier?  If the answer is yes then I’ll buy it.  But if the answer is no, I’ll pass and move on with my life.  I’ve even been known to buy a product and not open it for a few days just to get over the initial excitement.  Then I’ll decide if I want to keep the item in question or return it.

One of the things I struggle with on a monthly and yearly basis is membership fees.  For some reason, it really pains me to have to pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee, even for services that I use all the time.  And the one membership I’ve been contemplating lately is my Costco membership.  I know people have mixed opinions on Costco but I usually buy a lot of food related products that just aren’t sold elsewhere(for comparable prices).  My co-workers and I actually used to run a small exact vending machine setup in the break room(we donated the profits to charity) so Costco was great for stocking up on snacks and candy.    My favorites include:

  • Meat and Fish: Costco has an amazing flank steak and their salmon is pretty awesome too.  I also like buying their frozen shrimp because it’s cheap and most of the shell is already peeled off.  Their fresh chickens aren’t bad either and they are very cheap compared to the supermarket.
  • Frozen Foods: My mom used to buy the mini frozen pizza brand from Costco called Sabatasso’s.  I used to live on these things when I was a kid so I always make sure to buy them when I go there now.  My fiancee recently turned me on to some of their frozen pastas too which are very tasty.
  • Bakery: Costco’s muffins and croissants probably aren’t the healthiest items but they taste amazing.

Those are just a few of the staples I buy on my Costco trips.  I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting but as you can see, my list is dominated by food.  I’d rather have all my household supplies like laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, etc delivered via Amazon Prime for free.  That’s much more convenient in my book and if you buy them when they go on sale, you can get them for almost as cheap as at Costco(but minus the lines, traffic, parking, etc).  Definitely worth it in my book.

Free Membership Loophole

This year I actually let my membership expire.  I didn’t think it was worth it to pay the membership fee since I was only going a few times a year.  Last year though, when I was a member, Amex and Costco had a Twitter sync deal that gave me $25 off a $100 purchase on Costco.com.  Since I had 5 Amex cards at the time, I bought 5 cash cards for $100 and instantly saved myself $125 at Costco.  That savings was nice but it’s been a year now and I still have about $250 left on 3 cards but no membership.

The cards have actually just been sitting in my car for a while since I’ve been waiting for someone to take me to Costco so I can spend the money.  A similar Twitter sync deal popped up this year and I wasn’t planning on doing it since I still had cards left over but then I read about the membership loophole.  This is straight from the Costco website:

You must be a Costco member to purchase or reload Costco Cash Cards.  Members and non-members may use the cash cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and online at Costco.com or on Costco.ca. Costco Cash balances may be used toward membership or merchandise.

You might have missed it but the key sentence was: “Members and non-members may use the cash cards”.  I’d heard about this trick before but I’d never seen it in writing until now.

In order to buy a cash card, you do need to be a Costco member though.  Costco cash cards can be ordered online or in-store so if you have a friend who’s a member it might be time to ask them for a favor.  Once you get your hands on a cash card you just flash it at the door just like a regular membership card and you’ll be able to shop.  Now not every employee knows about this policy so you might find some resistance here and there but if worst comes to worst, just call a manager over and have them explain the store’s policy to the employee.  If you exhaust the balance on your card, you can pay for the rest of your balance with an Amex card or cash/debit.

I was near a Costco the other day and low on gas so I thought I’d see if I could buy gas using a Costco cash card and it couldn’t have been easier.  All you have to do is swipe your Cash Card at the pump instead of swiping your membership card and you’ll be pumping gas in no time.

Readers, what do you think about the Costco membership loophole?  Do you think it’s wrong to take advantage of it or will you be all over it next year when it comes time to renew your membership?

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post Loophole of the Day: Free Costco Membership For Everyone appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/loophole-day-free-costco-membership/feed/ 4 3478
When Should You Hire a Cleaning Lady? http://yourpfpro.com/hire-cleaning-lady/ http://yourpfpro.com/hire-cleaning-lady/#comments Mon, 13 Jan 2014 13:45:23 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3480 Now that I’m back working my day job, I have a lot less free time in my life.  I generally work online for 2-3 hours a night after work and that severely cuts into my TV watching and forces me to be a lot more efficient when it comes to managing my time.  So the last thing […]

The post When Should You Hire a Cleaning Lady? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
When Should You Hire a Cleaning Lady?Now that I’m back working my day job, I have a lot less free time in my life.  I generally work online for 2-3 hours a night after work and that severely cuts into my TV watching and forces me to be a lot more efficient when it comes to managing my time.  So the last thing I want to do at the end of the night is spend my time scrubbing toilets or vacuuming my apartment.  It’s a tough predicament for me since I do like a clean house but I don’t like cleaning all that much.  I’m not a neat freak by any means but there are rarely dishes in my sink and even though I refuse to make my bed(since I’m going to get right back in it in 17 hours) I keep a pretty tidy household.

I guess you could say I’m good at the routine maintenance type cleaning, the every day stuff.  But when it comes to a deep cleaning, I absolutely dread having to do that.  I’d much rather pay someone else to do it for me.  I could never really justify a cleaning lady in the past since I had plenty of time to do it myself but now that I’m working two jobs, I felt like I was ready to pay someone to clean my house.

Finding a Cleaning Lady

I’ve tried out a couple cleaning services in the past that I found through Groupon and Yelp but I was never that happy with the results.  With the first company, everything looked nice and clean when they were done but it didn’t smell all that fresh.  I used a different company the second time around and while they did a great job, their price seemed a little steep.  Now that I’m in Orange County though, I needed to find someone new so I turned to Yelp.

I read through a few companies and ended up narrowing it down to two services.  They both had stellar reviews and they were only two dollar signs($$) on Yelp’s pricing chart.  I figured that was a good indication that they would be cheap but not too cheap.  When I called them though, they both quoted me at $30/hr and estimated that it would take four hours to clean my place.

I was going to have to pay $120 for four hours worth of cleaning(plus tip), they were going to charge me $30 an hour!  That might not seem like a lot to some people but for a majority of you out there, this number should seem pretty outrageous.  $30 an hour is more than the average college graduate will make!

Housecleaning Ain’t Cheap

I was so appalled by the first two quotes I stopped my cleaning lady search right there.  I’m sure that both of these businesses do a great job and there’s a reason why they were both rated 5 stars with hundreds of reviews but I was pretty surprised that that many people were too lazy to clean their own houses.  In fact, I bet a lot of them probably should be cleaning their own houses instead of paying someone else $120.

I’ve always been a do it yourselfer so there are very few things that I will pay to have done without at least trying to do first.  But when it comes to cleaning, anyone can do it and anyone can do a great job.  It shouldn’t be that hard to find someone willing to clean for a reasonable price.  Cleaning supplies aren’t very expensive and they’ll last you for years if you use them sparingly.  I would understand if someone wanted to pay a vendor to fix their refrigerator or something of that nature(personally I’d try and do it myself first and then call someone if I fail) but I don’t get why so many people are paying so much for cleaning ladies.

The Real Cost of Housekeeping

I think a lot of people forget that they’re paying for these services with after-tax dollars.  It’s easy to say I make $30/hr so it’s ok to pay $30/hr to a cleaning lady since that’s basically a wash.  But really if you were to do the cleaning yourself, not only would you be saving that $30/hr but you wouldn’t have to work and make $40-$60/hr before taxes.  You can’t make this comparison with every type of service since most people don’t know how to fix a washing machine.  But over 99% of people on this planet have the ability to clean, whether they know it or not.

When Does it Make Sense?

It probably makes sense to hire a cleaning lady when the cost of the service is equal to or less than what you make on a pre-tax hourly basis.  If you’re willing to trade one extra hour at your job for one hour less of cleaning then it’s a decent idea to hire a cleaning lady.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying around $20/hr for a cleaning lady and I think I’ve finally found one who fits the bill.  The problem with all the cleaning services I was looking at before was that they all were small businesses.  So they had lots of overhead and the cleaning ladies who did the cleaning probably didn’t see more than half of that $30/hr.

I decided to look for someone who was basically their own one woman business.  That way, there’s no overhead and the person you pay is getting most or all of the money in cash.  Recently, I did end up finding someone who was willing to clean my place for $90.  It’s not quite the $20/hr I wanted to pay but it’s definitely closer to what I’m willing to pay.

Readers, have you ever hired a cleaning service or cleaning lady?  Do you think it makes sense to pay someone $30/hr to clean your house when you only make $20/hr yourself?

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post When Should You Hire a Cleaning Lady? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/hire-cleaning-lady/feed/ 21 3480
One Year After my Switch from Apple to Android http://yourpfpro.com/one-year-switch-apple-android/ http://yourpfpro.com/one-year-switch-apple-android/#comments Mon, 16 Dec 2013 13:45:18 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3357 Just over a year ago, I wrote an article about my switch from the iPhone 4 to the Galaxy S3.  It was kind of a big deal for me since I’ve had an iPhone forever and I also owned an iPad and MacBook Pro at the time.  But there were a lot of things that […]

The post One Year After my Switch from Apple to Android appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
One Year After my Switch from Apple to AndroidJust over a year ago, I wrote an article about my switch from the iPhone 4 to the Galaxy S3.  It was kind of a big deal for me since I’ve had an iPhone forever and I also owned an iPad and MacBook Pro at the time.  But there were a lot of things that were starting to bother me about the iPhone and they inspired me to make the switch and see what all they hype was about.  One year later, I’m happy with my GS3 but I’m not as in love with it as I thought I’d be.

I have less than a year left on my contract so it won’t be long before I’m in the market for a new smart phone.  It’s definitely going to be a tough choice though since there are things I love about my GS3 like the giant screen and various customizations but the ease and simplicity of the iPhone is also appealing.  Here’s a comparison of how my personal experiences have been with the GS3 after owning that phone for over a year.

Camera Needs Work: C+

Even though the specs for the cameras on iPhones and Galaxy’s are about the same, my GS3 camera has a lot of trouble taking pictures in light.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s dim light or there’s lots of light, the pictures always come out too dark.  Just the other night at dinner I tried to take a picture of a bottle of wine so that I could buy more later but the picture kept coming out too dark.  My fiancee took a picture with her iPhone 5 and the picture was perfectly clear and bright.

Back-Ups and Music Sync: C+

One of the nice things about having an iPhone is that every time you plug in your phone it syncs your music collection to iTunes and backs up your phone.  To this day, I still don’t know exactly how to back-up my GS3.  I downloaded a back-up app but I don’t even remember what it’s called.  I also use a program called Kies that is supposed to sync my music and back-up my phone but it’s been very glitchy for me.

Android really needs to come out with a simple solution to this problem because I think they are losing a lot of customers over it.  I actually sync my contacts with my Gmail contacts so I can never lose that information.  And apps are supposed to be backed up through the Google Play Store but I’ve heard that doesn’t always work so well.

I found a cool solution for my pictures and videos that backs everything up automatically using Google Plus.  Most people aren’t on Google’s social network but there’s a pretty cool feature that lets you auto-sync your photos and videos to a private folder that is stored online in your G+ account.  It’s free and you can customize the settings to only upload over wi-fi or when the phone is being charged to save on data/battery.  You can actually use this method on an iPhone too.

Syncing music has been a huge problem for me with Android.  I love listening and downloading music!  A lot of people told me I should just drag and drop the music onto my phone but that’s way too much work.  We’re living in the golden era of technology and you expect me to manually add music to my phone?  I store most of my music on iTunes and there is not a way to transfer music and playlists in one step to your Android phone.  I tried everything until I finally gave up and found an even better solution.

Google Music: A

Even though there’s no universal music program for Android like there is with Apple(iTunes), that lead me to discovering Google Music.  It costs $8/month but it’s basically Pandora, Spotify and your music collection all rolled into one.  Google Music is not available for the iPhone(the last time I checked) but it allows you to stream any song and also create playlists, favorites, etc just like with iTunes.  It syncs with your online account too so you can listen from your computer, phone or tablet.

I really like Google Music and it’s probably cheaper than if I were downloading all the music through iTunes at 99 cents per song.  You’ll need a large data plan for Google Music but it’s pretty cool having access to nearly every song ever created right there on your phone.  They offer a free 30 day trial so if you don’t like it you can just cancel.

Bad Battery Life: C-

The problem with smartphones in general is that every time a new phone comes out, the processor is more powerful and the screen is bigger and better.  So even though the batteries are able to hold more juice, that’s negated by the increased power usage of the phone.  The GS3 has a powerful battery but since the Android OS is a lot less restrictive than Apple, you can get stuck with some battery eating apps or widgets and never even know about it.

There are lots of neat features on Android like weather widgets, 3D wallpaper, etc but you can’t even use a lot of them because they drain your battery.  It’s pretty cool to have 3D Jellyfish wallpaper but you can’t afford to run it because then your battery will be dead by lunch time.  I’ve also noticed that iPhones charge a lot faster than my phone.  I plugged my phone in right next to an iPhone and the latter was nearly half full by the time mine got to 20% after both starting at 0.

Battery life is my number one complaint for this phone if you couldn’t tell.  I ended up buying a spare battery and a mini portable charger so we’ll see if either of those solutions help.

Awesome Screen: A+

The nicest feature of the GS3 by far has got to be the screen.  Even though it looks large and intimidating it really is the perfect size.  I wouldn’t want it any bigger and I definitely won’t be able to go back to a smaller screen.  When I look at the puny screen on an iPhone 5, I can’t believe I could ever type or even see the characters.  But this large and in charge screen might be one of the reasons why battery life suffers so much on this phone.

Everything is Customizable

The nicest part about the Android Operating System is that if you don’t like it, you can change it.  There are some really cool things you can do to change the way apps look, launching programs, etc but it takes time to figure it all out.  Right now, I don’t have the time to research and play around with all that stuff so my phone is pretty basic.  It’s basically like an iPhone!

There are a couple cool features that I’ve found on the Android that the iPhone doesn’t have though:

  • Customizable keyboard and text messaging apps: I didn’t like the stock keyboard so I downloaded a program called Swiftkey that predicts words and is far superior.  One thing that Android has got to figure out is the group text messaging.  I finally downloaded a program called go SMS that allowed me to send/receive group messages but it’s still a little buggy.
  • Cool widgets: There are a lot of widgets available but I really only use a couple.  The one I use most is a widget that gives me driving directions to my home. I have it on my home screen so that I can open my phone, hit one button and I have navigation to my home in a second or two.
  • Tethering: I’m always traveling and since I’m too cheap to pay for wi-fi it’s nice to be able to turn my phone into a mobile hotspot.  I used to be able to do this with my iPhone but I had to jailbreak it in order to do so.

I don’t regret my choice to switch from the iPhone to GS3 but I’m definitely a little disappointed with the product.  The nice thing about Apple products is the simplicity and reliability: anyone can use them and they always work.  I’m sure there are some apps and programs that can solve a lot of my problems but I really don’t want to spend the time figuring it all out.

I want a phone that works flawlessly but also gives me the option to customize it a little bit.  I know I won’t ever get that with Apple since they’re so strict with their developers.  But it’s for a good reason, their products work and they’re simple.  I always tell people that Androids are better than iPhones if you like being able to customize everything but if you don’t have the time or patience for all that then it might not be worth it to make the switch.

At this point, I really have no idea which phone I’m going to pick in a year so I’d like to hear your suggestions.  I’d love to hear from people that made the switch or have used both phones in the past.

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post One Year After my Switch from Apple to Android appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/one-year-switch-apple-android/feed/ 10 3357
Where’s the Best Place to Get a Christmas Tree? http://yourpfpro.com/wheres-best-place-get-christmas-tree/ http://yourpfpro.com/wheres-best-place-get-christmas-tree/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2013 13:45:09 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3446 It’s that time of the year again when we all get to feel pressured into spending lots of money on people we don’t care about and buy a bunch of superfluous gifts.  Ok Christmas time isn’t that bad, but it’s kind of like a nightmare for a lot of personal finance bloggers.  I actually enjoy […]

The post Where’s the Best Place to Get a Christmas Tree? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Our 25 Dollar Christmas Tree

Our 22 Dollar Christmas Tree

It’s that time of the year again when we all get to feel pressured into spending lots of money on people we don’t care about and buy a bunch of superfluous gifts.  Ok Christmas time isn’t that bad, but it’s kind of like a nightmare for a lot of personal finance bloggers.  I actually enjoy spending money during the holidays though.  I look at it as an opportunity to deal hunt and try to save as much money as possible on the things ‘I have’ to buy.  That part of Christmas is pretty fun for me.

Cyber Monday was kind of a bust this year and the only thing I ended up buying was a personal water filtration system, you know just in case there’s a zombie apocalypse(I’ve been watching a lot of Walking Dead lately).  But there is one item that I always look forward to buying around this time of year and that is a Christmas tree.  I love coming home to the smell of fresh pine after work and seeing a bunch of presents under my tree.

But just because I enjoy having a nice tree doesn’t mean I’m going to pay top dollar for it.  Here are some of the best options I’ve found when it comes to buying a tree this holiday season.

From a Tree Lot – $$$

You’ve probably started to notice temporary tree lots popping up around your neighborhood lately.  They usually get going just after Thanksgiving and they are often the most convenient option when it comes to buying a tree.  These lots tend to have a pretty decent selection but you can count on paying a nice price premium for that convenience.

Most tree lots charge around $10 per foot, so if you plan on getting a 6-7′ tree, you should expect to pay around $60-$70.  A lot of these local tree lots do offer coupons though so keep an eye out for mailers or flyers around your neighborhood.  Some lots will also offer a discount or a coupon for repeat customers so be sure to ask about that.

From a Christmas Tree Farm – $$$$

I’ve never gone to a Christmas tree farm to get my tree but I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun.  You will probably pay in the $10-$15 range per foot but being able to pick a fresh tree and watch it get cut down is worth the extra cost in my opinion.  I’d probably even make a whole day out of it with my family or friends since it’s not something you get to do every weekend.

Use a site like Yelp in order to find a farm with the best trees and prices in your area.  Typically, these farms are out in the wilderness or mountains so if you live in the city you will probably have to drive a ways to get there.

From a Big Box Retailer: Home Depot, Walmart or Costco – $$

Ever since I discovered that Home Depot sells Christmas trees I’ve been a loyal Christmas tree customer of theirs.  Keep in mind though that buying a tree here won’t be as convenient or easy as a tree lot, you’re going to have to work a little for your tree.  The trees are all wrapped up so you have to unfurl them yourself, I usually bring a box cutter or borrow one from an employee.  When I went the other night, the Home Depot staff was out helping people load the trees onto the roofs of their cars but I’m not sure if every big box retailer will do that.  I ended up buying a 5-6′ Douglas Fir for only $22.  They also had 5-6′ Noble Firs for $35 if you prefer that style.

Home Improvement stores and mega retailers might not be your first thought when it comes to buying a Christmas tree but they always have the best prices.  If you want to save even more money there are lots of promotions this time of year that you can try and use.  Lowe’s, Costco and Walmart are all having AMEX Sync deals right now so you could easily save an additional 10-20% on your purchase.

And don’t forget about the 10% off Lowe’s home mover coupons.  They can usually be found in USPS change of address packets or you can buy them on eBay for about a buck a piece.  Most Home Depots will match this coupon too so you don’t have to shop at Lowe’s with the coupon if you don’t want to.

Go For an Artificial Christmas Tree – $ to $$$$

The last option and the lamest in my opinion is to get an artificial tree.  These trees will run anywhere from $100 to $1,000 if you get a really nice one.  But you can also find some good bargains on Craigslist for artificial trees.  I think having an artificial tree kind of defeats the whole purpose of Christmas but if you have allergies or tree-hungry pets you might not have a choice.

Readers, where do you like to get your Christmas tree every year?  Do you know of a cheaper option than going to a big retailer like Home Depot or Walmart?

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post Where’s the Best Place to Get a Christmas Tree? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/wheres-best-place-get-christmas-tree/feed/ 13 3446
4 Tips for Brick and Mortar/Online Comparison Shopping http://yourpfpro.com/4-tips-for-brick-and-mortaronline-comparison-shopping/ http://yourpfpro.com/4-tips-for-brick-and-mortaronline-comparison-shopping/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2013 19:54:42 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=2701 If you’re like me, then you always compare prices in store to the prices online.  I do most of my shopping on Amazon but now that they charge sales tax, a lot of the brick and mortar businesses are starting to compete price-wise again.  There’s a lot of competition out there between retailers which is […]

The post 4 Tips for Brick and Mortar/Online Comparison Shopping appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
4 Tips for Brick and Mortar:Online Comparison ShoppingIf you’re like me, then you always compare prices in store to the prices online.  I do most of my shopping on Amazon but now that they charge sales tax, a lot of the brick and mortar businesses are starting to compete price-wise again.  There’s a lot of competition out there between retailers which is definitely a good thing for us, the consumers.  Any time you have multiple retailers fighting for your business, you know that prices will be driven down, you just have to know where to look.

I just helped my fiancee buy an Apple Macbook Air and the best price we found was through Best Buy.  We still made sure to do our due diligence and research all the various options online to see what was out there but none of them could beat Best Buy’s price.  It also helped that I had a couple hundred dollars in reward zone certificates and a bunch of 10% off Best Buy gift cards, but their sale price was still lower than the Apple website.

Here are my 4 tips for brick and mortar and online shopping:

1.  Check Reviews First

Before I make a purchase, I always check reviews on the product first.  Amazon is a great source for reviews since they have nearly every product available and you don’t have to buy the item to see the review.  The only problem with their system is that not all reviews are from verified buyers so there could be potential for abuse there.

2.  Don’t Be Afraid of Used

People tend to get caught up with having new things all the time.  Personally, I don’t care as long as it’s a solid product.  Things like looks and ‘shiny-ness’ are secondary to how the product actually performs.  There are some awesome deals to be had on used or even refurbished items on sites like eBay or Craigslist.  Obviously you’re taking a little more risk buying used but certain things like furniture have little to no risk at all.  You can test them out and if they work well and look good, there’s not much that’s going to change once you take it home.

You’ll often find a 30-50% mark down on a very good or like new item for sale on Craigslist/eBay compared to the retail price.

3.  Use Technology

I use the Amazon and eBay smartphone app to scan barcodes when I’m in store to compare prices.  That way, I know if I’m getting a good deal or if it might make sense to wait and buy the product later online.  I just used it today in fact at the drugstore since I needed some contact solution.  The price was $12.50 at CVS so I scanned it with my Amazon app and found it for $7.50 online.  It only took about 30 seconds and saved me $5.

4.  More Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean It’s the Best

Do you know anyone that has an obsession with buying the most expensive item since it has to be the best?  I know people like that and I tend to disagree with this principal big time.  Although there are a lot of expensive and nice products, you can nearly always find others on flash sale sites like hushhush that are less money and of similar quality.  Don’t assume that expensive means it’s a good product.

Readers, what tools do you use for comparison shopping?  Have you noticed that brick and mortar stores are starting to match the prices of online retailers more frequently(I sure have)?

– Harry @ PF Pro

The post 4 Tips for Brick and Mortar/Online Comparison Shopping appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/4-tips-for-brick-and-mortaronline-comparison-shopping/feed/ 9 2701
How Cheap is Too Cheap? http://yourpfpro.com/how-cheap-is-too-cheap/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-cheap-is-too-cheap/#comments Thu, 27 Jun 2013 17:14:47 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=2073 Ok I’ll be the first one to admit it: I am cheap, there I said it.  I think that’s the first of the 12 steps right?  Even though I readily admit I’m cheap, I do still spend a ton of money every month.  In the average month, my expenses are around $3,000 a month.  The […]

The post How Cheap is Too Cheap? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
Harney_Sushi_How_CheapOk I’ll be the first one to admit it: I am cheap, there I said it.  I think that’s the first of the 12 steps right?  Even though I readily admit I’m cheap, I do still spend a ton of money every month.  In the average month, my expenses are around $3,000 a month.  The important distinction though is I tend to spend it very thoughtfully.  Housing and food make up a big portion of my budget but I’m careful to plan out the rest of my expenses and make sure that I spend money only on the things I deem important.

A lot of people ask me how do you know if you’re saving enough and I always tell them that saving should hurt just a little bit.  You don’t have to sit at home all day just to save money, but maybe this is the year to skip out on that big music festival and sell your ticket for a nice profit instead.  Every person is different so you need to decide where you want to spend your money and where you want to cut back.  Do you enjoy driving a nice car and eating well?  If so, you probably won’t be able to take that backpacking trip to Thailand this summer.  It’s human nature for your lifestyle to inflate as your income increases so don’t think that once you make more money you’ll be able to all of a sudden save more.

I love to travel and I like owning property so that’s where I spend a lot of my money.  I’ve had the same $800 42″ HDTV for 6 years(even though I’ve been tempted many times to upgrade to a new tv) and I’ve bought all three of my cars from family members.  But not spending money on those things has allowed me to buy my first property at 23 and visit over 20 countries and 20 US states over the past 10 years.

Lately though, I’ve had a couple interesting experiences that made me stop and think, am I being too cheap?  I’m always looking for ways to save money, whether it’s using groupons on dates or enjoying all the free activities San Diego has to offer but sometimes I think I take it too far.

The Groupon Date

I love Groupon type sites since generally, I only buy deals for the places that I already frequent or places I’ve been meaning to try.  I think businesses are starting to realize that the Groupon business model is not an effective one to attract new customers since you are really only incentivizing people that want to pay 50% off.  It’s hard to pay double for the same meal a few months later unless it was really spectacular.

We don’t exclusively go out on dates with Groupons in hand but we’ve probably used 5-10 deals in the past couple years.  I don’t really recommend busting out a Groupon on a first date but if you’re in a serious relationship and your girlfriend won’t let you use a Groupon that’s a deal-breaker in my book.  I usually justify it by saying we can go out on three dates for the price of two 🙂

Too Cheap?  I don’t think I was too cheap here, I’m going to keep on using Groupons at places we already frequent or have been wanting to try!

The $6 $8 haircut

I actually prefer to shave my head myself(#2!) since that’s the cheapest option, but my fiancee doesn’t like the way I look when I go that route.  So whenever she tells me it’s time for a haircut, I rummage around for a Fantastic Sam’s coupon and head over for a $15 haircut.  But this time I decided to try a new place.

I’ve worked in the same area for 3.5 years and every day I see the same sign on the side of the road for a $6 haircut.  My hairstyle is pretty simple so I decided to give this new place a shot.  When I went to pay though, they charged me $8!?  I had already mentioned to the stylist that I saw their sign on the road for a $6 adult haircut but for some reason I felt too cheap asking why the haircut was now $8.  I gave her $10 for the haircut and left without saying anything.

Too Cheap?  I think I could have been cheaper here, but I felt bad asking for a discount since I was still only paying $10 for a haircut.  I was going to give her $10 anyways so I guess she lost out on a couple bucks in tip.  I liked the haircut I got though, so next time I go in there I’ll make sure to establish the price of the haircut before hand.  

BOGO or 20% off

I signed up for a service called the California Express VIP card that gives me a ton of discounts at restaurants and bars all across San Diego.  It only costs $20 per year and as long as I use it a couple different places throughout the year it pays for itself.  I’ve had it for over 5 years and it’s saved me a ton of money.

There’s a restaurant called Harney Sushi in San Diego where the card gets you either buy one entree get one free or 20% off your entire bill(excluding alcohol).  I’ve used it there before once or twice but the last time I went in, the waitress wouldn’t let me apply the bogo, only the 20% off.  Since we only ordered two rolls, a soup and a beer, 20% off didn’t save us a whole lot of money.  But the BOGO, would have saved us ~$17(they have some tasty but expensive rolls! haha).  The 20% off still saved us ~$7 but it should have been about $10 more.  I would have argued had I been with a friend, but since it was my fiancee, I let it go.

Too Cheap?  I don’t think it’s too cheap to ask a restaurant to honor an agreement they’ve made.  I actually contacted the VIP card company and the sushi place but never heard back from either one.  It kind of pissed me off that they both never got back to me, so I’ll probably challenge the entire dinner on my credit card now since they snuffed me.  Now that’s too cheap haha.  

(Update: Since I got snubbed by both companies, I actually challenged the transaction on my card for $30($20 for my time haha) and I won.  It wasn’t easy, the idiotic Chase rep wanted to do a 3 way call with the restaurant.  I told them to figure it out and hung up, guess it worked.)

The Meatless Turkey Sandwich

About a month ago, I went to one of my favorite sandwich shops(Sprouts) and ordered a turkey sandwich with everything.  When I got back to my desk, I opened it up and there was no turkey!  I had just worked out so I was ready to feast on this sandwich and I was seriously depressed when I found no turkey.  I didn’t have time to go back to the store so I ended up just eating a vegetarian sandwich with chips and a smoothie(like a rabbit).

I normally get awesome sandwiches from this place but this gaffe was too big to go unpunished.  I haven’t been back since but I’ll probably say something next time I’m in there.  I took a picture of the sandwich so I have some evidence if they don’t believe me.  It would be awesome if I got a free sandwich the next time I’m in there, but I’d probably settle for a bag of chips and a soda.

Too Cheap?  Forgetting the turkey in a turkey sandwich is pretty bad.  If it was anything else, I would have let it go.  But I’m really bad at dealing with stupid people and forgetting turkey in a turkey sandwich is pretty dumb in my book.  I’ll definitely say something next time I’m in there and if they don’t make it up to me I’ll probably challenge the transaction with my credit card company.  

Readers, do you think I was too cheap in any of the previous four situations or did I play it just right?  Don’t worry about hurting my feelings.  Like I said, I already know that I’m cheap!

-Harry @ PF Pro

The post How Cheap is Too Cheap? appeared first on Your Personal Finance Pro.

]]>
http://yourpfpro.com/how-cheap-is-too-cheap/feed/ 9 2073