Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Sat, 13 Oct 2018 00:14:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 What to Do When You Have Put Off Christmas Shopping http://yourpfpro.com/what-to-do-when-you-have-put-off-christmas-shopping/ http://yourpfpro.com/what-to-do-when-you-have-put-off-christmas-shopping/#respond Mon, 18 Dec 2017 12:00:24 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7569 Christmas is only a week away and after the last few days of preparations I feel a little more ready for it. However, I will admit, panic was starting to set in just four or five days ago. The only thing I had done up to that point was put up tree and decorate a […]

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When You Have Put Off Christmas Shopping
Christmas is only a week away and after the last few days of preparations I feel a little more ready for it. However, I will admit, panic was starting to set in just four or five days ago. The only thing I had done up to that point was put up tree and decorate a bit.

If it hadn’t been for the help of my daughter and mother over the last week I would probably still be freaking out. Thank goodness we traditionally team up to decorate our homes and make holiday cookies (by the way, I helped them decorate their houses first-we have a system and mine is always last).

In addition, the past couple of days I have either purchased or ordered the last of the gifts I needed. By the weekend the majority of them should be wrapped and under our tree.

But maybe you are further behind than I am with your Christmas preparations. If you are running behind, here’s what to do when you have put off Christmas shopping.

Don’t Put it Off Any Longer

Not to put any additional pressure on you or anything, but what are you waiting for, Christmas? I hope not, because it will be here in just a few days even if you aren’t prepared.

If you want to save Christmas when you have put off Christmas shopping, don’t put off ordering or shopping for your gifts any longer. You don’t have a lot of time left.

Besides, the last thing you want to do is to stay up all night long on Christmas Eve wrapping or finishing up making gifts. Trust me, I know because I had to do it a few times several years ago when my kids were little.

Fortunately, you still have time to get gifts for everyone on your list if you tackle the project within the next couple of days.

Make a Simple Project

Another solution when you have put off Christmas shopping is to make a simple project. Yes, if you can spare an hour or two per night or a few hours this Saturday you may still be able to get an easy project done.

When you need to get a little inspiration, search the internet for quick projects you can handle in a short amount of time. If your budget is small, try making three or four things that are similar in assembly line fashion.

Bake Treats

Baking holiday goodies is another great gift idea when you have put off Christmas shopping. Whip up a batch of treats, put it on a pretty, inexpensive discount store plate and use it for a gift.

Regift an Item

Regifting a new item you have not used can help when you have put off Christmas shopping. Nevertheless, some people may not agree with this as a solution for gift giving. I say it is a frugal way to let someone else love a gift that may not have worked for you.

Just because you weren’t able to use something doesn’t mean you didn’t appreciate the gift. It simply means it didn’t fit you or your lifestyle. Passing it on is smart and can save you money when gifting costs have gotten so out of hand these days.

Give of Yourself

Giving the gift of your time can help you resolve the problem of not having gifts for the holidays. Make a couple of simple coupons on the computer to babysit, wash their car, or do some other chore.

Try to think of service ideas they would really appreciate or need.

Pick up Some Gift Cards

As a last resort you could always pick up a few gift cards. If you decide to go this route, though, choose to get the cards from stores you know the receiver frequents.

It isn’t always easy to get everything done for the holidays when there is so much extra to do. If you have put off Christmas shopping up until now you still have time to salvage Christmas. Use these tips to get your shopping done and still make the season merry and bright.

Have you ever put off Christmas shopping before? If so, what did you do to get everything done?

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Why Cyber Monday is Just Another Sales Gimmick http://yourpfpro.com/why-cyber-monday-is-just-another-sales-gimmick/ http://yourpfpro.com/why-cyber-monday-is-just-another-sales-gimmick/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:00:33 +0000 http://yourpfpro.com/?p=7490 According to Wikipedia, Cyber Monday has only been around for about 12 years. But since its inception, retail sales have grown into the billions. Cyber Monday deals are usually offered only on products consumers buy online. But do we really need another reason to spend money whether we spend it online or in the store? […]

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Cyber Monday is Just Another Sales GimmickAccording to Wikipedia, Cyber Monday has only been around for about 12 years. But since its inception, retail sales have grown into the billions.

Cyber Monday deals are usually offered only on products consumers buy online. But do we really need another reason to spend money whether we spend it online or in the store?

Retailers seem to think so. However, I am going to tell you why Cyber Monday is just another sales gimmick that you should avoid.

1. It Plays on Your FOMO

Many people know that Black Friday plays on the consumer’s fear of missing out, or FOMO. This is demonstrated by the lengths people go in order to “win” the good deals that are of limited quantity.

I believe Cyber Monday is just as bad if not worse than Black Friday when it comes to FOMO. People who missed the sales from the Friday before may feel pressured. If they don’t buy what they can the following Monday, Cyber Monday, they could miss out on something.

2. The Deals Aren’t Actually Better

Because Black Friday advertisements start going out around Halloween now, shoppers assume they can get the best prices from that point on until Christmas.

Not true. The best prices to be had are advertised later on as it gets closer to the holiday. December is actually when the prices are generally at their lowest. Of course, there is also a risk of the item no longer being available if it was a hot seller.

However, the more often and longer retailers can get customers to look at their products the more they will sell. It seems it’s just how we are wired – susceptible to their ploys.

3. It Plays On Your Mood

What consumers don’t recognize is how Cyber Monday plays on their mood. Once they start buying things they get hooked into buying even more.

For example, while browsing online for one thing they find five more. By the time they check out they’ve purchased more than they meant to purchase.

But they will never again get it at such a terrific price so it was worth it, right? At least, that is what they are told by the retailers who lure them into overspending.

What actually happens is that the customer feels good about what they bought and spent so they immediately go buy more. To put it more accurately, they go on a buying streak.

The fact of the matter is that Cyber Monday is just another sales gimmick designed to trick shoppers into spending.

Why do the retailers do this? Because when customers shop sales it leads to them making even more purchases, including things that aren’t on sale. The top selling stores know this and use it against us.

4. You Think You’re Saving When You’re Spending

Spending when you think you are saving is another way Cyber Monday is just another sales gimmick.

Let’s take for example the shopper who buys a fancy $500 purse for $150 dollars during a Cyber Monday sale. She got that purse for less than half price so she saved a ton of money, right?

Wrong. If she needed a new purse she could have spent under $50 at a discount store like Target instead.

The moral of this little story is that consumers should buy only what they need to buy. Then, shoppers should invest the rest, or at least as much as possible. That is how to really save money.

5. It Pulls in Millennials Shoppers

As I said before, Cyber Monday is a huge day for online shopping. It may have even surpassed Black Friday’s online sales and it’s only been a thing for a little over a decade.

One reason for its success is because the bargains are as good as or better than those of Black Friday, but only last for a short period of time. This entices shoppers to spend their money quickly before all the good deals are gone.

Another possible explanation is because they don’t have to fight the crowds by shopping online instead.

All of these seemingly positive aspects appeal to consumers and millennials in particular. These tactics pull in millennials and get them to part with more of their money.

Millennials alone are not to blame for their vulnerability. Everyone spends money they shouldn’t because retailers know how to pull all of us in. They use every trick in the book. That is why Cyber Monday is just another sales gimmick.

Clearly, consumers overspend on Cyber Monday in the name of saving as much as they can. But I believe recognizing that we do is the first step in the process of ending that cycle of behavior.

Do you overspend on Cyber Monday? If so, why do you feel compelled to spend more than you should?

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How to Save Using Cash-Back Sites http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-save-using-cash-back-sites/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-save-using-cash-back-sites/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2015 14:30:31 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=6423 It’s that time of year, when stores are offering huge discounts and deals, hoping you’ll shop with them. If you’re like many people, you’ll be shopping this season from the comfort of your home, not worried about fighting through traffic only to find the item you came for is out of stock. Here at Your […]

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It’s that time of year, when stores are offering huge discounts and deals, hoping you’ll shop with them. If you’re like many people, you’ll be shopping this season from the comfort of your home, not worried about fighting through traffic only to find the item you came for is out of stock.

Here at Your PF Pro, we talk a lot about saving and not making impulse purchases. However, this time of year, there are often very good deals to be had that will save you a lot of money. For example, if you’re in the market for a TV, November is one of the best times of the year to buy one because the deals are in your favor. The same goes for certain electronics, clothes, and more.

That said, we still want to save money, even if we’re already getting our gifts (for ourselves and others!) at a discount. Since you may be shopping online anyway, you may as well get additional cash back. Using cash-back rebate sites are an absolute must if you’re shopping online. Even if you don’t find a store offering a cash back deal, many of these sites also list coupons, meaning you’ll save more than you may have expected. Here are some cash-back sites you’ll want to check out before you make your next purchase online!

How Cash-Back Sites Work

Cash-back sites are pretty straightforward. Once you find one or a few sites you want to use, you’ll register on the site. Some sites will have you install a button on your browser, so you can easily click to their site when you’re shopping, while others will encourage you to visit their site and click on a store from the site’s list of store partners.

Once you’ve clicked on a store from your cash-back site, make sure you don’t click on other store banners, just in case you lose access to your cash-back offer. You may want to stay on the page and not click out, too, because while some cash-back offers remain on the site, others don’t, and you don’t want to lose your cash-back rebate.

Once you’ve made a purchase, there is a waiting period before your cash-back rebate is processed and approved. For many sites, this is around 90 days. Once approved and processed, some cash-back sites will set a minimum amount you must accrue before you can cash out, generally around $25 depending on the site.

Some Cash-Back Sites to Check Out

A few cash-back sites you’ll want to bookmark include:

DollarDig.com – DollarDig offers cash-back rebates from hundreds of different retailers, including Blue Nile, e.l.f. cosmetics, Woot, NewEgg, and many more. DollarDig is one of my favorites to use because the site is clean, easy to navigate, and has retailers I actually use. Sign up and “like” DollarDig now, and you’ll get $5 right away – no purchase required!

FatWallet.com – FatWallet is a good cash-back site, because in addition to cash-back offers, FatWallet also shows you what coupons and discounts are available for certain items. Right now, FatWallet has a holiday section right on the sidebar, so you can track some popular holiday retailers like Wal-Mart, Amazon, and more.

CouponCactus.com – CouponCactus is slightly more difficult to navigate through, but one popular feature with CC is your ability to look for sites that offer free shipping. Keep in mind many sites will be offering free shipping during the holiday season to get you to buy from them, so this might not always be the best deal. However, shipping costs can add a significant amount, so double check with CC first to see if there is a free shipping opportunity.

How To Get The Best Deal

The best way to save money is to compare different offers available, and not just take the first offer you see. Always check RetailMeNot.com to see if there is a promotional code for your item. While you can still shop through your cash-back portal, see if there’s an additional coupon to save you even more money!

It’s important to be aware that some retailers may not let you “stack” coupons by using a promo code and a cash-back site, but it’s always worthwhile to see if it’s an option for you. If it’s not, see if your cash-back site is offering more than your promo code and stick with the better deal.

Shopping online can be an awesome experience, and offers you the opportunity to shop locally, nationally and internationally for the best deals. While getting outside and shopping among the crowds can be fun, you can often get a lot more done by getting all your holiday shopping done in the comfort of your own home. Plus, by shopping online, you’ll be able to take advantage of at least a few of these great cash-back offers!

How do you plan on shopping this year for gifts, or are you already done with your holiday shopping?

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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 […]

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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

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8 Great Digital Tools for Personal Finance http://yourpfpro.com/digital-tools-for-personal-finance/ http://yourpfpro.com/digital-tools-for-personal-finance/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:45:38 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=5239 With our love of technology and tools to help us constantly do more, it’s no surprise that there are countless personal finance applications out there — and they’re all vying for our attention. It can be difficult to know which to choose, or which will work best for your unique financial situation. And let’s face […]

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Digital tools for personal financeWith our love of technology and tools to help us constantly do more, it’s no surprise that there are countless personal finance applications out there — and they’re all vying for our attention.

It can be difficult to know which to choose, or which will work best for your unique financial situation. And let’s face it: sometimes, we don’t want the “best” tool. We want the newest!

Whatever your needs are, these 8 digital tools can help you do more with your money (and satisfy that want to try out some fresh apps).

1. ReadyForZero

Looking to pay off debt and get your budget organized? ReadyForZero focuses on your debt payoff goals while getting the rest of your finances in order.

It also keeps tabs on your credit score, provides reminders when bills are due, allows you to create goals and milestones, and comes in app-form for iOS.

2. RetailMeNot

Before you make any purchases — especially online — check RetailMeNot for a coupon. They offer tons of them for countless stores, so it’s a simple and fast way to save a little extra when you check out. You may find promo codes for online stores that weren’t even advertising sales or discounts. It’s always worth checking when you’re shopping cart is full.

3. CreditKarma.com and CreditSesame.com

These are two useful and completely free tools to use in order to check your credit score online. You don’t have to be limited to checking your score once a year, and it’s easy to sign up. They also alert you when something on your credit report changes.

But be careful — while these sites aren’t scams and do allow you to look at your credit score for free, they’re supported by advertisements that may push services and credit cards you don’t need. If you use either site, be aware and only visit to check your score.

4. FlexScore

FlexScore is an interactive tool that gives you a financial score based on a profile you complete. From that information, it also offers actionable advice on how to increase your score. They claim it’s similar to having a standby financial advisor.

5. BudgetPulse

This is the perfect tool for anyone wary of storing all their highly sensitive financial information in one place. It’s a “risk-free” take on a free online budgeting system.

Unlike other digital personal finance tools, BudgetPulse does not require you to link your account information to their site. It provides you with a handy graph view, which some people prefer over numbers.

Additionally, you can create savings goals that friends and family can contribute towards (via Amazon or PayPal).

6. MagnifyMoney

Another interactive tool, MagnifyMoney works to recommend the best financial products with the least amount of fees — which can save you a ton of money. Their recommendations currently include credit cards (specifically rewards cards), bank accounts, balance transfers, and personal loans. Take a look to see if you could be saving money by switching!

7. Camelcamelcamel

We all know that Amazon prices tend to fluctuate day by day. What if you had a tool that alerted you to price drops, ensuring that you were buying a product at its cheapest? That’s exactly what Camelcamelcamel is.

You aren’t required to create an account to use Camelcamelcamel, but it does come in handy as you can import your Amazon wishlist for easy tracking. You can also customize when alerts are triggered by setting the ideal price you’d pay for an item.

8. Checkout 51

This is an app that rewards you for grocery shopping. Checkout 51 gives you a list of grocery items and tells you how much cash back you’ll receive upon purchasing them.

After you’ve completed your shopping, take a picture of your receipt, and send it in. Hit $20 and they’ll send you a check. It’s a nifty way to get some money back when you’re buying what you need.

What are your favorite digital tools to help you do more with your money?

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How to Negotiate to Get What You Want http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-negotiate/ http://yourpfpro.com/how-to-negotiate/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 12:45:46 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=4515 Even if you’re not a corporate salesperson with strict numbers to hit, or a big-time lawyer with clients to get out of tight spots, you can benefit from becoming a better negotiator. We negotiate all the time in our day to day lives. We work to secure better prices and terms when we make big […]

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negotiatingEven if you’re not a corporate salesperson with strict numbers to hit, or a big-time lawyer with clients to get out of tight spots, you can benefit from becoming a better negotiator.

We negotiate all the time in our day to day lives. We work to secure better prices and terms when we make big purchases, change positions or seek raises at work, or look at hiring on someone to do work for us.

While we can’t necessarily haggle our way to what we want in every situation, understanding how to negotiate will help us to make better deals with better outcomes when the time arises.

Understand the What You Want – and What the Other Side Wants

The first step in learning how to negotiate is to know precisely what you’re seeking from the deal. What is your ideal outcome? Are there any points you are completely unwilling to compromise on?

Take time to understand the position of the person, company, or sales team that’s on the other side of the transaction, too. Come prepared by learning about what they want, what they can sacrifice, and what points they might be flexible on. What are they expecting out of your deal? What would make them happy to walk away with, and what would be unacceptable?

Additionally, you need to understand the context of the situation. For example, it’s expected and acceptable to negotiate on the price if you’re trying to buy a car. It is neither expected nor appreciated if you walk into Best Buy and start haggling with the employees to see if they’ll knock down the price of a computer you’re interested in.

Consider What You Have to Offer

When you’re negotiating, the other party is unlikely to simply give you want you want because you said, “please.” Expect to demonstrate why your offer is worth considering.

It’s important to be extremely clear about how your deal is not only good for you, but good for everyone else involved too. When you’re negotiating for a better position at work or a raise, you need to be able to say exactly why the value you offer the company is worth the increased responsibilities or pay.

You should strive to show how you’re presenting a win-win scenario in every set of negotiations you enter. This might be a little harder to apply to a situation where you’re trying to buy something, but it can be done.

Think about buying a home. While a lower offer than the asking price might not sound like a great thing to the seller, you simply have to show them the other benefits your offer provides them outside of that single metric. After all, you’re allowing them to sell their home and be done with the hassle. Or maybe you’ll offer to pay closing costs if they accept your lower offer, which means they won’t have to pay as much cash out of pocket to sell their home and receive the funds from that sale.

Don’t Be Afraid to Play Your Trump Card

In almost any negotiation, you will have a trump card that might beat every argument the other party can throw at you: you can choose to simply walk away. You don’t have to make a purchase or accept a job offer. You can take your money or your skills to other individual, company, or seller who is more interested in working with you to negotiate a deal that makes sense for everyone involved.

Don’t be afraid to smile and say “no thanks,” to something that’s presented as a final offer if it’s truly unacceptable to you. You have other options available.

Remember, you provide a valuable asset in one way or another. From being a talented, reliable employee or potential hire to providing a much-needed source of income for dealers and vendors, you have something to offer – which means you’re always in a position to negotiate your way to a better deal.

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How to Efficiently Send Money Online Within the US http://yourpfpro.com/efficiently-send-money-online-within-us/ http://yourpfpro.com/efficiently-send-money-online-within-us/#respond Sat, 12 Apr 2014 12:21:25 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=4540 Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest post from my friend and fellow blogger Logan Lemberger.  I’ve actually known him since we were kids and played in the same basketball league at our local park.  Now a days though, Logan works for a cool new payments start-up and blogs in his free time.   I […]

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How to Efficiently Send Money Online Within the USEditor’s Note: Today we have a guest post from my friend and fellow blogger Logan Lemberger.  I’ve actually known him since we were kids and played in the same basketball league at our local park.  Now a days though, Logan works for a cool new payments start-up and blogs in his free time.  

I asked Logan to lay out all the current options there are for sending money within the US these days.  Personally, I’ve been using Paypal for years and never had a problem with it.  But for some reason, almost everyone I know seems to prefer Venmo even though they literally do the exact same thing.  Paypal is free as long as you check the box that says the payment is for “family or friends”.  I guess that step is too much for most people.  Anyways, on to the post!

P2P Payment Landscape (& Headache)

We are bombarded daily with different ways to move money from one place to another. Whether it be paying for your fantasy league or last night’s dinner with friends, there are tons of choices for how to make digital p2p (peer-to-peer) payments.

In the end, it’s basically impossible to remember or understand the differences between all the money sending options. It seems every bank, large retailer or pseudo-hip app is trying to be the facilitator of your payments.

In this article I will break down a large chunk of the options available to send money from the United States to a recipient also located in the US.

Why does everyone want to be in this business?

The easy answer is to charge you the customer fees to move your money from one place to another. However, based on the company the fees fluctuate from zero to multiple percentage points. So other motives must be in place.

Many of the participating players are already in financial services and see these types of payments as either an add-on service for their existing customers, or as a way to introduce themselves to consumers they wouldn’t have worked with otherwise.

Additionally, for non-financial service companies (think Google, Amazon, or even Facebook), peer-to-peer payments can be identified as a complementary product to their existing services.

But another key factor is that it allows for companies to hold your money. Whether you receive money or load it to your account from another payment source, if the company gets to hold your money they are happy.

With the money in their possession they can use it for their own purposes. They earn interest on it via other financial tools, similar to the way a bank holds your money. It also makes it easier for them to upsell you on other products from them and their partners, creating a convenience factor for you to complete more purchases.

Choices Abound

Below you will find a multitude of options for domestic money transfer in the US. There are many similarities between them. It can come down to convenience, existing familiarity, fee, recipient’s payout method or your own desired payment method.

The Old Old Old Fashioned Way – Checks

Physically mail a check to someone. The cost is simply the price of postage, but not the most time-efficient though. Safety also plays a factor as there is the risk of loss or theft.

The Old Old Fashioned Way – Bank Transfers

Initiate a wire transfer from your bank account, either online or at a branch.

If your recipient has an account at the same bank as you it can be a smooth process that is quick and can be devoid of fees. At the same time though, additional registration may be necessary from the recipient’s end. These sorts of added steps are not always welcomed by payment recipients.

If your recipient has an account with a different bank things get a little more messy. You will encounter a fee near $40 and have to wait a few days for the transaction to process. In today’s market many times it is not the best option.

The Old Fashioned Way – Money Remittance Company

A money remittance company like Western Union can provide domestic service but it is not their core competency. They are more focused on international money transfer.

Using a money remittance company will bring transfer fees anywhere up to $30 depending on the amount being sent and payment method. Keep these types of companies in mind for when you send money abroad.

PayPal

When people think P2P payments, they generally think of PayPal. They were the first company to rise to the top of the industry and still maintain control today.

There are no fees if you use your bank account or PayPal balance to send the money. With a credit or debit card the fee is 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. The sender decides whether they take the fee or pass it along to their recipient. But honestly nobody wants a fee.

For sending occasionally to friends or family to which you owe money, its not bad. However if you want to consistently send or receive money you could incur fees. If you are going to leverage it for larger dollar transactions there is a little risk that PayPal will freeze and hold the funds for fraud reviews, which can be cumbersome to resolve.

PayPal may have its issues and detractors but they remain the leader and household name in this space.

Amazon Payments

Amazon allows consumers to send money for free with a verified bank account, credit or debit card. This is excellent to make payments to earn credit card points or to reach minimum credit card spending requirements, as previously discussed here before on YourPFPro.

A big issue with many of the peer-to-peer payment services is that both sides of the sender and recipient need to have an account with the company. Many people already have an Amazon account, so it’s easier for others to adopt. Amazon may ask for additional details to verify account details though.

The massive online retailer dabbles in payments primarily as a service to its enterprise clients like its third-party merchants and Kickstarter for example. However, having a no-fee option to move some money with bank account or credit card is advantageous.

Square Cash

Sleek looking and simple, Square Cash allows consumers to send money for free with a debit card. Notification is sent over email to recipients who input their debit card info to receive the funds. The whole process is pretty smooth for both parties.

The catch is that Square only accepts debit card. So no instant credit card points benefits here as with Amazon.

Square has a sending limit of $250. That limit can be escalated to $2,500 with proper identity verification. But if you need to pay someone back and aren’t bothered by not being able to use your credit card Square Cash is pretty excellent.

Dwolla

Dwolla aspires to be a new payment network. Essentially a modern version of Visa or Mastercard. One aspect of that is peer-to-peer money transfers.

With their own network, it is required that those receiving money register for a Dwolla account to accept the money. Transfers under $10 are free, with anything over that mark pegged at $0.25.

The rates are very friendly, but funds must be pulled from your bank account. Dwolla is an interesting alternative solely focused on circumventing traditional payment networks.

Venmo

The hip, mobile-only, socially focused app is prominent among the college-age and young adult demographics. The company was launched to make PayPal-esque payments easier for the mobile fluent generation. They’ve quickly ended up being owned by PayPal though.

Payments from your bank account, Venmo balance, and most debit cards (presumably from larger banks) are free. Payments from credit cards cost 3% of the transaction total.

To some, being mobile-only may be less preferable than other providers which are accessible from a desktop browser as well. Additionally, the baked in social layer allows payments to be shared with others in your social network. This can lead to privacy issues for some.

Overall, if you are content using your bank account as a payment method, the price is right with Venmo.

Google Wallet

If you don’t use enough Google services already, they will help you send money as well.

Google account holders are able to send money to friends or family. Even integrating the feature into Gmail like an attachment. Consumers can send money for free with their bank account or Google Wallet balance, or pay 2.9% to use a credit or debit card.

After receiving the money, it can be pushed to one’s bank account, be used in the Google Play store, or spent with a physical Google Mastercard.

But what about security?

Security is a frequently tossed around word online. It serves as a catchall for many different issues from identity fraud to hacking to social engineering.

In the end, there is a risk with all sorts of online commerce. The key point is that in almost all scenarios you will be made whole on disputed transactions. The most important part is monitoring your statements so no improper transactions sneak through on your dime.

How to Choose

There is not one clear winner here, but various options that may be used depending on the nature of the payment being made. Factor in the consistency of the payment, amount, when the funds are needed, how you prefer to pay, and the recipient’s existing financial relationships.

No matter which company you use, you should be able to send money online to your friends or family in the US in a cost and time-efficient manner.

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Logan Lemberger is working on disrupting the international money remittance market with WireCash. He also writes about the money transfer industry for The Enlightened Remitter by night. He can be found on Twitter @loganlem.

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Summer is the Best Time to Hire Movers http://yourpfpro.com/summer-best-time-hire-movers/ http://yourpfpro.com/summer-best-time-hire-movers/#respond Fri, 28 Feb 2014 13:30:57 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=4277 Even though we’re a ways off from summer, the nice weather here in SoCal makes it feel like summer all year long. For a few years there, I kind of dreaded the beginning of summer because it meant my lease was up and we’d have to move. That was in college though when I was […]

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Summer is the Best Time to Hire MoversEven though we’re a ways off from summer, the nice weather here in SoCal makes it feel like summer all year long. For a few years there, I kind of dreaded the beginning of summer because it meant my lease was up and we’d have to move. That was in college though when I was living with different people every year and moving around a lot. My living situation remained pretty fluid for a couple years after I got out of school too since some of my friends were holding out for work in other areas.

But even though I moved around a lot during the past 10 years, I never really had that much stuff. Since I knew we’d probably be moving, I never bought more than a bed and a desk. When it came time to move, I’d strap down my bed to my sedan, disassemble my desk and load up my car. It also helped that all of my moves were always from one part of the city to another; I never had to leave the county. That enabled me to take a couple trips or spread my move out over a few days. But that all changed when I bought my condo.

Lots of Stuff

After I bought my condo in 2010, I knew we were going to be there for a while. So we ended up buying furniture, artwork, beds and more. Eventually, when it came time to move though, we had accumulated a lot of stuff. I debated over whether we should hire movers or not and it was a very tough decision for a real cheapskate like me. Ultimately though, I couldn’t have been happier with the choice I made.

Comparing Prices & Options

Since we were moving about an hour north, there was no way I could strap everything to my car and make multiple trips. If we were going to do it ourselves, we would need to hire a moving truck and enlist the help of a few friends. Moving trucks can be pretty expensive though and you also have to factor in the time/money it takes coming back for your car. All of the companies I contacted charged an extra fee for one-way drop-off so that wasn’t an option either. The lowest quote we ended up finding was around $300.

The next part of my search involved comparing quotes from local moving companies. There are a few nifty moving quote comparison sites out there but I used movingrelocation.com. The best quote(from a highly rated company) I got was from a local company and it came in at $750.

Summer is Hot in SoCal

$750 vs $300 is a big difference but I honestly felt like the price for hiring movers wasn’t as much as I thought it would be and the cost of renting a truck was way more than I thought it would be. I also knew that it would be 80-90 degrees in the middle of July and although I like doing things myself, moving isn’t really one of them. Similar to my ‘house cleaner conundrum‘, I don’t get much value out of moving all my crap so I figured it might be a good idea to pay someone to do it for me.

Recruit Your Friends

I knew it would be too much work for my fiancee and I to pack up and move our entire two bedroom apartment, so the other option I considered was enlisting the help of my friends. I always feel awkward though asking people to help me move unless I’m really close with them. I actually like helping others move but I don’t like moving my own stuff for some reason. It makes me feel good to help my friends out, plus I get a nice little work out in, a free meal and some beers if I’m lucky. Since we had to move during the middle of the week though, it would have been tough for my friends to help because they all have day jobs.

Pay Me to Move?

The thing that finally convinced me though was when I learned that the entire cost of my move would be an above the line deduction. Since I was moving for another job(TBD at the time, but I was pretty sure I’d find work), I qualified for the moving expenses deduction. My marginal tax rate(fed/state/FICA) is around 40% so my $750 move only cost me $450 after the tax deduction.

So How’d it Go?

The temperature on moving day was about 90 degrees and the moving company did an awesome job. They didn’t take one break during the entire time: I bought them a couple Gatorades but they didn’t even drink them until the whole move was done. It ended up taking two guys 3 hours to load the truck, an hour to drive, and 2 hours to unload. I was actually surprised they were able to fit my entire 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom apartment into a 17 ft. truck(with room to spare) but I suppose that’s why they’re professional movers.

I was pretty happy with my decision to hire movers but I think it may have spoiled me for future moves. I spent most of the loading phase just sitting around telling them what to do while they sweated their asses off. And it really didn’t cost me much in the long run since I would have had to rent a truck anyways. Our lease is expiring this summer and if we decide to move I think I know which way I’m leaning.

Readers, ever hired movers to help you move your stuff across town, state or country? Does the time of year you’re moving play any role in your decision?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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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 […]

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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

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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 […]

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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

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Why I Sort Of Hired a Wedding Planner http://yourpfpro.com/sort-hired-wedding-planner/ http://yourpfpro.com/sort-hired-wedding-planner/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 17:01:26 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3126 Even though I’m only working four hours a day, I’ve still been spending a lot of my free time planning for our wedding next summer.  Since my fiancee is busy with school, I’ve become the ‘unofficial’ wedding planner and let me tell you, it’s a lot of work.  We ended up picking a venue that […]

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Why I Sort Of Hired a Wedding PlannerEven though I’m only working four hours a day, I’ve still been spending a lot of my free time planning for our wedding next summer.  Since my fiancee is busy with school, I’ve become the ‘unofficial’ wedding planner and let me tell you, it’s a lot of work.  We ended up picking a venue that requires you to bring in all your own vendors so there’s even more to do than normal.  It’s our responsibility to coordinate everything from tables and chairs to a full kitchen and flooring for the catering staff.

It’s definitely a lot more planning than a normal wedding but one of the nice benefits is that we get to customize nearly everything.  The price will be about the same as  amore traditional venue though since we’ll save on things like alcohol by bringing in our own bar.  My day job hiatus came at the perfect time since it allowed me to start planning the wedding and get a lot of the initial steps out of the way.

Where to Start

After we booked our venue, I was pretty content for a while.  I kind of slacked off in the planning department after we put our deposit down and it was my fiancee who got me going again on the planning.  I soon realized that planning a wedding is a lot of work!  It’s one thing to talk about it but it’s another thing to actually go out and do it.  Just figuring out which vendors to book first was a huge task in itself, eventually I figured it out though.

Booking a Photographer

I started my search for a photographer like I would with any other vendor I use in my daily life, I went straight to Yelp.  I use Yelp mainly for food reviews but I figured they would also help me out a ton for some of the bigger wedding vendors.  I ended up contacting about 5 vendors from Yelp and 10 from a Facebook status update I made asking for wedding photographer referrals(I never realized I had so many friends who knew great photographers!).

One of the first things I noticed was that I was spending inordinate amounts of time just filtering through photographers.  We already had a rough idea of our budget but since not one photographer lists their prices online I had to individually contact all of them just to see if they were within our budget and available on our wedding date.  I have no idea why there isn’t a huge wedding site out there that allows you to filter vendors by different characteristics but there should be.

Ok I Need Some Help

One of the reasons why we ended up hiring a month of wedding coordinator was because I was spending a lot of time sorting through vendors who didn’t even come close to what we were looking for.  I was doing a ton of e-mailing back and forth with various photographers about the same stuff over and over and it kind of seemed like a waste of time.  That’s exactly where a wedding planner comes in handy.

Let’s be honest, you don’t have to be a genius to plan a wedding.  It’s not that hard to coordinate vendors, make up a schedule, etc.  But what is extremely valuable is the experience that a wedding planner can bring.  Especially with big events like weddings, little problems and hiccups will show up when you least expect it.  By hiring someone who’s familiar with these situations, you reduce the chances of something going wrong.

When I first started planning my wedding, I thought it would be manageable to do it by myself.  I quickly realized though that it wasn’t and I didn’t mind asking for a little help.  Even though I’m a big do it yourself-er, there’s not a whole lot of value added to my knowledge base by planning a wedding.  If I spend hours and hours researching vendors, I’m going to have a kick ass wedding but what am I going to do with all that information afterwards?  I guess I would know exactly who to hire if someone needed to cater an event for 150 people.

But since I don’t tend to hire photographers to take pictures of me or cater parties very often, all of my wedding planning knowledge would go to waste.  In a way, I’m outsourcing this task to someone more knowledgeable and more experienced so that I can focus on other aspects of the wedding.

Readers, did you hire a wedding planner for your wedding?  What do you think about all the research that goes into planning a wedding if you do it yourself?  Do you think it’s a waste of time or is there some value added?

-Harry @ PF Pro

On a related topic, Pauline talks about how you can make extra money in the wedding industry on Make Money Your Way

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That Printer Ink Cartridge Costs What?! http://yourpfpro.com/printer-ink-cartridge-costs/ http://yourpfpro.com/printer-ink-cartridge-costs/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 12:45:38 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3029 One of the things I miss most about my old day job is the free printing.  I’m not kidding either.  Even though we live in a digital age, I still find myself printing out a ton of documents nearly every single day.  I print out everything from contracts to shipping labels and everything in-between.  At […]

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That Printer Ink Cartridge Costs What?!One of the things I miss most about my old day job is the free printing.  I’m not kidding either.  Even though we live in a digital age, I still find myself printing out a ton of documents nearly every single day.  I print out everything from contracts to shipping labels and everything in-between.  At my old job, there were three laser/color printers within 25 feet of my desk.  I was in heaven.

I know you’re not supposed to use company resources for personal use but no one I know really follows that.  In fact, I would always save all my personal printing for work and it was part of the four hours a day I spent not working.  But now, all that has changed.  And even though I don’t have free access to a laser printer anymore, I still have just as much stuff to print.

I Forgot How Expensive Ink Is

I have a standard HP Office Jet printer that I bought from Costco five years ago and it still works very well.  It’s an all in one with scanner, fax(what’s that??), and of course printing.  I primarily use it for scanning and printing though since I don’t even own a home phone line.

All that ‘work printing for my job’ enabled me to get by on a couple cartridges I bought a few years back.  But when my ink ran out the other day, I went online and typed in to Google: “HP 74 XL Ink Cartridge”.  The first result was directly from the HP website so I clicked on it and the price was $41.99!  Alright obviously I’m not going to buy ink from HP, that would be like going to the dealership to get your car fixed.  But even good ol’ reliable Amazon had a pretty high price at $34.17.

Time to Get Creative

I did a bunch of searching and the best price I could find was for seller refurbished cartridges on eBay.  I bought 2 black cartridges(74XL) and 1 color cartridge(75XL) for $10.65 with free shipping and no tax.  That’s about $3 a piece since color cartridges are usually more expensive.  The black ink cartridge was 10x cheaper than the cheapest price that I found on Amazon.  WOW!

I think these cartridges are so cheap because the companies that sell them ship off old cartridges to China and fill them up with ink there and then send them back to the US and sell them for dirt cheap.  It’s a smart business model if you ask me because they’re able to undercut US ink cartridges by 10x.  That’s just ridiculous.  Why would anyone buy a regular cartridge?

Quality of Cartridges

I know some people will probably tell me how much better quality the HP cartridges are but honestly, I bet they come from the same factory in China!  And there’s no way they’re 10x better.

That being said, the HP ink cartridges may be higher quality and they may last longer but the physical quantity of ink in both cartridges is definitely the same.  And I’ve found that there are actually some things you can do to make your ink last longer regardless of whether you buy manufacturer or refurbished cartridges.

In order to extend the life of your cartridge it’s all about preventing your ink from drying.  When the ink dries, it becomes useless and can really cut into the life of your cartridge.  Here are some tips for making your ink last longer:

  • Avoid extreme temperatures – Printer ink can be a little sensitive and hot more so than cold can make the ink evaporate and dry up faster.  Try to leave your printer in a nice cool or shaded place.
  • Turn on and off your printer manually – On most printers, when you manually turn off the printer, the cartridges are parked in a spot where they are exposed to less air.  So by turning on your printer only when you need it, you’re effectively extending the life of your cartridge.
  • Print at least once a week – You might not think that printing ink would save you ink.  But if you don’t use your printer for a few weeks, the ink will start to dry up and leave less ink for printing.  Try to print at least one page a week to keep the ink fresh and prevent the cartridge from drying up.

Readers, are there people that actually spend $40 on a black ink cartridge?  Can’t you get a new printer for about the same price these days?  What do you think about my eBay solution that’s 10x cheaper?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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