It’s Friday, so let’s keep today’s post short and light. I want to talk about two of my favorite things; Pizza and Free Stuff. They just sound good together in the same sentence, don’t they?
Yesterday, I stopped by a Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza to pick up a cheese bread. We were having frozen pizza at home, but I thought I would supplement it with the cheese bread as it’s one of my son’s favorite things to eat. I paid the $3.50 cost, and grabbed a cheese bread off the rack. As I turned to leave, the cashier reached out his hand to give me my receipt.
“If you call the number on the bottom and do a short survey, you’ll get a free cheese bread for next time.”
How can anyone turn down free cheese bread?
As soon as I got home, I followed the instructions on the bottom of the receipt, answered a few questions and got a code that entitles me to a free cheese bread the next time I visit Papa Murphy’s.
I earned a free cheese bread by spending less than 5 minutes completing a short telephone survey.
My son is half way through his Junior year of high school. In the coming months we’ll be visiting and applying to colleges. It’s an exciting time in his life, but at the same time we’re wary about the amount of student debt he might incur by earning a college degree. In 2015, the average college graduate with student loans had just over $35,000 in student debt to go along with their diploma. College graduates spend years paying back student loans.
While he won’t officially apply to colleges until late summer, and financial aid applications don’t get completed for a few months after that, we’ve been thinking about the cost of his college education for awhile. If we can minimize the amount of school loans he will need, the less he will have to worry about paying off student loans after graduation.
First, we needed to educate ourselves on what different loans for students are available.
Types Of Federal Student Loans
Federal Subsidized Loans
Federal Stafford Loans are given based on financial need. They are subsidized by the federal government, which means the interest on the loan is paid for by government while the student is still in school. They carry a low interest rate, and can be obtained from banks, credit unions, or from the federal government itself. Repayment of federal subsidized student loans begins six months after a student graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time status.
I heard the noise at the exact time I saw the look on my wife’s face. I was exiting the laundry room and we both heard the squeak coming from the dryer I had just started. I dropped my head in disappointment, but I certainly wasn’t surprised. We built our home twelve years ago, and our dryer has operated the entire time without needing a single repair. Given the age of all of our appliances, we assume that repairs or replacements are in our future.
My wife instantly searched the internet to get an idea of how much the worst case scenario would cost. A new dryer can run between $400 and $1500. To buy a similar dryer of the same brand name as we have now, we’re looking at around $800.
My first instinct is to call an appliance repair person. While I want to get a working dryer for the least amount of money, I don’t want to get caught up in an endless cycle of repairs either. So how does a person know whether it’s economic to fix an appliance, or whether it’s time to get a new one?
Here are three steps that will help you make that decision:
Search The Internet
A quick online search revealed the most common cause of a squeaky dryer is a worn out drive belt or bearing. Both are very common repairs, neither signalling the end of the dryer’s life. There are even articles and YouTube videos to help the more adventurous perform these common repairs.
Once the usual price and amenities comparison was done and we selected a hotel, my wife tried to work her usual magic:
Check Multiple Reservation Systems
- Call Reservation Line: Most large hotel chains will direct you to their national reservation line. This is a good place to start, but shouldn’t be your final stop.
- Call Direct : We’ve found that we can sometimes get a better rate by calling the hotel directly. My wife will commonly call and tell them she’s already talked to the national reservation line, and ask if they have any better offers.
- Online Reservation: Occasionally hotels will offer a special online only rate. Bring up the hotel’s website, type in the information about your stay, and see if you can score a deal.
Most of the time the rates are identical, but taking a few minutes to compare all three can sometimes save significant dollars.
Ask About Membership Discounts
- AAA: I can’t say I’ve ever come across a hotel that doesn’t offer a discount for AAA members.
At the beginning of each weekend, my wife and I sit down to discuss our spending plan for the weekend. We talk about any plans we already have on the calendar, other things we’d like to do, and how much they cost. Sometimes we have different opinions as to what we should spend our money on that weekend. Normally the art of compromise is applied and we come to an agreement. On rare occasions we both dig in our heals, neither of us wanting to give up our idea in favor of the other.
Such a scenario arose last weekend during our pre-weekend spending discussion. I could tell my running shoes had reached the end of life by the aches in my legs. My wife, on the other hand really wanted to use the bulk of our weekend money for a facial and some skin care products that were running low. Both valid uses of our discretionary funds, but both purchases would not fit within our weekend spending budget. We were both adamant about our want being a higher priority.
Situations such as this require a plan of action to break the stalemate.
We had two ways we could handle this problem.
Many couples allocate a small sum of money to each person to be used however they please. By doing this, we could each save up our own money to be used on larger items such as shoes or skin care products when they are needed. The rest of the discretionary funds are a common bucket to be used for activities together.
The television news magazine Inside Edition recently showed a series of stories in which they rigged a home to seemingly need repairs, but the fix was extremely minor. For example, they moved the eye of an electric garage door so that it would not close. Then, they called several local companies to inspect the problem and give them an estimate to perform the repair. Some repair people would perform the trivial fix, while others would correctly diagnose the problem, but tell the homeowner they needed a much more expensive repair.
We rely on experts to not rip us off.
Think about how often we rely on people more knowledgeable on a given subject to be truthful, and not tell us bold faced lies and take our money. When you find a person or business that has proven themselves as trustworthy, it’s worth latching on to them.
I noticed the brakes were squealing on our mini-van. After some experimentation, I noted that it only happened the first couple times I applied the brakes after the van had sat for a long period of time. Given the van has 50,000 miles on it, I assumed that meant the brakes were due for servicing. So, I took my van to the place where I’ve had brakes done for years.