My mother is extremely frugal. She stretches the money her and my father have by painstakingly evaluating every purchase for value, and getting every drop of use out of their possessions. But while visiting them for Thanksgiving I saw that they were wasting money each and every month because they lack technological knowledge.
My dad’s not a huge technology guy, but for someone in his mid-70’s he does pretty well. He recently researched and bought a new high definition TV. He has a laptop, high speed internet, and even has a wireless printer. He can use all of these items well, but if anything goes wrong my phone rings.
I was curious as to what broadband package he had, and asked if he had a recent cable bill I could look at. Inspecting their detailed cable bill, I saw that my parents were paying $10 a month to rent their cable modem. At $10 month, they’re paying $120 each year to rent their cable modem. I don’t recall how long my parents have had high speed internet, but it’s been at least a couple of years. I looked up the cost of the model of cable modem provided by their cable company, and found it on the Best Buy website for about $80.
Each year my parents pay 1.5x times the actual value of the cable modem just to rent it!!
On Thanksgiving morning people would pick up a copy of the weekend paper and spend the afternoon looking through the Black Friday ads for great deals as the holiday shopping season kickoff was upon us. That’s changed quite a bit over the last few years as retailers have started to make their ads available online well in advance of Thanksgiving day.
Many shoppers have already formulated their Black Friday shopping plan. They know what stores they want to hit, and in what order, as well as what items they’re looking for at each stop. There are opportunities to save some money, but there is also the risk of ruining your holiday budget.
If you are participating in Black Friday, keep the following things in mind:
Stay On Budget
Know what you have to spend, and shop within that amount. If interest charges are incurred because items were bought with credit, that great buy suddenly becomes more expensive.
Black Friday is Not A Competition
Black Friday is not a contest to see who can buy the most stuff. Remember, buying something not on your list isn’t saving money, it’s spending MORE money. Buy what you planned to buy, no more.
There are a number of ways to save when considering eating out. Some people approach cutting eating out costs by splitting their meals, ordering water instead of alcohol or adding lemon and sugar packets to water to make lemonade instead of ordering it. Luckily there are a number ways to save money.
Fortunately, when you eat at Macaroni Grill there are a number of menu options that keep customer’s wallets in mind while offering people the opportunity to eat out from time to time if they are dealing with a tight entertainment and dining out budget.
One of the easiest ways to save money at Macaroni Grill is to sign up for “The Dish” newsletter. When signing up you will receive $5 dollars off your next purchase. If each adult that you’re dining with signs up for “The Dish” at the same time than you can all enjoy a great discount on your meal.
The second way that Macaroni Grill creates an opportunity to save is its Express Lunch service menu. Your meal is always $7 and you will always get in in 7 minutes or less-or you will get your meal for free. Getting food fast is always ideal and the potential for free food is also incredibly appealing.
The third option menu option that diners can economize on is the $10 for three course Kitchen Counter Express Lunch which gives one option for an appetizer, a salad, or one of four entrée items.
We became friends with a family that moved into the neighborhood from Kentucky. They’ve since moved away, but for a few years we had a tradition of spending Thanksgiving together since they didn’t have any family nearby. We would have short conversations about what each family would be preparing, but we didn’t put a lot of thought into it. What happened was that each family made an entire Thanksgiving dinner. We would make typical midwest food, and they would bring what you might call traditional southern Thanksgiving food. The result was a fridge worth of leftovers. Eventually much of the food was thrown away because nobody could eat that many leftovers before they went bad.
We take a much more minimalist approach to Thanksgiving these days. This year we’re hosting Thanksgiving for my immediate family, my brother and his family, and my parents. Here’s what our menu looks like this year:
- Turkey : Nothing says Thanksgiving like cooking a whole turkey. I don’t mind making a bigger turkey than we need, because it’s the one thing that will freeze well. I picked up a 16 pound turkey at $0.93 a pound.
- Mashed Potatoes: I love buttery whipped potatoes. A 5 pound bag of potatoes cost me $0.99, a pound of butter is $2.97, and I even picked up a jar of gravy as an option for $2.32.
The pain was excruciating. I knew exactly what I had done as soon as I felt the burning sensation on the bottom of my foot. I had walked outside on my patio in stocking feet to dump the contents of my charcoal starter into my grill. In doing so, a piece of hot charcoal had fell to the ground,and I had stepped on it. It burned right through my sock and into the bottom of my foot.
My decision to work with hot charcoal in stocking feet was a poor one. The decision to walk out onto my patio in just socks took only an instant, but the burn on the bottom of my foot ached for a week preventing me from my usual running regiment.
A decision made in haste had long lasting effects. Life is like that sometimes, even with our finances.
Buying a House
Buying a house is an exciting event. People will talk themselves into stretching their budget to get a house that they fell in love with. They imagine entertaining friends, raising a family, or growing old within the walls of a potential home. Nothing else matters except getting that house. They would sacrifice almost any other discretionary spending to come home to that house every night.
What they don’t think about is what will happen when there’s a unexpected expense and there’s no wiggle room in that budget.
The financial pain of purchasing that too expensive of a home could last 10-30 years.
It’s the middle of the month, and that means it’s time to take a look at how my Clever Investments are doing.. I had some unexpected expenses this month, so I had to skip my usual $50 contribution. The good news is that the stock market saw a decent increase for a single month. But will that translate into growth for my investments?
Before looking at the specifics of how my stocks performed over the last 30 days, let’s review the rules for my Clever Investor game:
- Investments are made using the 100% Free investment platform, Loyal3
- I will invest an additional $50 a month, budget willing, based upon results
- Results are reviewed in the middle of the month (approximately)
Here we go!
- As of closing on 10/15/2015: 17,141
- As of closing on 11/17/2015: 17,489
- Month Change: +348 (+2%)
Buffalo Wild Wings:
- Previous Value: $178.79
- Current Value: 146.51
- Month Change: -32.28 (-18.1%)
- Previous value: $43.64
- Current Value: $44.35
- Month Change: +$0.71 (+1.6%)
- Amount invested: $210
- Current Value: $190.86
- Change: -$19.14 (-9.1%)
That’s two months in a row that Buffalo Wild Wings has been absolutely hammered. Looking around for the reason why, I found that they released third quarter finances, and hit their revenue target sending their stock into a nose dive. Apparently they are blaming the NFL scheduling for the miss.